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This was our second trip to this great big island that is Australia and this time around we were much more than just tourists, we got to live as locals do. We secured a month long housesitting mandate in the outskirts of Brisbane (you can read about here) followed by another 12 days in the suburbs of Melbourne which gave us good insights on the daily Australian life.
Here are a few of the things we learnt from our stay this time around:
About the food:
A question I often get asked from people back home is how different is the meat, produce and other food items, quality and price at the grocery store. Evidently, Australia is not a third world country and one can expect to find pretty much the same types of provisions. Many fruits and vegetables are grown here and easy to find such as mangos, oranges and lemons. But as an example, Romaine lettuce was hard to find, while Iceberg and Roquette were readily available at a reasonable price. For the beef and lamb we could find much better deals than back home but the price for chicken and pork is higher. Cheese, apart from Gouda, Cheddar and Feta were harder to find and we did luck out with some really good Tasmanian Blue Cheese. Also, quality baked goods were not prominent, let’s just say we didn’t find a French baguette worth writing home about.
Finally, we noticed the popularity of the Pavlova, which was offered everywhere in all forms. There’s an open debate here about this famous dessert as either being from New Zealand or Australia. The meringue based desert with fruit and cream were named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who visited both countries in the 1920s. Australians and New Zealanders agree on that, but not on who invented it. NOTE: The Oxford English Dictionary may have settled a long-running argument between Australia and New Zealand over who invented the pavlova. Learn more about it here…).
About the Weather:
The second big question we get is of course “How was the weather?” We knew Brisbane was going to be tropical like weather but half an hour out of the city, where we were staying in Sandgate proved to be breezy enough to keep us cool, requiring Air Con (AC) only three times in our month-long stay. On the other hand, people had warned us about Melbourne’s weather fluctuations but nothing prepared us for these kinds of extremes. In Quebec, we have crazy weeks that start out at -25c and creep up to 7c over a period of several days. In Melbourne we had days starting at 17c and ending at 38c in the evening, only to drop back down to 12c during the night. Now that’s crazy weather… 20 degrees fluctuations in one day!
Driving in the land of roundabouts:
Both of us have held a driving license for more than 35 years and have had our share of difficult driving situations, especially during our 10 month overlanding trip driving through South and Central America. This time around, we had a different type of challenge. First, both housesit gigs came with a car. Both were standard (stick shift) vehicles, not a problem. Except now Phil had to shift with his LEFT hand, and DRIVE on the LEFT-hand side of the road. I declined to do any driving whatsoever, and I have to admit Phil managed very well. We also noticed how most locals were very proud of their roundabouts, making the flow of traffic better as there are no stop lights. That’s all good, if you know which exit you need to take and hence which direction and lane you should be in. Let’s just say that the car GPS and us were more than challenged by the 40 plus roundabouts required to get out of the Noosa region one late afternoon, driving back to Sandgate!
About the Language:
We, as French Canadians are pretty renowned for our unique twist on the French language, which in our particular case is a mix of French and English we often refer to as ‘’Franglish’’. Even though we are both fluent in English, during our travels in New Zealand and Australia, we were often challenged with accents and new vocabulary. This time around, being based for almost 6 weeks in the land Down Under, we really got to notice the truncations and shortening of words, a trend we had been warned about.
Here’s our top 5:
1 – Maccas : McDonald’s…Even the Corporate brand gave in to this
2 – Salvos: Salvation Army
3 – Woolies: Woolworths supermarkets
4 – Tradies: Tradesman such as plumbers, electricians, home repair people
5 – Uni: University
Housesitting really agreed with us. Enabling us to be around pets, which we love, something our new travel lifestyle doesn’t really permit us. We first learnt all about housesitting by reading the great stories on our fellow Canadians Hecktic Travels Blog and decided to dive into this new slow travel opportunity ourselves by subscribing on www.trustedhousesitters.com
Our experience was positive and you can read about the six things you need to consider before housesitting here >>
Want to really no more about Australia? How about Melbourne, which is one of our favourite city? Get some great insights from this article from Wander Must Family
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