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Trying really hard to make a decision, can't decide what's right. Lock Rss

We are thinking about taking a posting (DH is in the RAAF) to NT. It's a remote area 3.5 hours from Darwin and we just can't decide what to do!

There are so many pros-experiencing living in a different state, different culture, meeting new people, more money, moving allowances (lots of money), easy for me to get a job, on-base activities for the kids.

There are also a lot of cons-being away from family (3 hours from them atm but will be 5 hours by plane if we move), minimum 3 year posting, climate, isolation, schooling system doesn't look so great.

The thing is, if we go, we can kind of work it so that we have a couple of postings and then settle down in the one place so that the girls will be able to do all their high school in one place. That's our main aim. It's just so hard to make a decision.

Has anyone experienced school in NT, moreso the Katherine area? Have you made a big move and regretted it/loved it? I think I'm looking for someone to convince me that it's the right thing to do. It's just so hard!

[Edited on 17/02/2010]
I've moved countries twice; once without kids and once with one child.

We emigrated from the UK to New Zealand 4 years ago (gee that's gone by fast)and haven't looked back. DS1 was 2.5 at the time. We left behind ALL family connections and this was what we found the hardest thing to do because neither set of grandparents are particularly young and we knew that getting back if they got ill would be more than a challenge. We did it anyway. LOL We wanted the kind of life for DS1 that we didn't think we could give him in the UK. We wanted him to grow up like we did; getting a chance to just be a kid, wide open spaces, hanging out with his friends etc. For us that outweighed staying for what was essentially the family.

We got out here, and though we heard horror stories all the time of people who landed here and had stayed less than 6 months I NEVER once doubted that we'd done the right thing. Even when we'd been here 6 months, hadn't bought a house and were really drained from the lack of family support never once did we say that we wanted to go back, and in fact the numerous times it has come up since (for various reasons) we both agree we don't want to go back unless we have absolutely no alternative. I've looked at it as an adventure from day 1, but not so much so that the realities haven't been a factor. The realities of course are that some days/weeks/months it is damn hard being where we are and in truth we'd be financially better off if we went back to England than if we stayed here but our lives are here and with DS1 now in school that decision is made all the harder.

In terms of schooling, I think to some extent it's not all just about the quality of the education; a kid who is on the ball academically can still thrive in a less than optimum situation just as a student who isn't that great academically can flounder in a system that is 'world class'. For us we made the move because the pros outweighed the cons (I think it helped that they outnumbered each other too) and we really felt in our hearts it was the right thing to do for us as a family.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

I havent made the move, but from your post you listed mostly pro's. It sounds to me as thought you want to do it and you just need some reassurance.

Personally I think its a BRILLIANT opportunity. Like you said its only for 3 years, and although on this side of 3 yrs it sounds like a long time, when your on the other side of 3 yrs it will have gone so quickly!
As for school, you could help by becoming more involved, spend time in classrooms and get some learning material for at home. there are heaps of educational games around. You can give them as gifts and the kids will simply enjoy the game, ignoring the educational benefits they will also gain.

I say go for it!!

it sounds great i love the territory and there is so many wonderful places to visit up there. personally i would do it. i dont know much bout schooling in Katherine area but my cousins went there all finished etc with good marks
i went to school in a remote community called Nhulunbuy and personally i did better up there then what i did in Qld schools.

we have just done a big relocate, from Far north Qld to central Qld, personally we loved it up there, but we had no support and we were really struggling. MIL bought us a house down here so here we are, we dont know yet if it was the right thing, we dont get to move into our house until the 1st of march, i think once we are there and can start doing our own stuff then we might be right, DF is really struggling and doesnt see the good side, but thats because we are sposed to be paying off the house (buying it off MIL) but she wants to do all these things to it, but we dont want them done IYKWIM.

anyways i think its a great oppurtunity, and i would go for it, it is really great up there

OK, so.
here's the thing - as i see it.

We moved 18 months ago from sydney to darwin & had a LOT of concerns about similar things as you do... however, it is a fabulous opportunity for the kids (& of course you), living in a new state, seeing the amazing sites that Katherine & the surrounds has to offer, they are just things that most kids dont get to experience. It's not like Katherine is a destination that you would choose for a family holiday!

As my siggy says, we are about to take a posting now out to Jabiru & this scares the life out of me, cause it seems that we are going more & more remote... argh. I cant imagine being rained in for 6 weeks at a time & not being able to leave... but it all adds to the adventure & life experience that we are trying to create for our kids. We want them to learn that there is so so much out there in the world, not just their immediate surroundings & that you dont have to be tied down to one job, one house, etc etc for the rest of your life. We want them to learn to take every opportunity as it rarely knocks twice. That is why we are taking the posting to live in Kakadu, how many people can say they have lived in a national park??

As for the schooling - yup, i find it substandard to the eastern states, but we just make sure that we do additional activities with DS on weekends etc. When he wants to play games on the computer, we have a deal, that he plays 1/2 hr of the maths programme (or whatever one he chooses), which is a game anyway, then he can play what he wants. He usually gets pretty wrapped up in them & plays longer than the 30 mins anyway... LOL I guess tho, that it depends on the teachers as well. There will be loads of kids that live on base & families that have had the same concerns as you, but you know what, all schools still have minimum standards that they need to adhere to. There are also privaate schools that you can send them to if you dont like the public system when you get there.

Dont kid yourself - the climate is SH!!TE, during the wet season, but the dry is beautiful & Katherine is less tropical thean darwin anyway. It only took us the 1 wet season to climatise & this wet season has been A LOT easier to deal with.

I didnt struggle with the actual isolation of the community as such, more the isolation of being away from the familiarity of friends & family & by about month 3, was incredibly home sick. But i also got past that with the help of some amazing people that also have no family around them. We have become this really weird extended family, that pick each others kids up from day care, etc etc. Just like home, but these friends dont know any of my history (can be a good thing... LOL).

To be honest, i hate darwin & cant wait to get back to an eastern state, but the experiences that we have given our kids since being here far outweighs how much i hate it.

does this help?


i am more than happy to answer any questions that i can for you!!

Thanks for the replies girls. I think I'm so indecisive I just need DH to say 'right, this is what we are doing.' That way the responsibility doesn't fall on me.

My mum would be pretty upset I think. We probably see her and dad every couple of months but it will cut it down to maybe 3 times a year. That is a BIG con on my list, but still not something we can't get around.

DH and I still need to talk about it a lot more. I'll keep you updated with what we decide. Thanks again!
Yep - my mum said "i cant believe you are taking my grandchildren away from me, we dont have long left in this life & next time i will see them, it will be at my funeral"

WTF?? excuse me??


i pretty much told her that this is the write thing for MY family, which is DH, DS, DD & myself & when they were young married they did whatever they wanted too without regard for their parents.... i think it was a wake up for her, as my dad was a federal cop based in Tennant Creek for a while.

The kids speak with them every sunday night, yeah i know its not the same, but they have come to accept it.

One thing that upset me about that comment was the fact that they could always come here & visit, why does it always have to be us going home? 18 months on, we have been home twice, the inlaws have been here twice & my parents havent even discussed coming.

Dont let them guilt you into not going - hopefully they will see the fabulous opportunity that you are being offered & support you in it.

I know they will be disappointed, but its not forever.
We relocted recently from Mt Gambier, SA (rural, near Vic boarder) to Alice Springs, NT. We were used to not having family around already so the biggest adjustment has been the clinate. We went from winter in mt gambier (max of 13) to getting off the plane in Alice at 43. The heat knocked us around for a few weeks but now - 3mths later we're used to seeing 38-41 degree days on the forecast all week. The kids don't seem to notice the heat at all.

We got a little bit of grief from the rellies. They would visit mt gambier maybe every 2 months from Adelaide and we would go to adelaide at least ever 3months. Now it would be more like 3 times a year for their visit and we wont be getting to Adelaide much. (about $2000 in airfairs for us)

But we went because it was the best long term decision for our family. I'm a stay at home mum...and dont want to have to work. To be able to do this my DH has taken oppurtunities for career advancement, first adelaide to mt gambier and now to Alice. A few years when they are little compared to the rest of their lives is nothing to guarntee stability later on. We will be here 2-3yrs and hopefully next time will be back to Adelaide.

Sorry for the long post
Hi My DH is also in the RAAF and although we have not been to Tindal I have been talking to some other people that have been there recently.

I think it really depends on what you like. I have been told that the it really adds up being there and the extra allowances dont really cover enough so it costs you more eg electricity for air cons, food costs more etc
also the coulture up there is very into drinking and a lot of them drank a lot because there isnt much else to do.

I know what you mean about trying to get a couple of postings to one place we have just bee posted end of last year and are hoping to stay here for a couple of posting at least

Also the schooling is definatly behind other states but defence does pay for some tutoring if they need to catch up that has been happening with a friends DS because when they moved from Tindal to Williamtown she was really behind.

Good luck trying to make the decision we also thought about going to Tindal but decided against it at this stage

Jess 2005, Steph 2006, Chris 2008 and Olly 2009

thought i would add i have also heard from families that love it there too. So i think i just depends what you want
[Edited on 17/02/2010]

Jess 2005, Steph 2006, Chris 2008 and Olly 2009

Posted by: JSCnO

also the coulture up there is very into drinking and a lot of them drank a lot because there isnt much else to do.

This is a ridiculous attitude to have (not from you, but from those people) & a cop-out for being lazy. There is SOOO much to do out there, if you want to. It just needs to be embraced. You need to move away from the thinking that there is nothing to do because there isnt a rollerskate rink, or those damn centres that are full of arcade machines, indoor play centres etc. I have found that the children in the NT are much 'younger' & act like kids. They want to be outside riding bikes, they want to be at the park, but as parents need to encourage it too. You have to be willing on your weekends to take day trips (cause that's what they are up here, cant do anything in a couple of hours...).

Any place you live in can have a culture of drinking "cause there is nothing else to do". I wouldnt let this bother you.
The whole RAAF has a big drinking culture, so I do understand where you're coming from JSCnO, but we try to keep ourselves a little bit away from that when we can. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I have heard that about being more expensive. But shouldn't all the extra money cover it? You get remote locality allowance, which adds up to about $10,000 more per year, plus 2 lots of free flights home.

Don't know if you'd be able to answer Chilliwoman, but is it easier to get jobs up there? A few people have told me that it's hard for people to get workers so you can go in with minimum experience and still get an alright job. If this is the case, it would be good for me too cos then I'd be able to get experience in something and when we get posted back here I'll have more skills to get the job I want.

At the moment we're still looking at all the fine details of it all. The main thing that got us thinking about it is that friends of our are moving there (they've been before and are going back), and we would be able to support each other.
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