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Wollongong String Family embarks on year-long busking tour


For the next year, the musical Moir family from Wollongong will pack their cellos and violins and travel around Australia in a caravan, playing festivals, concerts and busking.

It is a dramatic move that will not only bring some beautiful string music to Australia, but will also unite a family that simply wants to spend more time together.

The Moir family are a formidable musical force, with father Joel and 13-year-old son Heath on cello, and mother Sarah and 11-year-old daughter Ashleigh on violin.

This week they packed their instruments, and their lives, into a caravan and drove off on what will become a year-long tour of the country.

"I only work one or two weeks of the month, so I'm at home and I send everyone off to school and work, and when everyone leaves the house I think it's a shame we have to spend all day, every day apart," Sarah Moir said.

"I'm not one of those parents who looks forward to school holidays ending — I hate it when school holidays end.

"I'd like to spend a couple of years getting to know my children well, and for Joel, I'd like to see more of my husband."

Having recently won the Australian National Busking Champion title, the family was not expecting to be short of work.

They have already been booked to play a number of festivals and concerts, and they can always rely on busking to maintain their income.

"Busking is extremely lucrative," Ms Moir said.

"It's amazing how lucrative it is — it has given the children an unrealistic expectation of how much money you'll earn in an hour."

Quitting his job to save his life

While the national busking tour was an exciting prospect for the Moir family, it was work stress that was the impetus for the trip.

Joel Moir came to the realisation that his job was killing him.

"[I had a] feeling of being trapped in this never-ending cycle of work, earning money, paying bills and not having enough time to be a human," he said.

"Being a musician from so many years ago, suddenly 20 years has gone past and I've been feeling stressed and tired and my health showed some serious cracks.

"It wasn't just a talking point anymore, it was turning into a reality that my life could be cut short by the extended working hours."

He said he was looking forward to showing his children more of Australia, particularly where their food came from.

"We don't get an opportunity to see the country or explore the history of the place and discover the true nature of why Australia's so great."

Life in the caravan

Many young people would be horrified at the idea of selling or throwing away their possessions and downsizing their life.

But for Ashleigh and Heath Moir, they have a remarkably mature outlook on what life will be like living in a caravan.

"It's going to be a big relief to not have so many possessions and stuff because it feels like you're weighed down," Heath said.

"I've got rid of most of my stuff to move into the caravan and it feels really good."

Ashleigh has the same approach.

"When we move into a house again we won't have to put our stuff everywhere because we won't have much," she said.

Sarah Moir said the trip would test family relationships by living in such close quarters, but when it came to music, there was one person in charge.

"It's really nice playing together — I tend to get more bossy when it's my family," she said.

"I'm definitely in charge of rehearsals, but it feels beautiful to make nice music together.

"It's probably the most enjoyable performing I've done."