After a week of doing little more than eating, going on dog walks with Lilly, trips to the local supermarkets, being mesmerised by the enormous bottlos (supermarket sized shops just for alcohol) and attending Bee Gee concerts (thanks Martin and Christa), we accepted that we could no longer use jet lag as an excuse for not getting ourselves setup. Given how massive Australia is (32 times bigger than the UK), a car was our first priority.
Shopping for our wheels
Fortunately we’d already decided the type of car we were looking to get our hands on – a station wagon (an estate for our UK readers).
A station wagon with the biggest trunk (aka boot) possible, to be more exact. Why you ask? Simple: the trunk will become our bedroom while we explore Australia!
After trawling through Gumtree and making a number of calls, we lined up a couple of cars to view. Most were decent, although one was significantly newer and had more features inc electric windows and cruise control – important considering Australia’s hot weather and long straight highways. After some impressive negotiations from my Uncle, we purchased our favoured 3.6 litre Holden Commadore for an awesome 20% discount on the sale price, to the utter disappointment of the boy’s father we bought it from.
Watching surf rescue on Cronulla beach
Now that we had our wheels, we were ready to start exploring Australia, our first destination was of course the nearest beach! There are heaps to choose from, but Cronulla to the south of Sydney was the obvious choice – being one of the closest and is my cousins favourite (apparently it’s where the cool kids hang out).
After a half hour drive through the sometimes intimidating highways and complex junctions, we were greeted with the stunning view of Cronulla’s beach, perfectly underlining the deep blue ocean stretching off into the horizon. Despite it still technically being winter, the weather didn’t seem to understand or accept this; it was easily 25 degrees C, and there happily wasn’t a single cloud in site. Perfect for our stroll along the nearly deserted, golden brown sandy beach.
While briefly sitting down to enjoy our packed lunch, we couldn’t help notice some commotion occurring in the water directly ahead of us – surf rescue were hauling a bloke into their boat. What are the chances of us witnessing a surf rescue within minutes of our first beach trip! Oh, hang on, why were they pushing the guy back into the water? Ahh, it was a training exercise…. Still, it gave us some entertainment, especially when nearly hitting the person in distress!
Other bits and pieces
Boring, but maybe useful for anyone else who’s also considering moving to Oz are the other chores we had to sort as part of our migration down under:
- Bank accounts – Australia’s big 4 banks are: Commonwealth, West Pac, NAB and ANZ, some charge monthly fees, but both West Pac and NAB offer free accounts.
- Money transfer – There are plenty to choose from, although Transfer Wise seems the most straightforward and offers decent rates, significantly better than most UK banks.
- Mobile SIM cards – Australia has three main network providers: Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, although third parties such as Aldi offer cheaper deals, yet still use the same network.
- Healthcare – The equivelant of the NHS is Medicare; it doesn’t cover you for everything, but does pay for medical emergencies thanks to the reciprocal agreement with the UK.
- Car insurance – A minimum of third party insurance is mandatory, although fully comp is recommended, comparethemarket.com.au offers an easy way to find the best deals.
- Car Rego (car registration) – Something that must be done within 30 days of purchasing, after the previous owner has submitted their papers signed by both parties.
- Australian driving license – if driving for more than 90 days, you’re considered a resident (although only for an additional 9 months) so must purchase an Aussie license
- Tax file number – If you’re planning on working legally down under, you’re advised to get your hands on a Tax file number, otherwise you’ll be taxed at an extortionate rate
We were now properly setup, and could proceed with some more sightseeing adventures…