What started as a planned five year ‘sea change’ turned into an 18 year life changing experience for Tracey and Michael Howe.
They moved from Hayman Island on the Great Barrier Reef to manage the Jerilderie Caravan Park in 2000.
Mr Howe was well experienced in managing a business and had been the skipper on a private boat, while Mrs Howe was a stay at home mum.
This year they made the decision to retire, leave the caravan park and do a bit of travelling themselves.
But they say they will miss their adopted home in Jerilderie.
‘‘We wanted a ‘sea change’ but without the sea,’’ Mrs Howe said.
‘‘Jerilderie just seemed like the right place and our two sons — Jackson and Kobi — were still young at the time.
‘‘Most people thought we were nuts moving to a place like Jerilderie.’’
The Howes have been involved heavily in the Jerilderie sporting community including cricket, football, aquatic club, race club and golf.
They’ve also sat on various tourism committees, chamber of commerce and St Joseph’s P&C.
‘‘Living in a country community is a great way to be a part of something, and you can make the most out of it,’’ Mrs Howe said.
‘‘We’re sad to leave but we’ve enjoyed our time and always know Jerilderie will hold a special place in our hearts.’’
While Jackson and Kobi have already re-located to Melbourne, Mrs Howe described her sons as ‘‘true country boys’’.
‘‘Country living can make people more independent, and I’ve seen that in my boys.
‘‘Prior to going to Melbourne, Jackson moved to Sydney and instantly fit into the community.
‘‘He was quick to play footy but he found that the city is not as pleasant.
‘‘In Jerilderie you can walk down the street, greet the locals and know they’ll take the time to talk to you.’’
Jackson is currently doing an electrical apprenticeship and Kobi will be attending university in 2019.
The Howes leave big shoes to fill for the new managers of the Jerilderie Caravan Park, Mark and Allyson Fitzpatrick.
Both having lived in Boort, Victoria and more recently in Bendigo, and said they’re looking forward to their time in Jerilderie.
‘‘We managed the IGA in Boort for a number of years,’’ Mr Fitzpatrick said.
‘‘It’s a new chance and exciting time for us and we’re looking forward to meeting the locals.
‘‘Allyson and I would like to wish the Howes the best of luck in their future endeavours.’’