Seeking better career, education and lifestyle opportunities, Lisa and Peter Haynes and their daughters moved to Armidale eight years ago – and they’ve never looked back.
Lisa and Peter, tell us about where you both grew up.
Lisa: I grew up right here in Armidale, after my family moved here from Mudgee in the early ‘70s.
I went to Ben Venue for infants, Armidale City for primary and then PLC and Duval for high school. One great thing about going to a few different schools is that I know so many different people in town. After school, I had a brief stint in Sydney and completed a traineeship with a public relations firm. I came back to Armidale and was involved in shopping centre management and then commercial real estate. It was during this time that I met Pete, and I left Armidale to be with him in 1995.
Peter: I grew up on a sheep and cattle property near Molong. After studying Ag Economics at Sydney Uni, I worked in woolsheds, on a few different properties and for an agent, as well as working on the family property.
Lisa, you moved away from Armidale for some years, and in 2004 you moved back here. Fill in the years in between for us.
Pete and I were married in 1997 and then lived on his family property. We had our first daughter, Lucy, there. There were some changes to the family business, so we broadened our horizons.
Pete joined NAB Agribusiness in 1999 in Dubbo. Penny was born there, to make our family complete. After about three years, Pete got a promotion that took us to Goondiwindi. In 2004, an opportunity came up for Pete to transfer to Armidale.
What were some of the deciding factors in choosing to move to Armidale after being away for 10 years?
Lisa: For me, it was pretty easy; I loved growing up here. I still had friends and family in the town and could see that Armidale could be so fulfilling for a young family.
Pete: I could develop my career with NAB Agribusiness, as it is a strong, progressive office. I also love my Rugby and triathlons, and I could continue with both of them here.
Peter, what does your job as Agribusiness manager with NAB involve?
I help our mostly farming customers get to where they want to be, which is very rewarding. I get on farm two to three days a week. Every farming operation is different, which means that you learn something every trip. We cover from Walcha to Tenterfield and Dorrigo to Bundarra.
Lisa, you’ve purchased and rebranded a retail outlet. What has your journey with Concepts been like?
In January 2006 we purchased Country Concepts. We had never owned a retail business, so it was a steep learning curve. We re-vamped it, changing the look and the styling to suit our customers. The business got bigger over the next six years, and we outgrew our original site. Twelve months ago we relocated across the mall into a much larger shop.
We changed the name to Concepts of Armidale, to broaden our range and market appeal. The relocation of the business was a risk, particularly with the constant doom and gloom in the media, but it was a risk worth taking. I have a wonderful staff, and our customers are just delightful. They really enjoy the ‘Concepts’ experience. We get people from Sydney and other metropolitan areas who make us a destination on their travels. They always seem to find the right thing with us.
Peter, you’ve been involved with New England Rugby Union as a referee for some years, haven’t you?
I’ve been refereeing since we moved here, and I love it. It is a great way of giving something back to a game that I got so much out of. As well as making sure you stay fit, it teaches you to be positive, decisive and to stay calm under pressure.
While New England is only a small comp, there is some great Rugby played here, and there are also opportunities to ref some good schoolboy Rugby.
How would you describe your family’s life in Armidale?
Lisa. Great, busy, full, relaxed, hectic, fulfilled. Like all families with children, life does get busy juggling between work, family, friends, school and sporting commitments. Winter is probably busier, with both girls playing hockey and Pete refereeing Rugby on Saturday afternoons.
Some weekends are very lazy and relaxing, and others are very busy and social. We have a great group of friends, both old and new.
What do you love about Armidale?
Peter. The uni and schools give the town a different feel to most country towns. It actually mixes really well with the established cattle and sheep industries.
Armidale has offered opportunities in terms of career, business, education and lifestyle. It is a great place to bring up our kids.
And of course, there is your children’s school. Why did you choose NEGS?
Lisa: We liked the idea of sending the girls to St John’s at NEGS, because of the small school environment they offer. Lucy was lucky to be offered an academic scholarship for primary, and this helped the decision. Penny followed, and the girls couldn’t be happier. Lucy actually came home on her first day and said, “Mum, that was the best day of my life. Thank you so much for sending me to St John’s”.
We haven’t looked back academically or socially with either of the girls. Lucy is now in high school at NEGS, and Penny is at St John’s. They have a fantastic group of friends who are both day girls and boarders. It is really nice to be a bit of a surrogate mum to some of the boarders; weekend sleepovers are a regular occurrence. We have a really nice group of friends we have made through the school. Pick up and drop off can be very social!
Peter, you were educated at a large boarding school in Sydney. What do you think are the advantages of a smaller school in a regional centre compared to one with thousands of students in the city?
Peter: It is much more intimate. You get to meet so many more of the whole school community. At the same time, the kids get similar opportunities as the bigger schools.
And finally – you’ve both got a stack of friends in the city. What would you say to them to help them discover a vibrant life in regional Australia for themselves?
Peter: I would say wake up to yourselves and get up here.
Thank you both.
This story was published in issue 63 of the New England Focus