South African realities in Australia

South African realities in Australia

Pay it forward…

When we decided we want to move to Australia in 2012, we had no idea what to expect. Despite frantic google searches, we constantly ended up with little to no idea of what awaits. So prepare for some advice on my perception of South African realities in Australia.

We were lucky to find some people who were happy to share their experience with us. We were still unprepared when we packed our 5 suitcases, took our 3 month old baby and got on a plane though.

I have been able to help more than a few people with random questions. I have wondered though, what do people do who can’t find anyone to help…?

The idea for my blog was born as my personal “Pay it forward”. A thank you to those souls who took the time to answer my exhausting and inexhaustible questions and an attempt to help those who have no one to ask.

Below, are a few of the more asked topics I have come across. I shall elaborate on these in more length and detail and add the links as I update the content.

Australia’s states and territories

Find out more… Cities and Towns

The internet makes the world much more accessible than it was a few years ago. Use your Google and search towns and cities you are interested in before you leave. This would give you an idea of what it looks like before you move.

Most towns have a council website that has a lot of information. Just type “[Town of choice] council website” into your search bar. As an example, the search [Brisbane Council Website] gets you:

Using tools that are available to you, will make your transition much easier.


Get involved in your community. You are leaving behind everything you know. Life will be full of change and challenge. The biggest challenge for me, was moving out of my comfort zone and meeting new people.

It saved my sanity though! I shall always remember the mother’s group that welcomed me when I was brand new in Australia. Even though we were from different worlds, the shared experience of having a young baby, bonded us.

This is not to say a mother’s group is the right fit for you, have a look at your hobbies; if you love photography – join a camera club, if you love helping people, join the SES or RFS. These organisations have different governing bodies that vary from state to state, so once again, good old Google example [SES in NSW] will get you:

Free resources

These will differ from council to council and state to state. One valuable resource is your local Information centre – most info centres have a welcome pack for new residents. This can include maps, things to do and in some cases even vouchers. It is worth nipping in and saying you are new and asking if they have a welcome pack. In areas that get a lot of extreme weather and disasters like cyclones, you should get valuable information on preparation.

Your local library is also a great help. Some libraries have online borrowing capabilities through platforms like Borrowbox or Overdrive and even movie streaming through platforms like Kanopy. Most libraries have computers and printers available. This is especially handy while you wait to settle in and before you have internet.

if you need to find your local library, this tool is very helpful:

Enjoy local parks, botanic gardens, historical buildings and look for all the amazing things your new home has to offer.

John Breen Park, Mackay
Typical Aussie playground

Connectivity – phone and internet

This was a tricky one for us. We had no idea of what to do. Not to mention the confusion when we asked for ‘airtime’. (hint: ask for prepaid phone credit at the check out)

There are many networks in Australia, but Telstra has the widest coverage by far. If you are settling in a rural location, you are better served by companies who can deliver service. Optus has grown a lot in more remote areas, but do your homework and make sure there is coverage. A good idea is to belong to a Buy Swap Sell or a Mums & Bubs group on Facebook for your new town and ask advice. People are friendly and happy to help.

I know of people who arrived in a big city, immediately decided on a provider because it looked familiar and ended up with zero service in their new home town.

*I am not getting paid to suggest any of these providers – I do urge you to make sure that you will have coverage where you stay before choosing a provider.

Internet options are boundless in the city and you can (and should) shop around for the best deals. In more rural communities, you have more limited options and even no options. If internet is important to you, search a new prospective address in a provider’s search bar. This is the fastest way to check that there is accessibility and availability. In some instances, you can even set it up to start before you get there. This way you will have a modem and everything ready by the time you arrive.


There are so many options for your children – public, private, distance education or even home schooling. This is ultimately about your choice and what suits your family.

There are differences from state to state, so I suggest you email the department of education for you specific state. I promise you, people here will happily help and provide more information .

So simply google “Department of education [state of choice]” into good old Google. If you are settling in sunny Queensland, your example would be [department of education QLD] to get

Children are adaptable. They learn so much faster and easier than we do. Do not stress about the Afrikaans (or Xhosa or whichever of the 11 home languages) to English transition too much. Your children will be speaking English with a true blue Aussie accent before your next visit to South Africa!


This is an ongoing learning curve. Have fun with it!

Here is a few words to get you started


Shops are the same everywhere. You will definitely not feel deprived of retail therapy. One important tip and a true South African reality in Australia; DO NOT convert currency in your mind before you buy!

You will give yourself an ulcer if you convert currency for every purchase. It is all relative. You are earning in AU$, so you will be spending in AU$.

I’ll share some of my favourite shops with you in this link