Best and Worst Things About Living in Australia

An eastern water dragons posing

An eastern water dragon posing

A quick run down on the advantages and disadvantages of living in Australia. I’d love it if you can help me out and pitch in some of your ideas by leaving a comment.

The Best Things About Living in Australia

  • Great weather
  • Interesting birds and wildlife
  • Good schools
  • Friendly, funny people
  • Safe and politically stable
  • Great and diverse scenery
  • Swimming in warm ocean and excellent public pools
  • Outdoor Lifestyle,  lots of bike and walking tracks
  • Sporting opportunities
  • Camping galore
  • Beaut beaches
  • Surfing all year round
  • $4 clean skin wines from Dan Murphy

The Worst Things About Living in Australia

  • Very suburban
  • Skin cancer rates, highest in the world
  • Complicated tax system and high taxes
  • Dangerous wildlife like snakes and spiders
  • Droughts, water shortages and forest fires
  • Cockroaches, in every Queensland rental house apparently
  • Surf Rage incidents and crowded surf breaks
  • Hideous crows cawing at all hours and raiding bins

Well, the good things far outweigh the drawbacks so that seems to be the right balance for a happy lifestyle.

Good luck with your computer and your Internet dreams!

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Related articles

>> New to Noosa
>> Noosa Festival of Surfing

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Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

My article, Live Your Dream in a Material World, struck a chord with many of you. In it, I described how we sold most of our belongings in order to make our dream come true and move to Central America.

Now I want to share the first page of my book about our experiences. It tells how we followed our hearts, ignored other people, took a risk, and put up with hardships to follow our dream. I hope that our story will inspire other people to be brave and follow their dream. Here are the first 900 words:

Our First Day in Guatemala

As I looked around the tiny hotel room, now stuffed to capacity with a family of five and our eleven bags, I wondered if we’d done the right thing. It was hard to believe that we’d sold our large, comfy home in New Zealand and most of our belongings in exchange for this. Outside the streets of Antigua, Guatemala’s best known colonial city, beckoned, but I wasn’t sure I could handle the kids here by myself. My husband Rich, my faithful travel companion for sixteen years, had gone on strike suffering from exhaustion and jet lag. My only ally in a 10,000 kilometre radius lay prone on the bed and refused to budge.

Meanwhile my youngest child, Kiara, aged two, was whining. With unfortunate timing, she’d broken her arm and developed a terrible tummy bug about ten days before our departure so a once happy and energetic girl had been replaced by a miserable, lethargic cry-baby. At the opposite end of the emotional scale her brothers, Max, five, and Luke, eight, were running round the minute hotel courtyard laughing uproariously. The colonial hotel with its inner courtyards and fountains, its tiled floors and decorative touches just hadn’t been designed for a large, noisy family. These small spaces were created for smaller, slower and quieter people than us.

Where We Came From

Our children were born and raised on Waiheke Island, just off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, a thirty minute ferry ride from Auckland City. Waiheke’s a serene and beautiful place, well known for its perfect beaches and famous vineyards. Up until this point the Candy kids had spent the majority of their time running and playing barefoot in a place with only 8000 residents, little traffic and no traffic lights.

Waiheke Island is the perfect place to raise young kids, and the Candy kids had enjoyed a sheltered existence with the security of living and growing up in a familiar place, surrounded by people they’d known since birth. Now we’d turned their world upside down, immersing them in a foreign culture with an unknown and incomprehensible language. The only familiar objects were the ones we’d brought with us. Exhausted after our 27 hour journey, I needed to remind myself why we’d done it.

Our Journey Started in the UK. Where Would it End?

Both me and my husband were born in the UK, but Rich was raised in Kenya. We both love travelling and we met in the Sinai in Egypt, so that’s where our adventures together began. For years we travelled, worked or studied in Africa, South East Asia, the USA, France and the UK, before finally deciding that enough was enough. It wasn’t that we wanted to settle down and stop travelling, just that we wanted a base, a place where we could keep our stuff, a home where we could one day live forever and raise a family.

Neither of us wanted to settle in Britain, but New Zealand fitted the bill: safe, unspoilt, and under populated. After a long, arduous process involving endless application forms, medical exams, and procuring certified copies of every official document that ever crossed our paths, we managed to get New Zealand residency. Our friends in England were horrified, especially our Australian friends who seemed to take it as a personal slur. The typical response from family and friends when we told them the news was disbelief:

“New Zealand? What do you want to go there for?”

But we were used to this. It seemed as if every time we packed our bags and went to a new place we got that same reaction of horror, combined with total incomprehension. Ten years later when we left New Zealand and told people we were moving to Panama the reaction was the same again:

“Panama? What do you want to go there for?”

I’d love to know what you think of this opening to my book. Would you like to read the whole story of how we moved from New Zealand to Panama, then ended up living in Costa Rica for a year, before finally moving to Australia? I’m excited about this chance to get feedback from my readers now as I complete my manuscript ready for publication.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out on the next installment.

Good luck with all your plans!

For More Inspiration Read

>> Live Your Dream in a Material World.

>> What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

Racism in Australia

Stereotypical Aussie Koala

Stereotypical Aussie Koala


Cultural Insights on Life in Australia

Before I get to the meaty part I’d like to say a quick gidday to all my lovely Aussie readers. Please don’t take these notes about my perceptions on Australian culture and racism in Australia personally. Just think of me a whinging Pom and a backwards Kiwi reporting on cultural differences that I’ve noticed during the six months I’ve been living here in Australia.

I just want to give people who may be thinking of moving to, or visiting the lucky country a balanced view of what it’s like here, because some of them think life in Australia is all beach time, hunky lifesavers and sunny days. Then they get here and they don’t like it.

Is Australia a Racist Country?

Now for the juicy stuff, the cultural insights which I fear may incite the rage of my new, friendly and often funny Australian hosts. A month or two ago there was a big furore in Australia when the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said “adios” to the news that Sol Trujillo, a Mexican, and a bigwig in a major Australian telecommunications company, had been fired. You could call Rudd racist. Or you could call Trujillo humourless and a bad loser, because he then launched into a diatribe about how racist Australia is, and claimed that living here is “like stepping back in time.”

Some Australians were upset, even shocked, at being accused of racism, but none-the-less, the fact that Aboriginal people have a statistically lower life expectancy and literacy rate just looks bad. Of course, statistics can lie, but somehow the fact that there are loads of Aboriginals living here would have passed me by if I didn’t read about them suffering from alcoholism, child abuse and poor health care in the Australian newspapers. But then again, I live in Noosa, Queensland, a mostly middle-class enclave populated by lucky white folk, and there seem to be a few pre-conceptions about Noosa residents too, namely that we are all rich, stuck up ex-hippies. But I digress.

Racist Pre-conceptions About Australians

I’m sure that all Aussies aren’t racist any more than all Kiwis are sheep shaggers, or all Brits are football hooligans, and many of them may be racist sheep shaggers or hooligans too. However, I should mention that when I moved to Australia one British friend asked how I was liking it here in “the new land of apartheid.” Ouch.

I think I’ve been quite controversial enough now in my bid to expose a little bit about Australian culture, so rather than irritate my generous hosts any more, and risk being deported to the chilly shores I’ve escaped from, I’ll end here. I think I’ll save my thoughts on Queensland anti-hooning measures and street brawling until next time.

Thanks for having me Australia, I love you really, especially the hunky lifesavers, great beaches, sunny days and amazing Aboriginal culture.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

Wicked Winter on the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Martin Fingland of Geckoes Wildlife with a Shy Snake

Martin Fingland of Geckoes Wildlife with a Shy Snake

I’ve written recently that winter on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia doesn’t really get cold. Sorry, folks, I take it all back. It’s now wickedly chilly and some mornings I’m sitting here with socks, slippers, all my clothes and the pink fluffy dressing gown I couldn’t live without over the top. Hot stuff I know.

My eleven year old son, who’s a great source of Australian news, says winters aren’t usually this cold on the Sunshine Coast. Apparently temperatures have been as low as 5°C (41°F) and oil and fan heaters are selling fast. But when you’re out in the sun it’s fine.

Free Entertainment in Noosa

We had a good day out a couple of weekends ago at a water festival at the Noosa Regional Botanical Gardens on Lake McDonald where fish, ducks and turtles abound. It was another fabulous free Noosa event, this one aimed at teaching us how important our waterways are to the environment and why we need to keep them clean, a message which wasn’t lost on us.

The wildlife presentation by Geckoes Wildlife was a highlight and if you like the idea of someone turning up to your kid’s birthday party with a bat, a toad and a ten foot python they’re the people to call.

How to Kill a Cane Toad Humanely

After living in Costa Rica, my kids did know that cane toads, the amphibian scourge of Australia, were imported here from Central America but how to kill them humanely was news to us. Apparently it’s okay to kill cane toads in Australia because they aren’t native but were brought here to eat beetles that were eating the sugar cane. Cane toads are bad news for the Australian eco-system because they breed fast, eat native fauna and, being naturally toxic, they kill native animals who eat them thinking they’re a frog.

So here’s how to kill a cane toad humanely, because the man from Geckoes Wildlife says it’s just not kind to go at them with a baseball bat. Read carefully now, this could come in useful some day. First catch the cane toads in a plastic bag and pop them in the fridge until they fall into hibernation. Then put them in the deep freezer where they will die painlessly. Now don’t forget to use the dead cane toad to fertilise your garden.

Well, I’m always interested to learn new things and I like to think I’m open to new experiences too, but I can’t imagine trying this out so I probably haven’t lived in Australia long enough yet.

Feeling Sick? Relax, Enjoy the Photos of Lake McDonald and the Festival

Noosa District Concert Band in the Amphitheatre

Noosa District Concert Band in the Amphitheatre

A Geckoes Wildlife Presentation with Martin Fingland and a Cane Toad: Educational and Entertaining

A Geckoes Wildlife Presentation with Martin Fingland and an undesirable cane toad: Educational and Entertaining

View Across Lake MacDonald During a Free Boat Tour

View Across Lake MacDonald During a Free Boat Tour

Martin and a Fruit Bat

Martin and a Fruit Bat: I love bats and apparently humans are more closely related to bats than to monkeys. Look at it's arm and hand with five fingers and its cute furry face. Sweet.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

Changing Crappiness Into Happiness

Inspirational People and the Key to Happiness

Kookaburra in Noosa National Park

Kookaburra in Noosa National Park

I recently went to an inspirational talk by cancer survivor, young mum, triathlete and fellow Noosa resident, Sam Naudin. Over the past two years she’s had a tumultuous journey which included being diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently undergoing a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. As if this wasn’t bad enough her long term relationship ended and suddenly she was a solo mum with two children under four years old dependent on her.

Faced with a big helping of crap like that, lesser individuals might have given up and opted to spend the next year or so curled up on the couch watching reruns of dreary sitcoms while consuming vast amounts of chocolate. But not Sam. Despite being left with  lympoma, when her medical treatment was over, she decided to get fit and raise money for charity. Her dream soon escalated into completing a half-marathon, cycling 100 kilometers and finally a triathlon.

I have to say, it sounds exhausting but it certainly is inspirational stuff and makes me wonder what events catalyse people to get off their bums and do something. So often it’s a brush with death, either our own or that of a loved one, that motivates us to live our dream and be the best we can be. Only when faced with the inevitability of our own mortality does life takes on more meaning and vibrancy. Let’s not wait for a stark reminder, let’s live life to the full right now and enjoy what we have today.

Put a positive spin on things.

The other inspirational part of this story is that it really illustrates how much we’re in charge of our own destiny. Fate dealt Sam a rough hand but she was still able to choose how she played it. Either she could go with the flow, become a powerless victim and sit around feeling sorry for herself, or she could give fate the finger and carry on her amazing journey through life.

Like Sam, when something bad happens I’m going to look on the bright side, try to laugh it off, and not dwell on it. We do have control over our feelings and I’m working on choosing to feel happy, valuable, satisfied and involved. Here’s to Sam’s good health and a living life positively.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Daylight Robbery, Little Cove, Noosa

Watch Out Watch Out! There’s a Thief About In Noosa

I’ve been feeling a bit lonesome this week. I’m now six months into my new life in Australia and I think anyone who’s moved overseas will know this feeling: the newness of being in a foreign country has passed and it’s still too early to have made good friends so there’s a gap that needs to be filled.

A surf with my surfer chick buddies-in-the-making was just what the doctor ordered. So when the rain cleared up to reveal sunny blue skies, the famous Noosa surf points were pumping and the surfer chicks were up for it, life looked good.

I have to confess I was a bit out of kilter. For example, I thought it was Wednesday when it was Thursday, but there’s nothing too unusual about that is there? After racing through my work and finding an elusive parking spot close to Little Cove where we’d arranged to meet, I realised I’d forgotten my board shorts. But nothing was going to stop me from surfing. At this point I should clarify that I was wearing a bikini and had my wetsuit top with me but the bikini bottoms are absolutely tiny and normally I wouldn’t be seen out in them unless they were under my board shorts. Basically, they’re completely unsuitable for surfing and the two tiny triangles of material barely covered my ample writer’s bottom.

The Show Must Go On

Still, undeterred, I knotted them on as tightly as possible, grabbed my board and headed out into the surf at Little Cove. There was no sign of my friends but I thought they might already be out in the surf so I left my bag carefully on a rock well above the high tide mark. This is a bag I got free with a magazine. Inside it was a t-shirt, a rash top, a dweeby surf hat that buckles under the chin, a pair of super cheap sunglasses from Costa Rica and my keys. That’s right, my car keys and my house keys which are both those new-fangled remote control keys that are fiendishly expensive to replace, all coupled together with one of my most prized possessions: a gorgeous wooden key ring with a painted toucan and the inscription Costa Rica. A lot of happy memories are tied up in that keyring and I truly love it.

Now, I count myself as being fairly savvy and would never leave any valuables unattended on the beach. As proof of how streetwise I like to think I am I should add that I recently spent 18 months traveling round Central America with 11 bags and not a thing was stolen from me during that time. 11 bags? I know, it sounds ridiculous but it was minimalist traveling for a famly of five and included a complete homeschool kit for three children as well as enough books to keep them all on track with their reading goals for a year.

You Little Ripper

But back to the Noosa surf. Down at Little Cove there was an flood of surfers walking, running and sprinting up the beach to get into the sea further north.

“Gosh.” I thought.
“I wonder where they’re all going.”

But being a complete novice I didn’t study the conditions much, apart from checking that the waves weren’t too big, and I didn’t notice the fierce rip that was pulling surfers south around the rocks to Noosa Main Beach. Until I got waist deep into the sea that is.

Suddenly, the rip was so strong that I was unable to stand in one place so I hopped on my board and caught the first wave that came my way. My pop up was slow and clumsy but hey, I was standing up and surfing, rushing in towards the beach. When the wave petered out I started paddling back towards the breaking waves to try again. At first I noticed I was just paddling on the spot and no sooner had that dawned on me than I realised I was being pulled backwards and quickly towards some rocks where bigger waves were breaking, and then around the corner to First Point where approximately 200 surfers were all milling around. This all happened exceedingly fast and probably less than five minutes had passed since I got into the sea.

“I’m being swept away.” I shouted to a bearded surfer nearby. He just shrugged and ignored me, too busy trying to save his own bacon I suppose.
“I’m trying to get to the shore.” I said to another.
“You’ll be right.” he said. Australians always say this and it’s very reassuring. Sure enough, he was right.

If At First You Don’t Suceed Try, Try, Try Again

Although I thought I was about to die I put on a paddling spurt and got to the shore, overjoyed to be alive. Now I joined the surfers climbing back over the rocks and walking back up the beach for another go. Yes, I’ve been taught that if you fall off your horse the best thing to do is get back on it and have another go.

So I did and I had a few nice rides too despite the dodgy conditions. At some point I noticed I’d forgotten to take my earrings out and one was missing but nothing was going to get me down after my near-death experience. My friends turned up and we had a surf together before heading back to the beach.

It was then that I realised my bag was missing, along with one of my shoes which I’d placed on top of the bag on top of a rock. So annoying. Why would a thief steal one shoe? And, presuming the culprit was male, what would he want with a few well-used pieces of ladies clothing? Perhaps most annoying of all was that I was now stranded at the beach with no car keys and clad only, in the world’s most revealing bikini.

Super Sleuth

Despite this I’m proud to say that I kept my cool and drew on my knowledge gleaned from over 20 years of reading trashy crime thrillers. Yes, thanks to a love of literature of all kinds, I am well-versed in many aspects of criminal profiling and criminal psychology. My expert analysis told me that this was a crime of opportunity committed by a young, and possilby itinerant, person who was hoping to get their grubby mitts on some cash, credit cards, a decent camera, an ipod or at the very least a complete pair of shoes, not just one beaten up sandal that’s been roughed up all over Central America.

In view of the fact that the loot held limited value for the crim (unless s/he was a one-legged tootsie with size ten feet) my guess was that the robber would be feeling pretty annoyed with the pile of crap they’d risked their clean record for and would probably chuck the entire contents of the bag in the nearest rubbish bin or bush.

Another young lady had also had her bag stolen so I left her to look after my surf board and went on a bin trawl. Now, despite being a country bumpkin, I’ve lived in big cities before and I’ve seen people, mainly bearded and ragged men, rifling through bins for sustenance. The middle-class demograhic means there aren’t many people doing it in the Noosa area though, and either my strange behaviour coupled, my scanty attire or a combination of those things attracted a fair bit if attention.

To make things even more pitiful Noosa has these really posh bins with a roof on so in order to see what’s inside you have to poke your head under the roof and over to the middle to even get a peep inside. If you actually wanted to get something out you’d have a hard job. Hmmm, maybe that’s why people don’t bother doing it.

There’s a Moral Here Somewhere

I wish I could say that there was happy ending to this story and that my bag and its contents, or at least my keys, turned up in a bin or under a bush but sadly that’s not the case. I came away feeling slightly nauseaous from the fumes of cigarette butts and fish and chips wrappers but alas empty handed.

So if you ever see a strange semi-clad lady rifling through the bins in an upmarket location don’t avert your eyes and cross the street, take pity and offer her a lift home. It could be me.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

A Winters Weekend in Noosa, Queensland

It May Be Winter But It’s Not Wintry

It’s almost mid-winter here in Queensland but we’re still getting out in the water and enjoying our new stand up paddle board. It’s perfect for exploring the canals and rivers of Noosa while getting a bit of exercise and the kids like playing round on it too. The weather was picture perfect all week and I even surfed so I still hold onto the title of crummiest surfer in Noosa, even if I did have to wear a wetsuit top.

On Sunday we went to the River Festival, organised by the Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club. I have to say that the Noosa River is definitely somewhere I’d like to spend more time and well worth celebrating, so celebrate we did. The kids fished, had a go on a bungy trampoline, got their faces painted and ran wild on the bouncy castle.

Then we went to Doonan, about ten minutes inland from Noosa, for the Steiner Children’s Festival. Doonan is a leafy enclave with gorgeous trees and big views from some places. There were heaps of fun things for the kids to do like a gem hunt, carpentry, making a sword, pony rides, a flying fox and a juggling show.

This is our weekend in pictures. Don’t get jealous, get over here. For life would be truly perfect if only we had some friends to enjoy all this with. Enjoy the photos.

Stand Up Paddling in Noosa Waterway

Stand Up Paddling in Noosa Waterway

Handsome man stand up paddling

Handsome male stand up padde surfer, Noosa

Face-painting Frenzy on the Noosa River

Face-painting Frenzy on the Noosa River

Lovely Little Hippy Chicky

Lovely Little Hippy Chicky

Fishing in the Noosa River

Fishing in the Noosa River

Hooked Sting Ray in the Noosa Waterways

Hooked Sting Ray in the Noosa Waterways

Forget Venice, take a gondala trip down the Noosa Canals

Forget Venice, take a gondala trip down the Noosa Canals

Flocking to the Children's Festival at the Steiner School in Doonan

Flocking to the Children's Festival at the Steiner School in Doonan

Juggling Act, kept all the balls in the air and was funny too

Juggling Act, kept all the balls in the air and was funny too