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Rossies Abroad - THE EMIGRATION FILES

  • Written by Roscommon People
  • Published in Lifestyle

A series by Shane Reynolds

THIS WEEK  ... Close friends Clodagh Compton and Yvonne Collins from Strokestown, both embarked on an exciting new venture in April 2011 when they departed for Australia. Clodagh, daughter of Pat and Linda, and Yvonne, daughter of Francis and Ita, report on their experiences of Australian culture, their new lifestyle and encounters with big insects!

I came, I saw, I had fun ... but  my heart is in Strokestown

Clodagh’s story 

Melbourne for me was an amazing city. I registered with a few recruitment agencies and got some temping work in offices around the city

...

A series by Shane Reynolds

THIS WEEK  ... Close friends Clodagh Compton and Yvonne Collins from Strokestown, both embarked on an exciting new venture in April 2011 when they departed for Australia. Clodagh, daughter of Pat and Linda, and Yvonne, daughter of Francis and Ita, report on their experiences of Australian culture, their new lifestyle and encounters with big insects!

I came, I saw, I had fun ... but  my heart is in Strokestown

Clodagh’s story 

Melbourne for me was an amazing city. I registered with a few recruitment agencies and got some temping work in offices around the city almost immediately. I had my CV done and ready to go so that helped a lot. I would probably still be in Melbourne because I loved it so much only for the fact that I had the unfortunate episode of having bedbugs in my bed that ‘ate me alive’ for 6 weeks.  I just couldn’t get rid of them. After having to dump most of my clothes, I packed a bag and went farming in Queensland. I do wish I spent more time in Melbourne, but looking back, accommodation was not easy to find.

 My boyfriend John and I got work on a Sugercane farm in Queensland to qualify for our second year working holiday visa. We were required to work 88 days in a regional area in Agriculture, Forestry, Construction or Fishing to qualify for an additional year on a working holiday visa. John baled Sugercane bales all day and I came along in my tractor after and scooped and stacked them. We encountered more snakes than you would believe, we even baled a few!

  John worked his 88 days but I was a few days short so as the sugarcane season was over, I had to go picking tomatoes for a few weeks on another farm. Sharing a hostel room with 9 non-English speaking backpackers and 100+ cockroaches was one of the worst experiences of my life. The level of filth in that hostel was the most extreme I’ve ever seen!

  After travelling around Brisbane, Gold Coast, Hervey Bay and Fraser Island, we moved to Perth and met up with Yvonne and Sean, two close friends from home. We spent our first Christmas in Perth in 40 degree heat. I will never complain about snow again!

  The things we do here are much the same as at home, we work, we go to mass (even our priest is Irish), go to the pub, go to football for the matches – the GAA is big here in Perth now due to the large influx of Irish. It’s a home away from home.

  Some young Irish people that have emigrated will never go back to Ireland, they are happy to make a life here. I’m not sure if we have lost a generation to Australia yet as most of the Irish I know here in Perth are planning on returning home at some stage in the future, but probably not for another few years – the fear of unemployment being one of the main reasons.

  Most of the Australians speak fondly of the Irish, some don’t. Some employers will only accept job applications from permanent residents. All you need over here to get a job is a good resume and a bit of luck.

  We’ve shared some unforgettable moments while we’re been here. John and I are going swimming with dolphins in two weeks’ time, it’s the stuff dreams are made of! Where else would we get that opportunity?

  Fraser Island was probably the highlight of my time in Australia, such a beautiful island full of unspoilt nature. There is 72 miles of beach on Fraser, and it’s full of marine wildlife – dolphins, whales, sharks and much more.

  We’re in Perth almost 11 months now. John works on a fly in fly out roster, so he has to work away for 4 weeks at a time. Fly in fly out work isn’t easy got and very unsteady. For a city that has plenty of work, not very much of it is secure. I have a fantastic job in a mining company that I have to leave soon due to visa restrictions. On a working holiday visa, you can only work for the one employer for 6 months maximum or else get sponsored for a 4-year visa.

  I have been offered sponsorship with my company but I’m reluctant to commit to this as I miss home, I miss my family, I miss Mi Wadi Orange. Four more years away from home doesn’t appeal to me. The grass is not always greener on the other side. If I had work at home now, that’s where I’d be, rain and all! So when my visa expires, fingers crossed I’ll be heading back to the Emerald Isle in the search of work.

  It has been a fantastic experience getting the opportunity to come to Australia and I wouldn’t regret any part of it. I would recommend Australia to anyone, but it isn’t for everyone. I was under the illusion it would be like Summer Bay. However Home and Away doesn’t show the sunburn, the stress of trying to find decent accommodation then moving in to find there is no furniture, the cost of living, the helicopters flying over the beaches on the lookout for killer sharks.

  In summary, Australia is stunning! The people are easy-going, the sun is almost always shining, the food is lovely, there is plenty of work and the money is better – but there are down sides to everything. The heat is unbearable at times, you could come home to find maggots in your kitchen if certain foods aren’t contained properly, mosquitos are always on the lookout for a bite and bedbugs are rampant.

  All in all, it’s like everything else – it is what you make of it. You could make a home here, you could just holiday. For me, my heart is in Strokestown. I came, I saw, I had fun, I’m coming home.

 – Clodagh  Compton.

The aussie dream ... sun, sea and sand!

Yvonne’s story 

Like a lot of young Irish people, I decided to fly the coop to Australia in April 2011. I started off working in an Irish bar in Geelong, outside Melbourne. It was great craic and the Australians loved having an Irish barmaid. However, unlike Ireland, when closing time came, everyone was out the door by 1 am on a Saturday night!

  The Great ocean road was a trip to remember. We encountered the native koala bear, along with fabulous views and the most famous twelve apostles. Travelling to Auckland (New Zealand) to see Ireland gain victory over Australia in the Rugby World Cup 2011 was the trip of a lifetime.

  When I received my nursing registration, I worked with Melbourne Nursing Agency (MNA) for 6 months. I gained immense experience from a variety of different hospitals. I applied for my Australian nursing registration through AHPRA. It took approximately two and a half months. I had to get all my original documents certified by a public notary before I left Ireland. You also need to provide proof of an Australian address before your registration is processed. Accommodation is not easily accessible. You need to attend viewings, apply and provide references. Some people even offer double the bond (deposit) to secure a place. Melbourne’s public transport system is second to none, just watch out for those tram fines!

  My boyfriend Sean and I left Melbourne for Perth (Western Australia) in December 2011. We travelled over 3,276 kilometres in three days, in a 1992 car with no air-conditioning, in 35 degree heat, no radio and a broken window! Most cars in Australia are actually quite old.

  We encountered the Nullarbor Plain (the longest straight road in the world) and Eyre highway (and eerie it was!). I started work in Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) for children, on a busy surgical ward. The hospital is located just outside Perth city, beside the suburb of Subiaco, where I now live. Nursing is a little bit more laid-back in Australia.

  I decided that farming or any line of agricultural work was not for me (a requirement for your second year working holiday visa). Instead, I accepted the offer of sponsorship (457 visa). This visa entitles you and your partner to live and work in Australia for a period of four years. Although you do need to provide proof of the defacto relationship (flight details, joint accounts, lease agreement, photographs). My boyfriend works in a fly in fly out (FIFO) job, so he works away for 4 weeks at a time and then flies back to Perth for a week off.

  You won’t get nice sausages, bacon and cabbage, jambons, chicken fillet rolls or McDonnell’s chicken curry over here. Cadbury’s chocolate doesn’t taste the same either; it contains an ingredient to stop it melting in the sun. Overall, the food is good and pretty much the same as at home.

  It does get cold in the winter (June to August). I spent most nights in bed with a hot water bottle. Insulation in houses is considerably poor. The summer (December to February), can be uncomfortably hot. Despite that, it is nice to have your clothes dry in an hour on the line and not have to worry about the rain coming. It’s also a bonus to be able to go to the beach almost every day, but be wary of the sharks and pile on the sunscreen!

  Perth (the most remote city in the world), has a very high cost of living and can be quite strict. You may find yourself paying $18 for a cinema ticket, $15 for a bottle of cider or getting breathalysed going into a nightclub. There is a big culture of home entertainment, with a lot of people firing up the BBQ and having a few drinks on the balcony on a Saturday. 

  All things considered, I am very happy in my job and am enjoying Australia. I am planning to stay over here for another while; I need to see the rest of Australia.

  Furthermore, I think Australian people are generally very welcoming, laid-back and fond of the Irish. I have encountered many aboriginal people at work; they are a marginalised group in Australia. This has been a learning curve for me and I feel it will stand to me in my nursing career in the future. 

  Tips for those travelling over: Have your insect repellent at the ready, have your CV and referees prepared, bring both warm and cool clothes, be patient (Western Australia (WA) is also known as Wait A While). Lastly…. give it a chance.  – Yvonne Collins.

Roscommon People
Issue: 2nd November 2012

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