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A year and a bit in Brisbane.

A year and a bit in Brisbane.

Old Jul 3rd 2007, 9:48 am
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Default A year and a bit in Brisbane.

I guess it is about time for an update. This has turned out to War and Peace!

I think my circumstances are a little unique. I’d been living out of the UK for about 13 years, and in Amsterdam for the past 11 years, so I was very used to being out of the UK, and living in the Netherlands does have its own challenges, which seem to have made Australia, and Queensland seem positively easy. I’d also been to Australia on several 3 week long business trips, and I’d taken a week off at the end to get out and see stuff, so I was pretty familiar with the country, although more Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne than Brisbane.

I came here as a single guy on an employer sponsored visa, I think it is a 122, and basically meant I had a job in Brisbane, and it came with permanent residency. That was granted in early 2006, and as soon as it was granted I resigned with a months notice, and arrived in April, starting with just after Easter. I was familiar with the company I work for, as I had a business relationship with them previously, and had a conversation where I asked the MD if he would give me a reference for my visa application, and he came back with a job offer (lucky I know).

I had accommodation sorted with friends for a couple of months, which enabled me to get an idea on locations, and I used these forums for plenty of research. This posting was probably the most useful one http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=361020 so a huge thank you to Netta for her post, for me, life changing. So my mates partner and I had a drive around on ANZAC Day 2006, and I decided that Paddington, New Farm and West End would be my target places. I planned on renting initially so I could be super sure on where to settle, and also I was waiting on a settlement on a property in Amsterdam. I underestimated the effort involved in finding a place, with there being the hassle of the 100 points of ID, the 30 minutes viewing session, and there being competition with the number of applicants. One place, I viewed at 5pm, and when I phoned at 9am the next morning, it was already let. So it was a case of taking ID to the viewing, and if I liked the place, apply there and then. The third place I viewed, and the second place I actually applied for, I was accepted. It is a 2 bed, 2 bathroom, 2 parking spot apartment/unit/flat, that has a shared pool, and when I moved in, was about 80% empty. So about 14 months later, there are still some that are empty, and when I look on realestate.com, still being bought and sold. Moving into a band new place had it’s challenges, it turned out that the owners had not paid up all of their contractors (seems that this is quite common, so tradies out there, be aware!). So the TV aerial socket was not connected to the aerial on the roof. Big deal you might ask, it was when the world cup was on. Also had some issues with the balcony flooding, the pool took ages to get completed, and very sensitive smoke alarms that don’t like my toaster!

I did not ship very much, with the exception of 3 motorcycles, fishing gear, clothes, CDs, and personal stuff. Besides using it as part of the settlement with my ex, I’d also worked out that shipping costs were about 450 Euros a cubic metre, and meaning that something like a fridge would cost more to ship than it would be buy a new one. So I had a hard bargaining/shopping spree at ‘The Good Guys’, getting a TV, fridge, washing machine, microwave and small stuff like iron and kettle. I got a $2600 stainless steel fridge for $1400, I’m still convinced he made a mistake, but walked away feeling pretty victorious about it all.

Bed I got from Ikea, cheap bed, expensive mattress! Sofa was fun, I can’t deal with the Aussie thing about everything having to be brown or chocolate coloured. I went everywhere, and eventually got somewhere where I could buy a blue suite that was a 2 ½ seater and a 3 seater. 3 weeks later they were delivered, and they could not get the 3 seater in the lift! There are fire stairs, but the delivery guys would not try them (I’m on the 4th floor). So they took it back, and after a discussion with the shop, they replaced it with a second 2 ½ seater and I did not get stung for anything (I was adamant that they could have got it up the stairs!).

Personal stuff took about 3 months to arrive, that included a delay because of some import document issues for the motorcycles. Went through customs and was delivered pretty quickly, although the AQIS inspector had been over zealous with his stanley knife when opening up some packaging, with a fishing rod holdall slashed. I had insurance but I never bothered claiming, deciding that it was too hard to handle the paperwork. (I’m somebody do saves up their tax returns and does them every 5 years). The AQIS inspection was interesting, it was clear some boxes had been opened, but they did not find the extra bottles of booze I’d hidden, I must have forgotten to clean out the inside of my fishing box, as there was some pretty yucky things in there, and I had a wicker blanket/towel basket that is the size of a small car that did not get picked up on. I also did not get caught on the lottery of having to get the bike/scooters steamed cleaned before being released. I used Allied Verkamp (Allied Pickfords) as they were the most competitive, and more importantly, I felt they wanted my business. I could not fault them.

Getting a car was easy enough, and with the high second hand costs here, I decided a new one was a better approach. As I had a job I got one financed via a salary sacrifice lease, which means that my company pays the finance out of pre-tax earnings. All of the expenses are also salary sacrificed, and my company lets me put that stuff on my company credit card, meaning I earn frequent flyer points and because that is not wrapped up in the finance, I’m not paying interest on it. Each month I get $200 dollars taken pre-tax for these expenses. At the end of the tax year, I had a refund of about $450 dollars. Choosing a car is always a dilemma for me, and I’d made up my mind I was going to get a 4x4. I’d narrowed it down to a Jeep Grand Cherokee or a Toyota Prado, with the Prado looking like the likely choice. Then I saw a deal in the paper at the local Subaru dealer, so I thought I’d go and test drive an Impreza WRX. Apart from a holiday in Thailand, this was the first time I’d driven a right hand drive car in 12-13 years, and here I am in a mega hoon/hooligan car, quite an interesting experience for me, and for the sales guy sat beside me. A 50km test drive later, I was hooked, so I ordered a red one, as far as I’m concerned, there is only one colour, and they had red in the stock they wanted to clear. One year on, no points on my licence yet (not really sure how), its very thirsty, everybody wants to race me, I’m always getting stopped by the cops, but its a great car to drive. Have to be honest and say I wish I’d got the 4x4 because of the opportunities to go onto the beaches at Bribie, Frasier, Rainbow Beach and so on. When the lease is up in a couple of years, I’ll be back at the Toyota dealer.

The outdoor life here is just astonishing. I remember the first time I went to the beach for the day (rather than just a quick paddle at Surfers) was at Bribe Island in October, and I remember laying there, in the sun, cooking with all that factor 30 on, thinking “I’m not on holiday, I’m not here for just 2 weeks, I can do this every single weekend if I want”. This was probably the one moment that really bought home that I was in Australia and living here. I’ve been doing a fair amount of fishing, both land based and also from a workmates boat. Its amazing to be wearing board shorts and to be standing in the sea fishing and it is the middle of winter. It’s even better when I manage to catch something!

With my mate and partner already here, plus my interests in motorcycles, motorscooters and fishing, plus having a decent bunch of workmates have meant I’ve moved into a pretty decent choice from a socializing point of view, and cannot say I’ve ever felt lonely.

My job involves a couple of trips a month to either Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, so I’ll stay on for a weekend pretty often, allowing me to get out and about further than Queensland. And I need to get the city vibe of Melbourne and Sydney every once in a while! Brisbane is not very cosmopolitan!
I’ve also had weekends to Surfers (love the tackiness of it), Byron Bay (including Ninbin for an Amsterdam flashback) and up the Sunshine Coast. I think Noosa is highly overrated, and up that way, Mooloolaba is my favourite spot. I’ve done a weekend dirbike riding in the bush and up/down Rainbow Beach, which would be the highlight of my time here so far, and was a Christmas pressie from my girlfriend that I met here. Pretty ironic that I come all the way to Australia, and I hook up with a Geordie lass!

Despite the fact that I’d been out of the UK for ages, my parents took the Australia thing quite badly, so part of the pacifying was that I went back there for last Christmas, and I spent about 7 days with them, and then the rest of the time catch up with friends in various places. It was interesting that I did not feel homesick for the UK or Amsterdam when it was time to leave, and in all honesty, I was looking forward to returning *home* to Australia.

My mother came out for 2 months in February and March of this year (father did not, as him coming would show his approval). She had a blast, took her to Sydney and we did all of the obvious stuff, Byron, rain forests, Surfers, Australia Zoo, and the Australia day beach thing. She told me on several occasions she could see the attraction of Australia and that it was very clear that the lifestyle agrees with me. I have to be honest and say that the goodbyes at Brisbane Airport were the most upsetting experience of my life. Looks like she is coming out for another month next year and I think I’m going to take her somewhere like Alice Springs. Not looking forward to the goodbyes though!!

I had a bit of a ‘dummy spit’ in March, probably a combination of Mum leaving, having a few insecurities at work over a possible buyout leaving me feeling threatened, selling my place in Amsterdam, etc, etc. Actually considered if I should return to the UK, and I think it was because that was the main security I could relate to with family, friends, I still have a property there. I got over it, and I’m looking to a future here, buying a place, and thinking how I can bail out of the car finance and get a Land Cruiser!

I’m aware that I had a job to come to, came alone so I had it easier than some, but I don’t really have anything to complain about. Yes there are the usual niggles like Woollies and Coles are not like Tescos (they are a lot better than Albert Hein!), you have to work the banking system to avoid charges, they can’t drive to save their lives, the interest rates are high, the water is scarce, a lot of the locals can get negative and so on.

But personally, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
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Old Jul 3rd 2007, 4:43 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

Jeepers that was a post an half Only joking Good post good to hear you have finally found where you belong may you carry on enjoying the brisbane life
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Old Jul 3rd 2007, 4:51 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

Really enjoyable post thanks for taking the time to write it
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Old Jul 3rd 2007, 8:54 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

A bloody good post mate! You sound like a very down to earth person who sees things in a very clear light, which is good when giving your expierience of Oz to people like me on hear. Good to hear you're happy with the move, i think im finding from reading other peoples post's that everyone gets homesick/upset at some point during the move. Keep us updated, and Subaru Impreza? Bloody good choice, you've got taste
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Old Jul 3rd 2007, 9:11 pm
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Cool Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

man, you got three bikes!!!



Great post,
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Old Jul 4th 2007, 12:10 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

Really interesting post. Karma sent
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Old Jul 4th 2007, 1:21 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

Your post has made great reading. Keep enjoying! Going to send karma (if I can work out how to!)

Lynn xx
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Old Jul 4th 2007, 3:08 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

top post... karam given....

and makes me more determined to get out there.......
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Old Jul 4th 2007, 8:26 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

Good and informative post. We checked out a few of the areas you mentioned on our reccie a few weeks ago. Sounds like you have a fab life popping down to Sydney/ Melbourne every month!

Debbie
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Old Jul 4th 2007, 9:08 pm
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Cool Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

you got three bikes!!!

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Old Jul 4th 2007, 9:34 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

fantastic post mate!! Thanks very much, think we have finally pinned the tail on the donkey and off to Mooloolaba in Nov... just been checkin out the schools, look good etc..

Simon got a fireblade, what are the roads like out there??? he's taking it with him.

Any advise on this area.

Thanks so much again for all the info... S-j xx
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 9:14 am
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

thanks for the positive feedback.

About the questions..

The roads: they are pretty treacherous to be honest. I've become very passive in my riding. Treacherous due to pretty crappy surfaces and really bad driving. But the scenery, just outstanding, especially up in the hinterland. I've bought more new tyres in a year than I can remember!

The Fireblade: unless there is mega love with the bike (which I can relate to, so not a criticism), I'd guess it would be easier to sell and get one here. Mind you, if it is an original Fireblade, with the holes in the bellypan, bring it over and I'll buy it!

3 bikes: Kind of. A Ducati 996, and 2 Lambretta scooters. Both completely Italian and restored. One is for sale, as I found another for sale in Brisbane that had been personally imported direct from the factory in 1969. Once in a lifetime find, and I'm keeping it.

Mooloolaba: I'd move there tomorrow if I had work. Really is my favourite spot on the Sunshine coast. Curumbin is my fav spot in all of QLD, love the beach, and the surf club is my Sunday brunch haunt.

I've uploaded a couple of pics that show the toys, the Ducati 996, the Lambretta Li175, the Lambretta GP225, and the Sybaru WRX.
Attached Thumbnails A year and a bit in Brisbane.-dsc00857res.jpg   A year and a bit in Brisbane.-img_0822res.jpg  
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 6:55 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

Love all of them! I'm tempted to apply for my motorbike license here in the UK but i think one session in weather like it is at the moment and i'd be all over the road. Both my dad, uncle and my cousin are bikers, my dad has a Suzuki Hayabuse 1300..scarily fast..i havent been on the back of it but before that he had a Kawasaki ZZR600 and when he give it some on the bypass i had to stop myself from being swept off the back!

I think i love the Subaru more than anything though, except the newest model Subaru's...ugh..how vile.
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 10:38 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

Nice post mate. Sounds like Oz agrees with you.
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Old Sep 15th 2007, 2:34 pm
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Default Re: A year and a bit in Brisbane.

I just happened upon this thread and was wondering what you now think of Paddington?
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