I am writing this latest blog update at the end of my time in Perth and recently arrived in Melbourne. It has been a great week, both work wise and socially. It was over 10 years ago that I left Perth after a two and a half year assignment working at Shell’s terminal near the port cit of Fremantle. During that time I learnt to scuba dive, developed an appreciation for SW Australian wines, completed my masters degree and came ‘out’. As you can read the city has a special place in my heart. Above all of that I met some incredible people.
This trip was a work trip linked to the floating LNG facility Shell is building to be placed over the Prelude field off the coast of WA. I wont bore you with the details however what was a real eye opener was the ‘war on talent’ in the West. There is such a shortage of people that companies, and especially the mining and energy companies, are paying astronomical salaries and wages to secure people. I could earn more driving a truck than what a senior HR manager in Europe would earn! This acute shortage is resulting in Shell Australia pushing hard to have Australians overseas return rather than finding more expensive expats. Before anyone gets any ideas Michael and I are not moving to Oz.
Coupled with this demand for labour and high wages Perth has changed, and I mean really changed. They skyline is fuller, the roads busier, more cafes and restaurants, prices almost higher than Europe and what the locals call ” cashed up bogans” (CUBS). Whilst the far majority of mine and outback workers who are benefiting from the increased salaries bring a cosmopolitan (well Aussie at least) feel to the place, there is a disturbingly increasing number of rednecks who are cashed up, coming into town and causing problems. Others are just spending like the rich with the class of the outer outer outer suburbs. Think Kath and Kim, Sylvania Waters and Jersey Shore all in one. On one hand the city is looking better than ever with investment and redevelopment, but unfortunately areas being developed are almost no go areas. I have included a link to a video on ” what Perth people say”; sorry that there are no subtitles.
All that aside the week was also one of friends, memories and conversation for the soul. It was uplifting to see people from my past, dear dear friends, catch up on their lives and see that they are all doing so well. It was as though we had been apart for 10 weeks, not ten years in some cases. When people ask me, and it is quite often, “don’t you miss Australia?” my standard answer has been that I miss people, friends and family. A week like this reinforces that view. Yes the weather is great, yes the open spaces and parklands are wonderful but it is people and friends that make a place liveable and for me ultimately home.
I hope that this doesn’t come across as too negative. Australia is still a great place to live, I just have to get used to the fact that, like me, the place has changed.
I have also been following with interest the debate in Australia over gay marriage. I won’t go through the arguments or current political positioning of the debate but rather the reactions of people whom I told that Michael and I are married. From some there was almost a sense of jealousy whilst for others the debate is a non issue. It was mostly younger friends who hope for the opportunity to say “I do” the way Michael and I did. As I wrote in my last blog I really did not think that going through a marriage would change the way I look at and feel about Michael, how wrong I was.
There is something about affirming my love for Michael in a way that I didn’t know would effect me until I did it.’
I have about two full days in Melbourne. Time to see a few more friends, check out some new places and drop by the office.