WARNING - This post is EXTREMELY long and filled with tons of pictures documenting our two years in Oz.
So tomorrow marks our two year anniversary in Australia!!! I cannot believe it how fast its all gone by, how much I have grown as a person, how much we have done, been through, the places we have travelled, friends we have met and moved away from...it's been a roller coaster of emotions, tears have been shed...LOTS of them, much laughter...and even more tears. As I remember back over the last two years, I feel incredibly blessed, for this wonderful opportunity and as I look back I can see God's hand over us this entire time and I am in awe of his grace and love, especially over the last two years.
(Our house in Johannesburg)
So just over two years ago we got THE email, the one that set the ball rolling. It was from a personnel agent asking us if we would consider coming to Australia to work. Three months later, after selling up/ throwing away / giving away (nearly) everything we boarded the SAA flight on the 16th November 2009 from Johannesburg to Perth. Armed with 8 suitcases, (8 boxes to follow over a year later) R10 000 in a credit card and a phone number. We were ready to start our new life!
(At Joburg International Airport with our bags)
(At the terminal waiting to board our flight)
We landed in Perth on a Saterday afternoon, 3 hours delayed (caused by a storm at Jhb airport). Customs was pretty easy and after trying unsuccessfully to change some rands into dollars, we caught a taxi, into Perth. We arrived at our hotel the Alderney on Hay, at 2.55pm, so Steve ran in quickly to get us checked in (the reception closed at 3pm) whilst I paid the taxi $25 (I quickly times that by 7 and thought THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN SURVIVE A MONTH ON R10000). So Steve comes out again with a trolley, while I am wrestling 8 bags and 1 x hyperactive 4 year old, we load bags and child on trolley go towards the glass reception door and...NOTHING! Doors don't open, no one is inside anymore...apparently when they said they closed at 3 pm...they closed at 3pm. Overtired, over emotional and just a teensy bit bewildered, I had what was to become the first of many mini tantrums mixed in with some snot en trane. So we made our way around to the back entrance, put a code in the keypad, and went up to our rooms. It was a two bed self catering apartment complete with mini kitchen and laundrey. And the most wonderful thing about it...the aircon, because MAN was it hot!
We were too excited to spend long in the rooms and we needed food, so we decided we were going to explore. We went outside and caught our first bus into the centre on town, to the Hay and Murray Street Malls. We were on the hunt for a supermarket to buy the basics. So we asked the clerk in Optus shop (I was getting a sim card for my phone) for a supermarket, and he looked at me blankly and suggested I try a mall. Eventually after searching up and down for a supermarket we eventually found a taxi and asked him to take us to the nearest mall, which was in Canningvale 25 minutes away and it was 4.30pm on a Saterday afternoon. For those who don't live in Perth might not catch the significance of this...it will become apparent soon. So off we went, watching the scenery very intently looking at our new city, (although I think I was probally watching the taxi meter more intently as it inched up to $25 AGAIN) we arrive at the mall, spill out of the taxi ( pay the fare again with the quickly dwindiling credit card) race into the mall to find a supermarket, find said supermarket and can't get into said supermarket! The time is now 5.01pm and the supermarkets are CLOSED. Perth shops close at 5.00pm, on a Sat... well luckily the fruit and veg shop is still open so we grab ourselves some exhobitantly expensive bananas, and go find some where to eat. After a nice meal at an Asian restaurant, we went to find us a bus stop so that we could get back to the city. That was pretty easy, and we made notes of the numbers so that we could be sure to find our way back to Canningvale the next morning to come shopping:)
Next morning we caught a bus to the train station, and caught a bus to the mall...and guess what...yes that's right Perth don't do Sunday trading either! In fact the only place that does have shops open is in the city centre, where our hotel was situated.
The next month passed in a blur. We went and opened bank accounts, and Steve started work. While Steve was at work, Luke and explored the city by bus and by foot. The busses within the city are all free (and mostly airconned) so we would sit on the bus and see all the different places and get off when we saw something interesting.
(Luke's first Ferry ride across the Swan River)
(Luke and Steve at AQWA)
(Luke at the Perth Zoo)
(Perth Christmas parade 2007)
(Luke at Kings park)
We also found a house in a suburb called Butler which was about 40km from the city.
(Packed bags moving from Hotel to our new house)
(Our new home)
(The park about 100m away from the house)
We had our first Christmas in Oz. It was just the three of us, and unlike any other Christmas we had ever had, because it was so quiet. We really missed the family that day! But thank goodness Father Christmas still found us even though we had moved so far away:)
We bought a brand new car, and after a few hassles they finally delivered it to us a few days after Christmas.
And we did alot of sightseeing...we went to Rockhampton
saw our first 'wild' kangaroo
and lots and lots and lots of SPIDERS!
In the new year Luke started school at Butler Primary. He was in the Kindy class and went twice a week. It was definately a welcome break for both of us! And I met my first real friend in Oz. A fellow South African, whose daughter was in Luke's class.
Luke on the playground by our house
(Beautiful March sunset)
(Racing around the garden on Easter sunday 2008, for the Easter egg hunt)
My aunts plane landing from Sydney, when she came to visit us. It was her first time meeting Luke and Steve
(All of us in Freemantle)
(View of the Swan River from Peppermint Grove)
(View of the city from Kings park)
(SKM Family day at the Perth Zoo)
(Professional pics at Joondalup)
(Playing laser games on the beach front for a friends birthday)
(Running around after laser games)
(My birthday, had a bbq at kings Park with friends and then went to the Swan River and rode on the ferries)
(Perth at night)
(My first ever baby shoot of our good friends baby boy Kian)
(Pics from lazy sunday afternoons at the coffee shop at Mindarie Marina)
(Steve's birthday in July '08)
(Luke's Birthday Party at school in September '08 )
(Luke opening presents and blowing out his birthday candles)
(All of us Caversham Wildlife Park)
(Luke's Birthday Party at home with his friends)
(Luke playing on the beach at Hilary's Boat harbour)
(Perfect summer days spent swimming in the back yard)
In November about a week before our 1 year anniversary, steve was made redundant. At the time we were still on a 457 temporary work visa, which meant when we lost our job we lost our visa. It was a mad scramble to find another job. Here are some excerps from posts I made on the SA immigration forum I belong to.
My husband got news today that he has been retrenched or made redundant as the Ozzies call it. We have been in Perth now for nearly 12 month (next week) and this news has come as a big blow to us. We were just starting to sort out our docs for PR, as we were promised sponsorship... Now I don't know. We can't go back to SA as we have nothing left here, but if we don't find another sponsor by 16 January we might be forced to return. My advice to anyone on 457 visa apply for PR asap, as you really don't want to find yourself in this position.
Its so frustrating to sit back and WAIT for things to happen, and know that you have NO power to do anything. have you tried phoning the immigration department for clarity on bridging visas. I would phone them, they are very helpful, and if your company had lodged nomination they might be able to tell you all that info. They will give you specific info for your situation. I got their number off the contact page on the website at www.immi.gov.au Can we pray for you guys as well? I am getting quite seasoned at praying for this sort of thing and let us know about any progress!!!!(these forumnites like to be kept updated )
On other news, Steve has a phone interview for Tuesday afternoon (2.30 WA time) Its for quite a big consultancy firm, but the catch is they are in Canberra, so we might be picking up and moving on. I am a bit aprehensive about moving, and starting all over again since we are nicely settled in Perth life, but would much rather move to Canberra then to Joburg so it might result in another exciting stage of our lives. Please someone tell me Canberra is cheaper to live then Perth!
Ok will continue to keep you all updated. and I can't tell you again how much all your support has meant to us. The PM's are still coming and i can't believe this thread has had so many views and comments already. It's great to be a recipient of so much prayers and good wishes, and to know people out there care
More good news Steve has managed to secure another interview in....you guessed it Canberra haha and there is a strong possibility for a interview for Townsville.
21.11.08Steve has had two interviews and has another one on Monday, they have gone well but will only get back to us in the next two weeks. Plus they aren't keen to offer us the same salary, but we have said we are more then willing to negotiate. Things are very quiet in Perth and there has been very little feedack so we are resigning ourselves to move.
But now we sit in Limbo. We can't move forwards, I can't make any plans for the future and it very frustrating. I like to know whats happening and all I can do now is sit on my hands and wait.
Will let you know more, when I do.
At this end Steve has had feedback from the interview he had yesterday, so much for 2 weeks, but I am not complaining! So they are very keen and have said they will offer us the position if we are sure we want to move to Canberra. Heck I will move to the middle of nowhere if it means staying in OZ. Pls they have said if the PR does not come through for any reason, they will sponsor us on a 457! Nothing is in writing yet, and until it is I am still very cautious. I will admit though that I burst into tears in the middle of the Hay street mall when I found out though, you don't realise how much stress and tension you have until someone gives you some good news. We will know more next week, but hope to be in Canberra in the new year. Will keep you updated as soon as we have something confirmed.
12.12.08Just wanted to let you know that we received a written offer this afternoon!!!!!!!! So happy to have this confirmation, of course its not over yet, but at least we have a job. Its in Canberra and the position starts 27 Jan. We have soooo much to do now, pack up house organise flights, temporary accom, movers etc. Its definately a lot more daunting this time then when we actually moved to Perth. They have also given us a relocation amount which makes things easier.
Our PR gets lodged tomorrow, so we are still hoping Steve's current company will continue to employ us until the visa is granted, otherwise we will have to still apply for another 457 visa. We will approach them tomorrow, hopefully they will be more willing to do this since we now have a signed offer on the table.
(Short lived career at Big W due to our move)
This is part 1 of the story much more to come tomorrow:)