ALISON Mackay grew up in Sydney where she lived until she was 26.
"After leaving school I studied to be a teacher. Later, when I was working full time as a teacher, I remember commuting from the north side of Sydney to the south of the city.
"I remember looking at the other people on the trains and their faces were grey; just about everyone looked depressed! And that's when I first started to think that I wanted to get out of Sydney.
"Like a lot of women I knew, I followed a boyfriend up here to the Northern Rivers. He was a doctor in Lismore and we lived in Alstonville, where I got transfer for a teaching job.
"What I really noticed when I moved up here was the feeling of community. You would always run into the same people and it was one of the things that I really loved.
"I broke up with the guy I originally came up here with and moved to Nimbin for a few years with my new partner, who later became my husband. We had a child and lived for two years in a community called Paradise Valley.
"We later moved closer to the water, to Suffolk Park, and we had a second child.
"We built a house and lived there for about 20 years. I started a choir as well as running other choirs and that is something I still do, 25 years later.
"I think this is a very unique place to live. I don't think there are many places like it. This is a small community and yet there are a huge number of creative people. I can't imagine you would have that in many other country towns of this size. Of course, the natural beauty is everywhere around us, which also makes it special. I can see the ocean from my house and it's so inspiring and restful at the same time.
"I'm just back from a long trip in Europe and while there are lots of gorgeous places, no matter where you go there is noise. The only noise I have where I live is the sound of the birds.
"I remember when I first came here in the later 1980s we would go to trivia nights; they were big, fun community events. We had such fun, so we started having trivia parties at home.
"I have become a bit of an expert in what makes a good trivia question and now I do that for charity - the next one is the African Leaf event that will be held in September (Friday, September, 6) at the Byron Golf Club. All the funds raised will go to support orphans in Africa. It's a BB-based charity that is headed by Susan Hayward.
"Another thing I am involved in is The Songbirds, which I have been doing since 2009. They are the most beautiful bunch of women - and they can all really sing!
"This is the place where my heart is - I can't imagine living anywhere else."
Alison Mackay's Tips
- Do the lighthouse walk; it is so inspiring it is always uplifting!
- Go to the farmers' market; we are so lucky to have the quality of markets that we do.
- Take in some local theatre and music - there is always so much happening here and it's one of the things that makes this place so special.
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