Over the years, Jenny Lockhart has done many jobs, working as a hairdresser, respite worker, court counsellor and a cook, at many locations around the world, including the Sydney Opera House.
But, according to the woman herself, "Being a mother and then a foster parent were probably the most challenging – but also the most rewarding – jobs I have had."
These days Jenny (who also loves to crochet, cook and garden) has five children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. None of them live nearby, but they all love coming to visit her, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. That's because Jennifer lives in Nyah, a sleepy little town nestled on the banks of the mighty Murray River in northern Victoria.
It has been her home for around 30 years – she moved back in 1990 with her three youngest children in order to care for her mother after her father died. "I was actually born and raised on the NSW side of the river," says Jenny, "but Nyah was the main shopping town."
Now we've seen and heard about this beautiful part of Australia, we can totally see why Jenny stayed!
Describe your town in a couple of sentences:
"Nyah is a kind of sleepy little town about 365 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. It has lots of character and there’s good fishing and bushwalking to be had in the area."
An interesting thing people might not know about your town is….
"In 1914, at the edge of Nyah-Vinifera Park, is a spot where the country’s first commercial rice crop was grown. A man called Jo Takasuka planted it and thus started a new industry for Australia. The road into the forest is aptly named Takasuka Road."
What are the best events that take place in your town throughout the year that you’d really recommend to visitors?
"While Nyah doesn't have any significant events, the nearby city of Swan Hill has a lot to offer, including monthly farmers' markets and great racing events (the main one being the Swan Hill Cup in June each year). Nyah itself has a monthly market, fishing competitions and also a large rec reserve where grey nomads can camp and chill out for a while. There are many other events in the region each year, such as the Mallee Almond Blossom Festival."
Why do you love your town so much?
"Because of the friendly people, pleasant climate, loads of interesting activities and the peacefulness and beauty of the Mallee region. Nyah is where my heart is."
Best thing for every first-time visitor to do in your town?
"Go down to the riverbank, chill out and watch the birds and other animals going about their day. And visit the old heritage town of Nyahwest, a couple of kilometres down the road."
Best place for a coffee?
"A good cup of coffee can be had at either of the two service stations at Nyah. And for a coffee and a delicious vanilla slice you can't go past the Swan Hill Bakehouse."
Best place for a walk?
"Anywhere along the Murray River and in the surrounding red gum forests."
Best place to look out over an amazing view?
"Victoria's 'mirror lake' – Lake Tyrrell. Be sure to do a trip to this salt lake with Sea Lake Tyrell Tours. When there's no wind, it becomes a perfect mirror of the sky. For brilliant views and photos, try to be there for ‘golden hour’ – the hour before sunset. Or sunrise. Or when the stars are out!"
Best thing to do at night?
"There are several clubs around the area, all good for a night out. Some have live music, others a DJ – you can dance the night away regardless. The sound and light show (Heartbeat of the Murray laser light show) at the Pioneer Settlement in Swan Hill is also well worth checking out."
Best thing to do in town for free?
"There are many wineries in the vicinity of Nyah, including Andrew Peace Wines, which is a must for wine buffs. It's free to visit the winery – but the wines regularly win best wine at the Melbourne show and other shows, so you might end up spending some money!"
Best thing to do for under $20?
"Take a tour of the Pioneer Settlement sitting on the banks of the Murray in Swan Hill. It's a step back in time. A paddleboat ride is also a must-do."
Best thing to do if money is no object?
"Charter a plane from Swan Hill airport and fly over the vast lake systems in the Mallee country."
Best souvenir to take home from your town?
"As well as wineries, the area is home to citrus groves and olive plantations, including the nearby Boundary Bend olive grove. Maybe pick up a bottle of their world-famous Cobram Estate olive oil."
Best thing to do on a hot day?
"On a hot summer's day, Lake Boga is an idyllic place to cool off. There are water sports galore on the lake, as well as a museum of flying boats from WW2."
Best place to warm up on a winter’s day?
"Rug up and go to a local footy match or a night at the trots."
Best restaurant with a view?
"A cafe called Spoons, which has a view of the Murray River, and serves awesome breakfasts! It's set in Riverside Park (which also has a food and wine festival each year), and is a scenic and peaceful spot to relax and enjoy the great food."
Best cheap-and-cheerful restaurant?
"My fave is the Princess of Ming Chinese Restaurant in Swan Hill."
Best place for a top-notch evening meal?
"The best restaurant for a special feed would have to be Java Spice Thai restaurant in Swan Hill. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth paying the extra dollar."
Best place for visitors to pick up something special?
"The Pioneer Settlement and monthly farmers' market."
Best place to go if you want to learn more about your town?
"The Swan Hill Information Centre."
The last word…
"This little town of Nyah is the gem of the Murray Mallee. Make sure you put it on your next holiday itinerary!"