From elephants to wallabies


From elephants to wallabies

Gippsland converts: Michelle Oellermann, with her children Emma and Luke surrounded by the green South Gippsland landscape that reminds them of home, but also brings new opportunities for the young family.

MICHELLE and Clive Oellermann, along with their children, Luke, 5 and Emma, 3 and a half, are relatively new faces to South Gippsland.
The family is from South Africa and have been living in Australia for around two years.
Michelle, a typesetter at The Star, is originally from Zambia, in central Africa.
At the age of nine, Michelle was sent to South Africa to attend school, as her parents believed that the country offered better educational opportunities than Zambia.
Michelle stayed in South Africa after completing school and college. She met her husband there and the couple’s two children were born in South Africa.
“I often used to go back to Zambia to visit my family. It is a beautiful country,” Michelle said.
“The people there are very kind and warm. I have very fond memories of going fishing with my parents on the rivers, where it was not unusual to see an elephant on the bank.
“My father used to hunt as well. I grew up eating venison. I remember going hunting with my family in the bush for weeks on end. We would just pack enough supplies to spend weeks out there.
“Sometimes we could hear lions roaring and sometimes they would even come through the camp.”
The high crime rate and the unease that living in South Africa brought upon the young family prompted them to find a new place to live
“We were living in fear in South Africa. Your whole perspective on life changes when you have children,” Michelle said.
“The biggest reason behind the move was to give our children the opportunities that they may never have received in South Africa. It was a very difficult place to live.
“You couldn’t leave your doors unlocked after 6pm and we had burglar guards on all of the windows.
“But it is a beautiful place. It is the only place in the world with such amazing wildlife.”
Before moving to Hallston, neither Michelle nor Clive had ever been to Australia.
“It is because of Clive’s trade as a diesel mechanic that we ended up in South Gippsland. Australia is crying out for skilled tradesmen, and Clive’s trade is on the short list,” Michelle said.
“The way you live in Australia is very peaceful. We have always lived in the country, so we liked the idea of moving to a smaller country town. We would never have moved to the city.”
Michelle said the hardest part about moving to Australia was leaving her friends and family behind.
“It was quite lonely to begin with, but I have been meeting people through kinder and we are becoming more settled,” she said.
“The people here are warm and accommodating and have been very giving and helpful too.
“Australia has more opportunities for us and our children; we can see a better future here. The hardest part is not having family close by. It is sad for them as well, because they miss out on seeing their grandchildren.”
Despite the big change in lifestyle, Michelle said Australia is actually quite similar to South Africa.
“The big storms that we have here at this time of year remind me of the rainy season there,” she said.
“Australia looks similar and the infrastructure here is much like South Africa. The hills and the landscape of South Gippsland remind me of Natal, where we were living in Africa.”
Even though Michelle and her family grew up around lions, elephants and other exotic animals, she is still awed by the local animals and birds.
“The wildlife here is so unique. I love to see the wallabies and the koalas in the garden. The birdlife here is also magnificent.”
While they are still adjusting to life in Australia, Michelle said that her family is fitting in well.
They have decided that they would like to stay here permanently and hope to gain residency later in the year.
“It is a different way of life here, but we are used to it now and embrace it. We hope to eventually become citizens. We are grounded and would like to spend the rest of our lives here,” Michelle said.

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Posted by on May 22 2012. Filed under Community, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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