ARARAT - Bob and Denise Mullen are the epitome of the successful tree change.
The couple couldn't be happier after relocating from the Mornington Peninsula 12 months ago.
The retirees have settled in Ararat in a time when the property market is buoyant and interest in the town grows on the back of the Hopkins Correctional Centre development and construction of the Ararat Windfarm.
The prospect of moving away from the coast for those who can only dream of living by it may seem hard to come by but the couple found it isn't what it use to be.
Both Mr and Mrs Mullen said the Morning Peninsula had simply become too crowded.
"It use to be a lovely little fishing village. When we built our house in 1996 we were surrounded by paddocks, we felt spoilt," Mrs Mullen said.
"I don't miss being by the water because now we are surrounded by the mountains."
"We needed to get out of the rat race. Mornington did that for us for a while but then there was a population explosion," Mr Mullen said.
The couple have spent the last year renovating their three bedroom house with unit attached and are adjusting well to country life.
Mr Mullen who has joined the local Lions Club said they have found living in a town like Ararat people are more likely to talk to you.
"You can get involved in the community and get a lot out of it," he said.
"Ararat has got everything you want - the medical facilities and shops. You are within walking distance from them all, it is close to everything."
The flow on effects from a couple bringing not just themselves but their social connections to the area are immense.
One of the Mullens' former neighbours from Mornington is now also buying a house in Ararat.
"We have friends that come and visit and now they don't just come for lunch, they stay for the weekend," Mrs Mullen said.
"If you go in to the shops, after a couple of times people actually recognise you. In Mornington there are so many people that you could go in (a shop) a hundred times and never be recognised."
The couple have taken up volunteer positions at the Ararat Visitor Information Centre and are relishing their roles.
"It is amazing the number of tourists who will come in and ask what is there to do?" Mrs Mullen said.
"And then you'll suggest J-Ward, Gum San and the Grampians and they'll end up with the response we are only here for one night, maybe we need to stay longer?"
Mrs Mullen said when it came to the issue of rates to some extent the positive and negative aspects of city and country life cancel each other out.
"Yes they are probably twice as dear as what we were paying in Mornington but then the population is also much bigger there," she said.
"You have to look at it that we are paying more in rates but we also have a cheaper house.
"But then you don't use up as much petrol here because you can walk down the street.
"Rates could always come down if more people from Mornington moved down here."