13 years ago I made a snap life changing decision that I was going to live in Australia. 6 weeks later I’d shut down my company, sold virtually everything I owned, hopped on a plane, flew 12000 miles from cold grey dreary November in England and arrived in Melbourne not knowing a soul with my remaining possessions packed into a single suitcase.
Why did I do it? there are lots of reasons, but the overriding perception I had of Australia at that time was that it was better, the lifestyle would be better – beaches, sun, laid back and relaxed. Emigrating to Australia was something that lots of people dreamed of doing, but few actually did.
I aimed to find a better life in the lucky country, where I could be who I wanted to be rather than someone trying to live up to other peoples expectations of who I was supposed to be. Did it bother me that I didn’t know anyone? of course it did – but the perception of Aussies as a friendly bunch, I found to hold true and I had no doubt that I would soon get to know people and find my way around.
After 6 months I had a good job, and a good group of friends and I was living in South Yarra – perfectly located between the city, Chapel Street shopping, the botanical gardens and the beach. I was thoroughly enjoying myself deliberately being a tourist, exploring and experiencing everything Melbourne had to offer – the cafe’s the bars, the restuarants, the culture, the beach, lazy weekend breakfasts with friends on Southbank, St Kilda and South Melbourne. I loved the quirkiness of the weather – the odd phenomenon of ‘the cool change’ where temperatures can go from 35+ to less than 25 in about 10 minutes flat.
I’d done things that I just wouldn’t have contemplated back home – been to an opera, the ballet, the grand prix, food festivals, comedy festivals, film festivals and of course the tennis – there always seemed to be something going on and it was all so easy and accessible – I didn’t need a car, because everything was on my doorstep. Sometimes I almost had to pinch myself just to make sure it was real.
In short, coming to Australia is probably one of the best things I have ever done - my oldest friend emigrated out here after he saw how good my life was, one of my brothers emigrated out here for the same reason. Could I afford my own beautiful apartment with bay view and gym, swimming pool and tennis court just 10 minutes walk from the city centre in England? I don’t think so. I have so much here to be grateful for and I appreciate all the opportunities that I have had here and although I’m not a citizen, Australia Day is a fantastic idea (ever heard of Britain day?? no neither have I!) – whatever it means to you – a celebration of the coming of the first fleet, an excuse for a barbie with your mates, a handy day off work so you can go to the beach, or have a lie in, or just hang with your family and friends…enjoy it, celebrate it
I know I will.
Australia has been and continues to be the lucky country for me and I am very proud to call Australia home.
Happy Australia Day!