Australian Emergencies and Disaster Management

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:

The Queensland government also has a website: Get ready Queensland

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:

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 ūüôā

Caloundra, Australia

What are your favourite places in Australia and the Netherlands? As a Dutch Australian who has lived my life between the two countries, I’m sharing a few of mine.

One place that is very close to my heart is Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. I was born in Brisbane and my family then moved to Maleny when I was 9. From there, we did trips to the beach in Caloundra now and then as I was growing up.

With a population of around 50,000 Caloundra is small enough to still have some charm but large enough to have all the facilities you may need if you holiday there – or if you’re lucky enough to live there.

For a while, my parents lived in the suburb of Little Mountain though have now moved to another part of the Sunshine Coast.

Caloundra boasts several beautiful beaches: Kings Beach, Golden Beach, Moffat Beach, Bulcock Beach, Shelly Beach and Dicky Beach – all wonderful places to spend a day all year round. I remember wonderful evening sunset picnics at the aptly named “Happy Valley” which is adjacent to Bulcock Beach.

For more information:

Here’s a few of my favourite photos, mostly taken at Bulcock Beach

Have you been to Caloundra?


Renting a home in Queensland

I’m sorting through some old documents today, and found this one for renting a home: a tenant’s guide to the rules for renting in Queensland

This is from some time ago, when we moved from the Netherlands (back) to Australia in 2007. Back then, we had a young baby and found an apartment for the three of us in Ascot, Brisbane. I remember at the time, competition was quite high for rental properties, with lots of people turning up for viewings. We were successful though and lived there for 8 months until we bought our own property. What differed from my experiences in the Netherlands was that there, I was surprised that a lot of rental properties expect that you do your own flooring and lighting. In Australia, this is usually already done.

I grew up in Maleny and first moved to Brisbane when I finished school. Friends and I rented properties in West End and Paddington. Back then, I also remember signing rental agreements. Each time, you pay a security deposit/bond, which you are supposed to get back when you leave the place in good condition. Sometimes there is a dispute, in which case it’s then referred to the RTA: residential tenancies authority.

For more information about renting a home in Queensland, you can visit:

If you have any experiences or tips for those renting in other states in Australia, please comment below.


Dutch television show Grenzeloos Verliefd (Love without borders) is looking for candidates

Dutch television show Grenzeloos Verliefd (Love without borders) is looking for candidates.
In Grenzeloos Verliefd, we follow Dutch men/women who are in love and who are about to leave the Netherlands to move abroad for their foreign significant other. Is your Dutch boy/girlfriend, husband of wife about to move to Australia to live with you? We would like to hear from you! See the flyer for contact details.


2016 Summer holiday in Australia

For those who are new to this blog – we’re a Dutch Australian family who currently live in the Netherlands (read more about us here). ¬†We have spent more than a decade now travelling between the two countries. ¬†We have now settled long-term in The Hague and are happy here, though I miss Australia every day and get back as often as I can. ¬†After the move (back) here in 2012, I’ve been fortunate to travel four times now – once for my brother’s wedding only a few months after we left, then the next two times for Christmas 2013 (myself and the girls) and Christmas 2014 (with our family of 4).

Unfortunately, due to “leerplicht” (compulsory school attendance for children between 5 and 18 years old) and only 2 weeks Christmas holidays here in the Netherlands, it was not feasible to come in Christmas 2015 and¬†for the first time we booked during the six week (European) summer holiday in July/August. ¬†So it was winter in Australia at that time, but considering my parents live in Caloundra (Sunshine Coast) and it was actually a very “warm” winter, it still felt like a summer holiday.

I find that each time I travel, it takes me a few months to be able to look back at the photos of the trip.  I should be used to leaving my family after doing this almost annually, but each time, it still takes me a good while to make the adjustment.  I am, of course, really grateful for the time we spend together, but those goodbyes are still hard every single time.   On this trip, it was the girls and I again, my husband stayed back in NL.

Usually, we try to catch up with as many friends and family as we can, but on this trip decided to keep it very low key.  We were disappointed to miss a lot of friends, but really needed to relax.  The five weeks was wonderful.  I particularly enjoyed seeing my daughters, now aged 7 & 9, interact with my parents.  It was 18 months since they had last been together and at this age, they change a lot in that period of time.

Here’s a few special memories.

Celebrating Christmas in July with my family:


Watching the girls play in the waves, wearing wetsuits for the first time (and looking like little Aussie surfer chicks!):


Showing the girls around my home city of Brisbane, and staying in the post Treasury Hotel:

img_5062 img_5070

My mum teaching my daughter to sew (never any luck with me so maybe Sophia will pick it up!):

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Marvelling at the most spectacular sunsets:


Indulging in my mum’s amazing cooking like this delicious minestrone soup:


Catching up with a couple of friends at least:



Playing at the local park:


Jumping for joy at the beach (which was usually pretty empty as Australians thought it was too cold, but now we’ve adjusted to Dutch weather, it was warm!!)


At the Queensland Museum




Brisbane Botanical Gardens (I went here as a child!)


Flying a drone


img_4268 img_4145 img_4087 img_4077 img_4069 img_4041 img_4014 img_3988 img_3977 img_3971 img_3969 img_3929  img_3730 img_3665 img_3645 img_2378




How to Australianise my children?

My Dutch Australian children have spent a few years of their life in Australia, but we have now settled in The Netherlands. When we left Australia in 2012, our girls were aged 3 and 5. They still remember a lot of things about our life there, but it’s sadly fading fast.

While in The Netherlands, we still try to hold on to the Australian side of our identity. I speak English with them, we observe days such as ANZAC Day and Australia Day and I provide some tastes from my homeland from time to time like Milo, Vegemite, Tim-Tams and Lamingtons.

We’re very fortunate though to have regular holidays to Australia. So on our holiday here last Christmas and now again this Christmas, I’ve made a very conscious effort to “top up” on those experiences in Australia, many of which I had in my childhood.

Here’s what we’ve done so far, have you got any other suggestions?

Seen a snake

Thought I’d get this one out of the way immediately! ¬†We saw a snake in the Buderim Forrest Park – then watched him catch and start to eat a baby goanna. ¬†Pretty unique Australian experience for the girls!

Dutch Australian - Snake eating a goanna

Slip, Slop, Slapped

I grew up learning the importance of protection from the hot summer sun, now my daughters are learning to make sure they (and papa and mama) are slathered in sunscreen!

Helping papa with his sunscreen

A video posted by Renèe Veldman-Tentori (@zestee_renee) on

Dug a deep hole in the sand

Remember the simple pleasure of digging a hole in the sand near the shoreline and “discovering” water there?

Digging hole in sand

Chatted to a wallaby

At Couran Cove resort on South Stradbroke Island, we found several friendly wallabies to chat to.

Dutch Australian wallaby

Devoured mangoes

Yum! ¬†Though you can find mangoes in The Netherlands, they are nothing like the delicious, sweet, juicy Bowen Mangoes in Queensland – we’ve been having one a day!

Dutch Australian Mango


Jumping in the pool over and over and over again!


Run up and down a sand-dune

The beautiful blue sky is a lovely backdrop for this pristine sand-dune on South Stradbroke Island that the girls just¬†couldn’t resist covering in footprints.


Watched Bananas in Pyjamas

I grew up with a different version of this but the theme song is the same!

Bananas in Pyjamas

Ridden a bike with a helmet on

Though the girls are regular bike riders in The Netherlands, they need to wear a helmet here which they find very hot.


What other Australian experiences should I work on adding?



I have two homes

Renee and girls

My girls and I on the beach in Caloundra before Christmas

Girls and I in the cold

Girls and I in The Netherlands in November, about to cycle to school.

My daughters and I left The Hague, The Netherlands on 7 December for a holiday and have had the most amazing month on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. ¬†You can read more about my connection to both countries¬†and the first five things I did when we arrived (back) in Australia. ¬†We’ve been staying with my parents and spending as much time as we can with my brothers, sister in law and friends. ¬†As I knew would happen, the time has flown by and it’s almost time to leave.

If home is where the heart is, then my heart must now be split in two.  That can of course hurt dreadfully and I know many will be able to identify with the pain I already feel through my whole body, knowing that tomorrow I have to stay goodbye Рagain Рto my parents, brothers and sister in law.  I need to leave behind friends, beaches, sunshine and many of the things I love so much here.

However the good thing about love is that loving something new doesn’t mean that love for the old is diminished. ¬†So I can “still call Australia home” but find joy and love for my other home – The Netherlands. ¬†Most importantly, my husband will be there waiting for us and we will be together again as a family, we’ve missed sharing this holiday with him. So instead of imaging it splitting in two I’m going to think about my heart just needing to grow huge to accommodate both countries!

When I’m sad I also try to think of the things I can be grateful for. ¬†Though having two homes can be painful, it’s also an incredibly positive experience that many others can identify with. ¬†Do you have two homes?

I am Malala

Some choose it and some don’t – I’m reading “I Am Malala” and this sixteen year old was shot in her home country of Pakistan simply for being a girl going to school and was taken to the UK with her family for medical treatments and safety. ¬†So she now also has two homes and can’t even return to the first, though she longs to despite the dangers. ¬†I have loving family, friends, safety and opportunities in both Australia and The Netherlands and for that, I’m grateful.

I’m also fortunate to be in a position to be likely to return to Australia again for Christmas 2014. ¬†I’m grateful for Skype and other social media, which makes life for those with two homes a little easier. ¬†I’m grateful for the richness of experience having two homes gives me – with such incredible contrasts for my mind to process and adapt to, this forces me to be a problem-solver and think in unique ways. ¬†Both Australia and The Netherlands have their own styles of beauty and opportunities. ¬†I now have friends and family in both countries, as do my children.

My children speak two languages fluently and are truly natives of both lands. ¬†Their lives have so far been split fairly regularly between Australia and The Netherlands (with one born in each country and living for some time in each), though I have so far spent the majority of my life in Australia. ¬†In 2014, I am going to focus on specific ways to make The Netherlands more my home as well, such as improving my Dutch language skills and developing my career there and perhaps even buying a house. ¬†Hopefully in December 2014, I’ll get to hug my parents again at Brisbane airport as a hello and not a goodbye and sit back on an Australian beach again and feel the sunshine on my skin! ¬†Then, the cycle will begin again.

Do you have two homes?  How do you feel about it?  How do you make it work?


Dutch Australian is a community of those with connections to both Australian and The Netherlands.  This blog follows the adventures of our Dutch Australian family as well as highlighting information and articles of interest to dual nationals.  You might like to read more about me, get to know other Dutch Australian people and explore other articles on the blog.  Come and chat to others over in the Dutch Australian Facebook community, we’d love to meet you!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to comment below or share.  You can also contact me directly and sign up for our e-newsletter to keep up to date.


The first five things I did when I arrived back in Australia from The Netherlands

To bring you up to speed if you’re not yet a regular on this blog, I’m a Dutch Australian who grew up in Australia, then married a Dutch man and lived in The Netherlands from 2002-2007. ¬†In December 2007, we moved to Brisbane but then our family relocated to The Hague last year (July 2012).

I received the most wonderful Christmas present from my parents Рa plane ticket from Amsterdam-Brisbane (return!) for my daughters and I and we flew on Saturday.  After a 25 hour journey with Emirates, when we landed in the early hours of Monday morning, here are the first five things I did when I arrived back in Australia from The Netherlands.

1.  Hugged my family 

It’s been 17 months since my girls have been in Australia and just over a year for me (as I returned for 2 weeks in November 2012 for my brother’s wedding). ¬†It was sooooo good to hug my mum, dad and brother at the airport! ¬†Also just wonderful to see my parents have the chance to hug their grandchildren instead of just talking on Skype. The next day I got to hug my other brother and sister in law. ¬†Amazing.

Brisbane Airport

2.  Saw the Southern Cross

We flew with Emirates and arrived in the early hours of Monday morning.  As I looked out the car window on our trip from Brisbane airport to where my family live on the Sunshine Coast, I immediately spotted the Southern Cross constellation amongst the stars and my heart literally skipped a beat.

Southern Cross

3.  Marvelled at the landscape

The trees and mountains here are so different to The Netherlands – instead of flat open fields dotted with sheep, cows and windmills, the landscape flashing by along the Bruce Highway is what I grew up with – soaring eucalyptus trees, the unique shape of the Glasshouse Mountains, pine tree plantations, green and white road signs. ¬†I didn’t consciously register all the individual elements, but together, I felt like I was surrounded by home.

Tree 4.  Ate a mango

Even though it was around 3am when I walked into my parents kitchen, I could not resist that mouth-watering aroma of the Bowen Mangos.  Juicy, sweet deliciousness!  Though you can buy mangoes in The Netherlands the taste and aroma are just nothing like these ones you get in Queensland.


5.  Listened to the birds

We all went to bed after that long journey at around 4am – and it wasn’t long afterwards that the birds started their morning chorus. ¬†The calls of kookaburras, magpies and more shattered the silence. ¬†Like the landscape, it was all completely familiar to me, but not to my 6 year old daughter. ¬†Though she lived in Australia for several years and would have heard them often, obviously being away for the last 17 months had wiped it from her memory. ¬†“Mama, I can’t sleep, what is that scary sound?!” ¬†The kookaburra sounded like a witch to her! ¬†This filled me with mixed emotions. ¬†There was a level of laughter that welled up, but also sadness that my little Dutch Australian didn’t know the sound of a kookaburra! ¬†We lay in bed together for a while, identifying the calls and I realised that I couldn’t actually identify too many – but this wonderful Backyard Birds website we found later has changed that. ¬†Here’s a noisy minor.

noisy minor

So if you flew from The Netherlands to Australia – or vice versa – after a length of time away, what are the first five things you did (or would do?)


All photos are my own apart from the Southern Cross one (credited above)

Dutch Australian is a community of those with connections to both Australian and The Netherlands.  This blog follows the adventures of our Dutch Australian family as well as highlighting information and articles of interest to dual nationals.  You might like to read more about me, get to know other Dutch Australian people and explore other articles on the blog.  Come and chat to others over in the Dutch Australian Facebook community, we’d love to meet you!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to comment below or share.  You can also contact me directly and sign up for our e-newsletter to keep up to date.

Do kangaroos have two legs or four?

Kangaroo Boxing

An American friend has asked me – Do kangaroos have two legs or four?

She has a bet riding on this and needs to know an official answer. ¬†She asked me as an Australian – but I have no idea! ¬†There is no doubt about the two legs they hop with of course, but are the other two considered legs, arms or paws? ¬†What’s your opinion?



Australia (almost) has a new Prime Minister: Tony Abbott

Last week I wrote about my personal perspective on Australian politics and the upcoming election. ¬†As I write, it’s Saturday evening in The Netherlands and I’m watching and listening to Australia’s soon-to-be new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, give his victory speech on ABC News online.

As someone who isn’t enrolled to vote in this particular election and didn’t,¬†I’m not sure I am even entitled to an opinion. ¬†I’m¬†living in The Netherlands at the moment and didn’t feel strongly enough about any of the candidates to vote. ¬†However as I mentioned in my previous post, I am challenging myself – and others like me who have “sat back” for a long time – to take a more active role and interest. ¬†I was born in Australia, spent the majority of my life there, am an Australian citizen (if not current resident). ¬†I have a dual national (Dutch Australian) husband and two dual national children. ¬†So here’s just a few of my thoughts¬†as I try to work out how I feel about this, and how it will affect me, my friends and family.

One emotion is concern. ¬†I’ve had enough “anti-Abbott” posts flooding my Facebook feed ¬†in the last few days to make me aware of the fact that there will be several people I know – and probably a lot of others – who are not at all happy with this outcome. I’m concerned about why some people were so strongly against him to begin with and if their fears are truly founded. ¬†Another concern is that there may be some “bad loser” type attitudes, with people ready to attempt to tear down a new leader before he’s even properly begun.

Another is curiosity. ¬†I’m wondering what this change will mean for my family and friends in Australia. ¬†How it will affect their day to day life. ¬†How it might affect mine – a dual national Australian living overseas. ¬†Also curiosity about this man I know quite little about who will now become the “face of Australia”. ¬†To “get to know” someone in the public eye objectively, I think the Tony Abbott entry on Wikipedia is a good place to start. ¬†I’ve only just scanned it but see he was born in London! ¬†That kind of surprised me actually. ¬†I would be no means object to someone not Australian-born rising to this level of leadership, so long as they fulfilled other requirements, but it was just not something I was expecting. ¬†Actually as I read a little further, it’s an interesting life he’s led! ¬†It’s late now and I’m tired so I’ll discontinue the “getting to know Tony Abbott via Wikipedia” session, however I am keen to keep an open mind. ¬†He has now been elected and I respect that and will continue to aim to observe objectively.

My third emotion at the moment is resignation. ¬†I have to say,¬†the 9 minute speech I’ve just watched on the ABC news report¬†doesn’t particularly move me or warm me to him personally and I’ve felt this way the few other times I’ve seen Tony Abbott in the news. ¬†In fact, I was more emotionally involved by the Obama Victory Speech in 2008 – even though I have no real connections to America! ¬†As I commented in my previous blog post on Australian politics though – whether we like someone or not, or even whether we voted for them or not, once they are put into power by a democratic election, he has an important job to do and I strongly believe deserves our support.

Interesting, actually, that I find myself writing “our” support. ¬†Though I am writing this in The Hague, The Netherlands and have no idea when I will actually be an Australian resident again, I (obviously!) still consider myself an Australian. ¬†I certainly hope there will be no new legislations that will threaten my dual nationality, or that of my husband and children. Certain circumstances have led me to live away from Australia right now but Peter Allen sure hit the nail on the head all those years ago with “I Still Call Australia Home”!¬†¬†I have lived between Australia & The Netherlands for the last decade and am sure I will continue to have strong ties to both countries for the rest of my life (hence founding this website & community!)

So to close this blog post, here are the closing sentences of Tony Abbott’s speech.

“I thank you the people of Australia, who have just given me the greatest honour and the heaviest responsibility any member of parliament can have. ¬†I am both proud and humble as I shoulder the duties of government. ¬†The time for campaigning has passed and the time for governing has arrived. ¬†I pledge myself to the service of our country.”

Regardless of who is the current Prime Minister, Australia is a wonderful country and will remain so.  There will always be major issues on which people disagree, but I am glad that the democratic system of government allows a chance for regular new leadership. The previous 27 Australian Prime Ministers have all brought both strengths and weaknesses to this position of power, and I know Tony Abbott will do the same.  I wish him every success.