Things to do on arrival in Canberra

We had some disappointing news this week. After all our meticulous planning in trying to ensure our belongings will arrive in Canberra in time for us to spend a comfortable Christmas, the shipping company told us that, yes, while the container would arrive in Australia in plenty of time, customs clearance is expected to take three-to-four weeks, meaning our belongings won’t reach us until mid-January at best.

A lorry next to a shipping container.

We won’t see our container again until mid-January at the earliest.

It’s a small setback, and we’ve had relatively few of them on the path to starting our new life, but it does seem like a kick in the teeth, having worked so hard to get our stuff away a few weeks before we travel.

Despite this news, our days are starting to be taken over with tasks more related to arriving in Australia than leaving Denmark. Just last night, I deleted several Denmark-related apps on my phone and replaced them with their Australian equivalents – news feeds, satellite navigation, airline offers, online banking and so on.

And, since we arrive in Canberra in less than a week, we all began talking about how we would spend our first 24 hours in our new home town.

A man and boy with luggage at an airport

In a few days’ time, we’ll be boarding our flight to Canberra.

The top request was to have a celebration family dinner at a Chinese restaurant we visited during our research trip 18 months ago, Jasmine House in Gungahlin. Their speciality dish, chicken with avocado and banana in coconut milk has lived long in our memory and we can’t wait to try it again.

The next most exciting thing we came up with was going food shopping. Now I know that trips to Woolworths and Coles aren’t going fascinate everyone, but a trip to the supermarket, our local supermarket, our local supermarket in Australia, has all of us pretty excited.

A beef and cheese pie in its wrapper.

Mmmmm. Aussie pies.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that, if I have one criticism of life in Denmark, it’s that the supermarkets here seem to be modelled on those in Soviet Russia. The selection is pretty limited, the quality is generally poor, and the value for money is only to be giggled at. On family holidays to France or the UK, a visit to Carrefour or Sainsbury’s has felt like an expedition into a private banquet of untold delicacies and treats. Our brief trips to supermarkets in Australia have felt the same way, and that’s before we even uncover the delights of things such as farmers’ markets and specialist local shops.

The second reason we are looking forward to it is that it will feel like our first slice of ‘real life’ in Australia. Long-haul flights, hired cars and suitcases are all hallmarks of going on holiday, but doing a massive food shop is a hallmark of real life, and we can’t wait to start our real lives in Canberra.

There’s an addendum to this post which I’m going to save for a post all of its own, and it relates to the friendliness and generosity of people – from the strangers who have offered tips and extended warm welcomes via social media, even though you don’t know me or my family; to those who are going through the same process from different countries and have empathised and encouraged from afar; to the long-standing friends who await us in Oz, who have offered furniture, invited us for Christmas, and who already make us feel like we have ‘family’ awaiting us down under.

When we arrive, I hope we can be the friends that your kindness deserves. For now, just ‘thank you’. We’ll see you very soon.

6 thoughts on “Things to do on arrival in Canberra

  1. On the plus side, with no unpacking to do until after Christmas your time is free to travel a little and visit friends and get to know your new town. Sounds like a blessed win-win to me – guilt free time to explore and have adventures before being up to your eyes in packing cases and furnishing decisions. Have a good trip and a wonderful time when you arrive.
    Galley Girl 🙂


    • Thanks Galley Girl. Our journey actually starts today. We hand our house in Denmark over to the new people this morning, then have a few days in a hotel here, a few days on planes, and we next settle down in our rented house in Canberra. I’ll let you know how it goes. Best wishes, Mark


  2. I can empathize with the frustrating delay of your belongings – ours didn’t arrive in Canberra until 2 months after us earlier this year. Just try to avoid the temptation to buy too much new stuff otherwise you’ll end up with lots of duplicates! Good luck with the journey and the start of your new life!


    • Great tips, thanks Matthew. WE had to buy a new tin opener the other day after realising we’d sent ours off on the container. Either way, I’ve a feeling that the arrival of all our stuff will feel like several Christmasses rolled into one. “Oooh, do you remember THIS?” I also think that’s the moment we’ll realise we are not on holiday but really have moved permanently. Thanks for the good wishes — we’ll need them, I think. Best, Mark


  3. Claire says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter here! Found your blog quite by accident but find it incredibly exciting that someone would choose to move to Canberra.

    Have you considered house-sitting? There are plenty of websites that loop people together. Would be a easy way to have a comfortable Christmas Day, and maybe even with a pool!


    • Hi Claire, Thanks for following, and for commenting. House-sitting never occurred to me, although with two young kids and a dog, maybe we wouldn’t be perfect candidates. Christmas with a pool sounds wonderful though (I keep forgetting it’ll be the middle of summer), but thankfully, we’ve got an even better option — Christmas with friends. The kindness of people is something that has amazed me throughout this process and we’ve been humbled yet again by offers to share others’ family Christmasses, which we’re going to do. We’re heading your way very shortly — today we move out of our home in Denmark, then we have a few days in hotels and on planes before becoming Canberrans later this week. Can’t wait. Best wishes from an autumnal Scandinavia, Mark

      Liked by 1 person

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