1st month in Australia

Old Feb 23rd 2007, 1:19 am
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Default 1st month in Australia

I always loved these posts before D day, so here's my own version.

Flights

We flew with BA from Glasgow to Heathrow and then Qantas from Heathrow to Melbourne via a couple of hours in Hong Kong.
The flights in general were fine. The extra security hassles were the biggest pain. Our flight timings were perfectly adequate but the long security queues meant a little bit of running around between connections. Even in Hong Kong, when we got off to stretch our legs, we had to go back through security to get to the departure lounge again.
We only had 80 kgs baggage allowance in total (2+2), but our luggage was bang on the weight (although I've subsequently heard of a few people who had much more than their allowance and were simply waved through!). Qantas offered us extra allowance if we purchased 'special' emigration tickets at an extra 700 quid.
The Qantas planes had the video on demand thingy, which helped when any of us were watching the films or tv programmes - a small bonus. The food,etc. was fine and the flight attendants were helpful if required.
Didn't see much of Hong Kong. It was raining a little and slightly foggy,so couldn't see much from the airport. The airport itself was pretty impressive, but that's comparing to Glasgow.
The flights were pretty much on time and we arrived in a Melbourne late in the evening. No problems with immigration. First 2 suitcases arrived quickly, but third one never arrived (it turned up 2 days later - don't know what adventures it has been on).
By the time we had gone through the lost luggage process and finally got out the airport, it was after 11. Our friend picked us up and we left the airport to find it very warm but raining.

Jetlag

Don't think I would describe the way we felt afterwards as a result of jetlag - more to do with being stuck on a plane for a day and not getting much sleep. In British time, we were up at 6 in the morning, flew to London and then on to Hong Kong at around midnight. Arrived Melbourne at 9 the next morning, but didn't go to bed until approx 5pm (4am in Mel). At that point I had only slept for an hour or so and the kids maybe had about 7 hours. We all rose relatively early, so by 7pm the following evening, we were all tired.

Weather

It rained on our first day, was overcast and became cold (no, not really cold, but the wife put on a cardigan when outside for a while). From then on the weather has steadily improved. First week was generally mid-20's with a bit of cloud cover. You get that thing where it's sometimes cloudy in the morning and it just depends how long it's going to take the sun (which is very strong - lots of cream) to burn it away. We've been here 4 weeks now at the weather is now officially hot. High 30's during the day and mid 20's at night. You really notice it when you come out of the car or a shopping centre (both with air con) and into the sun.
I've been told that Melbourne's hottest weather is Feb-Mar.

Location

We stayed with our friends for the first couple of weeks in Mount Martha on the Mornington Peninsula (south of Melbourne). A beautiful part of the world, very peaceful with lovely beaches. Very quiet. We've now moved into a rental in the centre of Mornington, which is handy for everything. Mornington is a seaside town, with shops to match - quite a cafe culture, but I think this is very common across Oz. Again, the beaches are picture perfect, with great views of the bay and Melbourne CBD in the distance.

Travel

We're approx 1-1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD by car. Or, 15 mins by car to Frankston and then 1 hour by train (it's not a great distance by train, it's just that the train stops at every lamppost on the way, so to speak). Frankston is bigger again than Mornington and, although we've heard that there are some 'rough' bits, we think it might be more of our kind of place, with more shopping etc.
Getting back to the car, the roads are very good but the same can't really be said about the driving. They don't believe in driving on the LHS. I don't know if this is specifically taught to them or if it's something they pick up. This means if you want to pass someone, they won't move over, so you have to pass on the left. I've seen road signs saying 'stay on the left unless overtaking' but these seem to be ignored. They have a habit of either moving onto the RHS lane approx 2 miles before their planned right turn!, or sitting in the RHS lane until 100 yards before they need to turn left! Either way, there's a lot of weaving in and out of traffic, so you have to be aware.
Haven't really been in any major traffic jams (more in the city itself I think), but the above habit of sitting on the right causes backlogs when 2 cars go along across from each other for mile after mile and no-one can pass.

Cars

New cars seem in general to be cheaper than UK (they're advertising a new Honda accord on the telly with all the bells and whistles for approx $34K = 13,500 quid), with second had values being held up. We were fortunate to get a good deal on a nearly new dealership car. A friend of a friend works for a specific car company. We got a list of approx 20 cars to choose from. The queer part was that you then turn up on the allotted date and time and, along with any other 'guests' you are invited to pick your car. If more than one person picks a car, then you draw lots. I ended up competing with one other person for the car I wanted and was picked out of the ballot of 2. Fantastic. I reckons I saved appox 6-7000 bucks going on paper advertised prices.

Houses

Main priority after we settled was to find a rental. We didn't want to outstay our welcome and we needed our own space. We've sold up in Scotland and are hoping to buy something in 6 months or so once we're both working. We had some problems renting, firstly because this is the busy period down on the peninsula, and secondly, because we have no rental history and neither of us is working yet. Ended up offering to pay the 6 months rent up front to get anywhere (and 2 sets of friends as character references). Fortunately, we've picked up a rental in the centre of Mornington which is handy for everything, so we won't need a second car for a while. It's not the newest or prettiest of interiors, but it'll do for 6 months.
Tried not to look too much at houses for sale (concentrated on rentals), but our initial opinion is that we'll be able to get a great house (big, 4 bedrooms, some land) for maybe $400-500k. Again, it all depends on location, but you do get a lot more here for your money. Also, you rarely see two houses the same. It's only very new builds that seem to have a couple of similar designs. In general, when you drive down any street, each house is different.

Banking

Went with Westpac and have used Moneycorp for our overseas transactions. (Fortunate to get deals over $2.50 when the rate was good last week.) There's a $5 monthly charge for unlimited transactions with Westpac, but we've been pointed in the direction of a specific credit union with no charges. They have a queer thing when you use your debit card, when you have to choose either 'cheque','savings' or 'credit'. I got the woman in the branch to explain it to me, but I still don't quite get it.

The 'price of living'

My own opinion is that it's pretty much the same as the UK. You can buy t-shirts etc for a few quid or 20 quid. There will always be cheaper shops and in general you get better quality if you spend more cash. The wife complains that the styles are crap and the clothing quality isn't too high. The only things I've noticed being much cheaper are petrol, butchermeat and houses, but other things are more expensive. I think their fresh foods are more seasonally priced, but I can't confirm (only here 4 weeks).

Kids

2 kids (11 and 7) have both started local primary school. Unsure if the older one should have started high school (they call it year 7). They're both happy and making friends easily enough. They've got bikes, balls, bodyboards etc and are enjoying going to the beach every day or so. They'll be even happier when their stuff arrives in the container (hopefully 6-8 weeks to go).
The education system is the one area I don't think I did enough research on. There are lots of private schools in the area (and our friends kids go to one) but I still don't know what the advantage is. I'm a successful result of the comprehensive education system and think that my university attendance was partly down to a reasonably good secondary school, but also down to how much work I did and how 'clever' I was. I know we're probably talking about smaller class sizes and more 'opportunities', but I remain to be convinced that it's worth the $6-10K per year per kid (or more). The problem is that the internet is not the best place to research this kind of stuff. You need to go out an speak to 'real' Ozzies an get loads of opinions.
They also seems to have a sponsorship system for private schools. If you kids are 'excellent' at something (smart, athletic, even popular), they can be interviewed and the private school may agree to cutting their fees by a %. They are obviously in it to get the best pupils and subsequently get the best results in the future.

Work

Neither myself nor the wife have work yet. The missus is a nurse and decided to wait until we got here before applying for work. Unfortunately, she didn't approach the NBV when processing the visa application and so we had to go into their offices in the CBD (our first visit there) in our first week. We thought she had given them all of the details they required, but they are a very pedantic lot and now want further data from her last employer. The wife phoned them and they agreed to send the relevant paperwork to Melbourne straight away. It should hopefully be only a few days more before she is registered and can start work. She's planning to start working 'bank' with one of the local private hospitals and has been virtually agreed to start straight away. They're desperate for nurses.
Im a CIMA qualified accountant with lots of local govt experience. I have registered with a few agencies and am hoping something will come up soon (the agency guys seem confident at least!). Most work is through agencies as the Ozzie unemployed only get benefits if they are seen to apply for jobs, so they apply for everything and the employers need agencies to shortlist. I'm told that local govt also uses agencies, but that was the agencies telling me this.

Ozzies

We've mostly been meeting other expats, but most of the ozzies I've met are ok. They are open and appear to be generally interested in what you have to say. They are a little bureaucratic a times and appear a little too laid back at other times, but I think that's got a lot to do with the weather.

Telly

5 terrestrial stations with loads of American stuff, quasi celebrities doing stuff (I didn't know most of them in the UK and I certainly don't know any of them here!) and reality tv (fat people, etc). I didn't watch most of this is the UK and I won't be watching most of it here. We had SKY+ in the UK and they have FOXTEL here, with exactly the same handset, but with much fewer channels (although again I tended to only watch a few of them anyway).

Football

Haven't been to a 'soccer' game yet (that's the one and only time I'll refer to fitba as soccer), but from what I've seen on the telly, the standard is pretty crap but it looks as if it might slowly get a foothold in Oz (pardon the pun), which will help.

Wildlife.

The flies are not plentiful, but they're a little too persistent for my liking. You brush them from one ear for them to then fly to the other - back and forward - annoying.
Seen one huntsman. About 2 inches across in my friends car sitting in the door jam. When he shoved it with his key to see if it was alive, it fell between his feet and we both jumped. Managed to 'shoo' it out the door.
Nothing else to report - no poisonous spiders, no snakes, no sharks. Loads of parrots and other strange birds (including a family of ducks crossing the road last night). There are signs around telling you to slow down if you see a koala crossing the road, but I've been told the chances are pretty slim to non-existent.

Conclusion

For me, it's all still holiday mode until both of us are working. First impressions are very good and we have been lucky through this whole process (the worst thing to happen so far was the suitcase missing for 2 days - seriously). I can't thank our friends enough for all of their help and support. From picking us up at the airport to letting us stay with them for nearly 3 weeks, assisting with the car purchase, pointing us in the right direction with everything including all the mistakes they made when they arrived last year. Some other friends let us borrow their jeep until we got our own car. As I say, we've been very lucky.
No major homesickness yet, but it's still very early. The parents and inlaws can now phone us whenever they want and we even managed to get the webcams working, so they get to see us.

Will keep everyone posted on future developments.

As per previous posts, thanks to everyone from this site who helped us by answering all of our questions.

Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll offer my opinion, for what it's worth.

Good luck to everyone going through the process.

David

PS What are drive thru off licences all about?
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 1:37 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by pippin lara View Post
...What are drive thru off licences all about?
Convenience...!
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 4:14 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by pippin lara View Post

PS What are drive thru off licences all about?
One of mans most important inventions according to my hubby!!
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 5:42 am
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Thumbs up Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by pippin lara View Post
I always loved these posts before D day, so here's my own version.

Flights

We flew with BA from Glasgow to Heathrow and then Qantas from Heathrow to Melbourne via a couple of hours in Hong Kong.
The flights in general were fine. The extra security hassles were the biggest pain. Our flight timings were perfectly adequate but the long security queues meant a little bit of running around between connections. Even in Hong Kong, when we got off to stretch our legs, we had to go back through security to get to the departure lounge again.
We only had 80 kgs baggage allowance in total (2+2), but our luggage was bang on the weight (although I've subsequently heard of a few people who had much more than their allowance and were simply waved through!). Qantas offered us extra allowance if we purchased 'special' emigration tickets at an extra 700 quid.
The Qantas planes had the video on demand thingy, which helped when any of us were watching the films or tv programmes - a small bonus. The food,etc. was fine and the flight attendants were helpful if required.
Didn't see much of Hong Kong. It was raining a little and slightly foggy,so couldn't see much from the airport. The airport itself was pretty impressive, but that's comparing to Glasgow.
The flights were pretty much on time and we arrived in a Melbourne late in the evening. No problems with immigration. First 2 suitcases arrived quickly, but third one never arrived (it turned up 2 days later - don't know what adventures it has been on).
By the time we had gone through the lost luggage process and finally got out the airport, it was after 11. Our friend picked us up and we left the airport to find it very warm but raining.

Jetlag

Don't think I would describe the way we felt afterwards as a result of jetlag - more to do with being stuck on a plane for a day and not getting much sleep. In British time, we were up at 6 in the morning, flew to London and then on to Hong Kong at around midnight. Arrived Melbourne at 9 the next morning, but didn't go to bed until approx 5pm (4am in Mel). At that point I had only slept for an hour or so and the kids maybe had about 7 hours. We all rose relatively early, so by 7pm the following evening, we were all tired.

Weather

It rained on our first day, was overcast and became cold (no, not really cold, but the wife put on a cardigan when outside for a while). From then on the weather has steadily improved. First week was generally mid-20's with a bit of cloud cover. You get that thing where it's sometimes cloudy in the morning and it just depends how long it's going to take the sun (which is very strong - lots of cream) to burn it away. We've been here 4 weeks now at the weather is now officially hot. High 30's during the day and mid 20's at night. You really notice it when you come out of the car or a shopping centre (both with air con) and into the sun.
I've been told that Melbourne's hottest weather is Feb-Mar.

Location

We stayed with our friends for the first couple of weeks in Mount Martha on the Mornington Peninsula (south of Melbourne). A beautiful part of the world, very peaceful with lovely beaches. Very quiet. We've now moved into a rental in the centre of Mornington, which is handy for everything. Mornington is a seaside town, with shops to match - quite a cafe culture, but I think this is very common across Oz. Again, the beaches are picture perfect, with great views of the bay and Melbourne CBD in the distance.

Travel

We're approx 1-1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD by car. Or, 15 mins by car to Frankston and then 1 hour by train (it's not a great distance by train, it's just that the train stops at every lamppost on the way, so to speak). Frankston is bigger again than Mornington and, although we've heard that there are some 'rough' bits, we think it might be more of our kind of place, with more shopping etc.
Getting back to the car, the roads are very good but the same can't really be said about the driving. They don't believe in driving on the LHS. I don't know if this is specifically taught to them or if it's something they pick up. This means if you want to pass someone, they won't move over, so you have to pass on the left. I've seen road signs saying 'stay on the left unless overtaking' but these seem to be ignored. They have a habit of either moving onto the RHS lane approx 2 miles before their planned right turn!, or sitting in the RHS lane until 100 yards before they need to turn left! Either way, there's a lot of weaving in and out of traffic, so you have to be aware.
Haven't really been in any major traffic jams (more in the city itself I think), but the above habit of sitting on the right causes backlogs when 2 cars go along across from each other for mile after mile and no-one can pass.

Cars

New cars seem in general to be cheaper than UK (they're advertising a new Honda accord on the telly with all the bells and whistles for approx $34K = 13,500 quid), with second had values being held up. We were fortunate to get a good deal on a nearly new dealership car. A friend of a friend works for a specific car company. We got a list of approx 20 cars to choose from. The queer part was that you then turn up on the allotted date and time and, along with any other 'guests' you are invited to pick your car. If more than one person picks a car, then you draw lots. I ended up competing with one other person for the car I wanted and was picked out of the ballot of 2. Fantastic. I reckons I saved appox 6-7000 bucks going on paper advertised prices.

Houses

Main priority after we settled was to find a rental. We didn't want to outstay our welcome and we needed our own space. We've sold up in Scotland and are hoping to buy something in 6 months or so once we're both working. We had some problems renting, firstly because this is the busy period down on the peninsula, and secondly, because we have no rental history and neither of us is working yet. Ended up offering to pay the 6 months rent up front to get anywhere (and 2 sets of friends as character references). Fortunately, we've picked up a rental in the centre of Mornington which is handy for everything, so we won't need a second car for a while. It's not the newest or prettiest of interiors, but it'll do for 6 months.
Tried not to look too much at houses for sale (concentrated on rentals), but our initial opinion is that we'll be able to get a great house (big, 4 bedrooms, some land) for maybe $400-500k. Again, it all depends on location, but you do get a lot more here for your money. Also, you rarely see two houses the same. It's only very new builds that seem to have a couple of similar designs. In general, when you drive down any street, each house is different.

Banking

Went with Westpac and have used Moneycorp for our overseas transactions. (Fortunate to get deals over $2.50 when the rate was good last week.) There's a $5 monthly charge for unlimited transactions with Westpac, but we've been pointed in the direction of a specific credit union with no charges. They have a queer thing when you use your debit card, when you have to choose either 'cheque','savings' or 'credit'. I got the woman in the branch to explain it to me, but I still don't quite get it.

The 'price of living'

My own opinion is that it's pretty much the same as the UK. You can buy t-shirts etc for a few quid or 20 quid. There will always be cheaper shops and in general you get better quality if you spend more cash. The wife complains that the styles are crap and the clothing quality isn't too high. The only things I've noticed being much cheaper are petrol, butchermeat and houses, but other things are more expensive. I think their fresh foods are more seasonally priced, but I can't confirm (only here 4 weeks).

Kids

2 kids (11 and 7) have both started local primary school. Unsure if the older one should have started high school (they call it year 7). They're both happy and making friends easily enough. They've got bikes, balls, bodyboards etc and are enjoying going to the beach every day or so. They'll be even happier when their stuff arrives in the container (hopefully 6-8 weeks to go).
The education system is the one area I don't think I did enough research on. There are lots of private schools in the area (and our friends kids go to one) but I still don't know what the advantage is. I'm a successful result of the comprehensive education system and think that my university attendance was partly down to a reasonably good secondary school, but also down to how much work I did and how 'clever' I was. I know we're probably talking about smaller class sizes and more 'opportunities', but I remain to be convinced that it's worth the $6-10K per year per kid (or more). The problem is that the internet is not the best place to research this kind of stuff. You need to go out an speak to 'real' Ozzies an get loads of opinions.
They also seems to have a sponsorship system for private schools. If you kids are 'excellent' at something (smart, athletic, even popular), they can be interviewed and the private school may agree to cutting their fees by a %. They are obviously in it to get the best pupils and subsequently get the best results in the future.

Work

Neither myself nor the wife have work yet. The missus is a nurse and decided to wait until we got here before applying for work. Unfortunately, she didn't approach the NBV when processing the visa application and so we had to go into their offices in the CBD (our first visit there) in our first week. We thought she had given them all of the details they required, but they are a very pedantic lot and now want further data from her last employer. The wife phoned them and they agreed to send the relevant paperwork to Melbourne straight away. It should hopefully be only a few days more before she is registered and can start work. She's planning to start working 'bank' with one of the local private hospitals and has been virtually agreed to start straight away. They're desperate for nurses.
Im a CIMA qualified accountant with lots of local govt experience. I have registered with a few agencies and am hoping something will come up soon (the agency guys seem confident at least!). Most work is through agencies as the Ozzie unemployed only get benefits if they are seen to apply for jobs, so they apply for everything and the employers need agencies to shortlist. I'm told that local govt also uses agencies, but that was the agencies telling me this.

Ozzies

We've mostly been meeting other expats, but most of the ozzies I've met are ok. They are open and appear to be generally interested in what you have to say. They are a little bureaucratic a times and appear a little too laid back at other times, but I think that's got a lot to do with the weather.

Telly

5 terrestrial stations with loads of American stuff, quasi celebrities doing stuff (I didn't know most of them in the UK and I certainly don't know any of them here!) and reality tv (fat people, etc). I didn't watch most of this is the UK and I won't be watching most of it here. We had SKY+ in the UK and they have FOXTEL here, with exactly the same handset, but with much fewer channels (although again I tended to only watch a few of them anyway).

Football

Haven't been to a 'soccer' game yet (that's the one and only time I'll refer to fitba as soccer), but from what I've seen on the telly, the standard is pretty crap but it looks as if it might slowly get a foothold in Oz (pardon the pun), which will help.

Wildlife.

The flies are not plentiful, but they're a little too persistent for my liking. You brush them from one ear for them to then fly to the other - back and forward - annoying.
Seen one huntsman. About 2 inches across in my friends car sitting in the door jam. When he shoved it with his key to see if it was alive, it fell between his feet and we both jumped. Managed to 'shoo' it out the door.
Nothing else to report - no poisonous spiders, no snakes, no sharks. Loads of parrots and other strange birds (including a family of ducks crossing the road last night). There are signs around telling you to slow down if you see a koala crossing the road, but I've been told the chances are pretty slim to non-existent.

Conclusion

For me, it's all still holiday mode until both of us are working. First impressions are very good and we have been lucky through this whole process (the worst thing to happen so far was the suitcase missing for 2 days - seriously). I can't thank our friends enough for all of their help and support. From picking us up at the airport to letting us stay with them for nearly 3 weeks, assisting with the car purchase, pointing us in the right direction with everything including all the mistakes they made when they arrived last year. Some other friends let us borrow their jeep until we got our own car. As I say, we've been very lucky.
No major homesickness yet, but it's still very early. The parents and inlaws can now phone us whenever they want and we even managed to get the webcams working, so they get to see us.

Will keep everyone posted on future developments.

As per previous posts, thanks to everyone from this site who helped us by answering all of our questions.

Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll offer my opinion, for what it's worth.

Good luck to everyone going through the process.

David

PS What are drive thru off licences all about?
Great post; comprehensive and realistic!

I miss the old drive-through bottle shops - you just don't have them in the UK!
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 8:23 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by Vash the Stampede View Post
Great post; comprehensive and realistic!

I miss the old drive-through bottle shops - you just don't have them in the UK!
Yeah, but they have the grog inside the grocery shop. You can't get anymore convenient than that IMO.
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 8:48 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by pippin lara View Post
I always loved these posts before D day, so here's my own version.

Flights

We flew with BA from Glasgow to Heathrow and then Qantas from Heathrow to Melbourne via a couple of hours in Hong Kong.
The flights in general were fine. The extra security hassles were the biggest pain. Our flight timings were perfectly adequate but the long security queues meant a little bit of running around between connections. Even in Hong Kong, when we got off to stretch our legs, we had to go back through security to get to the departure lounge again.
We only had 80 kgs baggage allowance in total (2+2), but our luggage was bang on the weight (although I've subsequently heard of a few people who had much more than their allowance and were simply waved through!). Qantas offered us extra allowance if we purchased 'special' emigration tickets at an extra 700 quid.
The Qantas planes had the video on demand thingy, which helped when any of us were watching the films or tv programmes - a small bonus. The food,etc. was fine and the flight attendants were helpful if required.
Didn't see much of Hong Kong. It was raining a little and slightly foggy,so couldn't see much from the airport. The airport itself was pretty impressive, but that's comparing to Glasgow.
The flights were pretty much on time and we arrived in a Melbourne late in the evening. No problems with immigration. First 2 suitcases arrived quickly, but third one never arrived (it turned up 2 days later - don't know what adventures it has been on).
By the time we had gone through the lost luggage process and finally got out the airport, it was after 11. Our friend picked us up and we left the airport to find it very warm but raining.

Jetlag

Don't think I would describe the way we felt afterwards as a result of jetlag - more to do with being stuck on a plane for a day and not getting much sleep. In British time, we were up at 6 in the morning, flew to London and then on to Hong Kong at around midnight. Arrived Melbourne at 9 the next morning, but didn't go to bed until approx 5pm (4am in Mel). At that point I had only slept for an hour or so and the kids maybe had about 7 hours. We all rose relatively early, so by 7pm the following evening, we were all tired.

Weather

It rained on our first day, was overcast and became cold (no, not really cold, but the wife put on a cardigan when outside for a while). From then on the weather has steadily improved. First week was generally mid-20's with a bit of cloud cover. You get that thing where it's sometimes cloudy in the morning and it just depends how long it's going to take the sun (which is very strong - lots of cream) to burn it away. We've been here 4 weeks now at the weather is now officially hot. High 30's during the day and mid 20's at night. You really notice it when you come out of the car or a shopping centre (both with air con) and into the sun.
I've been told that Melbourne's hottest weather is Feb-Mar.

Location

We stayed with our friends for the first couple of weeks in Mount Martha on the Mornington Peninsula (south of Melbourne). A beautiful part of the world, very peaceful with lovely beaches. Very quiet. We've now moved into a rental in the centre of Mornington, which is handy for everything. Mornington is a seaside town, with shops to match - quite a cafe culture, but I think this is very common across Oz. Again, the beaches are picture perfect, with great views of the bay and Melbourne CBD in the distance.

Travel

We're approx 1-1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD by car. Or, 15 mins by car to Frankston and then 1 hour by train (it's not a great distance by train, it's just that the train stops at every lamppost on the way, so to speak). Frankston is bigger again than Mornington and, although we've heard that there are some 'rough' bits, we think it might be more of our kind of place, with more shopping etc.
Getting back to the car, the roads are very good but the same can't really be said about the driving. They don't believe in driving on the LHS. I don't know if this is specifically taught to them or if it's something they pick up. This means if you want to pass someone, they won't move over, so you have to pass on the left. I've seen road signs saying 'stay on the left unless overtaking' but these seem to be ignored. They have a habit of either moving onto the RHS lane approx 2 miles before their planned right turn!, or sitting in the RHS lane until 100 yards before they need to turn left! Either way, there's a lot of weaving in and out of traffic, so you have to be aware.
Haven't really been in any major traffic jams (more in the city itself I think), but the above habit of sitting on the right causes backlogs when 2 cars go along across from each other for mile after mile and no-one can pass.

Cars

New cars seem in general to be cheaper than UK (they're advertising a new Honda accord on the telly with all the bells and whistles for approx $34K = 13,500 quid), with second had values being held up. We were fortunate to get a good deal on a nearly new dealership car. A friend of a friend works for a specific car company. We got a list of approx 20 cars to choose from. The queer part was that you then turn up on the allotted date and time and, along with any other 'guests' you are invited to pick your car. If more than one person picks a car, then you draw lots. I ended up competing with one other person for the car I wanted and was picked out of the ballot of 2. Fantastic. I reckons I saved appox 6-7000 bucks going on paper advertised prices.

Houses

Main priority after we settled was to find a rental. We didn't want to outstay our welcome and we needed our own space. We've sold up in Scotland and are hoping to buy something in 6 months or so once we're both working. We had some problems renting, firstly because this is the busy period down on the peninsula, and secondly, because we have no rental history and neither of us is working yet. Ended up offering to pay the 6 months rent up front to get anywhere (and 2 sets of friends as character references). Fortunately, we've picked up a rental in the centre of Mornington which is handy for everything, so we won't need a second car for a while. It's not the newest or prettiest of interiors, but it'll do for 6 months.
Tried not to look too much at houses for sale (concentrated on rentals), but our initial opinion is that we'll be able to get a great house (big, 4 bedrooms, some land) for maybe $400-500k. Again, it all depends on location, but you do get a lot more here for your money. Also, you rarely see two houses the same. It's only very new builds that seem to have a couple of similar designs. In general, when you drive down any street, each house is different.

Banking

Went with Westpac and have used Moneycorp for our overseas transactions. (Fortunate to get deals over $2.50 when the rate was good last week.) There's a $5 monthly charge for unlimited transactions with Westpac, but we've been pointed in the direction of a specific credit union with no charges. They have a queer thing when you use your debit card, when you have to choose either 'cheque','savings' or 'credit'. I got the woman in the branch to explain it to me, but I still don't quite get it.

The 'price of living'

My own opinion is that it's pretty much the same as the UK. You can buy t-shirts etc for a few quid or 20 quid. There will always be cheaper shops and in general you get better quality if you spend more cash. The wife complains that the styles are crap and the clothing quality isn't too high. The only things I've noticed being much cheaper are petrol, butchermeat and houses, but other things are more expensive. I think their fresh foods are more seasonally priced, but I can't confirm (only here 4 weeks).

Kids

2 kids (11 and 7) have both started local primary school. Unsure if the older one should have started high school (they call it year 7). They're both happy and making friends easily enough. They've got bikes, balls, bodyboards etc and are enjoying going to the beach every day or so. They'll be even happier when their stuff arrives in the container (hopefully 6-8 weeks to go).
The education system is the one area I don't think I did enough research on. There are lots of private schools in the area (and our friends kids go to one) but I still don't know what the advantage is. I'm a successful result of the comprehensive education system and think that my university attendance was partly down to a reasonably good secondary school, but also down to how much work I did and how 'clever' I was. I know we're probably talking about smaller class sizes and more 'opportunities', but I remain to be convinced that it's worth the $6-10K per year per kid (or more). The problem is that the internet is not the best place to research this kind of stuff. You need to go out an speak to 'real' Ozzies an get loads of opinions.
They also seems to have a sponsorship system for private schools. If you kids are 'excellent' at something (smart, athletic, even popular), they can be interviewed and the private school may agree to cutting their fees by a %. They are obviously in it to get the best pupils and subsequently get the best results in the future.

Work

Neither myself nor the wife have work yet. The missus is a nurse and decided to wait until we got here before applying for work. Unfortunately, she didn't approach the NBV when processing the visa application and so we had to go into their offices in the CBD (our first visit there) in our first week. We thought she had given them all of the details they required, but they are a very pedantic lot and now want further data from her last employer. The wife phoned them and they agreed to send the relevant paperwork to Melbourne straight away. It should hopefully be only a few days more before she is registered and can start work. She's planning to start working 'bank' with one of the local private hospitals and has been virtually agreed to start straight away. They're desperate for nurses.
Im a CIMA qualified accountant with lots of local govt experience. I have registered with a few agencies and am hoping something will come up soon (the agency guys seem confident at least!). Most work is through agencies as the Ozzie unemployed only get benefits if they are seen to apply for jobs, so they apply for everything and the employers need agencies to shortlist. I'm told that local govt also uses agencies, but that was the agencies telling me this.

Ozzies

We've mostly been meeting other expats, but most of the ozzies I've met are ok. They are open and appear to be generally interested in what you have to say. They are a little bureaucratic a times and appear a little too laid back at other times, but I think that's got a lot to do with the weather.

Telly

5 terrestrial stations with loads of American stuff, quasi celebrities doing stuff (I didn't know most of them in the UK and I certainly don't know any of them here!) and reality tv (fat people, etc). I didn't watch most of this is the UK and I won't be watching most of it here. We had SKY+ in the UK and they have FOXTEL here, with exactly the same handset, but with much fewer channels (although again I tended to only watch a few of them anyway).

Football

Haven't been to a 'soccer' game yet (that's the one and only time I'll refer to fitba as soccer), but from what I've seen on the telly, the standard is pretty crap but it looks as if it might slowly get a foothold in Oz (pardon the pun), which will help.

Wildlife.

The flies are not plentiful, but they're a little too persistent for my liking. You brush them from one ear for them to then fly to the other - back and forward - annoying.
Seen one huntsman. About 2 inches across in my friends car sitting in the door jam. When he shoved it with his key to see if it was alive, it fell between his feet and we both jumped. Managed to 'shoo' it out the door.
Nothing else to report - no poisonous spiders, no snakes, no sharks. Loads of parrots and other strange birds (including a family of ducks crossing the road last night). There are signs around telling you to slow down if you see a koala crossing the road, but I've been told the chances are pretty slim to non-existent.

Conclusion

For me, it's all still holiday mode until both of us are working. First impressions are very good and we have been lucky through this whole process (the worst thing to happen so far was the suitcase missing for 2 days - seriously). I can't thank our friends enough for all of their help and support. From picking us up at the airport to letting us stay with them for nearly 3 weeks, assisting with the car purchase, pointing us in the right direction with everything including all the mistakes they made when they arrived last year. Some other friends let us borrow their jeep until we got our own car. As I say, we've been very lucky.
No major homesickness yet, but it's still very early. The parents and inlaws can now phone us whenever they want and we even managed to get the webcams working, so they get to see us.

Will keep everyone posted on future developments.

As per previous posts, thanks to everyone from this site who helped us by answering all of our questions.

Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll offer my opinion, for what it's worth.

Good luck to everyone going through the process.

David

PS What are drive thru off licences all about?
Sorry, but soccer will never be a popular sport here. I

We prefer rugby league/AFL in winter and cricket in summer.

A few immigrants who can't say the word soccer aren't about to change that anytime soon.
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 9:20 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by MD09 View Post
Sorry, but soccer will never be a popular sport here. I

We prefer rugby league/AFL in winter and cricket in summer.

A few immigrants who can't say the word soccer aren't about to change that anytime soon.
Not true. Participation in fitba' (soccer) is greater than any other code. It will, eventually be the premier sport!
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 9:22 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by pippin lara View Post

Work

Im a CIMA qualified accountant with lots of local govt experience. I have registered with a few agencies and am hoping something will come up soon
David

PS What are drive thru off licences all about?
Hi David

What agencies are you using? What area are you looking to work in - ie CBD or SE?. Outside of Govt what experience have you got?
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 9:42 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by Gibbo View Post
Not true. Participation in fitba' (soccer) is greater than any other code. It will, eventually be the premier sport!
Participation by kids, yes, due to over protective parents not allowing them to play contact sport. By 15 most have given it up.

Soccer won't be the premier sport here -well not in our life time anyway, you just have to look at how popular AFL/rugby league/cricket is to see this.
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 9:50 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by MD09 View Post
Participation by kids, yes, due to over protective parents not allowing them to play contact sport. By 15 most have given it up.

Soccer won't be the premier sport here -well not in our life time anyway, you just have to look at how popular AFL/rugby league/cricket is to see this.
Can't agree. Definately not a sport for over protective parents. My sons have had broken limbs in junior soccer. Many guys play well after the age of 15. As far as I'm concerned it has much more skill attached to it than Rugby League. Must admit I have 1 son who is a RL fanatic!
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 9:51 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by MD09 View Post
Soccer won't be the premier sport here -well not in our life time anyway, you just have to look at how popular AFL/rugby league/cricket is to see this.
Do we really need to worry which is the more popular? Is it not better that kids can pick and choose from such a big variety and "have a go"?

I am happy for my kids to try any sport - certainly will be encouraging it but not "forcing" them into one versus another.
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 9:57 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by thebears View Post
Do we really need to worry which is the more popular? Is it not better that kids can pick and choose from such a big variety and "have a go"?

I am happy for my kids to try any sport - certainly will be encouraging it but not "forcing" them into one versus another.
Was just pointing out that Rugby league is the dominant sport here in nsw and will remain so for many years to come.

Any sport, imo, is great for kids. Especially with the obesity crisis we now have.

Personally I played soccer for many years as a kid and enjoyed it immensely.
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 10:11 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by MD09 View Post
Was just pointing out that Rugby league is the dominant sport here in nsw and will remain so for many years to come.

Any sport, imo, is great for kids. Especially with the obesity crisis we now have.

Personally I played soccer for many years as a kid and enjoyed it immensely.
Don't worry my Aussie friend I'm not having ago Just trying to put a positive spin on the jovial issue of so many sports competing for top spot.
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 11:00 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by pippin lara View Post
I always loved these posts before D day, so here's my own version.

Kids

2 kids (11 and 7) have both started local primary school. Unsure if the older one should have started high school (they call it year 7). They're both happy and making friends easily enough. They've got bikes, balls, bodyboards etc and are enjoying going to the beach every day or so. They'll be even happier when their stuff arrives in the container (hopefully 6-8 weeks to go).
The education system is the one area I don't think I did enough research on. There are lots of private schools in the area (and our friends kids go to one) but I still don't know what the advantage is. I'm a successful result of the comprehensive education system and think that my university attendance was partly down to a reasonably good secondary school, but also down to how much work I did and how 'clever' I was. I know we're probably talking about smaller class sizes and more 'opportunities', but I remain to be convinced that it's worth the $6-10K per year per kid (or more). The problem is that the internet is not the best place to research this kind of stuff. You need to go out an speak to 'real' Ozzies an get loads of opinions.
They also seems to have a sponsorship system for private schools. If you kids are 'excellent' at something (smart, athletic, even popular), they can be interviewed and the private school may agree to cutting their fees by a %. They are obviously in it to get the best pupils and subsequently get the best results in the future.

I have heard from friends etc. that the best possible thing that you can do for your kids when you get out there is send them to private schools. The schooling system in the u.k is above the standard of australia and your children will probably find that they are above the standard of most of the children in their class. Sending them to private schools, although it will cost more, will excel them, pushing them further, helping them to reach their potential and allowing them extra help. Your days in a comp. will be a far cry from what there's will be and I would advise that you look into other schools which are rated as being extremely good in your area or try private schools or they may have trouble getting into a good secondary school/ uni and you may find that they become too attached to the poeple that are there now and that you cannot relocate them to a private primary. My parents sent me to a private primary, worked their socks off for it and they don't regret it. We are both high a level predicted students etc and later this year my sister will be taking two more years (in australia) of private secondary school to finish her education hsc's and then go to uni, and i shall be going to uni there in feb 08.

I hope this has helped, we have done so much research on the education system there and although we are aware that it varies in different areas generaly it is the same. private schools offer the best chances.

Pommy babe
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Old Feb 23rd 2007, 11:28 am
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Default Re: 1st month in Australia

Originally Posted by pippin lara View Post
I always loved these posts before D day, so here's my own version.

Flights

We flew with BA from Glasgow to Heathrow and then Qantas from Heathrow to Melbourne via a couple of hours in Hong Kong.
The flights in general were fine. The extra security hassles were the biggest pain. Our flight timings were perfectly adequate but the long security queues meant a little bit of running around between connections. Even in Hong Kong, when we got off to stretch our legs, we had to go back through security to get to the departure lounge again.
We only had 80 kgs baggage allowance in total (2+2), but our luggage was bang on the weight (although I've subsequently heard of a few people who had much more than their allowance and were simply waved through!). Qantas offered us extra allowance if we purchased 'special' emigration tickets at an extra 700 quid.
The Qantas planes had the video on demand thingy, which helped when any of us were watching the films or tv programmes - a small bonus. The food,etc. was fine and the flight attendants were helpful if required.
Didn't see much of Hong Kong. It was raining a little and slightly foggy,so couldn't see much from the airport. The airport itself was pretty impressive, but that's comparing to Glasgow.
The flights were pretty much on time and we arrived in a Melbourne late in the evening. No problems with immigration. First 2 suitcases arrived quickly, but third one never arrived (it turned up 2 days later - don't know what adventures it has been on).
By the time we had gone through the lost luggage process and finally got out the airport, it was after 11. Our friend picked us up and we left the airport to find it very warm but raining.

Jetlag

Don't think I would describe the way we felt afterwards as a result of jetlag - more to do with being stuck on a plane for a day and not getting much sleep. In British time, we were up at 6 in the morning, flew to London and then on to Hong Kong at around midnight. Arrived Melbourne at 9 the next morning, but didn't go to bed until approx 5pm (4am in Mel). At that point I had only slept for an hour or so and the kids maybe had about 7 hours. We all rose relatively early, so by 7pm the following evening, we were all tired.

Weather

It rained on our first day, was overcast and became cold (no, not really cold, but the wife put on a cardigan when outside for a while). From then on the weather has steadily improved. First week was generally mid-20's with a bit of cloud cover. You get that thing where it's sometimes cloudy in the morning and it just depends how long it's going to take the sun (which is very strong - lots of cream) to burn it away. We've been here 4 weeks now at the weather is now officially hot. High 30's during the day and mid 20's at night. You really notice it when you come out of the car or a shopping centre (both with air con) and into the sun.
I've been told that Melbourne's hottest weather is Feb-Mar.

Location

We stayed with our friends for the first couple of weeks in Mount Martha on the Mornington Peninsula (south of Melbourne). A beautiful part of the world, very peaceful with lovely beaches. Very quiet. We've now moved into a rental in the centre of Mornington, which is handy for everything. Mornington is a seaside town, with shops to match - quite a cafe culture, but I think this is very common across Oz. Again, the beaches are picture perfect, with great views of the bay and Melbourne CBD in the distance.

Travel

We're approx 1-1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD by car. Or, 15 mins by car to Frankston and then 1 hour by train (it's not a great distance by train, it's just that the train stops at every lamppost on the way, so to speak). Frankston is bigger again than Mornington and, although we've heard that there are some 'rough' bits, we think it might be more of our kind of place, with more shopping etc.
Getting back to the car, the roads are very good but the same can't really be said about the driving. They don't believe in driving on the LHS. I don't know if this is specifically taught to them or if it's something they pick up. This means if you want to pass someone, they won't move over, so you have to pass on the left. I've seen road signs saying 'stay on the left unless overtaking' but these seem to be ignored. They have a habit of either moving onto the RHS lane approx 2 miles before their planned right turn!, or sitting in the RHS lane until 100 yards before they need to turn left! Either way, there's a lot of weaving in and out of traffic, so you have to be aware.
Haven't really been in any major traffic jams (more in the city itself I think), but the above habit of sitting on the right causes backlogs when 2 cars go along across from each other for mile after mile and no-one can pass.

Cars

New cars seem in general to be cheaper than UK (they're advertising a new Honda accord on the telly with all the bells and whistles for approx $34K = 13,500 quid), with second had values being held up. We were fortunate to get a good deal on a nearly new dealership car. A friend of a friend works for a specific car company. We got a list of approx 20 cars to choose from. The queer part was that you then turn up on the allotted date and time and, along with any other 'guests' you are invited to pick your car. If more than one person picks a car, then you draw lots. I ended up competing with one other person for the car I wanted and was picked out of the ballot of 2. Fantastic. I reckons I saved appox 6-7000 bucks going on paper advertised prices.

Houses

Main priority after we settled was to find a rental. We didn't want to outstay our welcome and we needed our own space. We've sold up in Scotland and are hoping to buy something in 6 months or so once we're both working. We had some problems renting, firstly because this is the busy period down on the peninsula, and secondly, because we have no rental history and neither of us is working yet. Ended up offering to pay the 6 months rent up front to get anywhere (and 2 sets of friends as character references). Fortunately, we've picked up a rental in the centre of Mornington which is handy for everything, so we won't need a second car for a while. It's not the newest or prettiest of interiors, but it'll do for 6 months.
Tried not to look too much at houses for sale (concentrated on rentals), but our initial opinion is that we'll be able to get a great house (big, 4 bedrooms, some land) for maybe $400-500k. Again, it all depends on location, but you do get a lot more here for your money. Also, you rarely see two houses the same. It's only very new builds that seem to have a couple of similar designs. In general, when you drive down any street, each house is different.

Banking

Went with Westpac and have used Moneycorp for our overseas transactions. (Fortunate to get deals over $2.50 when the rate was good last week.) There's a $5 monthly charge for unlimited transactions with Westpac, but we've been pointed in the direction of a specific credit union with no charges. They have a queer thing when you use your debit card, when you have to choose either 'cheque','savings' or 'credit'. I got the woman in the branch to explain it to me, but I still don't quite get it.

The 'price of living'

My own opinion is that it's pretty much the same as the UK. You can buy t-shirts etc for a few quid or 20 quid. There will always be cheaper shops and in general you get better quality if you spend more cash. The wife complains that the styles are crap and the clothing quality isn't too high. The only things I've noticed being much cheaper are petrol, butchermeat and houses, but other things are more expensive. I think their fresh foods are more seasonally priced, but I can't confirm (only here 4 weeks).

Kids

2 kids (11 and 7) have both started local primary school. Unsure if the older one should have started high school (they call it year 7). They're both happy and making friends easily enough. They've got bikes, balls, bodyboards etc and are enjoying going to the beach every day or so. They'll be even happier when their stuff arrives in the container (hopefully 6-8 weeks to go).
The education system is the one area I don't think I did enough research on. There are lots of private schools in the area (and our friends kids go to one) but I still don't know what the advantage is. I'm a successful result of the comprehensive education system and think that my university attendance was partly down to a reasonably good secondary school, but also down to how much work I did and how 'clever' I was. I know we're probably talking about smaller class sizes and more 'opportunities', but I remain to be convinced that it's worth the $6-10K per year per kid (or more). The problem is that the internet is not the best place to research this kind of stuff. You need to go out an speak to 'real' Ozzies an get loads of opinions.
They also seems to have a sponsorship system for private schools. If you kids are 'excellent' at something (smart, athletic, even popular), they can be interviewed and the private school may agree to cutting their fees by a %. They are obviously in it to get the best pupils and subsequently get the best results in the future.

Work

Neither myself nor the wife have work yet. The missus is a nurse and decided to wait until we got here before applying for work. Unfortunately, she didn't approach the NBV when processing the visa application and so we had to go into their offices in the CBD (our first visit there) in our first week. We thought she had given them all of the details they required, but they are a very pedantic lot and now want further data from her last employer. The wife phoned them and they agreed to send the relevant paperwork to Melbourne straight away. It should hopefully be only a few days more before she is registered and can start work. She's planning to start working 'bank' with one of the local private hospitals and has been virtually agreed to start straight away. They're desperate for nurses.
Im a CIMA qualified accountant with lots of local govt experience. I have registered with a few agencies and am hoping something will come up soon (the agency guys seem confident at least!). Most work is through agencies as the Ozzie unemployed only get benefits if they are seen to apply for jobs, so they apply for everything and the employers need agencies to shortlist. I'm told that local govt also uses agencies, but that was the agencies telling me this.

Ozzies

We've mostly been meeting other expats, but most of the ozzies I've met are ok. They are open and appear to be generally interested in what you have to say. They are a little bureaucratic a times and appear a little too laid back at other times, but I think that's got a lot to do with the weather.

Telly

5 terrestrial stations with loads of American stuff, quasi celebrities doing stuff (I didn't know most of them in the UK and I certainly don't know any of them here!) and reality tv (fat people, etc). I didn't watch most of this is the UK and I won't be watching most of it here. We had SKY+ in the UK and they have FOXTEL here, with exactly the same handset, but with much fewer channels (although again I tended to only watch a few of them anyway).

Football

Haven't been to a 'soccer' game yet (that's the one and only time I'll refer to fitba as soccer), but from what I've seen on the telly, the standard is pretty crap but it looks as if it might slowly get a foothold in Oz (pardon the pun), which will help.

Wildlife.

The flies are not plentiful, but they're a little too persistent for my liking. You brush them from one ear for them to then fly to the other - back and forward - annoying.
Seen one huntsman. About 2 inches across in my friends car sitting in the door jam. When he shoved it with his key to see if it was alive, it fell between his feet and we both jumped. Managed to 'shoo' it out the door.
Nothing else to report - no poisonous spiders, no snakes, no sharks. Loads of parrots and other strange birds (including a family of ducks crossing the road last night). There are signs around telling you to slow down if you see a koala crossing the road, but I've been told the chances are pretty slim to non-existent.

Conclusion

For me, it's all still holiday mode until both of us are working. First impressions are very good and we have been lucky through this whole process (the worst thing to happen so far was the suitcase missing for 2 days - seriously). I can't thank our friends enough for all of their help and support. From picking us up at the airport to letting us stay with them for nearly 3 weeks, assisting with the car purchase, pointing us in the right direction with everything including all the mistakes they made when they arrived last year. Some other friends let us borrow their jeep until we got our own car. As I say, we've been very lucky.
No major homesickness yet, but it's still very early. The parents and inlaws can now phone us whenever they want and we even managed to get the webcams working, so they get to see us.

Will keep everyone posted on future developments.

As per previous posts, thanks to everyone from this site who helped us by answering all of our questions.

Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll offer my opinion, for what it's worth.

Good luck to everyone going through the process.

David

PS What are drive thru off licences all about?
Excellent posting that,cheeers.
mindblower is offline  

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