In 1886, the hilltop hamlet of Hampton became one of the stops in the second stage of the Crows Nest Branch Railway. The train line ran from Toowoomba to Crows Nest to support mixed agriculture and logging. Although it officially ceased operation in 1961, and the train tracks sit as unused relics by the side of the town, the little shire has continued to thrive. No longer just a stop on the line, this village is a place of self-sufficiency, not only growing produce to support the Downs and beyond, but also proudly nurturing a budding artistic community.Each autumn, the Hampton com-munity gathers for a festival to celebrate the abundance of produce and the creative spirit of the region. The Hampton Festival is now in its 13th year, growing in popularity, scale and scope each year. Event organiser Kerri Seccombe attributes the location and small village feel to the event’s success. “Sitting on top of the Great Dividing Range, we have the fresh country air, the setting is beautiful and creative things happen here,” she says. “It’s a relaxed area and has a great community feel.”
Headlining the festival this year are guest speakers Rohan Anderson and Kate Berry. This couple is so passionate about health, self-sufficiency, DIY produce growing and disconnecting from the consumerist propaganda which constantly bombards us that you too may be inspired to move to the bush and start living the good life. Anderson had an epiphany a few years back. He found himself in a state of poor health, suffering from anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, hypertension and obesity.
He found himself in a hugely stressful, high-paying but unrewarding cycle of work. What is a man to do? Medicate and continue on? Or break away, start afresh and dump all the unhealthy food and exhausting conditions of the sick modern lifestyle? He shares his journey and his message on his blog, ‘Whole Larder Love’. Since starting up a new life in the country with his partner Kate and their four girls, he has had books published, spoken around the world and has amassed a huge following online. “The food system is flawed. It’s a fact, not an opinion,” says Anderson.
“The message is very confronting. The first reaction people have to that is to be angry at the person delivering the message but it doesn’t bother me anymore. Living well or doing the right thing is not easy. I’ve had to lose 20 kilograms; running and not drinking alcohol is a hard choice. It’s an easier decision to complain than to make change.” His partner, Kate Berry, is equally inspiring. With her blog, ‘Lunch Lady’, she patiently puts forward a non-aggressive comparison of homemade food versus the packaged, pre-made equivalent.
Accompanied by her beautiful photography, she presents the facts of healthy eating versus takeaway and lets her readers form their own judgments. Whether or not Rohan and Kate like it, their Instagram followers (in their tens of thousands) along with the droves of followers of their witty, inspiring, beautifully photographed and often controversial blog posts, have pushed these two to cult status. With folk like this spearheading the festival this year, taking responsibility for our planet and health never looked so exciting.