Bronny Parry had been working in the corporate sector in Newcastle for 20 years, but she was always yearning for a more grounded life, until the day she had a "crazy idea".
"I took a gamble and bought a minibus from the side of the road in Newcastle, I sold my car on the same day and drove back in the minibus."
That minibus was the beginning of Mudgee Explorer Tours, a business which has grown from a single vehicle in 2016 to eight buses that run tours every day of the week.
The COVID-19 pandemic took the business to the next level, and opened up new opportunities for Ms Parry to expand to Orange.
"It shocked the life out of me, I thought tourism was doomed but after COVID-19 our sales tripled. In the last six months of 2020 our weekday tours increased to the point where we were running four to five buses every day of the week," she said.
In March, Mudgee Tourism CEO, Cara George said the region had experienced a 25 per cent increase in overnight visitation, with a 40 per cent increase in new visitors to the region.
In the early days of running the business, Ms Parry simply decided which wineries she would take guests to on the day, depending on where she felt like visiting.
"Back then, you could make up your itinerary on the fly, but these days we pre-book our time slots, it's gotten so much busier for tour companies and wineries," Ms Parry said.
Demand for tours in Orange has been strong but Ms Parry said she would expand slowly and "organically".
"I'm just taking one bus and doing the tours myself so that I can get a feel for how things are laid out geographically and build relationships."
Ms Parry went looking for a "complete lifestyle change", which she found in Mudgee, and her professional and social life have since flourished.
"I've got a much better lifestyle in Mudgee than I ever had in the city. Everyone's so busy there that it's difficult to create social circles, but now I've got more friends than I ever had in my entire life before I moved here."
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