‘I HAVE REPLACED FAMILY WITH FRIENDS’
The couple initially lived in Chigwell, before deciding in 1998 to head for Melbourne, Dion’s home town.
Wise, who now has two daughters, aged four and two-and-a-half, explains her decision: “After a conversation with my cousins who were considering going to live abroad, I told Dion I didn’t want to wake up in 20 years and think, ‘I wonder what it would have been like to live in Australia’. At the time, we had great jobs, owned our own home, had great friends and family around us, so it would have been so easy to stay, but I kept thinking that if we were going to go we had to do it before we had children. I don’t think I could have taken grandchildren away from my parents.”
A teacher at Bialik School, one of Melbourne’s leading Jewish schools, Wise believes she settled more quickly because she had a job to walk into and a ready-made family. “I’d been communicating with the school for a while, and a day after my plane landed I had an interview. I started work about three weeks after and made some really fantastic friends who are among my closest and most valued today.
“Dion’s family were so understanding and compassionate, and they forgave me every time I said, ‘Oh at home
ONE obvious difference with making aliyah to Israel is the distance. Whereas you can fly from Britain to Tel Aviv for a comparatively affordable £160 return, on a mere fivehour hop, a return ticket to Australia runs to almost £1,000 and the flight is 23 hours. we do it this way’. Also, my mum’s cousin moved here about 25 years ago, so I had cousins of my own who included me in everything. They have been a real support. After the initial culture shock wore off, I started to feel very settled. Indeed, after six months I said that I’d never go back to live in London again.”
Apart from the obvious attraction of her husband, who owns a graphic- Unlike Israel, weekend visits are out.
Jayne Wise says the hardest part of going, predictably, was leaving her close family in the UK. “It was awful, but thank goodness for cheap phone lines and web cameras. In a way, I have replaced my family with friends. As there is such a huge immigrant population here, especially from the UK and South Africa, we tend to call on each other when you would call your mum for advice, to babysit, etc… I do feel like I miss out when there’s a family simchah or bereavement.” and web-design company, Wise finds much else to like about Australia: “It’s very laid back here. Melbourne, particularly, is a wonderful place to bring up children. We have beautiful parks on every other corner with well-maintained play equipment. Coffee shops and restaurants have colouring books, paper, crayons and they invented the baby-cino — frothy milk with chocolate powder — to keep the little ones happy while the parents drink their lattes, espressos or whatever. Melbourne has a great outdoor lifestyle. We often head down to the beach for a swim around 6pm. After work a few days ago, I fed the children, popped them in the pram and went for a threekilometre walk to the park where we met Dion, had a quick play and we all walked home again. You can do that here as the weather is so good.”
Jewish life is strong, too. Bialik, where Wise teaches, is one of 11 Jewish schools in Melbourne, and one of 24 in Australia (nine of them in Sydney), in a country with a total Jewish population, officially, of 98,000.
Pauline Nel and her South African- born husband, Louis, met in Israel almost 15 years ago and lived there for a year. But while they loved the country, they have decided that Australia is where they want to make a new life with their son Jannie, four, and daughter, Mia, two. They are moving to Sydney later this year.
They first visited Australia just over a year ago for a holiday, but also for what Pauline calls “a bit of a recce to see whether it was somewhere we could live. We visited Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne to get an overview of each city. Louis grew up with a very outdoors lifestyle. In addition we lived in Israel in 1995 and spent a year in Singapore, so I suppose we have always known that England is not the only place to live your life. In 2005, Louis was offered a role in South Africa but ultimately we realised it was not stable enough. We then started to think about other options.”
Nel, 35, a company director with a background in human resources, said the toughest aspect has been the immigration process, which she describes as “a very long, arduous process”.
She hopes the settling in will be made easier by the fact that her brother, Martin Kelly, is already in Sydney, and their parents are currently applying for visas to join them.
“When we were in Sydney in March 2007, we spent all our time with Martin who showed us around and gave us an insight to the Aussie way of life. He was very honest and said that not having close family around was the hardest part about being in Oz.”
Apart from the outdoor life and the climate, it is the work-life balance which especially appeals to Nel. “Work is just one part of your life. When you are finished, you go home and spend time with your family or do other activities. Also, the facilities there are much more affordable — you can go out for the day without spending a fortune, and there are beaches, mountains, parks, public barbecues you can use.”
She is also pragmatic about the future: “I’m under no illusions of us being financially better off, but I do believe our quality of life will be richer.”
Additional reporting by Dan Goldberg
Jayne Wise with her Australian husband Dion and daughters Amalia and Mayani. Right: Pauline and Louis Nel with Mia and Jannie