Positively Scottish Humans of Oz: Jen, who turned a weekend trip Down Under into a permanent move

In this series of regular articles, our Melbourne-based correspondent meets the Positively Scottish Humans of Oz

Known for its long stretches of white-sand beaches and azure ocean, Perth, Australia, is said to be the most remote city in the world. Called after the Scottish city of the same name, Perth’s nearest hub of more than one million people is Adelaide, some 1,207 miles away. It was to much fanfare then, that Qantas announced a direct Perth to London service to commence in March 2018. It will be the first non-stop commercial flight between Australia and the UK, an update of the classic ‘Kangaroo Route’, which dates back to 1947. In those days, it took Qantas four days and nine stops to complete the journey. This new service will slash that to just 17 hours, a welcome relief for British travellers bound for Oz, who often spend up to two days negotiating transfers in Europe and the Middle East—like Jen McGinlay, who once flew from Scotland to Australia…for the weekend.

I was working in radio in Ayr and my husband, who was working for Network Rail, would commute to London on a weekly basis. One of his colleagues moved to Perth, Australia, and about a year later, he got in touch with my husband and said there was a role there that would really suit him.

My husband said he’d look into it. I thought it would never happen, that he’d get it out of his system and forget about it. We have a little boy and our family in Scotland, and my life was ok. But my husband wasn’t happy because he was travelling so much.

Soon he was getting up at ridiculous hours in the night for interviews—he’d be in pyjama bottoms and a shirt and tie. It got to the point where they wanted to meet him, so we flew to Perth to check it out. We landed on the Friday and left on the Monday morning.

It was my first time to Perth. It was 40 degrees and I said, ‘I’m never coming back’. It’s just a heat I’d never felt before. You can’t be outside. I thought, ’Oh my god, I’m melting!’ It was very surreal. We didn’t  know which way was up with the time difference and jet lag. My husband had the interview and then we had to see as much as we could to make a decision, so I went to a school and to a few of the suburbs. We did a lot in the time we were there, it was crazy.

I tortured myself about leaving Scotland. I couldn’t make a decision. I thought it was going to be too hard to leave my family, to leave my mum and dad. It felt like there was going to be too much pain ahead of me and I just couldn’t see past the goodbyes at the airport. I think I knew it was the right thing for us as a family, but it just felt so hard to break my mum and dad’s heart, and leave my media career. I’d built up a great network over the seven years of doing media in Scotland.

In the end, I thought, ‘We can’t let this opportunity go.’ So, after about four months of torture, I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ That was two years ago and it was the best decision I ever made.

We’ve picked a nice place to live, right on the beach, and people here are so friendly. They have dreams and they follow them. People really have a confidence about them here. I’m not great at pushing myself, but here I have to do that. 

Families seem to be more together and happier here. They get the chance to chill out more and have more downtime, which is what life’s all about. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic group of friends. The only reason I would go home is for family, but you’ve got to live your own life and I think if we went back, we’d miss this life. I just wish people in Scotland could see this life because they can have it too.

I’m glad I came for that crazy weekend just to check it out. I had to come. If my husband had just gone on his own, had the interview and been offered the job, he would have found it so hard to convince me. Though it was a very short visit, coming here really helped us make the decision.

I just think if we had stayed in Scotland, it wouldn’t have been great for our relationship and our family life. I was a bit stuck in a rut with my career. I’d lost a bit of the fire and the passion for it. To come here was almost like the perfect solution in a way, to really take a look at what I want to do.

And it has been the right thing because our relationship has improved. My husband isn’t travelling, so we’re not squeezing our whole life into two days over the weekend. And, as a result of all the extra time together, I’m pregnant!

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