My South-WestBack in Dunkeld and breathing again

Erin Parker, along with her husband and two boys Finn, 2, (left) and 15-month-old Taj, are relishing a decision to return to Dunkeld. 141114LP48 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

SEARCHING for a slower pace of life saw former Melbourne resident Erin Parker also find love in the south-west.

Mrs Parker, who grew up in Templestowe, lived in the city and after a hectic and stressful period she chose to move to Hamilton for a change of scenery.

“I wanted to trial the country,” Mrs Parker said. “I had lots of friends at uni that were from the country and I wanted to see what it was all about and give it a go.”

Hamilton was the obvious choice for her country jaunt as she had friends there and gained a teaching job and junior school co-ordinator role at Monivae College.

“I was looking for a bit of a slower lifestyle and a break from the madness that Melbourne can be,” she said.

What she didn’t know was that it was where she would meet her now-husband Geoff Parker, who had also moved from Melbourne for a job opportunity as the head of boys boarding at Monivae years earlier, and taught at the college too.

“Meeting Geoff was a complete bonus and completely unexpected. I was really going for me and to have a bit of time out,” she said.

The moved to Dunkeld and married at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Penshurst, celebrating their reception at Chatsworth House — their wedding photos capturing the natural beauty of Dunkeld’s Mt Sturgeon and surrounding areas.

They welcomed son Finn, who was born at the Hamilton Base Hospital in January 2012, and Mrs Parker established her personal training business in Dunkeld, a first for the small town.

A year later they chose to leave their Dunkeld home and move back to Melbourne to be closer to family.

Their second son Taj arrived in 2013 and the family visited Dunkeld one weekend in late 2014 and instantly felt at home.

“On a recent trip back to Dunkeld we fell in love with Dunkeld again and I guess it made us reassess and think about what we want out of life.

“We’ve got two boys who want to be boys and need space and in Dunkeld we’ve got all that,” Mrs Parker said.

The family returned to the south-west in November and are looking forward to raising the boys in the country and all it has to offer.

“We’re starting to think kinder and primary schools and Dunkeld certainly ticks those two boxes.

“The kinder and primary school both have fantastic reputations. That’s very attractive to both of us.

“We want them to have the most opportunities to grow up with a healthy lifestyle. We want our kids to have a backyard, we want them to be able to ride their bikes to school and to be able to go to the park and feel safe.”

The family is looking forward to establishing a play area for the boys, getting a dog and tending their own vegetable garden.

“We love our food. We love eating out and going out for coffee and we definitely do that every weekend and Dunkeld’s got that … it’s growing and there’s a bit more going on.”

While their return to Dunkeld was unexpected, she said the town “feels like home … it feels right”.

“I literally look out all my windows and I don’t see another house. I see the mountains.

“We’ve got space and the kids want to go outside, they want to run around on the grass, and that is all really nice.

“I don’t think I realised at the time how important any of that was or what it would mean to me,” she said.

“It’s nice now just to be able to breathe again.”

-The My South-West summer series features a selection of articles from Live. Work. Invest. Magazine, which isavailablefrom outlets including The Standardoffice and visitor information centres across the region

Click on the linksbelow to read the other stories in the series.

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