While I’ve been busy writing back-logged posts about travel mishaps, experiencing winter in Sweden, and the crazy architecture of Singapore, we’ve actually been hopping around Australia since mid-January.
Rewind to Perth
Our first stop in Australia, otherwise known as Oz or ‘Straya, was Perth. It’s the country’s fourth-largest city and is located on the west coast in the far south (if you know your U.S. geography, you can liken its location to San Diego).
We spent a week here to catch up with two sets of couples that we’d befriended while honeymooning in the Maldives 2.5 years earlier.
While the Swedeheart and I were limited by choosing to forego a rental car and keeping up with our remote work, we still managed to see a bit of the city and surrounding area, thanks mainly to our friends. Lesley, Dale, Imogen, and Bob – you guys rock!
- an outdoor Aussie barbie (BBQ)
- a sunset picnic of take-away fish and chips by Swan River
- a day trip up the coast to visit the bizarre, alien-like formations at Pinnacles Desert
- watching a local game of cricket
- a morning at the beach and first-hand experience of the sun’s intensity in this region of the world
- a delicious outdoor lunch with ocean views at restaurant Bib & Tucker
- a backyard pool party and barbie
- a solo afternoon exploration of Kings Park in downtown Perth.
Wow. It’s not until now when I’ve made a list that I realize how much we actually experienced during our short stay. It was of course great to reminisce about the Maldives with our friends and to actually have the time to get to know them all better.
Crossing the Continent
Then it was time to fly 4.5 hours to the opposite coast where we had planned to settle down for a couple of months.
Brisbane boasts Australia’s third largest population of 2.3 million. It’s got everything a bustling metropolis could offer – plenty of museums and performing arts venues, farmers’ markets, shopping centers, restaurants of every variety, 24-hour gyms, an established public transportation system. We had it all.
It took us quite a few days to settle in and establish a routine. We shacked up with my friend Erin – also a Minnesotan but whom I’d met in Sweden – and her Aussie hubby James.
Not used to the combination of high humidity levels and heat, we had a bit of a difficult time adjusting to the new conditions.
After settling in at the apartment, we got ourselves a couple of memberships at the Little Tokyo Two coworking space. It’s is quite the large establishment with hundreds of members and four locations.
Convenience is King
Life in the big city can equate to convenience. Most days, we hopped on the bus and rode straight through the CBD (that’s Aussie speak for central business district) to our work spot, just 24 minutes door to door.
If we had no leftovers for lunch, the nearest, fully stocked grocery store was only a five-minute walk away. A 10-minute walk would bring us into the heart of the city and plenty of restaurant options.
On days when we had no food at home, or if we needed anything at all, everything and more was available to us in the CBD. Convenience is king, and it made life pretty easy for us.
Yet while the variety of groceries, specialty food stores, and restaurants were fulfilling my dreams of things missing in a small, remote place like the Canary islands, Brisbane just wasn’t for us.
It was a combination of many things:
- the heat and humidity
- the spend-money mentality that comes along with having everything at your fingertips
- the congestion of big-city living
- the distance to the beach and nature.
So one morning while at work, we reevaluated what we were wanting and ultimately missing out of our time Down Under. One of our new-found coworking friends had once told us about a range of smaller beach towns further up the coast, her favorite being Noosa.
That afternoon, we spent time sending out requests to a number of possible accommodations on Airbnb. The following day we received a few positive responses and weighed our options.
Adapting to sudden changes in life can be stressful, this one notwithstanding. We knew we wanted to get out of the city, but we didn’t know what our new place would be like, how we’d get around, if we’d love it there, where we’d work. The Unknown is a fearful thing.
But once we finally decided on an apartment in Noosa, we were excited to be on our way and were in our new home four days later.