The Visas were through

Finally, we had the visas and confirmation we were going to go and live in Australia for 3-4 years.  We were going out there blind, having never seen either Canberra or been to Australia before.  We knew a little about Canberra from what we had read online, looked at satellite images, done the random pick a road and see what the Google drive by showed us. We had looked at areas of the city and realised that some were more suitable to us than others.  We needed space, we needed a garden, we needed peace and quiet.  Well I did anyway.

So the 4th April became the day we could go to Australia. Hummm….

There was still a lot of planning to get done.  A lot of arranging of things like some possessions going out in a shipping container.  The 6 bikes and the trike for starters.  But Australian Borders and Security (Customs) have a reputation of being very, very strict.  The bikes and trike would all need stripping down and cleaning to within an inch of their lives.  So would the towbar mounted bike rack.  So would all the camping equipment, the additional bike tools, the…. and the list went on.

More to the point, there was going to be very little time to get it all clean and arranged.

We had agreed with Stuart’s work that we wouldn’t take out things like furniture and white goods.  They would replace it with IKEA equivalent standard in Australia.  That was fine by us.  Other than one bookcase with Patrick had given to us and a few small stools, a couple of small coffee tables which would fit in a box, there was nothing really that we wanted to hold on to.  All of it had been replaced last time around.  We weren’t attached to any of it.

But there were questions to be answered and loads of research to be done.  Could I take my seagrass stools with me?  The ones that I had been weaving over Christmas and the New Year?  They were useful and would easily fit inside a box with additional stuff packed around them.  Investigations answered that question – seagrass rope was considered to be highly processed so not a biosecurity hazard.  It just had to be declared, as did anything wooden, anything with bamboo, anything with…. the list went on.

We set a date, well we set a week when we wanted to have moved to Australia by.  It seemed sensible.  A month’s time.  The beginning of May. Yeh, we could do that couldn’t we?


The House Purchase was Off

Where were we up to?

Monday morning arrived and from what I gather, Stuart’s boss’s boss basically congratulated him on the new post.  What?  All I did was ask for more details… It seemed that big bosses thought it was a sure thing.  The job was his if he wanted it.  We had some serious thinking to do.  What was the package? And as the details were worked out, we realised that somehow, we had yet another opportunity of a life time coming our way.  We had taken the first one, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  With me the way I was though unless we could guarantee the same health care both in Australia and on our return to the UK (private health care through Stuart’s work, we didn’t want to loose the cover with my back if there was perceived to be a termination in the private health care cover).

Once all of that was sorted, we knew in our hearts that we could not pass up this opportunity.  We made the horrible decision to back out of the house purchase before either party had spent money on solicitor’s fees.  We hated what we were doing; Australia was not guaranteed but knew we had to.  The house purchase was over.

We had pulled out of the house purchase without really knowing for definite that Australia was on.  All Stuart’s bosses were talking about it like it was a done deal, but we still had questions.  Then there was the small issue of my back problems.  I was still only 11 months into the recovery stage, but the way we saw it I could recover in the UK or I could recover in Australia and someone was going to pay my husband to work in Australia.

So we asked a lot of questions, including whether we had done the right thing pulling out of the house purchase.  We investigated renting houses in Canberra and there seemed to be some that would meet our requirements of being far enough out of the city to be quiet and dark at night, but close enough for Stuart to cycle commute as and when he wanted to and more importantly, they fell inside our price range.

We decided that an orientation visit would not be necessary!  The flight out was going to be hard enough on my back as it was, and the company would only pay for economy class seats.  Any upgrades and we would have to meet the cost and my back issues would dictate a seat upgrade for myself.  We talked to family and friends and did more research.  We would go out there blind having never been to Australia before.  In fact, we hadn’t actually reached the southern hemisphere when we attempted to cycle around the world, so we were going to go and live in Australia for 3-4 years without even having been to the southern hemisphere.

Talking with family yielded a contact in Canberra.  Stuart’s brother’s wife (Carmel) had a friend would had gone out there to work and decided to stay.  She and her partner had become Australian citizens and adopted 2 little boys.  We would sort of know someone out there.

Christmas came and went and so did the New Year.  No news on those business visas.  Finally a few questions asked at work sorted the issue.  We had asked that many questions about the package and health care, and his work were concerned about me and my health issues, that they thought we were having second thoughts.  Time to start things again…

Business visas were applied for and a tense wait started.  They came through within 5 weeks on a Friday.  Then we had the personal side of the visas to sort.  We sorted those and applied for them over the weekend.  We already had pretty much everything they needed already scanned in (passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates amongst other things) so it was a reasonably painless process other than the cost (which would get reimbursed, but it was still 4 figures!)

The personal visas came through on the 4th April and from then it was action stations.  There was a lot to do, loads to arrange and even more to clean!  Australian border and security have a reputation of being very strict.

Our Next Big Adventure: Australia