David, Corina, Jack (16), Ciaran (15), Max (13) and Freya (11) tell us about their army family life Down Under in the Australian capital Canberra…
How long have you been an army family?
Time in Canberra:
What’s your quarter like?
Large and virtually brand-new with a small garden. Canberra is known as the ‘bush capital’, so gardens aren’t needed.
Are there employment/training opportunities?
Yes – spouses can work out here and of course everyone speaks English, which makes working that much easier.
What about schools and childcare?
Freya attends a local primary school and has made some great friends. The school is used to a transient international population due to the nearby military college, so she fitted in very easily. Our three boys are boarding in the UK but were very keen that we took this posting despite the distance. On posting we all flew out together over Christmas and they have joined us for their school holidays since. During their summer holidays it was winter here, but we planned a trip to the Gold Coast to make the most of the sunshine. The airline provided an unaccompanied minor service for the boys’ 24-hour flight which gave us real peace of mind.
Where do service families get together and who supports you?
We’re integrated into the Australian system, so we’ve made some great Australian friends. We are well supported by the British High Commission.
What about the costs?
Cost of living is high – especially food and cars but we receive Local Overseas Allowance to help compensate.
What are the best and worst aspects?
There’s so much to see and do, particularly here in Canberra where everything is 20 minutes away. The city is easy to drive around and surrounded by mountains, bush and a gorgeous lake. The weather is fabulous, and we have thrown ourselves into the outdoor lifestyle. That was one of the main reasons for coming out, to experience new sports and a way of life so different from the constraints that the weather in England often imposes. We have the national mountain bike park on Mount Stromlo behind our house and Lake Burley-Griffin ten minutes away to kayak on. The only real downsides are the distance between us and our boys at boarding school, and the animals and insects that can bite you – but we have seen very few of those.
Would you recommend it as a family posting?
Absolutely – Australia is all about the outdoors and family.