Fast track to the future

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Soon, the slow train to Sydney won’t be the only rail option in Canberra.

Things are getting quite exciting in Gungahlin, Canberra’s newest suburb. For a couple of years now, there has been much talk of a light rail line running from Gungahlin to the city centre in Civic, but soon, work on the line is expected to begin.

It may seem odd to get excited about what ostensibly amounts to the start of several years of roadworks – and there are plenty who oppose the idea of building a tram network in Canberra, as the arguments ahead of October’s local elections confirm — but I have my reasons.

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A clear view

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The lookout point where you get the first clear view of Mount Kosciuszko’s peak.

We’re starting to settle on what our favourite things are and a prime candidate for the top ten is the nearby Snowy Mountain range which lies just a couple of hours south-west of Canberra. Last weekend we made our third trip to the area. Continue reading

Trial and error

Gatherings of expats invariably lead to one conversation topic, things you wish you’d done and things you wish you hadn’t.

These aren’t confessions of the stag/hen night variety, but wistful glances back at the process of moving to Australia and learning some lessons of relocation the hard way.

So, for today’s post, 18 months after our move, I’ve put together a list of the best and worst three decisions we’ve made in our journey to a new life down under.

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Mind the language gap

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Aussie English differs from British English in all sorts of wonderful ways.

There’s an adage that the UK and the US are two countries separated by a common language and there’s many an example to illustrate the point.

I’d expected certain differences between British and Australian English too, and there are plenty. Most are readily decipherable, thanks to the absolute literalism of many, such as the wonderful phrase ‘sticky beaks’ for nosy people, or ‘footy’, for any sport that involves a large ball (except, in fact, football).

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Testing times with tradies

Becoming home-owners in Australia has not only exposed us to a new range of emotions but to a new set of challenges, the most testing of which has been the need to hire various tradesmen (or, tradies as they are known here) to help us get our house the way we want it. The results have been, shall we say, interesting.

Photo of a rangehood awaiting installation.

Forget high-speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne. The greatest technological challenge in Australia today is the installation of this rangehood.

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Intrepid explorers

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The first of many trips laden with boxes.

Last week, we moved home, and what with several days of lumping boxes around and a hiatus in our internet connection while Telstra pressed a few buttons at their secret underground mission control bunker, it’s been longer than usual since my last post.

It feels good to finally bid farewell to our rented accommodation. It served us well while we found our feet in Australia but there really is nothing like having a place to call your own and I’ve taken great delight this week in banging in nails, putting up shelves and drilling holes wherever I feel like. Continue reading

Canberra’s energy inefficient housing

Let me start this by saying that I’m not an expert in environmental matters, but by adding that I am interested in environmental matters. I was an early adopter of LED bulbs back when they cost more than the light fitting you put them into; I set up a couple of compost heaps in our last house and reduced our weekly rubbish collection by a third; and I’m generally happy to invest in something that I think will reap longer term benefits either in efficiency or in reducing my environmental footprint.

So when we arrived in Canberra, I was interested to learn that every property is assessed according to an ‘Energy Efficiency Rating’ or EER. Our year in a rental house – which is freezing in winter, boiling in summer and generates energy bills that would make a sheikh weep – only served to heighten my interest in energy efficiency when hunting for a house to buy.

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Things we lost on the journey

We had tears in the CBRbound household the other night. For the past year, Mini-CBRbound has been asking when we can visit Denmark again as a family. He particularly misses his old football team and the team’s trainers, with whom he built up a close camaraderie over four years of junior football.

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Mini-CBRbound at his final tournament with his old football team.

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