2019, Marking The 30th Year Of My Immigrant Life In Australia

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Fashion portrait on Sydney Harbour Bridge by photographer Kent Johnson.

Yes you read it right. 2019, marks the 30th year of my immigrating to Australia. Those who are close to me would already know that I was sponsored by my mother; who was already an Australian citizen by the early 1980s. I joined her, my English stepfather and my two half-sisters in Perth, making their home my first Australian home in 1989.

It’s rather hard to share my 30-year experience, the love the tears; my goals and everything concerning how I’ve felt about becoming an Aussie in a blog-able nutshell. An earlier version of this post was originally blogged in my style-diary vivalaViv; where I created 10 questions and 10 answers, a bit of an interview with myself! For White Caviar Life I have made the Q&A more travel-related, adding a few more suitable questions. I hope they answer some of your questions regarding my immigrant life too. So here we go…

Q 1): What was your first impression of Australia?

A: It had to be the striking colours. From deep blue skies, white sandy beaches; the oceans hue and fiery red soils.

Q 2): What was your first paid job in Australia?

A: Working at my stepfather’s newsagency in Perth. Filling the fridges and packing the snack shelves five afternoons a week after my English classes.

Sydney Harbour Bridge fashion photo by photographer Kent Johnson.

Q 3): What year did you leave Perth for Sydney and your reason for moving?

A: It was 1991 and Perth was simply too quiet for my younger self. If you can imagine the bustle of crowded Asian cities to the open spaces… It was quite a shock. I did go back to Taiwan briefly before moving onto Sydney.

Q 4): Did Sydney in 1991 live up to your expectations and if so, why?

A: Yes and no. Sydney was certainly busier than Perth. But for me, Taipei was more fun and had more opportunities. Throughout 1990s I travelled to and from, and lived in both Taipei and Sydney. I felt that I was understood in Taipei, where I also had much better support. However, I did like and embrace Sydney’s less judgemental way of living. And that’s why I felt that when it was time to settle down in one place, I ended up choosing Sydney’s openness over Taipei.

Q 5): In what year did you move back to Sydney for good and why?

A: The year 2000. It was from a mixed result of things such as a failed relationship. I have called Sydney home since, and it has been the longest stretch of time living in Australia, living anywhere for me.

Q 6): What are you most proud of about being an Australian?

A: The ‘fair go’ attitude.

Fashion shoot on Sydney Harbour Bridge by photographer Kent Johnson.

Q 7): What do you enjoy most about living in Australia?

A: The Multiculturalism! It is so dynamic, especially in Sydney. Well it definitely shows in choices of world cuisines. And NO earthquakes in Australia – well not real ones – and that is a true blessing!

Q 8): To marking the 30th year since you migrated to Australia, is there any goal you wish to achieve?

A: Seeing more of Australia. I still haven’t been to South Australia, Tasmania nor the Northern Territory yet; mate. 😉

Q 9): Where are the most northern, furthest south; most eastern and most western points in Australia you have ever been?

A: This was fun to check out as I didn’t realise just how far north Broome in Western Australia is! Most northern – Broome (WA). Furthest south – Melbourne (VIC). Most eastern – Brisbane (QLD). Furthest west – Margaret River (WA).

Portraits on Sydney Harbour Bridge by photographer Kent Johnson.

Q 10): You have called the Harbour City Sydney home for a long time; name your top three favourite beaches here.

A: They are Clovelly, my newest love of the Eastern Suburbs, then on the northern side Dee Why and Palm Beach.

Q 11): As you are a Sydney local, what would you recommend seeing in Sydney if visitors only have one day for sightseeing?

A: I have two suggestions and both involve a pleasant sightseeing walk…

Route One – Hyde Park To The Sydney Opera House:

Start walking from Hyde Park (St James Station), walk north along Macquarie Street (one of the most beautiful streets in Sydney if you ask me). Past the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and keep walking until you see Il Porcellino, a bronze wild boar outside Sydney’s oldest hospital – Sydney Hospital. Pat the bronze pig on the nose for good luck if you wish! Parliament of New South Wales is also located on this side of Macquarie Street, it’s worth a visit. Continue walking until you pass the State Library of New South Wales (another beautiful sandstone building), then cross the highway to the corner of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Choose any entrance to the gardens and follow the path downhill and you will reach the bay of Farm Cove, Sydney Harbour. Looking left, the Sydney Opera House is right there.

Portraits on Sydney Harbour Bridge by photographer Kent Johnson.

Route Two – Walk Across The Sydney Harbour Bridge:

Take a train to Milsons Point which is on the northern side of the Harbour bridge. Alight the train, look for a long flight of stairs on the eastern side (right outside to the train station which is on the bridge approach). These stairs will take you up to the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s pedestrian walkway. You can walk across the bridge and enjoy stunning harbour and Sydney Opera House panorama views for free! Since ‘a picture says a thousand words’; here I share with you a set fashion portraits of yours truly, taken by Kent, to illustrate this wonderful scenic walk.

When you reach the northern end, follow the signs and take the Bridge Steps down and you will then arrive in The Rocks District, the harbour-side quarter where European settlement began. There is plenty to see here: the Rocks Markets, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Sydney’s oldest pubs – try the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel – they are all nestled right here in Australia’s most historical area.

Fashion shoot on Sydney Harbour Bridge by photographer Kent Johnson.

Q 12): Have you met any famous Australian figures?

A: In 1994, I had a rare opportunity to meet the internationally famous Australian author Colleen McCullough through our family friend, QC Douglas Milne. Colleen came to Sydney from her Norfolk Island home to promote her latest book – Fortune’s Favorites. The hour-long chat with her in her InterContinental hotel suite, followed by an intimate Mongolian dinner was a dream-come-true for someone like myself, who enjoyed writing and daydreaming about becoming a successful novelist. Colleen kindly signed two copies of The Thorn Birds for me. One was for my mother and the other one I’ve kept it for myself until this very day.

More recently… Early this year on the 31st of January, Kent and I attended our friend, former journalist now a business owner and still active and creative photographer Marcus Reubenstein’s photographic exhibition opening. ‘China Moments in Time’ was held at 541 Art Space and was officially opened with speeches by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott (the 28th Prime Minister of Australia who concluded ChAFTA). A wonderful exhibition on Chinese culture and celebrating the arrival of Year of the Pig.

Fashion shoot on Sydney Harbour Bridge by photographer Kent Johnson.

Q 13): What is your ideal dream life in Australia?

A: I think that to live in a cottage in Berrima in the Southern Highlands (about 90 minutes by car from Sydney) could be perfect. Either running an art gallery or a vintage store there.., and this is a must – with half dozen fluffy Pomeranians to call my own!

Q 14): Do you have any advice for new migrants?

A: Really there is no easy answer to this question. It took me 15 years to feel more or less like a local. In my case, I wanted to live here, therefore I made the adjustments to my life and did what I could to make it work.

Q 15): Any 30th Anniversary celebration?

A: Don’t have any plans yet… I hope so, we will see.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my self-directed Q&A! And who knows, I might start a Sydney walking group some day base on the routes I recommended!

Sydney Harbour Bridge fashion photos by photographer Kent Johnson.

Like what you see? Travelling to Sydney and need a professional photographer to creatively capture and document your stay with Sydney’s iconic backdrops? Simply contact Kent Johnson for his location-shoot package.

Photography / Kent Johnson
Styling / Vivienne Shui

Outfit Of The Day

Akubra fedora
2 Atelier by Lyn & Tony neckpiece
Chinatown market shirt
Tiffany & Co. ring (left hand)
self-designed ring (right hand)
Mulberry bag
Just Jeans jeans
Urban Soul ankle boots

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