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So here I'm in this strange city called Melbourne


Esthee
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Hi,

Well its my 4th day in Melbourne today. I've got the flu, sitting on the coach surrounded by discarded tissues and I've just finished watching a show called MKR (My kitchen rules). We're here on a visa validation trip and to say that it has been a rollercoaster since we arrived would be an understatement.

I've been researching Melbourne, Australia and the whole immigration process and what to expect for well over 2 and a half years now. I know almost all the suburb names, where to buy what. The idea was to come here now and just decide on which one of my short listed suburbs we would prefer to move to when we come here later this year. I was cocky and arrogant. I knew everything when I walked down that plane. I've been on google earth many hours. I've been hard on people who've returned home. I've been hard on family who've told me they don't want to immigrate.

I've been wrong. In four days in Melbourne I have come to realise the following:

1. 9 hours time difference between you and your sister who just occationally chat via instant message on the internet is huge. When I'm on, she's off, when she's on, I'm off. Trying to reach family on the phone is a nightmare. This leads to a very real and very strange feeling of isolation. I'm not someone who would have thought of myself as someone who would miss the few people I have in my life. I basically only have real contact with my sister and my husbands immediate family, but this sense of experiencing the world at different times does make me feel very alone.

2. No amount of internet research will prepare you for the reality of actually being in another country. I think I got so busy with the life of someone getting my visa and getting out of SA that I forgot that Aus is just another foreign country. Yes, the weather might be similar and things might seem the same, but its not just a safe, clean version of SA. It's a foreign country with their own way of doing things. My biggest culture shock so far, and I know I'm opening myself up for criticism, has been the way Australians live. I knew before we came here that living in a culture where cheap labour is readily available changes the way people live, but when we arrived and saw the suburbs, saw the lack of gardens, saw the lack of maintenance on homes, saw the amount of random items being stacked in peoples front gardens I wanted to get back on the plane and go home. I don't have someone working in my garden, I keep my own house and garden clean and neat. But here, the way houses look, the complete lack of gardens in most homes are really something I'll have to get used to. I've been here four days and I'm starting to realise the problem isn't with how they are living, but more with how I've been living for the past decade. I've also travelled to Nillimbuk and have found a wonderful area where we will settle where I can look out over the beautiful scenery of this beautiful country. But yes, for now, I do find the average suburb in Melbourne ugly.

3. I think I understand why people seem to be so overly excited and childlike before going on their LSD's or first trips to Australia and then become very quiet afterwards. Four days was all I needed to realise how horribly hard this whole immigration was going to be for me and my partner. Everything is new. Everything is different. Buying washing powder, you don't have a favourite brand of anything anymore. I was looking at the washing powder remembering how when I was 18 my mother helped me decide which brand to buy. I have a story for each brand I buy. I'll have to make new ones now. How small, how insignificant does that even sound when you sit in your house in SA surrounded by electric fencing, living in fear. But here, where I'm relearning to enjoy the 6 o'clock evening news and even watching ads on television as they are actually informative for me, I realise that once you leave that behind, there's more to immigration than living in safety. There's living in isolation, living anew. The fairy tale becomes reality and you realise what you have to pay for the prize you are getting.

4. Fear for family. Wow how critical I was before. My mother in law was murdered last year in a typical SA manner. It made front page news. I will never forget the 3 am call. Sitting over here and being unable to contact a family member for 2 days is unbearable. 2 Days later they phone you back wondering why you were overreacting so much. But with the time differences and the isolation I feel here, there is no way of knowing whether you should be fearing the worst or if they just forgot their phone somewhere. At least in SA we could get in the car at 3 am and go to the in laws' house, here we are completely powerless. Waiting for news.

I don't really know why I started writing tonight. It's just been 4 days and there's still so much to see and do in Melbourne. But the shock of this, the reality of what we are doing has hit me in the face. I've done many difficult things in my life, but this immigration thing is going to be very hard. Its definitely not just moving to a different city. And Australia is definitely not just another cleaner safer better South Africa. So much is the same, but so very much is different.

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Hi Esthee,

Welcome to Australia. Reading your post reminded me of my first couple days in Australia. It takes time to adjust but it is worth it in the end.

Diveup

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Esthee I can say nothing to help except I know how you feel. We live in the UK and some days everything around me seems so gloomy and ugly.

I presume its me as obviously not everyone thinks the same. Also we supposedly live in beautiful Surrey, but everything is so brown and grey and the same and.... ugly.

Also you might get used to it eventually and be comfortable in your new surroundings. Or you might not and after 3 years still long for your life in South Africa (like me). You know you can't go back, its not safe or sensible. But its what you are about, where you were shaped, where your history and family are.

So all I can say is good luck, its not going to be easy.

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Before I read your post (beyond the "here on validation trip"), I must shout out... GET YOUR LEARNER'S AND DRIVER'S LICENSE NOW!!!

Seriously... get it done now...ASAP, unless you're going to be back within 6 months...

Ok...back to reading the rest of your post. :blush:

-G

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Esthee

I am so glad for your precious post. It is something that I would have liked to say to "prospective people to Oz" or any other country, but obviously I did not have the words to express it.

Just to add - one do get through it though - it just depends on your personal circumstances. Some days I do not know HOW I got through living in a strange country where people do not speak English, you do not find food that you eat or would want to eat, where there is not much TV, newspapers, magazines, actually not much of ANYTHING in English. Where buying bread is not straight forward because people do not eat bread here! Where EVERYTHING works EXACTLY opposite to the Western world.

Looking back I am SO thankful for getting THROUGH this, as it has made me stronger and hopefully a better person. It was God's way of preparing me for life in Oz.

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Hi Esthee,

Just want to say, you're not alone. Been in Oz for just over a month, and it's still a rollercoaster ride. Things are starting to become familiar and I'm slowly adjusting. Still looking for that elusive job, but I'm sure once we're settled and into some kind of routine, we'll feel more at home.

It is difficult initially, but it does get easier. Take advantage of the support on the forum and I would suggest taking up a hobby or joining a club or group to meet new people once you arrive.

Hope you feel better soon and all the best!

Mich

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Shew what an exact copy of what we felt. We never did an LSD trip. We had never been to Aus before we came here to stay permanently. The experience we had when we got off the plane, I call the "WTF have we done!" feeling.

Thank you for sharing with us. If it means anything, it does get easier for most.

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Hi Esthee,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. I can confidentally say that most of us share similar experiences and fears that we have done the wrong thing by moving!

There is allot to adapt to, and in time you will adapt. I too went through the first year of being here wondering if we did the right thing. After which - we seemed to adapt over night. Now I wouldnt go anywhere else!

You need to keep reminding yourself why you moved here. What made you want to get out of RSA!

I hope it gets easier for you! Stay strong..

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I can relate to the research/surprise experience. Before arriving on validation I searched for houses on the real estate websites and wondered why only the crappy houses were advertised... then after driving through a few subburbs around Brisbane, it all made sense. However, we perservered with our travels and on the third day we discovered with huge relief that "normal" suburbs do exist, that houses can be built from bricks and that some homes have beautiful gardens.

Think of it this way - imagine if you were new to South Africa and you spent your first 4 days driving around in Soweto/Thembisa/ some low-income area - what would your impression of the country be?

We are back in Australia permanently now and are loving it. We contact our family in the evenings by phone or skype (no delay) and after 10 days here I can honestly say I miss nothing about SA. Every day something new amazes me about this awesome country we have been so fortunate to have been accepted into.

Hang in there, the culture shock subsides with time.

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Thank you for the honest post.

We didnt do an LSD or validation trip..got the visa and flew a month after it was granted. Im glad we did this..saved us $10 000 and we knew there is no looking back.

We have been here 7 months now and only NOW are we settling in..it takes time..things are going to be "strange " for months to come...that is what makes the move SO exciting!!..alot of "new" can be overwhelming, so try not to absorb it all...try rather to concentrate on finding out what daily life in melbourne entails...yes there are VERY ugly areas in australia...have you seen some of the areas in pretoria lately??? you need to know where to go house-hunt, and until you have a job, u wont be sure of what suburb is convenient yet.

The Aussies (in general) are out and about..they dont live in a jail like we did...so their home is where they sleep and eat..they prefer to spend their money on other things (holidays being a popular choice)...so try look past the odd ugly suburb and drive around to see how "the other half" live.

The time difference and being away from friends and family is something we signed up for when we applied for that visa..its also something you get use to but will always be there...visits from family help though.

Half a year down the line i can say with confidence that we are very happy, the move has worked wonders for my husband who use to work himself to death in SA and we STILL never had time or money to do fun things together..our lives have changed for the better the freedom to just walk around, drive late at night,go on a roadtrip is priceless...my hubby said the other day that its SO nice to go to work and not have to worry about me and our little girl home alone!

Try enjoy your time here...have you considered attending the picnic on the 21st? if you still here?..

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Dear Esthee,

I applaud you for your wonderful post and thank you for sharing! Your experience over the last 4 days is very similar to what I've experienced. Immigration is not for everyone and I've seen it over the 2.5 years that I've been here. After a year in Australia, I really thought that I was not going to make it! But I am still here and I am embracing life in Australia! I now have the privalegde to love two countries; South African and Australia!!!

No amount of internet research will prepare you for the reality of actually being in another country. I think I got so busy with the life of someone getting my visa and getting out of SA that I forgot that Aus is just another foreign country.
I think it is a common mistake that a lot of prospective immigrants make. We research so much that we create expectations from a city or country, which is unrealistic. As for the visa, don’t even get me started… I was so focussed on getting a visa that I never prepared myself emotionally for immigration and that was a real shock on my system….
…saw the suburbs, saw the lack of gardens, saw the lack of maintenance on homes, saw the amount of random items being stacked in peoples front gardens I wanted to get back on the plane and go home. I don't have someone working in my garden, I keep my own house and garden clean and neat. But here, the way houses look, the complete lack of gardens in most homes are really something I'll have to get used to. I've been here four days and I'm starting to realise the problem isn't with how they are living, but more with how I've been living for the past decade. I've also travelled to Nillimbuk and have found a wonderful area where we will settle where I can look out over the beautiful scenery of this beautiful country. But yes, for now, I do find the average suburb in Melbourne ugly.
I am not an expert on Melbourne, but my husband and I lived in Melbourne for 6 months and there are beautiful suburbs in Melbourne! Yes, there are dilapidated and rundown houses, but I try to focus on the beauty and ignore the ugly!!! Take a drive to Brighton, Albert Park, South Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Elwood, Armadale, Hawthorne, Malvern, Camperwell to name a few… You won’t be dissapointed! As for Nillimbuk, I don’t know that area very well, but all I know is that it is very far from the city. I had a colleague who lived in Diamond Creek (within the Shire of Nillimbuk) and it took him up to 80 minutes to travel into the city every day.
Fear for family. Wow how critical I was before. My mother in law was murdered last year in a typical SA manner. It made front page news. I will never forget the 3 am call. Sitting over here and being unable to contact a family member for 2 days is unbearable. 2 Days later they phone you back wondering why you were overreacting so much. But with the time differences and the isolation I feel here, there is no way of knowing whether you should be fearing the worst or if they just forgot their phone somewhere. At least in SA we could get in the car at 3 am and go to the in laws' house, here we are completely powerless. Waiting for news.
I am so sorry to hear about your loss.

I can reassure you that there are fantastic mobile plans which enables you to phone back to SA. I am on 3’s mobile network and I can talk for 100 minutes to SA as part of my monthly plan. In addition, I also have the option of paying $10 more per month which will give me another 100 minutes! There are definitely fantastic ways to stay in touch with family and friends, but it cannot replace being with family and friends.

I hope you get well soon and enjoy Melbourne and Australia.

I wish you all the best.

Bye, Pippa! X

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Hi Esthee

A short note from someone who has emmigrated twice. When I went on my LSD trip to Nz in 94 that was when I did my research. The internet was not widespread. Everything was paper based and I had to get it in my 3 weeks in NZ at the time. All you recent immgrants have had it easy :ilikeit:

I guess this trip is your LSD trip. Remember waht that means Look See and DECIDE. There are many people who do not have this option and have to go Look See and Stay. Been sick certainly hasn't helped in your impressions of Melbourne and Australia, bear that in mind. I know nothing is good enough when I'm sick and all I want to do is go home and go to bed.

Yes Australia is a different country and things are done differently, it's like a big big big big version of changing jobs (which you have to do as well!!). Personally I enjoy that and liked finding out about these new things, but understand that's not for everybody, expecially in big big chunks. (lots of forumites have documented these things, with Red's been the most popular, and the very fact that they have documented them would indicate that they enjoyed the experience). I do agree with the fellow forumite about the comparisons you're making. You're comparing between a city with all it's socio-ecconomics against an actually very very very small portion of South Africa. I too have not seen particulay nice gardens in the pictures of squattor camps in South Africa, but I bet you have yet to see a squattor camp in Melbourne or Australia (they are there, not in Melbourne, but most Australians will never ever come accross them in their lifetime). Also I've found that the worst houses in a suburb are the ones in a main street, the character of a suburb can quickly change one you turn off the main street.

I believe I have been a succesful immigrant to both NZ and Australia, so I'm going to attempt not to cloud what I think you should do because of that fact.

No matter what happens going forward from here and wether you make the final move or not, remember you now have OPTIONS, you have the ability to decide one way or the other. There are many many people in South Africa who would love to have even the option. It's now up to you and yours to decide to exercise the option, or allow it to expire.

If I were you I'd do the following over the rest of your trip in Australia (and I fervently hope you get better soon and are able to make what I believe better decisions) go through all the pro's and cons again for moving to Australia. You will now know a lot more of the cons, but it may take you returning to South Africa to remind yourself of some of the cons of living in South Africa. Also do it somewhat different, do the pro's and cons now, but also try to put yourselves in the same position in 10 years time and think of what the pro's and cons would be then (I know this will be subjective but try to do it), then do it for when you think you will be in 20 years time (hmm here's the first rub, you may no lnoger qualify to immigrate to Australia (see what I'm trying to get at?)). Try to do it with a high road, low road and middle road in both countries and there various combinations. Also go back 10 or 5 years (you're to young to go back futher than that (lucky you)) and go through what you thought about immigrating then and how you viewed the opportunities in South Africa and analyse how they have changed (this is less subjective and may help in the 10 year and 20 year analysis). Go through the points you will get if you were to apply to immigrate to Australia in 10 and 20 years time and see if you would still qualify (do it as if your skills fall off the skills list as well, I have no idea of your personal circumstances). This might give you an idea of what your option is worth. When you do this little exercise remember your family situation (here comes a bit of a blunt bit, so please excuse me in advance, when I did the exercise I had to build in the fact that my mother would not be alive and that reason for staying in South Africa would no longer exist in 20 years time). I think when people make some of their decisions they are a bit more focused on the short term rather than the long term, and one can understand why, the short term is known better.

Best wishes in whatever you decide

Edited by 13 years out of rsa
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Hey there!

It's awfully dispiriting to see the bad parts of Melbourne, but it is a magnificent city when you explore it. In many ways, I prefer it to Sydney.

Some of the outer areas are pretty hideous suburbia, though; treeless, grey and ugly. If you take drives or walks through the inner suburbs, it's quite spectacular.

I'd also like to join in the chorus here and assure you that the move is worth it. Two years for me now and I could never live in SA again.

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Hi Esthee

Sorry I don't have time to read through everyone's replies to your post, but just wanted to say...well done on having summed up so well (in only 4 days!) what is very real and part of the immigration process for most.

Being sick (you with flu) makes things worse. I contracted flu on a trip to Oz in 2008 and thought I would die...

I have now been in Melbourne for nearly 10 months permanently (came over on my own, but do have extended family here and in Brisbane) and although the emotions you describe so well still form part of my existence from time to time, moving here was the right thing for me.

Melbourne homes/houses/suburbs ugly? Noooo, girl ;) , there is a LOT you are missing (but will soon get to see/know). Please don't think you see a 'whole' picture of Melbs - or any other place for that matter - by just using public transport or driving along a few main routes. You'd be astounded at the beauty this lovely city holds. But then, I love exploring (not everybody does) and it has allowed me to find the many wonderful and beautiful spaces and areas (in abundance, I might add) that most people would probably miss if they just looked at the surface impressions of Melbourne's suburbs/areas. (In fact, I myself initially missed SO MUCH of what Melbourne is about when on LSD in 2006...I didn't want to head into the laneways, as it looked - from a South African perspective, quite understandably - dangerous. See how looking with 'South African eyes' prevented me from seeing what is arguably one of Melbourne's most fantastic apects?)

But yes, immigration is really really hard and anyone who tells you differently is either lying or not close to their family in SA. It takes all your guts and glory...emotionally it will take you to places you never knew existed, BUT it can be hugely positive in the same breath. That is if you keep an open mind and stay strong (some days easier than others). I think we underestimate how strong we are...

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that there is indeed more than meets the eye here in this gorgeous city :) Hope you feel better soon and good luck with your final decision. :ilikeit:

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Hi Esthee,

I felt exactly the same when we did our LSD trip! It took a bit longer than your 4 days, but at the end of our 2 and a half week trip I was feeling the same. It's taken quite some time to get over the initial feeling that Australia is a very different place, and only now am I really starting to look forward to our move there. I was so happy to be back in South Africa when we got back. Then the first thing that struck me getting back to South Africa was how fast and dangerous people drive here. A few days later it started to feel really unsafe again. And now all the reasons for me wanting to leave are a constant reminder. Hang in there. It does get better. It's all part of the adjustment process.

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Dear Esthee,

...

I can reassure you that there are fantastic mobile plans which enables you to phone back to SA. I am on 3’s mobile network and I can talk for 100 minutes to SA as part of my monthly plan. In addition, I also have the option of paying $10 more per month which will give me another 100 minutes! There are definitely fantastic ways to stay in touch with family and friends, but it cannot replace being with family and friends. ...

I recently saw this option, where you can phone SA for 5c per minute with a 25c flagfall. You just buy a SIM card and push it into a mobile phone and call directly to ZA without any hassles.

http://www.lebara-mobile.com.au/en/howitworks.php

And, of course, after 18 months I'm already turning out to be provincial, but - Perth is BEST! The sun rises in the east, but Pride rises in the west!

Good luck

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Hi Esthee,

Thank you for your honest and open post, that takes guts!! We havent done an OZ LSD and not planning to, but have lived in the UK twice for 2years at a time, so done the moving thing 4 times in total!! We are quite adventurous, so enjoyed most things!!

What you are going through is very normal, it happens to everybody, just at different stages, some after a week, some after 9 months. I think the earlier you face the hard realities the better and faster you can deal with it.

Remember that you have options, and you have the choice of OZ vs SA, take your time, go explore all you can , ask all the questions you want to, and at the end youll know in your heart where your future must be.

Stand strong Esthee , and let us know what you decide, and how things are going, best of luck!!!

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I recently saw this option, where you can phone SA for 5c per minute with a 25c flagfall. You just buy a SIM card and push it into a mobile phone and call directly to ZA without any hassles.

http://www.lebara-mobile.com.au/en/howitworks.php

And, of course, after 18 months I'm already turning out to be provincial, but - Perth is BEST! The sun rises in the east, but Pride rises in the west!

Good luck

Great, thanks for the link! Can't believe it's so cheap, am definitely going to look into getting one. :ilikeit:

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WOW What a post, Thank you for your honesty.

I have read through it now a couple of times and must admit it got me thinking, especially your comments about researching Australia for 2 years plus.

We are moving (yes to Melbourne also), hopefully soon and are completely blind to what we are going to and we have known this fact since day one - we have never set foot in Australia and have relied so much on our friends currently in Australia (most of whome we met through this forum) the internet and most of all SAAustralia as our source of imformation

I would like to think that through our research, also now 2 years, we have not worn rose tinted glasses once and not once have we said the "grass is greener on the other side" because we know this is not always the case. As a matter of fact Melbourne, i believe, can be anything but green at times.

We are not in a position to do an LSD, when we book our tickets they will be one way and for good. We started this process for a very good reason . . . our children! Mentally & emotionally, we feel prepared but are also well aware that when D-Day comes this could all change over night - for which we are prepared for also.

We know there will times when the strings start to pull and throwing the towel will be the easiest route but no matter what WE WILL MAKE THIS WORK, no matter where we live in the world my only MUST HAVE out of this entire process is that we are together, safe and happy.

Immigration is not for the faint hearted but i truly believe that we are doing this for the right reason and we will be successful in following it through, in good times and bad.

Alright so we are yet to get the visa and yes we are like a family of excited children waiting for it but through our convictions of our move I know that we will be just fine.

Then again on the other hand possibly when we land we will feel the same as you and feel like we have just been hit with a ton of bricks - well do you know what, we will be catching all those bricks and building a house!

Brave words on my part I know but WE ARE READY - ITS NOW OR NEVER!!

As others have said, 4 days is a very short time to make up your mind - give it more and only then can you make an informed decission.

I truly wish you all the best, hope your flu clears up so you can grab Melbourne with both hands and, even if for a short while, become apart of it.

S

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Thank you all for all the wonderful replies. All of them meant a lot and has been taken to heart. :wub:

It seems this flu is here to stay for now, so we decided to just make the most of it and just take the tissues along on our excursions. My sister and I have found a working time when we can almost talk like we used to when I was home, so I'm feeling better about that. I'll be sure to get a cheap line and a very good webcam when this move is permanent. She and her husband has decided this week to make the move to their family farm in the Cape, so internet communication would have been our way of staying in touch anyway.

I feel like I owe Melbourne an apology today. Actually I think Melbourne has secret magical powers. :) But let me start at the beginning.

The feeling of being home started without notice. It started with the friendly cashier asking me how my weekend was when I bought my groceries. It continued with all the advertisements informing me about this and that product that would make MY life easier. We needed clean clothes and the house needed cleaning and I knew it was up to me. The feeling of doing our washing and cleaning for the first time in 7 years (though I love my Christina like she's family) was ... freeing? Their the better half was, sitting on the couch watching some random Australian television, me washing the dishes with some strange soap that looked more like hand soap advertising to be extra kind to dry hands smelling like jasmine while the washing mashine was washing in the laundry room and the tumble drying was working outside, and I was taken to my childhood many many years ago. Where my mother was doing the same and we were playing on the floor. Years earlier where we just a family. What can I say, I fell in love with housework.

Later that evening the better half came to me and said 'You know how I just wanted to run when we got here? Is it strange that I'm starting to feel like I really really like this place warts and all?'

And I felt the same way, this place just creeps up to you. And its the little things. Without looking for them that gets to you.

One of our strangest moments were when we saw a very old lady standing by a robot / traffic light. We were so shocked. You see, they are begging here too, I thought. Well, apparently not. This old lady that looked like she could barely walk was exercising and was just standing by the traffic light waiting for it to change.

Perception, it's a powerful thing. And it has changed, and is still changing.

We left for the infamous West due to all the interest it has caused on the forum and I was really interested to see Sanctuary Lakes and Point Cook for myself. I keyed in the destination and off we went. Sanctuary Lakes is really beautiful, the modern development with the lakes surrounding it, it had a sense of a typical new development you would see in SA, with no security and Australian architecture. I do prefer the hills and trees of the east though, but it was wonderful to smell the sea in the air.

On our way back though, our GPS decided to show us the 'verdwaal' route of Melbourne ;) It took us through small little streets, suburbs I still don't know the names of, past the Australian Ballet Centre, past Flinders station. This was the Melbourne I fell in love with via the internet. Parks, big trees, culture centres, old victorian architecture everywhere. And then we were in the suburbs again, but its as if I'm looking at it differently. I was looking for large gardens filled with park like beauty, but its just a train ride away, I was looking for everything that we require in South Africa to make our daily lives liveable when we go to our homes, but here it works differently. Here I get in my car, I can pack a picnic lunch and in 20 minutes I can be in the country having peace and quiet.

We've gone to some display homes and the layouts of the Australian home is really very well done when you are doing house work and you still want to be a part of the 'action'.

I'm a newbie, I don't know anything about Melbourne yet. But what I can say is that getting lost in Melbourne showed me its beauty, there really is something for everyone in this huge city.

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Esthee, glad you're enjoying Melbourne. I'm dying to go back there again.

If you feel better, I would heartily suggest you get yourself a bicycle and explore the city by bike path.

You won't need anything fancy, bike theft is fairly common (hipsters everywhere) and Melbourne's flat as a pancake. There are some lovely tracks along the Yarra and you can go and see the Abbotsford Convent and surrounds. Melburnians are a busy lot, always filling every nook and cranny with art and culture.

Edited by Ladyfingers
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My 5 cents. Last year July my family did LSD, and decided to explore Brisbane, Melbourne, and PErth. Perth was my first choice, and Melbourne before we arrived. After LSD we decided on Brisbane, because there is so much to do, and I thinkg easier to settle in except job wise. Also lots of friends already. Perth is just to small and isolated, but I think I will manage to settle in. Melbourne was too foreign, people were friendly, but it was not for me from the day I put my foot in Melbourne. I think it is very important to do an LSD further than just 1 town, because I really think I would have been unhappy if I decided to settle in any other place than Brisbane. We validated our visas in Feb, and concentrated on Brisbane, even put an offer in for piece of land. We just love it, and can't wait to move permanently. It helps a lot to have friends around to support as well.

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We needed clean clothes and the house needed cleaning and I knew it was up to me. The feeling of doing our washing and cleaning for the first time in 7 years (though I love my Christina like she's family) was ... freeing? Their the better half was, sitting on the couch watching some random Australian television, me washing the dishes with some strange soap that looked more like hand soap advertising to be extra kind to dry hands smelling like jasmine while the washing mashine was washing in the laundry room and the tumble drying was working outside, and I was taken to my childhood many many years ago. Where my mother was doing the same and we were playing on the floor. Years earlier where we just a family. What can I say, I fell in love with housework.

I have to agree with you here! :) I have always hated housework, and in a way it is still not my favourite, BUT - even though Nonhlanhla was also just about part of our family - I absolutely love having my house to myself for the first time in years ...

And I have come to realise that, if you stay on top of it (do not allow your washing to take over your laundry, but wash as soon as you have a full load!), it is actually not that awful at all! We do the house in stages (the kids now have 'real' chores, something that was very foreign to them :) ), and next thing you know you are done with the housework and you can sit back and relax.

I also just love Melbourne, though we live out in the country. We went for a drive in the city last weekend (my first time, as it was straight here from the airport when we arrived, and everytime we go somewhere that side, we bypass the city with all the freeways), and I loved the atmosphere, the buildings, everything, can't wait to go back for a whole day to just walk around.

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Well, what an interesting journey the past 2 weeks have been. I'm sad to be leaving tomorrow. The better half knows he's taking me back to South Africa kicking and screaming. Well probably not that bad, but he knows my heart is going to stay behind in this city. What an amazing jewel of a place this has turned out to be. I was so shocked with what I found when we got of the plane. It wasn't anything like I had pictured in my mind. No google maps, no internet searches, no amount of images had prepared me for the reality of Melbourne. And I still feel this way.

How to you explain the beauty of Port Melbourne to someone in words? A simple sunday afternoon on the pier, watching people loading vintage cars onto the Spirit of Tasmania, while there's this atmosphere of ... fun in the air? Or having fresh fish while overlooking the ocean, which isn't as impressive as any ocean in South Africa, but which has a beauty all its own. Or driving on Arhur's Creek road just outside Eltham, which the map tells you is just a suburb outside Melbourne, but when you get there you find you're in some magical wooded forgotten farm country, 20 minutes from where you're staying.

The things is its a city, its a country. It's not some idyllic wonderland where everything's perfect. You hear about people calling the police racist on the news, you hear of some random acts of violence. Some, like myself at first, might find the australian architecture not as pleasing to the eye as our architectually designed homes at home. But when you start to spend you days here, go to a few open houses they do have a certain kind of beauty and modesty to them. They don't try and impress people from the outside, but once you're in the house the beauty that you find, the size of the house, the practical layout could even take your breath away. I think its such a nice similar way of how I've found Australia and the people here.

The way of living and looking at life does get to you. The restaurants around here won't allow you to go in after 8, which is so funny. We only get hungry at 9. But middle aged people are playing tennis at the local tennis club, by themselves at 10pm. I'm sure there are places that are open later, we did find them with our trusty gps, but the local restaurants around our suburb did have an early bedtime.

As I'm sitting here drinking my coffee, looking out at the huge 'bloekom bome' listening to the strange birds making quite a noise, I'm scared at how going back will make me feel. How facing my friends and family will be when I can't tell them with all the enthusiasm I feel how much I liked Melbourne, as it will only make them sad and uncomfortable. But most of all I'm afraid of being afraid again.

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I’m really glad that you’ve done a 360 and you’re starting to like the place. I really felt for you when I read your first post, and at the same time, knew you just had to see it in a different light to appreciate it. It’s the little things that make a difference – the freedom of being able to walk/run/go just about anywhere you like without looking over your shoulder.

You mentioned the ocean not being as impressive as any ocean in South Africa – just wait – Melbournes beaches and oceans aren’t that impressive, but once you start exploring further you’ll see some of the most amazing beaches you’ve ever seen. Wilson’s Prom is one example in Victoria – absolutely amazing. Then there’s still the rest of this massive country. Australia has some of the best beaches in the world.

Good luck with you trip back, hopefully it won’t be long till you’re back again.

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