A New Country
Being an immigrant to a new Country wasn’t something I had ever thought of as a Canadian, in my RCMP role. Having heard jokes and off-handed comments from people about ‘new Canadian’s‘ I wondered how I would go as a “new” Australian?
Immigrating to Australia from Canada was a new and exciting opportunity. I would become a “fair dinkum Aussie” adapting to my new life within a short time.
This was assisted by living in rural New South Wales and helping on a sheep property, then undertaking careers in the Australian Public Service and private enterprise. These opportunities allowed me to get to know and understand the Australian way of life.
It was a big change for our three children, who had in recent years been exposed to the large metropolitan city of Mississauga in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. So what was this big, wide country that we had moved to?
Moving to another country is a major event in one’s life and adjustments are needed. One of the first things is to understand your new country and for those that don’t know much about Australia here are some basic facts on Australia (courtesy of the Australian Government website).
A bit about Australia
Australia is a unique and diverse country in every way – in culture, population, climate, geography, and history. We chose to live here because my then-wife was from Australia and the opportunity to move our family had uniquely presented itself. We were ready for a change and why not in Australia – the land down under.
Australian culture is as broad and varied as the country’s landscape – similar to Canada. Australia is multicultural and multiracial and this is reflected in the country’s food, lifestyle and cultural practices and experience. Australia has an important heritage from its indigenous people, which plays a defining role in the cultural landscape. This diversity of influences creates a cultural environment in Australia that is lively, energised, innovative and outward looking.
Australia’s population is roughly 24 million people.
The most populous states are New South Wales and Victoria, with their respective capitals, Sydney and Melbourne, the largest cities in Australia. Australia’s population is concentrated along the coastal region of Australia from Adelaide to Cairns, with a small concentration around Perth, Western Australia. The center of Australia is sparsely populated like the far north in Canada.
The majority of Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year. The northern states of Australia are typically warm all the time, with the southern states experiencing cool winters but rarely sub-zero temperatures. Snow falls on the higher mountains during the winter months, enabling skiing in southern New South Wales and Victorian ski resorts. The State of Tasmania reminded me of my time in Newfoundland, Canada.
Australia is an island continent and the world’s sixth largest country. Lying between the Indian and Pacific oceans, the country is approximately 4,000 km from east to west and 3,200 km from north to south, with a coastline 36,735 km long. Canberra is Australia’s capital city. With a population of approximately 380,000 people and situated in the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra is roughly halfway between the two largest cities Melbourne and Sydney.
Australia has 19 listed World Heritage properties. Australia is also famous for its landmark buildings such as the Sydney Opera House and sites such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge; its ancient geology at Uluru as well as for its wilderness high country and ocean wonders such as the great barrier reef.
Australia’s first inhabitants, the Aboriginal people, are believed to have migrated from some unknown point in Asia between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.
While Captain James Cook is credited with Australia’s European discovery in 1770, a Portuguese possibly first sighted the country, while the Dutch are known to have explored the coastal regions in the 1640s. The first European settlement of Australia was in January 1788, when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip.
Originally established as a penal colony, by the 1830s the number of free settlers was increasing. Transportation of convicts to the eastern colonies was abolished in 1852 and to the western colonies in 1868.
Australia follows a Westminster system of government and law inherited from the British who originally colonised the country. There is a Commonwealth Parliament and each state and territory also has its own government.
There you have a quick overview of Australia courtesy of Australian Government and tourism websites.
So check out more on Australia…..it’s a fascinating place to live or visit.
Please click on these links for more detailed information:
Australian Tourism – http://www.tourism.australia.com/
Australian Tourism – http://www.australia.com/en
About Australia – http://www.about-australia.com/
About Australia – http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia
If you haven’t been there you should plan a visit as it is a wonderful place.
The Immigration or Emigration Adventure
After living 41 years in Canada the prospect of a change was adventurous – or that was the thinking. The family seemed excited about the move to a place their mother was from. The children were at an age we thought it best to make the move as they would be young enough to adjust. Seems we were partly right. My parents had passed away and it seemed appropriate for my wife to be back home and closer to her family – there we no family ties for me any longer.
I faintly remember the process to obtain my immigration visa but recall it was smooth as I was a sponsored spouse of a returning Australian. I was good to go and allowed to work on my visa so emigration here I come. The move and the travel adventure to get to Australia was a lifetime experience. These memoirs are taken from a travel diary kept during the trip and postcards obtained on the journey (pictures of this trip are missing in action).
Carrying on from my page on our road trip across Canada with a rented motor home, we flew from Vancouver, Canada, via Hawaii for a short fuel stop to Cairns, Queensland on July 14, 1990 arriving early on a tropical morning. Cairns was to be our staging for touring around to enjoy a holiday before driving south – (on the new side of the road) – to our destination at Hill End, NSW. Cairns is Queensland’s most northerly city nestled between the Atherton Tableland with lush rain forest, waterfalls and crystal clear lakes on one side and coral sea with worlds largest coral Great Barrier Reef on the other side.
I recall vividly the reaction from our children in Cairns as we explored the downtown area and markets seeking breakfast that people weren’t wearing shoes and it was very casual, a hippy type vibe of the 1060’s. A far cry from the more formal surrounds of Toronto. The cultural change was just beginning. We spent a week in Coles caravan (RV) park in Cairns and took the opportunity to explore the sights and surrounds of north Queensland.
We took the train to Karunda, a boat to the Great Barrier reef for snorkeling, we at sausage roles and meat pies and adjusted to the heat. During our time we enjoyed many other attractions of the Cairns area including a harbor cruise around the mangroves looking for crocodiles and other wildlife one evening.
We toured sugar cane fields on the Bally Hooley steam express, drove around the Atherton tablelands that is home to many huge curtain fig trees and flying foxes, headed up to Port Douglas checking out their famous 4 mile beach, did some more snorkeling on the barrier reef at Low Isles, visited the Daintree River and Mossman gorge.
Our sanctuary in the heat was a swim in the caravan park pool. It was a busy 6 days and a fun time exploring this tropical holiday location but we then headed by plane to Brisbane on the 30th July to pick up our rental car for the other side of the road journey south.
We had collected our Avis Ford and pointed it towards Tenterfield, NSW via Toowoomba, Queensland that was an easy one day drive. We stayed in an old pub in Tenterfield with a lovely historic atmosphere. I had a few adventures trying to establish my driving on this other side of the road but getting much better each hour. The rural countryside was dotted with sheep but it was cold and wet. – Remember its winter time in Australia in July and August.
The next day we headed to a place called Armidale, NSW where some relatives were and then at “Airlie” Bendemeer Station where my ex-wife had spent time when she was growing up. The wattles were out in bloom everywhere with rabbits and kangaroos roaming everywhere. We stayed over night in Gunnedah, NSW before arriving in Mudgee, NSW close to our destination. It had been raining the whole way and we ended up flood bound in Mudgee.
Our journey to our new land had ended and once the roads were clear from the flood waters we would be heading to the property in Hill End (or the end of the world depending on how you look at it!)
Check out the rest of my story about living in Australia in the next 3 pages (page links below)