Port Fairy wins English hearts

THERE are many reasons people fall in love with Port Fairy but the weather is not normally one of them.

For Lesley Cook the unpredictable weather of Port Fairy is one of the many things that makes the town so appealing.

Ms Cook grew up in Derbyshire, England, where the freezing winters were spent mostly indoors keeping warm.

And then in 1990 she moved to Dubai, where the summers were so hot that most of time was spent indoors escaping the heat.

It was during her 16 years in Dubai that she met her partner Colin May, who was also born and bred in England.

“The Port Fairy weather is sort of English, more what we are used to and it doesn’t get too hot,” Ms Cook said.

“And Port Fairy also has that village feel to it and a real sense of community and is the right size for us.”

The couple came to Australia in 2006 as part of the Skills Independent Regional scheme, which was aimed at getting skilled people to come to Australian country areas.

Under the scheme, the participants had to work for two years in their chosen area before being able to move to a capital city.

The couple’s part in the scheme involved them working in a regional Victorian town, so they hit the road in their campervan and went in search of the ideal location.

Port Fairy already had a head start, as Mr May had been to the town the last time he was in Australia and liked it immediately.

But the couple decided to have a good look around and covered the state before the campervan found its way back to Port Fairy.

Once they arrived, Ms Cook found a reception job at the local hospital and Mr May a job at the Community House.

Ms Cook has since moved on to her current role as an executive assistant at the Moyne Shire Council.

While work was found quickly, the couple also wasted no time in getting themselves into the Port Fairy social scene.

“It is a very friendly place and a great community and if you are up for giving things a go then you will fit in,” Ms Cook said. “We have or are part of the folk festival, the Ex-Libris, the women’s friendship group, the rowing group and the Murray to Moyne.”

One of the first organisations the couple joined when they came to town was the Tuesday Walkers Group.

Ms Cook takes up the story of the reason they quickly became one of the most talked about new members of the group.

“We saw an advertisement for the walking group so we turned up with walking boots and rucksacks,” she said.

“We thought it was a trekking group but we were soon told no, no, no, it’s a group that power walks for an hour and then has coffee and gossips. It’s a wonderful place Port Fairy and it is home now for us.”

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