What was your experience growing up? How has that impacted your journey so far?
Our childhood was wild and beautiful, we lived in a bush shack that our parents built larger and larger until it became our family home. We spent so much time exploring in the rainforest, picking food and caring for animals. Someone was always creating something, and I feel that this endless creativity and freedom has shaped both of our lives and art practices so deeply!
In the last 24 hours, what has inspired you most?
We have just had so much rain and suddenly the seasons have shifted, the shadows in the mountains and cliff-faces have all ripened into a deep purple blue. All the gullies have filled with waterfalls. This shift in seasons and abundance makes us realise that time is cyclic, and inspires us to feel stillness — there’s no rush and everything will come and go again.
How did you come to live on and sheperd such an incredible farm?
Our grandparents immigrated here in the 60’s and then our parents bought the farm from them. We are so lucky that we are able to work here and regenerate the land for generations to come.
We both left and lived around the world, pursuing our careers — but realised that the creative expression involved with caring for the land, shepherding and growing is immense and ties so deeply to our creative practices. There was always this natural pull to return home.
We’re constantly aware that we live and create on stolen land, and the farm is on the unceded lands of the Arakwal and Minjungbal People. We try our best to acknowledge and respect this country, but know we need to do much more — especially with the knowledge that permaculture and its principles are based on Indigenous knowledge and practices.
In many parts of the world, farming can be quite an inhumane practice, how does your farm differ from the rest and what are some of your non negotiables practices in running Mother The Mountain Farm?
So many industrial agricultural practices like factory farming and broad acre / monoculture crops are inhumane and cause so much harm to our environment. There is an understanding that all farming causes this harm — but the truth is that there is a web of small farms that not only feed their communities, but safeguard the world’s biodiversity.
This peasant food web is rewriting the narrative around inhumane farming and showing us that it is possible to feed the world while working in harmony with animals and nature.
We hope to help this movement, and are so inspired by the farming renaissance that is occurring, how so many people have begun growing and moving towards food sovereignty.
There are many things we practice to work towards these ethics, but one non negotiable for us is that our animals are here as a part of a caring system — they live in harmony with us until they pass of old age.
What would be your advice to anyone looking to start working on the land and finding balance with nature?
These practices can start in such small ways! Whether it is starting a small back yard or balcony garden, or just noticing the stars each night. If you are able to work on the land, we have learnt that you can’t manipulate nature but instead, should work within it. To mimic nature and create a circular system where each fruit tree, animal, plant or handful of compost has a shifting role.
What are some of your favorite ways of incorporating stillness into your life and practicing self care?
This is something so important for us to consider. With our work on the farm, there is always something that needs doing — but these endless jobs have mostly taught us the importance of stepping back and being still. Sitting under a tree in the shade, floating in the dam, doing things for no other reason but the joy that they bring us. It’s funny that living a life that is so practical and hands on, has taught us to rest, and create freely — that the passage of time only matters in terms of the changing of seasons. Everything is cyclic.
You clearly have an affinity for nature and the natural world, what is your favorite way to spend your time outside?
For Anastasia — she loves bush walking and creek hopping, exploring for waterfalls and building treehouses. She moves the sheep each day and does the big walk up to the water tanks, picking so much fruit as she goes.
I (Julia) suffer from chronic illnesses so my time in nature is much less energetic, on a good day — I work in the garden, I love the feeling of my feet barefoot in the earth. My ideal day is floating around on the dam amongst the water lilies and dragonflies, paining the landscape, watching the stars.
Outside of Mother The Mountain Farm, what are your passions and what would you like to share with the world?
Anastasia: I am a fashion student, currently my practice centres around reusing found pieces, like discarded doilies and table cloths and turning them into timeless garments. By reconsidering these materials into a new context, I hope to continue the narrative of their creation and journey, becoming a part of the long line of craftswomen before me. I try to incorporate similar practices to regenerative farming; working with the fabric or land and considering its previous history and its future.
Julia: I am a painter, and my practice draws so much from the landscape and my role within it. I make large pieces that form interior, emotional worlds that mirror the exterior of this home. In the merging of bodies and landscapes I am able to examine the complex dialogue between human and environment.
What has been your biggest lesson?
Our dad died 4 years ago, which is one of the things that drew us back home — we realised that it was time that we begin caring for the land and helping our mum in this journey. We always knew that we’d return home, but this made it necessary for us to connect to this land earlier in our lives than we imagined. In the time since he’s been gone, we have faced so many more trials. We had the worst flood we’ve ever seen, followed by drought where the creeks entirely dried and the oldest, strongest trees on the tops of the ridges died. Then, the bushfires came so close and we realised the privilege of our safe home that had shielded us until then. That nothing is permanent and that we must do everything we can to make this world better for those who come after us.
If you could pick a soundtrack that embodies your life, what would it be?
Black cockatoos calling in the rain
What is your definition of a WYLDE WOMAN?
Someone who follows the rhythms of themselves and nature
Finish this sentence:
I can’t live without… Creative expression! Whether it is drawing, painting, sewing, designing, crafting or building, planting, growing, and cooking
I can’t put down… All our cuddly, sleepy, furry friends that guide us through each day with so much joy
My go to ritual is… Sharing food with those who we love, nurtured by a meal made from fruits and veggies that we’ve grown and crafted into something special
I can’t stop listening to… Jason Molina, living in the hills has taught us to love sad country music more than anything else
My favorite season is… Autumn; the time in between the humid summer months and the sunny winter, when the ocean is warm
I will never forget… to ride with the trials and joys of this life
Julia and Anastasia wear The Dream Dress and The Ceremony Top in white
Follow Julia and Anastasia at Mother The Mountain here