Return to Aus

We landed back in Australia on the 10th of December 2012, setting foot on home soil for the first time since we left on the 20th of July 2010.

To stretch out our travel time for as long as possible, we flew into Brisbane where we caught up with friends and family before hiring a car and driving down the east coast to Newcastle over the course of a week. We stopped off at various places along the way and spent a couple of nights each in Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour and Tuncurry. It was the first time I’d been to any of those places and we were particularly impressed with Byron Bay. We knew it was popular and expected it to be packed out, but luckily we must have beat the main summer holiday rush because it wasn’t busy at all. The town has a nice laid-back vibe and the many beaches certainly are beautiful: some of the nicest, clearest water I’ve seen at an Australian beach.

Clarke's Beach, Byron Bay

Alex stayed on in Newcastle to be with his family over Christmas and I ducked down to Melbourne to spend it with mine. It was wonderful to see them again after so long! My dad came over to visit while we were living in London but I hadn’t seen my mum since we left Australia so it was particularly nice to see her again after all this time.

And, much to my delight, our cat Jonty (who has been living with my parents while we were away) remembered who I was! (And he didn’t hold our extended absence against me as I’d feared he might.)

Reunited

So what’s it like being back in Australia after all this time? It was a bit strange at first, mostly because we didn’t go home straight away. Spending our first week and a bit travelling through parts of Australia that were new to us gave us the strange sensation of things seeming both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

The main things I’ve been struck by since our return are things I used to know but had forgotten in the meantime. Some random observations and impressions…

  • Houses and property that locals consider small seem almost enormous to us after living in apartments for so long.
  • Likewise, pet dogs are often bigger than we must have been used to!
  • People seem to apologise more than they do in London, just for the sake of being polite. It’s refreshing – I don’t think people do it as much in London because for fear of inviting blame.
  • Some chains commonly seen in Britain have made their way to Melbourne – spotted Zara and WH Smith in the city. Bring on H&M!
  • People in retail shops are too friendly. ^_^; I don’t really want to respond to two or three “hello”s and “how are you”s when I’m just sticking my head in a shop for a quick browse. I used to work in retail myself so I know they’re required to do it, and it’s really just a common courtesy, I guess I just got used to being ignored in shops. :P
  • Eating and drinking out is so expensive – up to $40 for a main meal and up to $20 for an alcoholic drink! Of course it’s not always as bad as that, but it is pretty bad in general…
  • Internet is painfully capped and expensive to boot.
  • Petrol is cheaper than in the UK though!
  • Dan Murphy’s has an excellent range of international beers that we can enjoy while reminiscing about our travels (as long as we don’t compare the price between here and where it comes from).
  • James Squire seems to have overtaken Coopers as the Aussie beer de rigueur.
  • Also, alcoholic ginger beer seems to have become quite popular in Australia (yay!), as have flavoured ciders.

Otherwise it’s been strange but nice seeing familiar sights again, especially with fresh eyes. I also noticed a lot of changes around Melbourne – new shops and restaurants, and a lot of the ones that are still there have been rebranded. (Looking good, Commonweath Bank.) I went on a bike ride with Dad on Boxing Day which culminated in a view of the city skyline from the bridge near the MCG. Every time I come back to Melbourne after time overseas this sight brings an automatic big smile to my face: that little handful of skyscrapers – so small compared to so many other cities, but it’s home.

Melbourne skyline

I came back up to Newcastle to join Alex and his friends for New Year’s eve and we’ve been up here since then.

We both officially return to Melbourne on the 10th of January.

So, the next task is to settle back into Melbourne and return somewhat to The Real World. I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions but I do want to get back into swimming, cycling, cooking, baking and knitting, most of which I neglected while we were living in London. My Mum also recently introduced me to Zentangle which I’ve played around with and find inspiring. Then there’s that wedding to plan, and I’m sure our travelling days aren’t over. And I’d like to keep blogging, of course – I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve. :)

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7 thoughts on “Return to Aus

  1. Hope you keep the blogging up now you’re home! I’ve heard about the high booze and internet costs – my boss emigrated to Brisbane last year and I saw him at xmas. He can’t afford broadband to watch his beloved Villa on-line, and said he barely drinks these days as it’s so pricey!

  2. It’s funny about the space thing. I’m living in a studio apartment which I find quite comfortable, and I’m beginning to see why people make it work overseas.

    Nearly everyone here who does even moderate downloading all use TPGs unlimited plan for $60 (includes phone line rental). It’s not available at all exchanges, but everyone I seems to know has it now.

    You should only be paying $20 for a (good) cocktail.
    Craft beers have pretty much exploded in the last couple of years, but we’re about 10 years behind America. Ciders are also taking off. Rekorderlig is everywhere, but it is not much more than a hideously priced alcopop.

    Oh, and welcome back Bron!

    • I just got used to paying AU$7-8 for a cocktail in the UK – and when they were any more than they were usually 2-4-1. And I certainly got used to $4.50 – max $6 pints at pubs and bars, or $1.50 for pint cans of European beer from our local bottleo. :) Then again, it’s probably a good thing for my health if alcohol is less affordable in Aus!

      TPG sounds like the way to go. It just stings that unlimited plans were generally less than AU$25/month in the UK, but I guess that’s just what happens when you have triple the population and a fraction of the space requiring infrastructure. Most people have the impression that London is expensive, and while rent can be, most other living expenses are very reasonable!

      Looking forward to catching up! I hardly recognised most of Brunswick Street when I was back over Christmas, you’ll have to help us acquaint ourselves with the best new watering holes. :)

      • Hah… Brunswick St. Apart from Naked for Satan getting a nice new rooftop bar that I need to check out, I’m not too sure what is really new, since I didn’t know it at all before you left. You guys should check out ‘I know a place’ though when it’s quiet.

        The top (Brunswick) end of Lygon St is the new shit. ;)
        My favourite beer place in the city is there – The Alehouse Project. Twelve taps of constantly rotating gorgeous beers. Right now I’m addicted to a sour ale which has cranberry and hibiscus. So good. Only $6-7 for a pot or double for pint. Hah! Right down the road from there is the brewery responsible for it. So good.

        I’d say out of the friends we share in common also, the general levels of coffee and beer snobbery have increased quite a lot. :)

  3. Pingback: 38 countries in 2.5 years | dinosaurs can't knit

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