Starting a farm from scratch was a far cry from twenty years working in management in the corporate world.
But it was a change Michael de Kort and his family were ready for, driven by a desire for a family-oriented, country lifestyle.
Mr de Kort, his wife Lana, and their two young children moved to Clunes from Mackay in Queensland five years ago.
The area wasn’t completely unknown to the couple. Mr de Kort grew up on a hobby farm in Warrenheip and met Lana while working as an apprentice butcher in Ballarat as a teenager.
But he said it was a fluke that the family had ended up in such a beautiful town.
“I visited Clunes every now and then when I was growing up in Warrenheip but it was pretty much a ghost town,” Mr de Kort said.
“Now it has certainly come to a whole new level. It is an absolutely gorgeous spot to live. It was a bit of a fluke, we just bought the land.”
Mr de Kort spent a few years building up his sheep and cattle farm after arriving in Clunes, before deciding to open his own butchery.
“When I processed my first lamb I realised people had forgotten what real lamb tastes like, because I had,” he said.
“That’s how Longview Farm and Meats came about. I believe in ethical meats. In the shop I only have free range pork and free range beef and lamb.”
The butchery has now been operating for 12 months, and in that time Mr de Kort said he had noticed the town’s support for local produce. He plans to continue to grow the farm and business in coming years.
“The corporate world was a lot of work and a lot of hours and a lot of stress. I just want the business to support the family and the lifestyle we want, it’s not about working 24 hours a day.”
Mr de Kort has become involved with the Clunes Tourist and Development Association which is driving and controlling growth in the town.
What does he see as the future for Clunes? Mr de Kort said he envisions a diverse township.
“I think we will grow but I think we will always keep our individuality and our understanding for others,” he said.
“We have one of the highest level of volunteers in any town and to me, that is a big representation of a town that has a great community mind.
“As long as we don’t lose that, we will be fine. Hopefully there will not be too much growth, but just enough to sustain us and keep that community.
“Coming to Clunes is probably the best move we ever made. A lot of people are seeing that, which is why there are hardly any houses for sale.
“There are some really unique characters in town who are accepted for their differences, which I really love, including me.”
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