How to make your Sea Change work

BORN and raised in Bondi and crowned Miss Coogee, Jan Carmody was the model for the famous mermaid sculptures at Bondi Beach that were set into Ben Buckler rocks until they were stolen by university pranksters and almost destroyed.

"My early city life was a lot of fun," says Jan. "I won the Miss Australia Surf Beauty contest and travelled the world to promote Australia with June Dally-Watkins as my chaperone.

"It was an amazing time. We went to Hollywood and met movie stars. I was even offered a role in a movie, but I couldn't take it, I had obligations with the trip. That launched me into modelling, and I joined the June Dally-Watkins agency.

Jan Carmody at home in Bangalow.
Jan Carmody at home in Bangalow. Patrick Gorbunovs

"Then I married Peter Hanlon. He was Sydney's top society hairdresser. We had two beautiful children, Luke and Cassie, but we divorced 11 years later. My next husband was in 1979 and I had another beautiful daughter, but we divorced.

"When my third husband and I divorced, I bought a beautiful property at Eureka and I had a wonderful time there for seven years but it finally got too much for me. I was always on the ride-on or fixing pipes.

"And then I bought the house in Bangalow and it's great. I have made a lot of friends around the region and we go out a lot, mostly for coffees and lunches.

"We discuss things and support each other and laugh a lot. I still play tennis and I do portrait paintings.

It's so wonderful living here, there's no traffic, the driving around from A to B is easy, I can be at the beach with the dogs in 10 minutes and the cinema is also only 10 minutes away.

"The community here is marvellous. For example, the way everyone got together over the CSG issue.

"The A&I Hall in Bangalow is a wonderful venue for events; I get involved in the Cabaret Da Dash fundraiser every year. As a kid, I got up on the stage and I loved it - and truth be told, I still do!

"I have my daughter with my 10-year-old grandson who I love dearly living here and it's great. I'm so lucky, I have so many lovely friends and people are so hospitable.

"I love having lunches and high tea and we share each other's places.

"I teach Scripture at the local primary school with the minister. We teach the kids about Jesus and I find that they're very interested in learning from the stories I read them. The minister plays the guitar and the kids all sing along and we all love it. It's a good life here."

Jan's tips

  • I suggest to my friends thinking about coming here to live, to rent first and see if you could live a quieter life.
  • Don't sell your house in the city; rent it out, it can be hard to get back into the city market.
  • While it's beautiful living on the land, it can be a lot of work. Be prepared to have maintenance take a lot of time.
  • You don't need all the sophisticated clothes; you don't need them, you don't get around in suits and high heels!

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