As seen in Country Style Magazine, November 2021 issue
Lillie Holcombe never thought she'd end up living in the country. She grew up on a property near Bowen and didn't look back after leaving North Queensland for boarding school, study and a career in Brisbane.
But in a happy coincidence, Lillie met her future husband, Henry, when her sister married a man from Goondiwindi, and both couples now live on neighbouring properties near Yetman, in northern NSW.
"I never thought I'd fall in love with a country boy!" Lillie, 29, says. "I loved city life – being close to everything and going to cafes."
Lillie and Henry, 35, married in 2018 and live with their two-year-old son, Eustie, on Rocky Bar, an 809-hectare merino sheep property.
"I had a fantastic childhood and took country life for granted," adds Lillie. "Now I'm older, I realise it's the better gig with wide, open spaces. I feel very lucky to live where we do."
Having her sister, Hannah Baker, just two kilometres away is a huge bonus, but there were some initial reservations about moving so far from work and friends.
After studying business and marketing, Lillie was based in Brisbane and worked in tourism and property development projects in the Pacific Islands, with frequent travel overseas.
She switched to head of marketing at a construction equipment company and was able to continue that work remotely for a time, after moving to Rocky Bar.
Meanwhile, Henry, who grew up on a nearby property, had studied agribusiness and finance, then worked in Sydney with Meat & Livestock Australia, before moving into banking.
He returned to the land nine years ago, and now works for Suncorp in Goondiwindi – just 55 kilometres away – during the week and runs the farm at the weekend.
It was Henry who suggested Lillie consider importing furniture and homewares after a few trips they'd taken to Indonesia.
Lillie had fallen in love with the cane and rustic, recycled pieces available there, and she later returned to Bali for two weeks to research and organise the logistics of bringing a container of goods home.
Lillie found the ideal space to showcase her wares in Goondiwindi – a large, two-storey shed in a laneway off the main street.
In November 2019, just eight weeks after the arrival of baby Eustie, she opened the doors of Harry and Kit – named after Harry, their cocker spaniel, and his best friend, Kit the kelpie.
"I wanted to bring to Goondiwindi a space full of items that haven't always been available at country people's fingertips," she says of the homewares, furniture, linen and clothing range.
"I've always wanted to have my own business and a family friend's advice has stuck with me. He said, 'If you love something, buy it', and that's what I do. When I moved out to our little cottage, I loved looking around, trying to find the perfect piece."
"I would hope Henry didn't notice. One day, I left the car and he unpacked it, and he hid a large bench seat in the shed. I thought someone had stolen it!" she says, laughing.
Like Harry and Kit, the cottage at Rocky Bar holds rustic pieces that Lillie describes as "country eclectic".
The 1912-era, three-bedroom farmhouse has cypress floorboards, a wide entrance hall and fireplace, along with original French doors that open to an enclosed verandah.
Some Harry and Kit stock has been too hard to part with and found its way into their home. Key pieces of Chinese, Indian and Indonesian origin lend a relaxed vibe.
"I keep bigger pieces neutral and use natural fibres on couches, then add a pop of colour with soft furnishings," Lillie says.
Three years on, Lillie is a convert to country life. Each Friday and Saturday, she opens Harry and Kit for trade.
On Sundays, the Holcombes and their friends often head to a spot on the Macintyre River at Rocky Bar for a picnic and camp-oven lunch.
Eustie also loves to tag along with his father to the sheep yards or for a ride on the motorbike.
"This wide, open space calms your mind and outlook," Lillie says.
"We're so lucky to have a young community of like-minded people who have moved away and then come back to live in the country. The fact that I have my sister next door really helps. To have two sisters from North Queensland, with no connection to the area, who end up on neighbouring properties is such a coincidence."