Sarah Vesty from Somerset arrived in Australia on her own with a backpack and a six-month travel plan back in 2012.
Eight years on, she is still in Australia but is now married and a mum to her two little girls, Olivia and Ella.
Sarah talks about what it is like to raise children on the other side of the world from family.
Bullet points of key topics & time stamps:
● 02:37 - Sarah tells us how she met her British husband whilst on her travels in Australia
● 04:57 - Find out which visa enabled Sarah to stay in Australia
● 06:05 - Sarah talks about raising children in Australia
● 08:03 - Raising children with grandparents on the other side of the world
● 12:35 - Find out what Sarah misses most about the UK
List of resources mentioned in episode, suggested reading & social media handles:
● Australian Working Holiday Visa (417)
● The Swan Valley region, Perth
This episode is sponsored by True Blue Migration Services.
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Britstralian Producer and Host: Anna Moran
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Britstralian acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on. The area now known as the City of Armadale was originally occupied by the Noongar people many thousands of years before European settlement. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
NOTE: The views and opinions shared by the guest(s) in this podcast are the views and personal experiences of the guest(s) and are not necessarily representative of the views or opinions of Britstralian and the host.
The views and opinions shared by the guest(s) in this podcast are the views and personal experiences of the guest(s) and are not necessarily representative of the views or opinions of Britstralian and the host.
Britstralian will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.
Meeting people from home, when you live abroad, is really comforting. I met my lovely friend, Sarah, at a hen do, a few years back. And, both being the only Brits there, we hit it off instantly and we've kept in touch ever since.
Hi, I'm Sarah Vesty from Somerset. I came to Australia as a backpacker. I met my now-husband over here, became a Britistralian.
Okay, Mrs Vesty. Can you tell us about when and why you came to Australia?
I-, I never meant to settle here. I had a round-the-world ticket. I was living in Somerset and I returned there from living in Birmingham for five years. And I just never felt that I really belonged there. I just didn't really know where I fitted in. So, I thought, I'm going to go traveling and see what that's like, and then work out a plan after that. So I started off-, I went to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and my next stop was Perth. And then I never left.
Who did you do that trip with?
I did on my own. So I started off in Thailand. And I thought I wanted something a little bit handheld, because as brave as I thought I was, I was like, I'm going to a completely different country and God knows what this will look like. So, I did this thing which was like a group tour, for, I think it was four weeks. And then from there, I met some people that I traveled on with afterwards. So sometimes you move on with a couple of people. And then sometimes you'd be on your own again, and then sometimes you'd meet up with them again. So yeah, it was a great start moving around.
Did you plan to eventually end up in Australia, then?
Yeah, so Perth was on the list. And when I got to Perth, I decided I was going to do my regional work to get an extra year. But, originally, I was supposed to save for six months and-, yeah I’m still here.
How many years later? How long have you been here now?
So, I think it's been eight and a half, because I have been with my now-husband for eight years.
It is crazy.
So how did you meet your lovely hubby, who is from Leicester, may I add.
You have to come all the way over to the other side of the world to meet someone from England. I met him through friends. So, when I was living in England, I had a very good friend at uni, who had a cousin who lived over here. So when I told her I was coming on a big trip, she said, “When you come to Perth, come and stay with me”. And then he knew her partner. So we were friends of friends.
Did you get together straight away?
I’d like to say no-, but pretty much, Yeah.
Oh, wow. And was he living here already?
He was already living here. We were together three months. And then I decided I was going to do my regional work. And we were kind of like, do we stay together? Do we break up? What do we do? So, we decided to stay together. And then, when I came back from my regional work, after three months, we moved in together. So we didn't mess about
No way. And did you know-. Was that the point where you thought “I'm staying here”, or, was it still early days?
it was a bit early-days. I always knew I loved Perth and I always knew I was, like, very connected to it. Like, I knew it was a place that I felt very happy and very secure. But I think, the first trip I did back to England, when we returned and flew back into Perth, touched down, I was like, I'm actually going home. Like, I'm glad to be home.
In Perth? Perth felt like home?
In Perth-, mm. I loved my trip. I've always loved every trip back to England. But, the first time we came back to Perth, I thought, I'm actually home now.
How long had you been living here before you went home for that trip?
I had been here for nearly two years, because my parents had been out before then, so it's not as if I hadn't seen family members. But yeah, when I got back I just knew, I just loved it and I just thought yeah, I'm really settled here.
Obviously, it wasn't a difficult decision for you to stay then?
No. like, there’s obviously times you do feel really homesick and you, like, question being so far away from everyone, like is this really me set on being away from home now for good? But, I don't think it was a difficult decision. Once I knew and once it felt like home, I thought I actually belong here and everyone who supports me loves me will be happy with that.
Definitely. And what visa did you end up getting to stay?
I was on-. So, I got my extra year and then I went on to Ryan's visa.
So like a partner visa?
And then we got our residency together. And then, after four years on the residency visa, then we applied for our citizenship
And how did he have residency?
He was sponsored through his company.
Oh okay. Well, that's good.
Yeah, it's really good. So, I did try and get sponsored a few times. But, when Ryan came into Perth, a lot of people were gonna get sponsored. You know, they were doing the trades, there was a lot more trades, and they were like looking for skilled people. But when I came-, I don't like to think I'm not a skilled person, so I couldn't get in-. But it was a lot more difficult, the positions to get sponsored and there was a lot more competition. So, I didn't think I'd have to go on Ryan's visa, I was applying for jobs to get my own. But in the end, it just worked out that we paid the extra money, and I went on his visa.
You've got two very beautiful little girls. Both born in Australia to English parents.
What's it like raising a family here? And how is their childhood different to your own?
They have a great life. Like, they-. I personally feel there's a lot more opportunities. There's, you know-, sunshine affects people's moods, I think more than anything. In England, I found a lot of the time you were living Monday to Friday. And I felt like when those dark cold nights came, that was it. You were indoors, whereas here, outdoor-, the activities that you can do, the free events-. Like Perth is so child friendly. They have events on all the time, everything's opened up, like nothing's adults only, like, it's very family community. I think that's the main difference, like the opportunities and the outdoors and the beach and the sunshine. Like it's just an incredible lifestyle for them.
So, Olivia is talking now. You've got-, you've got a southern accent. Ryan’s got a proper Leicester accent. Does she have an English accent as well? Or, is she a true blue little Aussie?
Well, she will sometimes say, “I'm going for a bath, ain't I?” So she is very mixed. She definitely has some Leicester sayings. When her grandad, from Leicester, came over and he'd say things like, “Ooooyahh”. And then, Olivia would start saying it.
I didn’t know that was Leicester?
No, I didn't really know it was either. She does say, “ain’t ya”, quite a lot, which I'm trying to drill out for her. But then, she'll put on this, like, little posh accent, God knows. I don't know what kind of accent she's going to have in the end.
Yeah, it will be interesting, won't it?
Yeah. She does an-, as well, she'll-, when she comes back from daycare, she'll say, “I'm gonna put my pants on”. And I think, “Oh, God, where did you get that from?”
Does it bother you that Olivia and Ella don't get to spend time with their grandparents and they're not growing up with their grandparents around?
It does bother me. It's kind of a double-edged sword because-. Technology is incredible. So, FaceTime, Skype-, like, my mum knows Olivia inside out. And you know, she's not over here all the time. And it is very hard. I wish she was here. I wish I could just pop in for a cup of tea with her. I wish she was here for the birthday parties. I miss her with all of that. But in some ways, it's like, we, you know, we can just do whatever-. I hear people sometimes and they say, you know, I'm having awful trouble my parents and stuff looking after the kids. And I think, “Ooo, like, what I would-, what I would give to have my mom looking after the girls over here”. So, it's hard, like you have that freedom. But at the same time, it's not freedom you necessarily want. You want them to have that love. You want them to have that relationship. But we're very fortunate that you can FaceTime and Skype and all the rest of it. And yeah, my mum especially, she's got an incredible relationship with the girls and she knows them inside out.
Oh, that's really nice. How often do you speak to her?
I'd easily speak to her once a week, if not twice. So yeah, it's just-, it's incredible that they can have that bond, without seeing each other face to face all the time.
And how frequently were you going-, obviously before COVID, but how frequently were you going back home?
Erm-, not that often, to be honest. We're quite fortunate that my mum normally comes out once a year. And then, we were back at Christmas before COVID, but we're-, before that we hadn't been back for two years before then. So it's nice to break it up and us go home, have a really good, big trip there and then people come out and stay with us. But it is funny, when people come over here they want like the guided tour, they want the sunshine, they're on their holidays, they can't go-, they can't, like, help out with anything-. And then you go back home and they'll say, “Oh pop down to Tesco’s and do the shop-. Like, there's no sunshine here. This isn’t a holiday!”.
And you’ve come “home”, remember?!
So, you've bought a home over here. Can you tell us a little bit about the brand new estate that you live on? Cause it's quite fancy. And you're very lovely house.
I don’t know if it’s fancy?
Oh, it is! Cause you wouldn't get-, you wouldn't have had that back home.
No. And that's like a massive selling point here. We wouldn't have had the opportunity, in the jobs that we work at home, to be able to afford our home. We are so lucky. We live in this really nice estate that’s just off the back of the Swan Valley, which is like wine region. Very handy when you've got two kids. But yeah, we're just so fortunate. The estate is beautiful, it's brand new. Well-, it's probably about four years old now, which is how long we've been living there.
And you guys built it, didn’t you? You got-, you designed it.
Yeah, we designed it and we built it and that just would never have happened at home. Never.
And you've got swimming pool.
We have. It is really nice. I just-, I'd never say, “Oh, we've got a pool”, because I think it sounds crazy. Like, just even saying out loud, like we're so lucky. We had the choice-, we either lived a lot further out of the city on our budget and lived by the sea-, we would have been up near Alkimos, or something like that. Or, we put in the extra money and have the pool in the back. So, for the girls especially, swimming's massive over here, but you know, you're not talking about Burnham On Sea. You're talking big, crashing, dangerous waves. I think everyone's seen Bondi Rescue. So, having kids into swimming, into like safe swimming, all of that. Like, again, that's just such a selling point. Both the girls-, I mean Ella’s only seven months, and they're both water babies, like, they love it. It's just-, what a life. Like, even through lockdown, we were in the pool, and I just thought, “God, like, people are-, you know, doing it really tough at the moment”. It’s times like that, that you feel just so fortunate for what you have.
I think, like, that the reason that I was, sort of, saying how-, that you've got such a lovely home, is to make the point that, over here that is what's possible.
It's actually quite normal to have a swimming pool in your garden. You know, a lot-, not most people, but a lot of people choose to have a swimming pool. And you wouldn't have that back home.
I know I would never have dreamt of it. Like, I don't even remember doing swimming lessons. I know I used to have the swimming carnivals and stuff. And the girls have that-, she's so lucky. We all are so lucky.
We just saved really hard and yeah, you're able to. Like, that's the difference.
What do you miss most about home?
God, it sounds so bad. Like, obviously, apart from the obvious, like my mum, my dad, my brothers, like the fa-, direct family. Obviously, my friends. It's like food and drink and stuff like-. Do you know what I miss? I miss going into-
A Tesco. And not only getting my snacks but getting my alcohol. Like, in the same shop. Without going into a separate shop and buying it. It’s small things like that. I miss Iced Gems. I miss Monster Munch. Like, I'm such a foodie. And it's like, you don't live in England anymore. You can't have it both ways. I miss food, I miss drink. I miss family, friends. Like, that's obviously the biggest one, family and friends.
Do you think you and Ryan would ever consider moving back there?
It’s so hard. I've always been, like, leave the door open. At the moment, there's not even a consideration in my mind. But we're also going through such a changing world at the moment that this is the best place for us. Like, staying in Perth. We've got everything that we need here. But never say never. Like, it's times where family gets sick and things happen, that you think, I really am on the other side of the world. Like, I'm not just a bus, or a drive away. You know, like that's the hardest thing. So, I would never say never, because you just don't know what's around the corner.
One of the biggest issues that parents face when they move out here from the UK, is not having family to call on when-, when they need a hand. How do you cope with not being able to just drop the kids around to your mum's house?
Yeah. That is really hard. I find it's not so much for, like, the babysitting, because obviously you can get a babysitter anywhere. But it's more to have, when you have a baby, your mum is your first calling point. When I had Olivia my mum was over here for two weeks. And I remember dropping her at the airport, and I remember turning my head to this, like tiny little dot in the back and I was like, “Oh god, it's day one. We've got to start fresh now”. And it was just so sad saying goodbye to her. Like, there's times in your life, you just need your mum. And when you have kids, I think, you know, “Did I do this?” Like, what's the right thing to do? And the first person you go to on speed dial, is your mom. That, for me, is the hardest thing. With, like going out and stuff like you sacrifice, you compromise, like you have to have a break, like, you cannot be with your children 24/7, so your partner-, you find yourself going out separately to your partner quite a bit. But when you do have those rare date nights, then it's absolutely perfect. And you think, “Oh, we should do this more often”. And then we remember, we haven't got family over here to call on”. But, it's like, you know, when you're over here, you do build your village and your family are your friends. And you have one baby and everyone just thinks it's the best thing and everyone offers to babysit-. You know, we're both lucky, we’ve traveled-. I'm not saying our lives are over or anything, but we've both traveled-, we’ve both-. There's nothing we’re sat at home on a Friday or Saturday night thinking, you know, we've missed out.
We're missing out on whatever is happening at the moment. Because what's happening-, they're both in bed, like, that is our life and we could not be happier with it.
That's so lovely. And you've got a brother out here as well, haven't you?
I do, Yeah. He came out after me. He-, he was traveling with a friend in South Australia. And it all fell through, his friend got home sick and left to go home pretty early. So I told him to come over to Perth. And he's never left either.
I know. He needs to leave. I was here first.
This is my Perth.
Exactly. He knows how good it is, so I can't blame him.
Your brother isn't in Perth, though, is-. He's just outside of Perth, isn't he?
He's in Narrogin. So it's about three hours east.
So really inland. What’s it like there?
It’s a tiny, tiny little town, like but he knows everyone. And it's just a lovely tight-knit community. He seems to have fallen into like being president of this and captain of this-. And he's just bought a house down there actually. And I always thought, like, Perth, it was incredible to get a house and stuff. But down there, like, the land and the house sizes like yeah, it's beautiful. He's done so well.
Yeah, really good.
What’s his house like?
It's really nice. It's um, you know, there's so much space, and it's on like a 990-meter square block and everything. So it's huge. Like, for a single guy, like, on his own-. You just can't even think about that, can you? It just, it blows my mind, like he's done so well. But again, that's being able to buy over here, you are able to, you’ve just got to work really hard.
Yeah. So you definitely can see the opportunities in Australia?
Absolutely. And it, like, gives me hope. I know, obviously, things are gonna change. And people say it's hard to get on the ladder and stuff. But it makes me think about, like, the girls and putting back for them and what it's gonna be like for them. And-. Will they be able to afford a house when they're older? And, you know, what can they get in? Yeah, we can just tell them, look, you just work hard. You just get a deposit. And you just do it, basically. And you can do it.
Here, I think so.
I think it's still possible.
Don't you miss, like ,all the celebrity gossip from back home?
Do you ever-. Well-. I go on Daily Mail quite a bit.
Oh, do you?
Yeah. When I was working and I wasn't on maternity leave. I'd, like, log on to my computer and I’d like, “Just check the internet's working today”. I don't know why I told myself that. I was clearly just checking Daily Mail every day. So, the first page you go to is, like, the Australian homepage and I’m like, why is it on this? So I just press UK.
That’s why I don ‘t look at-. Oh, I didn't know that. That’s why I don’t look at it.
Yes. No-, you just press UK. And then all the UK stuff comes up. But there's nothing on there apart from the Royals at the moment, anyway.
Oh, okay. Well, that’s still interesting.
Do you think you're more interested in the royal family since you've been living here?
Because I wasn't really that bothered about the royal family when I was living in England-.
No, same. I was always ‘team Kate’, since they got married. But over here-. Like, when that interview came on-
I just had my wine. I had my popcorn. And Ryan was asleep next to me and I just thought, “Do you not want to see this? Like, this is everything right now”. And it's just like gripping onto something from home, like, but you're like, they're my people. I know them.
At least he knew who they were. I told my Ryan that I was watching-, That was gonna watch the interview. And he's like, “Who are they?”
I can't believe that. He's been living under a rock.
If one of your mates wanted to come out, what would you say to them? And have you got any advice for people who might be coming over here with children? Anything that, like, stands out to you as-, as different from home?
I know that when you get here, it is completely overwhelming. And you do question a lot. But it's so worth it. That's all I can say, like-. For the lifestyle, for the choices, for the children's future, like, absolutely-. But that's my opinion. And I can only go off the way that I felt about Australia. And you're always thinking, “What's the catch? What's the catch?” And I guess the only catch is not having your family and friends here, that you can't just pick them up and move in with them. But other than that, I just think for us, it's pretty clear cut that this is where we're meant to be.
After last week's episode, in which we spoke to Michael Pitt, who'd had a serious motorbike accident in outback Australia, we wanted to find out just how adventurous our Britstralian Facebook community really are. And we found out that only less than one in five of them had never been out bush. And that tells us that the Britstralians are an adventurous bunch.