A retirement Sea Change?

Waylen Farm olive grove

A very different view to that from the deck of a huge ship!


When faced with the prospects of retirement, and in deciding on how to best live the non-working life, one of the more popular choices recently has been to opt for what has been termed a “Sea Change”. In the case of one of our clients, the phrase has taken on a new meaning – as in, a change from the sea. To be more precise, an “Inland Change”!

Dave Gardiner started his ship-borne education at an early age, and enjoyed a sea based life and career for 45 years. Most recently Dave was engaged working as a Marine Pilot – armed with the task of helping to bring those impossibly huge floating behemoths that travel the world into a safe berth, here in Fremantle.

Retirement was for Dave a carefully planned affair. He did not wait for the gold watch but worked steadily towards a pre-determined retirement financial goal. Financial security was not an option but a requirement, so retirement plans were both precise and comprehensive. Eventually, all that hard work paid off and the time came to settle down to the life of the retiree.

A move into the countryside

Dave and his wife Barbara, cast around for an old rural property with a bit of land that maybe needed a bit of work, to help keep them both occupied in their retirement. Finding the property that would be ‘just right’ as a place to set down roots was of utmost importance but it proved to be a little bit more of a problem than expected because of the need to be within reasonable driving distance of the metropolitan area – grandchildren had to be visited, and ideally the land would be close enough for the young ones to readily visit or stay over. By a combination of accident and sheer coincidence the ‘right’ place was located – near the town of Toodyay. Being close enough to the metro area for regular family visits, and near to the Toodyay town site it was perfect, and the final decision to purchase involved very little hesitation.


The house itself – built in 1860 so it has had a colourful history – had been added to and changed over the years, and required a bit of work to bring it back to standard. That took care of any potential for boredom for the forseeable future. The property also came with a little more land than was really required. As Dave tells it,

 “When looking for land there are many small holdings available but it depends on your personal needs. Finding the right property can bring many rewards, not the least of which is a guarantee of continual challenges and interesting days. The extra land was too good to be wasted and after allowing a local farmer to use it for a while, we decided the best use would be to start an olive grove. The Department of Agriculture were consulted as were various experts in the field, as well as an Italian fellow who knows olives like no-one else we’d met.  With his help, we planted 4 hectares of trees, mixing varieties and carefully placing the right variants to ensure the best possible harvests.”

The work involved is not overly onerous, and mainly involves a 3 month period of continuous work during the autumn and winter months.

When allowing himself the luxury of time for reflecting on the retirement process, Dave sees a number of upsides as well as a few downsides.

Here are a few of the positives

  • It is a chance to do something completely different.
  • You can earn pocket money to help subsidise your retirement income, and buy grandchildren all the things you just know they need.
  • It keeps you busy, and stops the descent towards becoming a lounge lizard.
  • The friendly rural community lifestyle. For example, the area around Toodyay has many clubs and organisations that cater for various hobbies and other interests.
  • Peaceful surroundings.

 And here’s the negative as Dave sees it.

  • Being part of the 10% of the population that is forgotten by Governments. Not a bad thing sometimes but it’s something that you have to come to terms with.

So, are there any hints from Dave and Barbara for those considering a “sea change”?

  • Make sure the land you choose is suitable for the type of hobby farming you are intending to work on.
  • Ensure that there is adequate water available. Most properties of around 5 to 10 acres rely entirely on rainwater or borewater, so it’s a precious commodity.
  • If you are going to operate part of the land as a business, make sure you only spend surplus money on the business side!
Healthy Olive trees at Waylen Farm

The olive grove has matured beautifully

Dave and Barbara are too modest to admit it but they have built a thriving boutique business, delivering ultra-high quality oil to specialty shops and connoisseur lovers of distinctive olive oil. They have survived flood, fire and drought and exhibited a passion for farm life through it all.

For those who may be interested, the oil is marketed under the name “Waylen Farm”. Although it is not open to the public, you can contact Dave and Barbara to discuss retirement sea changes, premium olive oil or for any further details you may want.

Waylen Farm contact details

Contact details for Waylen Farm


Waylen Farm when it was simply 'potential'.

Fertile soil in the gentle rolling hills of Toodyay.Barbara getting on with the hard work of hand planting over 1,000 olive treesDave getting down and dirty.Everyone's favourites, and much loved by the family


Pure olive oil from Waylen Farm.

The purest olive oil around.The latest addition to the familyNew crushing machine = independence, and efficiency!


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