Rach Sinanan moved to Armidale with her husband two months ago, and she couldn't be happier.
Her husband, Dr Adrian Sinanan, is a dentist and now works at a local Armidale clinic. The couple were living in Hobart but were looking for something quieter and calmer and on the Australian mainland when they scoped out the town.
"Tasmania is lovely, but you are so far removed from the rest of the country - especially once COVID hit," Ms Sinanan said.
"After living overseas for decades, I'd come home to Australia 18 months ago to be closer to family as I'm the eldest of 10. I'd spent so much time away from them I just wanted to be on the same continent as them, and then I couldn't see them."
After six months of trying to find the right place, the couple made the move to Armidale.
"I had never in my life been to Armidale before, and we came to visit to see the dental practice, and I absolutely loved it," Ms Sinanan said.
"I left Australia more than 25 years ago and lived in the UK, Vietnam, and Indonesia, and when I came back, I discovered that most of Australia has changed in that amount of time - obviously, and I wanted the old Australia back.
"Armidale suits us perfectly- it is that feeling of Australia that I remember, and I've fallen in love with the place."
After a long career in hospitality, Ms Sinanan has now started her own business. Her won't-take-no-for-an-answer attitude scored her a 10-minute slot during Channel 7's Sunrise weather report on Tuesday morning as part of Sam Mac's Plugapalooza promotion to support 100 small businesses during the pandemic.
"The weather guy Sam Mac and the producer pick the businesses from an emailed application, and you get 10 minutes to go on and plug yourself, which is fantastic as it's all free," Ms Sinanan said.
Her business is called Seedsations and is based on the nutritional value of watermelon seeds, which are apparently one of the most nutrient-dense seeds around.
"I buy the seeds, and then I sprout the seeds by soaking them overnight, and when the black husk comes off, they release all their nutrients," she said.
"I then make them into seed snacks."
Ms Sinanan said on her way back to Australia in 2019, she read an article in America about how watermelon seeds were going to be the next big thing.
"I thought that sounds exciting, and off I traipsed to buy some - thinking you could just buy watermelon seeds off the shelf - but I discovered you couldn't," she said.
"I eventually found a juice company that could sell me some, and when I tried them, I thought these are just so fantastic I have to do something with them.
"I knew I wanted to start my own business because I've worked for someone else my entire life, and I just tried different recipes with the seeds, and the snack bars came out really well, and I also do roasted seeds."
Ms Sinanan started the business in Hobart, selling online and producing everything out of her home kitchen under a food license using all-natural ingredients. However, she will soon need to find a commercial kitchen and employ staff as she has just signed a contract with Ritchies IGA and intends to grow the business and keep it in Armidale.
"My long-term plan is to sell through Woolworths and Coles and go big and eventually export," Ms Sinanan said.
"I have to say Armidale Regional Council have been so efficient.
"They were here within a couple of days and signed off my food license straight away.
"I have dealt with many other councils throughout my 30 year hospitality career, and Armidale Regional Council was really friendly and didn't mess around - I've never had such quick action."
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