Melbourne: June 2020

If we didn’t have kids Hong Kong would be fine for us. But once you have kids you have to think more about their future. 

My husband’s brother lives in Melbourne.

We had visited them a few times and they kept urging us to leave Hong Kong and move to Melbourne.

Because we had a business in Hong Kong they invite you to set up a new business here. If we were relying just on our own money that would not be enough to move to Australia as an investor.

We now have 4 years to establish a new business in order to get the PR (Permanent Residency).  

And it doesn’t have to be the same type of business as before. 

Melbourne home looking to  window with sofa .

With everything that has happened with coronavirus we are now thinking of new opportunities… to buy a shop…or café or something else.

We have been told by the immigration agents that we may need at least half a year to find a business to set-up and run. It is not something that can be sorted in a short time. 

My husband loves working in design. I can’t imagine  him sitting with me in say, a supermarket… it would not be good for him. He might get a job in design and I will set up a small business.

My older son can go to school on his own and cope on his own. The younger one will have to come with me or go to after-school care.  

Dining table with orange chairs and brick wall

We had planned to arrive in Melbourne on the 20th March 2020

Then suddenly on the 19 March the Australian Government announced they were going to close the border at 9pm – on 20th March. 

Our flight was due to arrive at 11pm on 20th March so we just had to let those tickets go, buy new tickets and move here earlier.  So, everything had to be brought forward. 

We had packed up our furniture from early March and it arrived one day before we did.  We also bought some things when we were here last year in December. 

I had two visits here with the kids to find a new property.  

We sold our property in Hong Kong and used the money to buy a house here.  

2 boys. One painting brick wall white in Melbourne

This house is way better than what we had in Hong Kong.

It’s a bit of a project…. Actually, we really love it.

And the kids love it. 

In Hong Kong I could ask the contractor to build everything.

We could knock down walls and create a totally new layout. But I didn’t know what the construction fees were like here in Melbourne – they could be much more expensive than HK. 

So, our aim was not have to do very much to it just move in. We painted it, we bought new furniture and set up our old furniture. 

When we arrived in Australia we had to do two weeks quarantine in an AirBnB.  We couldn’t go out.

My elder son had already started school in Melbourne in February and lived with my husband’s brother. So, we were very lucky that he could go out and go to the supermarket for us. 

After the 14 days quarantine there wasn’t much we couldn’t do.

Although we can’t go out to eat as all the restaurants are closed. That’s why I have to cook every day.  

We have been doing online shopping for a long time.

The supermarkets are all open and we just have to keep social distance when we line up to pay.  People can go for a morning walk or afternoon walk outside their suburbs, so that’s not really a problem.

Previously they didn’t allow families to visit because of the virus. We are now allowed to have family visits inside – starting from last week.   

Australia has done a very good job in handling the coronavirus. Everyone is keeping their distance.

But once there are no restrictions we don’t know what will happen.

Melbourne interior, white brick walls

For us quarantine in Melbourne was fine.

My husband just built his Lego every day. I don’t feel it was a very hard time.  

Where we were living in the AirBnB was quite nice.  There was a bus stop right next to the window and every day my kids would go to the window and say “Hello” to the bus driver.

Just for something to do.

I spent the time doing online shopping for the  house – arranging payments  and sitting in front of the computer.

We arranged some furniture  deliveries for the day after we took over the house and I wanted to make sure everything would be delivered on time –  just so that we would have things like a bed and mattress.

Because of coronavirus all the deliveries were ‘disconnected delivery’.

They just put everything down in front of your door and you had to move it yourself. 

Melbourne terrace with boy

We love doing DIY.

In Hong Kong we didn’t need to do anything but my husband enjoys it.

I told the kids if you want to paint your room  you have to do it yourself.  It’s better for them than just staring at the computer every day. Or their cell phone. 

I want them to make something … to create a sense of belonging so they can be  proud and tell other people:  “I painted my room, my own room”.  

Family painting pergola in garden in Melbourne

We also painted our pergola.

The builder said it would cost $500 to paint it and  I didn’t want to pay that so we painted it ourselves.

I believe we can paint better than them. It is lucky that we love it.

Honestly, I love painting and constructing more than cooking! 

There is a shop in Melbourne called Bunnings which J. and I go to every day.

It is a kind of hardware store and they have everything… blinds, gardening everything.

We always spend a few hours walking around. It is very good for DIY. 

We still have a lot of work to do on the house.

The furniture is not well arranged and we haven’t unboxed everything. We have two levels and we want to keep one  level  looking nice, so we are doing it all step by step.

Boy painting interior wall

I don’t like to just sit around and do nothing.

We bought curtains today.

The curtains from the previous owner are not bad  so we kept them. The boys’ rooms I  changed to blinds instead of curtains.  

There’s been a lot of spending – but no income.

We brought our own TV here and we put it in the play area and bought a new one for the living area. In Australia  the price of the TV is just half the price of HK.  Crazy! 

This house is so spacious. Our home in HK  was  about 70 sq. m

This house just cost 60% of our Hong Kong home.  I think we have around 200 sq. m  – plus a garden.

In Hong Kong if I got annoyed with my kids it might just be because they were singing loudly in their room. But here they can do anything in their own rooms and I don’t mind.

That is a huge change.

I’ve started doing gardening.  Here, in every house in the street, they all seem to spend Sunday gardening.

I just want to make it neat and tidy. That’s my goal.

I’m quite sure the previous owners of this house were from Hong Kong.  

When I visited the house  with the agent the owner was not at home but I could tell that they had three kids. And when I signed the contract I noticed they had a Hong Kong name.  

Like most Hong Kong people I don’t think they liked gardening because  they paved over the grass and  chopped down all the trees. 

Trees are beautiful. But even I don’t want to have to deal with trees.

It’s very cold here in Melbourne.

We have an in-built cooling and heating system. Outside it is maybe 4-5 degrees  so we turn on the heating every night.

This is the first winter we have experienced here.

The last few times we came it was summer.   I was told it could be ‘0’ degrees at its coldest. 

view of Melbourne suburb from kitchen window

I took this photo from my kitchen –  I just love looking at that view every day.

It is why I loved this house when I first viewed it.  

I just thought if you are going to be a housewife you deserve  something good to look at.

So that’s why we love it. 

I don’t have a domestic helper any more and I miss her so much. It makes a huge difference. When she is here she washes everything everywhere every day.

But now I just wash it when I think it needs it. 

mother and son hairdressing

Now I spend my whole time walking around the house picking up things, cooking, cleaning..

I only sit down for 15 minutes the whole day.  

I am lucky that they boys are willing to help. 

They know that I am trying my best here and it’s not anything that I have ever known before.  They may not be able to do things on their own, or know when to do it, but when I tell them to do it they will do it. 

I am very happy about that.  

My eldest son misses his friends in Hong Kong.

He is happy with school and his classmates and friends. But in lockdown  he can’t go to school  and he is not happy with the online study.  The teacher just gets them to watch videos and asks them to work on by themselves.

He is really looking forward to going back to school again. 

family playing badminton in garden Melbourne

We are very close to our boys. 

It’s something  we built up when we lived in Hong Kong and now that have we come here it’s still strong.  

Although I miss my family my husband’s brother’s family are here in Melbourne and we have a good relationship with them.

I was thinking… before we set up our business it might be an idea to take some time out.  I just think once we have set up the new business we will be very busy.

This might be a good opportunity to go for a trip and explore more.

Melbourne is a beautiful city.  

People in Melbourne are very different from Hong Kong. 

You are just walking in the street and people say Hi! 

Everyone seems to be polite –  which is  great.

There is space. Everyone here has their own comfort zone. I think this is the most important thing.

It is very different thing from Hong Kong.

If I didn’t need to run a business or need to work this would be a wonderful place just to live.

My son’s  school is walking distance from home.

Every day I take him to school and when I walk home I see Melbourne’s blue skies which  make me feel happy every day.

In Hong Kong  you are just looking at people in the apartment opposite to you.  

Here, I just  love the skies.

Melbourne has lots of different types of people living here –  and lots of Chinese too.  

We had only just moved into  this house for a few days and I could hear Cantonese coming from next door.  

Boy looking at computer in dining room

The only time I feel bad is when watch the news  from Hong Kong.

I can honestly tell you that I feel a bit guilty for leaving. 

I see the news….the young people  and I just think:  how lucky  I am that I have the choice. 

When you leave  you are not a part of it. I want to be a part of it, if I can.  But I can’t, because I am here now. And I can’t go back because the  border is still closed so I am worried if I do go back I wouldn’t be able to re-enter Australia.

Every time I watch the news it makes me upset…. I find that difficult. 

All photos by respondent

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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