Welcome to the Dutch Australian blog

Welcome/Welkom to the Dutch Australian blog!  You can read the most recent articles by scrolling below or browse the category archives via the sidebar.

The majority of articles are written in English (visit the about section), but there are also some articles in het Nederlands (Dutch language).

Articles relevant to the Dutch Australian community (those with connections to both countries, for example Australians in The Netherlands and Dutch in Australia) are most welcome, please read the submission guidelines first.

2021 Koningsdag

Thanks to COVID-19, it will be our second Koningsdag during lockdown, meaning the usual country-wide celebrations are not allowed. Ironically, it’s one of the first years that the weather is looking lovely, with a high of 16 degrees and sunshine. There are several online events organised in The Netherlands:

Koningsnacht Livestream

DIY Kings Day at Home!

Invading Holland has a funny take on celebrating at home.

https://www.invadingholland.com/kingsday-queensday/simulate-kings-day-at-home

Kings Day in Sydney

Australians or Dutch in Australia are lucky enough to be able to attend live events this Kings Day/Kings Night. Here’s one event in Sydney.

How will you celebrate?

Personally I’ll celebrate with my partner. Like last year, also during lockdown, it’s still ok to get out and about for a walk in the countryside at least….wearing orange of course!

Keukenhof opens virtually in 2021

As of today, Keukenhof is virtually open. “Unfortunately, visitors are not yet allowed to visit the park themselves,” says director Bart Siemerink. “And because you cannot come to Keukenhof, we will bring Keukenhof to you”.

The most beautiful spring park in the world only opens for 8 weeks each spring. It looks different every week and Keukenhof wants to show that to flower lovers. Keukenhof shows all the beauty in the park to the whole world through videos that are posted twice a week on the online media. Many beautiful images are also broadcast on television. Siemerink: “We wish to make people happy with beautiful, colourful images of our park.”

Keukenhof is virtually open until May 9. “We hope that we will soon be able to welcome visitors in the park. That will mainly be people from Holland. This year Keukenhof is an actual walking park, where a limited number of visitors is welcome in a safe and controlled environment,” says Siemerink.

As soon as it is possible to open, Keukenhof will do so. The park is already blooming beautifully and is ready to welcome visitors. People who want to see what Keukenhof looks like now, can see this through @visitkeukenhof on FacebookInstagram and Youtube.

2020 COVID-19 in the Netherlands

What a year it’s been for the whole world. COVID-19 was something few of us had ever heard of early in 2020, and now, in December, it feels like there is little else that has happened this year.

As a Dutch Australian based in the Netherlands, one of the most difficult things has being so far from my family, and not knowing when I can see them next. My visit for July was of course cancelled. I cycle between deep sadness and acceptance. This is a serious situation and serious measures are necessary.

This has been a huge year of change for so many people. For myself, alongside COVID, I’ve dealt with a divorce, some major health issues (mostly related to my broken ankle after a bike accident in Delft), buying a new home, raising my two children and continuing to work.

After a decade of regularly publishing articles on this website, I’ve been very quiet this year. Publically at least. Though “social distancing” has become part of our daily vocabulary and life, I believe we should instead call it “physical distancing”. Social distancing is not necessary, or healthy – we all need to remain connected with each other, even if that has to be online for now.

For official information about COVID-19 in The Netherlands in English:

https://www.government.nl/topics/coronavirus-covid-19

In Nederlands:

https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/coronavirus-covid-19

Australian Passport

We recently renewed our daughter’s passport and received this handy reminder.

  • Check your personal details
  • Keep your passport safe and secure
  • Report loss, theft or damage immediately (in Australia call 131 232 or overseas contact your nearest Australia diplomatic mission or consulate)
  • Before travelling take the the right travel insurance and check smarttraveller.gov.au

For more information about Australian passports, visit http://www.passports.gov.au

Alina Tang: Australian Artist Amsterdam Art Exhibition

Artist Alina Tang is originally from Perth but currently based in Amsterdam – read more about her here: https://dutchaustralian.com/2019/04/06/meet-dutch-australian-alina-tang/

Are you in or nearby Amsterdam? Then read below. If you’re not, then you can still enjoy Alina’s artwork over on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/giantpansy/

Australian Artist Amsterdam Art Exhibition

Salamon Art & Design warmly welcomes you to join the opening of an exhibition by Alina Tang (@giantpansy) on Friday 6 December 2019 from 6 – 9pm. We are opening our doors for international collaborations as one of the first once to present her prints in our showroom will be Alina Tang with the cutest series of works related to Amsterdam.

Alina is an Australian visual artist returning to Amsterdam after a few months of travelling abroad through residency projects. She works across printmaking, illustration, and design.

Home, Rain or Shine is collection of artworks and paper goods which feature an assembly of iconic buildings, places, and moments in Amsterdam. The artworks celebrate sweet memories from the past year, including shared picnics with friends by the canal on warm spring afternoons, meeting funny dogs at Oosterpark, picking up fallen flower heads from bike baskets, and slowly learning how to love the rain while cycling against the wind.

The exhibition will show original gouache paintings, limited edition art prints, and paper goods including greeting cards, postcards, and a 2020 calendar, all created, designed, and printed with love in Amsterdam.

We hope you are able to join and celebrate this vibrant, friendly, and rainy city that we live in!

Facebook event, https://www.facebook.com/events/739257239911165/

All of the products and artworks have been lovingly created in Amsterdam, and would be a sweet memento to keep, or send home to family!

Australian Emergencies and Disaster Management

https://www.getready.qld.gov.au

Life in Australia is amazing – but not without risks. Storms, floods, bushfires, heatwaves, tropical cyclones and other threats always hover in the background. I currently live in the Netherlands, but it always saddens me to see reports of these kind of disasters that touch the lives of friends, family and other fellow Australians. Recently there were huge storms, and bushfires on the Sunshine Coast.

I also remember how frightening it was during the 2011 Brisbane Floods, when I was home alone in Kallangur (just outside of Brisbane) with 2 young children. I was listening to news reports and trying to decide what to do. We were fortunate to not be affected too much in the end, but it did make me realise the importance of being prepared.

Disaster Management Plan

Wherever you live in Australia (or the Netherlands or elsewhere for that matter), it’s well worth taking some time to locate and familiarise yourself with your local government’s disaster management plans.

This is from where we used to live – the Moreton Bay Regional Council: https://www.moretonbay.qld.gov.au/Services/Disaster-Management

The Queensland government also has a website: Get ready Queensland https://www.getready.qld.gov.au

Take into account that the internet may not be available in an emergency, so it’s useful to have a print copy of instructions somewhere convenient. Often local councils or state governments provide resources like this you can put on your fridge:

Crisis situations in the Netherlands

Now, where we live in The Hague in the Netherlands, we have the emergency siren test on the first Monday of the month (soon changing to a mobile alert) and emergency information online here: https://crisis.nl/wees-voorbereid/

Are you prepared?

I truly hope that no one reading this needs to live through an emergency or crisis, but please take some time to be prepared, just in case.

Renee 🙂

A bad bike accident and broken ankle

I’ve now lived for more than 12 years in total in the Netherlands, and cycled countless times with only a few minor issues. Last week though, I had my first (and hopefully last) bad bike accident and broke my ankle.

Hundreds of times, I’ve warned my children to be careful on their bikes. “Slow down, watch out for people, stay alert”. At least a dozen times have told them to watch out for metal poles like these in Delft:

Last Wednesday, I was coming from the Beestenmarkt direction in Delft into the pedestrian zone. Ironically my last thought before I hit that pole was that pedestrians do have right away here, but are so very unpredictable!

Mixing bikes and people – both share a responsibility

There were two people over on the corner, who I thought were continuing down the side of the shops, but instead walked into the middle. I was expecting them to stay on the right, and though traffic (me included) should keep to the right, I was actually aiming for the middle to avoid both those people and that pole closest in the photo.

Instead, when they walked over near that pothole, I needed to swerve to their right, and hit that pole with two stripes. I hadn’t clearly seen it a split second before, as they had been standing in front of it. I was not going fast, though had just come down a small slope and braked. If I’d stopped completely I may have caused another accident with other bikes and people. If I’d gone on the other side of them, I would have hit the other pole. I had a lot of information to process and it all happened very fast.

There was a loud metallic bang of my bike hitting metal, and I was on the ground, surrounded by several people within seconds all checking I was ok. I was actually in shock. A few women were speaking Dutch, and the man and woman I had avoided spoke English with an accent. They apologised though it wasn’t really their fault. Mixing bikes and people is always a risk.

What could have been different?

I’ve been over this a hundred times in my mind in the last week – what if I had swerved differently, gone a little slower, braked a little harder. The reality is though that I am perhaps slightly less experienced than a native Dutchie on a bike, I am still a very responsible cyclist, especially in the city. Not just for myself but as the mother of two children, I’m constantly alert and aware. I don’t think I could have gone much slower. It’s just a risk to mix people and bikes and both share responsibility. Sometimes, it’s just bad luck. It was simply the the exact timing of where I and the people were at that moment, the angle I hit, the height and position of the pole.

One friend jokingly asked if I had the chance again would I hit the people instead of breaking my ankle. No, I believe I would always choose in that moment to try to avoid hitting another person. Unfortunately I now have pins in my ankle, am in a cast for at least 6 weeks and have months of recovery ahead, all from that one split second.

If I could change anything it would be to find an alternative for those poles. I have no idea how many accidents have happened due to those poles, but have advised the Gemeente Delft (city council) so they can at least take my bad experience into account. One friend commented on Facebook that in her town in the Netherlands they were removed due to accidents. I know in another area in Delft there are low silver poles to stop cars. If that was the case here, I probably would have still fallen off my bike if I’d hit them – but would not have crushed my ankle between the pole and my bike. Or if they weren’t there at all – a no entry sign could be sufficient.

Please don’t move people after an accident

Another experience to share to make this hopefully a learning experience – I had immediate pain in my ankle, but thought this may have been just twisted. I’d already had some issues with that same ankle recently. People kindly tried to move me off the cold ground into the Zeeman shop, which in a daze I first refused, then accepted, but in agonising pain.

In retrospect if I can encourage well wishers in the future – please don’t try to move injured people after an accident! It would have been better to have not walked even just those few steps on what I now know was a broken ankle, though probably didn’t do much further damage.

A huge thank you to the Delft Zeeman staff, it was better to be inside once there and they helped out with cushions and a wet towel on my injured ankle. My friend who I was on my way to visit came to sit with me. I had a lot of pain but still didn’t know it was broken. I called my doctor (as in the Netherlands this is the standard “entry point” to the medical system), who told me to go straight to emergency. My husband came from his work a half hour away and was able to pull up right outside (well, next to the metal poles!!!).

Delft Hospital Emergency

We spent the next 4 hours in the Delft Hospital Emergency department. I have such respect and admiration for medical staff, they really do cope with tough circumstances and were all kind.

I asked if they often dealt with bike accidents, which was a yes, though the worst accidents are of course at high speed or collisions with cars. When I could answer their standard questions that I didn’t hit my head, and didn’t have the handlebars in my stomach, I’m glad it wasn’t worse. Yes – the helmet debate – let’s not go there, but I can say in this experience it wouldn’t have helped me at all.

Surgery

After two X-rays and a cast, it was decided that this break was not likely to heal well on it’s own so I was scheduled for surgery. This was less than a week later, and as I write this I now have pins supporting my ankle and am in recovery. Two weeks bed rest then back to the hospital to have it re-examined. I was very anxious for the operation on Monday but again the staff were amazing. They even allowed me to listen to music in my AirPods right through surgery. I went under narcose (general anaesthetic) to one of my favourite songs and woke up to another after it was all over.

Pain and paracetamol

As I type this I’m in quite some pain. Before surgery I was prescribed only paracetamol – a running joke in the international community in the Netherlands that anything stronger is near impossible to get – but along with some ibuprofen actually was sufficient. I now have some stronger painkillers but am holding off for a little longer if I can, as they are likely to make me nauseous and dizzy, so right now I’ll stick with just the ankle pain!

Resting and recovering

I’m naturally a very active and high energy person. I’ve just spent almost a year recovering from a herniated disc in my back, and over the last few months have actually had issues with an inflamed tendon in that same ankle! So I’ve been forced to learn how to rest and recover, and have always been good at getting plenty of sleep, exercise, eating well, meditating and taking care of myself. Now I have no choice but to rest. I’m expected to make a full recovery, and the doctor even said I could be back to running early next year (see my Golden Tenloop and Urban Trail posts!). I’m likely to be pretty much out of action until the end of this year though – so I’ll be literally sitting out the rest of this decade!

Friends and family

Friends and family are taking good care of me. It’s hard to be so far from my family in Australia already and these things make it harder, but we speak regularly. Our girls are old enough to do most things for themselves and help me as well. My husband and friends have been cooking soup and delivering care baskets and company.

Keeping my brain busy

Typing this post, listening to podcasts, talking to friends and family, watching Netflix – all these things are keeping my brain busy while I rest and recover. Any good recommendations?

Back to work

I love my job at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and am keen to get back asap. My Masters thesis two years ago was actually on online learning, distance learning and blended learning, so looks like I’ll be putting some of these techniques into practice until I can walk again.

Watch out for those poles!

Renee