09/04/2014 2:39 pm

Snow at Easter was the final straw in a particularly long, cold, dark, term that convinced me that I was ready for a change of scenery and a new challenge. Having trained in secondary education and gone straight in a job in a large school on the outskirts of Birmingham I felt that after 3 years of hard work to get my qualifications and experience it was time for something new.  I flew out to Australia with the intention of it being a three month trip before going on to Central America. Initially I travelled the Queensland coast and worked for 5 weeks in Sydney, just doing temporary work, and it only took me about this amount of time to realise that I needed longer in the country.

Anna6

I continued to travel Australia before moving on to New Zealand, Fiji and America, all the while formulating a plan of how I would return and what I would do there. I realised that to make it worth my while returning I would need to secure my second year visa by completing regional work. Through a few Google searches and reading about a number of unappealing jobs packing watermelons I stumbled across the idea that I might be able to combine my regional work with teaching – of course children in the outback need teaching too! Once I had got this idea in my head I began looking for jobs in this area and confirmation that this would be possible. I found the Teach Outback website which seemed to be advertising exactly what I wanted to do. I emailed the website and received an enthusiastic reply saying that YES I could teach on an outback property AND complete the work required to secure a second visa. I set up a profile outlining my qualifications, skills as well as what I was looking for before starting to search for families. Fortunately a day later a family found me! I received an email saying that they had liked my profile and asking for more details. Things moved very quickly from this point on, within two weeks we had exchanged enough emails to be happy to set up a start date so all I needed to do was get back to Australia and book a flight to a town I had never heard of - Emerald!

Anna4

Over the next month before my flight into Emerald I gave very little thought to what I’d actually signed up for. I exchanged emails regularly with the family but moving to the outback seemed a million miles away from my Christmas shopping and parties in the UK. It was only really when I boarded a tiny plane with propellers, containing only four people, bound for Emerald that I suddenly thought ‘What am I doing!?’ I landed (a not so smooth landing) into what seemed like the middle of nowhere, to 36* heat to be picked up by a man wearing double denim and a cowboy hat! He drove me out further into the nowhere to the property I would call home for the next 6 months. Quite different from the life I had left behind and I knew my time would be different if nothing else!

Anna8

Instantly thrown into family life I was welcomed and felt immediately comfortable in my new home. The teaching is an enormous change from what I knew before with a class of only two and aged five and eight rather than the teenagers I was used to. Having only two children to teach doesn’t make the school day any less hectic and still requires careful planning and organisation however it is an opportunity I would never get in the UK. The school day can be fun for all of us as I have the flexibility to be able to try new things and change the day around to suit the work or the weather or how the kids are on the day. I have been able to build a wonderful relationship with the children which is impossible in a mainstream school and I can see the improvements they make daily. As well as me teaching them they love to teach me about their life in the outback and revel in the fact that I am not used to the heat,  the creatures and do not own any ‘outback clothes’! They have an amazing space out here to explore and play in and it has been fantastic for me to be able to share that with them.

Anna3
Anna2

Outside of the teaching I have had some incredible experiences that I know most people will never have. I have experienced the workings of a cattle property and the entirely different lifestyle that this entails. I have been to a rodeo which was a fun night quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before (so much double denim!).  I have ridden the quad out to the creek after the rain so the kids can swim, seen them ride their horses, something I’m sure I’ll do in time. I love to walk or run out the back of the property and adore the space, scenery, and that I can walk 10km without encountering another person or vehicle. I have pregnancy tested a cow (this means hand, no arm, up the bum!) and seen how cattle are mustered by helicopter. I have been welcomed into a new family and met some lovely, genuine and interesting people. I know that there are more wonderful experiences to come and I feel very fortunate that I have had this opportunity and took the chance on trying something different.

Anna9

It is almost one year ago to the day that I left my school in England on a dark Friday night, laden with 120 books to mark and a heap of paperwork to plough through, as well as the snow. As I sit out on the veranda now, watching a sunset, playing cricket with the kids on a sunny afternoon or out walking in the expanse that surrounds us I feel exceptionally grateful that I made the change and am not in traffic somewhere in England knowing the weekend will come and go to quickly . The decision to leave my teaching job in England and move abroad was hard but one that I do not regret for a second and I know that I will find the move away from this and the change from the lifestyle I have here will be the bigger challenge.

Rainbow Run Fun March 2014