Reality TV show led to Aussie dream for Alstonville family
A RECORD 40 people will officially become Aussies at the Ballina Shire Australia Day ceremony to be held at Lennox Head next Tuesday.
The Mills family of Alstonville will be among those new Aussies receiving their citizenship, along with their friends, the Piper family of Alstonvale.
And the Mills family have a reality TV show to thank for inspiring them to move Down Under and giving them the chance to meet the Pipers.
Back in 2009, the Mills family was one of about 20,000 families in the UK who applied to appear on the BBC show Wanted Down Under.
Sally Mills had been to Australia as a backpacker when she was in her 20s and said "it's always been a dream of mine to come back".
The laid-back lifestyle, the weather, and the quality of life were the things she liked most about Australia.
"I felt really at home here," she said of her first trip.
Husband Jem wasn't so sure about the TV show, but he gave it a go, with Lennox Head the destination.
Meanwhile, the Pipers had immigrated to Australia in 2007 and settled on the North Coast.
In a small-world moment, Andrew Piper's brother lived a few doors up from the Mills and knew the family, so the Mills started emailing the Pipers in Australia.
The Mills family was filmed for three days in the UK before heading to Lennox Head, where they met the Pipers.
They then spent another five days in the region with the cameras rolling for the hour-long television show.
The premise of the reality TV show was to watch how the Poms react to life in Australia.
But Jem said he was chipped by the producers for "being too positive" - he didn't follow the whingeing Pom stereotype at all.
So in 2010, Sally and Jem - and their three children Jevan, Hana and Rohan - packed up their home in Eastbourne and made the big move Down Under to live.
The family said it took a while to adjust to the heat, humidity and some small cultural differences.
And they handled the "exotic" wildlife, too - particularly once they found out huntsman spiders weren't going to kill them.
Sally and the family now call Australia home.
They joked about the way their dual citizenship allows them to have sporting allegiances to Australia but the freedom to jump ship if the Aussies aren't winning.