Ever wondered what it would be like to swap the rat race for a quieter country life?
These people did just that for a variety of reasons — for lifestyle, to raise families, or to find more affordable housing.
Whatever the reason, they all experienced life at a vastly different pace.
Meet our tree changers.
Mildura: ‘You never stop being a newcomer’
Sparing herself a two-and-a-half-hour daily commute to work and enjoying a lower cost of living has been advantageous to Debra Pearce.
Ms Pearce and her husband, Warren, moved to Mildura in north-west Victoria from Melbourne in December 2014.
The couple had passed through Mildura on several occasions.
“There was no hesitation. It took us a little while to arrange everything and get work lined up, but we’ve not looked back.
“This is our home now.”
After first hearing about the Mildura Newcomers group at a Victorian Regional Living Expo in Melbourne, Ms Pearce said it was the ideal way for her and her husband to meet new people.
Now secretary of the group, Ms Pearce is repaying the favour and helping welcome and support other newcomers to the regional city.
“I think in lots of ways you never stop being a newcomer — there’s always more to learn,” she said.
“There is a difference from the people who have lived here their whole lives and the connections and knowledge they have.
“However, this is a very friendly town and people are welcoming. And I think that really helps people like me, who have only been here a couple of years, really feel like I do belong here.”
Natimuk: ‘Just do it’
A small town in the grain belt of western Victoria has a unique attraction for bringing in city folk.
Natimuk lies 12 kilometres from Mount Arapiles, one of Australia’s foremost rock climbing destinations.
The town sits on flat land surrounded by wheat and canola, but rising out of the western horizon is “the mount”, as it is commonly referred to.
The position of Mount Arapiles and the skies of the Wimmera afford some spectacular sunsets.
Adam Demmert and Cath De Vaus were nervous about moving from Melbourne to Natimuk at first.
Mr Denmert said he was worried about being able to get work and finding a balance between making friends and having privacy.
While the couple missed the small things, such as access to a variety of food and restaurants, they were pleased they made the move.
“We definitely have no regrets,” he said.
“The community in Natimuk is just amazing, so inclusive and welcoming.”
Mr Denmert and Ms De Vaus moved for the lifestyle. They can both afford to work part-time, which gives them more time for other activities — like climbing.
The couple said the best part was being close to some of the best climbing in the world.
“It’s clichéd, but true,” Mr Denmert said.
And for anyone thinking about making the move their advice was simple: “just do it”.
Elliott: ‘Feels like a holiday every day’
When Clarissa Forster and Nick Boyd lived in inner-city Melbourne they filled their evenings with live music and dinners out at restaurants.
Now living in north-west Tasmania they have their hands full feeding their five cows and five chickens, and tending to the extensive vegetable patch on their five-hectare block.
The tree change was not planned.
Ms Forster and Mr Boyd are both nature lovers and wanted to explore the Tarkine Wilderness Area.
“We jumped on the boat to do a short whip around and fell in love with the area,” Ms Forster said.
After doing a quick search for any available jobs, they found themselves both being offered work and decided to move down at the end of 2015.
“When we were in Melbourne we found we were looking at ways to get out of the city — camping, bike riding, bush walking. When we were down here we realised this is exactly what we wanted,” Ms Forster said.
But the couple still missed being able to wander down the main street of Brunswick and find entertainment.
“Things are a bit different now because there are not the same options,” Ms Forster said.
“The two biggest things I miss: the culture and the commute.”
Ms Forster rode her bike to work along the flat streets of Melbourne for her 35-minute commute to work, which was quicker than the tram, but now drives from their rural home to the nearest city, Burnie, for work.
Those rides have been replaced with exploring the hilly, unsealed country roads around their new place by bicycle.
“Every morning we wake up and feel in some ways like we are on holiday, even though we go to work every day. Come home to that!”
Hynam: ‘The best thing we have ever done’
It was a beautiful big golden elm tree that won over Rosemary Tierney and her family to the 16-hectare property that would become their home at Hynam, in South Australia’s south-east, two years ago.
A dedicated city girl, Ms Tierney was working as a television journalist for the ABC in Adelaide and her husband Stephen was travelling an hour each way to work as a winemaker at McLaren Vale, when both felt ready for a change of lifestyle.
“Life was good, but it was also very busy,” Ms Tierney said.
“We were looking for a simpler and also a less stressful life.
“I didn’t want to be the kind of person who stayed in the city my entire life.”
In 2014, they found the place they would call home near Naracoorte, where Stephen’s family lived, a far cry from the tiny 400-square-metre block in Stepney where they lived with children Eva and Sid.
“It just fit. We walked around and it felt like a family home and a home we could make our own,” Ms Tierney said.
Life out in a regional area is vastly different to city life but Ms Tierney declared it “wonderful”.
“I walk down the street in Naracoorte and everyone smiles and says hello to you. That does not happen in the city,” she said.
Bonfires and paddock parties have replaced nights out and dinners at fancy restaurants, but Ms Tierney admitted she did miss shopping and a good barista on hand in the morning.
The family also gained first-hand knowledge into why country people were always on about the lack of good phone and internet service.
“My family in Adelaide can’t understand,” Ms Tierney said.
“I ring them standing ten metres away from the house, trying to get reception. It is infuriating.”
On the bright side, Ms Tierney was able to watch eight-year-old Sid hoon around on his motorbike and six-year-old Eva ride her pony, Prince, in the paddock.
“It is lovely to say to the kids ‘get outside and go play’ because in Adelaide there wasn’t enough room to play,” she said.
Now working as a real estate agent, Ms Tierney said she was seeing more and more people from the city walk through the doors looking for properties or land, seeking help with their own tree change.
Her own family was the best advertisement for such a move, Ms Tierney said, and they had no regrets at all.