Harcourt used to just feel like a highway with houses either side residents say. Now it's a thriving community, which is preparing for more growth.
Residents put it down to the bypass which 10 years ago diverted traffic onto the final section of the Calder Freeway.
It was expected to cut out 9000 vehicle movements through the town each day.
VicRoads opened the section of freeway between Elphinstone and Harcourt North on April 20, 2009, taking traffic away from the centre of town.
Immediately the town felt more relaxed, according to resident of 72 years George Milford.
There was no noise, no more diesel fumes, no more air brakes.
He has since seen the town grow in numbers, and its economy strengthen.
"The school has grown in numbers ... the number of new houses being built is been phenomenal, the cycling event, the fact that it's now a venue for mountain biking, has all boosted Harcourt's economy," Mr Milford said.
Co-founder of the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op Katie Finlay said the town was now thriving.
Raised in Harcourt, she moved back to the town several years before the town was bypassed.
It was tense at times deciding the route - 36 homes were demolished to build the freeway - but to her knowledge it never got nasty.
Diverting traffic has made a "massive difference" to the town.
Instead of a "a highway with houses either side", it's now a nice place to come, Ms Finlay said.
She thinks that Harcourt is on the edge of a bit of an "explosion".
"Harcourt looks like and is a much more attractive place to move to now," Ms Finlay said.
"It had more of an industrial, on the way to something feel, and now it's got much more of a destination-feel."
It's little things - work from Landcare on the creek, the progress association driving change - that have made the town thrive.
"Getting all of the trucks and all that traffic out of the centre of town, we have a much stronger community feel in the town now, it feels much more village style," Ms Finlay said.
"Over the years the Harcourt Progress Association has sprung up, the Applefest has strengthened.
"We use the space in the centre of town much better, we are able to welcome visitors to the town in a much nicer way."
Progress Association Secretary Jacqueline Brodie-Hanns said Harcourt has come alive thanks to the bypass.
"It's obviously removed thousands of cars and trucks from the centre of Harcourt, so we've been able to reclaim the town's heart and have a really pleasant, peaceful, open space to gather as a community," Ms Brodie-Hanns said.
"It's revitalised the town centre and allowed for a cafe trading seven days a week, a new produce store, there is the bakery has opened."
Harcourt will celebrate the bypass anniversary on April 27, with twilight markets at James Park.
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