The journeys of a child of the Hunter

And so begins this tale about Jane Purkiss. It’s a story with a beginning and a middle, but at the end there is just another beginning. I’m sitting with Jane in her small and sensitively designed house on a hillside not far from the historic town of Paterson. She’s back in the Hunter Valley. She is establishing a garden in what was a paddock – still is a paddock. There’s a herd of black-faced sheep grazing down the slope. Music in the background is on ABC Classic FM. “Scheherezade”, says Jane. Classical music, I learn, plays a big part in Jane’s life.

It’s mid-morning. She’s immaculately dressed, with a jaunty floral scarf, lipstick, and rings on her fingers. She might be heading for the Opera House, but the pandemic has put a stopper on her regular trips to the city where she’s a subscriber to Sydney Symphony Orchestra concerts. Lying against a sideboard in her living room is a cello. A conservative lady of some status, one might easily be drawn to conclude?

It could be said that Jane has had a career in education; but she would say it is more in her own education than anyone else’s. It’s still going strong, but like everything else in her life it is finding its own avenue of opportunity and expression. She has wide-ranging experience to build on. She’s worked with Indigenous pre-schoolers in Armidale.

 She’s lectured in socio-linguistics at the University of Western Sydney. She’s developed alternative care programs for cancer sufferers. She’s taught English to disadvantaged kids in Thailand. She has more than enough stories to fill a book, but she pauses and makes me a cup of tea.

We talk about hemp. Hemp, marijuana’s non-psychotropic cousin, is in the walls of Jane’s house. Her new house, at Shepherds Ground Village.

Jane played a pivotal part in getting the Shepherds Ground project off the ground. But she would say her whole life has been leading her here. “The calls were so clear,” says Jane. She sees her life as one of callings, diverse and rewarding.

Read more in the Spring issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.