You have undoubtedly heard the old adage the "Rome wasn't built in a day". I bet I know why: by the time they got all the approvals organised, finalised the architectural plans and got the engineering drawings done, years had probably passed.
It is now 15 months since the purchase of the land at Michelago was settled, and do you know what has been built, so far? Absolutely nothing. The field is undisturbed and the kangaroos are still in possession.
I don't even have finalised plans yet, though I am told that those should be available soon, and that we may - finally - break ground in May. I'll believe it when I actually see something happening, and not before.
Part of the problem has been that the building envelope was pegged incorrectly, and the building envelope registered with the local council did not match what was on the plans. I have no idea how this happened, but getting it fixed has involved lawyers, and that always takes time. Then the almost completed plans had to be modified yet again, to make space for a boiler room (which we had not realised that we would need, but which is the heating specialist's recommendation).
In the meantime, we decided that it would be wisest to sell our Sydney house and relocate to the Canberra area temporarily. This was largely driven by my elderly mother's declining health, and the need to get her into a facility that can offer her the level of care that she needs. We managed to find a place for Mum last July, and then I spent a couple of months emptying out her flat and packing up my house. Steve and I bought a small townhouse in the township of Googong, and we moved in at the end of last September.
I think it is only the fact that Googong is so nice that is enabling me to contain my impatience with the building process. The house we are living in now is small, so a lot of our personal effects, furniture and books are in storage, and we won't be able to access them until the new house is completed. At that point, it will probably take me months to unpack everything again, but it will be like rediscovering old friends. For now, we are quite comfortable.
Googong (http://googong.net/introducing-googong/your-town.php) is about 25 minutes from Canberra, and it is a "master planned township", which will ultimately house around 18,000 people. The house we bought is part of the first stage of development, so it is only a couple of years old. It has been built to be low maintenance and to be fairly energy efficient. It also has excellent soundproofing, which is a blessing, because a new section of subdivision is being laid out across the street. Earthmoving machinery starts up around 7AM every weekday morning.
However, the house stays quiet: I do not miss the ceaseless yapping of my Sydney neighbour's dogs. The town has been planned with a lot of green spaces - little parks and gardens everywhere - and when I go for a walk in the evening, I see children playing out of doors. In about two months time a little shopping centre will open about 2 minutes walk from my front door. There is a site reserved for a new public school, and one school (Anglican) is already open. There is a community centre with a gym and a swimming pool.
Because the area is semi-rural, there is lots of wildlife - kangaroos are a common sight, I've seen echidnas a couple of times and many different types of birds. We're only a few minutes drive from Googong Dam, which is surrounded by bush reserves, but I can get to Canberra, Queanbeyan or Karabar quickly and easily if I need something - traffic is negligible, compared with Sydney.
I have a nice sunny garden, and the climate is much nicer than Sydney's - much less humidity. Everything I have planted in the last 7 months has grown enthusiastically - herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, and chilies. And compared to the prices of houses in Sydney, or even in Canberra, Googong is extremely affordable. I feel incredibly lucky to be living here.
I just wish that building my new house would actually start!