ON A recent trip to the Sunshine Coast, Builyan kid Jack Hayes, 11, declared his allegiance to the bush. "I'm just a country kid, mum. I can't handle this traffic."

"From the mouth of babes," his mother Koti laughs.

Jack's dad Tim is the local copper. Stationed down the road at Many Peaks, the senior constable ferries his brood to Builyan State School in the town paddy wagon.

At big lunch he fulfils his adopt-a-cop duties. Dressed in civvies he kicks a footy around with the students. The kids pick a different sport to play each time he visits.

The Hayes moved from Caloundra to Builyan a decade ago.

It was the "tree change" they were desperate for.

What they found was a welcoming community that felt no need to keep up with the Joneses.

"All the things that you think you have to have...you don't need them," Koti says.

Rod and Mary Marriage came to a similar realisation after a family tragedy.

Mary's sister lost her husband and son in a car crash in Dubbo.

"It made us realise life's too short. We thought, 'Let's go for broke'."

That was four years ago.

The move from Gladstone to Builyan has allowed the Marriages to realise several dreams.

Now Mary breeds Australian stump tail cattle dogs and rehabilitates sick and injured wildlife.

Rod still works in "the city".

He spends the week in Gladstone, but the weekends are reserved for family time.

Town life's not for Mary.

"I like my space and I don't like neighbours. I wouldn't go back," she said.

And, like the Hayes, the simplicity of rural life appeals.

"You can have a little house and make it a home," she said.

The fashion police have no place in the Boyne Valley, Mary adds.

"You can dress daggy and get away with it!"

Tough talking Mary Hinton is a bush girl to the core. Born in big smoke Brisbane, Mary moved to the Boyne Valley in 1948.

But she's no local. Apparently it takes four generations in the area to claim that title. "They're the pioneers, the real McCoy," Mary says.

She lives with her husband Graham in blink-and-you'll-miss-it Many Peaks.

"I like the freedom, I like the air. There's a lot of beauty here," Mary says.

Graham hopes the region he loves so dearly will retain its innocence.

"Kids can run free here," he says.

Their hometown is tiny. Standing out front of the Grand Hotel, not a single car drives past.

"You could slip through Many Peaks without noticing," Mary roars.

Builyan's home to about 60-odd people. And the school truly is the hub of the community.

Principal Damien Hoare remembers the warm reception when he moved out a couple of years ago.

The residents were so excited to finally have a permanent principal they put up welcome signs.

"It was awesome!" Damien said.

Damien's last stint was at a school close to Rocky. But he's adapted nicely to the quiet life.

He reckons the kids are a different breed in the Boyne Valley.

"They don't have the influences that the bigger towns have.

"It's just kids being kids - climbing trees, swimming in waterholes, riding through bushlands."

Builyan folk leave their doors unlocked. To watch TV they need a satellite dish. Even then, it's Austar as digital only stretches so far.

And the peace and quiet remains uninterrupted by a constantly ringing mobile phone. Reception cuts out just past Calliope.

An anecdote Koti Hayes relays about her policeman hubby says it all.

The copper rocked up to a job only to find two stowaway chooks on the back seat.

"He didn't even realise they were in the car," Koti laughs.




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