IT was a giant leap in the dark when Audrey Weir emigrated with her young family from Huddersfield to Australia in 1970.
Thirty-seven years on, she’s still there – and very happy.
Being homesick was a big problem early on and even today Audrey feels a pull towards England.
But the world has shrunk with the rise of global communications and she now longer feels as cut off as she did.
Audrey says: “Thanks to the availability of the internet, emails and cheaper telephone calls we enjoy here, we do not feel as isolated from our family and friends as we used to do.
“Now that I am retired, I love to travel and think an ideal life for me would be to live six months from March to September in England and six months from September to March in Australia, enjoying the best of the seasons.”
Home now is the town of Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales, about 100 miles from Sydney.
It has a population together with its twin-town of Bomaderry of 27,478 and the region is increasingly a retirement and leisure area for Canberra and Sydney.
In case you’re wondering, the name Nowra is thought to be the Aboriginal word for black cockatoo or camping place.
Audrey’s maiden name was Ashton and she lived in Waterloo before leaving Britain for her new life. Her mother and brother still live in Huddersfield.
Together with husband Peter and young sons Paul and Adrian, she moved to New South Wales in 1970 – uncertain of how it would go.
Audrey says: “We knew no-one, so it was us against the world.
“First thing we realised was that a car was a necessity and an expense we had not expected. So it was driving lessons for the first time and a car, then a house to buy and eldest son going to school for the first time.
“We then realised that we both needed to work to get ahead and established once more. I was lucky and obtained a job in the mathematics department at the local Wollongong University College as a typist office assistant which included card punching work on IBM computers which I had learnt at Brooke Motors.”
After four years and a brand new home, she gave up work to have youngest son Gary in 1975.
Unluckily for the family her husband had a compound fracture of his right leg playing soccer for a local team.
It was bad, did not heal, and Peter was in and out of hospital for the next two years until a bone graft finally worked.
This meant the couple both went back to work around the same time, Audrey part-time so her husband could work in the afternoons and look after the baby for her in the mornings.
Audrey andPeter Weir divorced amicably three years ago due to health issues for both of them.
Eldest son Paul is 42, middle son Adrian is 39 and youngest son Gary, born in Wollongong, is 32.
Between them, they have five children – making Audrey a very proud grandmother.
Paul and Adrian were not very old when they went to Australia so hardly remember much of Huddersfield.
Audrey says: “My eldest two sons have been to visit the UK as adults and came back and said to us they were glad we brought them here.”
She admits: “I especially used to get homesick at Christmas, so with it being summer holidays over here at that time we used to go on up to Queensland for two weeks.
“The boys learnt to swim early, very essential in this country so loved it at the beaches we took them to.”
All in all, it’s a good life.
“I have much more confidence and enjoy my independence these days,” says Audrey.
You can email Audrey at email@example.com