Poms In Paradise

Wednesday, 11 May 2011, 7:30PM – 8:00PM

Queensland’s Gold Coast has long been a magnet for Brits settling in Australia, and in this new documentary series, we see how these ex pats have settled in to life down under and whether they can really find paradise in Australia. 

With its amazing beaches, great nightlife and sunshine throughout most of the year, it’s no wonder that the Gold Coast is officially one of the most desirable places to live in the world. 

Poms in Paradise follows the lives of Brits who have settled here, and discovers how they have adapted to life Down Under. 

In this week’s episode we meet a Brit who has become a champion in an exacting Aussie sport, an Irishman who works in the Australian rainforest and an ex pat family whose seemingly perfect lifestyle does have a downside. 

Surfer’s Paradise, with its 25 miles of Golden Beaches, has long been a world famous centre for beach sports and the toughest of these is Surf Life Saving, a fusion of Iron Man challenges and life guarding skills. 

The programme meets 31 year old Stuart Snell, who has dominated the event for the past two years. We see him preparing for the first event in this year’s challenge, a gruelling 500 metre swim through the surf. He wins this race, but with five more challenges to face, will he be able to retain his crown in this fiercely competitive environment? 

He tells the programme that there is a world of difference between doing the challenge here compared to in his native South Wales: “ When I was doing it back in Wales it was quite difficult, it was cold it was miserable, putting on a wetsuit to paddle in the water, whereas here we walk down in our togs, and surf’s up.” 

Stuart studied Chemical Engineering in the UK, but since arriving in Australia he retrained as a primary school teacher and says that he tells the children how lucky they are to live in Australia, and particularly on the Gold Coast which he says is “probably one of the best places in Australia to live”. 

The programme features Marcus, Lorraine and their daughter Sky who made the move to Australia a year ago. They wanted a change of lifestyle and now live a typical Gold Coast life with barbecues on the beach and a beautiful waterfront house. The do the same jobs as in the UK: Marcus is builder and Lorraine is an accountant, but they reveal they are £10,000 better off in Australia. 

The family are spending Sunday afternoon on the beach, drinking champagne and enjoying the sun and surf, a world away from their life in the UK. Marcus tells the programme:” In England, on a Sunday, probably because of the weather and what our friends were doing, we would sit in a working men’s club because that’s all there was to do.” 

The family decided to give themselves a year in Australia before deciding whether to stay permanently, but, as the programme reveals, Lorraine is finding that the 10,000 miles that separates her from her family is proving emotionally difficult. 

A year ago Lorraine found out her mother was terminally ill; this has made the decision about staying in Australia particularly tough. Lorraine says: “Sometimes I just want to be there to give them a cuddle …and reassure my dad I am thinking of him and tell my Mum I love her.” 

One ex pat who has fully embraced life in Australia is Irishman Frank McGrath who works in one of the most beautiful, and dangerous, environments on the Gold Coast, the tropical rainforest. 

Frank worked in a factory in his home town of Cork, but after breaking up with his girlfriend he decided he wanted a completely new life as far away as possible from Ireland. He tells the programme that he knew the Gold Coast was the right place for him as he flew into the country and saw the rainforest. 

Frank is now a plant specialist working with a team of bush regenerators to restore damaged areas of the rainforest and preserve the native flora and fauna. 

He describes how dangerous the rainforest can be, with hazards such as jumping ants that have one of the most powerful venoms in the insect world, and the most painful tree in existence, the stinging tree, which is believed to have caused a suicide due to the intensity of the sting. 

Despite all of this Frank has found his paradise in Australia and tells the programme: “You can be anything you want to be here if you put in the effort.”

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