Australia back then and now!
I first migrated to Australia from Peru in 1969, but there were not that many Latin Americans there then. My family first went to Hobart, but then we moved to Brisbane, where we made friends with people from Peru, Colombia, Chile and Venezuela, who were either studying in Australia, or had migrated there. Every member of my family left Australia in 1976 and we settled in the Dominican Republic. Life was good in the Caribbean, but in 1988 I decided to visit Expo 88 in Brisbane and there I met who was to become my husband a year and a half later. Once married I returned to Australia to live and our two children were born there a couple of years later.
My husband was then offered a good position in Austria, the country he originally comes from, so in 1993 we moved to Graz and have been living there ever since. Even though it is so far away, we have visited Australia a few times, including last year when my stepdaughter got married in Melbourne. A few days ago we also came back from attending one of my husband’s conferences in Sydney and from visiting my sister and nephew in Brisbane, as well as my mother, who has recently moved to Australia from Uruguay.
My husband will become emeritus in two years time and we are considering the possibility of moving back to Australia again, as we both have family there and it could be a place for our two children to carry out their studies, as they have dual nationality.
We left Australia seventeen years ago, so this trip was a way of getting to know the country again and evaluating how the place has changed since we left. It also gave us the opportunity to start looking for a suitable place where we could retire when the time comes. For that reason we rented a car in Brisbane and then drove south to Sydney, so as to arrive in time for my husband’s conference.
It was winter in Australia when we went, but everyday we had blue sky and temperatures just under 20°, which was more like spring or summer in Austria! Once on the road we were surprised to find that there is a four-lane highway now from Brisbane to the Gold Coast and 50 story buildings are quite common now! The speed limit was mostly 100kph, with only a few stretches of 110, while in Austria it is 130! New traffic fines have been introduced recently and it seemed as if everybody was obeying the speed limits! Apparently smoking has also been banned indoors and that was a change I really welcomed!
We stopped in Surfers’ Paradise, Currumbin, Coolangatta and Byron Bay, places that we used to visit often in the past and somehow, the Pacific had never seemed so blue, or the waves more parallel as they approached the coast. We went for many beach walks and I had to agree with the 79 year old man we met doing exercises on the beach, who said that we should enjoy the view, as it was free!
Whether they had beach or river view, we enjoyed every hotel we stayed in and we also noticed that they all had coffee and tea making facilities and in some cases, even a couple of Arnott’s biscuits! We also noticed that food is quite different now, as it all seemed to be mainly gourmet, obviously a result of the new multicultural Australia.
After visiting Byron Bay we came across Sawtell, which is on the north-eastern coast of New South Wales, about 10km south of Coffs Harbour. It is a small and peaceful holiday resort and in recent years its population has increased to over 5000 people.
The predominant feature and raison d'etre of this tourist town is its pretty beach and its two rocky promontories that are adjacent to the estuaries of the Boambee and Bonville Creeks.
Sawtell has a small shopping centre, with a very distinctive median strip in the middle, with many old and luxuriant trees. It also has some good walking areas near the river and beach and there is good fishing in the creeks and the ocean.
Daniel Scott, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, says "A survey last year by the University of New England, which assessed a raft of important amenities, proclaimed it the most desirable place to move to in NSW. If I had to envisage my ideal coastal town, Sawtell would come close to fitting the bill."
I had a dream one night while I was in Australia and in it there was a bushfire and I could see kangaroos running away from it. I told my sister about my dream and she reckoned that fire in dreams means passion! I don’t think I am passionate about kangaroos, but certainly about the country they inhabit!