Family in pursuit of happiness
THEY had everything and they gave it all away.
A glamorous Sydney couple who used to grace the social pages and were photographed with celebrities such as Richard Branson and Cate Blanchett were in Bangalow Park yesterday, not sure where they were going to spend the night.
Bessie Bardot and Geoff Barker sat at a picnic table with eight-month-old daughter BlueBelle and told The Northern Star how they gave away $460,000 worth of goods in August this year.
Their computer, furniture, designer jewellery, clothes, PlayStation – everything they owned was offered to the public through YouTube.
A 16-year old boy wrote to them and said his mother was dying of cancer, Ms Bardot said.
The boy was the main money earner in the family of seven and only had boxes to sit on, so Mr Barker and Ms Bardot gave the family their expensive couch.
The couple received 40,000 emails and more than 10 million hits on their website and the giveaway was featured on Today Tonight.
“It was about changing our life,” Mr Barker said.
Mr Barker has suffered from depression and was looking for answers to life. Ms Bardot, his wife of 12 years, thought giving everything away was a crazy idea, but it was just what was needed to shake up their lives, she said.
They plan to travel around Australia in a 19-metre motorhome, given to them for six months by the Winnebago company.
They want to see what happens when you let life unfold, they said.
Their journey has a purpose though. In each town they visit they interview people about happiness.
Yesterday they set up their lifechange experiment van outside the Lismore Library to listen to stories.
“A lot of people have spent time searching for answers and we’d like them to share their stories with us,” Mr Barker said. They plan to make a film series about their journey.
The family pay for petrol and essentials with a small amount of savings they have and from sales of their self-help books.
Everything else is donated by people they meet on their travels.
It is a long way from the social whirlwind of Sydney where the media-savvy couple promoted themselves through websites and intense self-branding.