WHEN David and Kim King moved from the city to their 83-acre property near Berry five years ago they really didn't have a background in agriculture or farming.
But now, through lots of hard work, plenty of courses and with help and guidance from the Local Land Services, their "little piece of paradise" is home to around 40 head of beef cattle, free range chickens and a number of beehives.
"Our kids had moved out of home and we were in big house in Sydney," Mr King said "we decided it was our time to move to the country.
"We had some criteria - we wanted to be within two hours of Sydney, be near the coast but also near the mountains.
"We wanted to have what we thought would be a lifestyle property, now we have a fully working property.
"We'd run a few businesses in the city and I'd traveled around Australia extensively and had always loved the country, rural lifestyle.
"This has been a significant education - moving to a rural area and setting up a productive farm."
The couple have thanked the Local Land Services for helping them gain "farming confidence".
""It was our first venture into farming. We had lots of problems at first and it was a steep learning curve," Mr King said.
"Local Land Services has been an enormous help, connecting us with training and advice to establish our beef, poultry and apiary enterprise."
The couple have attended as many courses, workshops and training sessions as they could on a range of topics, including pest animals, agronomy, beekeeping, weeds, sheep and cattle handling and grazing management.
"Without Local Land Services there's no way we would be in the position we are now - we would have spent more money and made more mistakes. Their help has been invaluable," he said.
Originally starting out with a number of Murray Grey beef cattle, the couple have since "migrated to South Devon beef cattle".
"We have between 30 and 40 head," Mr King said.
"We got involved in the South Coast Beef Producers Association and that has also been a wonderful learning curve.
"A couple there got us into South Devon cattle, we liked the nature of the animals and their ease of calving.
"We've just gone through the calving season and have 11 on the ground, which has been hectic and making sure they and their mothers are all okay but fun at the same time.
"There is always something to do."
Perched on Moeyan Hill off Coolangatta Road, just east of Berry, Mr King says they are "living in paradise".
"We are close to Berry, Seven Mile Beach is just minutes away, we have stunning views of the escarpment in one direction and Coolangatta Mountain in the other," he said.
"At night when we have big seas we can even hear the ocean. It's incredible."
The Kings said a toolkit of new and updated resources by the Local Land Services to help people successfully make the shift to country life, had been a great help.
The new resources include the 2020 update of the Rural Living Handbook which is a starter guide to getting the most out of a rural property.
It covers a range of topics as diverse as emergencies, rural crime, owning livestock, farm safety, developing a property and what each landholder's General Biosecurity Duty is.
The handbook includes a 'Before you buy' checklist that lists the sort of questions a prospective rural property owner should ask prior to purchase, to avoid potential problems.
The handbook is not designed to include everything a new or prospective rural resident may want to know but is intended to be a springboard for further personal research.
Each section includes lists of useful resources and websites as well as contact details for organisations that provide support to rural landholders.
"The landholders we help are pretty diverse, from large-scale primary producers to people who have a lifestyle block or hobby farm," said Senior Land Services Officer Peter Evans.
"We tailor our help to what they need with the end goal of making sure our farms and environments are productive and healthy.
"We understand it is not always easy to know what to do or the right people or organisations to go to for help, if you have never lived in a rural area before."
The Rural Living Handbook is the most up to date version of a guide that was originally compiled nearly 20 years ago for councils throughout Sydney's drinking water catchment.
It was largely based on the work of Jack Miller, a landscape planner at Goulburn Mulwaree Council who said he is pleased the handbook is just as relevant today as in 2004.
"Back then, we saw a need for some basic information for people who were moving into our local government area who did not know much about rural life," he said.
"Over the years this publication has been reproduced in a number of formats in NSW and interstate and I am really pleased to see Local Land Services release this updated edition."
The Rural Living Handbook is available to read or download online at www.lls.nsw.gov.au/rural-living-handbook and in printed form from selected Local Land Services regional offices.
A range of digital resources for new rural landholders or those on acreage can be found by searching the Local Land Services website www.lls.nsw.gov.au
Any NSW rural landholder wanting advice, assistance or to attend training such as webinars can call Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 or enquire at www.lls.nsw.gov.au/contact-us
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