A guest post by Peter Freedman:
When last counted, more than 500,000 Kiwis were living in Australia. Why do so many of us fly across the Tasman to live in the camp of our bitterest sporting rival?
I can’t answer for the other 499,998, but here is why Mr and Mrs Freedman, Sacha, the huntaway and Sunny the Golden Labrador became Australian residents.
BTW it is bloody expensive flying a dog across the ditch, far more expensive than flying yourself. The two dogs travelled in the same plane as we did and it was uncanny to listen to Sunny barking her head off as we taxied down the runway.
A main reason we chose Brisbane was because of the weather. We were sick to death of grey Wellington days and rainy southerly blows.
Not that it doesn’t rain here, but at least it is warm rain. To date we have escaped the floods – at one stage we thought about living in Ipswich, but changed our minds, thank goodness.
Brisbane has hot, rainy summers and warm, dry winters. So far the temperatures we have experienced have ranged from around 22 degrees (when true Queenslanders complain about the cold and reach for their long johns) through to 38 degrees, which is bloody hot. When it is that warm Queenslanders grab for a beer and head for the beach.
The lifestyle is great in Queensland. It is so laid back you sometimes have to give a Queenslander a kick to ensure he is still breathing.
The populace is generally welcoming. Get ready to be continually calling “darling” “sweetie” and “love” by the women behind the counter.
We had been here less than a day when a supermarket staffer kept calling me “darling”. Carolyn looked at me sideways with a quizzical “I know he can be a fast worker, but surely not THAT fast”.
They are also very generous. The first Easter we were here, the Commonwealth Bank stuffed up our payments and left us with no money. Cheekily, I went next door and asked a guy I had never met whether he could tide us over for the long weekend.
“No trouble.” He grinned , taking out his wallet. “A hundred be enough?”
I offered Carolyn’s engagement ring as security.
“What would I do with that?” my new mate laughed. “Just pay me back when you can.” We did.
Also Queensland is wonderfully egalitarian. I haven’t seen a Ferrari or a Rolls Royce in two years. A few Porsches and BMWs, but most Bananalanders drive good ordinary cars.
The cost of living is cheaper than NZ in many areas. You can buy a loaf of bread for $1 and two litres of milk for $2. Bananas are cheap except during the floods when the price rocketed to $13.99 a kilo. You can now buy a kilo for 99c in some fruit shops.
Not that Queensland doesn’t have its faults. There are some right wierdos here. When we arrived we bought a car from a great guy in Kingston, between Br isbane and Beenleigh, where we live. Later we decided to trade down to something smaller and naturally went back to the same place.
But our guy had gone and been replaced by Abbott and Costello. They made an offer for the car, then toddled off for a few minutes. When they came back they pretended never to have met us.
“What car? Who are you people? Why do you think we have seen you before?”
Police can be a problem, as I think I have mentioned.
But the fauna is wonderful. To wake up at around 4am to the sound of kookaburras, to see cockatoos and even the occasional koala in the trees is a magical experience.
And sport is everywhere. As a kiwi who has adopted Australia and has no intention of returning, I support Australian teams so long as they are not playing Kiwis. With one exception.
I will never, ever, support the Australian cricket team.
Everything has its limits.
I have a t-shirt that says “I support two teams – New Zealand and anyone playing Australia”. I now make an exception for when Australia plays against the English rugby team.