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Our Australian Adventure – the first year!


Hi, I'm mandy.

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Today is the day that the all the men of the Provan family first set foot on Australian soil. This is the day that will forever mark the start of our crazy new adventure. An adventure that came about as suddenly as our visa’s did.

For the benefit of those who might not know the beginning of the story – Ours isn’t a story of years of careful planning and discussion or lists of pro’s and cons and options. No…ours started suddenly…a spur of the moment job application, a whirlwind interview, acceptance and visa application process – beginning to end – a sum total of 4,5 months from the day of my hubby’s interview to the day he and our boys landed in Australia. Whirlwind is an understatement and I think some days it’s still pretty surreal that we have actually been here for a year.

Whenever I talk to anyone from home one of the first questions I get asked is how we’re settling in? How the boys are doing in school and how we’re finding Aus? The answers are pretty standard – we’re settled…boys are happy…Aus has been pleasantly surprising.  But since this is my anniversary post (well technically not mine since I only arrived in Aus on the 21st April – so I’ll have to do another post when it’s MY anniversary! haha ;P ) I thought I’d elaborate a bit on how the first year has gone down.  Today is the day that you get to hear all the weird little things that I’ve had to deal with over the past year. The things that make moving to a place you’ve never been to before – yes we moved to Aus without ever having even so much as visited Aus on holiday! 😉

What I can say is this – an international move is not for the feint hearted. The packing alone is enough to send even the most easygoing person running for the hills. By the time we had packed up our house – and by we I mean Gary and his wonderful wife Elena and their fabulous crew of packing angels from LSA Containers, that managed to fit the contents of my entire house into a 40ft container…..and that was only half the job! I unfortunately had the mammoth task, without an army of packing angels, to empty said boxes once they arrived! But sleeping on a mattress on the floor for 7 weeks while you wait for those boxes to arrive will quickly cure you of any unpacking woes as you eagerly await the day you see the truck arrive in your driveway just so that you don’t have to do thigh exercises to get out of bed in the morning. Needless to say we were ALL very excited the day the removal truck arrived, it was Christmas in June as we eagerly opened box after box and found things we’d forgotten we even owned! Side note – if you ever get tired of your household things, just pack them up and send them across the ocean for a few weeks, their value and your appreciation for them increases exponentially with each passing day. hahaha

Before I get too carried away, here is a tongue in cheek look at some of the funny and not so funny things that have happened over the past year:

  • * Disclaimer – In South Africa there are Petrol attendants at fuel stations – you DO NOT  ever put fuel in your own car. So now that we have that out there 😉 ….The first time I had to put fuel in the car, I had to call my hubby and ask him how the pump worked  – sad, but true – don’t judge me! hahaha…also I didn’t know where I was and had absolutely no money on me and the fuel light had come on…I was freaking out pretty badly (I also have to say that I was really fresh off the plane, we’re talking like 5 days or something….I’m sure I was probably still jetlagged too.)
  • The day after Christmas we were buying groceries at Woolies and the cashier, in her VERY Australian accent,  asked me a question that I couldn’t understand, so I very politely asked her to repeat the question…which she did – still didn’t get it – I’m now looking like a deer caught in the headlights, she’s thinking I’ve come from another planet because how on earth can I NOT know what she’s asking me. So she asks a 3rd time (STILL don’t get it)…..by now I’m thinking I might just have to grab the bag and run, the line behind me is getting longer and the cashier isn’t getting any friendlier. She asks AGAIN and Somewhere in my subconscious I hear the end of her question as she says $10? Crisis averted….the poor girl is just asking me if I want to redeem the $10 credit I have accumulated on their store rewards card! To which the resounding answer is Heck Yeah!!! 😀 Christmas just lasted an extra day. :p (Note to self – next time pretend you don’t speak english and you might get the cashier to talk a bit slower, giving you time to figure out what she’s saying)
  • Living in Australia you need to get used to seeing creepy crawlies. Spiderwebs are everywhere and the spiders in them are pretty scary looking – most of them are probably harmless, okay maybe not – given that Australia is known to have the deadliest of EVERYTHING – but they stick to themselves if you don’t happen to accidentally wander into their web – which is easy to do because those suckers build those things across pathways, between signs, trees….if it is upright and has something next to it, you can be almost guaranteed that a spider will find it and you’ll probably walk into at least one, because lets be honest, who actually looks for spiderwebs when you’re walking along the footpath…??? I’m just really thankful that I haven’t run into any REALLY big spiders…YET…

Living in a new country also brings with it new cultures and things you need to know and learn. The best thing you can do to make your life that much easier is learn the local lingo. Aussies like to shorten everything, and mostly they like to end it with an O. 😉 Just a few examples:

A petrol station is a Servo

A party (in teen speak) is a gatho

A bottle store is a Bottle-O.

Afternoon is arvo

And the shortest one, doesn’t end in an O but it makes me laugh….Sorry is Soz! :p

There loads more, but you don’t have all day and really I know you want to get to the pictures so you can SEE what Australia looks like. So a quick list of firsts from our first year and then it’s pictures!!

– The beaches and walks are amazing. There are so many coastal walks and national parks with beautiful walkways and paths for you to explore the beauty. They are all so well maintained and the views are out of this world. It was along one of these walks that I saw my very first killer whale breach the surface and a whole pod of dolphins make their way along the coastline, jumping and playing amongst the waves.

– I got to see Bon Jovi in concert again ( for the 3rd time!!! :D) It was amazing to attend a world class concert and get there and back on public transport without any long waits or traffic problems.

– We got to watch the Blitzbokke at the Sydney rugby 7’s. We had to be staunch SA supporters and cheered as the boys beat the Aussies to finish in 5th place. The boys and I had never been to the 7’s before and we had such a blast.

– Ethan went on school camp and saw the snow (snow is always exciting for those of us who don’t get to see it often :p) and hiked up Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain.

– We had a fabulous week away between Christmas and New Year. We spent the week on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland with our good friends and saw so many amazing places. We got to go 4×4-ing on Rainbow beach, which was the most awesome day. We spent a day on a pontoon up in Noosa and saw the Big Pineapple – and I did the tourist thing and took a pic in front of it ( much to my hubby’s horror…hahaha!). Aus has a range of “big things” (banana, watermelon, koala, etc…) and it is now on my bucket list to visit them all and take pictures at each one.

– Saw my very first koala and kangaroo.

– I had a huge blue tongue lizard in my yard!!! :O  Okay probably not huge – but he was HUGE to me.

– We have spent many hours over the weekends exploring all the little towns and interesting places in and around our neighbourhood. We crossed the Hawkesbury river on a car ferry for the very first time.

Things we miss about home:

– Our family and friends. For someone like me who thrives on friendship and people, it’s been hard not knowing a lot of people. I have made some new friends and meet more people all the time…but there’s something to be said for OLD friends. So to all my old friends – LOVE and MISS you SOOOO much!

We have explored so many places and seen so many amazing things. Our first year in Aus has been so memorable. Do we regret moving, NO! Do we miss home, ABSOLUTELY! Given the chance to do it over again, would we? 100 times YES!! When we moved we knew this move was God ordained and God orchestrated and we see it everyday in the way He has provided for us and opened doors for us. It’s been a wild ride so far and I’m excited to see where the next year takes us.

I hope you have enjoyed this small peek into our Australian adventure and enjoy a few pictures from our year so far. I still have so many more gorgeous places to showcase, I might just have to do a 2nd post…

I thought I’d start with a few pictures of our neighbourhood, because that’s always one of the first things I wonder about when friends or family move to a new place I’ve never been. And I threw in a picture of the spider webs for good measure. ;P

We celebrated our first Christmas – which is always a favourite holiday for me.

Australia really has some of the most beautiful coastline.

There are magnificent mountain views and beautiful birds.

And of course boys having fun along the way

I hope you enjoyed this small glimpse into our first year!

If you’d like to read about the rest of our journey you can read the first ever blog post “Hello Sydney” and our first 6 months.

45 Comments on Our Australian Adventure – the first year!

  1. Ronnie Stroud says:

    What a great read, Mands!! I really enjoyed it – and felt like we were sitting with a cup of tea chatting away! And of course, as always, your pics are stunnning!
    We miss you all so much – but are so happy that you are all in the right place for your lives ahead!
    Australia is really beautiful!

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Aaaah my Ron! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post…what I wouldn’t give to be sitting across the table having that tea! It was such fun to think back and remember all the little things that have happened throughout the year. We miss you terribly too, everyday and can’t wait for you to come and visit so you can see just how beautiful Aus is for yourself!!!

  2. Lisa-Anne King says:

    Wow Mans- it looks like an amazing adventure! So very proud of you all💕. Miss you madly

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Thanks mu friend!! So thrilled you loved reading our year in a nutshell. I miss you madly too my friend! So So MUCH!

  3. Lisa says:

    I love it! All of it! Even though we‘re at opposite ends of the earth, there are so many similarities to our stories! So glad you have settled in so well and so glad we became friends through our separate journeys!
    Love the photos, especially the ones of your boys!

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Thanks so much Lis! I’m so glad that you could relate to so many of the things that we’re experiencing here. And I, like you, am so thrilled that we’ve connected through our seperate journeys!! So glad you loved the pics. I’m going to do a seperate post just on the boys…I didn’t want to make this post even longer than it already was!! hahaha

  4. Terry Wilson says:

    If your first year is anything to go by Jane-O then you guys have ‘arrived’ and taken Aus to heart which is fantastic. The pics of the boys show them to be happy and relaxed which must be so heartening for you and Brett. Your anniversary is just a few weeks away and then you too will be an ‘arrivee’. Keep on being happy and enjoy your new life – you all deserve it. Luv ya Kiddo, Pops.

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Thanks so much Pops!!! It really is starting to feel more and more like home each and everyday and as you say our boys are happy and that makes it all worthwhile for us! We are looking forward to many more happy and adventurous years in our new home country!! Love ya madly xxx

  5. Rhoda says:

    Dear Mandy,
    Thank you for opening a window into your new life, a new country, and your one year adventure. I loved the read, and could so resonate with your excitements and enthusiasm as you shared with openness, sincerity and from the warm of that BIG heart of your.

    I recall our last conversation confirming that this move was in Gods purpose and ordained plan for you and the family. There was a peace in letting go of a much loved and adored friend……Now having read your post, and having a view of your story and the amazing pictures shared, you dont feel so far away.

    Continue with your passionate spirit to explore, embrace the new, grow and share.

    You are much loved and missed. Remember you are highly favoured, a daughter born of a King, blessed with unmeaserable talent. Continue to be YOU who touches lives and leaves a lasting impact with your beautiful nature and amazing pictures.

    Yours in Christ
    The Varrie Family

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Aaaah Rhoda, Allie and Tia!! Your message brought tears to my eyes!!! Thank you so much for your kind words and good wishes – they mean so much. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and the glimpse of our first year. The hardest part has been missing all of you, but we know we are where God wants us and look forward to all that He has in store for us as the next year unfolds. Sending you all so much love and big hugs!! Love and miss you all so much. xxx

  6. Byron S says:

    Hey Mands
    Thanks for sharing these lovely pics and your amazing story . Can’t belive you’ve been there a year already . Aus looks beautiful and your boys look so happy , we can’t help cheering you on from here . I’m really happy for you guys . You are truly missed back home . I’m sure you can expect visitors from SA in the near future . May God continue to bless your family and may you thrive daily during your Audie Adventure .

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Hey Bys!!! Thanks so much for your good wishes. We miss you all terribly too and it’s the one downside to our adventure. But it’s awesome to know we can still touch base even from so far away. So glad you enjoyed the post!! And here’s to the visitors – our door is always open!! xx

  7. Bronwyn says:

    So awesome my friend . Although I have been a daily part of your adventure , I loved reading your story. Your pics are beautiful.. I miss you so much x

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Aaaaaah Hest!!! I miss you so so much hunny. We’re going to have to have an adventure of our own soon…you and me and the cocktails! We have to choose the island and make it happen. 😉 So glad you enjoyed the post. :* love you millions. xx

  8. Carolyn says:

    So happy for you my friend! (and just a little jealous of the amazing adventure) 😊
    I love the way your story unfolded because you are so right about how God had this plan for you!
    We miss you madly but I’m so grateful that I got to know you and I certainly think of you lots whenever I see one of the beautiful photos you took of our family!
    Looking forward to some more photos and stories!

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Aaah thanks so much Ca! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and loved the pics. I think about you all the time too and miss you so much! Give those gorgeous boys of yours huge hugs from me hunny and lots of love to you and Brian!! :*

  9. Amber says:

    What an adventure so far! Hoping you don’t run into any of those huge spiders in year 2 🙂

  10. Janine says:

    Aah Mandy I am so glad you guys are enjoying your Adventure!! Your word ring so true, do we miss friends and family – ABSOLUTELY!! Will you do it again – 100 times YES! The best is yet to come! Can’t wait for your next post! Love your photo’s, you are one talented lady Mands. Congratulations on your first year anniversary and wishing you all the best for your 2nd year ❤️

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Aaah Thanks so much Janine!! I’m so glad you enjoyed the pics and the post! You’re so right – the best is yet to come!! I hope you’re keeping well my friend!! thanks so much for stopping by. x

  11. MIchaila says:

    Amazing photos! Australia is on bucket list and I just loved reading your story and seeing your photos!

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Thank you so much Michaila! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Australia really is worth the visit! I hope you get to make the trip soon. 🙂

  12. Leigh says:

    So very happy for you all, sounds like an amazing first year and I am sure many more! You so deserve every bit of it Mandz!

  13. Maria says:

    I love hearing about your adventures. Snd bon Jovi to top it off. Beautiful shots too!

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Thank you so much Maria!! I’m thrilled you loved it and you definitely can’t go wrong when Bon Jovi is involved!! hahaha. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  14. Cassandra says:

    What an adventure! Crazy how fast a year flies by! I’ve never been to Australia, but it looks beautiful!!

  15. Tammy says:

    Wow! Amazing place Mandy. So glad you are all well settled and loving it there. God is good and looks after His people. Looking forward to the next post. God bless xxx

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Thanks so much Tammy!! It really has been an amazing first year – we can see God in all the details. I’m glad you enjoyed the read and there will definitely be more! 😉

  16. Janelle Goss says:

    Great recap of your 1st year in Australia, I really enjoyed reading! I’ve never been there, but your pictures make it come to life! I’d be terrified of all those spiders and critters though!

    • Mandy Provan says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the read Janelle. Thankfully the critters pretty much stick to themselves, so they’re not as bad as all that….but there are lots of them!! hahaha. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  17. Amy says:

    Wow! So cool, you guys have guts! Going to Australia is high on my bucket list!

    • Mandy Provan says:

      Thanks so much Amy. Australia really is beautiful, you won’t be disappointed! 🙂

  18. Alissa Moore says:

    I believe it may take me a while for me to get used to the slang! The views are gorgeous though! Love it there…. I’ve heard too much about their spiders though, so I don’t know If I could visit 🙈

    • Mandy Provan says:

      hahah – believe me I’ve heard about the spiders too – but have thankfully not encountered very many of them yet! Well, not the big ones at least. I’m hoping it stays that way….I’m so glad you enjoyed the views. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  19. Tanya says:

    Janey – that was an awesome, personal account of your journey! Well written straight from the heart to paper – best way to write 😊. Read it smiling … your journey is only just begun.
    Big hugs my special sister 🥰

    • Mandy Provan says:

      So glad you enjoyed it sister dearest!! Can’t wait for you to come visit so I can show you around and you can see it for yourself!! Big hugs and lots of love to you!! xxx

  20. Sarah says:

    Wow, what a beautiful way to document your 1st year! I especially love all of the beach pics! 🙂

  21. Elisa says:

    Wow wow WOW Mandy, what an AMAZING year! CONGRATULATIONS on your 1st Year Anniversary😘…
    You have all settled in so nicely and your photos are stunning!! I LOVE hearing about your adventures… miss you 🌺
    Those spiders tho….. leaving home everyday must be quite an adventure trying to dodge those webs!!!! Eeeeeeeek

    • Mandy Provan says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the one year summary of our adventure so far Elisa!! The spiders aren’t all that bad – well not that I’ve encountered at least. I haven’t seen any of the big scary ones yet…and for that I am ETERNALLY grateful. I think I’d possibly have a heart attack on the spot if I happened upon one unexpectedly!!! hahaha. I miss you too. It would be so awesome to just fly back and have a catch up with everyone!! 🙂

  22. Linda says:

    What a fantastic adventure! Memories for life for you and your family.

  23. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say
    that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After
    all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

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I'm Mandy and I'm so happy you found the Sugar Tree blog. Here you'll find posts from recent sessions, personal ramblings and tips and tricks on anything from taking better selfies, to how to get great snapshots of your kiddo's. Stay a while and say hello!

Learn more



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