Meet some people who imagined a new life, and who now live and work on Norfolk Island. Come on over and join them.
Yvonne Robinson is a Norfolk Island success story. She is the proud owner and operator of Norfolk Island’s only commercial laundry business, Supa Suds, on Ferny Lane.
She comes from Auckland New Zealand where her parents ran a successful laundry for many years. So her new career on Norfolk is ‘in the blood’ you might say! But it wasn’t always that way.
“I always knew what I wanted to do and that was to become a nurse”. But her mother persuaded her to place her dream on hold for a ‘real job’ with a dry cleaner. That job lasted eight years.
Yvonne learnt all about the industry – from pressing and finishing, to spot and stain removal (a real art apparently), and how to work the machines. She became so proficient that she worked all over Auckland as the owners established a franchise operation across the city.
She eventually returned to the family business and improved its standard. Yvonne grew the business considerably by buying another dry cleaning business, and diversifying into mobile pickup and delivery, and specialist services for weddings.
An ever more hectic business life – managing staff, dealing with governments not supportive of small business – saw the call of a simpler life start to take hold.
Yvonne had visited Norfolk Island several times over the years, and loved the place. So she decided that she would live in Norfolk Island – that it was where the next phase of her life would begin. She arrived, found work at Café Espresso, prepared afternoon teas for the island’s only glass bottom boat business, and helped out on one of the island’s most popular tours, the Farm and Industry tour.
Eventually a lovely cottage on Ferny Lane was purchased, and during 2013 she went ‘back to the future’ when she converted the small garage on her property into her own commercial laundry. A service the island was crying out for.
Today she operates three commercial machines and several huge dryers, and has many clients from individuals and families to 5 star accommodation properties to top restaurants on the island.
Yvonne was the first female in Auckland and probably New Zealand to become a certified dry cleaner.
Today she runs a successful business, makes a good living, and enjoys a relaxed and simpler life in Norfolk Island.
Find Supa Suds: —–> (Other services 2 map)
Where did you live and work before NI? What did you do?
Kerri-Ann and I are from Brisbane initially (born ten months apart in the Royal Brisbane Hospital) where we lived and worked for the first 35 years of our lives.
Kerri-Ann’s last position in Brisbane was with DHL as the National Telesales Manager and my last job was as a Team Leader at the Brisbane Institute of TAFE. Both positions were demanding and we decided after selling our home that we would travel the world for as long as the money held out. What followed was 18 months of travel visiting over 30 countries.
After returning home in 2006 we looked for work opportunities for couples, because we figured if we could travel for that long together then we should be able to work together.
After house sitting for a few months we thought about strata management, but the entry costs were too prohibitive. So we decided to take up a position managing a brand new 80 unit retirement village in Rockhampton. We found this to be a great challenge and we loved having 50 grandparents to look after us.
After a year in Rockhampton we needed a new challenge and came across a job advertisement on seek.com.au for a couple to manage a Norfolk Island Resort. The first thing we checked out was the climate and we were surprised by how mild the temperatures were (after regular 40 degree days in Rocky this was a priority for us). We applied and got the job and we left for the island a month later.
When did you first come here?
We arrived on Norfolk in February of 2008 knowing only the average temperatures and that Colleen McCullogh lived here.
Why did you decide to stay and invest in NI?
Our intention was only to stay for 12 months to gain some accommodation experience in four star accommodation. But Norfolk island had other ideas.
After so much travel we usually got a ‘feeling’ about a destination as soon as we arrived – good or bad, potential or no. As well as getting under our skin, Norfolk had a good feel to it, and great potential for investment and good returns.
Not long after arriving we bought a house which we were told was the old island butcher shop. It had a two bedroom house and a separate two bedroom flat on over ¼ acre of land. Now rented out earning us income. Since then we have purchased two more houses, one of which we are currently turning into accommodation for tourists.
We also are working full time as accommodation managers – and loving it – a fantastic no income tax environment allows us to keep what we earn!
Why does NI work for you?
Everyone will tell you that the lifestyle is great, what with all of the beaches and walks and fabulous shops (which is all true) but, for us, Norfolk just screamed real estate investment opportunity and it has turned out to be so.
The reasons Norfolk works for us: pace of life (no crowds ever), security, investment returns, friends and close proximity to Australia and New Zealand.
We really like the fact all of our investments are manageable in one place and if there are any hiccups we only have to travel down the road to fix them.
What opportunities do you think there are for new immigrants to NI?
As far as we can tell, Norfolk’s opportunities are boundless. If you have ever wanted to start any business, but were daunted for any reason, Norfolk is the place to do it. There are few barriers to investment, and business and investment growth post-GFC is gathering momentum as tourism growth returns.
What advice would you give to those considering a change in lifestyle and why should they come to NI?
Our advice is to just do it! Norfolk is safe and easy and fun. There are so many positives. It has everything you need and is a unique surprise package!
She was educated there and has qualifications in psychology and linguistics, but had always wanted to travel to Australia and New Zealand. But it was so expensive to travel, and not as easy in the USSR as it was in other parts of the world to just get up and go.
To minimise the expense she started to look into travel / work options. While this was going on her mother, who was reluctant for Lydia to leave, met NI businessman Rick Irvine over the Internet. He flew to Russia to meet her, and only left when she agreed to return to NI with him.
Lydia and her husband Alex eventually moved to NI to work in Rick’s business, and Lydia thought that was a pretty good compromise because it got her closer to her dream travel destinations of Australia and NZ.
The remoteness of NI was difficult to deal with initially, but the family grew into living here. Lydia still works in the family business, as does Alex who is an electrical engineer by trade. And their only child was born in NI.
What helped them grow into life here?
The welcoming and helpful community, the respect that people have for each other, and the secure and safe life here for her and her family, is what makes NI such a very good home.
But NI is also a very good place to do business in too.
The lack of intense competition, the respect that businesses show one-to-the other, and the willingness of others to help out, means that NI is a very safe place for starting new enterprise. Lydia believes if you have the skills, the drive, and the product, you can do very well in NI.
Norfolk Island. A safe place for families and business.
Find where Lydia works at Hibiscus Resort & Motels: —–> (Accommodation 3 1/2 star map)