It’s Australia Day today. On this day, Australians celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships into Sydney Harbour.
As we know, however, the Indigenous community of this land, the Cadigal people, were settled in this area for centuries before the British Empire arrived.
At the start of almost every official celebration, we hear “I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land…” While the sentiment is there, the words still remain hollow. We still have a long way to go to fulfil promises and build relationships.
We need to do a better job respecting our original descendants and we need to do right for those trying to reach our shores in the hope of a better life, away from terror and fear in their own countries.
We live in a tolerant, free, and democratic society. At least that’s what the politicians tell us.
For us, we live a simple life here in Sydney. I am grateful for being able to do that. That’s what I’m celebrating today.
Moving (home) to Australia was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Natalie gets to experience the Australian lifestyle I grew up with. She can really dig in, discovering what the seal on her Australian passport really means since she has dual citizenship. She’s had the opportunity to experience the Australian Education System, which provides a more comprehensive, international education than what she was receiving in Texas. And, she’s found on a strong group of friends that are really good kids as well.
Rich is experiencing life outside of Texas for the first time in his adult life. He’s establishing his own path. And, he gets to experience my country.
And of course, we’re all enjoying time with my family, with my sister. Living halfway across the world from family is hard. When I first moved to the US, I rarely saw my family. We had landlines and snail mail, with actual visits few and far between. This is way before the introduction of technology like FaceTime. It’s much easier for us to stay close to overseas friends and family now!
With Australia Day upon us, I asked Rich and Natalie about what they loved about Australia; lots of points were quickly mentioned so we had to prioritize the list.
So here are 8 Reasons (we think) Australia Should Be Celebrated.
1. Access to Natural Beauty
Australia embraces the outdoors. Something we have wholeheartedly done.
We live across the road from the bush. We have a national reserve directly across the street from the house we rent. If we want to go hiking, we walk down our street and enter at the trailhead. It couldn’t be easier. The trail is part of the Great North Walk, a 250km track from Sydney to Newcastle.
When we want to venture further, it’s not hard to find naturally beautiful places to explore.
One of our favourite activities is doing a coastal walk. Whether it’s the Bondi-Coogee Walk or Manly to the Spit Bridge, there are lots of options to choose from.
And who can forget the beaches?
The iconic Bondi Beach is there for great surfing or if you want a beach overpopulated by international tourists. (Pass!) We prefer the northern beaches: Queenscliff and Shelley Beaches near Manly. They are beautiful, and easily accessible.
And if you go beyond Sydney, JOWZA!
There are the N.S.W. South Coast beaches. Hyams Beach or the beaches within Booderee National Park are spectacular. Cable Beach or Rottnest Island are Living List beaches on the West Coast of Australia as is Whitehaven Beach to the north. With so much coastline to explore, many more phenomenal beaches are out there, I’m not sure you could see them all in a lifetime.
We love the free ocean pools found at many beaches.
This is a great concept. An Olympic sized pool made from concrete fills with ocean water as the tide washes over the sides. It’s great for swimming laps, or sun tanning if you want to get off the sand for a bit. If you are afraid of the creepy stuff in the ocean, it’s the perfect way to still enjoy the water.
2. The Food
There are some Aussie delights that are hard – if not impossible – to find elsewhere.
I’ll just list this one out because if you’ve had these, no explanation is necessary.
Mint Slice – and no, there’s no comparison to a America Girl Scout Thin Mint, thank you!
Jatz, the pepper version
Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls
Hamburgers- with beetroot!
Sausage Sizzle, preferably at a market somewhere
Chips (with chicken salt added) and potato scallops
Bacon and Egg Rolls
Fish and Chips, anywhere by the water
The choice of International foods abound in Australia.
Looking for Thai, Indian, Greek, Turkish, Vietnamese, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, or American? No problem, even in the food court at the local shopping centre has you covered!
And then there is the coffee.
Best coffee ever! Flat white anyone?
3. The People
Natalie says, “People are nice in Australia.”
Easy-going and easy to talk to, accepting of other people, no matter their background or sexual preference, they genuinely want to help.
When Natalie and I went to the Snowy for our writing retreat last year, we stopped to [geocache]. While we didn’t find the cache, we did strike up a great conversation with a couple from Adelaide. When we informed them we were travel bloggers, we learned all kinds of information about the Adelaide area over a 45-minute conversation. The conversation was not unwelcome or invasive. If anything, we asked a million questions and at the end I could only think “I need to write this down!”
Aussies don’t beat around the bush.
We tell it like it is. No sugarcoating reality. Australia is a no spin zone.
4. The Aussie shopping centre makes sense.
You can buy your groceries, pick up some new shoes, return your library books and get your haircut usually all under one roof. It’s so handy – and so logical!
And parking! It’s so convenient and usually underneath the shopping centre!
5. Accessible Transportation
It’s so easy to get around the cities in Australia.
We live in the bush and yet we can easily get into the CBD by taking a quick bus ride, then the train, to get to the heart of Sydney.
As an added bonus, most of the cities we’ve been to are super easy to walk. There is no better way to get to know a city than by touring on foot. Sure, it takes some time to get used to, the hills can be challenging, but you get used to it pretty quickly..
We hardly notice it now (although our overseas visitors have certainly commented on the amount of walking they’re put through!)
6. There is work/life balance here.
Nothing gets in the way of Aussie’s love of their time off.
In fact, it’s not unusual to have slow responses to requests or trying to get stuff done in January, Australia’s high season for holidays.
When people are on holidays, they are unavailable. Period.
When people are done with work for the day, it’s time to relax and enjoy their time!
7. Aussies Honour The Important Moments in Life.
Our Veterans are (finally) honoured, as they should be.
We were standing at the checkout when the 11th hour was almost upon us on Remembrance Day. A speaker came overhead announcing it was time to honour those we’ve lost in fighting for our country.
The entire shopping centre came to a halt. The Last Post played (bringing me to tears, which it always does), followed by a minute of silence. In that minute of silence, you could have heard a pin drop. Beautiful.
You’ll hear more from us on this tradition in April, when Australia remembers our veterans with ANZAC Day. It’s an important day for my family. (More to come…)
Of course, Australia celebrates other events too:
Sydney celebrates NYE with gusto, harbour side. The other cities do as well, but we’re partial to the Sydney celebrations.
Get togethers for Australia Day barbeques.
Summer holidays in January and Easter camping trips to get away and reflect.
Fireworks for any and every opportunity! Australia loves their fireworks!
8. Last but not least, School!
Yes, this is one of Nat’s honest-to-God contributions!
– The education system is really detailed on the subjects where she feels she’s actually learning. (Love hearing that as a parent!)
– You learn about international history and where your domestic history fits into that bigger picture. You have more resources for additional learning, should you be more curious, given to you by teachers.
– The students are open, friendly… happy! As an international transplant, Natalie was buddied up for the first few days and since then, has a wide range of friends in various peer groups. Sure, there are still cliques, but the kids communicate across groups and it’s all friendly.
– The school holidays make sense. She’s on a four-term year where she gets two weeks off between terms and a year-end break of 6 weeks. She doesn’t go back to school brain dumb after the summer holiday break. She returns refreshed and ready to go.
So there you have it. There’s a ton more, but we’ll keep those for another post…
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