"I remember as a child coming out onto Castlereagh Highway and there was a sign there that said 'Gulgong population 832'. I always remember that," Joy Harrison said.
It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with Gulgong that saw Ms Harrison make regular trips to the small town before she finally decided to settle there full-time in 2014.
Joy Harrison was announced as the Dubbo Electorate's Woman of the Year on International Women's Day.
Ms Harrison is a fourth-generation resident of Gulgong who moved to the town from the city after years of visiting her grandparents on holidays who instilled her with a passion for its history.
"I was so much happier in Gulgong than I was in Parramatta. When my parents and siblings would go on holidays, I'd come up here to spend time with my grandparents," Ms Harrison said.
Gulgong was a place rich with history that seemed to come to life as Ms Harrison spent her childhood holidays at Black Lead on her grandparents' farm.
"During the gold strikes, miners used to bring quartz down to Tippings' dam. Every time it rained, the dam overflowed, and my grandfather would have me out there with the gold pan on the little dirt road. He had a full jar of gold, it was amazing, and it instilled the history in me because I wanted to know why the gold was there even as a little kid. It used to fascinate me," she said.
It's an experience that Ms Harrison is now passing onto future generations with her work coordinating the Gulgong Gold Experience.
"Over school holidays we had kids panning for gold and they came from everywhere, Sydney, the Hunter Valley and Newcastle."
Ms Harrison has seen Gulgong go through major developments, many of which are thanks to her tireless community involvement.
"It's a love of the place, if I see something that needs doing, I do it, because it's the way I've been brought up," she said.
"My grandmother was a very strong woman and a hard worker and she instilled that work ethic into me. Because when I was there as a child I'd have to do things like milk the cows, separate the milk, feed the chooks, she'd always have me doing something. I loved that too."
It's a work ethic that has seen her become a highly involved member and advocate for the Gulgong community across many formal and informal roles.
Ms Harrison sat on the Gulgong Chamber of Commerce for over 30 years and recently organised Gulgong's 150th anniversary.
After moving to the town, Ms Harrison helped establish the Gulgong Gold Experience as its volunteer coordinator and has continued to volunteer since the attraction open in 2016, as well as being the Gulgong correspondent for the Mudgee Guardian.
The rich history of Gulgong is in safe hands and the town's future looks bright with major tourist attractions in the works, according to Ms Harrison.
"I'm positive about Gulgong's future, especially with the Gulgong Gold Experience, it'll be there forever. It's going to be a huge complex and it'll be a wonderful tourist attraction not just for the region but for all of New South Wales."
Ms Harrison now works on the Gulgong Development Group and the Mudgee Region Tourism Skills Board, where she has contributed her knowledge and experience from a long career in marketing.
"I don't have any spare time but I enjoy working, the more I've got to do the happier I am," she said.
Ms Harrison said she enjoys her various roles and was honoured to receive the award on Monday.
"I feel quite humbled by the whole thing actually, I do what I do because it needs doing, I don't do it for the accolades."
She was presented with the award by Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders and Minister for Women Bonnie Taylor, who was in Dubbo for International Women's Day.
"This time last year I stood in Parliament to recognise Joy's contribution to Gulgong through her work as a founding member of the Gulgong Gold Experience, and her efforts promoting the town as the correspondent for the Mudgee Guardian," Mr Saunders said.
"So it gives me great pride to stand here today."
The NSW Women of the Year awards will be announced on Tuesday and Wednesday, with six nominees across the categories from the region.
Monday marked International Women's Day with this years theme being #ChooseToChallenge.