ALTHOUGH acclaimed mime artist Philip Fok moved to Sydney almost a year ago, he has still to perform in Australia. ''It's very difficult to start out in Australia,'' said Fok, who is still seeking full-time employment, from his house in Ryde, a suburb of Sydney. As he spoke of his struggle to find work in a country which he said required local working experience before offering immigrants a first-time job, his tale seemed somewhat reminiscent of his oft-recounted Hongkong Cinderella story: a school drop-out at 15 turned top mime artist at 35. Only in Australia, the transformation had not yet taken place and Hongkong's prince of mime sat crownless in Ryde. The house, or perhaps more appropriately the patch of land on which the house sits, Fok bought with the money with which he arrived 10 months ago. When he bought it, the house was decrepit and its roof caving in. Fok has spent much of his time rebuilding it because he cannot afford to hire someone else to do so. ''We had no money, only the money in my pocket to buy the house. All this work I did.'' He pointed to the tiled floor, rebuilt ceiling, and painted walls. ''My wife painted the kitchen,'' he added with a proud nod of the head. Like many new immigrants into Australia, Fok is having to acquire voluntary work experience before landing a job. He has volunteered to teach mime to children at a church. To introduce himself to audiences in Sydney, he performed a short piece in a variety show which is part of Sydney's winter celebration of Australian-Asian arts. To earn some income to support his wife and children, he also is teaching children to paint. At 45, Fok is realistic, having shed any youthful idealism but still fired by a dogged determinism to achieve. ''I am doing it step by step. If I thought I could start again easily because I'm famous, I'd be dreaming,'' he said. Aware of his age and the recurring ache at the base of his spine, he is willing to concede to a back-stage role in Sydney and rather than devote the next 20 years to establishing himself as a performer, Fok wants to teach. ''To perform one hour I have to do 150 hours' rehearsal. If I have to mime like a boxer for 45 minutes, it is very tiring. If I'm doing 10 shows, then I'd have to stay in the hospital for a month,'' he said, hand moved to support his weakening back. ''I just want to teach,'' he continued. ''I know I'm a good teacher. I can introduce mime to people. Young men can put my concepts on stage. This is not a dream, this is true.'' Fok is hopeful about developing an art-form which he believes has potential. In his view, mime is already endemic to Australian culture. ''Native people have the body language. The Aborigines imitate a kangaroo,'' he observed, arms carried to his chest, hands dangling from his wrists. ''They tell a story about the day in a life. This is mime.'' He also sees potential material for mime all around him. The Australian policeman, he observed, was much more akin to the American than the Hongkong officer. As he spoke, he donned a pair of invisible sunglasses, slipped into a swashbuckling swagger, chewed a bit and then feigned a spit. ''I could use that, for example,'' he said, giving a grin which seemed more to befit a child than a grown man. How could Philip Fok, the pioneer of mime in Hongkong, the man who trained under the widely-acclaimed London artist Desmond Jones, the man the Fringe called ''our indomitable mime'', relinquish his place on the stage? But Fok was insistent. ''I'm 45 and I'm only allowed to fall once or twice. Fifty-two is old for a warlord,'' he said. ''If I'm living in a strange place I must be very strong. Maybe I'll climb to the top at 60.''