We're Sunny Coast Locals....
we stroll the beaches, know the back roads and work in the heart of the hinterland.
But there was a time when we were just a couple of blow ins so......
Here's our story....
Dawn and I met in a UK restaurant back in the 80s where I worked as the Restaurant Manager and Dawn ran the kitchen. Dawn was, and still is, a pure genius in the kitchen (hopefully she'll never read this - she's very moderate) and I have only ever seen one other person that has such an affinity with food, can duck and weave in a busy commercial kitchen and produce the goods time after time.
At the restaurant I needed a waitress so placed an ad in the local and interviewed and employed an Aussie waitress - Michelle. Over time we became best friends with Michelle and her partner Shaun.
Michelle was a breath of fresh air, she taught us that casual was good and using the word Yummy was not really bad at all. We took our ties off and let our hair down (a little).
Talk of a trip to AU often took place into the wee small hours and eventually the talk turned to reality. We paid our first visit to Australia in the late 80s. By that time we had 2 kids, who of course came with us.
It was no ordinary visit. We decided to come for 6 months and to do so I had to resign from my job as I couldn't get the time off.
We spent the first 4 weeks in Victoria with Shaun and Michelle and then we moved up to Queensland for a visit to Ken and Stella who we knew - again from our time at the UK restaurant (Ken was a waiter there).
Ken and Stella had an old VW Combie which we spent a few dollars getting road worthy and then we headed off North. Over the next 5 months we made it to Cairns and back. It really was a trip of a lifetime - sun, surf and freedom from the often class based mind set of the English.
Zara's first birthday on a camp site in Charters Towers.
We fell head over heels in love with that place - but - little did we know at the time that it would take until 2000 to get back as permanent residents.
We returned to the UK, I stepped back into my old job, we moved back into our house (Dawn's brother had rented it out for 6 months from us. Washing we had left on the line 6 months prior was - - still on the line - - my prize Yukka was - - very dead), but all was safe and sound otherwise.
Life soon felt like normal again and, sadly after our trip around QLD, it was not a good feeling at all. We'd had the taste of Stralia and wanted more!
We applied to become full time residents and quickly got knocked back. At the time the only people getting into Australia were those where their skills were in dire need or those with a degree and lots of experience - I had lots of Management experience but no degree. So - we decided that I'd get qualified - as a full time student here in Australia - which I did.
In 1995 we all moved back and lived in Mt Gravatt. After a couple of years I graduated. 3 hours after the graduation ceremony we had no choice but to board a plane back to the UK as my study visa had ran out! But at last - I had what was needed...or so we thought....
What we didn't know was that even with an Australian qualification our follow up application would be knocked back again as I had dropped into a lower points scoring band due to my age.
We decided to give up, we could see that we were going to spend the rest of our lives trying to achieve the impossible. We accepted defeat :-(
Until - one day we took the kids to a beach in Aberystwyth. A beautiful little seaside town on the Welsh Coast. Now remember - the last beach the kids had seen was on the Queensland Coast, Zara didn't even know what a coat was and Dean had become a bit of a wizz at catching penny lizards as they basked in the QLD sun.
The beach was full of stones. They sky was very grey. The water was freezing, so we decided to go for Pizza. The last Pizza place we had taken the kids to was an all you can eat place in Maroochydore - something crazy like $5/head and that included drinks!
We had to tell the kids that they only got one serve, the drinks were not very nice and the bill was very high!
Something 'clicked' that day. We knew we were destined to return to Australia, we just didn't know how.
Dawn spotted an ad in a magazine for an immigration consultant and I gave the number a call.
I spoke with a guy called Ian Harrop and relayed our story. He scheduled a further 15 minute fact finding call. I was intrigued!
Ian was an absolute supper cool character. He held our life's dreams in his hands, but his tone rarely changed and his calmness was very re-assuring. I recall asking him how successful he was with other candidates and he stated in a very matter of fact way 'I have a 98.2% strike rate. I only charge you when you get your residents visa so if I take you you'll know you're in'.
Ian was an ultra professional and we referred many others to him. After a prolonged period of time we eventually received this email...
Subject: Re:Australian Visa
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 11:46:43 +1000
Just a quick message regarding your Australian visa. I am now ready to grant, the only potential problem being that you and your family would all need to make your initial entries into Australia by the 5 August 2000. The reason for this being that Dawn's
police clearance will expire on this date. The only alternative would be for Dawn to apply for a new one, which would
give you until the 1st September or for both of you to apply for new police checks which would extend your initial entry period
to 14 December 2000. Please let me know what you decide so I can either grant now or hold on until I receive your new clearances.
That was it - were in!
We landed in 2000. No jobs, two kids, 11 suitcases and $27,000 (that's 27 not 270) - we'd invested heavily in my Australian qualification and our bank balance was now missing a few zeros!
We looked around the Sunny Coast but soon realised it was too far to commute into Brisbane - which is where most of the work seemed to be. We passed through Glasshouse and ended up staying there. We did get as far south as Caboolture - I went into a Police Station and asked what the area was like. The duty copper advised me to get back into the car and head back to Glasshouse. We took his advice.
Glasshouse was our chosen place to live and I scored a job as a programmer at INCITEC.
I'd always dreamed of being a programmer but the reality was totally different. I really did not like it, although the people were great. On my first day Wayne bowled up to me and asked me if wanted to join the 'Fat Bastards' club! Political correctness has moved forward in leaps and bounds since 2000 - I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing??
I scraped by for 12 months and spotted a job as a Regional Training Manager for TNT - the freight company. I got the job and loved it. I spent 7 years making huge changes to the place and learnt lots in return about the Australian way of life and the meaning of Beer O'Clock.
Dawn had been busy committed to the kids, but by now they were begining to spread their wings a little and Dawn thought we should take a look at a small business in Beerwah called Meals4U. We did and we really liked it - thinking at the time it would be a great little hobby business for Dawn now that the kids were showing signs of flight!
Meals4U turned out to be much more than a hobby business. After 7 years at TNT I decided to resign and join Dawn full time building the Meals4U business.
......more to come......