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Australian Life Readiness Test

by Sarah Husselmann

Cremorne Point
Sarah at Cremorne Point
It’s fair to say I was unprepared for my new life in Australia. Not that I wasn’t organised on some level – belongings were shipped, finances were in place, and my old life in London wrapped up – but when it came to familiarity with my new country, my knowledge was lacking.

Five things I knew about Australia

To give you an idea here’s a quick list of what I knew about Australia before moving here;

1. From a 2 week stint in Sydney, I knew that Sydney is physically stunning. I climbed the Harbour Bridge on a sunny winter’s day. That experience alone that made me want to live here.

2. In Sydney, I stayed in a Backpacker’s in China Town and concluded that there are loads of Chinese in Australia. Not wrong, but not based on the most thorough research.

3. I spent a week in Melbourne and concluded that the Southbank is like London, and the city beaches aren’t as good as Sydney. I plan to spend more time in Melbourne very soon.

4. I spent four days in Perth on a visa validation run and felt unnerved by this peaceful city. I wondered where all the people were and decided, until they’d been found, Perth wasn’t the place for me.

5. Finally, a key source of my insight into Australia came from the Aussies I knew in London. They taught that Australians like beer, watching sport, and like to drink beer whilst watching sport. Sure, this is a stereotype but it’s not wrong.

None of this exposure to the Aussie way of life is particularly practical, and I’m sure my summaries of Melbourne and Perth are far from accurate.

Australian Life Readiness Test

Once I arrived in Australia, my lack of practical knowledge caused me concern so I decided to get up to speed. Here are some of the first things I looked up upon arrival.

1.When do Australian seasons start\finish?

Summer: December to February, Autumn: March to May, Winter: June to August, Spring: September to November.

2. What are the main Australian public holidays?

• New Year’s Day - 1st January
• Australia Day – 26th January
• Labour Day – date and month depends on State.
• Easter – Good Friday and Easter Monday fall on different calendar dates each year.
• Adelaide Cup – beginning of March in South Australia only
• ANZAC Day – 25 April
• Queen’s Birthday – Second Monday in June in all states apart from Western Australia when it’s celebrated in September?! Note: Western Australia have Foundation Day in June.
• Melbourne Cup Day – First Tuesday in November – Victoria only
• Christmas Day and Boxing Day (take the next Monday\Tuesday if they fall on a weekend).

3. What is the postal address format in Australia?

Basic address format is three lines:

o the addressee's full name on the first line
o a street name and number, or post office box number on the second line
o The suburb, state and postcode should be printed in capitals on the last line.
o Senders should include their return address on the back of the envelope,

4. What is the telephone number format in Australia?

Australia uses 8-digit local phone numbers, with 2-digit area codes.

5. What’s the international dialling code for Australia?

Australian Country Code (for overseas originated calls) 61

6. What do you dial from Australia to make an international call?

Outgoing code (from within Australia)0011

7. What is the emergency services telephone number in Australia? (seriously, I have two children and didn’t know this!)

Emergency calls (Fire / Police / Ambulance): 000
Called “Triple O” or “Triple Zero” – there’s a Triple Zero website with an ad campaign and kids awareness game:

8. Does Australia have a version of NHS Direct? What’s it called and what’s the number?

healthdirect Australia is a free 24-hour telephone health triage, information and advice service for residents of the ACT, NSW, the NT, Tasmania, SA and WA.

heathdirect Australia number: 1800 022 222

healthdirect is supported by an online health information service: Health Insite:

For me, these are the critical things I needed or wanted to know as soon as I got here. We’ve been in Aus for nearly a year now and there are plenty of things that baffle me daily, but most are far less crucial than being able to call an ambulance, and knowing not to take the kids to school on Australia Day!

About the author: Sarah Husselmann is the author of Mum’s gone 2 Aus, a blog providing help for mums moving to Australia. The aim of the site is to inspire, support, and entertain mums who would like to, or do already, live in Australia. Articles cover topics such as health, education, childcare, buying nappies, and Australian customs and traditions. Sarah is a British freelance writer who moved to Sydney in January 2010 with her husband and two preschool children.

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