Ararat has a lot to offer potential tree changers

ARARAT - Ararat will be on show to the rest of Victoria when the Ararat Rural City Council occupies a stand at the 2014 Regional Victoria Living Expo next weekend.

Council has plenty to boast with job opportunities, infrastructure development and lifestyle options high on council's promotional agenda.

Paul Melenhorst and his young family are just one of many who have made the tree change and are better for it.

"We lived overseas for a few years before coming back to Melbourne where I endured the awful commute three hours a day for work, for two years," he said.

Mr Melenhorst now has extra time to spend with his growing children, a four-year-old daughter who attends an Ararat kinder, and a two-year-old son.

In January 2013 he applied and was successful in attaining the position of Statutory Planner with the Ararat Rural City Council.

"One of the best aspects is that I live just five minutes from work and we live just five minutes from the centre of town, we can walk into town, do our shopping, go to the cinema - Ararat is very lucky to have a cinema," he said.

"We still aren't that far away from Melbourne, we can still get to the city within a couple of hours when we need to."

At present Mr Melenhorst's African born (Botswana) wife, Marina, cares for their youngest at home, but is beginning to actively seek employment.

The couple have embraced the social hobbies on offer, with Mr Melenhorst competing in the YMCA's squash pennant and Mrs Melenhorst taking up ballroom dancing.

"I'm also really interested in the heritage of the area, the nice scenery and the amenity of the neighbourhoods," Mr Melenhorst said.

Ararat Rural City Mayor, Cr Paul Hooper said he'll be joined by some surprise Ararat ambassadors as he presents the town's case in person.

"An enormous amount of work has gone into this, it is our major attempt along with all other rural councils to present ourselves to metropolitan Melbourne to get them to consider shifting to rural Victoria," he said.

Cr Hooper said a primary focus will be on informing people about council's Ararat Active program.

"We want to convince city people that we are a fit and active caring community," he said.

"The attention from the The Biggest Loser is more than the television show itself, the curiosity has peaked, so now it is more a broader conversation about lifestyle choices and opportunities.

"We have some fantastic brand new material, that will make us stand out from the crowd."

As part of the Ararat Active initiative Ararat Rural City Council will launch an application (app).

"It is a sleek modern app with access to information about employment and housing, it is revolutionary," Cr Hooper said.

"It is important we get people through the door, to come to town and have a look at what is on offer, turn a visit into people considering shifting here."

More than 130 exhibitors will provide information about jobs, housing, health, education and the regional lifestyle at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre over three days - Friday, April 11 from 10am - 5pm, Saturday, April 12 from 10am - 5pm and Sunday, April 13 from 10am - 4pm.

The Regional Victoria Living Expo provides Melbourne residents and businesses with all the information they need when considering relocating to regional and rural Victoria, including promotion of specific job and career opportunities as well as the benefits available in their area in order to attract residents, skilled workers, business and investment.

The 2014 Regional Victoria Living Expo comprises all of the state's 48 regional and rural councils, along with strong representation from regional business and industry.

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