Six years almost to the day my little family joined me from Tasmania to live in Wollongong.
Making the decision to uproot our life away from family and friends was not done lightly, but strangely the decision to come to the Illawarra coincidentally was.
"We've got the option of moving to Wollongong and I'll meet you for a coffee to discuss it further," was the conversation over the phone with my wife.
The drive from my office in Burnie on the north-west coast of Tasmania to my home town of Devonport is roughly 30 minutes.
Fifteen minutes into the drive to meet my wife, the phone rang.
"It's not even a discussion, we're going," Kellie said.
And that was it. In that 15 minutes my wife had logged onto the Destination Wollongong website and what she saw had already sold her on what we would discover about this place, this region.
And she was right. What we found totally lived up to our expectations. We found a new home.
A beautiful place which reminded us very much of our island home.
The landscape, the sea, the rugged backdrop. Just a tad warmer than we were used to.
We found the locals to be extremely proud, passionate and parochial. Just like Tasmanians.
On arrival in the city, Wollongong was in the grips of a crisis around the future of the BlueScope steelworks.
We set about focusing the newsroom on a campaign, Save Our Steelworks, to help get public support for the workers and the industry which had founded this region.
Aside from giving this masthead national recognition, that campaign would help galvanise our newsroom behind a cause.
It would be the first of many occasions over the past six years our newsroom has proudly carried the torch for this region.
While this will be my last column as editor of this great masthead, there are some tremendously talented, proud and passionate people who will continue to carry the torch for the Mercury and the Illawarra long into the future.
From my family to yours, thank you for welcoming us into this place we will continue to call our home.
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