When Corinda and Jordan Grant decided the best school for their daughter Rosie was on the other side of town, they had to commit to the daily commute.
Fortunately, in Echuca the other side of town is just 11 minutes each morning in the car. Locals were shocked at the length of the commute, but their Melbourne relatives were envious of just how short it was.
“There are great options for education in the country and because everything is so close in Echuca, we were able to choose the best school for Rosie,” Corinda says.
“I love working in a country school, I feel really passionate about it.”
After growing up in Echuca, Corinda moved to Bendigo and then Melbourne, before a much more dramatic move to Ottawa in Canada to be with her now husband Jordan, a Canadian national.
It wasn’t the Canadian winters that drew the pair back to Echuca, but rather the longing to build a career and put down roots in a location they loved. Jordan was offered a teaching post in Echuca when they moved back, while Corinda was offered an interview for a teaching post in Kyabram on her way from the airport to her parents’ house.
She was offered a scholarship – an incentive for graduate teachers to move to the country – and a position at Kyabram Secondary College, where she spent four very happy years before taking a new job in Echuca.
After eleven years back in Australia, with two daughters aged 6 and 3, Corinda and Jordan have bought and now sold their first house; secured leave without pay to travel the world for a year and most importantly, established solid roots in Echuca.
“We have just sold our first home and are feeling really comfortable, which is a really privileged place to be,” Corinda says.
“We received a huge government incentive to build our home here, about $40,000 and a home in this area is $400-600,000, whereas in Melbourne we would have been looking at $800,000 at an absolute minimum – we just couldn’t have done what we have done.
“We love to travel and wanted the kids to lead adventurous lives – not just knowing history and stories from books, but having some connection to it, by travelling to amazing places.
“Jordan is a history teacher and I’m an English/literature teacher and that’s our schtick – what we are really passionate about. It sounds really nerdy but it’s true!”
Corinda said Echuca offered really good coffee, great food and ready access to the bush, where her daughters crush gumleaves and get excited about hearing kookaburras, walking the same riverside paths that she walked as a child.
“When we go back to Melbourne now, we get a bit grumpy about the traffic because everything here is 5-10 minutes away, maximum,” Corinda says.
“It’s not all perfect. There is a level of conservatism that I notice here, and I can have debates with kids about controversial topics, but I think that’s an important part of coming back – I can bring back my experiences and understanding from travelling and share that with the students.
“Overall, the kids are so open and ready to engage with you, it’s a really rewarding place to be.”