Magdalena Roze has found her new self at Byron
CHEER up, slow down, chill out. That's the Byron Bay motto, a gentle reminder to follow your fancies, to enjoy life's little moments to the full.
Few towns are better equipped than this coastal paradise to offer up such words of wisdom. Its picturesque surrounds provide the perfect backdrop to showcase its inner beauty - that dreamy balm which is so refreshing to the body and soul.
It is within this cocooning environment that award-winning meteorologist and television presenter Magdalena Roze is carving out her own reality.
Almost 20,000 people left Australia's big cities last year, looking for a better life and more sustainable standard of living in regional towns. More than 80% were aged 25-44, educated hardworking professionals who are enticed by the slower pace, the community-focused surrounds and of course more affordable housing.
For Magdalena, Byron Bay's charms were sweetened by the professional opportunities it afforded her partner, popular celebrity chef Darren Robertson.
Darren owns the successful Three Blue Ducks restaurant in Bronte, Sydney, with fellow gastronomic artist Mark Labrooy and the duo decided to set up a second eatery and produce store on The Farm Byron Bay, an 86-acre working biological farm, which would allow them to have fun with honest food that's sourced sustainably.
"At some point in my life I wanted to do a tree change or sea change but I certainly didn't think it would be this early on," Magdalena said.
"Our move was driven by a work opportunity for Darren to open a restaurant on a farm and it was such an incredible opportunity to do something unique and meaningful and that could hopefully change things, that it was too good to resist. So here we are, a young couple and a young family making a life for ourselves."
The laid-back calm of Byron Bay is a far cry and a world away from the bustling frenzy of the life Magdalena left in Sydney.
She was, after all, a sought-after meteorologist at the top of her game, waking up at 3am to do breakfast television and still finding the energy to grace the red carpets of the city's must-do events at night.
Her skill and professionalism were celebrated. The 33-year-old not only covered newsworthy events around the world but also was rewarded for her efforts.
So how does someone who has worked so hard to achieve take a step back and slip almost nonchalantly into a supportive role?
"I have to say I didn't mind changing the relationship dynamic but it was hard for me as a person who is really driven and ambitious to make the change," Magdalena said.
"I love working and I love working with people. I have always lived a fast pace of life and by choice I have worked 18-hour days - when I studied meteorology I was doing breakfast television at the same time which is crazy - so it was hard for me to take a step back and not have those things.
"For the first few months of living here I had a bit of an identity crisis and I was thinking, 'What am I going to do?' and I really missed what I used to do, I missed all my friends.
"I couldn't just turn up to a television studio and work, my previous success was not a given anymore. I had to reinvent myself and find opportunities in writing, in the digital space, with my blog. It was definitely a challenge, I really had to explore my other passions."
It was from those passions that Magdalena was able to put to use in the country the professional skills she honed in the city. Her honesty, turn of phrase and love for food and photography have suggested new pathways and the rapport she continues to hold with everyday Australians has gained her a legion of blog and Instagram fans.
"I had always loved food, travel and lifestyle - that was how I started in television but then my career went in a different path," Magdalena said.
"But when I moved here I had the chance to stop and think about what I loved doing and think about pursuing that.
"Now in addition to my freelance television work, I am writing for food magazines and I have my own blog in the lifestyle space and I am able to work with different food brands on projects, and host events. It's amazing that it all worked out, but it didn't come easy, I had to really work at it."
Of course, it is not just work keeping Magdalena busy. There is a new man in her life - two-month-old baby Archie.
His arrival has meant that the former weather girl has had to acquaint herself with the joys of becoming a mum and although she can't help but see rainbows and sunshine, she has already had her fair share of squalls as well, detailing her entertaining journey on her blog.
"For me it's important that social media is authentic," Magdalena said, "and I I am conscious of not putting things up that project a fake life or fake lifestyle. You know it's so beautiful here that it is easy to take a good photo but I want to keep it real, so I may be in a nice dress in a beautiful market with my baby but my baby is crying at night just like yours.
"You can't change the challenges that come with being a parent but it is easier when you know everyone is going through the same thing.
"I am a consumer of social media and I see all these photos of new mums and celebrity mums and everything looks perfect, and I know that my first few weeks I really struggled and I was thinking how was everyone else doing it, was I the only one?
"And I just thought, you know what, I am just going to put it out there because surely there are other people experiencing the same thing. And I have never before had such a response from the posts I do about the realities of being a mum. I love sharing all this stuff because who knows, the little tips I have picked up may help someone else."
In addition to a doting and supportive partner, Magdalena can also count on a network of friends and family. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, having little Archie has given her a renewed appreciation of her own parents.
"I totally appreciate the sacrifice my parents made now," she admits matter-of-factly. "In fact I can't even compare my situation to theirs because my mum was fleeing martial law in Poland when she was pregnant with me. When they came to Australia as refugees they didn't have a dollar to their name, they couldn't speak the language, they sacrificed everything to come to Australia and give us a better life.
"It is difficult bringing kids up as it is, let alone being in that kind of situation where you are in a completely new country, with no language and no money where your skills and university qualifications mean nothing, and to start from scratch. I am blown away by what they did for us."
Her Eastern European heritage may be something that Magdalena now cherishes but that wasn't always the case. Food, language and tradition were the cause of much teenage angst for a youngster who was desperate to fit in.
"It is interesting that it was such a struggle for me growing up and now I am grateful that is where I came from and I am proud of it as well," Magdalena said.
"I look like the typical Aussie but at home my life was totally Polish and Russian. We were eating food at the time that was super daggy and it smelled, things like salami and rye bread and gherkins, things I really wished then they wouldn't put in my lunch box.
"Now, I am glad that I had that because that's where my passion for food and cooking comes from. I know that Darren and I really want to share that with Archie as well. You know, without even thinking I find myself speaking to him in Polish all the time. I feel like I connect with him more like that because Polish is a beautiful language to talk to a child, it's cuter, sweeter and more nurturing."
Magdalena is as passionate about where she sources her food as she is about eating and writing about it and what better place than Byron Bay with its emphasis on all things natural and chemical-free?
"It's funny that it takes getting pregnant or having a child to really start caring about what we put in our bodies," she said.
"I definitely became much more conscious about what I was eating and what I was putting on my skin when I was pregnant. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables, not cutting anything out, but making sure what I was eating was as wholesome and nutritious as possible and sourced locally which is very easy to do here."
It certainly appears that like the many Australians who leave the city each year, Magdalena is finding her feet in her country haven and quickly falling in love with the way and pace of life.
There have been a few surprises along the way, the experience of motherhood included, but she is looking forward to the challenges ahead and excited about the potential promise.
"Archie is such a joy that I just want to hang out with him all the time but there have been enormous challenges, even in these short few weeks," Magdalena said.
"That has surprised me because I used to think I am used to doing breakfast TV waking up at 3am and working 18-hour days - I genuinely thought that motherhood was going to be easy compared to the hard work I've done… but let me tell you it's a whole other world.
"I am excited about getting back into my television work and there is a book in the works too. But now I am particularly passionate about writing about motherhood, about sharing my experiences and what I've learnt with other mothers because the more authentic we can be and the more we can share, the better for everyone."