NEW HOME: South African hairdresser Maxine van der Westhuizen now calls Warwick home.
NEW HOME: South African hairdresser Maxine van der Westhuizen now calls Warwick home. Jonno Colfs

From leopards, crocs and crime to Warwick

A DAY IN THE LIFE: Maxine van der Westhuizen

AFTER growing up on the Crocodile River in the city of Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit) in South Africa, Maxine van der Westhuizen now calls Warwick home.

However, despite being close to such an ominously named waterway and the world-famous Kruger National Park, Mrs van der Westhuizen said encounters with Africa's famed wildlife were rare.

"We lived in a farming area that was much like here,” she said.

"It was mostly citrus farming but there were always stories and rumours about leopards taking farm dogs. It happened to a neighbour but thankfully I didn't ever see anything like that.”

In December 2013 Mrs van der Westhuizen and her husband, Anton, immigrated to Australia.

"We were in our first year of marriage and decided to have an adventure,” she said.

"My husband's younger brother was already living over here and sponsored us to come over.

"So we came and moved in with he and his wife in Killarney.”

Mrs van der Westhuizen said they had only planned to live with her brother-in-law for a few months.

"When we got here we found it really hard to find work, which changed our plans,” she said.

"We ended up staying there for a year.”

The couple found work and moved to Warwick in 2015.

"I am a qualified hairdresser but in South Africa we have assistants called operators, who help out with some of the tasks we do,” Mrs van der Westhuizen said.

"In Australia the hairdressers do it all and they're so fast and I really wasn't prepared for that.

"It took a little while to get me up to speed and eventually I found an awesome job with Warwick's By-Gone Barber Shop in Fitzroy St in September 2015.”

Mrs van der Westhuizen works afternoons and Saturdays and loves it.

"I really like the clients, the Warwick people are so nice and friendly,” she said.

"I always used to hear stories about how Australians were rude and unfriendly towards immigrants but that's rubbish.

"I was worried about my accent and how people would react but I shouldn't have, the people are all lovely.”

Mrs van der Westhuizen said the biggest difference between the two countries was security.

"If we left the doors to the salon wide open, like we do here, we would have been robbed on a daily basis,” she said.

"In South Africa we had magnetic locked doors and would have to buzz people in.

"Here it's completely different and I love it.”



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