It all began with a visit to Mudgee 20 years ago.
A life in the Central West has entertained the thoughts of successful media personality, Jo McKinnon for a long time.
McKinnon first paid a visit to the region in the late 1990s to early 2000s as part of a work trip for Sky Racing.
During that journey, Jo found herself in the presence of some of the biggest racing names the Mid-Western region has played host to such as the 'late legend' Max Crockett and top jockey, Hugh Bowman.
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From that very moment, Jo fell helplessly to the charm of Mudgee, making the decision to move this year and now calls Mudgee home.
"I have really fond memories from that trip and meeting the people out here at Mudgee and spending time in this environment," she said.
"It is one of those places you go to and just has a huge impact on you.
"Even back then I thought about how I would love to come back to this part of the world one day if I could."
RSN's Talking Horses producer and host made the move in late September and says it's everything she hoped it would be.
"The time has flown by, I just love it. For me, it ticks a lot of boxes in terms of lifestyle.
"The drought is a concern, it is interesting to live in this environment and get a better sense of what rural Australia is facing at the moment.
"I feel very happy and comfortable here, it's beautiful."
The Melbourne native first dived into the media world during her second year of university which led to an internship at the Herald and Weekly Times.
The drought is a concern, it is interesting to live in this environment and get a better sense of what rural Australia is facing at the moment.Jo McKinnon
Partway through the work experience stint, McKinnon was selected for a cadetship as a copy kid, something that was only offered to eight out of thousands of applicants.
After three years of working there, Jo found herself on Network 10 as a sports reporter and presenter, later moving on to Sky Racing.
"Being front and centre of the national broadcast of racing, Sky, for quite a number of years is an achievement of mine I'm very proud of," McKinnon said.
"Back then it was very novel for women to be in the space of broadcasting racing and sport so at the time it was quite groundbreaking to be a woman in a man's world, and I think to some extent it is pretty tricky for women to navigate their way through different aspects of racing."
A passion for journalism
From a young age, McKinnon tasked herself with combining her lifelong love for racing and passion for journalism.
What followed was an award winning series, A Racetrack Somewhere, that McKinnon produced with her brother, Lachlan.
"From a very young age I have always loved horses, my mum was a keen rider. I remember sitting on the back of a horse and remembering how amazing that was, it just grew from there," she said.
"When I'm around horses, it's one of those things where it just completely consumes you, and it was just one of those things that just grew into being a big part of my life.
"When I was a teeenager I worked out that I wanted to work with horses in some capacity. The journalism career was a passion as well so I found a way to combine the two and the rest is history.
"It [A Racetrack Somewhere] won an award at the 2017 EQUUS Film Festival in New York, and to get it on an iconic airline like Quantas where it was shown to the domestic and international flight audience was great.
"It was very rewarding to see it come to life after two years and 14,000 kilometres of travel."
Jo, now in addition to Talking Horses, writes for Thoroughbred Daily News and various equestrian publications.
"I could talk horses till the cows come home," she said.
"I have been so lucky I've been able to make a life out of horses the way I have, and thanks to them I have been able to travel the world and have extraordinary experiences and make amazing friends."
'It starts with visualisation'
For those who may find themselves in a similar situation with the desire to marry passion and love, McKinnon says it starts with visualisation.
"The first thing is being passionate and the second thing is visualising where you want to be.
"I think you've actually got to really have a clear picture in your mind about what it is you want to be doing. What are the things that really make you happy and consume you? Grab hold of those moments and make it more of a part of your life.
"It's always going to be full of risks and be scary but if you keep sight of the end goal, then you can make it happen.
"There's no fandangle answer to what motivates success, in the end it's got to come from within and hard work. Sometimes it gets hard and murky but that's the challenge of it all, get to the other end and follow your dreams.
"That's what living really is."
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