Rachael, Paul and Mickey (10) Hayward arrived in Canberra from the UK a little over three years ago. It’s been an eventful couple of years, with Rachael volunteering at Mickey’s school and also opening her own business. Rachael tells us more here:
Tell us a little about yourself and the reason(s) you and your family immigrated to Australia?
We first came to Canberra in 2004 as Paul was in the British Royal Navy and had a posting to the British High Commission for four years. We fell in love with the city instantly.
We were lucky enough to travel extensively throughout Australia but of all the places we visited, Canberra was our first choice to migrate to due to the easy living, outdoor lifestyle and community spirit.
So you prefer Canberra to the bigger Australian cities?
We like the fact that although Canberra is the Capital of Australia, it is not too busy like Sydney! We also find Canberra an ideal city for schooling and sport for our youngest son Mickey and it is also ideally located to make travel to other areas (Sydney, Melbourne and the Coast) easy.
Also we love that there are four definite seasons in Canberra. The summer is gorgeous and not humid, autumn sees the trees turn the most beautiful colours and winter is cold but the skies are so blue. Spring comes around very quickly and sees the start of Floriade, an annual festival which celebrates this lovely time of the year.
Tell us about your first impressions and experiences of Canberra.
Our first impression of Canberra was that it was very colourful with all the cockatoos, rosellas and galahs. There was hardly any traffic and everything was so very clean and well maintained. Everyone we saw seemed to have a spring in their step and it was never too much trouble to say G’Day to us. We felt very welcome which was extremely important to us.
Our very first outing in Canberra was the Jazz in the Park at the Botanical Gardens which run through the summer on Sundays. We were amazed that this (and many other family events around Canberra) was free. It really helps bring the community together and there are so many different events that cater for all tastes. Having been to a few now though, our favourite by far is the annual Skyfire firework display which is all set to music and attracts tens of thousands of people each year.
You are very involved in Mickey’s school, and recently volunteered your time to create a beautiful mosaic artwork in the school foyer. Tell us about your motivation to get involved and about the artwork too.
I got involved with volunteering at the school to integrate myself in the local community when we bought our house over here. I firstly helped out in the school canteen to make friends and to learn how the school system worked. I then joined the school Parents and Citizens’ Association and was involved in the school fetes, craft fairs and other fund raising events.
I approached the principal and volunteered to do a mosaic artwork in the school foyer with the children of the school. After 18 months it is now finished. The inspiration for this was the Canberra Centenary. The mosaic includes lots of native wildlife, Telstra Tower, the Museum and Lake Burley Griffin. It was an amazing experience working with the children from designing the mosaic to the completion of it.
I have met some incredible people along the way and it is wonderful to see the school community coming together to create this fantastic artwork.
As someone who loves creative art, what would you say about opportunities to enjoy art in Canberra? How does it compare to where you moved from?
The diversity of the museums and art galleries in Canberra are inspirational and can be equally enjoyed by both young and old. The National Gallery has many different exhibitions.
In Canberra, the opportunities to enjoy art are so much easier than where we lived in the UK, as we would have to travel (for example to London) to see international exhibitions.
You’ve recently started your own business. That’s quite an accomplishment. Tell us about it.
I have been involved with Stained Glass now for approximately 17 years having learnt the trade from doing a four year apprenticeship in the UK. I also taught adult education courses in several colleges in the UK. My dream has always been to ‘go it alone’ and set up my own business. This was an unreachable goal in the UK, but one we felt I could achieve over here in Canberra. I have now successfully set up ‘Groovy Glass’ and have also branched out to become one of the only suppliers of stained glass materials in Canberra. I also have a stall once a month at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston.
Is all your family passionate about art? What other interests/hobbies do you enjoy?
My family are not particularly passionate about art, although they do support my love for it. Paul and Mickey would much rather be on a bike ride, playing golf or playing football (soccer!) for Tuggeranong United, where Paul is the coach, than walking around an art gallery.
Moving countries can be challenging – do you have any tips/advice for others considering the move?
It is worth a holiday visit beforehand (as long as possible) to get a feel for the place.
Have a sense of adventure, put yourself out there and meet as many people as you can. Some you will form great friendships with.
Check out job websites such as SEEK and check prices for houses/rental properties on allhomes.com.au.
Keep an eye out for emigration expos. This was very useful to us prior to getting the ball rolling to migrate. There are numerous stalls where you can find answers to your many questions.
If you arrive in Canberra and your containers are still in transit, the Green Shed on Mugga Lane is a fabulous recycling centre which you can buy cheap second hand goods, from cutlery to furniture to bikes. Well worth checking out!