• Loddon Herald

Country move: the good oil


MORE than 300,000 Australians have turned their backs on the big smoke of capital cities for a rural and regional lifestyle in COVID times.

Country Victoria has been the favoured destination for 60,000, among them some of the 26,000 Melburnians making the exodus from lockdowns and restrictions.

Westpac House Pulse data released last month said Melbourne’s exodus figure had jumped from just 1000 in 2019.

Richard Jeney is one who has escaped to the Loddon as price and demand for local property reaches news highs.

“For decades I had wanted a rural property. Being locked down last year finally triggered the move,” said the businessman now winding down his Melbourne company that has specialised in building projects and balcony rebuilds.

“I had a list - off the main road, backing onto forest, already with a dwelling and a dam.”

Richard’s search eventually brought him to 30 hectares at Kurting “and as I walked around the property, everything I wanted was there ... it was calling me to make it home”.

He began the transition to country life, getting to know the neighbours, enjoying meals at local hotels on a Saturday night and spending less time in Melbourne. “It’s all happening quite quickly.”

Weekends were also spent exploring the property, taking Hux the dog on long walks in the bush and watching the sun rise and set from the verandah.

It was on one of those first walks that Richard came across eight hectares of Southern Blue Gum eucalyptus saplings.

“One of the neighbours said the area used to be harvested for its eucalyptus leaves,” Richard said.

“So I started exploring how to use these trees, how hard it was to do eucalyptus distilling.

“Next thing I had bought a distiller and spoke with a friend who designs scents and perfumes.”

Richard’s eye for opportunity, and being in the right place at the right time, soon had the builder from Melbourne harvesting the leaves of the Loddon bush.

Last week, Blue Eucy oils was launched with a range of oils for use in natural remedies, aromatherapy or simply to savour the scent of the Australian bush

“We are handpicking every harvest and distilling the same day,” he said,

“When we say we are small batch, we really mean it! In fact, each distillation produces only around 20 bottles at a time. At Blue Eucy we are all about quality, not quantity.

“We’re high grade. It’s a very manual process to remove the leaf by hand.

“Our trees are 100 per cent organic and every harvest is hand-picked to ensure trees are not degraded. We are farming for our future.

Richard said his treechange had been the best move.

“Everything just fell into place,” he said.

“And really, I have fallen into euca-lyptus distilling by accident ... a wonderful accident. I love it.

“We love the fact that we own the entire process. From the early morning harvesting of leaves, to the meditative nature of the distillation process. Blue Eucy oils are a chance for us to share the beauty of the Goldfields bushland with the world.

“We have a number of distinct eucalyptus species on the property and look forward to experimenting with their unique properties, fragrances and benefits over time,” he said.

Richard says he loves sharing life in Kurting with kangaroos, wedgetail eagles and echidnas.

“It’s the Australian bush at its very best,” Richard said.

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