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186 ENS Journal- We have arrived...


SmellyN

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So please forgive if this is all over the show, but life as our family know it, is NOTHING to what it is now!!

Don't jump the gun & think the best...because honestly I think we have been experiencing some of the worst!!

We left the 21/10/2013 with a lengthy trip from CT -got a LOVELY R15,000!!! Charge on all the prams & babyseats & baby clothes....SERIOUSLY!!! It was kinda a case that we had to pay it or else...we had 5min left to board!! Then it was on to JHB where we were met with toy-toying in the domestic arrivals/international departures foyer...for me who had not seen JHB in 10yrs it was a shock...hubby said it was like this everytime...the other nasty side of the mirror I had not been seeing to his job he was leaving behind in RSA...

After a nice long wait and playing musical chairs in the JHB International lounge, we finally boarded the Qantas flight out ...albeit 1hr delayed due to the thunderstorm etc...which felt aptly very much like our feelings, although honestly by then we were too numb to feel anything really as the exhaustion was already setting in & we still had a long way to go. (We'd just packed up our farm with 3 houses the week before & were suffering from acute cabin-fever from being in a tiny place in CT the weekend before we left & at the same time scheduling all the family & friend farewells so that we didn't have anyone at the airport)

Kids did surprisingly well all the way through, the odd niggles of tired legs, hungry tummies & toilet trips aside...

Landed in Sydney on the 22nd October 2013! In another thunderstorm, but flight handled really well...we didn't have any TV-console entertainment for half of the trip, which was a challenge with the kids but they passed out in the end...realising that this flight was definitely going to be longer than the last! Just as well...I battled with the bub (10wks old) because he didn't want to sleep in the sky-cot,,,the whole ear thing was ok (all 3 of our kids were bunged up with sinus too from room aircons &JHB) just squirmed a bit on take off & landing everytime, but otherwise not really a peep & just clingy...so while he slept in my numb-from-pain arms I proceeded to sob like I've never sobbed before...exhaustion & everything had taken it's toll & I only had dinner once everyone was asleep, because it was too difficult to serve while bub was still awake...3hrs of crying later...hubby woke up with a start & forced a vodka & gingerbeer down on my empty stomach & although I am not a drinker I welcomed the warm burn in my stomach as it dulled my senses a bit to calm down enough & get my dinner...finally the air-attendants paid a bit more attention to us & I even got a cuppa of peppermint tea...managed to sleep for all of 10mins at a time, but we got through it.

In Sydney the walk off the plane & into the luggage collection killed us...our prams were not waiting, so it was toddler & baby & all of the handluggage & no help or trolleys....We came down into the customs halls & just meekly fell into the back of the lines just to catch a breather....wasn't even 5min & we were through....In the luggage hall we collected our 14pieces of checked luggage with our 3 oversize items & between our 8yr old pushing like a trooper , our 3yr old screaming & the baby being a baby...with me with one trolley & hubby with another we staggered along through to the exit (again no help) maybe a small 5m push from one of the floor attendant ladies who needed to clear the lane we were slowing/blocking...out into the hall to be greeted by a gloomy rainy day...now to organise a taxi to the hotel.

Got a Vito van & we were squeezed like sardines in the thing...very sweet Greek cabby...welcomed us etc. (booked him for our return to the airport in 2days for the Melbourne leg. Arrived at Hyde Park Inn & just offloaded barely managed to phone in an order for pasta ate & then slept. Over the next 2 days we managed to do quite a bit ...saw Sydney Harbour on a very hot humid day (limited to what we could do with the kids being so tired from all the walking) figured out the buses etc. managed to activate & open bank accounts (although not use them as our cards had to be ordered still!!) Walked into the Sydney DIBP office for visa labels (we wanted them even though everyone advised against) & then it was all over too soon & we had to get on over to Melbourne (Evenings were nice & cool although you could smell the Sydney fires every evening...saw them on the way out to Melbourne.)

The plane taxi out of Sydney airport runway seemed longer than the actual flight to Melbourne, but we got some nice water views on the way out....Sydney Domestic airport staff really seemed a lot friendlier than Sydney International...would've imagined it the other way around...

Landed in Melbourne to a dark gloomy rainy day & wondered if we were in the right state...beginning to have second thoughts...secured a taxi driver from hell & came in on main highway flanked by trucks that seemed to want to kill us at the speeds they were driving...eventually got to the Springvale ViQi apartments & just chilled after 8 trips with our luggage up & down the elevator, needless to say the kids loved it! Stayed the weekend & managed to walk to the Springvale shopping centre & register for Medicare & get sims sorted for phones ...got the rental car at the end of the weekend & drove down to Inverloch....to our nightmare....

Beautiful scenery all the way through...green & lush....Inverloch is smaller than we imagined, yet pretty much the same as what we thought it would be in terms of tourist operation etc. Arrived at our accommodation that the company had organised only to find it completely unsuitable in terms of split-level with the kids....no proper accommodation available for family-friendly ground level people & eventually landed up at a very friendly motel which was just bearable for almost a wk (they & we knew the limitations of the lodgings for a family of 5....it was strictly speaking just 2 rooms & a bathroom & we desperately needed a kitchen for cooking & doing baby bottles etc.) Owners really helpful & understanding as far as possible though, especially on the last minute short notice check-in & likewise with the check-out when we found another better equipped apartment nearby. So inbetween all this....WE CAN'T FIND A HOUSE!!!! We have a container coming and we are PANICKING!!! We COMPLETELY agree with people in that you shouldn,t just book things before you've seen them....hotels that are traceable are one thing....houses in an area is a totally different kettle of fish.....there are a lot of sh#tholes between the good stuff, but the good stuff/ better looking stuff isn't available because of holiday rent for December now & the agents are so tight-arsed it's just not true!! One agent in particular is really helping us, but obviously pushing (of all things) the BUYING angle!! LOL! Have told them a number of times at this type of reception we won't touch the place with a barge-pole!!

So please everyone pray that we get a fair-sized & decent house before x-mas...PLEAASSSEEE!!

On the up side our daughter is in the local school & LOVING it! It works....things like this do here...the library, the official places, the grocery stores (LOL!!: NOT the Trolleys!!) The systems in place....speed limits do suck especially in rural with long open roads, but just as well because the wildlife is quite prevalent...Kangas, Echidnas, Koalas, Wombats, Wallabies etc...Birds are just amazing.....everywhere....along with the bugs....you can kinda imagine yrself as Darwin looking at this continent for the first time!

In a nutshell....we are depressed right now....hopefully we can make it over this hurdle....if we get the house 95% of our problems disappear...got a good second hand 2012 Nissan Pathfinder on the way tomorrow (MANUAL!! Not automatic like everyone seems to drive here...it's been many firsts for all of us including pumping our own fuel! LOL!)

Weather just sucks deluxe...a bit colder & wetter than what we are used to....getting used to it for now....it's early days though...tomorrow we will have been in Australia a whole 3wks....at least we can say we've got the elusive driving licence out of the way too for the extra credit check points, but in the rural towns, it does help to have that visa label in with "permanent" on it!! Just feel very much the outsiders though...Thks to a special Saffer: Pixel!! Love you lots! You've been amazing as support to us & feels like our own welcome party even though we've been total strangers all up till we actual met! Your kindness towards us is amazing especially helping out the kids with some old toys while they wait for theirs! In all the madness it didn't cross my mind & yet they are so totally in love with all the stuff you gave them, nothing else matters! They have a smile on their face as long as we manage to get down to the free, clean, quiet manicured park with free bbq areas at least every 2nd or 3rd day! ;-)x Goodnight to all for now....Just felt I needed to start somewhere & be in contact again! It's a hard journey & the flying is only a small part of it....as the song goes...."We've only just begun...."

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Hey Smelly N, we are so glad to hear from you and my heart goes out to you - especially your luggage accounts. I am in PANIC mode about it myself. I keep thinking how on earth are we going to manage 3 kids, 3 pieces of hand luggage, 2 laptops and 10 bags of normal luggage. :o

I will certainly be praying for that house. You have done pretty amazing so far to have pulled all that off and have 3 kids in tow.

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Honestly don't know what advice to give to anyone about how we went through it all just to get here....I think we are a bit shell-shocked still....it's not all peaches & roses, but with the bad also comes the good...we've already concluded that although it is very difficult here at the moment you weigh up the pro's & con's all the time to remind yrself why you are here as you reach yr targets/milestones....we have concluded that in comparison that we still very unlikely (hard as it is here at this moment) there is little if nothing left for us back in RSA....

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On the luggage fiasco....the RSA portion of the flightshare stuffed up & charged us for the luggage (we had specially & carefully UNDERPACKED, but on the allowances advertised i.e. for kids 12 & under etc. you are allowed carseats/strollers etc & for the baby yr 3 items etc) the Qantas crew at gate confirmed this in JHB & offices in Sydney, but we have to take this up with RSA office direct they "can't intercept" as the transaction wasn't charged by Qantas nor in Australia....wonder if we'll get the money back...did seem very fishy, but they hi-jacked us with it after holding us up deliberately I think...& we were going to miss our flight to JHB which would've caused further flight complications....Qantas DID NOT charge us a cent for the internal flights & THEY did have loan pram at Sydney Domestic to board the Melbourne flight.

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Wow, what a story! Thanks for sharing and being honest. It is better to be honest so that the rest of us, still coming over can prepare better, so thanks for that!

We can take 6 check-in bags and 3 hand luggage, but we are planning on only taking 4 check-in bags, 2 hand luggage & the laptop bag and the pram. Don't want to much to handle. I'm more stressed about our 2 and a half year old, keeping her by my side at all times and her not getting irritated and frustrated.. Which is inevitable I pressume and will have to face the fact that it will probably happen. So I'm getting mentally ready for this, but thinking and preparing can only bring you so far.

Good luck with what lies ahead!!

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rikamarie: just remember yr laptop bag is counted as part of yr handluggage, so pack as much into (sml-ish items) as you can carry...we had 3 of the laptop backpacks with us (one with the actual laptop in) our important docs & then even let our 3yr old carry her own little pink one...it does help when they get tired between the stops to to stuff that precious soft-toy (which YOU will land up carrying!) into THEIR backpack along with (in our case) boxes of snacks, juice/milk (the Nutrikids 1+ or 3+ 200ml boxed choc milk worked well to keep up energy levels between stops, rather than high-sugar drinks which seem to be more available, as they do get bored with bottled water & tend to waste it easier & it's expensive at airports especially when you are buying 5-8 bottles everytime!!) Don't worry about too many toys...there are loads of things that they pick up on the way that are so interesting...Let them walk as far as possible...even push them that 5min more....they are tougher than you think...it trains them for the landing & walking on the other side...by the time you land they will be more of a pro than you at the whole thing!! Letting them walk is also kinder to you guys in the end who land up pushing prams & carrying more than you should & you need to keep yr strength up to deal with the luggage! Just watch the little ones at the luggage carousels...ours were very intrigued & you can almost very easily imagine just how easily accidents can happen there (there was a baby killed about a mth back in the news in NY I think) We hung back & let poor Dad grab most of it & then when he got tired we swapped, but kept the kiddies well away from that area & also people bumping around grabbing at their luggage. Don't feel rushed....get off the plane last if you have to....stand up in the front of the check-in to board first too. We did slip a bit of Demazin to the kids between things to help vaguely sedate (rather "chill") them...but then they were bunged up with sinus too. Prepare yrselves in that you will be jetlagged & the kiddies sometimes seem to be unphased at first & seem to be awake easier when you get in, but make them sleep if you guys are feeling tired...if you don't it backlashes on you...they ARE tired, but I don't think their bodies know how to switch off...we stuck them in their beds after the routine feeding & bathing & let them watch TV, too which end they did land up falling asleep within 5mins of lying there, but they fought hard against the quiet time!! They sure needed it & at time slept much longer than we did!! For me it was a whole other story...I think I can safely say I did not sleep for a good week & while the family slept would find myself trolling the hotel corridors up & down the lifts doing laundry at 3am!! LOL! It did catch up to me in wk 2 & this found me literally falling asleep in front of & ON my laptop after I'd registered passwords etc!! BAD NEWS!! I DID NOT REMEMBER what I had generated!! LOL! Also people would be talking to me & I would literally also just without a word start closing my eyes, to which end mid-conversation I would just blurt (rudely! I think...at least I felt so, yet had no control over it!) "I'm Tired!" & just plonk down anywhere -I think once it was even on the floor or lobby!! At least only lasted about 5-10mins though!! before I would wake up again! Only in better routine now, but still have one or 2 awake episodes, mainly to try & contact family though through the time difference. Anyway got to run for now...Happy travels!! lol! Will pen it all as I remember it! ;)

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Hi SmellyN, sorry to hear about your mission to find a rental home. Have you perhaps thought of looking in Wonthaggi instead of Inverloch? I see there are quite a number of fairly new homes available and Google says it is only a 15 minute drive to Inverloch.

It may well be worth looking into.

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Thanks for the advice! I appreciate it! I know I'm a bit too stressed about it at the moment. Here towards the end, there are so many things to be done, feels like my head is spinning and all my ducks are running everywhere! Have to get them back in a row! Hahaa! Anyway.. Thinking of you guys and good luck!

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followmylead - a friend of mine is heading to the UK and bought herself a bag that takes a 17" laptop in a sleeve at the back, but the front/top is a proper bag with enough space for (well, I would manage easily) a weekend's worth of clothing/toiletries. Maybe it's worth trying to sell off the current laptop/hand luggage type bags and go with a combo like that? This specific one has straps to use as a backpack, but you can push those back inside and then use the wheels and handles instead if it's too heavy.

RE kids - Rikamarie, I can't recommend a sling enough! I got a babysense sling when my youngest was 5months old - with the older two I NEEDED to have both hands free. I'm still using it with my 12.5kg almost-two-year old now, it's just so much simpler - the sling takes the place of your arms supporting bubby sitting on your hip.

I really wish they would come up with a pram that folds up into a backpack! I really need one of those...

Smelly I really hope you get that charge back - sounds beyond dodgy :(

Good luck with everything - thanks for sharing your experience!

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Thanks McCabes. I also have a sling, haven't used it in ages though. Zoey weighs 15kg, wonder if it will work. Otherwise thought of getting a body harness, you get cute ones that look like a backpack but then it has a string that you can click into your own belt or something.

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  • 4 months later...

Hello All ! So. Life sure has been busy.

Blinked our eyes only to see that it is already 5mths since we landed! We have been settling (or rather sorting) in the new house making the 3 houses worth of stuff work for us & catching up on the stuff we needed to finish off with the transition-phase of our journey.

Little man is almost 8mths old & has officially cut his first tooth last week on Australian ground! Crawling like a demon now too.

We've gotten into the school routine with our eldest daughter & the youngest has been enjoying a busy social life at the local playgroups & playgrounds!

Our eldest daughter has taken life by the horns & is involved in a range of sports & is blossoming overnight. Not to say it's been without it's problems...we have an emotional breakdown every now & again from her regarding the friends & culture left behind, but nothing that we can't turn positive.

In our short time here the last 2mths (specifically since we moved into more permanent lodgings & received our container-goods) have helped us reveal what we want out of life here again; Reminded us why we came; Gave us the space to find ourselves again & also to formulate a plan for the future of some sorts -things we weren't able to do back in RSA given those circumstances in our lives.

You learn to draw a line in the sand...we have dubbed it our "defrosting" process. In two (more normal) months the highs & lows of being together as a family unit in & around your own belongings in a regular place that you can call home for now, has given us the strength to re-energise; to assess our weaknesses & to focus on where we can do things better for the family as a whole, by not bringing one or all of the family members down. Emotional stuff all of it, by analysing everything & building up again. Best of all we are getting positive results.

This may sound breezy, but let me tell you it's not all without it's own trials & tribulations. We have faced many curveballs too. Home-wise & Employment-wise. This is a small rural town where we are ....it has the usual small-town syndrome!! Luckily enough we've been tempered well from our RSA experiences.

We've taken the sweetness as it has come with the bad....

-we've met some more South Africans in our town (newer than us!! LOL! Although they are from New Zealand actually & are actually NZ Citizens)

-we've just had a round of unconfirmed German Measles with all 3 kids & have experienced the local small hospital with the baby for a night; we've also had the long discussions with the local doctors about the way fevers & meds are administered here etc. along with the odd 3hr triage wait.

-we've made our own Boerewors & also a botched batch, but STILL edible! LOL! Still tastes better than what we've found on the shelves!

-We've astounded our local Butcher with our LOVE of meat & tales of Biltong yet to come!

-We've bought many a food thing off the shelf, only to throw it out/ use it up SOMEHOW, because it wasn't what we wanted!! We 99% know what we want to buy & can easily identify it now!

-We're re-discovering our love of cooking & baking again -it shows!!- We are all a bit heavier for it!!

-We've re-discovered healthier eating & resources to help us get back on track with being fit & healthy again for little or no cost.

-We've had conversations with people about RSA & although very consciously have limited our info & experiences still find it amazing how shocked people are by what we have come from.

-The weather in Melbourne is erratic & unpredictable...and at the moment FREEZING & WET again! -we are not entirely used to it yet. The smoke from the fires was really bad for a few weeks.( & the 44deg days!) All very scary too as it was closer to us than the inner city-folk. It also gets stiflingly muggy here which as Capetonians we are not used to. I doubt we would survive if we went to Queensland then!

We are still discovering. We are planning on not tying ourselves down too much i.e. we will travel in between work to explore Australia rather than making a visit back to RSA. We are committed to this new way of life with new people. We are moving forward. ;)

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