Since 2010, the Hepburn Shire in central Victoria has seen 1596 new residents settle in the area, with the council forecasting the population to reach 17,520 by 2031.
Although it's impossible to know how many of those new residents came from metropolitan Melbourne, research released by the Regional Australia Institute in February 2021 showed that one in five city dwellers were interested in making the move to a regional town.
Melbourne's hardcore lockdown in 2020 might be the reason for this increased interest in a tree change, with 22 per cent of those surveyed by RAI saying the pandemic drove their desire to move to the country.
Florent Tourvieille moved to Trentham in the Hepburn Shire in May 2020 from Coburg in Melbourne's north with his partner who was pregnant with their first child at the time.
More than one year on and despite the recent storms that left his young family trapped in the town with no power, water or reception, he thinks it's the best decision he's ever made.
"I reckon the bigger feeling after the storm is how the local community was into helping each other and checking on the most fragile ones, it was a nice surprise," Mr Tourvieille said.
"We were looking for a more appropriate house for a baby and after collaborating with someone on a project in East Trentham I thought of Trentham."
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Mr Tourvieille said his family didn't move because of the lockdown, the driving force was to be closer to nature.
"I was born in the concrete of Paris, the feeling of home came quickly living in amongst the trees," he said.
Working as a freelance videographer for music festivals and artists in Melbourne, Mr Tourvieille doesn't miss the city or the opportunity of work there at all because he thinks the lockdowns have killed the city's arts scene.
"There's no FOMO because you can't even get paid for gigs anymore," he said.
"There is nothing negative about living here for me, every time we go back to Melbourne and then come back here to the trees I feel like I'm home again."
Fiona Haigh moved to Blackwood from Caulfield North to start a business in nature therapy
"I'm from Yorkshire originally and after nine years in Melbourne I was really missing being out in nature, it's my happy place and last year was the push that said, you only get to live this life once so where am I going to be happiest," she said.
There is nothing negative about living here for me, every time we go back to Melbourne and then come back here to the trees I feel like I'm home again.- Florent Tourvieille
The transition was a bit scary for Ms Haigh, who only knew one person in Blackwood when she decided to uproot herself and make the move.
"Now I live in this beautiful place and there's such a welcoming community here, but it was very isolating at the start," she said.
Ms Haigh met her partner about four months after she made the move, at one of the first events she attended in Blackwood post lockdown.
"The first lockdown was horrible, I was in a third floor apartment with building construction happening across the road and tram lines outside of my house, the main reason I moved was really because I wanted peace and stillness," she said.
Ms Haigh now trains others in inner peace through her business, Nature Therapy Australia where she leads qigong, a meditation practice combining mindfulness, breathe work, movements and stretches.
"There's definitely a bit of anxiety now about the weather after the storms, last night I heard thunder and thought oh god is it happening again," she said.
"I guess the reality is that we are at the mercy of nature."
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