June 16, 2022

Crossing the line

Have you ever moved interstate? I didn’t realise how big moving states would be. Until I did it.

Admittedly, my move (from Victoria to NSW) was a good few years before 2020, when Covid border closures and differences in restrictions shone bright lights on just how state-based our nation is.

I found so many unexpected differences. Some are small and subtle, like the lingo. Is a scallop a deep-fried slice of potato or sea-creature? Will I don swimmers or bathers to take a dip in the sea?

More impacting for those with kids are differences in education systems. These were significant enough to result in my son skipping a grade and my friend’s son never having a chance to attend preschool.

Bureaucracy is far from beautiful when moving interstate. Changing over my car’s registration and driver licence was one of the biggest time- and money-wasting exercises I’ve ever been through.

It was also enough to reduce me to tears, shed while squatting in the gutter during persistent sub-tropical rain while trying to remove theft-proof screws from my Victorian number plate.

Even now, more than seven years after my move, I’ve only recently got used to NSW’s colourful ‘slip system’ for car rego. And, while I’m driving, I’m conscious that I haven’t finished the process of tuning my car radio to a good range of stations.

It took a while to understand NSW newspapers, especially as one is called The Sun-Herald which is very close to one of Melbourne’s papers, The Herald-Sun.

Discussion about state politics leaves me scratching my head, especially when there’s reference to scandals from the past. In my home state, I had been drip-fed enough information to inform my voting. Then I moved states and realised I knew nothing of who is who in the state-political zoo.

Then there’s the geography. Who knew that NSW has so many ‘coasts’? And of course, there’s the weather, a change I embraced thanks to moving partly for more warmth.

With the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that over 100,000 Australians moved interstate in one three-month window in 2021, I am far from alone in sweating the big and small stuff that comes with packing up your possessions and moving them across a state line.

Vivienne Pearson is a freelance writer whose writing lives at viviennepearson.com

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