Ronald van Diessen & Esther van Diessen-Meijer
Ronald van Diessen & Esther van Diessen-Meijer Migrated from the town of Vinkeveen, The Netherlands to Clare, South Australia in January 2008.
Why did we choose Australia and why of all places the Clare Valley? Our Story.
We met at London Airport during a stop-over on our way to Australia in 1998. Born and raised in The Netherlands we both believed that Australia would be a great country to explore. With similar travel plans we travelled together, and for a time both worked for a business with Bed & Breakfast cottages in the Clare Valley.
The working holiday experience in Clare was an important factor in our final decision to settle here. In January 2008, after 3 years of preparation, we arrived back in Australia.
We picked the Clare Valley because it has a good sized country town (Clare), and because of the landscape and country friendliness. It was relatively near to an international airport as well as a bigger city, but still far away enough to experience the country lifestyle. As it was a tourism area it had the potential for us to start a tourism-related business.
Esther was qualified as a midwife nurse, but because it was hard and very expensive to have her Dutch diplomas assessed, she obtained her Aged Care certificate here and now works as an aged care worker. She is happy in her job.
I have a degree in Land Care Management & Landscape Management as well as a certificate in Historical Geography. I currently work as a contractor for a local landscaper. I am still on the outlook to find a job in which I can use my previous skills, expertise and experiences in new and innovative projects for the community and tourism industry again.
We also used to do a lot of volunteer work in Holland. Here I work as a volunteer with the local Conservation Park and help out with park maintenance and OHSW.
Esther and I established and run our successful Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Clare. Esther hopes to breed Alpacas. We currently are in the process of developing a new Bed and Breakfast on our property and hope to open that within two years.
Australia, The Netherlands. What's the difference?
One main reason why we picked Australia as a country to migrate to was the open space. The space here in Australia is something that gives you a feeling of absolute freedom. The Netherlands is a busy place with 16.7 million Dutchies in an area about the same size of Lake Eyre! We laughed at the highways here, with hardly any cars on them! How good is that! When we bought our 27 acres of land with two houses, sheds, dams and awesome views we were very excited. That true ‘Oz' lifestyle is something that's just not possible or affordable in The Netherlands.
There our home was a Dutch windmill that was built in 1624, right on the edge of a big man made lake. There was plenty of water, lots of fantastic waterbirds, lots of boats and people in or on the water or water edge. We often jumped into the lake for a swim before or after work and spent a lot of time canoeing. Here in Clare, instead of that we have water restrictions and a highly flammable landscape! We harvest rainwater in tanks and dams. This was a great learning curve for us and we have become very water wise and re-use all the water we can.
The Netherlands is basically is a big river delta and therefore very flat, with the risk of flooding. Here we live on steep slopes and we're not too worried about flooding. Because we were so used to everything being flat, the muscles in our legs had to get used to climbing up and down the hills!
Because there's so much history in Holland every town or city is really historical and unique and houses, castles, and windmills that are 500 years old really tell you a story. All history here is still relatively young.
Would you recommend the move to others?
I would, without any doubt, recommend the move to others. Wherever you migrate to in Australia, there's always friends and family on the other side of the globe that you will miss. But the internet and Skype make it easy to stay in touch.
We moved to the Clare Valley and never looked back. It's been a very challenging adventure. People who intend to migrate to regional SA should be realistic. Be prepared to go through a long migration process before you are a permanent resident. Save enough money so you can afford the whole migration and settlement process. On the flipside it's really easy to make friends as soon as you have the time to go out there. Don't expect that perfect lifestyle straight away. Just know it's there but you'll have to work for it.
So in a nutshell: Migrating difficult? Yes, sometimes. Worth it? Absolutely!