A Trip Down Tree Change Lane

Blog Post
June 30, 2022
March 5, 2024

The past twelve months have been a rollercoaster however so many wonderful, inspiring stories of hope have emerged from the Riverina. Keep reading as we take a look back at some of these highlights and new locals.


When Navneet and Anju (Annie) Choujar were looking for a country change, high on their list of priorities was finding a business opportunity to sink their teeth into. What they didn’t realise when they chose Lockhart in the Riverina, was that they were unlocking a world of opportunity and that the community would play a strong role in their decision process.

Lockhart Railway Hotel

“...before making the move, we came and stayed in Lockhart for a few days, meeting the locals which encouraged us to go ahead,” said Navneet.

Originally from India, the couple moved from Sydney in May 2021, seeking a place to work in the same location as where they lived. With grown-up children, they were searching for an easier, quieter lifestyle, with affordable property and living. Lockhart ticked a lot of boxes, including accessibility.

“Our children are settled in Canberra so Lockhart seemed ideal as it was within an easy drive to Sydney, Melbourne, Wagga and Canberra,” said Navneet.

Purchasing the Railway Hotel Lockhart in the middle of a pandemic, the business owners’ resilience was tested but they persevered and got to implementing creative business offerings.

Read more about Building resilience & business acumen in the country.

Integrating Heart, Home And Happiness

Kerry Cornes has worn many hats in her lifetime, across many industries. From floristry, working in banking, airlines, admin, reservations, snow ski resort customer service and even a dump truck operator in the mines, none have compared to the newest hat she has donned in her new town, Leeton.

Moving from Eleebana, Lake Macquarie in 2019 with her husband and two boys (aged 14 and 10 at the time) her family was seeking a greater connection and time together. Her husband, an inspector in the NSW Police Force, was often required to travel and spend long days away.

They knew the only way to avoid the disconnection was to seek a quieter lifestyle in the country.

The couple chose to move to Leeton in the Riverina and Kerry quickly got a casual local job.

Despite being content with her role, a chance spotting by her internet-shopper hubby led her on the path of her dream position – a business owner!

Country Change Arbour And Ivy Flowers Kerry Leeton

“My husband was looking through Gumtree one day (probably for jousting sticks!) and noticed the only shopfront florist in Leeton was for sale. After some discussion, we purchased the business and it has thrived, almost one year on!” she said.

Read more about Kerry’s business journey here.

Returning to the Heartland

Ask any parent, and most will say their prime focus in life is to ensure their children are happy, safe and have a great range of experiences to help them thrive.

For Phillip Thompson, this was his key focus when he moved his family to Wagga Wagga in the Riverina, in 2017.

Phillip Thompson and son Wagga Wagga

“Our main motivation was that we wanted a better quality of life for our family and to ensure our children could experience life in the country,” said Phillip.

Moving from Mosman to Sydney, both Phillip and his wife had had exposure to country life prior to their relocation.

With two children aged 8 and 12, the extra space has proven a winner with his young family.

“They love it. It’s been a great move. Both kids love the bigger space. Moving from 400sqm to 800,000sqm it certainly provides more playing area. They’re always outside playing, rarely will they watch TV and there are no iPhone, iPads or computer gaming allowed, so they are constantly coming up with outdoor activities to play,” he rejoiced.

Keep reading about how Wagga’s pull was too much to say no to here.

Overseas Holidays and Random Opportunities

When a random holiday nearly ten years ago presented a chance to buy a medical practice, Dr Wail Waili and Dr Huda Matrook knew it was destiny’s hand guiding them on a new path.

“Our move to Australia was totally unplanned,” said Dr Waili.

“We came to Australia for a holiday. The only plan was to do a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney and to visit friends from medical school in Iraq. These doctors were scattered, from Melbourne, Gulgong, Shepparton, Jerilderie, and Henty to Tamworth and Sydney. We then thought that it might be nice to check to see if we could come for a year or more to practice rural medicine after the hugely positive effects of the sun and goodness.”

Dr Wail – Australian Citizenship Ceremony in 2019

Although Dr Waili had been dreaming of relocating down under since 1995, the couple ended up working and studying in London instead. Originally from Iraq, the couple moved to the United Kingdom together and married upon completion of their studies.

“It was destiny, it all happened so quickly. Word passed amongst our friends and on our way back from Sydney to Melbourne to catch our plane back to the UK, two hours before our flight, we met with Dr Fergus McGee, who was selling his practice in West Wyalong in Bland Shire, and here we are,” added Dr Matrook. Keep reading how destiny’s hand guided west wyalong’s beloved doctor duo here.

Single Life In A Country Town

Very few single people can say they have enjoyed the forced lockdowns of the past year, except maybe Helen Sanderson. Helen (35) bought her dream home in Henty in Greater Hume in the Riverina (southern New South Wales), in 2021 after hunting all over the region for 12 months.
“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made! I’m just so happy and love it here. All my family and friends that have managed to visit just love it too – some might even be a little jealous I think,” Helen teased.

“Being locked down and working from home has been a wonderful experience for me as I’m in my own little patch of paradise. I would hate to have been stuck back in any of my previous houses. On the downside though, I haven’t been able to share (and show off) my new place due to COVID restrictions but now that is all lifting, I am able to,” added Helen, who is looking forward to hosting her family from Queensland.

Her role at National Australia Bank covers the Canberra and southern NSW regions, which provided Helen greater flexibility in location choices, without compromising her career. With the extended family having lived in the area, she was also familiar with Henty, which contributed to her deciding on the township.

Keep reading about Helen’s little patch of paradise here.

As you can probably tell from these amazing stories, there is so much to explore, behold and cherish in the Riverina. So what are you waiting for?

Make a Country Change to your new home, today! Download our Free Guide, and be sure to sign up to our newsletter here to be kept updated on more fantastic local tree change yarns. We will be sharing more of these stories next month so stay tuned!

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