An American in Australia

It’s officially been just over 10 days since our arrival in the land of OZ.

While our reason for being here is for a clinical trial (read more about that here)  there was time before Tom’s first appointment and there will be plenty of time in between each visit. So, what do we do with this time? We explore!

It’s not quite like home in many senses.

It feels very familiar, very much like the U.S. or what Tom has dubbed Floridafornia, since it feels a bit like Florida and California. It feels like home…but not quite.

There have certainly been a few things that reminded us we weren’t in familiar territory. The first thing I noticed were the birds, their music was so different from what I’m used to. I love it! There are lizards! They are not the lizards I’m used to from Florida or Puerto Rico but they really don’t look to bother anyone.

Aside from that, we are getting used to the flip-flopped seasons with temperatures anywhere from 75-92 degrees Fahrenheit. Another thing we’ve had to get used to is the conversion since temperature is measured in Celsius here. We’ve figured out a trick to measure it quickly. Multiply the temperature by 2, then add 25. You’ll always be within a few degrees. You’ll be a bit more off in cooler temperatures.

EXAMPLE: 30 Celsius would be ~85 Fahrenheit. (30 x 2 = 60 + 25 = 85)

I’ve also made some other observations that make daily living feel a bit different:

  • Driving on the other side of the road, something I’m used to from my travels to Europe and Bermuda.
  • Table service isn’t always available, order at the counter and grab a table.
  • Many of the establishments we have frequented, thus far, do not have restrooms. You have to find a public restroom.
  • Shopping bags are not provided for free. You either have to bring reuseable or purchase plastic from 15-30 cents per bag. It’s great for the environment!
  • Ordering coffee is a whole different experience. There is no such thing as just ordering a “coffee”, you have to order either a “short black”= shot of espresso, a “long black”= shot of  espresso and water, or a “flat white”=  shot of espresso and steamed milk (Tom’s favorite).
  • Cars do not typically yield to people, neither do bicycles. Crosswalks don’t usually guarantee they will stop either.


There is much to see in and around Brisbane.

We have seen some beautiful places in such a short time. The city of Brisbane is outstanding, it really has a great mix of metropolis, art and nature. The South Bank is a favorite spot. They have literally brought the beach to the city with Streets Beach, a man-made beach and pool on the river side. It’s free and you can take in a great view of the city skyline. The promenade along the river is full of life and vibrancy and is sure to impress and amaze as there are parks, water activities, restaurants & cafes, arbours, fruit & vegetable gardens, museums, a ferris wheel, a peace pagoda and much more.

The Gold Coast is within an hour drive south and home to Surfer’s Paradise. It felt a lot like Miami. In fact, they have a Miami Beach at the Gold Coast. We’ve been told to avoid the Gold Coast from mid-November to beginning of December since this is when school lets out and it tends to get over-crowded and over rowdy. We’d compare it to Spring Break in the U.S.

The Sunshine Coast is a bit further away and to the north of Brisbane. Much more laid back than the Gold Coast and home to some beautiful beaches and neighborhoods. I enjoyed my favorite meal at the Black Pepper Cafe at Noosa. We had little time to explore so we decided to turn to the web for a bit more information on each beach. was a great website as it provided a pretty concise summary of the various beaches. We chose Noosa North Shore for our first peek at the ocean. It was quiet and you can drive on the beach but you needed a permit so we weren’t able to. However, on an adventure walk along the shore, I spotted my first jellies, which again reminded me that I was far from home.

We decided to take the +1 hour drive to the Glass House Mountains after Tom’s first on-study visit. We had a great view from Glass House Mountain Lookout. It was a great way to end the day and experience the sunset.

We also visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where we both were able to hold a koala and feed the kangaroos. This was new to both of us and we just loved it! The sanctuary is beautiful with so much to see other than kangaroos and koalas. We were able to enjoy and learn about other indigenous animals to the region. It was here that we heard our very first song of the pied butcherbird, which was mesmerizing and held us captive. We fed the wild Lorikeets whom were very brazen, even landing on our heads.

We hiked a portion of the rainforest at Tambourine Mountain, where we took in Curtis Falls and watched bats flying among the palm trees. They weren’t the only animals living among the trees. Note to self: always wear a hat in the rainforest. We paid a fee to walk along the SkyWalk, which is private. It was free, however, to walk the trail to Curtis Falls, which we ended up enjoying much more.

There is so much to do within an hour of the city and it has been a great way for us to get acquainted and take in what it must be like to be an Aussie.

Our trip has not been without doses of reality, as we are missing our son. We do get plenty of quality Skype time but it’s still challenging to be so far away. I’m often reminded about how we are missing the changing of the leaves and the approaching holiday season, a time to be with family and friends. Tom is still working, which has taken some getting used to with the time zone difference; he works with people from both the east and west coast of the U.S.

Despite all of that, there is no reason to hold back and miss what Australia has to offer. After all, as our lives get shorter, our memories get longer. I want those memories to be full of experiences, remind me what a full life I’ve lived and to be appreciative of the knowledge gained and shared through those experiences.



One thought on “An American in Australia

  • I love this blog. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Now I know what a Pied Butcherbird sounds like. You made me curious about it. Give a fist bump to Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

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