My Australia | visit no. 1
Anew round of Alphabe- Thursday began this week. For the first letter of our Alphabet my only choice was Australia. One of the seven continents of our Earth and the country that I lived and worked in for three years and I still miss it. I guess I will just have to fit in another Australia visit. For your information before you continue reading – this post is an introduction or overview of Australia & me. Details about every single Australia visit including photos will be published in follow-up posts.
Back in the 90s I worked for an international freight forwarder, who ran an exchange program, having employees work in different countries for a certain time. When I applied for the program I expected to get transferred to the US, because I wanted to go to an English-speaking country. Imagine my surprise when they offered to me: Melbourne, Australia. At the time, 1994 mind you, I knew where to find Australia on the map, English is their language and they drive on the wrong side of the road. That was it. The whole extent of my knowledge about Australia.
But I didn’t care. In a heartbeat I accepted the offer, meaning that only six months later I would move around the world. A lot of things needed to get done beforehand. Rental agreements canceled, furniture and other things needed to get sold, except for what I wanted to keep or take with me. I started reading up on my Australia visit, got books, a Lonely Planet and started listening to Australian music e.g. Crowded House. Have you ever applied for a visa to a foreign country? Quite an experience. Thankfully, since it was through my company, they did most of the work. However I still had to fill out and sign lots of documents and visit an officially appointed doctor to get examined, including x-rays taken. Quite a hassle – but so worth it.
It also was only my second (or third) ever flight, my only one before this was a vacation on Fuerteventura (Canary Islands). A 4 hour flight not to be compared with the roughly 24 hours incl. stop to Melbourne. The flight with Malaysian Airlines included a few hour stop in Kuala Lumpur before arriving one early August morning into Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne. I was picked up by my future manager of the airfreight department, Eddie Borg, and brought to my hotel in downtown Melbourne. Here I stayed for the first two weeks until I found a place to stay. Together with my colleague, Lynn Macklin, I checked out a lot of apartments while living in the hotel. I was astonished how different the way houses are built in Australia compared to Europe. For obvious reasons they are a lot more lightweight, which is o.k. because of the warmer weather. In any case, I found my first apartment in Essendon, half way between downtown Melbourne and Tullamarine, the part of town I had to go for work. And I also got a very small and old car.
Those early weeks in Melbourne I met Ute for the first time. A German, married to an Australian, who had just emigrated weeks before me. An acquaintance at work in Germany knew both of us and got us to exchange details to be able to get in contact with each other. And we did. The beginning of a long and lasting friendship! In 1996, she was getting divorced, we decided to do ‘the Australian thing’ and share a house. Time to move from Essendon to Williamstown. A little further away from work, but… only yards away from the ocean. So nice!
During our time in Williamstown I got Cassie, my cat, and Ute got Lisa, her daughter. Unfortunately in 1997 I had to leave Australia. I had already extended my stay for a third year and it was not possible to do that again. Rules and regulations called law. So, while I went to Atlanta, GA, Ute returned to Germany – for a while. As did I a little later. Today Ute and Lisa are back in Australia and I am back in the US. But in between I squeezed in an Australia visit three times. And I am pretty sure there will be a few more in the future.
I have updated my ‘vacation map’ for Australia with a few spots where I have been etc. Click on the map or the link underneath and it will open in a new tab. Then you can zoom around and click on the markers for a little more info. All photos in the 90s were still shot on film and unfortunately I yet have to scan them. All exemplary photos in this post were taken during the later visits. But as for the two addresses where I used to live in Melbourne, check out google streetview and you can see the houses – so cool. I will surely have more posts about Australia with more details, so be sure to check back.
View Vacation in a larger map
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