Ward Family Wanted Down Under Revisited


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Ward Family

An updated look at families previously featured on Wanted Down Under. Seven years after a trial week down under, are the Ward family living in Australia?


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Pursuing a brighter future for your family

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on the other side of the world takes courage and determination,

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especially if one of your teenage children just doesn't want to go.

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That was the dilemma Gary and Helen Ward faced back in 2009.

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Seven years later, we'll find out if a trial week in Darwin

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was enough to tempt the whole family to take the plunge.

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Dad Gary and mum Helen were convinced

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their family could have a much better future in Australia.

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I went there ten years ago - went to Sydney and Brisbane -

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and just enjoyed the lifestyle,

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and, obviously, the weather was amazing.

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I want to give my children the opportunity of a brighter future

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in a climate where it's healthier, it's more outdoors.

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A week down under revealed the country's potential,

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but they still needed to persuade daughter Rebecca

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it was the right move.

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I still have a lot to leave behind, and I'm still not totally sure.

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Now, seven years on, where in the world do the Wards call home?

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It's a little bit of a mission. I'm that way wired.

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Around 23 families per day migrate to Australia

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in search of a better life,

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and anyone who's under the age of 45 and on the skills shortage list

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could find themselves at the front of the queue.

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But for all these families, how hard is the decision,

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and do they find what they're looking for?

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Having holidayed in Sydney ten years previously,

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Gary Ward was convinced Australia could offer his family

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a brighter future.

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And although she'd never been, wife Helen agreed.

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But teenage daughter Rebecca was adamant

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uprooting to the other side of the world wasn't for her.

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After a week experiencing what life there could be like,

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the family faced a life-changing decision -

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whether to stay in the UK or make the move down under.

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Today, we'll find out where the Wards finally agreed to call home.

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Back in 2009, Gary and Helen Ward were living in Bradford

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with children Rebecca, who was then 15,

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Dan, who was 14, Rachel, who was 11,

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and Jake the dog, who wouldn't be making the move.

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Visa applicant Gary was a full-time youth worker.

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My job is amazing, actually, because you get a chance to help people

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who haven't had a good start in life.

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When we get alongside people and people respond,

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then you just feel as if you've not just done a job,

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but you've actually helped the big picture.

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You've done well there.

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Helen was a self-employed dressmaker

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and doubled up as a teacher to home-school the three children.

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We wanted to give our children a chance to soar with their strengths,

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to excel in the things they're good at,

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instead of concentrating on some of the things that they struggle with,

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which is what was happening in school,

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which just dented their confidence no end.

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Makes you think, this, doesn't it?

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But the couple were contemplating emigrating to Australia.

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I went there ten years ago -

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went to Sydney and Brisbane and around there -

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and just enjoyed the lifestyle.

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I want to give my children the opportunity of a brighter future,

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living in a climate where it's healthier, it's more outdoors.

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But oldest daughter Rebecca had a lot to lose

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if they did make the move - her beloved horses.

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I'm kind of torn half and half. Leaving my horses will hurt a lot.

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I'll miss them so much cos they're a huge part of my life.

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Underpinning the family's motives for a move

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was mum Helen's long-term health.

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The reason why we've decided now is because my wife's got SAD,

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which is seasonal affective disorder.

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In the UK, I suffer really badly. I just want to hibernate.

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I just feel... I get very low mood,

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I get very tired and very depressed, you know?

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If she can be in a better environment, then why not?

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If you can do something about that,

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then you would, wouldn't you, for health's sake?

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With such strong pulls in both directions,

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the family face some tough decisions.

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It's all or nothing. We all go.

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But if she said, "I'm not going, that's it,"

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I couldn't bear the thought of going and leaving one behind.

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The family's journey down under began

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with a gruelling 10,000-mile flight

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from the UK to Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory,

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and they were a tad weary when they finally touched down.

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-It's good we're here.

-It's quite an adventure, really.

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Absolutely exhausted.

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It's going to be an interesting week.

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There's a lot of challenges ahead.

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We need to put some things to bed, I think,

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about the way we feel about Australia versus the UK.

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Just really excited, you know,

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about what we're going to discover in Darwin.

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The next seven days would help the Wards decide once and for all

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where to call home.

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Their base for the week was the suburb of Anula,

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perfectly positioned to explore Darwin

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and the surrounding countryside.

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Well, that's pretty cool, isn't it?

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Gary was happy with outside,

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but would inside live up to his and Helen's expectations?

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-Wow. It's amazing.

-It's a bit of all right.

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-It's pretty good.

-It's huge.

-Our kitchen would fit in the fridge!

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-What do you reckon, guys? Could you get used to this?

-Yes, definitely.

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-Yeah?

-I'm already used to it.

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The kitchen and living area was certainly big enough for the Wards,

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but with only three bedrooms, the children would have to share.

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We're going to get you two in the end room over there,

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Dan in the one next door,

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and we'll go downstairs to the downstairs suite

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with en suite toilet. I think that's fair. See you!

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Bunking down together didn't appear to be a problem

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for Rebecca and Rachel, and venturing outside,

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there was something to make the whole family happy.

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-Has it got a pool?

-A pool!

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That's pretty good.

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Can't wait to see it when the sun's out.

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I like the warmth of the water.

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Yeah, it's refreshing, but not absolutely freezing.

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The coming days would help the family really test the water

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on Australian living,

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and the reality of being down under was beginning to hit home.

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30 hours ago, I'm sitting there, being excited, generally,

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and now I'm in Australia. It's just too much has changed.

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Do you want to pinch her? Pinch her. It is real!

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Back in the UK, the Wards lived in a four-bedroom house

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on the outskirts of Bradford.

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They'd purchased it eight years previously for £52,000.

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They also owned the house next door,

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which they were renting out to another family.

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In their home, space was a real issue,

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with Dan's room barely big enough to fit a bed.

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The family were hoping to find more room in Australia

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as well as that all-important pool.

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We found three suitable homes for sale in Darwin.

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The first was in the suburb of Moulden,

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about 30 minutes' drive from Darwin city centre.

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The three-bedroom detached house was on the market

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for around £210,000,

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so as long as they got the right price

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for their properties in the UK,

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Gary and Helen should have been able to afford it.

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-Oh, this looks nice.

-OK. It's pretty different.

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It's not what you expect to find in Australia, though, is it?

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Cos you get the concept of big homes, big rooms,

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and everything's bigger. Nice, though.

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I mean, the things you could do if you had a place like this -

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-you'd change it round and...

-Change a few things, I guess.

-Yeah, fixtures and fittings.

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But you can't change the size.

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I'm slightly, you know, surprised by how small it is.

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It's bigger than ours, though, isn't it?

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We're not really going to be spending every second of our life

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-in here, so...

-That's true.

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-We'll be outside a lot, won't we?

-Yeah.

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The house had evoked a mixed reaction,

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and Gary was clearly concerned about the size.

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Unfortunately, things didn't get any bigger in the bedrooms.

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-Whoa!

-My goodness.

-It's a bit small.

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You say, "Come in," but can we get in?

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-Wow.

-How would you feel if this was your room?

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-DAN:

-I wouldn't feel great about this, really.

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-I think it's too small.

-Mm.

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Dan certainly wasn't impressed with his potential bedroom,

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but would the master suite win over Gary and Helen?

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I don't... I hate the walls. It's just a painted breeze block.

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-Yeah.

-I don't want to be unkind,

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but every room looks like a garage with furniture in.

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HELEN LAUGHS

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Things were going from bad to worse, but if they moved to Australia,

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this could be the sort of house they'd have to settle for.

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-It's just ridiculous.

-Yes, that's the toilet room.

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-Or bedroom number four!

-THEY LAUGH

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-Now, this is spacious.

-This is cool.

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-There's room for a pool.

-Yeah.

-You could build a pool in there.

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-Yeah.

-At last, something positive,

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but Gary still wasn't satisfied.

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I'm struggling with the concept of outdoor/indoor.

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That's my problem.

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You've just got to remember how much time you're going to spend indoors,

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you know, when it's 30 degrees year-round.

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You're going to be outdoors as much as possible, aren't you?

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The size of the house they could get for their money in Darwin

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had come as a shock, but Helen was staying upbeat.

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The outside makes up for the inside.

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Because I'm an outdoor person - always have been -

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and this is one of the reasons why we're considering the move to Oz -

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so that we can spend more time outside.

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So, outdoors had been a hit,

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but the family certainly hadn't liked

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the cosy interiors of property one.

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But extra floor space was going to come at a price.

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Property two was in the suburb of Durack,

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35 minutes from Darwin.

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It had a lot more space, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms,

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but costing around £270,000

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meant it could prove a financial stretch for the Wards.

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-A walk-in wardrobe.

-Oh, there you go.

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-Sorted.

-En suite.

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-DAN:

-Oh, this is pretty fantastic, this, isn't it?

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-Great, yeah. It's really nice.

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

-Good, good, good.

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The family liked what they were seeing,

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and the bedroom's measured up for Dan.

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-This is a good size, too, isn't it?

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-A good size.

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Oh, is this your room, then, Dan?

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Yeah, I think so. Yeah, just without the teddy bear.

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Oh, this is fabulous.

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-Oh, now you're talking. Look at this.

-Oh, wow.

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-RACHEL:

-So spacious.

-Whoa! This is great.

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I like this very much.

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Inside had impressed,

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but would the outside live up to expectations?

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Wow.

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A pool!

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Yeah. That's a spa, isn't it?

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That'd be really good.

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You're not going to get much exercise in there, though.

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No, but you can cool down.

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-Nice to just jump in and...

-Cool down or...

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-REBECCA:

-Cool down and hop in the Jacuzzi.

-Mm.

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Although it appeared to come with an unexpected guest.

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-Oh, it's still alive!

-Does that come with the house?

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I bet he can't get out, you know. That's the reality.

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We're laughing and pointing, but it's the horror...

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Do you want to rescue him? Don't fall in!

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Aw!

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-He's cute.

-Rachel the bug girl.

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-I prefer this.

-I do like...

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I did like the garden in the last place,

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but this is much nicer.

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The house is much nicer, and you've still got a nice outdoor space.

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-There's only so much grass you can stare at...

-Yeah, true.

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-..before it says, "Fill me with a pool."

-True.

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Despite visiting wildlife,

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the house had been right up the Wards' street.

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The final property we had found for the family was a four-bedroom,

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two-bathroom house in the suburb of Woodroffe,

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half an hour from Darwin city centre.

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The property offered all the space the Wards needed,

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but it was expensive.

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At around £290,000,

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both Gary and Helen would have to work full-time

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to be able to afford it.

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Cor, whoa! That's amazing.

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Not sure about the darkness of the place.

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No, a lick of paint would make it a bit brighter, but...

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-I mean, this is just an entertainment area, isn't it?

-Mm-hm.

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-It's very homely and cosy.

-Yeah.

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I like it.

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And the kitchen had a fun layout, too.

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-Hey, look at this. It goes round.

-Oh, yeah!

-Wow.

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-Flows well, doesn't it?

-Yeah, it's excellent.

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They liked that feature,

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but the location of the bedrooms wasn't as pleasing,

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and Gary was still concerned about the space.

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It's not huge, is it?

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-Well, it doesn't need to be.

-No, but it's not bad, really.

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This is OK, I guess, as a guest room, maybe.

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-Do you like it?

-The other one, I liked straightaway.

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This one, I'm hoping that it's just going to have more things

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to offer than what we've seen so far.

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Helen's first impressions weren't great,

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but there was still more to see.

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-This has got to be our room.

-Goes without saying, really.

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-Definitely our room, isn't it?

-Wow.

-There's an en suite through there.

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This is selling it a bit more to me now.

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-Yeah, I like this.

-It's great, yeah.

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-Oh, this is cool.

-Pool table! Cool.

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Oh, that's class. I mean, there's such potential in this area.

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Do you know what I mean? To just stick a...

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-You could have this as your dining area right off the kitchen.

-Yeah, you could.

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And it would make the lounge and seating area

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more sort of spread round.

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-Or a ballet room?

-Would a horse fit in here, actually?

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Gary was trying hard to persuade Rebecca to move to Australia,

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and this outdoor feature was just what he needed.

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Oh, the pool's awesome!

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-That is one nice, big pool.

-Oh, this is cool.

-Cor, look at that!

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-I think it's tipped the balance a little bit.

-Oh, it's just...

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-That's the business, that, innit?

-Yeah.

-It's the dream home.

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Guys, I think you'd better come here.

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-What is it?

-It's, like, a fitness room.

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-Really?

-Yeah, come on.

-You've got to be kidding.

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It might not be a fitness room by everyone's standards,

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but Gary was impressed.

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So, you could just get out of bed, go for about ten lengths,

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or 20, or whatever, come and lift some weights,

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-and that's it, done.

-Then go off to work.

-Diet finished!

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-Yeah.

-Diet finished, pile it all back on with the barbecue.

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THEY LAUGH

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The Wards' property search in Darwin had been enlightening.

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Costing £210,000, the first house in Moulden

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had proved disappointingly small for the family.

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Property two, a four-bedroom house in Durack,

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was more expensive at £270,000, but it was perfect for the Wards,

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and Gary could see himself living there.

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The third house in Woodroffe had proven to be the dream home,

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with its impressive pool and large living area.

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But costing £290,000,

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it may have been just out of reach for the Wards.

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So, when it came to choosing between property in Australia and the UK,

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which way would they vote?

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-Australia.

-England.

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-Australia.

-Australia.

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Australia.

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-England?

-England.

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Australian properties have space. They've got swimming pools.

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That's generally it.

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-You like our house back home?

-Yeah. Yeah, very much.

-OK.

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With his heart set on bigger, more costly houses,

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finding the right job in Darwin would be crucial for Gary.

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Back in the UK, he was a youth worker,

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helping disadvantaged children.

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It was a job he loved,

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so it was important he could find a similar set-up in Australia.

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We had arranged for Gary to visit the YMCA in Darwin,

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an organisation doing the kind of work he was used to.

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I think, for me, the reason why I'm into welfare work

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and working with young people is cos I want to be making a difference.

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I see there's problems and there needs to be fixes in society.

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So, a job in Australia, I think what I'd be looking for

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is close to the same as you could possibly get.

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If they did move, Gary and Helen knew they would both have to work

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to afford the property and lifestyle they wanted.

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That meant home education would no longer be an option,

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so Helen and the children visited a local comprehensive

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to see what school could be like down under.

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-Hello.

-Hello. Welcome to Darwin.

-My name's Helen.

0:16:430:16:46

-Rachel.

-Rachel.

0:16:460:16:47

-Daniel.

-Daniel. And Rebecca.

0:16:470:16:49

-Yeah.

-Come on in. Let's have a look at the school.

0:16:490:16:51

-OK.

-Cool.

0:16:510:16:53

Both Rebecca and Dan were planning to attend sixth-form college,

0:16:530:16:57

but for Rachel, going to school for the first time

0:16:570:16:59

would be a massive adjustment.

0:16:590:17:01

I just find it really nerve-racking, confusing,

0:17:020:17:06

I don't know what to expect.

0:17:060:17:08

Just generally, it's weird.

0:17:090:17:12

Back at the YMCA,

0:17:120:17:14

Gary was meeting community worker Raquel and some of her clients.

0:17:140:17:18

-Hi there.

-Hi, Gary. How are you? Nice to meet you.

0:17:180:17:20

-Come and have a look through the centre.

-Excellent.

0:17:200:17:23

Are you going to wear them?

0:17:240:17:25

This is a safe environment for people to come

0:17:250:17:28

so that they can come here and know that they're safe.

0:17:280:17:30

And along with programmed activities, they can relax

0:17:300:17:33

and they have access to things that they necessarily wouldn't at home.

0:17:330:17:37

Can I have a look?

0:17:370:17:38

-That's pretty cool.

-Yeah.

0:17:380:17:41

While Gary enjoyed a tour,

0:17:410:17:43

the rest of the family were getting to grips with school life.

0:17:430:17:46

The classrooms were empty of students,

0:17:460:17:48

but there was still plenty to see,

0:17:480:17:50

and Rachel's first impression of Australian schools was good.

0:17:500:17:54

Come on in. This is the school's performing arts area.

0:17:540:17:57

-Oh, look at this.

-This is amazing.

-And the students do...

0:17:570:18:01

They do dance, they do drama, music.

0:18:010:18:04

So, do you have the performing arts as part of the curriculum

0:18:040:18:06

or is it an extracurricular activity?

0:18:060:18:08

-It's part of the curriculum.

-I think you've sold it to her.

0:18:080:18:10

-Yes.

-Oh, OK, that's good.

0:18:100:18:12

Across town, Gary had some pressing questions for Raquel.

0:18:150:18:19

What sort of working hours are there?

0:18:190:18:21

How does it work for an employee?

0:18:210:18:23

In this industry, which is working with young people,

0:18:230:18:27

outside school hours is the best time,

0:18:270:18:31

so we would definitely be looking for people who can work evenings

0:18:310:18:35

and afternoons and some weekends, obviously flexible.

0:18:350:18:39

And in terms of salary, what would it attract as a starting salary?

0:18:390:18:43

A starting salary, with someone with experience,

0:18:430:18:46

would be anywhere from, say, 47,000 to 57,000,

0:18:460:18:50

which is a fairly good salary in this area.

0:18:500:18:53

That's useful to know.

0:18:530:18:54

And certainly, if you work in remote areas,

0:18:540:18:57

which we also do, there are other benefits

0:18:570:18:59

-around those sorts of things.

-Sounds good.

0:18:590:19:01

Back at school,

0:19:030:19:04

Helen had some important questions for the headteacher

0:19:040:19:07

about putting her children into mainstream education.

0:19:070:19:10

Well, one of the reasons we've home-educated our children so far

0:19:100:19:13

is that a big concern is bullying.

0:19:130:19:15

Obviously, I wouldn't want my children to be subject

0:19:150:19:19

to any form of bullying, whatever form that might take.

0:19:190:19:22

We have no tolerance for bullying. We have things like natural justice.

0:19:220:19:26

So, if you're bullied by someone in the school,

0:19:260:19:29

we would like to have you and them together,

0:19:290:19:32

and perhaps the parents,

0:19:320:19:33

so that they understand the impact of their behaviour.

0:19:330:19:37

This is just... This school's just perfect.

0:19:370:19:39

-Oh, that's great!

-In every way.

0:19:390:19:41

-You're very welcome. I'm glad you liked it.

-Thank you.

0:19:410:19:44

See you later.

0:19:440:19:45

Helen had been reassured

0:19:450:19:47

and the school had definitely won over Rachel.

0:19:470:19:50

It had been a long day for everyone, but ultimately,

0:19:500:19:54

much of the decision to move would rest on Gary's ability

0:19:540:19:57

to find suitable work with a salary big enough

0:19:570:20:00

to help support the family.

0:20:000:20:01

In terms of fitting in and working there,

0:20:010:20:03

it's definitely a place where I'd consider working.

0:20:030:20:06

It's not a million miles away from what I do now.

0:20:060:20:09

I think one of my concerns would be the working hours.

0:20:090:20:11

It would take me away from

0:20:110:20:14

what we've got into a pattern, really, in family life,

0:20:140:20:16

of eating together - an evening meal -

0:20:160:20:18

and doing some things in the evening.

0:20:180:20:20

If needs must, I'd do it,

0:20:200:20:23

but I think I'd prefer the nine-to-five job.

0:20:230:20:26

So, would Gary choose work at home or away?

0:20:260:20:29

Based on what I've seen today at work, my vote goes to...

0:20:290:20:32

..UK.

0:20:340:20:36

Rachel's earlier vote for the UK

0:20:410:20:43

had come as a surprise for Gary and Helen,

0:20:430:20:45

but they knew it was Rebecca who would prove the hardest to convince

0:20:450:20:49

about moving down under.

0:20:490:20:51

Hopefully, a leisurely horse ride through the Australian outback

0:20:510:20:54

would help them to change her mind.

0:20:540:20:56

Almost the whole family were at home in the saddle,

0:21:000:21:03

but there was one person who preferred to keep his feet

0:21:030:21:06

on the ground.

0:21:060:21:07

-Is anyone feeling nervous at all?

-A little.

0:21:070:21:09

-A little bit?

-Kind of.

-All right, no worries. That's fine.

0:21:090:21:12

HELEN GIGGLES

0:21:160:21:18

There. To your left.

0:21:190:21:21

Look at them. There's three of them.

0:21:210:21:24

A family.

0:21:240:21:25

Helen hoped the experience

0:21:260:21:28

would help take Rebecca's mind off her horses back home.

0:21:280:21:31

Can you see yourself working in a place like this?

0:21:310:21:33

-Definitely.

-Could you?

-Yeah.

-Suit you, wouldn't it?

0:21:330:21:36

-Makes me miss Shadow, though.

-Does it?

0:21:360:21:38

It's nice to be around horses.

0:21:380:21:40

It's been a nice change, even for me.

0:21:400:21:42

There's horses everywhere, so I'm happy.

0:21:420:21:45

It was a good sign, and after an action-packed day,

0:21:450:21:49

it was time to vote on the Antipodean lifestyle.

0:21:490:21:52

Australia.

0:21:540:21:55

Australia.

0:21:550:21:56

Australia.

0:21:580:21:59

Australia.

0:22:000:22:01

-Australia.

-Yay!

-Wayhey!

0:22:030:22:06

-That's great.

-That's brilliant.

-Fantastic.

0:22:060:22:07

With everyone falling for the Australian lifestyle,

0:22:110:22:14

Helen and Gary still needed to find out if the move

0:22:140:22:17

was an affordable option.

0:22:170:22:19

They believed their two houses in the UK were jointly worth £270,000.

0:22:190:22:25

We had sent round an estate agent

0:22:250:22:27

to give them an up-to-date valuation.

0:22:270:22:29

It's really weird seeing our home, isn't it, when you're over here?

0:22:290:22:31

-Yeah.

-Just bizarre.

0:22:310:22:33

Certainly, it's a good-sized, four-bedroom, semidetached property

0:22:350:22:38

that has been extended to the side,

0:22:380:22:40

adding the fourth bedroom to the ground floor.

0:22:400:22:42

There's a very good-sized conservatory to the rear,

0:22:420:22:44

overlooking the private rear garden.

0:22:440:22:46

I would consider this property to be worth

0:22:460:22:48

somewhere in the region of £130,000,

0:22:480:22:50

and the property next door to be somewhere in the region of £110,000,

0:22:500:22:54

giving a grand total of £240,000.

0:22:540:22:58

-I would have thought 150 would have been the smallest amount.

-Yeah.

0:22:580:23:03

Cos it was valued at 170 at one point, wasn't it?

0:23:030:23:05

-Yeah, it was.

-Shows how much they've dropped.

0:23:050:23:07

The properties we've seen so far in Australia

0:23:070:23:09

have been valued at much higher than the price of those houses,

0:23:090:23:13

so that makes quite a difference to us, really.

0:23:130:23:17

It wasn't a good start.

0:23:190:23:21

To find out how they'd fare financially down under,

0:23:210:23:24

we had provided the Wards with a cost of living comparison.

0:23:240:23:27

-Stabling and feed. So, that's 225.

-No, that can't be that much.

0:23:270:23:31

So, what are our current running costs for the car?

0:23:330:23:35

-We've got it on here.

-120 a month for fuel.

0:23:350:23:38

Getting stressed now.

0:23:380:23:39

We've got some buying a home information.

0:23:420:23:44

So, that's the mortgage on our house.

0:23:440:23:46

-So, that's on the first house we saw.

-Really?

0:23:460:23:48

So, 1,300... Oh, my goodness.

0:23:480:23:51

So, it's well over double what we pay now on the mortgage.

0:23:520:23:56

OK, well, we're still earning more, so...

0:23:560:23:59

-Yeah.

-..it's not too bad.

-Yeah.

0:23:590:24:01

Things were a bit more expensive than they'd expected,

0:24:010:24:04

but Gary was determined to make their sums add up.

0:24:040:24:07

So, it costs £1,060 more per month to live.

0:24:070:24:11

1,060 is...

0:24:110:24:13

..195.

0:24:150:24:17

So, in actual fact, budget-wise...

0:24:170:24:19

-We're going to be worse off.

-Yeah, only £200.

0:24:190:24:23

You can cut back. You can cut back on shopping.

0:24:230:24:26

You can watch your fuel bills. You can do all sorts.

0:24:260:24:29

Well, the biggest thing is the horse because we've said to Rebecca

0:24:290:24:31

that, you know, she needs to get a job and start paying towards it.

0:24:310:24:35

-Absolutely.

-So, that's one of the ways

0:24:350:24:36

-we can cut back on our expenses.

-Mm-hm.

0:24:360:24:40

Gary and Helen were putting on a brave face,

0:24:400:24:43

but how would they vote having realised the life they dreamt of

0:24:430:24:46

in Australia might prove too expensive to be a reality?

0:24:460:24:50

-UK.

-UK.

0:24:530:24:54

-UK?

-Yeah, UK.

0:24:560:24:58

It's obviously mathematically cheaper to live in the UK.

0:24:580:25:02

The Wards' dream had taken a battering,

0:25:070:25:09

and there was still one more hurdle to overcome -

0:25:090:25:12

the possibility of saying goodbye to loved ones back in the UK.

0:25:120:25:16

The family had sat down together to watch messages from home.

0:25:160:25:21

Hello, Gary, Helen and the children.

0:25:210:25:23

Hello, gang.

0:25:230:25:24

Nice to be able to speak to you.

0:25:240:25:26

They always seem to be enthusiastic about stuff, don't they?

0:25:260:25:28

Wanting to see what the next challenge is, what's the next thing.

0:25:280:25:31

-Caring and supportive.

-Without a doubt.

-Good friends.

0:25:310:25:35

Gary's one of those unique people

0:25:350:25:37

who really challenges the way you think about stuff,

0:25:370:25:40

and he doesn't go along with the run-of-the-mill kind of way

0:25:400:25:43

of thinking and seeing the world.

0:25:430:25:44

He's a bit of an anarchist at heart, I think.

0:25:440:25:47

You never quite know what he's going to do next,

0:25:470:25:49

and he's a total surprise, and I love that about Gary.

0:25:490:25:53

Helen has become a really good friend.

0:25:530:25:55

She's a good mate to sit and have a coffee with, have a chinwag.

0:25:550:25:58

She is not only my daughter, she's a very good friend.

0:25:580:26:01

She's somebody I can contact and talk about all sorts of things.

0:26:010:26:05

She's such a thoughtful, generous girl,

0:26:050:26:07

and I love her to bits.

0:26:070:26:09

-We don't want them to go...

-No, we don't.

0:26:090:26:11

..but that's selfish.

0:26:110:26:13

When I say that, I don't want them to go,

0:26:130:26:15

but in another way, I do,

0:26:150:26:17

because I know it will be a better life.

0:26:170:26:20

-Aye, we'll miss them.

-We'll miss them, you know.

-We will and all.

0:26:210:26:24

We love you... I can't.

0:26:250:26:27

We love you and we miss you very, very much.

0:26:270:26:31

-God bless you.

-Yeah.

0:26:310:26:33

I shall miss you dreadfully if you decide to settle.

0:26:330:26:37

I shall miss your company. I shall miss your fun.

0:26:370:26:39

I still keep thinking of all the good times that we've had,

0:26:390:26:43

thinking of the times that we've taken Jake out to the woods,

0:26:430:26:47

which we won't be able to go and see any more.

0:26:470:26:49

And I shall just miss all your company.

0:26:490:26:51

In fact, I shall miss everything about you,

0:26:510:26:53

but you've got my love with you there.

0:26:530:26:56

I shall support you whatever you decide,

0:26:560:27:00

but I've lost a good friend if you settle,

0:27:000:27:02

and I love you dearly.

0:27:020:27:04

We're really glad that you're actually getting a chance

0:27:040:27:07

to live your dream,

0:27:070:27:09

and we'll always be here if you need us.

0:27:090:27:11

Obviously, we know that it's best for you guys,

0:27:110:27:15

but we will really miss you.

0:27:150:27:17

I hope you have... I hope you decide to do it.

0:27:220:27:24

Try not to well up! Oh, goodness me!

0:27:240:27:27

If you do decide to go, I wish you all the best.

0:27:270:27:30

I really do.

0:27:300:27:32

-I'm just touched by the nice things that they've said about us.

-Mm.

0:27:350:27:39

But I think they all see that this is a good move for us as a family.

0:27:420:27:46

And, hopefully, they'll all get on a plane and visit us.

0:27:480:27:51

It's good that we've got each other, though, isn't it?

0:27:510:27:54

Messages from home had given the Wards more to think about

0:27:550:27:58

as they approached the end of their roller-coaster week down under.

0:27:580:28:02

The experience had been something of a wake-up call,

0:28:020:28:05

and the financial impact of moving to the Northern Territory

0:28:050:28:09

had left Gary questioning the dream.

0:28:090:28:11

Living here in Darwin, it's quite expensive,

0:28:110:28:15

so, cor, that's a big...

0:28:150:28:17

You know, you've got to think that stuff through

0:28:170:28:19

and whether you could actually, realistically manage.

0:28:190:28:22

Rachel had fallen for Australian schools.

0:28:220:28:25

This is just... The school's just perfect.

0:28:260:28:29

-That's great.

-In every way.

0:28:290:28:32

Messages from family and friends had been tough to hear.

0:28:320:28:35

It is, it's going to be really difficult.

0:28:370:28:39

I'd really miss Sarah.

0:28:390:28:41

I'd miss the laughs that we've had.

0:28:410:28:43

And also I'd really miss my mum.

0:28:450:28:48

And Rebecca was heartbroken at the thought

0:28:480:28:50

of never seeing her beloved horses again.

0:28:500:28:53

I'm not really sure at the moment because, you know,

0:28:540:28:57

although riding here is good and there is horses and stuff,

0:28:570:29:00

I still have a lot to leave behind, and I'm still not totally sure.

0:29:000:29:04

Rebecca - she's clearly not sure about what she wants to do.

0:29:040:29:09

I've said before that if one wants to stay,

0:29:090:29:11

then we all stay, so that's a big deal.

0:29:110:29:13

I think she needs to make her own choice.

0:29:130:29:17

With their all-or-nothing approach,

0:29:170:29:18

it was difficult to guess where the family's future lay.

0:29:180:29:22

So, how did they vote when it came to that final choice

0:29:220:29:25

between the UK and Australia?

0:29:250:29:27

-ALL:

-Australia!

0:29:290:29:31

Was that unanimous?

0:29:350:29:36

Yay! We're going!

0:29:360:29:39

-Good stuff. Australia.

-Cool.

-Well done, Becks.

0:29:390:29:42

-So, it's been a good week for you, then, horse-wise.

-Yeah. Nice one.

0:29:420:29:46

The week had proved full of ups and downs, but, ultimately,

0:29:580:30:02

their taste of Australian living had done enough to convince even Rebecca

0:30:020:30:06

her mum and dad had been right all along.

0:30:060:30:09

Seven years on, it's time to find out what's happened since.

0:30:090:30:14

It's May 2016, and the Ward family are living in...

0:30:140:30:19

..Western Australia.

0:30:200:30:22

Having emigrated in 2012,

0:30:220:30:24

Gary and Helen built their own four-bedroom home

0:30:240:30:27

in the area of Yanchep, 35 miles north of Perth,

0:30:270:30:31

and the family all moved in just under six months ago.

0:30:310:30:34

It had actually been a childhood dream to one day build a house.

0:30:340:30:38

It's a rapidly developing area

0:30:380:30:40

that offered the Wards more house for their money.

0:30:400:30:43

Moved in here, it was like a dream come true.

0:30:430:30:45

When I was living in the UK, I would never have thought ever

0:30:450:30:51

that I'd be living in a house like this,

0:30:510:30:53

in this location, at any point.

0:30:530:30:56

The modern detached house has the space Gary craved

0:30:590:31:02

and the open-plan layout Helen favoured.

0:31:020:31:05

So, this is the main living area.

0:31:080:31:10

I wanted it to be rear-facing so that we could see the garden,

0:31:100:31:13

and just, you know, be part of the outdoors,

0:31:130:31:15

cos that's really what we've come for.

0:31:150:31:17

We added this window here just because we just wanted more light

0:31:170:31:19

to come in and, yes, just pretty much open-plan living.

0:31:190:31:24

We always envisaged being hospitable,

0:31:240:31:26

and we have people over quite regularly.

0:31:260:31:28

We still shake our heads in wonder

0:31:280:31:31

that we can live in a place like this.

0:31:310:31:34

So, the other rooms - we've got the three bedrooms.

0:31:350:31:38

There's Becca's room first, here on the left.

0:31:380:31:40

And then we've got the activity area,

0:31:400:31:42

where the girls have got their computer stations.

0:31:420:31:44

Rachel does her studying there and Becky does her artwork.

0:31:440:31:47

It's a really useful space.

0:31:470:31:50

It means that all their messy stuff is out of their bedrooms.

0:31:500:31:53

You've got your toilet, your main bathroom.

0:31:530:31:55

There's Dan's bedroom here.

0:31:550:31:57

And finally, we've got Rachel's room in the front,

0:31:570:32:00

which is probably one of the nicest of the three.

0:32:000:32:03

Being the youngest, she finally gets the best room.

0:32:030:32:06

So, we purposefully wanted the technology

0:32:060:32:08

to be out of the rooms and in an activity area

0:32:080:32:11

so that it could be a really restful place for them to sleep.

0:32:110:32:14

And Dan's finally got the bigger bedroom he was after.

0:32:180:32:22

It's just amazing. I love the area, as well.

0:32:220:32:24

It's quite close to the outback, really,

0:32:240:32:27

so you could walk in one direction and just be in bush everywhere.

0:32:270:32:30

So, it's, yeah, a great place to live.

0:32:300:32:32

The family have come a long way

0:32:340:32:36

since their trial week in Darwin seven years ago.

0:32:360:32:39

When the vote happened and we were turning the cards round

0:32:390:32:42

and everyone seemed to say Australia,

0:32:420:32:44

it was kind of a unanimous front.

0:32:440:32:45

Everyone was sort of like, "Yeah, let's do it,"

0:32:450:32:47

and we were sort of like,

0:32:470:32:49

"As soon as we can make this happen, we'll get back."

0:32:490:32:51

-Dan?

-Chai latte.

0:32:510:32:53

-Hot chocolate, if you've got one.

-And...?

0:32:530:32:56

-Chai latte?

-OK, chai latte.

0:32:560:32:58

Unfortunately, the reality took a bit longer than expected.

0:33:000:33:04

After spending months upgrading his qualifications in youth work,

0:33:040:33:08

Gary discovered his profession was no longer

0:33:080:33:10

at the top of the skills shortage list.

0:33:100:33:13

So, it took three whole years to get in,

0:33:130:33:16

and some of that time was spent just wondering

0:33:160:33:19

-whether we were actually going to leave the country, wasn't it?

-Mm.

0:33:190:33:23

Gary eventually secured sponsorship from Western Australia,

0:33:230:33:27

and the family's visa finally came through in 2012.

0:33:270:33:31

It was a relief because we thought,

0:33:310:33:33

"Well, we've got it. This is it now."

0:33:330:33:36

But oldest daughter Rebecca was less excited.

0:33:360:33:39

We were just, like, suddenly going to Australia,

0:33:390:33:42

and any sort of ties you've put down and roots you've put down,

0:33:420:33:47

you'll have to dig them up again, so that was difficult.

0:33:470:33:51

With extended family already living in Perth,

0:33:510:33:54

the couple agreed Gary would make the move first.

0:33:540:33:58

So, we decided it would make sense for Gary to come on his own,

0:33:580:34:01

and the deal was, you've got eight weeks to find a job,

0:34:010:34:05

and then we'll join you.

0:34:050:34:07

If not, you come back and we forget it.

0:34:070:34:09

Fortunately, everything went according to plan.

0:34:110:34:14

A couple of weeks before I flew out,

0:34:140:34:16

I'd had an interview with a youth work company,

0:34:160:34:19

and it turns out that, when I landed,

0:34:190:34:22

there was an e-mail waiting for me to go into the office.

0:34:220:34:25

I got a job the first day.

0:34:250:34:26

With the green light in place,

0:34:300:34:32

Helen spent the following weeks wrapping up their life in the UK.

0:34:320:34:36

It was really busy. Just really, really busy.

0:34:360:34:38

And he'd be phoning me up and I'd be like, "I'm just too busy.

0:34:380:34:41

"I can't really give you any time. I've got all this packing to do."

0:34:410:34:45

Helen and the children followed Gary two months later,

0:34:450:34:48

and almost four years on,

0:34:480:34:50

the memory of saying goodbye to loved ones is still hard to recall.

0:34:500:34:54

It was difficult for all of us.

0:34:560:34:58

I think, when it comes to that final goodbye,

0:34:590:35:01

and it's the reality of

0:35:010:35:02

we don't know when we're going to see these people again.

0:35:020:35:06

That's when it's tough.

0:35:060:35:08

It was pretty bittersweet

0:35:100:35:12

because we'd been waiting so long to move here,

0:35:120:35:14

so it was kind of like, "Finally! I'm so ready for this."

0:35:140:35:18

But also, when you're moving that far,

0:35:180:35:20

you're leaving behind a lot, as well.

0:35:200:35:22

The girls took leaving the UK in their stride.

0:35:220:35:26

-It was the day of reckoning.

-SHE LAUGHS

0:35:260:35:29

And we'd been coming up to this day and for weeks and weeks,

0:35:290:35:32

we were thinking, "This day's never going to come, you know?"

0:35:320:35:35

But then, obviously, once we were on the plane,

0:35:350:35:37

there was nothing more we could do.

0:35:370:35:38

We were going. There was no going back.

0:35:380:35:40

'Hi, we're in Australia and...'

0:35:400:35:43

And when they all touched down in Perth,

0:35:460:35:48

Gary was relieved to finally have his family back by his side.

0:35:480:35:52

It was a wonderful time for me

0:35:530:35:55

because the house was suddenly filled with, you know, people

0:35:550:35:58

who I love and care for, you know, and it was just amazing.

0:35:580:36:03

For the first week, I was just sort of sleeping,

0:36:030:36:06

drawing and reading.

0:36:060:36:08

I didn't feel very homesick, which was weird.

0:36:080:36:11

But it wasn't long before Rebecca was having second thoughts.

0:36:110:36:16

I had a few regrets, such as, obviously, the horses, friends.

0:36:160:36:21

I should probably put the friends in front of the horses!

0:36:210:36:23

Friends, the horses...

0:36:230:36:25

-SHE LAUGHS

-Obviously, family.

0:36:250:36:27

'She's going round the buoy!

0:36:270:36:29

'You've been doing this for about ten minutes!'

0:36:290:36:32

But then it was also bittersweet because it was...

0:36:320:36:36

It was really enjoyable to be here, as well,

0:36:360:36:38

and all that we'd worked for, we'd finally got here.

0:36:380:36:41

Within days of arriving, Helen secured a full-time job

0:36:440:36:47

as a sample machinist at a couture bridal house in Perth.

0:36:470:36:52

I did a two-day trial with them and loved the place straightaway.

0:36:520:36:55

And, yeah, thankfully, they offered me the job.

0:36:550:36:58

Having been home-taught in the UK, Rachel started school soon after.

0:36:590:37:04

I was very apprehensive, and when I was a lot younger

0:37:050:37:09

and I was, you know, starting to think about going to school,

0:37:090:37:12

I was very apprehensive about bullying.

0:37:120:37:14

That didn't actually happen.

0:37:140:37:16

I didn't get bullied, which was great.

0:37:160:37:19

I made a lot of friends,

0:37:190:37:21

and my whole year group was very, very supportive with me.

0:37:210:37:24

Almost four years on, Rachel has graduated from year 12

0:37:260:37:30

and is looking forward to her future career.

0:37:300:37:33

I've now started university,

0:37:330:37:35

and I'm planning to become a teacher,

0:37:350:37:38

teaching secondary art, so I'm getting there.

0:37:380:37:42

That's very exciting and very fun.

0:37:420:37:44

Dan has also self-funded himself

0:37:480:37:50

to do a degree in psychology and counselling.

0:37:500:37:54

Settling into student life in Australia,

0:37:540:37:56

it was pretty terrifying at first

0:37:560:37:58

because I hadn't actually been to a university.

0:37:580:38:00

I'd studied long-distance in England,

0:38:000:38:02

but actually going there was a big experience.

0:38:020:38:05

You know, a massive change.

0:38:050:38:08

Oldest daughter Rebecca is now working towards her dream career

0:38:090:38:13

as a veterinary nurse.

0:38:130:38:14

What do you say?

0:38:160:38:17

Moving here has really done wonders for my confidence.

0:38:170:38:20

I've been able to just step out and go,

0:38:200:38:21

"You know what? I'm just going to try it."

0:38:210:38:23

And it's just become an incredible part of my life.

0:38:230:38:27

I always knew she'd end up working with animals, somehow or other,

0:38:270:38:31

and it's just good to see her excelling and doing well.

0:38:310:38:36

Gary changed jobs in 2015

0:38:370:38:40

and now combines church work with working two days a week

0:38:400:38:43

for a local community housing project.

0:38:430:38:45

I work with young people who have experienced challenging situations.

0:38:450:38:49

So, to me, it's a job, but it's also a mission.

0:38:490:38:53

It's a little bit of a mission. I'm that way wired,

0:38:530:38:56

and I like doing that kind of thing in the community.

0:38:560:38:59

Helen's still doing the same job she started almost four years ago,

0:39:010:39:05

and having previously worked from home,

0:39:050:39:07

she's settled into full-time employment.

0:39:070:39:10

It was quite different, and it took a while to adjust

0:39:100:39:14

for me and the kids. But all in all, I think everyone's done really well.

0:39:140:39:17

We just value the time when we are together.

0:39:170:39:19

-Hi.

-How's it going?

-Yeah.

0:39:200:39:24

Oh, this is looking beautiful.

0:39:240:39:26

And she has no plans to move on.

0:39:260:39:30

I love my job here and I just...

0:39:300:39:32

I don't have any ambitions beyond this, really.

0:39:320:39:35

-We joined them, yeah.

-Joined them. Perfect.

0:39:350:39:37

-And the underlining is in the nude...

-Yeah.

-Fantastic.

0:39:370:39:40

-Stunning.

-I mean, it's a lovely, friendly bunch of girls,

0:39:400:39:43

and the work is rewarding cos, at the end of the day,

0:39:430:39:46

you see your dresses,

0:39:460:39:47

the finished product, on brides, and they always look stunning.

0:39:470:39:50

When they aren't all working,

0:39:530:39:55

the Wards are making the most of their new surroundings.

0:39:550:39:57

For me, the best thing about being in Australia

0:40:000:40:02

has got to be the weather.

0:40:020:40:03

2-0!

0:40:050:40:07

And being able just to go up to the lagoon and have a swim.

0:40:070:40:10

I still pinch myself every time.

0:40:100:40:14

And if I go with Gary, I look at him and I say,

0:40:140:40:16

"Gary, we live here."

0:40:160:40:17

We do get glum days here,

0:40:190:40:21

but we know that there's going to be months and months and months

0:40:210:40:23

of guaranteed sun, and that's a key for Helen,

0:40:230:40:26

and it's a key for me, as well, because,

0:40:260:40:29

well, what's there not to like about a sunny day?

0:40:290:40:32

One thing, Brian. One thing.

0:40:320:40:34

-One.

-One.

0:40:340:40:36

-THEY LAUGH

-One.

0:40:360:40:38

There's no doubt that the life here

0:40:380:40:41

is better than the life we had back at home.

0:40:410:40:44

And the people here are so relaxed and friendly

0:40:440:40:47

and I've managed to make some incredible friends.

0:40:470:40:50

The jobs, as well, the work ethic that people have here,

0:40:500:40:53

it's wonderful.

0:40:530:40:54

The only drawback is the lifestyle they adore

0:40:560:40:58

is on the other side of the world from the people they love.

0:40:580:41:01

Well, recently, my grandparents were actually able

0:41:010:41:03

to come round here and visit, which was great to see them.

0:41:030:41:06

But once again, once they leave again,

0:41:060:41:08

you know, it's really tough. You know, it gets very emotional.

0:41:080:41:11

On the plus side, Rachel's recently got engaged to her boyfriend Brian,

0:41:110:41:16

which means the Wards have a whole new family to get to know.

0:41:160:41:19

It's getting a lot easier because I've got my fiance

0:41:190:41:23

and I'm kind of integrating into his family

0:41:230:41:25

and it's a lot of fun.

0:41:250:41:27

Despite the distance from the UK,

0:41:300:41:32

Helen and Gary are very much at home down under.

0:41:320:41:36

I mean, initially, we would talk about back home,

0:41:360:41:38

but that stopped quite a while ago.

0:41:380:41:40

This is home now, here up in Yanchep.

0:41:400:41:43

Rebecca has come to terms with being on the other side of the world

0:41:430:41:47

from her beloved horses.

0:41:470:41:48

I think my future does lie in this country.

0:41:480:41:52

Whether it's always going to be Perth,

0:41:520:41:54

it's really hard to tell,

0:41:540:41:55

but I don't think it'll be back in England.

0:41:550:41:58

And Dan and Rachel are confident

0:41:590:42:01

the country is where their future lies, too.

0:42:010:42:04

Australia is definitely home now. I feel it's absolutely my home.

0:42:040:42:08

It's all here. There's... I won't go back to England.

0:42:130:42:17

No. Only for family. Only to visit.

0:42:170:42:19

All in all, life down under has exceeded everyone's expectations.

0:42:210:42:27

We are living the dream right now.

0:42:270:42:29

There's nothing more that I could wish for.

0:42:290:42:32

We feel like we've arrived in the place that we should be

0:42:390:42:42

and that we're actually home.

0:42:420:42:43

Almost four years after they left the UK,

0:42:560:43:00

it looks like the Wards really are living a dream life

0:43:000:43:03

by the beach in Australia.

0:43:030:43:06

We wish Gary, Helen, Dan, Rebecca and Rachel

0:43:060:43:09

a really happy future in the country they plan to call home

0:43:090:43:14

for a very long time to come.

0:43:140:43:16

When the Wards spent a trial week in Darwin in 2009, mum Helen and dad Gary were hoping the country would be the key to a happier future. Gary had visited the country ten years previously and had convinced Helen the climate and lifestyle would help alleviate her seasonal depression. But with teenage daughter Rebecca reluctant to leave her beloved horses in the UK, it looked like they could have a challenge convincing her to move.

Fortunately the prospect of a laidback lifestyle in the sunshine eventually won her over, and by the end of the week the whole family were in agreement - their future lay down under. Seven years on, are the family in the UK or living the life they all fell for in Australia?