Australia Bound!

In December of 2010, we submitted an application through the Canadian Education Exchange Foundation for Matt to teach for a year in either Australia or Denmark, and we received word in mid-May that the exchange application had been approved and a suitable match had been found in Australia.

So in January of 2012 we will be heading to Blackheath, New South Wales, a small bush-land village just over an hour west of Sydney, in the famous Blue Mountains.

We will arrive at the beginning of the Australian school year, and also their summer season.  Yippee! Our oldest two will start school in the Aussie school system.  Analeina will be in grade 2 and Cohen will be in kindergarten.  We understand that their school is within walking/biking distance, so we are looking forward to being able to do that.  The school requires them to wear a uniform which will be great!  The less we have to stress about in the morning, the better!

Elijah and I will be looking for things to keep us busy during the day while we are living in Blackheath.  I’ll be looking for playgroups, and libraries and places to volunteer, as well as doing the research on places to visit and travel to during the school breaks.  A difficult job, but someone will have to do it!!

Right now we are in the midst of a tonne of paperwork.  The passport acquisition process seems to have been the easiest part so far, even if the passport Canada employee in Ottawa was a jerk!  Now we have to submit a bunch of documentation to the Department of Education in NSW in order for them to “sponsor” us.  Once they have sponsored us and have given us a sponsorship number, then we can apply for our entrance visas.  All of this paperwork can take months to process, so we are actively pursuing this so we can in fact leave in January!

We have started looking into flights, and I must say that I am a little concerned about flying such a great distance in January with a 7 year old, 4 year old and an 18 month old!  I think our best bet is flying to Vancouver and then flying directly to Sydney from there.  It means over 15 hours on the plane, but provided the kids respond well to Gravol, we should be fine!

It is all very exciting and we are very much looking forward to this adventure!  Both Matt and I feel that this is a very unique opportunity, and one that we hope will be immeasurably rewarding.  We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from our families, friends, neighbours and co-workers as we begin this next chapter and take off on this adventure with the family.


6 thoughts on “Australia Bound!

  1. What a great start to your blog! I’m looking forward to reading about your family’s adventure “down under”. It will be a wonderful, rewarding and exciting time for you all.
    Best wishes for your year.

  2. Hi folks, everyone looks good in their uniforms and love your hats. Are your shoes comfortable? Hopefully no blisters. Do you take a lunch everyday or do they have special lunches sometimes? Enjoy…we are enjoying reading all about it. love, Nana

  3. Hi Alyson. I happened across your blog while googling home exchanges between Australia and Canada. I am a Canadian living in Australia (married to an Australian) hoping to do a home exchange with someone in similar circumstances in Canada. Neither of us are teachers so I know our circumstances would be different from a work perspective, but I was hoping you might be able to shed some light on how it all works with a direct home exchange (i.e. Mortgage, bills, cars, insurances, etc.). Hope you are having a wonderful time on your exchange! It certainly looks as though you are:)

    • Hi Sara,
      I am happy to help in whatever way I can.
      We have literally swapped lives and jobs with a family here in Australia – we are living in their home here in the Blue Mountains and they are living in ours back in eastern Ontario.
      We continue to get paid by our respective school boards, and we pay our own mortgage. “User pays” as far as bills – so we pay the utility bills where we are living. We did not exchange cars. We parked ours and kept the insurance on it. We have bought a car while we are here and will (hopefully) sell it before we leave. Too many liability issues with exchanging vehicles. Our home insurance provider is aware we are away and our exchange partners are considered home exchange occupants, so that home insurance is not affected.
      We wrote up a housing agreement that we both signed and I can forward you a sample copy of this if you’d like.
      You could change it to suit your needs.
      If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact me at

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