Just back from a 2.5 week holiday to Australia and New Zealand and the verdict is in…we definitely made the right decision on deciding to emigrate.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were not able to emigrate within 12 months of securing our visa and in order to not lose our visas, we had to make a trip to Australia to activate our visa. We flew on Qantas to Melbourne, via Dubai. Its a long old flight, almost 8 hours to Dubai from London, and then after a 2 hour layover, another 14 hour flight to Melbourne. We landed late in the evening and whilst we made it through the border relatively quickly, the children’s car seats got misplaced and so we had to wait an hour for them to make an appearance. On the positive side – the long wait allowed the queues at customs to dissipate and so we flew through there.
Activating the visa is a massive anti-climax. There is no visa embossed in your passport to show friends and family as it is electronically stored. It was pretty much checking that we were who we said we were by looking at our passport photos.
Melbourne is a lovely city, although we saw very little of the CBD. We spent most of our time on the beaches along the Port Philip bay, or in the countryside in Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. The city is massive – one suburb rolls into the next endlessly, very different from the Cotswold living in ‘rural England’that we’ve grown used to. That’s not to say that its going to be city life from here forward; far from it. The houses are much bigger than here in England and they aren’t all built on top of each other in the SE suburbs where we’re looking at moving to (looking at being about 20km form the city centre). There are also lots of large parks with biking trails, walks, playgrounds, and my favourite – free barbecues! There are also the beaches! Even though it was the depths of winter when we were there, the days tended to be sunny and so going outside was not a problem. We spent a lot of our time down by the beach. The sea water by Melbourne is however really cold in Winter – you wouldn’t catch me in there without a wet suit on! But I saw some guys out spear fishing, and as an avid diver, I’m looking forward to seeing what the sea life has to offer.
Unfortunately, we didn’t do much of the typical tourist trips – we never even made it into the city centre to explore. I did manage to catch a game of Aussie Rules Football at the MCG – that was a great experience! Its definitely a sport I’m going to enjoy watching, and the live games are really family friendly. The challenge now is to find a team to support – right not my leaning is towards Richmond but nothing decided yet!
Well, that’s all for now, nothing much to report on apart from we’re now Australian Permanent Residents, although we’re currently still trapped in old Blighty! 2018 is the year for the big move, right now it’s looking like August/September. I’ll update as we go along with tips/hints/dos/don’t from our experiences of packing up life in the UK and moving to the other side of the world to Australia.