Living in Australia – Looking back: Part 1


Living in Australia – Looking back:  Part 1

(by Achim)

4.5 years ago we moved from China to Australia. 1 month ago we left Australia to live in Chile. In between lots of things have happened, so we thought we’d do a few blog posts looking back about our life in Australia (China ones will come too!). A summary:

  • We got married in November 2009
  • Emily was born in April 2011 and is now already 22 months old
  • We moved houses in November 2011 (which was a bit of a waste considering that we moved contintents a year later)
  • We had probably 10 times more overseas visitors than in China
  • We spent approximately 50,000 miles in airplanes to see family and friends
  • We still wonder if Emily is the youngest baby doing a round-the-world trip being 4 months old
  • We have seen some of the great Australian sights like the Great Ocean Road, Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Sydney’s Opera House and the Harbour Bridge
  • We became permanent residents in Australia and have applied for citizenship
  • We learned to deal with hooked turns in Melbourne and look right first before you cross the road
  • We have still only scratched on the surface of the thousands of coffee shops and restaurants in Melbourne

Over a few posts we will attempt to summarize of our lives downunder. Not that you can really summarize 4 years in a few posts…

Our family

I’m pretty sure all of you know that our family has had a small (well actually not so small) family addition in April 2011. Since her birth, Emily is challenging the Australian height and weight charts, which either means all Australians are short and thin or she has inherited some genes of her parents. Unfortunately we have not been able to make her an Aussie by birth, but are attempting this currently again.

Emily has been an absolute joy since she was born (despite a few tantrums here and there!). Let’s see if we survive the impending terrible twos! She has been a good sleeper and is happy mixing up English and German words. I’m sure she will soon be throwing some Spanish in too. She has only once shocked us with a couple of days in hospital but has otherwise been pretty resilient….except for that first few months in daycare where she picked up every single bug going around, sometimes at the same time. Even dragging her around the continents has only resulted in horrible sleep patterns (a battle we cant seem to win) but nothing else.

Our homes

3a Vale St

Our first home in Australia happened to be right in the middle of St Kilda with lots of good restaurants and bars around and the beach only a 10 minute walk away – we were very lucky. The sunsets that we could see at this location have just been amazing. We still believe the sky is closer to earth in Australia than at any other place we have lived. The big downside was unrestricted access to unwanted services of lightly dressed women.

370 Inkerman St

We moved away from the beach into the middle of the Hasidic Jewish quarter of Melbourne, which then gave us unlimited access to cheap fantastic cakes and bagels – for a bargain. Not quite sure if we will ever understand how you can wear a long black coat and top-hat in the middle of summer at 40 degrees though!

Our new home had a small backyard that was perfectly suited for a BBQ and we learned that bats love figs as much as we do. Aly was not a fan of the giant bat that lived in the fig tree.



Australia from the newcomers’ perspective

We thought this was a funny a little summary of “Australia” from an outsiders perspective. (note: stolen, not mine!)  (by Ben Groundwater, published in The Age on 27th of June 2012)

Shortening all words: Whatevs, it’s not like we shorten everything. Except sunnies. And boardies. And footy. And snags. And chucking a uey. And calling Barry, Baz. And Sharon, Shaz. And Robert, Robbo. I even travelled with a girl who referred to her binoculars as “binos”.

“Bring a plate”: When my mum first arrived in Australia she was invited to a friend’s barbecue and told to “bring a plate”. So she brought a plate. An empty plate. She was a little embarrassed to find that everyone else had brought some food on theirs.

BYO:  It’s great when foreigners first realise this: “You can take your own wine to a restaurant? Geez, can you take your own beer to the pub?”

Watching the footy: Because there’s no such thing as just “footy”: There are four sports here that could qualify as “footy”, and you can never be quite sure which one people are talking about. Still, you gotta love the footy.

Buying a beer: What the hell is a “pony”? And who came up with “schooner”? And why do “handles” not have actual handles? And in which other country is it normal to order a “pot of gold”? South Australia takes the grand prize for weirdness though, with a glass called a “pint” that doesn’t hold a full pint.

Taking a day off for the Queen’s birthday: I’m not arguing about it or anything, but it’s not even on the Queen’s actual birthday. And the Brits don’t celebrate it, so why do we?

Having a bank robber as a national icon: Ned Kelly was no Robin Hood, was he? No altruistic man of the people. He just shot some cops and wore a bucket on his head. And we revere this guy? (OK, I know there’s a lot more to this story, but from a foreigner’s perspective, it’s pretty odd.)

Dressing really fancy for the races…Then getting absolutely obliterated:  There’s nothing more Australian than seeing a smartly dressed couple stumble out of the races, her with high heels in hand, him with a tie around his head, and start drunkenly screaming at taxis going past.

“How’s it going?” This has to be up there with the American “what’s up” as the most nonsensical greeting around. How’s what going? I remember a few exchange students at uni talking about this, saying, “It took me a while to realise that Australians don’t actually want to know how you are going. They just want you to say ‘good’.”

Complaining about the rain in London:  Somewhat stunningly, a mate of mine pointed out that Sydney gets more rain each year than London. Ouch.

Having celebrity TV shows that don’t feature any celebrities: Australia’s pool of actual, legitimate celebrities is frighteningly shallow, but that doesn’t stop the networks from pumping out “celebrity” versions of their reality shows featuring people you’ve never heard of. We have chefs dancing on primetime TV. It’s embarrassing.

Eating seafood on Christmas Day: I’m all for a few prawns and bugs on the 25th of December, but if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere and were expecting a turkey roast, it might seem a little bizarre.

Worshipping meat pies:  It’s pastry filled with bits of meat, and slathered in tomato sauce. Not exactly a gastronomic masterpiece, but that doesn’t stop us getting all excited about eating a lukewarm one at the footy.

Worshipping swimmers: Just between you and me, swimming’s not really a sport, is it? It’s a pastime; a survival technique. But anyone who wins gold medals over here is a big deal. Heck, we even treat walking as a real sport once every four years.

Playing the pokies:  Surely the dreariest, most antisocial form of gambling there is, and yet Aussies are mad for it. We flock to pubs and clubs around the country to pour money into the gaping mouths of these flashing, dinging monsters. Sigh.

Travelling… Elsewhere:  Australians love to travel, right? Well sure, as long as it’s not in Australia. No, we can’t tell you what WA is like, and we haven’t been to Adelaide. But what do you want to know about Bali?

Rugging up for winter: Northern Hemisphere folk think it’s hilarious, just as we have a chuckle when everyone strips down to their bikinis in England when the temperature nudges 20. In Australia, a brief dip into the teens will mean the scarves and coats are out for the next few months.

Wearing our thongs on our feet: This is for the Americans, who always look a little confused when you ask them if they’ve seen our thongs. Or, do you think I should wear thongs today? Sounds a little inappropriate… but at least it’s not as dumb as sandals.