Living on the Mountain - A Way of life

Living on the Mountain - A Way of life

Imagine leaving behind the hustle and bustle of what most call “normal” and coming home to peace and serenity, living amongst the gum trees and stunning native plant and wild life of Emerald.

A way of life that changes your mind and body and creates a healthy legacy for your family.


Being immersed in nature and having a feeling of space and tranquillity is what drew Stephanie and Wayne to search for a home in the hills and why they’ve settled down and made a life in the township of Emerald.

Stephanie and her partner Wayne have been coming home to their little hills hideaway for almost 10 years now.

Waking up to the sound of birdsong and hearing the gentle sway of the tall gum trees is a part of life around these parts.

Initially, when they decided they wanted to move from Berwick, both Stephanie and Wayne wanted a bit of land. Wayne wanted a basketball court, a pizza oven and nice big shed and Stephanie wanted to grow vegetables, and to create a magical garden filled with flowering natives.

They also both wanted a safe place where they could raise a family and their children could run and play with the freedom of a time gone by. It didn’t take long before they found their dream home.

Nestled at the end of a quiet street, the pair fell in love with the Tall Manna Gum in the driveway and the “Hillsy” Deep Green Weatherboard home with shady verandas and French doors.

“We love it so much. It’s nice and quiet as we are at the end of our street.” “We were looking up here for about a month or two not long after the Black Saturday fires and the house just sort of fell into our lap.” “We’d come to this street to look at another home that was on the market and Wayne said as we turned the car around at the end of the street that he wished this one was for sale”

As it turned out, it was.

“The previous owner didn’t want to put a sign up when she was selling but we called the real estate agent at just the right time and the rest is history.” Since making the move all those years ago, their family has grown and Stephanie’s favourite place to be is out in the garden with Wayne and their young daughters Matilda (6) and Nalani (3) (as well as their two dogs Indie and Zekiel and their cat Josie).

The garden is full of native plants and there’s a stunning view of the tall trees surrounding the property from nearly every room in the house.

“Every morning I wake up, and after cuddles with the girls in bed, I spend some time admiring the garden. The home had great bones and was really liveable for us the way we bought it, so we’ve basically been landscaping for ten years and now, finally, we’re getting started on putting in a nice new kitchen, which is really exciting!”

The house has a beautiful warm feeling and there is the waft of essential oils diffusing through the home as Stephanie continues to share the perks of living in Emerald.

“When my daughter, Matilda was born, we joined the local playgroup and met the most wonderful people. We were all at similar stages in life and we just jelled!

We have a great group of friends in the area now and are all bringing our kids up with similar values.

We are all passionate about sustainability and living more simply.

We also love bouncing ideas off each other. We share our recipes, homemade breads, plants, flowers and kombucha and we always have time to listen to each other and have a laugh.

We can all talk about anything. It’s a lovely way of life.”

Living on the Mountain - A Way of life

Stephanie also volunteers at the local toy library and has run the local playgroup to get her and her kids out in the community. “It’s not just about me but it’s also about our kids meeting and socialising with other kids.”

“The local school (Emerald Primary School) is amazing.

People in Emerald are so friendly and there is a real sense of community here. We often go to the Puffing Billy Park after school so the kids can have a play while the parents have a chat. Because it’s a small town there’s an ‘everyone knows everyone’ vibe.

People smile and say hello, it’s a really great place to be.”

As Nalani grabs a big carrot for her afternoon snack, Stephanie shares more about her lifestyle “I’m really big on exercising /keeping fit and healthy. It’s great for the mind too. I try to keep active and do something every day.”

Stephanie completed a double degree at Deakin University in both Psychology and Photography (with a Master’s in Psychology) and has run her own businesses in both fields.

After graduating she began working with children with autism and behaviour disorders focussing on early intervention. This was a fulfilling career choice but when her first daughter Matilda was born, she re-evaluated her priorities and decided that running her own photography business could give her the flexibility to be the present mother she desired to be.

“Being Mum is really important to me. My ability to be here for the girls when they need me, so I could help them to grow into amazing little humans. Wayne and I share the belief that you only get one chance to raise your children and be with them as they grow. We have both worked really hard to ensure our lives have a balance. We make a real effort to spend quality family time whenever we can.”

Stephanie’s business, On Display Photography, grew organically by word of mouth and now includes a wonderful team of photographers, editors, floor planners and videographers that work within the business alongside her while she continues to spend time raising her daughters with Wayne.

“I am so happy that this is where my life/business is at now. Things are going really great and I have some absolutely amazing clients that I work with on a regular basis shooting real estate as well as being able to shoot for businesses both on and off the mountain to help with their social media, websites, promotions, events etc.”

“I stuck through the baby phase with my business and it was a real challenge to balance everything, but I am so, so happy I stuck with it. I am super grateful for how it has all come about.”

It’s no surprise that Stephanie has chosen the field of photography as she loves art and creating. Her grandfather, William Frater was an acclaimed artist and has works in The National Gallery of Victoria. “That could be possibly where I gained my love of art and creativity. My mum is also really creative.”

Stephanie finishes our conversation by saying, “This is the best decision we have ever made to move up to Emerald. We just love to be here in nature, it’s a beautiful place to live and to raise the girls. We are passionate about lessening our footprint on the planet and are trying to do our little bit to help in that regard. Emerald really has it all. We have great cafes and restaurants run by passionate people, a wonderful fruit and veg store in town and great local markets too. If I can do most of my shopping locally, then I’m happy! We are not going anywhere!”