It’s been a long old journey much longer than I first realised. But actually Australia has featured intermittently throughout my life.
My great Uncle Ernie immigrated out here in the 50s I think. Mum’s uncle. The family lost touch but I remember being very little and seeing Mum sticking stamps on Christmas cards to Canada and Australia. Her ‘far flung’ rellies she called them.
Then there was the Aussie influx of the 90s. All things Scott & Charlene. Every cast member of Neighbours or Home & Away decamped to the UK to launch a pop career. Britain fell in love with all things Aussie and I vowed one day I’d visit those pristine beaches, drink shakes in a surf club and swim after school or work.
Then I had an Australian pen pal from Melbourne. I remember being disappointed she wasn’t from Queensland, as I was convinced that was the best place as it was always sunny. We were both massive Take That fans and I remember she sent me a photo of them for my birthday from when they’d toured over here.
Then I played in an international netball match: England North U16 vs Australia U16. I was 14 and played in defense. We didn’t just win we broke them much to the spectators delight. I remember getting quite cold from inactivity as we pummeled the opposition. Northern sporting clubs always on a budget, we put our opponents up for a night. She slept in my bed and I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. We talked most of the night and promised to be pen pals and visit each other again. She was from Queenland so I was very excited. I vowed then to come to Aus and visit her.
At uni I put half my student loan aside to buy a flight to Aus after my exams. Only my proposed travel buddy’s parents split up and out of guilt they paid for her to go over before I could save up. For some reason after that I lost all interest in Aus.
Then I was with the ex and we planned a honeymoon in Australia. Only he was scared of flying so we’d go by boat. Yeah, that never happened.
Then my sister graduated and went traveling and lived in Brisbane for 6 months and then in remote Perth working in a bar. She told me stories of sexism and racism. Heavy drinking and hard graft.
Years went by and I found myself wanting to mix things up. I’d scratched an itch with a trip to Thailand but I wanted more. Then WROS came back for her first visit back from moving to Melbourne. She lit a candle in me.
I stood in the queue die Wimbledon in 2008 with London Buddy #2 and 2 liters of Pimms trying to convince her to move out to Aus with me. But she’d just met a boy. Luckily she didn’t listen to me as that boy is now her husband and father to a gorgeous son.
3 months later I’d rented out the flat, sold the car and packed a suitcase and a 3 month holiday visa.
5 years later I stood up and took a pledge to follow and respect the law of this country who was offering me citizenship. The sandy beaches lie a 10 minute work from my front door. I swim in the sea after work (in the summer) and I’ve drunk a shake in a surf club.
5 years later I’ve become a legal citizen of Australia.