Archives for category: departure planning

Started this two weeks ago, feels inadequate already, as deeper feelings about leaving Oz surface, but, for the record (and with more pix to come) …….


Sitting in Dubai airport cum space station, digesting the fact that, after four and half years, I no longer live in Australia. Fewer than five years, but this time has had such an impact. Will take me more time, more words to understand how much it has changed me, but here’s a first stab at what I will miss, in no particular order

Coffee – flat white here is quite different from its pale, late imitations. On a trip to New Zealand recently, I learned that NZ is home of the FW – or so they claim. The cafe at Sydney airport where I would gasp for real coffee after 30 hours of airline chemicals….  Luckily, I plan to spend time in Spain whose café con leche rules supreme.


Sydney festivals – I didn’t make Mardi Gras, but went to Sydney Vivid several times – the best illuminated buiildings I’ve ever seen. The exuberance and playfulness seemed to sum up something very Sydney-ish. Loved the Writers Festival too, great setting on the harbour, interesting speakers, large literary crowds. Talking of harbour faves – Grilled

Barra and chips sitting looking out  at the sun setting across the Harbour. Watching La Traviata performed on a pontoon on the Harbour, with fireworks and flying foxes accompanying the arias in the dusk



Australian journalism – the ABC broadcasts current affairs, investigations, media analysis and Any Questions discussion panel across prime time Monday nights. Puts BBC shoving journalism out of the way in favour of Come dancing or whatever to shame. SBS broadcasts a range of shows to engage and reflect the range of cultures in contemporary Australia – reminds me a little of early channel 4. Both channels are largely in public ownership.

Public ownership – as are the trains (about a fiver for 200 kms from regional NSW to Sydney); utilities (not all), roads, and much more. This leads to a mix of low costs and irritating obstacles (imposisble to access outside working hours). Trade unions still determine conditions for most workers. Pensions funds are obligatory and employers make substantial contributions (17% in my own experience!!)

Language – finally realised that Australians speak Tabloidese – fitting as Murdoch’s birthplace. – love the Rego/servo/arvo/doco compressions. Also everyday use of more arcane language, so that rort is a common verb for scam or fraud, as in ‘pollies rorting expenses’.

Now the big ones: living quite differently in and on the land, and making friends far from home.

I want to write something substantial about how the Australian land has changed me, so will not say much here, except that the wildness of this continent generates an inner freedom to which I have responded deeply. Two years in the Blue Mountains have given me audio memories of the Kookaburra dawn chorus. Night skies that reach down to the rooftops in regional cities. The unfamiliar language of trees, not symmetrical, not shapely, the magnificent scruffy gum trees that scent the world. The light, shooting everything in HD, each leaf visible across distances.



Nothing is impossible but it seems unlikely I will work again with such a creative bunch of colleagues – the location of my discipline (public or organisational communication) in a creative rather than business school meant I shared corridors with performers, writers and directors. People interested in bodies as well as brains, like the lovely Dan Aubin,  handstanding past my office door, an image that sums up SCCI at its best (pic to follow).



First destination in Australia-

will try and stay a bit longer than booked as won’t have much house hunting time:  departmental trip scheduled to a different CSU campus ( a mere 700 km away!) for first week at work (Nov 14). Anyway this place looks great.
Departure from UK only possible due to outstanding collective endeavour – sister burned up the motorway to do a barnstorming rescue job on a bewildered and panicked me, only leaving when the next team of mates arrived to blitz the kitchen and ferry boxes and bin bags about. Reckon I’ve reduced my total possessions by about 70%, so will return to new lightweight life (until I clutter it up again). No prospective tenants yet – tho place looks good on website

Feeling very tired as I head into final hours of shifting and dumping, but deeply supported.

so, car’s gone, TV, old bike, bin liners of old clothes, rugs and assorted other household debris. Old furniture has found new homes, new beds are assembled and in place (thanks Dave A) – impressive given that when I asked what time beds were due last Monday,  they were not in country. Place still looks a tip but it is evolving, with fewer objects in each room each day. I am subtracting myself, piece by piece.

Said good bye to most people now, with smashing gathering at local tapas bar last weekend – loads of friends from work, local life, women’s group and even old chum from London as well as  niece Leah. Much loved old friends came to visit in the week too.  This temporary separation (hardest from Leah) shows me how deeply connected I am to other people: when I was young I used to leave the country slamming the door behind me. It was all about escape. This isn’t. I like my life here. But suspect it may be a while before I rejoin it  – so much effort in organising departure demonstrates what a big event this is – or perhaps distorts that perception. It felt like a short visit until I started the paperwork. Spent last week v anxious that I’d arrive without the right codes or passwords to Australian bank account – a reasonable fear given it took two days to get money out of UK account and several phone calls to ANZ to acquire the info necessary to make a deposit. Now HMRC tell me their previous advice was wrong, not a P85 but a NRL1. So much checking & chasing, really looking forward to the long flight – a welcome interval in organisational duties. No tenants yet but can’t worry about that. Odd to think of someone else in my bed, my bath, but the house will wait for me. I will be back.

in the past few weeks I have:

  • sorted, boxed and donated 75% of library to Oxfam (ditto multiple bin liners of textiles/clothes)
  • worked with brother to clear my loft – the nest in which I built a PhD and part-sorted papers
  • vacated my bedroom so it and rest of house cd be painted in neutrals so bland I can no longer sleep there
  • applied for and received visa permit 457 temporary business – a process much much harder than getting the job
  • cancelled standing orders and notified some/not all utilities
  • opened an Australian bank account – and acquired a currency broker
  • learned that I could not take my mobile or any laptop into Australia – and that everyone does
  • realised that not having an Australian address is a real problem but unable to get one pre=arrival
  • finally selected and air/sea freight service from the multiple quotes – ranging from £150 to £1500 for what may or may not be the same content – hard to say as each supplier uses a different unit of measurement – do you know the volumetric meterage of your clothes and books???
  • cut keys, signed contract with letting agency – to no effect as yet
  • had a lovely week with my sister in Greece
  • said goodbye in person to dad, brother, sister and nephew – more farewells to follow
  • watched my home become a house
  • agreed to be external examiner for PR at Stirling University and to deliver session there next week
  • outlined ‘teaching professional ethics’ workshop for teaching and research day at Charles Sturt, on arrival – meeting on a campus 700km from Bathurst
  • come down with flu