Jewish Museum of Australia – Celebrating the life of such an extraordinary musician and artist

Photo by Mark Okoh

Last week, I went to the Jewish Museum of Australia with a girlfriend, we were desperate to get in to see the current exhibition Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait before it ends on the 25th March.

The Jewish Museum is located in St Kilda, and easy to find. We headed in and straight up the stairs to the sound of Amy Winehouse’s beautiful voice in the distance.

“This isn’t an attempt to tell people what my sister was like, or what kind of people my grandparents were, or to force my opinions on you. This is a snapshot of a girl who was, to her deepest core, simply a little Jewish kid from North London with a big talent who, more than anything, just wanted to be true to her heritage.”
Alex Winehouse

Like millions of people I’m a huge Amy Winehouse fan so this exhibition was a must see for me. She was such an intriguing character and absolutely someone who got to me. I loved her music, her voice, the sound as if from another era. In my eyes she was a true talent.

Amy Winehouse (1983 – 2011) was an incredible singer and songwriter but far beyond that and evident throughout the exhibition, she was all about ‘family’;  hugely proud of her home (London) and her Jewish roots. The exhibition feels so personal. As if you’ve walked into her bedroom and you’re thumbing through her things.

The memorabilia on show feels too ‘young’ to be that of someone who has passed. The iconic outfits, giving a real sense of just how tiny Amy was. Amy’s belongings sit in a vast white space; her school uniforms, photographs of her with her friends, her records, and her guitar, all a stark reminder of a life well and truly cut short. A life filled with so much drama, yet essentially she was a proud Jewish girl with a strong sense of family and traditional values.

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait is a personal and intimate exhibition which explores Amy Winehouse’s inner world, and the influences that shaped her career and personal life – Jewish Museum

Through this exhibition Alex Winehouse celebrates his sisters life and heritage, and allows us to explore her world and everything that influenced it. There are lovely family trees, old photos, and stories of her family who left Belarus in the late nineteenth century, and headed to London, where Amy was to grow up and fall deeply in love with her city.

Amy won five Grammy Awards and had numerous hit songs including Rehab, Back to Black, and Valerie before dying tragically at the age of 27 in 2011.

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait honours Amy’s memory and achievements, and provides a personal portrait of her family life and Jewish heritage; things that were not always visible in her public life.

“The Jewish Museum is perhaps an unexpected venue for an exhibition about Amy Winehouse, but Amy’s brother, Alex, was adamant that this was the best place to tell her story, because being Jewish was so much a part of who she was.” Jewish Museum of Australia Director Rebecca Forgasz

Since launching in London in 2013, the exhibition has toured internationally from San Francisco to Vienna, Tel Aviv and Amsterdam, with huge success. The Jewish Museum is the only place in Australia to host the Amy Winehouse exhibition and they are very excited to share this fantastic show with us lucky Amy Winehouse fans.

Grab your tickets before it’s gone!!!

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait

Adults: $12 (18+)
Children: Free (5 and under)
Children: $6 (6+)
Concession: $6 (students, pension card holders, Health Care card)
Family: $27 (2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult, 3 children)
Member: Free

Book Here

Opening Hours: Tues – Thurs 10am-4pm Fri 10M-3PM Sun 10-5pm

Phone: (03) 8534 3600

Location: 26 Alma Rd, St Kilda Victoria 3182. A two-minute walk from tram stop 32 on St Kilda Rd (Routes 3 or 67).


Immigration Museum – British Migrants, instant Australians?


A new exhibition has opened it’s doors at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum  and I can say with all my heart, it’s one of the most moving exhibitions I have had the pleasure of visiting.

‘Between 1947 and 1981 nearly 1.5 million Brits arrived in an Australia that was predominantly white and British – it had worked hard to be so’ 

A few weeks ago I went along to a preview of the new exhibition ‘British Migrants, Instant Australians?‘.  We were treated to Devonshire Tea, a cup of Earl Grey, and some magnificent guest speakers, before heading in. It felt quintessentially British, although there was no driving rain or fog to be seen!

Paul Jennings, best known for his writing of many children’s books, got up to speak about his migration from the UK at the age of six. He told us of the distress he felt leaving behind his beloved Grandmother. Sitting there listening to his heartfelt words, I felt as if I was listening to my own children speaking in 30 years time. I could totally relate to his feelings of homesickness, longing, and upset at leaving the only home he’d known; I had a lump in my throat!

‘When I was six I left England, with my parents and my little sister Ruth, to come and live in Australia. That was in 1949. In those days, people came to Australia by boat. The one we came on was called the Ranchi. We sailed for five weeks before arriving in Melbourne’- Paul Jennings

His story was compelling, and a real tear jerker. It’s so easy to overlook what migration was to families back in the 40’s. It’s especially hard to consider what that journey must have been like whilst living in todays modern world of round the globe flights, and Skype calls! British Migrants in the 1940’s left home simply thinking it was ‘for the best!’  Expats still take this risk when they move far from home, although being more aware of the world possibly makes it less of a “culture shock”.

Red Symons also spoke about his migration from the UK.  He told us of his everlasting memory of stepping into a land with an immense amount of sky. The single storey houses, the flat landscapes, and the endless blue skies. His words made me wonder what my children will remember from our early days Down Under? That moment we arrived in the dead of night, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the accents. So different to home!

‘Newcomers from Britain had all  the advantages of a shared language, culture and history.  So fitting in should be easy. But reality is never that simple’

The thing that struck me most about all the speakers at the grand unveiling of the latest exhibition was how their hearts broke at leaving family and friends behind; yet they recognised the opportunity they had been given. They all got stuck in, pushed their homesickness and worries to one side and made the best of their new lives. They went over and above to “fit in”, they changed their accents and worked hard to build friendships. The chance to leave behind post WW2 Britain, the grey skies and limited job opportunities, for a land which had everything they could wish for in abundance was too good to ignore.

The exhibition holds some wonderful, heartfelt stories of lives well lived, cherished friendships, and of the “migrant” feeling of being ‘too foreign for home, too foreign for here, and never enough for both’.

Whilst wandering through the exhibition, I couldn’t help but go back to those nagging thoughts in my mind… “Will my children grow up feeling like this?” “Will they look back with sadness at what they missed when we moved?” “Will my children grow up with a constant longing in their hearts?” Honestly, I’m not sure. Today’s “migrant” is so incredibly different from those who arrived in Australia all those years ago. The world is so much smaller and the internet bigger than ever. We can keep in touch without lifting a pen, or licking a stamp, and we can see distant loved ones at the touch of a button.

I’m not sure my children feel any different to their peers. No one comments on their accents (anymore), no one really even asks them where they’re from. We’re learning we’re not that different after all. This is an indication of just how migration has changed. My children are not really seen as ‘migrants’ in the classroom! I’m not sure any of us are! Is an expat a migrant anymore?


Not only is this new exhibition a fantastic insight into the lives of thousands of migrants and their voyage to Australia, but it’s a real showcase of bravery, courage, and human kindness which will teach all visitors a lesson in the need to show compassion to people migrating to this wonderful country!

The Immigration Museum has beautifully showcased artefacts from treasured family collections, with words spoken by those families themselves. They have taken time to cleverly and sympathetically tell people’s stories of migration, with a mixture of mediums including handwritten letters, memorabilia and old posters promising a life rich in work and sun.

As an expat myself, who has brought my British children to Australia, I found the exhibition moving to say the least. I cannot begin to imagine what the 1940’s migrant must have thought arriving in this warm, far away land, with nothing but the bare essentials; some of them not knowing what to expect. To think that they came here and managed to build new lives, away from everything they had ever known, with no modern technology to contact home is just mind blowing to me. Honestly, their courage astounds me, and I highly recommend this exhibition.


‘British Migrants, Instant Australians?’ is open now and runs until 15th April 2018 at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum.

Tickets are included with Museum Entry

Adults – $14
Child to 16 years – FREE
Concession – FREE


X-Pat Files – The Thought of Not Doing It, Scared Me Most!!

Emma and Rich moved from the UK to Australia in December 2016. They live in a delightful little harbour city called Fremantle in Western Australia. Emma blogs about her travels and life as an expat at Distant Wanderers .  Here Emma tells her story about being more worried about not taking the plunge, than actually doing it!! 


If you’d have told me 4 years ago when I was planning a year of backpacking around Asia and Australia, that I would meet a British born Australian citizen the day after I arrived ‘Down Under’ and would end up moving to the other side of the world to be with him, I most definitely would not have believed you.  I was planning to spend a year travelling and then return home; never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would call Australia my home. When I met my partner, I was excited by the fact I’d met someone who shared the same inexplicable love for Australia, something I’d never been able to explain, but I knew part of my soul belonged there. Our mutual love for Australia, travel and adventure meant we instantly hit it off.

Fast forward a couple of years, living in the UK, we both knew that Australia was where we were meant to be. We had talked of going back for so long, and both being ‘doers’ and not just talkers, we took the plunge and booked a one-way flight. This, for me, made it seem much more real and as the months started ticking by I started to doubt whether I was doing the right thing.

Rich had lived in Perth before, so he didn’t seem as anxious. He knew what to expect and had a good network of friends there.

I had moments where I was terrified; giving up my entire life to start somewhere completely new, where I didn’t know anyone, where I wouldn’t have full working rights, where I would have issues with jobs, money and visas etc. I was feeling overwhelmed with the decision I’d made to move to the other side of the world and sad to leave behind my family, an amazing network of friends and a good social life. More than once, I wondered what on earth I was doing. I was a bag of nerves and frankly, a mess. It was probably a good thing that we’d already booked the flights as I most definitely would have backed out otherwise.

I started to research moving to Australia and soon realised that it was the very idea of not doing it that scared me the most.

I was more scared than I liked to admit about moving overseas, but the idea of living the rest of my life wondering ‘what if…’ filled me with dread. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a fabulous opportunity, one many people would love to have and I should run at it with open arms. It was scary, but it was also amazing and exciting and I knew home wasn’t far away if I wanted to go back; we at least had to try first.


We’ve now been in Perth for just under a year and I can honestly say that moving abroad was the best thing I’ve ever done. People ask me what it is about Australia that I love and why I moved here, but I think it comes down to more than just the place.

It’s stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning things about yourself, throwing yourself into a completely bizarre and new experience, learning about another country and ultimately, yourself.

I came across a quote online that struck me so deeply; it made me realise that what I had done was massive and I had been brave to follow my dreams.

‘Nothing is comparable to the new life in a new country. Though I am still always myself, I am changed to the marrow of my bones.’ – Unknown.  

Living overseas changes you, makes you appreciate and see things differently. You’re far away from everything and everyone you have ever known and loved and it can be lonely, overwhelming and tiring. However, when you stop to think about what you have accomplished, you realise how proud you are of yourself for uprooting and starting afresh.

I miss my friends and family so much and think about them every single day. I wish we lived closer so they could just pop in for a cup of tea. That’s the hardest thing about moving overseas. I try to fully immerse myself in daily life here; I want to feel as though I am making the most of the beautiful surroundings that are on my doorstep. Australia is a truly amazing place, the weather is stunning; the relaxed lifestyle and wonderful natural beauty are of course a massive bonus. I feel as though I belong here, that it’s home and that my life is here. I am joining clubs, meeting people, going out for walks and exploring this amazing place that I live. Though I miss my life back home, I have no desire to move back there any time soon. Rich and I try to get out as much as possible and explore as much of diverse Western Australia as we can, there’s so much to see and do, I don’t feel like I need to go on holiday– we have it all here!

London Court in Perth

Moving abroad is scary, but as they say, ‘Ships in harbour are safe… but that’s not what ships are built for.’

The idea of never fulfilling my dreams is far scarier and for me, I just think life is too short to not go after what you want.

We are lucky that we’ve been given such a fantastic opportunity to come and live in Australia but we made it happen, we made our own luck. If you’re scared or worried about taking the plunge and moving overseas, that’s OK, it’s perfectly normal. It’s scary, amazing, terrifying, and exciting all at once but it might be the best thing you ever do; the only thing anyone can ever do is try. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried. If you’re scared, have a little faith that things have a funny way of working themselves out and it could be the most wonderful experience of your life.

Gondola ride on the Swan River

Thank you so much Emma.. What a great story, proving to everyone that it’s important to grab the bull by the horns and absolutely ‘Go For It’!! Olivia xxx

See Emma’s daily adventures on Instagram at distant_wanderers 


If you think you have a great “Expat” story to tell, contact me and you may see yourself on here too!!!

#Expatlife #Expats #ExpatsinAustralia #lifedownunder #Expattales #XPatFiles #Perth #Fremantle

It’s my home, it’s my city & I love it!!

Tulip Coffee – Degraves Street

I’m currently sitting in a beautiful coffee shop in the lanes of Melbourne, sipping a Long Black and wondering what I used to do on Friday afternoons before we ended up here.. Melbourne is the most magical city. Just meandering through the laneways is enough to make me grateful for being alive. It’s that kind of place! It really does make my heart skip a beat! People everywhere; sightseers, office workers, artists, musicians, shop owners, even bloggers like me, immersed in their surroundings and getting all sorts of inspiration from the bustle around them. It’s hard not to be inspired here. There is just so much to love about this city; my city!

We’re fast approaching the end of another year ‘Down Under’ and there don’t seem to be any signs that we may be adventuring off to pastures new just yet.. Thank goodness. I am amazed at all the things we’ve squeezed in to our first year in Melbourne, and there’s still so much to explore.  I’m so full of love for how this city has become home to us so quickly!  I never would have imagined a few years ago that we would be here, doing this, and absolutely loving every minute!!

It seems like a lifetime ago we hopped off that plane in Sydney, to see what Australia had to offer. To dip our toes in the clear blue waters of the world famous Bondi Beach. The memories feel like a scene from a black and white movie.. Mr W, whisking us off to explore a warm and distant land. If it had been on the silver screen,  I’d have been played by Olivia De Havilland (Obvs), and Mr.W played by Humphrey Bogart! We’d arrive in the Southern Hemisphere, embrace each other at the bottom of the plane steps, and get chauffeured off to our glamorous new abode in Sydney Harbour.

In reality it was nothing like that!

Monty had spent the first 12 hours of the journey vomiting into supermarket carrier bags that I had cleverly stashed in my hand-luggage. Poppy spent 24 hours watching re runs of Peppa Pig, and I sobbed most of the way! By the time we landed in Sydney, we looked more like the Aadams Family than glamorous 1940’s movie stars. Hello Australia, we’ve arrived, and NO we’re not staying for long, I left my besties crying at Heathrow!!!

Now almost three years on from the landing, and…. wait for it… (*Mum grab a hankie)… I’m not sure I could….. go back……

I know, I know, it sounds a little ‘out there’! *All my friends are currently deleting my blog from their newsfeed, muttering “I told her she’d not be back”… Mum is sobbing into her cup of tea, and for some reason, I don’t feel too terrible… In fact, I feel relieved to have finally put it out there.

That’s not to say I don’t yearn for my girl crew, and I don’t miss lots of things about the UK; it’s just that Australia, well Melbourne.. oh gosh I’m so sorry…is home now….

It had to happen eventually. There had to come a time when we all started to think of Australia as “home”.  Expat’s all over the world; since being an expat was even a thing, have always struggled with knowing where home really is. I’m sure people stop themselves calling their host country ‘home’, so as not to upset Aunty Brenda, or to keep hold of friends who have promised to disown them if they don’t return!!! The pressure to have just one home, and not love anywhere else as much.. or dare I say it.. MORE, is too much to handle. It’s a strange feeling, as if I’m letting the whole of the UK down, by saying “thanks anyway, but I think we’ll stay put”. I’m sure that’s what makes my stomach churn and mimic homesickness. It’s possibly not that I’m missing the chips and gravy with mushy peas, or the local pub with the log fire, it’s the terror that I’ll be cast aside and never welcomed home with open arms again! I’m a traitor, fair and square!!

We never came here with the intention of staying forever, but you can’t help but build a life for yourselves, and your children. You can’t help but make friends; close friends. You can’t help but join clubs, get jobs, volunteer, join the school committee, find a local pub, join sports teams, become part of a community… You can’t help but make a new life, and somehow that’s what we’ve done. (And no, I still don’t resemble Olivia de Havilland)

We came here for four years, and now with only 14 months left on our visa, I am truly panicking about what will become of us all if we do have to leave our…. ‘home’??

The UK isn’t our home any more. Is it?? We left a life behind, and have created something different, something new, something exciting, something we’re certainly not ready to let go of.

I think what I’m trying to say is, no matter what we do, or where we go, we will always be in a position where we’re living without something or someone. And without doubt, in this crazy ‘expat’ life, we just have to go with the flow; think about what we really, really want, and as selfish as it sounds not give anyone else a second thought! We have one life, one chance at getting it right and only we know ‘where‘ we’re happy! For The Wilson’s, now… dare I say it….? I think we’re home.

“The most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people, and places, and memories, and pictures. They’re feelings and moments and smiles and laughter” – Unknown

Olivia xx