I’m Toni Chapman, born and bred a west coaster who lives and loves this part of the world, not only because of its wild, rugged beauty but most importantly the people - to me they are the west coast. The people here are very hardy, genuine - the kind of people you want around in the hardest times of life as they have all been there too. They are the first on your doorstep when you are in need. The whole community helped us build our home in one way or another for which we will always be grateful.
Trial Harbour has been running through my veins since I was about two, when my grandparents lived here. It’s been a part of my life, a way of life for as long as I can remember. It’s not for everyone as it can be quite lonely at times, even when there are others about. But in saying that I do sometimes love the solitude. It’s a special place where you can enjoy nature in its rawest in the winter or the best of nature at your doorstep. We kinda blend in with our surroundings.
My husband Sooty and I have travelled two times around Australia to see if there is another place we might have a connection with but Trial Harbour kept pulling at the heart-strings so we decided that was where we belong. We built our home in 1999 and have been here full time since. It’s not the typical suburban type of living - it’s free, you lose yourself in the sea, sand and nature that surround us. It’s a hard feeling to describe. We just love this place.
I was secretary of the association here at Trial Harbor for years and that was amazing to be able to get grants, be involved with the constitution set up and a whole host of activities we did for getting the community together. We held a fake wedding with all the bells and whistles just because we could, a summer ball and many dress up night.
For me the most challenging aspect of living here at Trial Harbour is when there are problems, like the generator, gas fridge, and things like that. I know enough to get by and out of trouble but there are days when it’s all too hard and I just don’t want to be alone anymore and want to throw the towel in. You just want to be able to plug a vacuum in, turn on the iron, computer, do a load of washing, not have to cart wood in and be able to have a heat pump - things that other people take for granted with the flick of a switch. It gets very overwhelming sometimes, especially when hubby is away for work, and I can’t just ring him, or there is no on here to help, which is usually the way in winter. But you soldier on, deal with it, or sometimes I curl up in a corner!
I love taking photos, especially of the surroundings and of my family and friends. They are all what life is about, to me anyway. I’m by no means a good photographer but I do try and catch the things I love through my eyes. I enjoy walks in the scrub, on the beach and 4x4 driving with my boys and their families. We all have a wonderful day when out and about driving or camping back to nature - that’s my happy place. So, my hobby would be my family and my five beautiful grandkids, they are all that’s needed to keep me happy and busy.
The only goal maybe this year is to finish our home, but in saying that we tend to pop it on the backburner when other things come up. Last year was the year then we decided to go to Europe. We tend to take life as it comes and deal with things when they happen. Maybe this will be the year to get it finished, but maybe not. It’s a work in progress.
The most important thing in my life is my family, then the extended ones who aren’t blood but are just as important. So, from my perspective I am a family person first and foremost, then there is my west coast family, whether they are near or far. As the old saying goes, once a west coaster, always a west coaster.
Photos By Rebecca Thomson
This project was assisted by Bellendena Small Grants and The Premier’s Discretionary Fund.