Mum's gone 2 Aus

Essential support, advice and information for your family relocation to Australia.
Podcast player

Podcast player

Regular readers will have noticed that these days Mum doesn’t have much time for writing. With my Aussie job, and Aussie family life and home renovations in full swing I don’t get to do much for myself (or for others that aren’t in my direct family or line of sight).

However, I have managed to acquire a new addiction; and it’s something that helps me stay in touch with the UK (where I’m originally from) and increase my awareness and appreciation of my new home.

Mum’s new addiction is: Podcasts.

I spend about five hours a week commuting to work by public transport. This time used to be spent browsing email and Facebook, or staring out of the window wishing the trip would be over sooner.

Since I recently expanded by Podcast library, my journey to / from work is now my favourite part of the day. I’ve lost count of the educational, inspiring, entertaining and thought provoking words I’ve listened to.

How to listen to Podcasts on your iPhone

I have an iPhone and use the free Podcasts app from Apple. From the app, it’s easy to search Podcasts by theme and topic.

I’m subscribed to a number of podcasts and regularly download their latest offerings.

There are other apps available that help you sort and store a high volume of podcasts, and create playlists.

Podcasts Mum recommends

For staying in touch with life in the UK, I have a two favourite Podcasts;

1. Graham Norton on Radio 2 – Graham Norton’s radio show has plenty of laughs and he generally interviews celebrities with music to release, or a new TV show or movie to promote. It’s a great way to stay in touch with the latest releases in the UK, specifically on British TV and in theatre (we know what to look forward to when things are eventually released down under!)

2. BBC World Service – I get my daily international news fix from the BBC World Service podcast.

Other Podcasts I subscribe to from time to time are the Radio 4 Comedy of the Week and BBC World Service Documentaries.

For broadening my horizons on life down under, I regularly listen to several ABC podcasts;

1. Conversations with Richard Fidler is one of Australia’s most downloaded podcasts and a favourite of Mum’s. It’s a good way to learn more about Australian house-hold names, as well as learn about the latest book releases and current affairs.

2. Life Matters is another ABC show that conducts interviews relating to contemporary Australian life. Discussions often have a family / female focus.

Getting started with Podcasts

Hopefully you’ll enjoy Mum’s favourite podcasts, but if these podcasts don’t take your fancy browse through Apple’s Top 10 Podcast listings per country. You can also look at the charts from your iPhone.

Listening to Podcasts from UK-based presenters makes me feel more connected to my country of origin, and broadening my range of Australian-based podcasts helps me feel at one with my new home. It’s win, win with Podcasts!

If you’re a Podcast addict, like Mum, please share details of your favourite Podcasts in the comments below – especially if they help you stay connected with your past, or learn more about your new home. Thank you.

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Australians all let us rejoice!

When Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus recently announced that it won’t be long before we can apply for our Australian citizenship, do you know what I responded? “Far out!”

It only seems like yesterday that we were arriving to our temporary accommodation in Sydney, and stressing about preschools and where to live long term; and phrases like “Far out!” sounded very odd.

It was during the recent school holidays that I first realised I’d ramped up a level, yet again, in terms of my Aussie lingo. During the holidays, as the kids’ challenging behaviour escalated and stress levels rose, I found myself saying “Far out!” (followed by a big sigh or moan) way too often.

Accepting Aussie English

Over two years ago I started a great friendship with a fellow Brit and very supportive mum; she commented that I’d quickly embraced Australian sayings and vocabulary. It is true that despite initial reluctance (read Aussie English – Embrace or resist?) I soon added terms like servo and bottle-o to my vocabulary. I then wrote about my favourite Aussie phrases and admitted that many have slipped into our everyday speech.

And so, it seems, as if a prerequisite to our upcoming citizenship, the final string to my bow, or icing on my Australian vocabulary cake, is “Far out!” – I’m saying it all the time, and it feels very comfortable; and it is a great alternative to the other “F” word I could be using….

How to apply for Australian citizenship

If you’re in the same position as Family Mum’s gone 2 Aus and getting ready to apply for your Australian citizenship, a great place to start your online research is the Australian Citizenship Wizard from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

You can use the wizard and website to check your eligibility, find the right forms and read all about the Australian citizenship application process. You will also find full details of the Australian Citizenship Test, that you’ll need to pass before becoming a citizen.

We’ll be getting our paperwork ready over the next few months and look forward to starting the New Year as Aussie citizens.

If you’ve recently applied for or obtained your Australian citizenship, we’d love to hear how the process went for you.  Please share your tips and comments below.

If you’ve recently arrived in Australia, how are you getting on with the local vocabulary? Have you embraced Australian English as much as Mum? Thank you.

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Big Merino Huge Scarf

We recently enjoyed another Aussie road trip; this time to The Snowy Mountains (more on the trip coming soon), and Mum was a little miffed to learn that we missed one of Australia’s “big things”. The Big Trout is at Adaminaby, north-west of Cooma in The Snowy Mountains. We talked about taking a detour on our way to / from Jindabyne, but ran out of time.

Which of Australia’s big things have you seen?

Over the years, visiting and now living in Aus, Mum has kept a mental tally of the big things we’ve driven past, or stopped at.

Before having kids, we did some back-packing and noted The Big Rum Bottle at Bundaberg and The Big Marlin in Cairns.

More recently, we have visited The Big Banana at Coffs Harbour, and seen The Big Wine Bottle at Hunter Valley Gardens and The Big Merino at Goulburn.

Our running total is five – not a bad start, but there are PLENTY more to see!

How many roadside big things are there in Australia?

According to Wikipedia, there are over 150 big things around Australia, most highlight roadside services between popular destinations, and many are tourist attractions in their own right. The fact that many have their own websites says it all!

We spent half a day at The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour there was so much to do, including toboggan rides and a water park.

Every time we embark on a new road trip in Australia, we venture a little further from Sydney, and are always inspired to travel for longer and see more on our next trip – that includes seeing more of Australia’s BIG THINGS!

How many of Australia’s big things have you visited? Have you been keeping count? What’s the best road trip you’ve enjoyed down under? As ever, we’d love to hear your stories. Photo sharing welcome too – contact Mum if you’d like to share some photos of the big things you’ve visited. Thank you.

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Have you had a mountain to climb?

Have you had a mountain to climb?

In January we celebrated our three year Aussie-migration anniversary. We’ve been living in Sydney for three years, have experienced many ups and downs (as you’ll know from reading this blog) and are still very happy with our decision to move down under.

Why so exhausted?

Recently, Mum was chatting to a friend who relocated to Sydney shortly before Family Mum’s gone 2 Aus. Whenever we get together we invariably mention how exhausted we are. This weekend was no different.

We’re both working mums with preschool children; I’m sure anyone would agree that this alone can be exhausting, but Mum recently wondered whether our decision to move to Aus, and endeavours to settle here, have added to the pressure and constant exhaustion.

Overseas visitors

It’s the beginning of March and for Mum and friend January and February passed in a blink. Christmas, New Year, the school holidays, overseas visitors and the start of the new academic year have meant the past months are a blur.

Two months into the year we are finally getting back to our “normal” family routine.

Because of your relocation to Australia you’re more likely to have long term house guests which can put pressure on the family routine. It’s certainly a fun and special time having visitors from around the world, but it’s also exhausting!

In December 2010, Lesley from Northern Beaches Know-How shared her ten tips for surviving long term house guests. It’s a natural hazard and joy of overseas relocation. How do you avoid reaching overseas visitor exhaustion?

Culture shock is exhausting

After three years we’re probably over the culture shock of moving to Australia; we know how things work and know what to expect from the Aussie way of life. But for a while everything felt like a struggle and occasionally things still catch us out and cause a dilemma.

We recently shared Mum’s “back to work in Sydney” dilemmas and five more things that surprise us about Australia.

How long have you been in Aus? Are you over the culture shock?

Summer = outdoor = busy

An exhaustion factor I discussed with my equally exhausted friend is that the Australian summer months are extremely active and busy. The weather is beautiful, life is spent outdoors, and it’s easy to socialise with the kids.

Christmas and New Year are exhausting anywhere in the world but in Aus they are followed by weeks of BBQs, swimming in the sea and playing on the sand.

And because we moved to Aus for the outdoor lifestyle, it’s as if we can’t sit still during summer. We have to maximise our enjoyment of all the summer activities, as if to prove again and again that relocating to Aus was the right thing to do.

Recently, Mum made a mental note to break this trend and slow down. It has helped that the past few weeks in Sydney have been cooler and wet, and have forced Family Mum’s gone 2 Aus to have a much needed rest.

Is this a trend you recognise in yourself or your family? How long have you been in Aus and have things started to slow down, or not?

Autumn = slow down and breathe

It’s a little late for New Year’s resolutions but now that Autumn is here Mum has promised that, as a family, we will slow down and breath. We’ve been here for three years and have no plans to leave. We are settled in all aspects of our lives. Hopefully, we can now breathe and turn our back on the exhaustion we’ve been feeling since emigrating.

If you’ve arrived in Aus more recently than Mum, or been here for longer, how’s your migration exhaustion? Have you got over the culture shock and been able to breathe a little? We’d love to hear your stories. Thank you.

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Good quality kids shoes at affordable prices

Since living Down Under, we’ve lost count of the number of families we have heard complaining about the cost of good quality children’s shoes.

Clarks are the ubiquitous brand of kids school shoes in the UK. If your children were born in the UK you probably visited your local Clarks store for their first pair of shoes; and growing up in the UK parents probably wore Clarks school shoes themselves (thankfully they’re a little more stylish these days).

Since relocating to Sydney, we’ve learnt that Clarks shoes are popular but they seem to be disproportionately expensive compared to UK prices. We regularly pay around $100 for our son’s standard black school shoes – that’s around £65 at current conversion rates, and at least £20 more than equivalent shoes bought in the UK.

Given the high cost of good quality kids shoes in Australia, Mum was very interested to learn about The Kids Shoe Company.

The Kids Shoe Company

The Kids Shoe Company is a UK-based family run business that offers Clarks (and other good quality) shoes at affordable prices – and they ship to Australia!

Postage to Australia for one pair of shoes is £7.95  (about $12).  The cost of a pair of boy’s Clarks school shoes from The Kids Shoe Company is around £25 (about $38). That makes the total cost of your Clarks shoes from The Kids Shoe Company around $50; half the price of buying them in Aus.

The Kids Shoe Company personally select all shoes sold on the site. Some of the shoes are from Clarks previous season and some are from the current ranges. Stocks and sizes of shoes are dependent upon availability from suppliers.

The Kids Shoe Company trades worldwide and offers summer and winter shoes all year round. The website is updated with new stock about once a month.

**Special offer on Clarks shoes for Mum’s gone 2 Aus readers**

Mum was contacted by The Kids Shoe Company and they would like to offer Mum’s gone 2 Aus readers a special discount on shoes purchased from the site. Contact The Kids Shoe Company via their Contact Page and quote the code MG2A during the months of February and March 2013, and The Kids Shoe Company will provide a 10% discount on the cost of your shoes.

Getting children’s feet measured in Australia

A top tip from Mum (and The Kids Shoe Company) is to get your children’s feet measured locally before purchasing online – if you’ve just touched down in Aus you may be wondering where to go to get your children’s feet measured. We’d recommend children’s shoe departments in Myer. If you have one local to you, Shoes & Sox is the store Mum uses.

Already used The Kids Shoe Company?

If you’ve already purchased shoes from The Kids Shoe Company and had them delivered to Australia, please let us know how you got on. If you’re about, please come back and share your experience. Thank you.

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LIKE Canberra - Mum does!

LIKE Canberra – Mum does!

Last winter we spent a very enjoyable weekend in Canberra and shared our Canberra discoveries in A weekend in Canberra – excitement and education for kids. We recently had another short break in Australia’s capital city and had more fantastic family fun.

Many Sydneysiders we chat to are dismissive of Canberra, but we’ve been impressed with the things to do and places to see, and it’s very easy to get around. Yes, the grid-style layout of the city isn’t exactly full of character; but the lake is pretty and there are interesting buildings (old and new).

A complaint we’ve heard about Canberra is that there isn’t any nightlife. If you’re reading this article, aimed at families relocating to Canberra, we don’t think the nightlife is going to be high on your list of priorities.

Here’s Mum pick of the most useful websites and online resources for families moving to Canberra;

Moving to Canberra: useful online resources

Canberra is Australia’s custom-made state capital city and life there is pretty orderly and well-organised – there’s no wonder information about moving to Canberra is also readily available and well structured.

An essential resource if your thinking of moving to Canberra is Canberra, create your future – you can get visa advice, read real-life stories, and learn about housing and accommodation.

You’ll also find a link to ACTuality, a site offering virtual tours of the city.

If you’re moving to Canberra in 2013, you’ll be joining the centenary celebrations – 100 years since Australia’s capital city was named. According to the Canberra 100 website, “The Centenary of Canberra celebrates the history and heritage of one of the most enduring planned cities in the world and at the same time highlights its lively present and bright future.” You’ll find a calendar of events and plenty of useful and inspirational information about the city on the Canberra 100 website.

More interesting reading to get a feel for living in Canberra is The RIOT ACT – “Canberra News, Views and Opinion”.

One of Australia’s most liveable cities

Canberra recently came second in a study of Australia’s most liveable and family friendly cities – these articles will help you get excited about your move;

Things to do with kids in Canberra

If you’re looking for inspiration regarding family activities and services Canberra’s Child is a free magazine available across the city; the online version is available here: Web Child Canberra.

Not surprisingly ACT Tourism’s Canberra pages are full of family fun, see things to do in Canberra.

Canberra-based relocation consultants

Auslocate specialise in Canberra relocation and offer family relocation services. Many Australia-wide relocation firms can support your move to Canberra – if you have used or know of a local service please share the details in the comments below.

Canberra blogs and Facebook pages

A useful blog and Facebook page to follow if you’re moving to Canberra is Her Canberra. Her Canberra is a website for women of the Canberra region and also includes articles relating to family life in Canberra.

Other useful pages include;

Expat and relocation forums

There are a number of online forums that help expats with the transition to life in Australia; we recommend Poms in Oz Canberra threads if you’re moving to the ACT state capital.

Share your favourite moving to Canberra websites, facebook pages and blogs

As always, if you have recently moved to Canberra, or have lived in Canberra for years, please share your favourite Canberra websites, facebook pages and blogs in the comments below.  We’re also happy to hear from businesses offering services that would be useful to relocating families. Thank you.

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Today we’re ringing the changes and sharing a little poem about our recent Aussie road trip. What have you been up to during the school holidays? Have you been on a road trip? We’d love to hear your stories (and poems)!

Ready for action!

Ready for action!

Our Aussie road trip

When we rose at dawn, to beat the traffic,
The kookaburras were laughing.
We loaded the car with sighs and huffs,
And set the dogs off barking.

Back within minutes for forgotten items,
The mood was already grim,
“Come on people, brighten up!
This isn’t how a holiday should begin!”

Tired, but hoping for some rest,
We whizzed up Pacific Highway,
Listening to Nova ’til just after Newcastle,
Then switching to eye spy games.

We couldn’t resist a little detour
Through a stunning National Park.
Stretching our legs, alone on a beach,
Navigating dusty roads for an hour was a lark.

Arriving at our destination,
We headed for the bar.
Then after a trip to the pool, and a nap,
We finally unpacked the car.

We unloaded our bikes, surf boards and eski,
Our suitcases, and each person’s hat,
Our holiday home began to look lived in,
Our thongs lined up on the mat.

The holiday became a very wet affair,
Not because the sun wasn’t shining.
We swam, we surfed, walked in the rain forest,
Put the kids in the tub when there was whining.

We ate snags from the barbie,
And had fish and chips for tea,
We drank beer and Champagne,
And searched daily for a good coffee.

Driving home after dark we watched for Koalas,
And tried to spot possums,
We passed the time discussing our trip,
And how we loved to see the kids blossom.

Home after 10 hours on the road,
We marvelled at how quickly the time went,
And promised ourselves that we’d make our next trip truly Aussie,
By taking a tinny and tent!

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