Lucy Curno Future Stewards

The Restorative Nature Of The New Year

Bella, 26, exploring Bemm River (VIC)


The start of 2021 has been a long time coming. After a year of challenges for the greater world, it’s safe to say hopes are high that this year is a little more gentle than the last.

We’re all in need of a year that gives us space to adapt to what ‘normality’ now means. A year that lets us breathe and nourish both ourselves and each other. A year that reminds us of the importance of the living world we’re a part of. The same living world that’s kept many of us sane, healthy and grounded over the past twelve months.

We’re not in control of what the coming year looks like. But, what we can do is choose to take small steps to begin the journey of recovery.

For one Melburnian, 26 year old Bella, one of these self-directed small steps was to spend six nights in the coastal region of East Gippsland over the new year period. She wanted to give herself the opportunity to turn off her phone and reconnect with nature — getting lost in the restorative sights, smells and sounds around her. So, she dusted off her swag, packed her partner’s ute and best friends’ van, and hit the road. 

Bella’s mornings were spent waking up slowly, as the sun hit the tent, and the kookaburras cackles rebounded around the tree tops. 

From strolling down the hill to the water tap (to boil for tea) and wandering to the beach — toes in the sand — to check the conditions of the surf, finally there was the time and space to stop. To reflect. To feel connected to the world around her, through the appreciation of each slow moment.

“After a year of being house-bound and living and working in the same four walls. It was so important for me to reconnect with this beautiful country we have the privilege of living on, and in particular the lands of the Gunai / Kurnai traditional owners. The priority was to spend time and resources in communities affected by the bushfires earlier this year because we’ve felt so helpless all year in how to support them.”

The real ‘aha’ moment was on a drizzling morning, when Bella went for a walk in the bush and felt a need to just stop and gaze up at the gumtrees, hundreds of years old, towering above.

“There was not a single soul around. It was just me, and these beautiful gumtrees. It dawned on me, that they were the reason we’re protected. They’re the reason we breathe. And how incredibly lucky I was to live in a country, and world, where we get to live side by side.

It also gave me an incredible perspective. You feel so small in their presence, but in a wonderful way. Like how the small niggles of anxiety I felt that morning were suddenly washed away by the wonder of the wise natural world we’re a part of.”

It was a formative moment for Bella, at a time of the year where reflecting on ‘what was, and what’s going to be’ comes in different waves and occasions. It reminded her that despite whether the next year pans out as hoped, these moments of stillness in nature are a constant opportunity to remember that life is about connection. Whether that’s connection with humanity, the natural world, or yourself.

“The cockatoos and the flies also kept me very grounded. I had to practise a lot of deep breathing and patience which I’ll take with me into the new year, hopefully for different reasons!”

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