“I have always liked the idea of travelling and experiencing new countries, cultures, societies and the ultimate independence that travelling brings to a young person in his twenties.”
We all know someone, a friend, a cousin, a sister or even a family friend that’s took the plunge, packed their bags and boarded a plane to Oz. A journey that not only takes them thousands of miles away from home but also hundreds of days away from returning.
So what it is about the great down under that makes it so appealing to the Irish? Of course, we know the promise of jobs, but they could go anywhere in England, America or even Canada. So, what is it about Australia that makes the Irish want to pack the contents of their mam’s sun cream press and head off into the great down under?
I asked my cousin and her partner, Leah and Scott, who lived in Australia for over two years before coming home about what drew them there, the differences they found and why they decided to come home.
“The main topic of conversation among other Irish travellers always seemed to be based around seeking work and a better quality of life to the one offered back home. The Irish are not just travelling here for the year of a lifetime but for a standard of living they do not believe they can get in Ireland.”
Talking about culture, I asked what the main differences were between Irish and Australians. They said people from all over the world were submerged within the Australian culture as it was a place for bag packers to put their bags down and have a much-needed drink and good time, something the Irish are quite fond of.
I’m reminded when interviewing the pair of the recession in the past 7 years and how, for young people at the time like Scott and Leah, Australia was the light at the end of the tunnel that was their college degrees: “being made redundant in my job and finishing my degree the same year, there was only one country that was attractive to me, and that was Australia – plentiful in sunshine, sea, sand and lots of work!”. Of course times are changing, but still the youth of now (including myself) still feel huge fear of unemployment, working for four years on a degree and coming into the Irish job sector with little or no chance of getting anything from it.
When I asked the pair would they have stayed, it’s clear to me that they exemplify every other Irish young person travelling, as they both said Ireland was calling them home. More opportunities began to emerge within the Irish economy and after two years they felt it was time to come home.
So, what about now? What about the young people of 2017? The economy is improving and with that the job opportunities, so what still makes the Irish leave home and travel to Australia?
Freedom of course! A chance to explore a place so foreign to them, a place they know they can’t be followed by the worries and struggles of home and the opportunity to meet people they never in a million years would meet down in the local nightclub. Australia has become a place for the young Irish to grow into their twenties in, to find out what they really want from life and where they choose if Ireland will be the place they call home.
Whether you decide to stay or not depends of course on how much of a home bird you are, although I’m sure like all Irish, you yearn for a cuddle off your mam. So, if you’re debating over whether to go to Oz or not, or anywhere for that matter, take the risk and join the hundreds of Irish cooking shrimp on the Barbie and having the time of their life.