Journey's End....

Trip Start Sep 06, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Saturday, December 12, 2009

We arrived in Sydney on 12th November and flew straight down to Melbourne on a connecting flight to catch up with Steve's mum and brother John. John kindly met us at the airport and brought along with him his young charge: a small furry brown dog called Toby.  It was a joyous reunion – I don’t know who was more excited, Toby or the children – but after all the jumping, licking, cuddling and stroking had ended, it was clear that Toby hadn’t forgotten us in the 10 weeks we’d been apart.  Better still, he obviously wasn’t holding a grudge!  That’s unconditional love for you.

We spent a week in Melbourne seeing friends and family and trying to organise a few practical things like buying a mobile phone, activating bank accounts and buying a car before driving up to Sydney for the first of our week-long 'reccie’ stays. 

One of the places on our Possible Places To Live List was the Northern Beaches area of Sydney so we had organised a holiday rental in Avalon for five days.  As seems to have been a recurring theme on our trip, we arrived in time for unseasonally hot weather and a heat wave and our first couple of days in Avalon the mercury in the thermometer hovered around the 40C mark…. Quite a baptism by fire.  We almost took the next flight home.  The coolest place to be seemed to be in the air-conditioned car so we lost no time in driving around the area and we were stunned by the beautiful sea vistas and Pittwater scenes that greeted us at every turn.  The Northern Beaches area is very green and hilly and the steep landscape means that almost half of the properties in the area seem to have the most amazing water views.  We immediately clicked with the place.  It felt like home.  It had the feel of a village away from the hurly burly of Sydney, yet with only a 45 minute drive to the City centre, we can tap into all that it has to offer when we want it.

We slightly reluctantly drove North a few days later to our second ‘reccie’ venue wondering how Newcastle could possibly match up to Avalon.  Newcastle was actually top of our list before we left the UK – on paper it seemed to have everything we were looking for.   Also a city, it is smaller than Sydney but still on the sea and with a vibrant arts scene.  However, like it’s UK namesake, Newcastle has had a heavily industrialised past and while at lot of this industry has now gone, the cityscape is still dominated by huge industrial buildings.  The housing stock is fairly basic – though  this is changing – and we could certainly see that this is a city which is changing rapidly.  In 20 years’ time it will be a completely different place.  Smart money would do well to invest there.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a spare few hundred thousand dollars kicking about…

Again, we drove around as much as the area as we could, exploring high and low, trying to give Newcastle a chance, but within three days we knew our heart was elsewhere.  The day after we came to this realisation was a Saturday, so we drove down to Avalon for the day to start house hunting.  In Australia, they arrange Open House viewing sessions at fixed times on Saturdays so we knew that if we wanted to try to get a house before Christmas, it would be sensible to make the trip. 

We had searched on the web the night before and had a short list to speak to the agents about.  However, two of the four properties we had planned to see we discovered were unsuitable for dogs but the agent responsible for those said we might be interested in a property which had just come on the market and had not yet been advertised.  The owner had been  trying to sell it but had suddenly decided to rent it out instead.  We hot-footed it along and could not believe our good fortune.  It was a four bedroom property right on the water front with it’s own pool and access to the beach!  The house itself is pretty dated and sadly lacking in storage, but THE VIEW!  We fell in love with it straight away and promptly put an application in.  Two days later we heard that we’d got it.  Hurray!  We couldn’t wait to settle down again.   After three months on the road living out of a suitcase we were so looking forward to unpacking again at long last!

We moved in a week ago and, even though we’re still knee deep in packing cases and seem to be missing numerous crucial screws, electrical leads, table legs etc, we are getting there.  We have visited what will be Katie’s school and enrolled her there.  It’s a sweet local primary school which seems to be really good.  Emma has managed to secure a place at the Northern Beaches Selective Secondary school (something we organised from the UK) which is based in North Curl Curl, about 30 minutes away.  James is set to go to the local High School which we also visited last week. Again, we were very impressed. 

And so one journey is over but of course another is just beginning.  The adventure of settling into our new Australian life, starting new schools, making new friends and finding new jobs, all lies before us.  We’re excited and apprehensive in equal measure but one thing is certain, we’re determined to enjoy our first summer in this heavenly place first!

So this is the Todd Family signing out for now.  Do keep in touch and, if you ever find yourselves in Sydney, be sure to look us up!
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Christine and Bernard Collignon on

Lucky one, we were there last year early december, it was quite cool, being obliged to wear a jumper.
We loved the tour around the bay on the boats

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