SASHA CODY - CHESLEIGH HOMESTEAD
I was born in Bathurst and grew up on a horse riding holiday property called Chesleigh, near Sofala in New South Wales, a small town with a population of less than 100 and a school with 9 kids.
Life was magical growing up on a property; endless creeks to explore, animals to teach you patience, respect for danger, and love, valleys to get lost in and parents too busy working to stop you from doing dangerous things. We didn’t find it isolating because as a holiday venue we spent half our time entertaining.
I studied Theatre Media Bachelor of Communication at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. Here I learnt how to stand on my head, pretend I could do anything and write a convincing CV. I was one of the stupid ones who came away with the desire to become an actor…. that soon fizzled once I realised I preferred to pay rent and eat.
First job out of uni was on a movie as a labourer (shit kicking slave). I made sure I was working to sweating stage at every minute of the working day and quickly got promoted through the ranks to the position of a scenic painter. Then, apart from a year as a climb leader on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I spent ten years working in the events industry; following on from painter/labourer, I was a workshop foreman and eventually Operations Manager for some of the biggest events and staging companies in the world. I now speak fluid ‘tradie’, know how to use most tools and criticise a bad mitre join.
As a country girl I LOVED living in Sydney. I will always have a love affair with it but will never live there again. Restaurants, tall buildings, the beach, ethnic food and ALL the shops. Fabulous. Being young enough not to care about the commute, not give a fuck about housing prices and also not having to think about children made it a playground utopia. I loved working hard in it and occasionally escaping back to the country to re-calibrate over a weekend. Now though, the opposite is true.
I moved to London to escape a rut. A sudden death in my inner circle, a work opportunity - coupled with butting my head on the events glass ceiling in Sydney (small scene) and a need for an adventure. I worked running logistics, HR and operations with the amazing, dynamic pair of madmen Jim and Chad at True Staging as they were building up their company up in the London events world. I helped them take it to the stars! T’was blood sweat and tears. And they returned the favour by employing my destined one true love from Dublin - Brian! London was like Sydney but even better! I wrung the juices out of it and then built a campervan with my new partner Brian (now husband) in which we travelled around Europe (for a millisecond before becoming pregnant!) We moved home to Chesleigh which was always the plan, just a year earlier than expected. And pregnant.
Chesleigh is a 3000 acre property comprised of wild bush forests, historical gold rush buildings, artefacts, beautiful rivers and creeks, our homestead buildings, landscaped gardens and animal farmyards. We give city folk (mainly from Sydney) beautiful and genuine breaks in the country. We cook for them and entertain groups of up to 25 people at a time taking them horse riding, gold panning or bush walking. We interact with them, keep their fires burning, and make them feel at home. It’s hard work, but the best job ever. My job is equal parts running the horse team and the kitchen. Running the horses involves training them when they are young (something I have become a bit more cautious about since becoming a mum) and training our few staff who live with us to help us with them. We have 25 horses so it is a big job. We grow as much food as we can and put it through our kitchen to create beautiful food. I love cooking and I am bloody good at it. I don’t like raving on about it though because it’s SO boring to listen to. Ya know – seasonal, fresh, with love, blah blah blah. You have it or you don’t.
Future plans: not finished having babies yet. I think it’s nice to have a few on a property. So for the near future I’ll be managing a physical job (horse riding) while going through another pregnancy. For me I feel a real responsibility to be fit and strong and active through pregnancy so the journey back is not so hard. And it is a journey that needs to be made, for me at least. As a responsible parent I don’t think there is an excuse to be all, “This is me now, I’m a fat mum and I own it,” or “My body has changed and that’s okay”. For me that’s not okay I need to be fit, strong and active to be a good mum, a good role model and my best feeling person. Beyond baby no. 3 future plans are to continue to build and maintain this business, which, by the way, is family run. My parents started it 42 years ago and we now work as an adult foursome in a transition period before they become full time grandparents and story telling ornaments, and we stop having babies and take all of the reigns. Ta da!
Local things to do: visit Chesleigh for a weekend, visit Sofala for an afternoon, visit Hilend for a morning and have lunch, drive to the river for a picnic and a swim in summer, join the local book club, garden club etc. Find loads of awesome bargains at the local auctions .
Advice: Talk to locals about which plants grow in the local soil. Buy milk at the local store even though it’s cheaper in the bigger town, join the local play group if you have kids.