Australia

I lived in Australia on and off for about a year and a half between 2008 and 2010.

I started out volunteering in trade for free accommodation about 1.5 hours NE of Melbourne, in a rural area between Marysville and Alexandra. As a wildlife sanctuary, I became intimately acquainted with Australian critters during that time; I even had a kangaroo that followed me everywhere I went! (It was cute, and also a bit creepy).

Then, my boyfriend (at the time) and I decided we’d stick around for a while longer, and rented a place. Shortly thereafter, we were hit by Australia’s worst-ever natural disaster: The Victorian Bushfires in February 2009. My diary account of the event was archived by the National Library of Australia as a piece of history.

Although I had a home base near Melbourne, I covered a TON of territory in Australia, including all of the epic train rides like The Ghan and the Indian Pacific – which ended up forming a big part of my book about trains.

In 2018, I returned to Melbourne for a month, to stay with some friends of mine who were helping me with some physical ailments.

Taking the Indian Pacific Train Across Australia: PART SIX

This is the last installment of my mammoth series about the Indian Pacific train, which is part of an 11,000km train journey I took across Australia – and back again. My mission: to see if spending eight days on a train could inspire boredom. So far, no luck. Let’s see … Read More

Taking the Indian Pacific Train Across Australia: PART FOUR

So far in my 11,000km journey by train across Australia and back, I’ve been aboard the Indian Pacific for three nights since getting on in Sydney. We’ve stopped in Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook, and Kalgoorlie. Today, I arrive at my halfway point and destination of sorts: Perth. This post was … Read More

Perth in 24 Hours

Perth

I had but a mere 24 hours (26 to be exact) to enjoy Perth, between getting off the Indian Pacific train from Sydney, and getting right back on it the following day to return to my point of origin. “Why aren’t you staying in Perth for longer?” was a question … Read More

Taking the Indian Pacific Train Across Australia: PART TWO

Thus far in this series, I’ve set the stage for my epic 11,000km train journey, boarded the Indian Pacific train in Sydney, explored my digs, and settled in for the night. I will wake up to Broken Hill. This post was originally published in 2011. It has since been updated … Read More

Taking the Indian Pacific Train Across Australia: PART ONE

Indian Pacific

My reasons for taking the Indian Pacific train across Australia in the way that I did are not why most normal folk would have. In reflecting on my three-day adventure riding The Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide, I was surprised at how quickly the time passed. I had figured that, … Read More

Train Travel: The Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide – Day Three

The Ghan train

Almost 48 hours after boarding The Ghan on Day One in Darwin, stopping in Alice Springs on Day Two, and with only a few hours to go to Adelaide, I was surprised to wake up and discover that we were still very much in the Australian outback on this three-day journey … Read More

Train Travel: The Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide – Day Two

The Ghan

On day two of my three-day epic journey on The Ghan, I awoke from my slumber and gazed out the window. One of my favourite things about overnight train travel is laying in bed and watching the sun rise over the moving landscape. And today was no exception. The earth … Read More

Taking The Ghan Train from Darwin to Adelaide – Day One

The Ghan Australian train

One of my motivations in returning to Australia for a few months has been to experience the world-class multi-day train journeys that venture through some of the most uninhabitable parts of this sunburned country. And The Ghan train is one of those world-class trains, also reputed to be one of … Read More

Darwin: The Crocs, The Heat, The Attitude

Darwin

“Watch out for crocs,” was the advice of a friend ringing in my ears as I slipped off the steps and onto the rocky beach in Darwin, Australia. I knew better than to swim in the ocean (rife with box jellyfish, salt-water crocodiles, and other lethal delights), but I figured … Read More

The Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy: The World’s Longest Protest

Aboriginal Tent Embassy

While I was visiting Canberra, my friend (also a Nora) and I wandered by a derelict collection of tents and temporary-looking dwellings in front of the old parliament building. “This is an odd spot for a campground,” I commented. “It’s not a campground,” Nora said. “It’s the Australian Aboriginal Tent … Read More

Why Would I Want to Visit Canberra?

Canberra

Canberra (pronounced more like “Can-bra” with the emphasis on the “can”), gets a bad rap. “Why would you want to go to Canberra?” was a question I had to answer more than once about visiting Australia’s capital city. Most of the people asking this question were Aussies themselves. For many … Read More

Australian Seagulls, Spider Bites, and Blue Mountains

spider bites

My visit to Sydney and the nearby Blue Mountains was beautifully rounded out by staying with some friends just outside of the city. And aside from a chance encounter – or rather encounters (37 in total) – with some nasty spiders, all was beautiful. First, we took advantage of a gorgeous … Read More

The Manly Scenic Walkway, and How to Catch a Bus in Sydney

Manly Scenic Walkway entrance sign, Sydney Harbour National Park

While enjoying Sydney, I decided to explore the 10km coastal Manly Scenic Walkway. And no…the walk isn’t particularly masculine in nature…Manly is the name of the Sydney suburb where the walk begins. This article was originally published in 2010 and has since been updated for accuracy of content and links … Read More

Random Observations from Sydney, Australia

If you want a comprehensive guide to seeing Sydney Australia, this post is not going to be very fulfilling. But if you would like to enjoy some random observations from Sydney and tips I have from roaming the streets of Sydney for almost a week, then please, feel free to … Read More

Walkabout Woes – and Wonders

Walkabout Woes in Australia: We’re barely into 2010, and I can already see that it will be an interesting year. Coming into the year, I’ve had a few reservations – not the least of which is an agenda that entails us basing ourselves in Australia for another year; one that … Read More

10 Rules for Being Human

Kelly stumbled on to some words to live by the other day, and I think they’re worth sharing. Both poignant and even humourous, these Ten Rules for Being Human are good ones. See also: 12 Life Lessons Learned From 12 Years of Travel This post was originally published in 2010. … Read More

2009 in Review: The Professional Hobo

As I sit in the remaining days of 2009, reflecting upon days past and planning for days to come, I realize that this year has seen quite a few adventures! It all started roughly a year ago, when we decided to give the gift of pumpkin pies to as many … Read More

I’m Dreaming of a Brown Christmas – New Lyrics for an Old Carol

Merry Christmas everybody! While people back home in Canada are playing in the snow, I’m playing with snakes here in Australia. Go figure. I’m dreaming of a brown Christmas…because it certainly isn’t white here. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links … Read More

Learning the Art of Fire Spinning

fire spinning

When a fellow travel blogger recently wrote about fire spinning in Thailand, I realized in reading it that I have been amiss with you, dear readers. You see, I have blatantly (and unintentionally) kept you in the dark about a new part of my own life; a hobby that is … Read More

Camping with Koalas at Cape Otway

Koala at Cape Otway

Enjoying a piece of the world famous Great Ocean Walk at Cape Otway, I happen to find myself camping on night two in a little spot that wasn’t idyllic. As a former paddock, cows had trampled through not so long ago, as was evidenced by the dried out cow patties … Read More

The Sounds of Australian Birds

King Parrots in Australia

When I was recently overseas in North America visiting family and friends, things were eerily quiet. Sure – there were sounds of traffic, laughter, and the hum of the city, but there was something inexplicable missing. When I returned to Australia, I realized what was missing: the extraordinary lives and … Read More

Joining the Gold Rush at Woods Point

A clip of conversation with the postmaster at Woods Point: Nora: “We just rolled into town here on the recommendation of a friend of ours. And what a lovely place it is! It’s absolutely charming – I love it. What is the population?” Postmaster: “The population of Woods Point? 37. … Read More

Is Full-Time Travel an Act of Withdrawal?

is full-time travel an act of withdrawal?

In a philosophical conversation with an acquaintance the other day, I was informed that he doesn’t like the way I travel. Not only does he not like it for himself, but he doesn’t like it for me; he feels that full-time travel is an act of withdrawal from the world. … Read More

Canadian versus Australian Coins

Here is a conversation I had with an Aussie mate the other day: Me: “Do you have a nickel?” Aussie Mate: “A what?” Me: “A nickel”. Aussie Mate: “A what?” Me: “Oh for god’s sake. A nickel! You know – a five-cent piece!” Aussie Mate: “OH! You mean a five-cent … Read More

Australian Abbreviations

In my series of posts on Australian expressions and idiosyncrasies, I realize that I have left you, dear readers, sadly in the dark. You see, I have just now unlocked one of the secrets to speaking like an Aussie in no time. In a way it is so simple that … Read More

Winter Fog: A Magical Hazard

winter fog in Australia

The winter fog rolling through the Australian countryside in Victoria is epic. Check out these pictures of this magical (if not slightly hazardous) wonder.

Australian Expressions of Pleasure

Australian expressions of pleasure: I love traveling through different English-speaking countries. Although we all speak the same language in that we can (usually) order a burger and fries without much ado, at the same time we really don’t speak the same language. I’ve been baffled by heavily-accented fast-talking Outbackers, confused … Read More

Snow in Australia (vs. Canada)

snow in Australia

This photo of Snow in Australia was taken yesterday from our backyard…literally. Although I’m a Canadian on a permanent mission to avoid winter, I’ve done a pretty crappy job of it. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.  After … Read More

Celebrating One Year in Australia

celebrating one year in Australia at sunset

Two cool things happened this week. Winter started, which means we are celebrating one year in Australia. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.  A year ago when we arrived in Australia, winter had begun but we were none … Read More

Five Signs I’m Turning into an Aussie

Two Aussie mates chatting in the bush

We’re fast approaching the 1-year anniversary of our arrival in Australia. And in the course of our Aussie adventures, some of the local customs, slang, and other characteristics are slowly permeating my daily way of life that’s finding me turning into an Aussie. Here are a few: This post was originally … Read More

Australian Easter Down Under

White and yellow flower during Easter Down Under

Having recently experienced Easter Down Under here in Australia, I continue to marvel at the little differences that exist between two strikingly similar countries – Canada and Australia. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.  Although traveling in countries … Read More

Conquering Kozzy (Mount Kosciuszko) in the Off-Season

Mount Kosciusko

The mission: To climb Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko (pronounced kahz-ee-ahz-koh) at 2,228 meters above sea level. The highest peak on the continent. A feat for anybody aiming to climb the highest peaks on each continent. A real notch for the climbing belt, if you ask me. (Sshhh….don’t tell anybody … Read More

After the Fires: Our Multi-Coloured Backyard

victorian bushfires 2009

After being home for a few days in the wake of a month-long evacuation due to the Victorian bush fires, we hear/smell/feel/see something that makes our hearts sing: rain. It pours overnight, and drizzles through the next few days. Although naysayers worry about erosion and the negative long-term restorative effects … Read More

Anthony Bourdain, Why Didn’t You Call?

Anthony Bourdain has long been my hero. So imagine my distress when I learned that he was in the very same small town in Australia as I – and I didn’t know.

The 100 Year Heat Wave

I got what I asked for, in spades. Heat, heat, and even more…heat. Not just heat; I got the 100 year heat wave. This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.  Typically the Legendary Hot Days of more than 40 … Read More

If you Aren’t on the Move, Are you Still a Traveler?

sculpture of man sitting down with hat and cane

A question asked of me recently by a reader, and possibly especially pertinent now that we are looking at staying in Australia after a year here already, may be: “Are you still a traveler if you’re not actually…traveling?” You may wonder how I can satisfy the title of The Professional … Read More

Moving On…But Staying…But Traveling…

I would say that our time in Australia is coming to an end and that it is time to move on. But that would be a lie. In fact, quite the opposite: our time in Australia is not coming to an end. But it is still time to move on. … Read More

Legendary Heat and Total Fire Bans: Welcome to Summer in Australia

total fire ban sign in Australia

Today is a total fire bans day. The air is heavy (but not humid) as I step outside from the cool respite of our practically-air-conditioned-it’s-so-cold cottage. I walk into the sunshine, and even at 3pm I immediately feel its rays burning through the first few layers of my skin. Even … Read More

Enjoying a Brown Christmas in Australia

Having grown up with white Christmases in Canada, I wasn’t been feeling Christmas spirit here in Australia. But my first Christmas in Australia turned out pretty well! See also: I’m Dreaming of a Brown Christmas (new lyrics to an old song)And: My Christmas Present to Australia: Pumpkin Pie! (with recipe) … Read More

Gardening Down Under

Australian Garden

“You must have a little veggie patch at your place, don’t you? Everybody does,” said one Aussie fellow to me when speaking about the Australian agriculture industry. “Chuck just about anything in the ground, it grows here,” were his wise words to me that day about gardening down under. This … Read More

Playing With Poppy the Wombat

Poppy the Wombat

After meeting Bracken our horny and insatiable kangaroo, and feeding the beautiful king parrots here at Kingbilli, we knew we were in the perfect place to become acquainted with native Australian wildlife in ways that most people – even Australians – don’t have a chance to. Such are the benefits … Read More

She’ll Be Right Mate: Words to Live By

Australia

Your dog just died. “She’ll be right mate,” is the sympathetic response of your Australian friend. Climate change is upon us. The whole country, and in particular the state of Victoria has endured over a decade of drought. “She’ll be right mate,” replies an Aussie as they seem to shrug … Read More

Melbourne: Four Seasons in a Day…Literally

When I initially came to Australia, I thought the rhetoric that Melbourne has four seasons in a day was precisely that: rhetoric. Turns out it’s not that big an exaggeration. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. For more about … Read More

There’s a Redback in my Kitchen

When there’s a redback in your kitchen, it’s something to note. Australians and arachnophobes alike will know what I’m talking about here. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Despite learning the hard way the punch a centipede bite … Read More

The AFL Grand Final: An Australian Institution

There are two specific sports in Australia, the culmination of which grind many places to a total halt, in some cases warranting an all out public holiday: the Melbourne Cup (a horse race, yes a horse race), and the recently held AFL Grand Final. This post was originally published in … Read More

King Parrots: A Common Australian Sight

Local Australians tend to view the copious King Parrots with varying degrees of enthusiasm or converse nonchalance. Some people are quite interested to observe them when they land on a stair banister close by. Others don’t even bother to give them a second glance. This post was originally published in … Read More

Slip Slop Slap: A Way of Life in Australia

With a giant hole in the ozone layer above Australia, there is an entirely different approach to spending time in the great outdoors here. One in three people suffers a bout with skin cancer, and evidence of it is common; I see many a reconstructed nose, bits of ears missing, … Read More

Eek! The Australian Huntsman

huntsman spider on a microwave

Eek! The Australian Huntsman. This post was originally published in 2008, toward the beginning of my 18 time in Australia. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.  For a subsequent entertaining incident where I shared my car with an Australian Huntsman for quite some time, check … Read More

On The Rescue: Koalas Up Trees

Our first koala rescue comes as a surprise. At 5:30pm, Georgie (the young and beautiful owner of Kingbilli) knocks on our door. “Any chance you guys would like to help me wrestle a koala out of a tree in Alexandra?” No sooner than the words are out of her mouth … Read More

Our (Creepy) Affectionate Kangaroo

Bracken, our Creepy Kangaroo in Australia

He is our watch-kangaroo. Our sentinel. And our unrequited lover. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. I wake up bright and early, eager to get some writing done. I poke my head into the kitchen on the way … Read More

Small Town Life in Australia

Small town life is a creature that lives and breathes; it is a way of life very different (and sometimes challenging) for the urban warrior. Here’s how.

How to Meet a Llama

As I mentioned in a previous article, the Llama can be quite stand-offish, and we had a heck of a time getting close to these dears for the longest time. They would eye us wearily as we sidled towards them cooing and clucking in as friendly a way as we … Read More

The Animals of Kingbilli

Bless all the creatures at Kingbilli! From wild to rescued to rehabilitated to domestic, we are not alone. Here are a few of the animals we’ve met so far.

More Things That Make Australia Unique

Gotta love Australia. As much as we feel completely at home in this foreign land, every once in a while something happens – somebody says something odd, or we see a strange sign – to remind us that we are still oh so far away from our home country. Although … Read More

We’ve Died and Gone to Kingbilli

“We’ve died and gone to Kingbilli,” I said to Kelly, as we gazed in awe at the place we are to call home for the next six to ten months while we volunteer in trade for free accommodation. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated … Read More

Our World Nomads Ambassador Trip Legacy

Having come through sub-tropical rainforests, learned to drive on the other side of the road, squished squeaky sand between our toes at beach towns, slept in the chilly high-altitude tablelands, fossicked for treasure in opal mining towns, driven through the great outback, and hiked through yet more national parks, before … Read More

Royal Flying Doctors to the Rescue!

While a title like Royal Flying Doctors might evoke images of yet another hospital trip for Kelly (as happened in Thailand and Hawaii), this story has a much happier ending. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. No, instead, this … Read More

Outback Adventures

When people told us about the colours of the outback – the stark contrast between the red of the dirt with the blue of the sky, and the silvery green of the eucalyptus trees that dot the landscape – we were somewhat blasé about it. We knew it would be … Read More

Lightning Ridge: Catching Opal Fever

“When I close my eyes, I see opals,” said Kelly, shaking his head.It seems he has a touch of opal fever. This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Lightning Ridge and the surrounding areas are famous for its abundance … Read More

Caravan Culture in Australia

Caravans (meaning trailers in Australian) and caravan parks are everywhere in Oz. Caravan culture is a whole thing, and something entirely new to my Canadian sensibilities. Trailer Parks. Tornado Bait. Trailer Trash. Drunks on welfare raising families of six kids born from three different fathers (or mothers). Lots of stained … Read More