From South Africa to Australia – Q&A with Tertius Vermooten

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Two years ago, ConsultANZ had the pleasure of placing a South African civil engineer Tertius Vermooten at NorthConnex – a major infrastructure project in Sydney, NSW.

Below is Q&A with Tertius in which we asked him some questions around his experience of moving to Australia.

Q: What were your first impressions of Australia when you arrived?

Australia is a wonderful country.

It is a country where you can have the most comfortable life, whether it is at work, home or using public transport.

Q: What’s it like to live and work in Sydney, Australia’s largest city?

Sydney has beautiful beaches and parks which are easily accessible with public transport.

The food and entertainment is great and the city is very cosmopolitan.

The areas around Sydney are amazing to explore and it is convenient to fly from Sydney to any other parts of Australia or around.

Q: Around the move, what have you found to be the biggest challenge/-s from a personal point of view?

One needs to save enough money for the initial expenses when you arrive; it takes a couple of months to cover the initial costs when arriving.

Q: What have been your biggest challenge/-s from a professional point of view?

To adapt and adhere to more strict Safety and Quality measurements which have to be satisfied before executing work.

This is however a necessity!

As a Site Engineer you are responsible for all quality, safety and quantity measurements for your work area, as there are not dedicated persons as in South Africa.

Q: You’re a civil engineer. What would you say the main differences are between working on projects in South Africa compared to working on projects in Australia?

In Australia, the whole project’s work allocation is distributed between several engineers – in SA I was responsible for the whole project.

Site Engineers here are responsible for a smaller area and it is then expected you look in detail after your part.

More effort is placed in the planning phase compared to South Africa.

Q: Is Australia’s cost of living as expensive as everyone makes out? Does the increased salary compensate for this?

Sydney is very expensive, but the salary does bring it on par compared to other cities.

As an Engineer, your increased salary does compensate for this. The fact that the project is within the city, makes it very convenient.

Q: What’s been the highlight of the move so far?

I really enjoy my work and the exposure that I am getting.

Working on a project of this scale is also a wonderful experience.

The working environment is similar to South Africa.

The friends and experiences that we have had up to this point has been life changing.

Q: What sort of things did you have to organise for the visa process?

I only needed to do an English competency test and me and my wife needed to do a medical test.

The rest was handled by the appointed immigration consultant.

It was very effective.

Q: And how long did the visa process take from start to finish?

From acceptance of offer to when we received our visa it took four months (it did however stretch over the December break).

Q: Is there any advice you would give to fellow South Africans who are considering a similar move?

I would highly recommend it, as it is an amazing opportunity to not only develop your career in construction but to experience life in a comfortable and exciting manner.


If you are a Civil Engineer, a Construction Professional or a Surveyor who would like to be part of the infrastructure boom in Australia or New Zealand, register your CV here or search our jobs.

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