For future reference, here's how to go about getting set up as an insured driver in the UK :
First, the instant you set foot in the UK, exchange your Australian drivers license for a UK one. At least, fill out the forms and bring along the various forms of ID and photo and statement from a UK resident who has known you for over two years and pay your money to get the application process started.
Then wait a few weeks for the licence to actually arrive.
Once you have a full UK licence, you have to do the following. Each must be done before the other :
1. Get car insurance
1. Get a car
(and you have to find an insurance company that will even consider insuring you, overcoming hurdles like :
a) You haven't been in the UK for more than 3 years (you only just got here).
b) You don't have current UK car insurance (after all, you only just got here).
c) You may not actually have a car yet (after all ... you know).
d) You might have got a speeding ticket on a stretch of road where it turns out that the accuracy of all the speed cameras is questionable (to the extent that refunds of fines might be in the works).
e) General paranoia on the part of the insurance company.
f) Make sure your car isn't too new, shiny, fancy, or expensive.
g) Make sure you don't pick a risky area to live in, and ideally have a secure garage for your car (rumour has it that there are three or four of these in the whole of Glasgow).
Oh yes, for extra fun, a fair percentage of car insurance company online quote websites will fail to work in some way.
And one of them failed to recognise any and all of the following as occupations - "Computer Programmer", "Programmer", "Analyst", "Analyst Programmer", "Computer Analyst", "Computer", "System administrator", "Computer System Administrator", "Computer administrator", "Computing professional", and "Professional".
It also failed to understand "Bank", "Banking", "Finance", "Financial" and "Grrrrrargh!" as industries.
It also completely failed to keep me as a customer, oddly enough.
Whew. Anyway, we solved the each-before-the-other problem by buying a car conditional on getting insurance arranged by the time we pick up the car, and then using our near-ownership of the car as the basis for getting insurance. I don't know if there's an easier way to do this, or if this is how the "natives" go about it, but it seems a little ... stressful, to say the least.