A collection of Moyne Shire residents have officially taken the plunge and are now Australian citizens.
The 12 new Australians took part in a citizenship ceremony at the Lecture Hall in Port Fairy on Tuesday.
Those who received Australian citizenship included: Ching-yi CHU (Taiwan), James Finbarr Cronin (Ireland), Maria Riva Sacnahon Erwin (Philippines), Laura Largey (Northern Ireland), Kerri Mirtschin (South Africa), Elvira Rideout (Philippines), Jayson Fuertez De Jesus (Philippines), Anthony Gerber (South Africa), James Jonah (United Kingdom), Jeroen Kromhof (The Netherlands), Susan Summers (New Zealand) and Danny Warner (United Kingdom).
IRISH EYES SMILING
For Northern Ireland born and bred Laura Largey, Australian citizenship is the latest step in what has been a whirlwind journey.
Growing up in the small town of Creggenduff in County Armagh, Ms Largey had her eyes set on international adventure.
"When I was 22 I decided I would go overseas for a couple of years then go back home," Ms Largey said.
"That was in 2015 and I'm still here."
She certainly is still here, complete with a home in Koroit which she shares with her fiance Nic and the couple's twin daughters, Daire and Eva.
Like so many Irish immigrants over the course of history, Ms Largey was drawn to Australia and the Koroit district by the lure of work in the farming industry.
Her farming duties since arriving in Australia have included milking cows, calf rearing and droving.
While Koroit is now home, Ms Largey has tasted Australian life outside of south-west Victoria, spending eight months working as a traffic controller in Darwin.
"It was great up there, a really nice place," Ms Largey said.
"The heat was tough at the start but I got used to it after a while."
The Koroit climate is much more closely aligned with Northern Ireland, but it is not just the weather that gives Ms Largey the comfort of home.
"There are a long line of Irish people who have come to Koroit over the years and you can certainly feel that connection," she said.
"And I love the Koroit Irish Festival each year, it's a great celebration and I love seeing the County Armagh flag flying high."
Ms Largey said she remained extremely proud of her Irish heritage and was excited to hold dual citizenship, which her children will also benefit from in the future.
FEELING THE LOVE
In many respects, Port Fairy is a long, long way from Johannesburg.
But for Kerri Mirtschin, swapping addresses from the South African metropolis to the Moyne Shire seaside village has turned out to be a fruitful decision.
Six years ago Mrs Mirtschin made the move to live on the other side of the world. With Australian citizenship now firmly in her hand, Mrs Mirtschin said setting up home in Port Fairy was a joy.
"My husband (Jonathan) is a local, from Hawkesdale," she said.
"We wanted to live in this area and I absolutely fell in love with Port Fairy, what a beautiful place to live."
One part of the quality of life of Port Fairy, and Australia, that Mrs Mirtschin is thankful for is how the COVID-19 pandemic has been managed.
She said while the pandemic continued to takes its toll in Australia, the impacts of COVID in South Africa were at another level.
"Just listening to what my family deals with over there, compared to the way we are dealing with it makes you realise just how lucky we are," Mrs Mirtschin said.
"There is no government funding, so families are impacted when businesses had to shut down.
"Whereas here, straightaway when restrictions came in my husband was contacted by his accountant to run through the support avenues that were in place for small businesses. Things like JobKeeper, there has been nothing like that in South Africa, it makes you feel so grateful."
THE LUCKY COUNTRY
Australian citizenship is a bittersweet moment for Elvira Rideout.
The Port Fairy resident left the Philippines for Australia in 2014 and while she is proud to be an Australian, her homeland is never far from her thoughts.
"I have a bit of a heavy heart today, I love being an Australian but life is tough in the Philippines so I think about the people I love there," Mrs Rideout said.
"If you compare the two countries there's a big difference, Australia really is a very lucky place to live."