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Australia after 8 years - the good, bad & the ugly!

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Coming to Australia? I’ve been here 8 years now and I’ve often thought of this Forum – I used it a lot in the days when I was applying for my Visa.

 

Now I’ve been here 8 years – here’s my story and what I find the best and the worst and Oz!

 

In 2010 after more than 2 years of jumping through ever bigger hurdles at last my Contributory Parent visa was granted and I became on the Northern Beaches in Sydney. In case the rules changed I immediately set about applying for Citizenship - another nightmare of paperwork - but attained Citizenship in 2011.

 

Note: if you are computer literate and reasonably organised you can do the application yourself. If you employ an Agent you still have to gather the same info - but give it to your agent who submits it  – don’t bother, do it yourself and save a heap of money.

 

In 2017 - after 12 years each in Australia and not finding love -  my two daughters decided to give up on Oz to return to the UK!  Everyone expected I would go back, but by then had my own home and running my boutique, HoundDogHotel (still am) so I stayed on - because life here is, imo, far superior to anything the UK can offer.

 

Having said that, there are truly some things an English person (especially a female) may struggle with. Others may have different views, here's my list:

 

THE WORST

Huntsmen Spiders. I posted pics of a massive one of these that died in my garage - it's leg span was almost 6". Everyone tells you they are fine and eat the nasty things, but when they are so fast its terrifying. Even more distressing when they keep turning up in your bedroom (one on bed head another one was on my pillow). I will never get used to them.

 

Cockroaches. Disgusting. Even with an immaculate and clean home these things somehow find a way to appear in your house. Use Cockroach baits or you will see them all through summer if they find a corner to breed.

 

Australians have a lot of great ways, but saying thank you at Zebra Crossings is not one of them. They saunter across and if anyone does raise a hand - bet your life its a Brit. It's obviously cultural as it doesn't bother Aussie drivers, but it drives me demented.

 

It’s usual to go barefoot at the beach, but in Malls and shops? Feral! Now there's an Aussie word you'll get used to hearing.

 

Many Aussies don't know what listening means and when you talk they often stare into space. But don't take it personally, they're not interested, they just want you to shut up so they can keep talking.

 

Trades people (aka Tradies) think unreliability is an Olympic sport - and they excel at it. Time and again when booked for a small job they simply fail to turn up and you never hear from them again.

 

Australia is not the relaxed land of Crocodile Dundee. It is a shockingly bureaucratic Country. There are rules, more rules, and even more petty rules. 

 

Basically Australia has monetised bureaucracy.  You might have had years of expertise in a business, but will not be able to work in it here without going back to school to get a 'Cert IV Certificate' of some kind. 

 

I'd run my own successful Management Training company in London for 10 years - yet not allowed to train in Australia without paying for a Cert IV. In theory it is possible to get around this if you can prove you have qualifications - but getting the proof and paperwork together is  so onerous most people don't bother and end paying for a joke Cert 4. 

 

When we had dogs in England the freedom to take them where you wanted was something I took for granted. Being here with a dog you’ll be shocked at the massive limitations on where you can take them off leash. Basically no where, unless it is permitted with a sign. The 'leash free' areas that do exist are few and far between, and the physical size of these Ovals is small. Considering there are 1,000s of beaches very few allow dogs - and you can't use the whole beach, just sections of it. Break the rules if you want, but fines are upwards of $250 per infringement. I really, really miss Epping Forest.

 

Female? You will miss Marks and Spencer. Not the  clothes - they became rubbish years ago - but dear God the food here is 20 years behind the UK. The ready meals in Coles and Woolworths are not fit for human consumption they are so poor.

 

I have a very sweet tooth, yet supermarket cakes are so full of sugar you cannot taste anything else. Reason is that sugar is a very cheap ingredient.

 

It amuses when Australians who have never been to the UK tell me the food here - especially their meat - is far superior to what we get in England. Having lived in both countries I can state positively the meat from the two main supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths is dire. Even the most expensive stuff is not even a close runner up to the quality at M&S for example.

 

The Snags (sausages to you) they put on the BarB are revolting. Nasty and cheap. The bacon is – well it’s weird. Only Coles sells a specific ‘dry cure’ which is like the bacon you will be used to.

 

And the bread is truly dreadful. Even so called specialist bakers make uninspiring pap. I can get decent bread at one French Bakers - except is 160 ks round trip.

 

Considering this is a land of sheep - the clothes from the likes of Target are dreadful beyond words. Lacking style, cheap acrylic clothes and plastic shoes. A sea of tat. 

 

Myer and David Jones are better - but expensive, think John Lewis/Selfridges prices equivalent.

 

The school zones which are 90 mins morning and again in the afternoon when you have to drive at 40k per hours = 25 mph = is plain annoying and unnecessary for such long periods - 90 mins twice a day.

 

 

OK that is a long list of negatives - so why do I stay?

 

 

 

THE BEST

 

The light and beautiful open skies

Australia has the biggest bluest skies that, for reasons I can't explain, seem vast compared with the view of skies in England

 

No six month long Winters!

Winters are not only mild, but some so called Winter days are better then UK summer ones. I used to get down with the Winters in England, but here with the light your spirits are lifted.

 

Wildlife 

wildlife is big brassy and when when its not trying to kill you pretty fabulous.

The birds are mainly huge (but they do have tiny wrens) and a huge variety of bird life. Pelicans bigger than small children, stunning Parrots, raucous and handsome Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, hilarious amusing and argumentative Rainbow Lorikeets.

 

In my garden - and I'm not close to Bush, had Stick insects over a foot long, Water dragons right out of Jurassic Park, and yes the ever dreaded Huntsman. I have never seen a snake, dead or alive, on the streets. However, you would not walk off a path in summer as it is a risk not worth taking.

 

In London one local journey regularly took me 40 mins to go 4 miles, whereas here, whilst Sydney traffic is pretty bad, living most other places it is a pleasure to drive around.

 

Garden

If you like gardening then some of the plants you can get are fabulous, exotic and colourful. I have a plant called a Mandeville and it throws dramatic red flowers all summer.

 

 

 

 

The Aussies

 

Poor listening skills and not staying thanks at Zebra crossing aside - Aussies are genuinely nice people.

 

I’ve made loads of friends, they are welcoming and accepting of us Brits invading their country.

 

You don’t see heaps of litter and filth along the side of roads as Aussies have  enormous amounts of Civic pride. They tend not to litter as much as people in the UK do and are proud of their country and areas where they live. You will often see an individual clearing up litter in their street - and they won't get an officious council officer fining them for doing that.

 

There are big community clear ups too and it's like big fun parties when locals turn up and clean up voluntarily.

 

Aussies are so honest! Again and again people lose things which are more often than not returned to their rightful owners.

 

On the same theme, there is far less crime than the UK. Moped thieves are unheard of, and whilst people don't leave doors unlocked in cities, burglary is rare. I've never heard of anyone being burgled in my area.

 

The Housing

It took a long time to get used to the different look of the housing here – hardly any garden and lots of house. Very individual styles. Different ways of building. But now I love it. Makes for variation and interest. My house here is far bigger than the one in the UK and having a smaller garden is great -  lower maintenance.

 

At the time I applied for my Contributory Parent Visa - aka  buying your way in - the cost was $35,000 and a two year wait to be processed

 

On top of the $35,000 you pay $10,000 bond (held for 10 years) and if you cannot support yourself and apply for Government assistance inside that 10 years you forfeit your bond.  Seemed tough at the time, but on reflection I think it's right. I wish the UK was as strict with those who want to enter and live there. You certainly have no hope of turning up in Australia and taking houses and being given money. It just does not happen.

 

If you’ve made it to the bottom well done! Be happy to answer questionsJ

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

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I did enjoy reading this, been here two years now and totally agree about ready meals, clothing and bread. We knew what we were in for with bread and make our own (bread machine) ditto cakes.   One thing you didn’t mention ... does Aussie chocolate all taste strange to you? 

Agree about all the plus points too. we’ve been made so welcome by the Australians we’ve met and had a lot of help along the way. So far so good - thank you for making me smile😁

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103 visa application lodged February 2013. 143 visa application submitted January 2016. Police checks and form 80 submitted February 29th 2016. Visa granted April 4th 2016.

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I've never understood thanking people at zebra crossings. Thanks for not breaking the law and killing me? Really don't understand that. If someone does you a favour, sure. But just for doing what they are supposed to? Don't get it.

 

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Nearly there! Don't drop the ball now guys! Vaccines are weeks away. Stay safe!

 

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41 minutes ago, Fisher1 said:

I did enjoy reading this, been here two years now and totally agree about ready meals, clothing and bread. We knew what we were in for with bread and make our own (bread machine) ditto cakes.   One thing you didn’t mention ... does Aussie chocolate all taste strange to you? 

Agree about all the plus points too. we’ve been made so welcome by the Australians we’ve met and had a lot of help along the way. So far so good - thank you for making me smile😁

Buy your chocolate from Aldi 

i do buy clothes from M&S on line, quality adequate, but better than lots here.

Also went into a store in Chermside Brisbane called Harris Scarfe, daft name, but found they sold clothes from Debenhams, their classic range and also their Maine range, I like them both, mainly separates, and will go back and have a better look at a later date as I was in a rush. Could be useful.

Edited by ramot
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10 minutes ago, newjez said:

I've never understood thanking people at zebra crossings. Thanks for not breaking the law and killing me? Really don't understand that. If someone does you a favour, sure. But just for doing what they are supposed to? Don't get it.

 

In Sydney - don't know about elsewhere, many people shout "Thanks driver" when getting off a bus.

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Mods this might be better in Living in Australia what you need to know thread?

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To me the rules about dogs is a plus. Otherwise they would be roaming and crapping over every beach and park available. Just about every time I took the youngster out in the pram to a park before we emigrated there was usually dog crap all over the wheels. 

Here there are certain beaches and parks where dogs can be taken and bags provided to pick up the crap. With bins to put it in. Fortunately most people do the right thing here. In the UK they used to let them crap anywhere and just walk away.

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1 hour ago, Fisher1 said:

I did enjoy reading this, been here two years now and totally agree about ready meals, clothing and bread. We knew what we were in for with bread and make our own (bread machine) ditto cakes.   One thing you didn’t mention ... does Aussie chocolate all taste strange to you? 

Agree about all the plus points too. we’ve been made so welcome by the Australians we’ve met and had a lot of help along the way. So far so good - thank you for making me smile😁

When we were in the UK on holiday supermarkets were full of ready meals. Do people just live on them? 

Most people still buy fresh stuff here and actually cook. Not so many ready meals around.

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55 minutes ago, Toots said:

In Sydney - don't know about elsewhere, many people shout "Thanks driver" when getting off a bus.

Same here. 

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Thank you for a great post, i have moved it into the Aussie chat section.

I totally agree with most of what you have written, red tape and rules are absolutely everywhere and it does borderline ridiculous compared to what we grew up with..

I also agree about the sausages, been here over 10 years now and still cant stand them,lol. I have found meat is much better from the butchers than the supermarkets, but it did take me a while to work that out.

 Cal x

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If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place...

If you get a chance,take it, If it changes your life,let it. Nobody said it would be easy they just said it would be worth it...

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Rule no #1 in Australia.  Don’t buy food in supermarkets, especially bread!

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4 hours ago, newjez said:

I've never understood thanking people at zebra crossings. Thanks for not breaking the law and killing me? Really don't understand that. If someone does you a favour, sure. But just for doing what they are supposed to? Don't get it.

 

It’s a polite british thing. Same as thanking a bus driver when you get off. They’re only doing their job but they always get a thank you 

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They certainly do thank the drivers round here.  Guess Australia is a pretty big country and varies from state to state.  Aldi sausages are nice , they are German but agree that the other supermarkets are pretty dire for meat.  Local butchers are good, at least round here. The bread round here is lovely, always fresh and lots of different types.  I like sourdough personally and no complaints at all- and I am fussy .As for coffee- well you know we are the best , even in very small country towns these days. Thank you Italian migrants! I do think the noo zoolanders are catching up with us re coffee but no one else is.

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5 hours ago, ramot said:

Buy your chocolate from Aldi 

i do buy clothes from M&S on line, quality adequate, but better than lots here.

Also went into a store in Chermside Brisbane called Harris Scarfe, daft name, but found they sold clothes from Debenhams, their classic range and also their Maine range, I like them both, mainly separates, and will go back and have a better look at a later date as I was in a rush. Could be useful.

I go in Harris Scarfe but have never seen clothes from Debenhams in there. It’s my new favourite shop though because they have great kitchen stuff. And Hush puppies. 

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103 visa application lodged February 2013. 143 visa application submitted January 2016. Police checks and form 80 submitted February 29th 2016. Visa granted April 4th 2016.

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4 hours ago, Paul1Perth said:

When we were in the UK on holiday supermarkets were full of ready meals. Do people just live on them? 

Most people still buy fresh stuff here and actually cook. Not so many ready meals around.

No not many ready meals around but have bought them in an emergency and they really are grim. 


103 visa application lodged February 2013. 143 visa application submitted January 2016. Police checks and form 80 submitted February 29th 2016. Visa granted April 4th 2016.

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9 hours ago, Fisher1 said:

 ... does Aussie chocolate all taste strange to you? 

 

Yes!

Wouldn't think it being made from sugar cane rather than sugar beat would make a difference, but it does.

Cream Eggs are still made in the UK and imported  - or at least they were a few years ago when we did a tour of the Cadbury factory and Kirsty asked where and how they make cream eggs.  He had to whisper his answer !


Kirsty is the main applicant. Vetassess rec/proc 17/12/13 (finally) a positive assessment 10/06/14. ILETS 19/03/16 overall 8.5 score rec 01/04/16, 190 EOI for SA Lodged 07/12/16. EOI Approved 24/01/17. 190 visa submitted 24/02/17, CO 06/03/17 Medicals 20/03/17. 190 for SA granted 05/04/17. Arrival in SA 22/04/19. It's been quite a journey !

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Great post!

Although as also stated, a lot of things about Australia do vary from State to State from the people and their thoughts and ways to the quality of food sold in the supermarkets.  We have only really self-catered in SA and WA but found that the meat quality was easily on a par to Sainsburys and Aldi where we shop in UK.  Different kind of meat for a different kind of lifestyle really.  

 

 

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Kirsty is the main applicant. Vetassess rec/proc 17/12/13 (finally) a positive assessment 10/06/14. ILETS 19/03/16 overall 8.5 score rec 01/04/16, 190 EOI for SA Lodged 07/12/16. EOI Approved 24/01/17. 190 visa submitted 24/02/17, CO 06/03/17 Medicals 20/03/17. 190 for SA granted 05/04/17. Arrival in SA 22/04/19. It's been quite a journey !

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35 minutes ago, SteveandKirsty said:

Yes!

Wouldn't think it being made from sugar cane rather than sugar beat would make a difference, but it does.

Cream Eggs are still made in the UK and imported  - or at least they were a few years ago when we did a tour of the Cadbury factory and Kirsty asked where and how they make cream eggs.  He had to whisper his answer !

English chocolate would be liquid in Australia. Always assumed that accounted for the difference. Try putting Australian chocolate in the fridge. Tastes better cold.


Nearly there! Don't drop the ball now guys! Vaccines are weeks away. Stay safe!

 

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4 hours ago, Fisher1 said:

No not many ready meals around but have bought them in an emergency and they really are grim. 

When my youngest was in hospital we ate m&s ready meals. They are not bad.


Nearly there! Don't drop the ball now guys! Vaccines are weeks away. Stay safe!

 

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11 hours ago, Paul1Perth said:

Same here. 

I bus a lot and nearly everybody thanks the driver, even school kids 

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3 hours ago, newjez said:

English chocolate would be liquid in Australia. Always assumed that accounted for the difference. Try putting Australian chocolate in the fridge. Tastes better cold.

British chocolate isn’t actually chocolate as per the traditional makeup.  It doesn’t meet the EU requirements for min cocoa solids, it’s basically vegetable fat and sugar, unlike euro chocolate which contains 100% cocoa butter.  The EU wanted the U.K to change it’s name, but finally allowed it to be labelled ‘British Chocolate’ when sold in Europe.  All Australian chocolate does meet the minimal standard for cocoa solids.   

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12 hours ago, Toots said:

In Sydney - don't know about elsewhere, many people shout "Thanks driver" when getting off a bus.

You're right that's true - and adorable when the school kids say it as they often do:-)

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13 hours ago, newjez said:

I've never understood thanking people at zebra crossings. Thanks for not breaking the law and killing me? Really don't understand that. If someone does you a favour, sure. But just for doing what they are supposed to? Don't get it.

 

 

13 hours ago, newjez said:

I've never understood thanking people at zebra crossings. Thanks for not breaking the law and killing me? Really don't understand that. If someone does you a favour, sure. But just for doing what they are supposed to? Don't get it.

 

it's called manners.....

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4 hours ago, SteveandKirsty said:

Yes!

Wouldn't think it being made from sugar cane rather than sugar beat would make a difference, but it does.

Cream Eggs are still made in the UK and imported  - or at least they were a few years ago when we did a tour of the Cadbury factory and Kirsty asked where and how they make cream eggs.  He had to whisper his answer !

The Chocolate - I forgot to rate that!! Yes it is inferior without questions, very waxy and sugary. Yes it is correct I believe that the difference is also as it has to have a much higher melting point. and Yes Aldi Chocolate is pretty good, better than Cadburys imo

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13 hours ago, Fisher1 said:

I did enjoy reading this, been here two years now and totally agree about ready meals, clothing and bread. We knew what we were in for with bread and make our own (bread machine) ditto cakes.   One thing you didn’t mention ... does Aussie chocolate all taste strange to you? 

Agree about all the plus points too. we’ve been made so welcome by the Australians we’ve met and had a lot of help along the way. So far so good - thank you for making me smile😁

Yes Fisher 1 I agree about the Chocolate, due to it having to have a far higher melt point temperature it has to be  made differently and does taste waxy. Aldi chocolate as others mentioned is pretty good though:-)

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