City slickers savour rural retreats

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Liam CroyCountryman
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Michael and Joan Bock on their 32ha Neergabby property with some of their family members.
Camera IconMichael and Joan Bock on their 32ha Neergabby property with some of their family members. Credit: Bill Hatto

It takes Michael and Joan Bock about an hour to get into the city from their home in Mindarie when the freeway is busy.

If they point the car the other way, they can reach the gravel road that leads to their slice of paradise within 40 minutes.

It must be tempting.

“You feel like you’re out in the sticks, out in the bush, away from it,” Mr Bock, 77, said.

“The kids don’t seem to worry about the iPads out there. The little ones go and play in the sand with their cars and the bigger ones want to ride the bikes.

“We’ve got a fire pit outside the shed, so we’ll sit around the fire at night and the kids will toast marshmallows.”

The Bocks bought the 33ha property in Neergabby in 2004 for $255,000.

They are among a growing number of suburbanites buying land on Perth’s fringes and beyond.

“We had a couple of properties in Wanneroo, but once the kids were gone we decided to move into Mindarie,” Mr Bock said.

“We hadn’t been there long when we started to feel a bit fenced-in, particularly my wife, who enjoys being in the garden.

“We got this place for about the same price as the five or 10ha blocks we looked at in Toodyay and York.”

The Bocks have spent about $100,000 on upgrades, adding accommodation, power, bore water and a flock of chickens.

They have probably doubled the value of the property, but are not in it for money.

“I like the wide, open spaces,” Mrs Bock, 75, said.

“I like wandering around my grevilleas. There’s always something flowering.”

You don’t have to look far to find another Perth couple with a rural escape.

Like the Bocks, Stan and Jan Cheeseman have a home in Mindarie and a property in Neergabby.

Their block is significantly bigger at 68ha and they run 21 head of cattle.

Mr Cheeseman grew up in York and always had an affinity for the country.

“There are birds chirping during the day and it’s so still and peaceful at night,” he said.

“It’s in my blood, I guess.”

Elders Real Estate has a section of its website dedicated to lifestyle properties for people who want land without relying on it for income.

State manager Jim Sangalli said there were also options in Perth, including smaller properties in Jandakot.

But he warned against impulse buying.

“Some of these places don’t have scheme water and you might need to look after the fire breaks,” he said.

“Look into these things first, because there are responsibilities that come with it.”

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