Thursday, 29 December 2011

The wildlife..

Found this handsome looking devil hanging out on the back wall of the house. 

Large brown spiders in Australia are apparently less of a worry than the small black ones.

This guy was very big and brown and bit of a shock.  Thankfully Huntsmen are virtually harmless (they can however give a nasty nip).

He was gone this morning, so I wonder if he crept into the house and is waiting to surprise us!

Things you don't see in the UK #2 - Australia's Favourite Cheese

But apparently it is nothing to get shocked or snigger about.  Nor should you consider contacting your member of parliament in disgust.  According to the Coon website: "The brand name recognises the work of Edward William coon in developing the 'cooning process' of cheese making".

So there you go, we all learned something.  You can read more of the Coon story here.

Small things.. amuse my small mind..

As a Christmas present to myself, I recently bought a secondhand chest freezer - I know how to live on the wild side.

There is something about having an electric appliance located in an area that is virtually outdoors.  It feels very Australian!

Everybody meet my new refridgeration device.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Things you don't see in the UK #1 - Magpie Swooping Season

Apparently the magpies of Canberra are aggressive, or at least the males are when it is nesting season.  (See the defensive head-gear worn by the cyclist to the left) and amusing article from the Canberra times:

The bush capital's swooping harbingers of spring are upon us and the ACT Government is warning residents to be aware of the black-and-white menace from above.

And while plenty of new magpie warning signs have been erected around nest-worthy suburbs, they weren't enough to save Erica Laurente from one particularly aggressive bird in Palmerston yesterday.

 Full newspaper article can be read here at the Canberra Times website.

Monday, 5 September 2011


A friend of mine recently got me into Geocaching. Put simply, Geocaching is a geeky treasure hunt. Geocachers hide treasure (caches), containing - as a minimum - a paper log so that finders can record their visit.  Once the cache has been hidden, the co-ordinates of it's location are published on a website ( for others to find.

Other Geocachers then use their GPS' (these are surprisingly cheap, alternatively some smartphones can also do the same job) to track down the co-ordinates and find the cache.  Amazingly, there are over 500 caches hidden within a 10km radius of my home.  Even more amazingly I (unknowlingly) passed by two each day on my walk to and from work.  With the aid of my GPS and a good deal of heading scratching and poking about I was able to score my first finds.

The inventiveness of the folk hiding the caches is to be believed. Hidden in fence posts, children's play areas, I even heard of one hidden inside a snail shell.

The next stage was to involve my pre-schooler, as it is a good excuse to spend some time with daddy. I also look less of an idiot on my hands and knees if their is a little one alongside me.  Geocachers are mindful of the adult / child connection and the larger caches are used to exchange proper treasure between the kids.  At our first find together he was over the moon to swap a plastic soldier for a yo-yo.

It is also a great excuse to go exploring parts of Canberra that I would not otherwise be visiting.  Just watch out for muggles!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The day we went to Sydney

We recently made a tourist trip to Sydney, the intention was to secure some winter sunshine and to see the sights.  From Canberra, getting to Sydney presents four choices: Drive, Fly, Bus or train. On the basis that flying the four of us would be prohibitively expensive (nearly $1000AUD in total), our car is a shed and on a colleague's advice that the bus journey was over barren terrain, we chose the train.

Canberra railway station is interesting in that it doesn't sit in the centre of the city, instead it is located in the suburb of Kingston.  Despite being nearly 330km away from Sydney effectively Canberra sits at the end of a branch line.  Unless you want to visit Sydney or one of the stations in between, you will find yourself being transferred to a coach somewhere in your journey.  The station itself, is clean, quite and functional.  Unlike railway stations in the UK, we were able to park our car in the car park for free.

The train service between Canberra and Sydney is provided by CountryLink and the journey takes a little over four hours.  The price for two adults (the kids were free) travelling in first class, was a very affordable $222AUD for return tickets.  As we were going for a long weekend we opted for an early morning train, that arrived into Sydney Central Station at 11am.  An unexpected plus of leaving early was the number of kangaroos we passed by close to our windows, even before the train had left the station a startled mob bounced away in clear view.  They were a repeated sight until we reach the Glen Alpine and the outskirts of Sydney.

On arrival at Sydney Central station, we took the decision to walk to our hotel - the Circular Quay Marriott - which was at the far end of Pitt Street from the station.  After about ten minutes, my son decided he'd walked enough and spent the remainder of the journey on my shoulders. I one the bet of who would see something famous first, when I spied the harbour bridge through the pedestrianised area.  At the hotel we paid a supplement of $50AUD for a room on the 28th with a view of the opera house.

Next we decided to explore the Circular Quay itself, at this point I have to say the winter sunshine was not with us!  The skies were black and even before we reached the steps of the opera house the wind was driving us back.  So we took a few hasty photographs and to make good on a promise to my son, we bought tickets for the Manly ferry.

Had someone explained that that the Manly ferry passed through the heads, where the waves of the Pacific Ocean meet the still waters of the Sydney harbour I would have picked a different destination.  The first ten minutes of the crossing went smoothly, then I started to notice security staff appearing on the lower deck - their purpose was to ensure the side doors were closed and that everyone stayed seated.  "You won't drown, but you might break a leg if you try and stand up" I heard one say.  The next ten minutes lasted a lifetime - during which we were quite literally shaken, rattled and rolled.  Everyone went quiet and water sprayed through every gap in the doors.  Then just as I thought it might never end the waves subsided and we cruised into Manly Wharf.  As we left the boat, I overheard another conversation "Of course it is far worse on the way back".

I am not too much of a man to admit, that I chickened out and point-blank refused to travel back to Circular Quay by ferry. Manly isn't directly linked to the city by train or bus.  Luckily, the bus drivers of Sydney are an understanding bunch and as well as making sure there was room for my daughter's pushchair told us where to get off and which was the next bus to get onto and from where.  So unexpectedly, we also got to ride over the Harbour Bridge before being deposited a block away from the hotel.

That night, rather than risk the tantrums and tears of our littlies we had a feast brought to us by room service.  Which - if a little expensive - was very passable indeed.

The next day, with a hearty buffet breakfast inside us and a warm sun in the sky, we set forth once more to explore, sight see and take photographs.  Before slowly making our way back to Central Station to meet our train.  For our return journey, we were treated to a carriage almost to ourselves (at no point were there more than four others sharing it with us).  We would definitely go by train to Sydney again..

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

So Where Are You Mate?

Apologies, for falling silent.  A lot was happening in my life around February time.

Our new baby was born into the world.. alongside that we were arranging her Australian Citizenship and Passport.. and alongside that we were packing our lives up ahead of the move to Australia.. and alongside that I was negotiating with my employer about a possible relocation within the company to Canberra.

So, a long story short:
  • We all flew down in April, Singapore Airlines were excellent in every possible way.  They even waived all our excess baggage costs.  
  • We made basecamp at my mother-in-laws in Queensland.  The drive north from Brisbane was made more exciting when the TomTom chose unpaved roads.
  • We bought a 20 year-old Ford Falcon as a run around.
  • The family stayed in the sunshine, as I came to the Australian Capital Territory to start work and find a more permanent place to live.
  • Qantas charged me the full amount for my excess baggage (despite the flight be empty) and then lost my bags.
  • I found a house, the family all drove down in the Falcon (22 hours of "Are we nearly there yet?").
  • Thus far, we're all living happily every after in the winter sunshine.  But by crikey, everything here feels so expensive.

More updates and observations from around Canberra to follow!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Super fast turn around time by Australia House

This week - and for the second time - I went through the process of registering my child as a Citizen of Australia by descent of her mother.  The forms, birth certificates, fees and SAE were posted off on Tuesday (15th February) by Special Delivery. 

When we received the SAE back today (19th February), I thought it must be a sign that I'd filled the form out incorrectly.  But no - with a four day turn around - my daughter is now proudly an Australian citizen.

You can read about the full application process in my earlier post :: Here!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Fact Sheet 21 - Managing the Migration Program

Fact Sheet 21 is of interest to anyone waiting on a Child or Partner visa.  Chances are if you get fed up of hanging around and poke at your Case Officer, you'll get told something along the lines "We're working as fast as we can within the quota limits set down by the Australia Government".  Which if you look at the facts isn't (or shouldn't be) true :

Family Stream

Partner category visas:
  • Partner (subclasses 309/100 and 820/801) visas cannot be capped.
  • Prospective Marriage (fiancé) (subclass 300) visas may be subject to capping.
Child category visas:
  • Child (subclasses 101 and 802) visas, Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa, Orphan Relative (subclasses 117 and 837) visa and Adoption (subclass 102) visas cannot be capped.
Source :: Australian Immigration Fact Sheet 21

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Routes to PR

In case this is of use to anyone, I copied this chart from a magazine.  It lists most of the basic visa routes to Australian Permanent Residency:

Click the image to see a High-Res (legible copy).

Hope this will be of use to somebody.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Another Useful Email from Australia House

I thought I'd see if Australia House had updated the useful email that they used to send out to people enquiring about partner visas, so I made a new request to them myself.  Here is what they sent me:

Dear Zultan,

Thank you for your enquiry.

If you can demonstrate you have lived with your partner for a period of at least 12 months, then you might like to consider the Partner Visa in which your partner would sponsor you to migrate to Australia.

Please see information below.

 Partner Visa

General Information

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) specifies that non-Australian citizens travelling to Australia are required to enter on a visa for their intended purpose and length of stay. Therefore, if you are intending to move to Australia and live there permanently, you must obtain the appropriate migration visa before you go.

There are two (2) categories of partner visas. These are:

·        Partner Visa
·        Prospective Marriage Visa (fiancé(e))

Partners of Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens may apply to enter and/or remain permanently in Australia. Partners include:

·        People intending to get married
·        Married (de jure) partners
·        De facto partners including Same sex couples

Partner Temporary Visa (Subclass 309) and Permanent Visa (Subclass 100)

This visa is designed for people from overseas to permit entry and stay in Australia with their partner, who must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. Your application will be assessed against both the Temporary Partner Visa (subclass 309) and Permanent Partner Visa (subclass 100) criteria. To be eligible for the Permanent Partner Visa you must demonstrate that you have been in either a spousal or De facto relationship with your partner for at least 3 years or at least two years with a dependent child of the relationship. If you do not meet the requirements for the Permanent Partner Visa, you will be assessed against the Provisional Partner Visa, where you must have been in a de facto relationship with your partner for the entire 12 months immediately before you lodge your application. However, this requirement may be waived if compelling and compassionate circumstances apply such as for example, you have children from your relationship. De facto partners who have registered their relationship under a prescribed state or territory law are exempt from the 12 month relationship requirement. If you are granted a Partner Provisional Visa you may be awarded a Permanent Partner Visa approximately two years later, provided you are still in the relationship with your sponsoring partner.

For the purposes of permanent residency in Australia; the term 'Spouse' refers to married opposite sex couples, the term ‘De facto’ refers to couples in a committed relationship including same sex couples.  

A married spouse must be legally married under Australian law. Generally, if the marriage is valid in the country in which it was performed, it will be recognised as valid under Australian law. There are some exceptions whereby the marriage will not be recognised, such as same-sex, under-age or polygamous marriages. If you are married but for some reason the marriage is not valid in Australia, your partner may still be considered a de facto partner and therefore can apply for a Partner visa.

Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300)

This visa is designed for people from overseas to enter Australia, then marry their fiancé(e). Their fiancé(e) must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. Once married, holders of this visa can then apply to remain permanently in Australia.
If you plan to marry your fiancé who is outside Australia, your fiancé can apply for a temporary visa that remains valid for nine (9) months from the date of grant.

Your fiancé must lodge the Prospective Marriage visa application outside Australia and also must be outside Australia at time of visa grant. If granted a Prospective Marriage visa, your fiancé must then travel to Australia within the nine (9) month visa validity period, legally marry you within that period and then apply in Australia to remain permanently as a spouse.

It is not possible to extend the Prospective Marriage visa if the marriage does not take place during the required time period or an application to remain permanently in Australia as a spouse is not lodged.

Note: It is a requirement of a Prospective Marriage visa that you and your fiancé have met and be known to each other in person.


The applicant completes Form 47SP, Application for migration to Australia by a partner, and the sponsor completes Form 40SP, Sponsorship for a partner to migrate to Australia.

Application for migration to Australia by a partner

Sponsorship for a partner to migrate to Australia

If the applicant has any dependent children under the age of 18 they may add them as a dependant on this visa. If this is the case there will be a requirement for the Australian sponsor to obtain an Australian National Police Check. An Australian National Police Check may be obtained from the Australian Federal Police. Information on obtaining the check is available from the AFP website.

In addition, if the applicant has any dependent children or other dependent relatives who are aged 18 years or over, they must ensure that Form 47A, Details of child or other dependent family member aged 18 years or over, is also completed and lodged along with above two (2) forms. Form 47A must be completed for each dependent child and other dependent relatives aged 18 years or over, whether or not they are migrating with the applicant.

Details of child or other dependent family member aged 18 years or over

Post the completed forms to the London office using Special Delivery and enclose another self-addressed Special Delivery envelope for the return of the documents.  The visa application charge of £1130 and relevant supporting documents need to be included with the application.  

The average processing time is approximately five (5) to six (6) months; however timeframes will vary with each individual application.  You will be contacted by your Case Officer who may request further information within 10 working days, at which point you may discuss the processing times for your application.  

It is not always possible to anticipate the processing time in advance. Issues can and do arise in the course of processing applications, which must be resolved before a decision about granting your visa can be made. Each application is considered on its own merits and against legal and policy requirements.
Resources to Assist you with your Application

Department of Immigration and Citizenship Website:

Partner Visa Categories:

Fact Sheet 30 – Family Stream Migration – Partner:

Fact Sheet 35 – One-Year Relationship Requirement:

Health Requirement for Permanent Entry to Australia:

Character Requirements:

Information Booklet 1 Partner Migration and associated forms:

Take the time to read the online information Booklet 1 on Partner Migration thoroughly and document your claims properly. Good preparation will allow you to present your case well.

Partner Migration Checklist:

You will find application checklists for a Partner Visa or Prospective Marriage Visa through the following two website links respectively. These checklists are a guide to what is required to submit with your application. If the Case Officer processing your application requires further information to make their decision about whether or not the visa can be approved, he or she will request further information from you before making their final decision.

Travel while your Visa is being Processed

If you decide to lodge a Partner Migration visa application and want to visit Australia for a short tourist trip while your application is being processed, you will need to discuss the trip with the case officer processing your Partner Migration application before travelling. It is suggested you do not finalise any travel plans to Australia before discussing the issue with your case officer.

It is not intended that a Partner Visa applicant waits out the processing of the Partner Migration Visa in Australia on a Tourist Visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). If you enter Australia on a one way ticket you may be asked by Australian immigration authorities, on arrival at the airport, as to what your plans for departing Australia are. If entering on Australia on an ETA or Tourist visa the immigration officer will need to be satisfied that you are a genuine visitor. You are or your partner would need to explain your intentions to the officer so that the officer is satisfied that you do not intend to stay beyond the period which your visa allows.

Waiver of 12-Month Relationship Requirement

If parties are not co-habiting, all of the circumstances of the relationship are taken into consideration and a higher level of proof of the existence of a partner relationship may be required. It is to be accepted that parties to an on-going relationship may be temporarily separated, for example; frequent travel for business reasons or an unexpected family emergency.

The 12-month relationship requirement may also be waived if you can prove that there are compelling and compassionate circumstances, such as; that co-habitation was not permissible under the law of the country where you resided for 12 months previously.

Generally, you will need to demonstrate that you have been in a 12 month de-facto relationship if applying for a partner visa on the basis that you are not married. The 12-month relationship requirement at the time the application was lodged may be waived if you can establish that there are compelling and compassionate circumstances. For example; you have children with your partner.

If you feel that there are circumstances that may warrant a waiver of the 12-month requirement, you should provide a statement with your application that explains the reason for your request. The decision on whether this 12-month requirement can be waived will be up to the case officer assessing your application.

Please refer to Fact Sheet 35 through the website link below for further information on the 12-month relationship requirement:

Not Migrating Straight Away

It is acceptable to apply for a Partner Visa even if you may not intend to reside in Australia immediately after the visa has been approved. If this is your intention, you should make this clear in the application. You may still be required to provide an Australian contact address.

Please note if you apply for a Partner Visa, and the visa application is approved, there will be a condition attached to the visa that you must make an entry to Australia by a specific date in order to activate the visa. If you do not enter Australia by that date, the visa will become subject to cancellation. The date of entry is usually 12 months from the date that you complete the medical examination and police checks (whichever expires first) for the visa application. As long as you make the entry to Australia by the date specified on the visa, you will be free to travel back and forth to Australia as you please within the validity period of the visa.

If you are approved for the Provisional Partner Visa, it will remain valid until a decision is made on whether you qualify for the Permanent Partner Visa which is assessed approximately two (2) years after the date of your initial application for a Partner Visa. You can be outside Australia at the point in time when a decision is made about the Permanent Partner Visa. If approved, the Permanent Partner Visa is usually granted for a period of five years and allows the visa holder to travel back and forth between Australia during that validity period. At this stage you would be considered to be a permanent resident of Australia.

The below website refers to the information about the residency requirements of Australian permanent residents wishing to return to Australia. Meeting the residency requirements for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) (Subclass 155) in future years could become difficult if you intend to live outside of Australia for several years once you are an Australian permanent resident.

If you are approved for the Provisional Partner Visa, your file will be transferred to ACT Regional Office. Your file will remain at that office unless you notify the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) of your new address. Two (2) years after the date of your initial application for a Partner Visa, a DIAC officer will send you a letter requesting you to provide further evidence that you are still in a relationship with the person that sponsored you for your initial Partner Visa. You will then need to send in the evidence requested so that the DIAC officer can make a decision about whether you qualify for the Permanent Partner Visa. Your Provisional Partner Visa will remain valid until a decision is made on whether you qualify for the Permanent Partner Visa. You can be outside Australia at the point in time when a decision is made about your Permanent Partner Visa.

Sponsorship Undertaking

There is no specific format for the statement you will provide explaining how your sponsor will meet sponsorship obligations including how you intend to support yourselves once you arrive in Australia. Your sponsor will need to sign a sponsorship undertaking at the end of the Form 40SP Sponsorship for a Partner to Migrate to Australia. This legally binds your sponsor to the sponsorship obligations.

The Case Officer assessing your visa application will consider all the information you provide and decide whether your partner can meet the sponsorship obligations. If the Case Officer deems that your partner will not be able to meet their sponsorship obligations, the Case Officer may request an Assurance of Support. You can find more information about an Assurance of Support in the Partner Migration Booklet. You do not need to provide an Assurance of Support when you submit your visa application. The visa officer assessing your application will request this from you if it is required.

Usually Resident

An Australian permanent resident is defined in Australian Migration regulations as a non citizen who, being usually resident in Australia is the holder of a permanent visa.

'Usually resident' is not defined in migration legislation, although the policy intent was for it to provide a test of the sponsors commitment to Australia and capacity to support the applicant. As a matter of policy, we usually support a generous interpretation, particularly given the increasing impact globalisation has on where people choose temporarily to live and work. Therefore in the absence of periods of long term residence in Australia, weight may be accorded to a person’s 'firm intention to reside' in Australia.

Medicals in Advance of Lodgement

You can choose to complete your medical assessment before or after lodging your application. However, the decision remains at your discretion. The costs of medicals are not refunded if your application is unsuccessful.

Another factor to consider is that health assessments and police clearances are only valid for 12 months, and should a visa be granted, you will be required to enter Australia before either of the clearances expire. If you have a planned entry date, you will need to consider the timing of the clearances.

For a list of panel doctors please select your country of residence at the following web link:

Statutory Form 888

It is not a requirement that the people completing statutory declarations attesting to your relationship are in Australia. Friends and family in the UK or Ireland can also make statutory declarations about your relationship.

Family and friends in the UK or Ireland can use Form 888 as a guide to the statements they make. However, if they use Form 888 and sign it in the UK or Ireland, it will not legally bind them to the statement they make because Form 888 is only legally binding under Australia law.

Your family and friends can make statutory declarations, affidavits or another appropriate declaration that will legally bind them to their statement i.e. legally binds them under British / Irish law.  

The following people in the UK and Ireland can certify documents for Australian visas:

Australian Terminology UK IRELAND
Practising lawyer Solicitor Solicitor
Magistrate Magistrate N/A
Public notary Notary Public Notary Public
Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace N/A
Commissioner of Declaration Commissioner for Oaths Commissioner for Oaths
Position/agency recognised by the law of country to certify documents Officer of a Court appointed by a Judge to take affidavits Peace Commissioner

Please note:
• In Scotland a Councillor may also certify documents.
• A Registered Migration Agent may certify copies of original documents for visa applications they make on behalf of clients.

Automatic Permanent Residence

When you apply for a Partner Visa, you simply need to submit the Partner Visa application and then the Case Officer will decide whether you qualify for the Provisional Partner Visa (Subclass 309) or Permanent Partner Visa (Subclass 100).

Whether or not you qualify for permanent residence status straight away can only be determined by the Case Officer processing your application once they have assessed all the evidence and documentation provided with the application. If your visa application is successful but you do not qualify for permanent residence straight away, you will be granted temporary residence and after two (2) years will be contacted by a Case Officer with regards to changing your status to permanent residence if the relationship is ongoing.

UK Police Certificates

To obtain a UK Police Certificate, applicants need to contact the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). These certificates cover applicants who have lived or currently reside in England, Wales, Scotland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland.

Application forms and guidance on how to apply for the new police certificates can be located online at:

For information on obtaining a Penal Clearance from other countries please see the form relating to Character Requirements and Penal Clearance Certificates:

Relationship breakdown

If the relationship between you and your partner irretrievably breaks down, this constitutes an important change in your circumstances. The applicant is legally obliged to notify the department immediately of the change in circumstances.

There are some provisions where it may be possible for you to remain in Australia, provided all other relevant visa criteria are met. The provisions are as follows:

·        you have parental responsibility for at least one (1) child who is a child of the relationship. This should be evidenced by a Statutory Declaration from both parents, or consent order, or a parenting order. Where you wish to demonstrate parental responsibility for a step-child, you must have a court order which recognises your responsibility for that child, or  
·        your relationship has ceased because your partner has died.
·        Should family violence be a reason for the relationship breakdown, you may still be eligible to be granted a permanent partner visa and to remain in Australia.
·        Applying for a Partner Visa Offshore

Please note:


-The advice you are given by the London Contact Centre will be based on the information you supply.
-We cannot advise clients on the likely outcome of any visa application, as applications are assessed on an individual basis.
-The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Strongly recommends that clients do not make any irreversible travel bookings until they have been granted an appropriate visa.

If you would like help finding the right Australian visa, please visit the Visa Wizard website:
We hope this information has been of assistance.

Yours faithfully,

London Service Centre

Migration Branch
Australian High Commission
Strand London WC2B 4LA

DIAC website:
London website:


Telephone Information Service: 09065 508 900

£1 per minute currently, £1.02 per minute from 04 Jan 2011 (in line with VAT increase) from BT telephone lines, other provider charges may vary.  Access to an operator is provided at the end of recorded information between the hours of 9am and 4pm London time, Monday to Friday except on public holidays and Australian High Commission holidays for which is shown on the website:

DIAC Privacy Policy:

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Book - Living and Working in Australia

I'm still in limbo-land waiting for exciting news.  Which I'll share with you once I have it.  Meantime - just to test if anyone reads this blog - I'll send a free copy of "Living and Working in Australia: A Survival Guide" to the first (and only the first!) person to email me at :: NOW GONE (don't worry there's no need to send any of your details to me, until I confirm that you were the first).

No catch, free book, free postage, you just got to be first!

Book now on its way....

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year..

to one and both of you.. Only 16 weeks to the day until we make the big move.  I promise I'll have something interesting to write about between now and then.  Take care and on with the January detox.