The build has actually started!

So exciting to see something that we designed come to life… almost like having a baby!

The builder and his first team arrived on site on Tuesday morning. They had dropped off a few materials to get the site shed started on the Monday afternoon. By Tuesday after noon they had created a shed to lockup to keep all their tools in (and our new generator) and were able to lock it up that night.

I was there for an hour or so yesterday morning and they had marked out the location of our bungalow. I had some admin stuff to do in town this morning so I did not get there till about 1pm.

Wow! They had the foundation trenches dug and by the time I left at 4pm today, the steel was in place and they will be ready to pour concrete in the next 2 days. We have been waiting on a Building Engineer to draw up plans for the footings and stuff… still waiting. Richard cannot pour the footings until the engineer has checked it all.

And in amongst all that action the surveyor arrived to check our boundary lines. Maurice is a very swave dude! And such high tech equipment in the jungle.

Anyway pictures speak 1000 words, so here you go… happy days!

shed almost done

shed almost done

Cuting Tin Island style

Cutting Tin Island style hammer and a knife!

Bong bending steel with his hands

Bong bending steel with his hands

Checking the lines...

Checking the lines…

the footings...

the footings…

love the OHS over here...! no shoes, thongs or sandles at best

love the OHS over here…! no shoes, thongs or sandals at best

Tom tieing off the steel

Tom tying off the steel

Maurice the surveyor

Maurice the surveyor



See you in Paradise…


The plans…

It looks like the internet situation at our apartment has been sorted out!

Where is divi’s and what is happening there…?

here is a google earth shot of the Island of Efate and a pinpoint of divi’s location on the north west coast.

Divi's Mangaliliu

Divi’s Mangaliliu

Google earth close up of divi's location

Google earth close up of divi’s location

I have been able to load my little Youtube video with the plans, so here you go…

We have signed the contract with the builder Rabco Construction, Richard and his team will start on Tuesday morning…! Exciting… woohooooo



See you in Paradise

Driving on the wrong side of the road…

As I said previously, Scott and I are quite adept at moving house… Moving helps you keep the clutter out of your life. But this is the first time we have moved to another country.

I don’t know why yet, but here, like in the US, the steering wheel is on the left side of the car and you drive on the right hand side of the road. So when you have spent your whole life driving in Australia, it takes some getting used to! To make it a little more difficult, we bought a manual car, so the gear stick is moved with the right hand too.

So being in a flow of traffic is fine, but when you come to a roundabout, natural instinct is to give way to the right. Here we give way to the left. When I pull out onto a road with no traffic (which is not very often) I have to remind myself which side of the road to be on.

Port Vila is an interesting place to try to navigate… there are no street names, so if you need directions to somewhere it is like… “got to the top of the hill, go right and then turn left when you get to the grey wall…”

There are very few traffic signs, I can see the remnants of some long gone signs by the holes in the ground. It makes it interesting when there is a give way to the traffic from the street on your right! There is the faintest of lines on the road in some spots. All the locals know what is going on, it is just practice and time I guess…?

There is not one set of traffic lights, quite a few roundabouts, some strange give way spots and no street lighting. Don’t know how I will go if I’m out at night time!

The bus drivers can stop right in front of you, with no warning and pull into traffic just as quickly. The road rules are very ‘relaxed’ here overall. You see kids standing in the back of Utes all the time. I have to say though, most drivers are very courteous, if you need to turn left across traffic they will often hold back when there is a break on the other side to let you in.

just pull up anywhere

They just pull up anywhere…!

All this keeps you on your toes, new challenges keep your brain ticking over and keep you young right?… right…?

Will write again soon.



See you in Paradise


My great friend Jan asked me yesterday if I had a photo or video of the whole block. Jan was interested because she was with Darleen and I in May 2015 when we found the block at Mangaliliu, 30 minutes from Port Vila on the island of Efate at Vanuatu.

Guess what, I do.

After showing the video to Jan, I am now sharing it with you.

The footage was taken on Sunday 15th May 2016. I was standing on a big rock in the centre of the block.

As you can see, the rock has an awesome tree on it that we wanted to try and keep as a feature.

Hope the footage gives you a feel for the area, and why it has Darleen and I so excited.

Missing my Darleen.

Scott from the Gold Coast.




Clearing the block was certainly an experience! We were given Pastor William’s contact details and met with him on the Wednesday afternoon. He advised us the rate was 7000vt an hour (about $85 AUD) and the 1 hour travel time each way also chargeable.

We had a couple of false starts as to when the backhoe was going to turn up. Finally, it arrived at about 1pm last Friday. The owner of the backhoe is William, the driver David and the guy on the ground Frankie. I explained to Frankie what we wanted and he relayed that to David. They got so much done in those first 4 hours! Amazing. When William and the machine arrived, we stood by watching it push down trees and make clear ground where once there was rocks and bush, William asked if we had a chainsaw… I advised not yet, that is was on the list.

He said he would go and get his, and 2 hours later one of the boys came back with one and started chopping the felled trees.

As we will be relying solely on solar power we need the entire back half on the block cleared so that those lovely panels can soak up the juice. The front of the block is so pretty and we wanted to cut down as few as possible. We just had them clear the build pad areas. ( hmmmm…. I still haven’t put the plans up have I…?).

They turned up late on Saturday morning, about 9am and as David was not well the other driver was having a go… he worked much slower and I sent them home after 2 hours. They came back on Sunday morning and David was all better! Woohooo! The trees where the bar and kitchen will be were very tall and skinny. Scott had the idea that they should come around to the beach side and push them back to the cleared area, so that they did not damage the lovely trees at the front. Good thinking 99! They put in a full day on Sunday.

On Monday Scott dropped me out at the block at 7:30 and had to go back into town to do a few business admin things before flying out that afternoon. So I was there at 7:30 and the boys did not turn up till 10:00. By 3:30 the trees were all done, cut into pieces and we had 2 piles for burning and 2 piles of hardwood for building or future pizza oven fuel. I want to build the chicken coop myself and figure I can use what is there instead of having to buy all of what I will need.

divis mangaliliu

Frankie checking things out

divis mangaliliu

And the fun begins!


At 3:30 they started on the back block and at the speed of light the car park was born! At about 4:20 one of the hoses on the machine snapped and they said they would be back in the morning to fix it and continue. I said if the machine is still ‘drivable’ we would leave it as is. Off they went.

So 22 hours of backhoe time and 154,000vt and we are much closer to getting the building started!

I have heaps of photos, so I will pick out the best ones to include in here for you.

Scott flew home Monday afternoon, so he did not get to see the work on the back block… only pictures.

Also need to mention we found and bought a car/truck last Friday. It is a 2013 Isuzu DMax. It feels like a monster to drive, I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

That’s it for now…

PS I am having IT issues here, have not been able to get into our website to post… I wanted to put more photos on here, but a cannot upload any more just now. still working on a solution… will post again soon 🙂


See you in Paradise

Our new ‘home’ & visitors!

Scott took a little video of the room the other day so if you want to have a look here you go…


My Mum and Dad were here for the day on Monday while on a cruise. So they are officially our first visitors since purchasing the block!

Mum thinks I’m crazy and Dad wishes he was here helping… I haven’t seen them for a few months as they live in Sydney, in the house I grew up in.

Scott dropped me at the gate at the wharf and then parked up at the end of the market stalls. Once they came through the gate it was hugs all round and then we walked about 100 metres or so up to Scott and the car.

We headed to our little apartment to show them where I will be living and then headed our to the block. Mums comment was… “well you really are out in the bush!” Dad said it was just as he had imagined from what I had told him  and showed him. I think Dad was blown away…

Mum stepping through the coconuts...

Mum stepping through the coconuts…

Beautiful day for Mum and Dad's visit

Beautiful day for Mum and Dad’s visit

We then went over and introduced them to our neighbours and had a cup of tea and a chat. I guess we spent a couple of hours out there. There is not much to see at the moment. We headed into town after that and had lunch at Au Fare, they had just installed a new Pizza Oven and they make the most amazing fresh pizzas!

We waved good bye back on the dock in the afternoon, hopefully by their next visit Divi’s will be built and we can spend the day there.

A great day for me…




Good news … yesterday at Vanuatu Immigration we were handed our Residency Visas for one (1) year.

And on Saturday (9 May 2016) we received our Building Permit to start construction at our block at Mangaliliu.

Building Approval Vanuatu

Building Approval Vanuatu

We have two (2) years to complete construction. We are thrilled with these outcomes from my April 2016 trip.

We met with the builder again today to work towards finalising the construction cost for our bungalow and tapas bar.

Before he starts construction, we have to clear trees, arrange for a water supply to the block, and purchase a generator so he will have power at the site.

The other good news in the last seven (7) days the completion of repair work to the runway at the Vanuatu airport. Looking forward to Virgin Australia and Air NZ bringing lots of tourists to Vanuatu over the next few months. The country certainly needs it. The country has struggled since Air NZ suspended flights to the gateway to Vanuatu in January 2016.

Vanuatu Airport

Vanuatu Airport

The government has also made a commitment to upgrade the standard of the airport over the next few years to accommodate bigger long haul aircraft.

A World Bank loan of US$59.8 million Phase 2 loan has been promised to assist, and the upgrade is anticipated to start before the end of 2016.

Bring it on … we want travel to be as easy and enjoyable as possible for any tourist wanting to visit Vanuatu, and of course … Divi’s – Bar – Tapas – B&B.

Scott in paradise.

So here we are…

The flight was good and we got through immigration and got our bags quite quickly. Although we believe our residential visa’s are approved we don’t have our paperwork yet, so we are here on a regular tourist visa this time.

We arrived at our new home at the Ocean View apartments by about 11:45pm, the room is very livable. Scott was a bit worried I would not like it as I will be here on my own for at least four (4) months. At this point, Scott is still required at DIAGNO till 30 November and we don’t know how much longer after that.

We are meeting with a guy who we think may be our builder tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed I get on with him OK as I will be working with him once Scott leaves. He believes he can have the Tapas Bar and our Bungalow built to lockup in 10-12 weeks! That would be amazing… we will see.

So it is Sunday morning now and yesterday we spent the morning getting organised. Shopping for food and making the room ours. Then we headed out to the block. We had our neighbor Bob and his boy’s whipper snip the front block again last week. It is looking good! We soaked up the amazing feeling it gives us being there for an hour or so. The tide was right out by 1pm, lower than we have seen it to date. Then we wandered over to Alan and Bronwyn’s place. Had our picnic lunch and a chat with them. Then Bob turned up. He took us for a walk up the creek to show us how he gets his water. The creek is so beautiful, little waterfalls all along it and pools to cool off in. Can’t wait to show you when you come and visit…

They all wanted us to join them in the village at the Nakamal at about 5pm for Kava. We didn’t really have anything to race back to town for so off we went. So have you ever tried real Kava? It was the first time I had… OMG it hit me hard and fast! Scott bought me a 150 vt shell. It was equivalent to about a mug of coffee in volume, I was told to let a few drops out to say thank you to the earth and then skull it. Within 10 minutes my mouth felt numb by 20 minutes I felt like I had just swallowed a bottle of champagne to myself. I felt dizzy and spacey. Definitely should have gone for the 50vt shell… next time perhaps, if there is a next time.

The ladies of the village prepare small snacks we could buy from them for 20vt (about 25c) so we got to try some local food too. I felt quite sick by the time we were going home, and as Scott had kava too, and we had a car load of locals to drop off at another village on the way home, it was a slow trip over the hill.

An interesting day to say the least!

car load of kids

car load of kids

little cutie!

little cutie!

Mangaliliu Village church at sunset

Mangaliliu Village church at sunset

Mangaliliu Village at sunset

Mangaliliu Village at sunset

The photos are from yesterday… today was far more sedate, a roast pork lunch prepared by our neighbors and then a little clearing at the back of the block. And then a dip in the rock pool at the front of the block.

My Mum and Dad will be in town tomorrow. They are in Port Vila on a cruise. So excited to show them around and take them to the block.



See you in Paradise…

Packing up our Life!

I have moved house plenty of times, so has Scott. Both together and as singles.

Packing up your possessions knowing you won’t see them for 4-6 months is a little more daunting. Most of it is going in the container, some stuff to Trevor and Jan’s place where we will live temporarily before we depart on the 6th May. I am leaving some winter clothes there as I will need them when I came back on the 5th June.

Some furniture is going to Sam, my eldest daughter, as she is the only one living on the gold coast at the moment. And of course I have to take enough clothes with me to Vanuatu for a month long stay.starting to load the container

tiles in

The tiles are in! Scott unloaded 3 ton of tiles…

My brother (also names Scott) and his partner Jo were up for the weekend, so they got roped into helping!

My brother (also names Scott) and his partner Jo were up for the weekend, so they got roped into helping!

Goodbye beautiful Main Beach Apartment, it's been great!

Goodbye beautiful Main Beach Apartment, it’s been great!

We loved living at the Inlet

We loved living at the Inlet

exchanging one amazing view for another...

exchanging one amazing view for another…

It feels very real now… we don’t really have a home at the moment!

Excited and nervous at the same time.




For those who have known me for many years … well … you wouldn’t describe me as patient, understanding, tolerant or having much empathy.

Well in Vanuatu on my last trip (3-8 April 2016) I needed all those characteristics.

I was proud (no pun intended) how I handled myself, while being sent around in circles in Port Vila for thee (3) days in a row!

I had seven (7) objectives this trip:

  1. Submit residence applications – lodged 7 April 2016
  2. Submit building application – lodged 6 April 2016
  3. Visit Vanuatu Tourism – discussed our investment and employment objectives on 6 April 2016, and was informed I needed to complete another application form and pay another fee.
  4. Meet our preferred builder – Jude introduced me to Richard on 6 April 2016 who grasped what we want to create at Divi’s. We visited the block together on Thursday 7 April 2016. At this stage it is looking good – Richard may be our builder, yahoo.
  5. Sort a land surveyor and building engineer – sort this on our next trip.
  6. Find a jetty builder – this step we plan on undertaking next year.
  7. Buy a car (if I can find a suitable one) – test drove a 2012 Ford Ranger with 17,000kms on the speedo. Very nice car. Asking price vatu 150,000 (AUD$39,375) plus 7% transfer duty.

I am going to share with you my experience with Vanuatu Immigration.

On my first day in Port Vila I headed to the Immigration office to source the Residency Application forms. I sat in their office to fill them out, checking the information required with the information I brought from Australia. Only a few missing pieces:

  • Security Bond
  • Business License
  • Bank cheque for the residency application
    • On the application you had the option to choose:
      • 1 year
      • 1 year up to 3 years
      • 5 years
      • 10 years

For the Security Bond I was sent to our bank. At the bank to arrange the security bond, a bank account in our name with cash in it the government can draw on if they want to send us back to Australia for being naughty. So, the security bond account needs to cover two one way air fares from Port Vila to Brisbane for Darleen and myself. At the bank I was asked for my itinerary. This was to validate the cost of two one way airfares. I wasn’t aware I had to have an actual itinerary to quantify the value of cash to be in the security deposit bank account. The lovely lady at the bank sent me to the Air Vanuatu sales office.

After standing in the line at Air Vanuatu sales office for over 40 minutes, I had my itinerary. Back to the bank.

All good, but … it would take the bank a few days to prepare the security bond paperwork, $62.50 set-up fee and $25 maintenance fee charged every six (6) months. Yes for a bank account with $600 in it! Note to self … must buy some more bank shares!

While I was at the bank I arranged for a bank cheque payable to Vanuatu Immigration. We decided to apply for a one year up to three year residency visa vatu 315,600 (AUD$3,945). Again, the bank cheque would be ready tomorrow.

A few days later I collected the paperwork and bank cheque from the bank. The security bond paperwork had been prepared with the wrong date (March instead of April). After another 30 minutes that was rectified, and I headed confidently to the Immigration office to submit Darleen and my residency applications. I was excited, this was another big step in our goal to live in Vanuatu – my adrenaline was pumping.

At the Immigration office all went well, I had provided all the supporting documentation requested in the application. Be disappointing if an accountant of 30 years couldn’t read an application form properly, or so I thought!

The lady headed to Treasury to obtain a payment receipt.

After a short wait, I was approached and it was explained to me that on our first residency application (not mentioned anywhere on the application form!), Darleen and I could only apply for a one year residency visa, so the bank cheque provided was for the wrong amount!

Back to the bank. Deposit the bank cheque into our bank account, and arrange for the correct funds at the one year residency application rate, vatu 57,800 each (AUD$720).

Remember, this is just one government agency in Vanuatu. I had this same experience many times over in the first three (3) days: Shefa Council (business license and building application – two different buildings), ANZ Bank, Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, Unelco, Vanuatu Tourism, and TransPacific. Some experiences were easier than others, but you get the idea!

The most amazing part of the five (5) days in Port Vila for me … after each day I was able to sit on the deck at Ocean View Apartments, look out over Mele Bay in Port Vila … drinking a Lemon Tusker beer … thinking … Darleen and I are both going to live here soon.

Mele Bay Port Vila

Mele Bay Port Vila