Home is where the heart is
Words from a local
She might be thousands of kilometres away from her birth country, but home is truly where the heart is for Elizabeth Valer.
Born and raised in Peru, Elizabeth now lives in the Central Highlands with her husband William, a diesel mechanic and fitter, and their two children - Christian (aged 12) and Sophia (aged 7).
"We moved to Emerald in 2007 after my husband's friend, who was already living here, told us to come over because of all the job opportunities," Elizabeth says.
"We thought we would just stay for one year and see what happens, but we quickly fell in love with this town.
"We had been very worried about English because we could only speak the basics back then, but this community was amazing and truly helped us settle in from the beginning."
Elizabeth believes the Central Highlands is an ideal place to raise children because it's safe and there are so many things to do.
"There's weekly playgroups, an amazing swimming pool, a library with story time sessions, clean parks and playgrounds, and plenty of family-friendly events - we love how the people here work together to hold a party!
"I've also been really impressed with the schools.
"My son now goes to Emerald State High School and they are very proactive about anti-bullying and teaching respect."
The Varlers briefly returned to Peru to be closer to family but Elizabeth soon discovered "we missed Emerald and realised our friends and the community here are our family too."
After coming back, Elizabeth and William chose to officially become Australian citizens in 2011.
In addition to her work as a parent and casual cleaner, Elizabeth is immersed in the town's thriving multicultural scene, and even runs a Peruvian biscuits stall at the monthly Lions Club Market.
"I love this community because they are always there for you, ready to help if you want it, and everyone is so social, ready to say hello when you walk down the street.
"The region is certainly not isolated - we're an easy flight from Brisbane and a roadtrip to Rockhampton - and if you want a job, you can find it here."