MOVING to the opposite side of the world can be a scary decision to make for most people.
But when Scott and Nicci Horner decided they wanted a fresh start for their family, the decision was easy.
The couple and their two children, Oliver and Maisie-Grace, made the choice to leave their home in Cardiff, Wales, and move to Port Macquarie in 2019.
"We wanted a lifestyle change and to have a fresh start. It was an adventure for our family," Scott said.
"We didn't want to look back and regret not making a decision like this."
The Horner family were tossing up moving to Spain or the USA before deciding on Australia.
"We joined a Facebook group for Poms living in Australia where my wife met a woman who posted photos from Port Macquarie. We saw photos of the breakwall and the ocean and we knew we wanted to live in a place like that."
We moved all the way to the other side of the world. Everything after you do something like that seems a lot easier to handle.Scott Horner
The family packed up their life in Cardiff, sold their house and car and moved to the other side of the world.
"It was a spur of the moment thing. We sold everything in the UK and left for Australia," Scott said.
"We wanted to slow down our life and Port Macquarie was a great choice for us.
"It still feels surreal sometimes that we live here."
With no family in Australia and no jobs lined up, the Horners built their lives here from scratch.
"We just started to do small things one by one, like finding somewhere to live, buying a car and setting up our lives here."
The family of four arrived in Australia during the Black Summer bushfires in 2019.
"When we got here the country was on fire and it was a very surreal and strange experience. We remember the day when everything was orange and it looked like the world was ending," Scott said.
"Then we had the drought and COVID-19 as well as the floods in between all of that."
Throughout all of these trying times, the Horner family started their own business to encourage locals and visitors to get out and explore Port Macquarie.
"Escape the Expected started because we wanted more people to explore what is around them and find things they didn't know existed in their own town," Scott said.
Escape the Expected offers self-guided escape walks around Port Macquarie's coastal tracks and town centre. There are clues and puzzles to solve along the way and the walks vary in complexity and difficulty.
"We wanted to be able to collaborate with other local businesses and get people outside exploring."
A collaboration with the Mid North Coast Maritime Museum resulted in a different demographic of people visiting the museum while on one of the escape walks.
"We had a lot of people saying they had never visited the museum before doing the walk and they were finding out more about their own town," he said.
Before moving to Australia, Scott worked as a business analyst while Nicci worked with the elderly and in child care.
"There were a lot of transferable skills from our previous jobs that we were able to use when we started Escape the Expected," Scott said.
A worldwide pandemic and lockdowns posed a challenge to the business as stay at home orders were introduced.
"We had to turn an outdoor business into an indoor one and that's where the idea for our home edition escape pack came from," Scott said.
"It's something different for people to try while at home and still offers the same team building and leadership skills as our escape walks do but it's from the comfort of your own home."
Plans to collaborate with other local businesses have been put on hold due to lockdown, but Scott said they will have more escape walks for locals and visitors to try once everything is open again.
"We know that we can do things better together so collaborating with other businesses and having a focus on mental health is something we will continue to do through Escape the Expected," Scott said.
"Port Macquarie is a big town with a local community heart and we're glad to be part of the community."
Although the past couple of years have been trying, Scott said his advice for others is to never give up.
"We moved all the way to the other side of the world. Everything after you do something like that seems a lot easier to handle. You just have to find a way to move forward."
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