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What I love (and hate) about Australia

What I love (and hate) about Australia

When the sun is shining, when I’m sipping a latte with perfectly frothed milk, when I’m watching the sun set over St Kilda beach–I think, I could stay here forever. I could live here. I could raise a family and have a career and own a dog here. I could be happy here. I am happy here.

Sunset in St Kilda beach, Melbourne, Australia

My job offered me sponsorship, and it was a very difficult option to turn down. There’s a lot that I love about Australia, and I’m certainly not opposed to living here one day–unfortunately, now’s just not the right time.

What I love

  • The people: Australians are incredibly friendly, laid-back and fun. The boys are good-looking with an adorable accent. The girls are gorgeous and heaps of fun. They’re always keen for a cold beer and to chat about where to go in Australia (or, more likely, the shenanigans they had on a gap year in Europe). As with everywhere, there are a few bad apples–but overall, I’ve been overwhelmed by how many brilliant Australians I’ve met.
Manly Beach on a sunny day, Sydney, Australia
  • The variety of landscapes: Gorgeous beaches, stark red outback, towering rainforest: whatever you’re looking for, Australia has it.
  • The slang: I’ve started replacing “z” with “s” and throwing in an unnecessary “u”. I say “how ya goin'” instead of “how’s it going” and pepper my speech with arvo, mate and exxy. Australian slang is heavy on abbreviations and the accent is impossible, but it’s fun to listen to an Australian speak in what’s supposedly English and have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
  • The liveable cities: While Melbourne is rated the world’s most liveable city by The Economist, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide are also in the top 10–based on the stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure of the city. Add in four weeks of vacation and state-sponsored medical coverage, and I’m sold.
Breakfast at Kanteen, South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia
  • The food: Vegemite, Milo, pavlova–what’s not to love? Plus, I swear Australia does a better brekky and a better coffee than anywhere else in world.
  • Sunday sessions: There’s no better way to end the weekend than a few cheeky ciders and acoustic music with good friends. My personal favorite is The Branch in St Kilda: great music, $5 pizzas and always plenty of eye candy.
Hobart, Tasmania river at dusk
  • Tasmania: It’s an incredibly unspoiled and unpretentious part of the world–but it also features a world-class modern art museum, award-winning wines, a sparkling harbour. I just spent a few days in Hobart, so there’s still so much of Tassie I’d love to see.
  • The sports: Aussies are certainly passionate about their sport, and whether it’s an AFL game at the MCG or a day out at the Spring Racing Carnival, they don’t do anything half way.
Three Bags Full exterior and cyclist, Abbotsford, Melbourne, Australia

What I hate

  • Isolated: It’s so far away from the rest of the world! This really comes into place with flight prices: it’s difficult to get away for less than $1500 round-trip. Intense jet lag also comes into play, which is why when Australians go overseas for vacation, they tend to stay a while.
  • Very big and difficult to travel: Area-wise, Australia is about the same size as the United States, but it only has about six major cities. There are vast expanses of land that aren’t populated because of harsh weather conditions, whether it’s being prone to drought or frequented by monsoons. Flight prices across the country aren’t exactly cheap either.
Latte at Three Bags Full, Abbotsford, Melbourne, Australia
  • Expensive: The Australian dollar is remarkably strong at the moment, making it even more difficult for foreign tourists. Once you’re earning Aussie dollars, the prices are comparable to any other big city–but things like movie tickets and public transportation fares still come as a shock.
  • Internet access: There’s free Wifi in McDonald’s and libraries, but not many hostels or individuals can afford unlimited Wifi. Broadband sticks are the way to go, and if you plan on Skyping or uploading many photos, they’re not too cheap.
What do you love and hate about Australia? 
  • Anonymous

    Heaps, keen, brilliant & brekky — I’ve say you’ve been in Australia for awhile. Whilst I trust it was tough to leave someplace that feels so right in many respects, I’m sure the coming months of traveling will be fantastic. Best of luck and I look forward to seeing what comes next in your journey.

  • Erica @ Mytworoads.com

    That was great!!! I thoroughly enjoyed that!!! I’m going to miss you in OZ though 🙁 Might need to meet up in Asia or Europe :):)

  • I spent a semester there and lived on campus and my college only allowed a certain number of webpage views for free, then you had to start paying! Even if you were using the library!  And you paid per page. Luckily it only caught it when you used a browser so skype was free. I spent $5aud on internet a week, and barely got anything. It was so annoying hahaha.

    It also sometimes got on my nerves how laid back Aussies were. I really love that about them, except when there are flight problems and I am the crazy, stressed out American and they just sit there all “oh our flight is delayed 5 hours and we’ll miss our connecting flight? Who cares, lets get some beer! :D” and I’m all “THIS AIRLINE SUCKS!!! D<" I always felt so overdramatic but it was really hard to just hold it in haha.

    I really, really loved watching people surf. I REALLY LOVE THEIR CHIPS. Best fries in the ENTIRE WORLD. And toasties. I know you can get toasted sandwiches in the US, but the ones there were always huuuge and dripping at least a pound of butter. Sooo delicious. And I loved the beach. And the accent. And the people. They are so friendly! I really loved Cairns. And Melbourne, I lived near there. And I think footy is the only sport I have ever enjoyed watching. Oh and! I love coming across kangas and wallabys on a weekly basis, just hanging around in parks. And finding koalas was even more exciting because they were so much harder to find. And wombats were my favorite <3

  • You just made me want to move to Oz with this post! 🙂 In all seriousness, sounds like you’ve had a great time and it’s been fun reading about your adventures. Looking forward to hearing about what’s next.

  • Excellent reasons and I can relate so much. I loved my time in NZ (and Australia) and always thought, if I could just pick up my family and friends and bring them here, life would be perfect! But life isn’t and they are why I eventually came home. But I don’t think about my options every single day and what I would have done differently in hindsight.

    Plus, there is so much of the world I want to see, I didn’t want to spend all my vacation just coming home! Good luck with your options, can’t wait to see what you choose to do next!

  • Excellent reasons and I can relate so much. I loved my time in NZ (and Australia) and always thought, if I could just pick up my family and friends and bring them here, life would be perfect! But life isn’t and they are why I eventually came home. But I don’t think about my options every single day and what I would have done differently in hindsight.

    Plus, there is so much of the world I want to see, I didn’t want to spend all my vacation just coming home! Good luck with your options, can’t wait to see what you choose to do next!

  • I love your list and connect to so many things!

    I love the relationships I developed with Aussies. The beautiful food — cafes, good coffees, Asian cuisine, lots of roasts, butternut squash in everything. The gorgeous views everywhere I went. The coastline in SA and WA. That travelers are encouraged to road trip around the country. The passion for sports. And yes, the slang! My speech — both what I say and how I say it — is changed after the year I spent there.

    I’m still completely in love with Oz.

  • Anonymous

    Nice comparisons of the pros and cons for traveling and visiting Australia.

  • I could use almost the same list for New Zealand, Christine! (Minus the strong dollar and it being big and difficult to travel…)

    I definitely hope to move to that part of the world someday, despite all of its shortcomings. The attitude in OZ and NZ (the “no worries” theme paired with less of an obsession with work and money) I think is what pulls me in the most.

  • Candice

    Oh god, this makes me wanna go so so so so badly. Damn you Christine, damn you! I just need 100,000 more aeroplan miles…

  • I love and hate all of these things!! Australia is such a beautiful country to visit, but you will need to save hard for it. 

    We are loving all the exploring we are doing of it lately and I am enjoying being back at home more.
    Thanks for loving my country so much

  • Sowafortune

    I used to live in Sydney, Australia.
    I loved the beautiful and clear sky, clean air, and smart yet simple and honest people.
    They are still the same.
    It’s even better because of the bettered public transportation and better accepted multi-blended cultures.
    The things I did not like and still not like are about the same.
    Everything is so expansive, inconvenience of Wi-Fi access…..

  • I’ve never been to Australia, but everyone I know who has been there has loved it. Even with all the bad points I’d still love to visit. Plus I’ve heard Australia takes their coffee very seriously, and I love coffee. I think that’s another plus (at least for me).

  • i knew one of the downsides would be the flight fare to Australia because of its location

  • We lived in Sydney for 6 months last year.  I think the cost of food (both groceries and restaurant) was the scariest thing closely followed by the 80’s TV.   
    However the weather, outdoor life and yes the sunday sessions you mention all made it a fantastic place to be.  We’ll go back one day.

  • Anonymous

    FLASH! Thanks–need to get a bit more exploring out of my system before settling down, but there’s a lot to love about Melbs. You still need to check it out!

  • Anonymous

    Yes please!!! Will definitely be in SE Asia this winter if you feel like popping over 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Ahhhh love your list of loves! Going to Cairns for the first time in a couple of weeks, so shall report back on what I think 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all of your support! Australia definitely has its positives–certainly not a bad place to set up shop for a while 🙂 Very excited about adventures to come!

  • Anonymous

    Can totally agree with that last bit about only spending your vacation going home–so many of my American friends living in Oz go back to the States for at least 2-3 weeks every year! Loved Australia, but definitely looking forward to adventures to come 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Haha and that they call butternut squash pumpkin! Definitely looking forward to seeing SA and WA 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Anonymous

    The gorgeous weather and striking scenery doesn’t hurt either 🙂

  • Anonymous

    But once you fly the 100,000 miles to get to Australia, think how high your frequent flier account will jump!

  • Anonymous

    I love how Americans adore Australia and how Australians love America–we certainly can see the best in each other’s countries 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Australia is so multi-cultural–I love that as well!

  • Anonymous

    The coffee here is UNREAL. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I leave!

  • Anonymous

    Yup! Definitely pricey, but there are certainly deals to be had! I got here for less than $500 from California 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I do love a good Sunday session in the sunshine here–makes up for a lot 🙂

  • Bahahaha – I love that you have a photo of my apartment building in this post! 😉

    Well, what was my apartment building up until an hour ago – just handed back my keys to the agent.  4 sleeps to go…..

  • As an Aussie living in Canada, when people ask me why I wanted to leave, the number one reason is the isolation. Australia is so far from everywhere! I miss it a lot, but it’s just so far from everywhere else!

    But I will say, there are few places in the world that do coffee like Australia.

    6 weeks to go and I’m back home for a holiday!!! Nothing like summer in Australia.

  • As an Aussie living in Canada, when people ask me why I wanted to leave, the number one reason is the isolation. Australia is so far from everywhere! I miss it a lot, but it’s just so far from everywhere else!

    But I will say, there are few places in the world that do coffee like Australia.

    6 weeks to go and I’m back home for a holiday!!! Nothing like summer in Australia.

  • Great photos and article.  I’ve never had the opportunity to stay more than a few weeks in Australia, but loved every minute of it.  One thing I couldn’t get used to were the long distances with no towns, stores, etc.  You’re right.  They do have the best brekky anywhere!

    Getting there is not for the faint hearted.  I’ve been there a total of 9 times and must say the flight time for me is horrendous.  I have to fly from the east coast (Florida).  Try to stop over in LA, Hawaii or Fiji  for a few days beforehand.

  • Good article and photos.  I’ve been to Oz 9 times.  Must say the flight from Florida is daunting.  Definitely worth it though.  Beautiful people and places.

  • Great post! Only thing I scrunched up my brow at was “what’s supposedly English” because that’s what we say about American-English! 🙂

    The isolation is frustrating, which is why I left in 98 for the MidEast. We’ve been back for a few months visiting family, and I really feel it most when an editor says “Can you pop over to Hanoi to do a story?” Um, no. Elsewhere, it’s so easy to just jump on a plane and go somewhere for a few days. 

    And the prices have really killed us – after the rest of the world! I compared some notes between restaurant prices in Sydney and Melbourne, and Tokyo, New York and London (the most expensive cities we’ve been to over the last 18 months or so) and I wasn’t surprised to find Sydney and Melbourne to be more expensive. And the internet, oh the internet – crazily expensive, but so slow compared to everywhere else. We found faster free internet in Asia and the MidEast.

    But you’re right on the positives – very few countries beat it for the diversity and beauty of the landscapes. I love the contrasts especially of places like Broome, where you have the desert and sea. And Australians can be such characters, especially in the outback. 

    I also have to say that the multicultural nature of Australia is also impressive. A lot of cities around the world claim to be “multicultural” but the big difference is that in Australia other cultures are allowed to keep their cultures and let them grow and thrive. In many other cities around the world, people are compelled to fully integrate. I can’t tell you how many Mexican American friends I have who can’t speak Spanish, French-Arabs who can’t speak Arabic properly, yet in Australia I’ve met second and third generation European-/Arab-/Asian-Australians who have strong Aussie accents yet still speak their own languages. Australians also embrace foreign cuisines more – so ethnic food here isn’t as bastardized as it is in some cities like London and New York. These comments aren’t intended to insult anyone, they’re just the observations of an Australian who just recently returned to her hometown of Sydney for the first time in 9 years, and Melbourne in 5 years, and was very impressed.

  • Anonymous

    No way! How crazy!

  • Anonymous

    So true! I hope you get your fill of coffee while you’re here 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Coming from California, it’s not TOO bad–but just thinking about the flight from Australia to Europe makes me cringe!

  • Anonymous

    I certainly agree on the multicultural part. In America, everyone is quick to say they’re Japanese-American or African-American or British-American. In Australia, people still identify very strongly as being Japanese or Sudanese or British. The food, the festivals, the language–it’s awesome to see that people can still identify with their heritage as well as be Australian. I absolutely love Australia and think that it has many advantages over living in the USA (health care, vacation days, attitude, namely) but there are definitely a few things that makes me hesitate before fully committing to living here!

  • Earl Squirrelson

    I am an Aussie and yes agree with you on most points, except where you say prices are comparable when you earn Aussie dollars…I have just come back from Europe and found here is much more expensive….but glad on the whole you are enjoying your time:)

  • I so agree with Lara, the multicultural aspect of Australia is amazing! Being a “new” country means that there are so many different backgrounds. I know many Americans do actually know their heritage as well but I don’t and it has always been something I wanted to know!

    I think that the coffees and brekkies are much better too! 

    I pretty much agree with everything here. And I do have to say though that the difference in pay is more than substantial for the cost of living. In the States you often work to live and here (even as a waitress) more or less I feel that I can still have a LIFE. It doesn’t mean I don’t cringe at $20 bar snacks and $18 cocktails. It just hurts less knowing how much money I made in the last week. 

    I don’t want to talk about the internet though. 

  • Anonymous

    Probably true–I’ve heard that Melbourne and Sydney rank in the top of the world’s most expensive cities!

  • Anonymous

    I think the biggest difference is that even with lower-paid jobs–like waitressing, etc.–you can still afford to live in the city. I don’t think that’s true with many hospitality jobs at home because of the low wages and reliance on tips!

  • Totally agree with all of your likes (especially the food!) and dislikes (especially the isolation). If we could somehow just nudge Australia somewhere in between California and Hawaii – I would be one happy lady!

  • Anonymous

    That would be PERFECT! Although it isn’t too bad coming from California–I feel for all the Europeans and East Coasters out here!

  • Hey! Totally agree with you about the isolation and the distances to travel! Is always the worst thing about being Australian 🙁

  • Anonymous

    At least you’re closer to Southeast Asia–that’s something that is out of reach for many Americans!

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  • Anonymous

    I really loved this post and can definitely relate! The photos were gorgeous as well. I just recently got back from a few month break in Australia, and as I sit at my 8-to-5er (making just enough money to get back out there again and travel some more) it’s so nice to read your thoughts and reminisce about Oz!

    Question for you – how difficult did you find it to find a job while you were there?

  • I lived in Sydney for 2  and a half years, and I have to say – the coffee is just the best! I am now in London, and still miss being able to walk into almost any cafe and get a wonderful cappuccino!