Exactly one month ago my journey Down Unda began–wow, how time flies! My days have been filled with many trips to the beach, gardening, kitty cuddles, jogs/walks in the park and of course, more fish & chips!
This Thursday Jake and I are taking the train down to Sydney to spend the day exploring! At night we’ve got tickets to see Tycho in concert with friends. We’re staying together in a large Airbnb apartment in the middle of downtown which should be very convenient. On Friday Jake and I are flying South to Melbourne, Victoria (see map below) for the weekend to explore! We’re also seeing another band, Bring Me The Horizon on Sunday. I’m very excited to see another part of this wonderful country. (Stay tuned for a blog post about this trip later 😊)
After we return from vacation on Monday, Jake and I are moving into a new house in Hamilton (another suburb of Newcastle) with a friend. The house is pretty aged, but has lovely character. It’s painted bright bubblegum pink, so I like to call it Barbie’s dream house! The landlord is planning to demolish the house in 6-12 months so the rent was a steal. The location is perfect; there are many cafes, pubs and shops wander into. Also there is a decent porch and back yard for my plants plus a mango tree!!! I’m ecstatic to move in!
This week I’m finishing the online certification (Responsible Service of Alcohol, or RSA) for serving alcohol. This course cost about $95 USD, but it is absolutely essential for getting bar work in Australia. Unfortunately it is not free like it was in America ☹️ but it is more extensive ! I hope to get a job bartending somewhere near our new neighborhood after we get settled into our new house. I can’t wait to see what the coming months bring!
In the past month I’ve had a blast learning about the Australian way of life. Here’s a summary of my observations so far:
The sun rays Down Unda are much stronger due to the hole in the ozone layer (ahem, global warming is not a hoax.) I’ve darkened in pigment significantly just from hanging the laundry outside and going for walks! I haven’t gotten properly burned yet, but I’m sure it is bound to happen one of these days! After being here for a few weeks, I’m much more accustomed to the high temps now (see map below.) The first few days were rough for me, coming from the snow! Sometimes I felt a bit ill if I stayed outside for too long. Luckily Jake takes me to the beach, or we go to a friend’s pool when we’re trying to beat the heat.
In my experience, the food here is overall very good! There seem to be many more healthy options offered at fast food chains like McDonalds (Maccas as they say here) and KFC. Even the food court at the mall in nearby Charlestown has significantly more healthy choices than the malls at home. I’ve also noticed many vegetarian and vegan dishes offered at cafes plus a decent amount of solely vegan restaurants! It mustn’t be a coincidence I haven’t noticed very many obese people around here….
On the other hand, the junk food here is absolutely marvelous. My favorite unhealthy snack would have to be TimTams– a chocolate coated chocolate cookie. Sorry Oreo, but you’re no longer milk’s favorite cookie! I saw on the news a couple of days ago that TimTams will soon be available in the U.S.! Another favorite chocolatey treat is Milo, a powdered chocolate drink. It is excellent in milk or on top of ice cream or yogurt!
Some other True Blue (Australian) foods are Weet-bix, Pavlova, Fairy bread, and of course, Vegemite (see photos below.) Weet-bix is a traditional Aussie breakfast food. They’re small blocks of whole grain shreds; goes well on top of fruit and yogurt or perfectly with a splash of milk. Pavlova is a traditional Australian dessert, made of a soft cake, similar to angel food , topped with merengue and fresh fruits. It’s a lovely light dessert that still satisfies the sweet tooth! I have yet to try Fairy bread, but it looks dangerously addicting: white bread smothered in butter & topped with 100’s & 1000’s (brand of sprinkles). Last but not least there’s the classic Aussie toast spread: Vegemite. Its a savory spread made from leftover brewers yeast extracts plus spices. It’s dark brown/black in color and has a sticky, tar-like consistency. It’s typically spread on buttered toast. Every morning without fail Jake has his Vegemite on toast. However after trying it myself many times it hasn’t grown on me quite yet.
There are many local bakeries and Take-away shops in each suburb that offer a delicious, quick lunch. Meat pies and sausage rolls are very popular choices as well as fish & chips. (Chips are nothing without the chicken salt so don’t forget to ask for it–well worth the extra 50 cents!) I don’t love eating meat, so I usually opt for a personal pizza or spinach & feta roll (see photos below). I’ve also discovered that passion fruit is my new favorite fruit! Living in Iowa, I’d never dream of eating this delicacy but now I can eat it every day!
Living in Australia means coexisting with the wildlife. There are many dangerous creatures that may be lurking around that you must watch out for; such as Redback spiders, Blue-ringed octopi, and Bluebottle jelly fish! I’ve seen Redbacks & Bluebottles up close and personal but luckily if you leave them alone, they will usually leave you alone!
Don’t worry, there are also many cute, harmless creatures around as well- like Greg the little lizard who lives in the cement crack near our laundry room. There’s also Disco, the neighbor cat who guards my garden (see photos below.) I’ve seen numerous Cockatoos and opossums in the wild but unfortunately I have yet to see any kangaroos or koalas. Cockroaches, although mostly harmless, are very prevalent here. In summer roaches are especially heavy and literally impossible to avoid. I think I’m more terrified of the roaches than the Jellyfish–they always seem to appear on purpose to scare the wits out of me ☹️.
Thanks for reading this week’s post! More to come next week after I return from Melbourne.