Aussie Aussie Aussie…Oi! Oi! Oi!

By Amy, Cultural Embrace Work Participant in Australia

….this is the Australian cheer…seemed appropriate for Australian Day!! In fact, I just came in from the parade which passed by right outside my hostel. I’m headed to a BBQ (which tends to mean sausages placed in a piece of bread) & fireworks later tonight. The parade was pretty unique–more of a celebration of the diversity of Australia than anthing. Countless nationalities paraded through in their traditional garmets carrying both their home country’s flag and the Australian flag. There were also local clubs/organizations represented such as the “laughter club” and the “star wars club.” Oh, and no Aussie parade is complete without kangaroos so they had 2 guys in kangaroo suits on springy stilts jumping down the street!–quite a sight! When the parade ended most of the crowd just fell in line behind the last group and continued down the route with them. Happy Australia Day everyone!!

I’ve been in Melbourne a full week now and absolutely love it! The city itself isn’t as aestheticly as pretty as sydney but the character of the city makes up for it! The city is made up of art galleries, cafes, shops (lots of shops!), gardens, markets and musicians. There are lots of hidden away hot spots down each little alley way that makes every day an intriguing one–not to mention delicious! Melbourne has a free trolley that runs around the perimeter of the city, making it a great way to become acquainted with the layout of the city straight away. They also have a free outdoor wifi spot “Federation Square” where hundreds of people have been gathered each day and into the night watching the Australian Open on the massive screen that is hanging in the square. There are also a lot of gorgeous parks and some great art galleries right in and around the city that are great for a wander (or a rest) mid-day when the heat gets to be too much. Speaking of heat, the weather in Melbourne is crazy–they tell you that they have 4 seasons in one day and they mean it. I’ve also heard that they tell people not to complain about the weather because if you just wait a short time it will change! This is the truth as I’ve found out firsthand and so I’ve learned to make a point of carrying a jacket, umbrella, and something to fan myself at all times.

So my first week here has been a pretty busy one to say the least. I’ve gotten to spend the time with some great new friends…and FAMILY! While working at the call center in Sydney I started chatting with a really nice woman from Melbourne with whom I exchanged contact details and continued to keep up with via e-mail until my arrival. She and her husband (Lyn & Linden) have spoiled me since I got here with insiders’ tips, fabulous meals, a tour of the city, a trip up to Dandenong Ranges & Cloudhill Gardens! I just adore them and feel so blessed that our paths have crossed!

Another great surprise in Melbourne is that my dad’s cousin from Washington D.C. (Deirdre) happened to be here in Melbourne this past weekend with a few of her good friends. This gave us an opportunity to hangout, explore the city together, and get to know one another–we enjoyed a funky little tapas restuarant down one of the alley ways I mentioned. We also toured the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Grounds) where we had the most adorable tour guide, Ken, who has requested that we post him copies of the pictures we took with him! We went to the sports museum since Melbourne considers themselves the sports capital of the country. We spent the day at the Australian Open–saw some great matches! I had been to the Open a few days earlier and got to see Andy Murray from center court. I was expecting a quiet restrained, golf-clapping, crowd but instead felt like I was at a football match!–painted faces, flags waving, cheer wars from each side of the court–it was unreal! Last night we took the trip to Phillip Island for the penguin parade. This was something that I almost didn’t do but in the end am so glad I did. The penguins wait until the sun is down and slowly, make their way out of the water, quickly across the beach and safely into their burrows along the hill. They were adorable and the entire process of their daily ritual was really a phenomenal thing to witness.

All in all I think the first week in Melbourne is definitely one for the books! I’m just glad that I have 2 more weeks here!

Cheers for now! Take care! 🙂

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