G'day everyone, how ya goin'?? Yep, it's Ian, back online down here in Australia!!!!!!! Woooohoooooo!!! Lots of new names around here, but lots of the regulars will probably remember me from my previous "Gearhead" handle. I've been away from M&M for the better part of 8 months (or longer), so I thought I would give everyone here a bit of an update on what's been happening in my life over that span and bring you all up to speed. This is going to be long, so be warned!
Some of you may remember that I went through a bit of an ugly divorce in winter 2001/spring 2002. Not a fun experience, but in the end it all got settled (not in my favor, of course). The next 6 months I spent sharing an apartment with a friend of mine, and spent a lot of time working on our Mustangs (my 1979 Pace Car and his 1970 BOss 302). It was a real "guy" time with lots of beer drinking, wrench turning, and eventually (once the cars were done), tire smoke.
During this time I started dating this wonderful girl that I knew through work, and we REALLY hit it off. She eventually moved in with John and I, as her lease on her apartment was up, and we had the opportunity to take over the main level of the house we had been renting the basement suite in. Things were fantastic. I couldn't beleive how happy this girl made me, and how even though I had lost almost everything in my divorce, it didn't seem to matter anymore. Sutff is just stuff, and can be replaced with more "stuff" down the road. Happiness can never be measured by the "stuff" that you have... which was a bit of an eye-opening revalation for me.
Anyhow, Corrine (the wonderful woman) and I started making more plans together, and both decided that we wanted a big change in jobs/location, as there were too many old memories and reminders around us. Our employer was going through some major downsizing at the time, and was about to offer a severance package to people willing to leave their jobs voluntarily. We looked at the package and decided to go for it! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Ok, so we were leaving our jobs, but now what?? Where do we want to go? What are we going to do? We talked about moving within the province, to another city, and even out of the province. I jokingly mentioned that I do have my Australian citizenship (my mother is an Aussie, and I've had dual citizenship all my life... thanks Mom!!), and I could sponsor her to get into the country and move there. Her eyes lit up and next thing I knew she had brought the paperwork home and we were getting the process started! This was in the fall/winter of 2002, and it took until early spring of 2003 before all the paperwork/exams/medical tests and other criteria were met so that the whole package could go to the Aussie High Commission for approval.
During this period we also got engaged!!! We were both extatic. The wedding was set for May 31, adding significantly to the "to do" list. My job was finishing up on March 31st and Corrine's on June 31, and we were hoping to have Corrine's approvals soon after so we could hop on a plane and start our adventure down under (Stewart, BEHAVE!! ).
With all the big changes coming, and the planned move to Australia well underway I deceded that I was going to sell my beloved 1979 Mustang Pace Car to help finance our big move. It was a hard decision, as I had poured a lot of time, money, sweat and love into that car, but in the end it was just going to cost waaaaaaaay too much to ship down and convert to right hand drive. I put it up for sale, thinking that it would take a while to sell, but I got a few serious offers in the first month that I advertised it. In the end I got a good price for it, and it went to a really good guy down in Montana. It was hard to see it go, but the excitement and anticipation of the move overshadowed my anxiety over the sale.
The wedding went perfectly on May 31!! It was a small event, with close friends and family present, and was held at a friends heritage house. Our wedding car was John's 70 Boss 302... how appropriate. It was a fantastic day!!!!!!!
After I finished work I took a bit of time off, and did a few landscaping jobs for some people I knew. I took on a big job, completely landscaping a 1.5 acre property for a new B&B just outside of town, which helped keep the money rolling in. We finally received Corrine's approvals in the beginning of August, and immediately went to the travel agent and booked our tickets to Australia, to arrive here on September 2nd.
Next we sold EVERYTHING. We shipped a few boxes of personal stuff and clothes down, but that was about it. We packed our bags and the adventure began. Saying goodbye to friends and family was extremely difficult. Knowing that you are going so far away, and probably wouldn't be back for even a visit for at least a year or two made the goodbyes very emotional.
We arrived in the coutry on September 2nd, so we've been here a month so far, and what a busy month it's been. The trip over was looooooooooooooong. We have a 9 hour flight from Vancouver to Tokyo, then a 7 hour stop there (couldn't leave the airport, as clearing customs takes about 5 hours... plus they don't allow people on a one-way ticket to enter any countries other than the final destination along the way), and then another 9 hour flight to Brisbane. Most of the flights were good, with a couple of hours of turbulance on the 2nd leg thanks to a cyclone that was bashing south-east asia. We arrived at 6 am, and our friend Matt was ther to pick Corrine and I up and get us a real cup of coffee.
It's taken a few weeks but we are finally settling in and getting all the necessities of life set up. We have a nice apartment in a good area of town, and have just about everything that we need right now.
We spent the first week and a half driving all over the suburbs of Brisbane looking at apartments and town houses, trying to pick the areas we liked that had services and easy access to downtown via transit... not an easy task when you are not familiar with the different areas. You can waste a lot of time driving around searching. Thanks to our friends here and my family we were able to narrow it down to a few specific areas and then started applying for place that were listed. Luckily we got a great 2-boedroom apartment in a newer building (1996) that suites us perfectly. We're in a suburb called Taringa which is about 15 minutes from downtown via car, or 1/2 hour if we walk to the train station and catch the subway/rail. There's a great little shopping complex about 50 meters up the road, and 2 huge shopping centers within a 10 minute drive. Perfect!!! The apartment is nice and big and bright, and we have a HUGE private deck (over the underground carpark... could have a party for 100 here easily!). Very nice
The strange thing about rental units in Australia is that almost none come with fridges or washers/dryers. You have to go out and buy them yourself. That was $2000 we weren't expecting to spend, but at least we have good appliances now that will last us a loooooong time. All the rental rates are quoted in price per week, so that took some adjusting to figure out how expensive places were going to be. We are paying a bit more for this place than we originally thought we wanted to pay, but the convenience and quality of the area are worth a bit extra to us.
So, once we found a place we started shopping for all the stuff to furnish it. We decided to get all new stuff, rather than go used, as we didn't really want to spend 3-6 months of weekends at garage sales and auctions. Besides, it's nicer to have new furniture and electronics with warrenties. The prices for these types of things are pretty comparable to Canada, with some a bit more expensive and others cheaper. In the end we will have a very nicely furnished apartment that we will enjoy inviting people over to hang out in.
I got some recommendations on computer suppliers from some of my friends here in the IT end of things and got a nice system set up now (P4 2.4 Ghz, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB video, 17" flat screen LCD monitor, etc. etc). We finally got hooked up to ADSL a couple of days ago. Internet connections are pretty expensive down here, with most ADSL connections running between $69 - $150 per month (depending on monthly download limits)!!! We caught a deal with one of the companies and got unlimited download ADSL for $54.95/month, which is a screaming deal according to my friends here. *shrug*
As for transportation, my cousin Tim came to the rescue there. He is leaving for a 6 month stint in the US, with possible extensions. Seeing that he is not sure if he will be coming back or not he really didn't want to get rid of his 1 year old car right away, so he was just going to leave it sitting over here at his parents place. He offered the car to us for 6 months if we split the monthly payment with him. It works out well for us as we don't have to buy a car right away, and we have good reliable transportation until we buy our own (after we get jobs). Ok, it's only a Hyundai Accent, but it's practically new, has A/C and CD, and works for getting us around at the moment. Both Corrine and I agree that we'd never buy a Hyundai ourselves, but in the name of saving some money it was worth it.
On the job front, we've just started our search, but the economy is BOOMING here, and there are tons of jobs out there. The job market paper is about 3/4 of an inch thick every Saturday, and there is a huge range of opportunities. I'm looking at getting a 6-8 month temp position with the government (lots of those) and working on my real-estate ticket over that period and trying to break into that market. Real estate is enjoying a massive boom here right now, with no end in sight. Sounds like fun to me! My friend Matt's brother owns a real estate company up the coast a ways and he says it's really easy to break into the market, and the earning potential is massive. His little company is doing somewhere betwee $3-6 million in property each MONTH, and he's just a small fish in the market. Yowza!! I want me some of that!!! ;-) Corrine is looking in the admin field in government, and there are a ton of jobs there too. Good benefits and decent pay make it pretty comparable to the BC government, and the structure is very similar.
Overall we are having a great time, and we're starting to get out to do more touristy things over the last week. We're going up to Steve Irwin's zoo (Crocodile Hunter) this week, and will be hitting Surfers Paradise beaches as well. Should be good!!
I have had some fun in the automotive department already too! Matt and another friend Tom took us to a evening cruise in at a diner in Tom's beautiful 1966 Mustang coupe. Tons of cool cars, hot rod and US muscle cars. Ahhhhhhh, that felt good! The following weekend I hitched a ride down the Gold Coast with Tom in his AC Cobra replica to join the Queensland Cobra Club members for their monthly bruch run meeting. Tons of Cobras and GT-40 replicas on hand! Interesting ranges in engines... everything from the good old 302 (like in Tom's car), up to late model modular engines, and even a couple powered by turbocharged Lexus V8s (over 650 hp in one of them!! YIKES!!). Double "Aaahhhhhh!!".
After we both get working and buy our own house I am looking at getting myself an XY-GT or XB Falcon and playing with the Aussie Fords for a couple of years. Eventually I want a nice 67 convertible in the garage too, but that will have to wait as they are quite pricey down here.
Anyhow, I wanted to check in and say hi, as I have been a bit of a stranger lately due to everything that has been happening over the last 8+ months. I'll try and keep in touch on a more regular basis from now on.
Yak at youse all soon!!
"Look, I'm upside down!"
[This message has been edited by Ozian (edited 10-05-2003).]