“So, your husband will be at work, the kids will be at school and you will be on your own, thousands of miles from anyone you know in a harsh and hostile environment; how do you feel about that?”
Well 16.5 thousand kms and almost ten years later I can reflect on this and smile. At the time I reacted to this question posed to me by my husband’s prospective new employer from Australia with typical Yorkshire grit: “Absolutely fine, I look forward to the challenge”. And a challenge it was going to prove to be.
We left Manchester airport on a freezing January morning and arrived in a subtropical Brisbane undergoing a heatwave. The first few months flew by in a mad whirl of house and school hunting and acclimatising to a Queensland summer with temperatures touching 40 degrees and humidity so high you broke out in a sweat just sitting still.
We also had our fair share of encounters with the exotic local wildlife, including a two metre long python intent on getting into our garage despite our best efforts to persuade it otherwise and huntsman spiders as large as your hand that jumped when you tried to catch them. As for the flying cockroaches, I seemed to spend my first months with a can of bug spray glued to my hand.
As well as that we found ourselves divided by a common language, and were often mistaken for being Irish or Scottish due to our Northern accents. We soon picked up on the fact that all words seemed to end in “o” with “rego” being car registration and “bottleo” the off licence, as well as football only ever being used to refer to Rugby League or Aussie Rules.
School was another culture shock, with the school bell being pop music, it was Enrique Iglesias on our eldest son’s first day, all the kids looking like little cowboys in their wide brimmed sunhats and the teachers in bare feet and calling their pupils “mate”.
It has to be said that at times we did question our move, however as we draw close to our ten year anniversary of living down under I have to say that I do not regret our decision, we are incredibly blessed to live in the lucky country, so close to glorious beaches and with the weather beautiful one day and perfect the next.
There will of course always be those ties to Brighouse, and not just in terms of our family and friends, but in things like getting up in the middle of the night to watch Huddersfield Town play in the Premier League and our counting down the days until we head to the Gabba to watch the Ashes and join in the Barmy Army chants. To slightly mis-quote an old adage, you can take the family out of Brighouse, but you can’t take the Brighouse out of the family.