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  1. Hi All, Well, we've been here in Brisbane for just over 3 weeks, here are my observations so far: 1. There is a general familiarity about the place. We'd never been to Aus before, yet it felt like home. It may have helped that I am from Durban. The cars, road signs, roads, scenery, all felt similar to home. 2. Subburbs can be very mixed: very smart houses, next door to a dump, next door to grazing cows. 3. I've read many people say there isn't much class distinction. There is. There are gigantic houses beautifully kept and rundown properties with cars rusting in the gardens. You'll need to thoroughly check out a neighborhood before moving there. 4. People aren't very pedantic about the speed limit, especially during peak traffic. I set my cruise control to the speed limit,100km/h, then move to the slow lane while everyone passes me. 5. Pedestrians have right of way. They just walk at pedestrian crossings, you'd better stop! 6. Everyone I've dealt with has been friendly, courteous and hard working. It is so refreshing. 7. Brisbane CBD is incredible. Clean, neat, just a pleasant place to be. I sat at the river and had coffee between interviews, it was the strangest sensation to relax in a city. 8. In some places you're permitted to do u-turns, it felt strange doing it 9. No security in high rise buildings! I walked in the door, straight into the lift and up to the office. 10. To buy I car I needed a bank cheque. I imagined half a day of phonecalls and talking to managers. Reality was the person working the teller printed it out for me. It took literally 10 minutes, mainly because of the 5 minute queue. 11. "No worries" means "it's a pleasure" and "You're alright" means "don't worry". Saying an ordinary sentence with a question type tone gets confusing. That's it for now. We've bought our cars, sorted out all admin, I found work and start tomorrow, all in 3 weeks! I hope everyone else is doing well, and I'll check in again soon to see how you've all been doing.
  2. Hi all, We have just returned from a three week visa activation trip. Here are some observations, including pro's and con's as I am trying to be as objective and thorough as possible. Please note that these are my observations only. Even my hubby disagrees with me on some of them! - We went in winter and froze! Especially in Melbourne. Sydney is far more temperate but even with temperatures matching those in Johannesburg, it feels colder, so wrap up if you go in winter. - It was winter and school holidays, but there were many activities for the family. For example, fireworks on a Friday evening at Darling Harbour in Sydney, snow machines at Healesville Sanctuary in Melbourne. Really a lot of fun. - Melbourne is such a liveable city and in fact constantly rates higher than Sydney in the liveability polls. I just could not handle the Melbourne weather. It is quite changeable and felt like a European winter to me. I know that time of year can really affect one's experience though. But friends tell me it is sometimes a couple of months of grey skies. They love that kind of weather so it suits them perfectly. They say that it's the summers in fact that are challenging due to very high temperatures. - Everything is insanely expensive ($56 for 2 hours of parking in the city...) We all know this but it still hits hard. This is everything from food to accomodation to activities. For this reason, I would possibly avoid an LSD/activation trip if you can. So much can be googled. Of course it is great to really "see for yourself" but if you have made a decision, just go for it. There are so many different areas in each city and if you move to an area you don't like, you will most likely be renting to begin with anyway, so just move again. - We are spoilt with some really good restaurants in SA. Melbourne is renowned for it's many foodie spots but I think you have to be a local to know where to go. Restaurant service in both Melbourne and Sydney was not good. Tipping is not the norm as wait staff get paid by the restaurant. On the upside, there are chocolatiers everywhere in Sydney and you can get great Lindt hot choc to go almost anywhere. In Melbourne, you would be hard-pressed to find bad coffee. - Melbournians are just about the friendliest people I have ever come across. - Sydneysiders, while not quite as friendly, are so helpful and always seem willing to go out of their way. - I was not a fan of the cheese or mayonnaise, although you can buy Crosse and Blackwell in the SA aisle in Coles supermarket - at a serious premium! - When travelling domestically, the flight from Sydney to a Melbourne on Qantas was great. We all got our own iPads for the duration of the flight and it was a comfortable short flight. We flew back to Sydney with Virgin Australia. The plane was dirty and the service was really not good. - If you are shopping and cooking, Coles has many specials each week. Just look out for them and you can cook quite a reasonable meal despite the high prices in Australia. - I was quite surprised to discover that leaving perfectly good leftover food in the fridge incurs a $250 cleaning fee as someone has to remove it. I guess in SA we are used to leaving groceries for whoever cleans as a kind gesture. It feels a little wasteful to me but I realize that it is not wrong, it's just different. - We visited several friends in both cities and all said that they struggled to adjust initially. Some took months, others years. No-one said they would move back. It seems that adjusting to work culture is one of the biggest difficulties. - Public transport is so efficient. Personally I feel that it is fine for the work commute but a car is a must. It is time-consuming and tiring to get around on public transport with small children and/or groceries! - We hired a car for part of the time and used those days to explore suburbs, shops etc. It worked really well as there are parks everywhere for the kids, so not too tiring for them. For the rest, we used public transport. This is great in both cities but a car is a must for exploring suburbs and getting a real feel for the place. Car seats are about $11 extra per day. Seat lets for everyone is a must. $200 fine if anyone is caught without a seatbelt. If travelling with toddlers, cheap strollers from Kmart ($20) are recommended. You do a lot of walking! - A friend of ours was warned she would receive a $200 fine for taking her 18 month old to the supermarket without shoes - the manager saw her on camera and came to speak to her - it's a health and safety issue. It makes senses I suppose but it's one thing you learn very quickly - there are many rules due to health and safety issues. - Sydney has so many beautiful, accessible beaches and nature reserves. - One really does feel safe. Even coming home at 11h30 at night on public transport and walking in the street to the train station feels safe. - I would have loved to try out having a barbecue but didn't quite get there. On that note though, double check that where you are moving to allows open fires before you send over the Weber. They prefer gas and in some places do not allow fire at all. If you have one of those fancy gas heaters, also leave it behind or at least first check that it meets health and safety standards. Overall, I enjoyed the trip and tried really hard to look for the positives and the negatives. What an experience landing in Sydney, getting the passports stamped and knowing we are now permanent residents. That's all I have for now.. Hope it helps someone. Lovestory
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