Growing up the youngest of seven children, Sara Mangere relished the sense of freedom and adventure that came with living on a 20-acre property in Mount Buninyong.
But at just 18 years old, she left the peaceful setting for the hustle and bustle of the city, moving to Geelong, then Melbourne, for university and work.
When the opportunity arose to be a sales manager at her sister’s overseas company, the idea of exploring the world was enough for Ms Mangere to pack her bags and move to Kuala Lumpur.
She met her husband Tawanda while living overseas – the Zimbabwe-born expatriate had been working in finance in America, the United Kingdom and Asia.
However, home unexpectedly called when Ms Mangere fell pregnant with her first child, Soraya.
“I wasn’t well and they didn’t think they could support the pregnancy very well in Malaysia,” Ms Mangere said.
“So we came back (to Buninyong) with the intention of just having the baby and then returning back to my job in Malaysia. But we never went back again.”
It took coming home for Ms Mangere to realise exactly what she had been missing.
“The fresh air here and the fact the kids could just go ride their bikes and you can go to the local park or the coffee shop and everybody knows your name, I wouldn’t give that up now,” she said.
“We travelled back overseas when the kids were very small and everything I loved about a big bustling city as a single person I hated with children.”
For Mr Mangere, the move marked his first time in Australia with Buninyong a stark contrast to the capital cities where he had previously worked.
The couple bought a family home in nearby Mount Helen last year and the father of four catches the 5am train to Melbourne every day for work.
But it is worth it for the lifestyle, having family nearby and the supportive and welcoming community.
“His colleagues in Melbourne say they all do the same commute from the suburbs in Melbourne,” Ms Mangere said.
“We still have access to everything, but it is such a quiet place to live… and there are the free splash parks in the summer, inclusive play spaces, dance schools and sporting activities.
“It is nice for kids to grow up in this kind of environment with big backyards and nature, being friends with all of the neighbours – it’s the same way I grew up.”