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Paradise found?

By Kathy Sundstrom
Sunshine Coast Daily

Ex-Melbourne couple Roy and Viola Crombie are loving life on the Sunshine Coast after moving here for a sea-change.

It sounds idyllic. Particularly when you are stuck in peak-hour inner city traffic, in the rain and you know the temperature is unlikely to rise above 20 degrees for the rest of the week.

And for those who’ve enjoyed holidays to the Sunshine Coast before, the concept of a “sea change” has even more of a glossy brochure allure.

But what’s it really like once the bags are unpacked?

Do those who have given up everything and moved away from family and friends to resettle here find the grass is green, but not always greener, on the other side?

Does the novelty of waking up every morning in a place where the sea is warm and inviting and the outdoors beckons most of the year quickly wear off?

Two families who moved to the Sunshine Coast from opposite ends of the world share how their sea change experience has lived up to the original dream.

Wendy Cutting first came to Australia from her home in the United Kingdom with husband Peter in 1983 in search of her father, whom she’d last seen aged three – 38 years earlier.

She eventually made contact with him, the cherry on top of the emotional reunion being that he lived in Currimundi.

Wendy’s father died three years after their reunion, but the Cuttings continued to make regular trips to the area and plan for their ultimate sea change.

It took 23 years before they obtained the visas that allowed them to move permanently.

They settled into the Living Choice Kawana Island Retirement Village in 2006.

Their sea change experience has, so far, turned out to be everything they had hoped for and more.

Even though they have retired from the workforce, their lifestyle is far from retiring, with Peter playing bowls several times a week as well as golf, table tennis and cycling most days.

He also finds time for voluntary work as vice-president of the resident’s association. Wendy’s life is also busy – meeting with other sea-changers who live at Kawana Island, cycling, swimming and enjoying life.

“It’s the perfect climate here, you wouldn’t get this situation in the United Kingdom. My family wish they were here with us,” she said.

Peter said: “The only way we are going to move out here is in a wooden box.”

The novelty of the sea change also hasn’t worn off for Noosa’s Roy and Viola Crombie.

This couple moved from Melbourne three years ago in search of a healthier lifestyle and a “change of scenery”.

Like the Cuttings, they have continued to fill their lives with activities long after the “honeymoon” settling in period was over. “We do things in Noosa we wouldn’t do in Melbourne or Sydney,” Roy said.

“We bike ride, kayak, play golf – we thoroughly enjoy it.”

Viola has also been happy to swap her “high-powered career in Melbourne” for a more sedentary Sunshine Coast lifestyle.

“Every day I used to be in the traffic for an hour-and-a-half in the morning,” she said.

“It’s hard to compare it to living here, where it is a five-minute trip to work.”

Viola has also immersed herself in community work, volunteering at the Noosaville Association.

It has had one downside – Viola’s children live in Melbourne and she misses them.

But there was “no way” Viola or Roy would return to their old life.

The National Sea Change Taskforce estimated the rate of growth in sea change communities like the Sunshine Coast was “60% higher than the national average and is gathering momentum”.