Thank you for warm welcome

By Ashlea Witoslawski

I still remember the first time my new reality of living in the country really sunk in.

I was enjoying a night out in Melbourne, celebrating my impending move with friends, when I started balling my eyes out on a couch inside the bar.

I would like to say I’m a person who embraces change and enjoys the thrill of new experiences, but sometimes the fear of the unknown takes hold and this was one of those times.

I remember telling everyone with such confidence that night it would only be a short amount of time -“about six months, max” was a phrase I threw around a lot at the time.

But now we’re here in December 2019, three years later, and I’m left laughing at past Ash’s naivety and all the positive moments she could never imagined while stressing about life in the Goulburn Valley.

After making the decision to take the next steps in my journalism career with a move to Sydney, my last day is one of excitement, reflection and gratitude.

Looking back through the archives, I have been blessed to share the stories of so many people from our community.

Sharing people’s triumphs, accomplishments and accolades is just one highlight, but I am also grateful for the opportunity people have gifted me in sharing some of their deepest and personal tragedies.

It is a job full of ups and downs, with no day like the next.

I remember one day visiting a newly-established maize crop to chat with the farmers, only to be stuck in the car with horses pressed up against the doors, looking inquisitively through the windows.

Another memory that springs to mind is a fashion shoot for Betty magazine in which all involved roasted under the summer sun inside Dookie’s old quarry for hours trying to get the perfect shots.

It’s safe to safe we all ended up with a touch of sunstroke that day.

It’s not only these quirky moments I’ll remember but also the iconic moments of the town’s history I have been lucky to cover for the paper, including the unveiling of the William Cooper statue in Queen’s Gardens, the apportionment of three local women as part of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and the announcement of Greater Shepparton Secondary College to name a few.

There has been a lot of learning and I can say with confidence if I went to a Shepparton-themed trivia night, I would be a very strong asset for anyone’s team.

To all I have crossed paths with over the past three years, thank you for sharing your passions and interests with me and teaching me the ins and outs of life in the country.

I live by the motto ‘every experience is a learning opportunity’ and my time in Shepparton is one I will cherish.

So if you see me out in public crying as I slowly pack up my life in Shepp, just ignore me.

I may just be back in six months’ time.