Jacob Meier from eastern Switzerland has been traveling to Australia with a friend regularly since the 1990s. “Since my first visit, I have been wanting to live in Australia after retirement,” says Blick Reeder.
He toured the country for the first time after ending his 20-year marriage with whom he has two children. The bus driver and dispatcher wanted to explore the world and flew to Australia with a colleague for several weeks. “We traveled across the country in an old Fiat and, despite our little knowledge of English, got to know interesting people and places everywhere,” says the Swiss.
The large country and vastness fascinated the Swiss people so much that they did not hesitate to buy land when, on another trip to Australia, a Swiss colleague living in Australia turned his attention to a nearby property with two hectares of land outside Blackbutt. attracted.
small space with everything you need
The small town of Blackbutt in the state of Queensland is approximately 200 km north-west of Brisbane. In the surrounding farmland, cattle are reared and avocado and mango orchards are cultivated.
«Although it is small, Blackbutt offers some significant advantages. There is a doctor’s office, pharmacy, post office, gas station, grocery store, hardware store and bakery – all of which is not the case for villages and small towns in the Australian outback, » explains the Swiss.
Wholesale shopping is done in the larger town of Kingroy, 40 miles away. Everything you need can be found there, including two hospitals. “The only thing missing is a medical specialist. For that you have to go to Brisbane on the coast or go to Toowoomba.”
land purchase with constraints
In 1999, Meyer was able to buy the property from his partner in Blackbutt for about 30,000 CHF. To be more precise, his colleague initially bought the land with Meier’s money because the Swiss were not allowed to buy land in Australia without a place of residence.
In the same year, Meyer took early retirement in Switzerland at the age of 56, moved to Australia and was thus able to legally register his property in his name.
Little knowledge of English, but a lot of support
At first, the Swiss lived in a caravan on their land. In 2000 the house was built in two parts. «The second building was for guests from Switzerland. Over time, it became a bed and breakfast, and I enjoyed the company of guests from Switzerland and Brisbane,” Meyer says.
Half the property was cleared and a large dam was built as a reservoir. Trees, shrubs and flowers were planted and fences were drawn. Jacob Meier did most of the work himself. «It was not always easy as my English was very low at that time. However, I was lucky enough to have some German-speaking friends, which was definitely a big help,” said the Swiss.
A «koala» finds his love on the internet
Despite all the luck, the Swiss were missing something in their new home. “I felt a little lonely and registered on a solo platform called Koala in 2006.” In doing so, he aroused the interest of Lucy Kusler, a Swiss-Australian dual citizen. She lived in Sydney with her Swiss husband for 16 years, during which she acquired Australian nationality before moving back to Switzerland in 1987 with her husband and Australian-born daughter Ingrid.
After her husband’s death in 1999, Lucy again wished for a partner by her side. And he found her “koala” Jacob on the Internet. “The pseudonym I already suspected had links to Australia and the shared passion for this vast country with a lot of freedom connected us from the start,” Kusler says.
After intense exchanges via Skype and a short visit to Jacob in Blackbutt in the summer of 2006, he decided to emigrate again without much ado. In 2007, the two moved to Australia together.
AHV. bed and breakfast as additional income
Jacob’s bachelor cottage, which he built for himself, was a little too small for two people. Therefore, two separate chalets were built for the bed and breakfast and the couple’s home was transformed.
Meier is responsible for gardening and maintenance of the land and buildings, while Kusler, a former clerk and accountant, takes care of administrative work for the B&B and prefers to cook in the new kitchen – much to Jacob’s delight.
He tells about her cooking and cooking skills. “I hit the jackpot. Lucy speaks fluent English and French and we work hand in hand. This is how we were able to make our small business a success and get a small income in addition to AHV,” says Jacob Meyer.
more guests due to pandemic
Even during Corona, your Bed and Breakfast Edelweiss was doing very well. “For our business, the pandemic has almost been a blessing as Australians have been unable to get out of the country and the name of our property almost felt like a trip to Europe and the mountains.
Lucy Kusler explains how many locals searched and visited us during the pandemic. There are many sights and excursions in the area and it is only two hours from the coast.
In 2009, Lucy’s daughter Ingrid (48) moved back to her native Australia from Aargau and ran a small cafe in Blackbutt until a serious traffic accident.
Ingrid Kusler lives with the couple in their own small studio and, in addition to her part-time job, helps Jacob Meier and his mother at the B&B.
The Swiss estate has almost become a small village with a guest house, a container where Jacob Meyer has his own model railway, a caravan that serves as an office, and a hut by the pond for countless bird watching .
Thanks to Ingrid’s help, the couple can still go on trips and trips around Australia. And if the elderly couple’s health is no longer so good, the daughter can support the couple, as the couple no longer wants to move to Switzerland. Jacob Meier: “We are delighted to be in our own little, self-made paradise and hope to be able to enjoy the quiet life in the country in this beautiful region for a long time to come.”