I moved to Sydney for my first media job. Then, COVID-19 hit and sent me off the grid

Widjabul woman Sarah Roberts-Field moved away from home to begin an internship with Revolution360 - her first job - at the start of the year. Then, COVID-19 forced her back to remote northern NSW, and off the grid, where her (lack of) internet connection sees her working very strange hours.

It was only natural that I should end up working in this industry, and it starts with my name.

I am a Widjabul woman from the Bundjalung nation, and I think I have one of the longest names ever: Sarah Lydia Lois Roberts-Field. My mother wanted to name me after three very special women in her life.

Sarah Roberts-Field’s family property

Sarah Turnbull is a writer, journalist, and author of Almost French who worked with mum at SBS on a current affairs program called Vox Populi.

Lydia is my Numyindoo, meaning ‘other mother’. She is my mother’s best friend and is currently an executive at the Australia Council for the Arts. Her and Mum ran a theatre company together, the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust. And, lastly, Lois is my Mum’s beloved twin sister, who sadly passed away.

So with the influence of those women, and the honour of their names, my interest in the creative sector wasn’t a surprise. But I was surprised when Revolution360’s Mark Barrett called to offer me an internship.

I was excited, but also terrified. I’d never done anything like it before, and it meant moving from my country home to go live in the city and get my first flat in Potts Point. My best friend also moved to Sydney to study acting, and on weekends we’d discover the city together.

I was just getting into the routine of work, getting to know the team, and learning the light rail and train routes when COVID-19 happened and I had to relocate back to my family’s property in northern New South Wales. Many of my Aboriginal family identified as high risk, and I had to ensure we self-isolated in a safe environment.

People don’t realise how remote we really are. Even though the beach is just a 20-minute drive away, we are totally off the grid, and currently building a new house. The bushfires were devastating for us, but most of the land has regenerated; there are new green shoots everywhere.

The only downside is the internet – we’re so rural and our coverage is terrible. Often, getting online to do work means driving down the road to get access. Early mornings are sometimes easier, as the connection is better and doesn’t cut out so frequently.

My work hours are a bit different because of the internet availability. It’s actually 5am as I write this, which is the best time to get a clear signal.

The rooster crows every morning at 4:30am – the best alarm – which makes our new puppy, Pepper, go crazy.

We’re growing vegetables in our greenhouse – I made a salad last night with the rocket, radishes and basil my brother has grown. Our chickens also give us the best supply of eggs every morning.

All of this has made me realise how spoilt I was in the city. I had access to everything.

COVID-19 and working from home has made me look at the world differently. I realise how incredibly lucky I am to be safe and healthy and to have a job that I learn from every day.

I really appreciate this land and what we have. It’s a lot of hard work running the farm, but we are so lucky. We get to be safe in isolation on and among this beautiful bushland.

But I can’t wait to get back to Sydney, get into the office, and just be a 19-year-old again.

Sarah Roberts-Field is an intern at immersive experience and outdoor media provider Revolution360


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