Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Renay Tregellas
The Black Expat: 'I've Lived In Australia For 25 Years And I'm Staying'
Renay Tregellas was born and raised in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. After meeting and falling in love with an Australian man during the Crocodile Dundee movie era, she decided to pack up her life and move with her then-husband to Sydney, Australia.
Although the couple has now been divorced for over 10 years, Renay decided to remain in Sydney where she has lived and worked now for over 25 years.
“I live on the lower north shore,” Renay told Travel Noire. “It’s a leafy suburb, filled with beautiful large homes expensive apartments and private schools. I currently work as a real estate agent, but I’ve run several businesses in Australia prior. Mostly e-commerce and community-based.”
When she moved to the area in the 80s, she recalls meeting only one other Black family. They instantly struck a bond since there were so few Black families at that time. But now the area has grown significantly and is very diverse.
“I used to host a Thanksgiving that started off with one Black family and ended up over the years with 30 couples or more. A few years later, another older Black couple held Thanksgiving at their palatial home in the Western suburbs. A suburb far more ethnically diverse and an annual celebration I looked forward to. It seemed like every black person in Australia was there.”
Like most Black Americans living in Australia, Renay understands that there is still a long way to go as far as the unfair treatment of the country’s Aboriginal people. But, she says it is a great place for Black Americans to live and thrive. It’s one of the reasons she has remained there for so long.
“There are plenty of opportunities here, entrepreneurial and otherwise,” she said. “Your skin is not an issue. Your Black sons and daughters don’t have to know the “unwritten rules“ when engaging with police. Your Black family will actually feel free.”
As far as moving back to the States, Renay is choosing to remain in Australia a little longer. She has been fortunate to go home and visit her family in NYC each year, but instances of racism while there have left her torn between returning home or staying abroad.
“Thank God for FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom and the rest. I’m staying here with dreams of returning home one day.”
To catch more from Renay, you can find her on Instagram: @nayBK.