Category Archives: Aussie Roads

The one from the states

I’m baaaack! It’s been quite the blog hiatus for me, and I’ve really missed it! The past few weeks have been hectic with lots of travel (both flying and driving) and catching up with friend and family so taking a bit of time to get back in a routine has been a bit of a challenge. See what I mean?

Perth to Auckland Abbys Roads

December 12: Perth to Auckland (via Melbourne)

New Zealand Itinerary Abbys Roads

December 13 – 22: New Zealand travels

The itineraries, activities, and just general catch up on New Zealand deserves its own post – especially for those of you thinking about a trip over there – but in the meantime, here are some shots of our NZ adventure:

A chilly boat trip on the Doubtful Sound

A chilly boat trip on the Doubtful Sound

A teeny NZ library

A teeny NZ library

Paradise, New Zealand

Paradise, New Zealand

From New Zealand, we headed home to the states for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays:

December 22: Sydney to Dallas (onward to Houston) for Christmas (image via Wikipedia)

So much puppy time! And of course, a lovely Christmas with the Simpson side of the family.

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Dash loving on Barr on Christmas Day

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Our wee family on Christmas Eve

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My sister and I at the Nutcracker

Houston was just the beginning of our stateside travels:

December 22 - January 6: Houston to Memphis to Louisville to Charlotte to Durham back to Charlotte and back to Houston (Barr is back in Oz)

December 22 – January 15: Houston to Memphis to Louisville to Charlotte to Durham back to Charlotte and back to Houston…via Chicago, dont ask (and Barr is back in Oz)

From Texas, we headed to Memphis, Tennessee to see Barr’s brother and his wife, as well as some Charlotte friends who recently relocated there as well as some much loved aunt, uncle, and cousin time.

Then it was onward to Louisville, Kentucky to see Barr’s parents and grandmother – as always, it was too short.

We then headed eastward to North Carolina: Charlotte for New Year’s and then Durham for a wedding! It was amazing to be back in the Carolinas and we can’t wait to move back before we know it.

The Johnson cousins and their spouses - Matt was there in spirit :)

The Johnson cousins and their spouses – Matt was there in spirit 🙂

Enjoying a great dinner in Memphis

Enjoying a great dinner in Memphis

Stevie and Chris' lovely wedding in Durham, NC

Stevie and Chris’ lovely wedding in Durham, NC

WFU golf alums - such a great reunion!

WFU golf alums – such a great reunion!

Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind with not enough time in any one place. And while the flights were long and the drives at times tedious, the trip to New Zealand, the hugs and relaxation with our parents and siblings, and the celebrations and chin wags with friends were all 100% worth it.

Sydney from the Taronga Zoo

Sydney from the Taronga Zoo

So there you have it: 3 weeks in a nutshell! I wish I had more pictures – I think we were just so focused on catching up with everyone that snapping a ton of shots fell a bit by the wayside; however, I did receive a lovely new camera as an early birthday gift, so hopefully Ill make up for lost time – and will of course be back with fun posts, pics and roads. Until next time…

The one with the grand finale

Even though it was our last weekend in Western Australia, we didnt slow down. In true Blanton fashion, we moved (again), but this time into our true final stop: a hotel for the next few days before we head off to New Zealand for 10 days and then onward to the states for the holidays! So yes, Saturday was spent tidying up the rental townhouse and packing away clothes in boxes for shipment all before our grand finale on Saturday – it was jam packed!

Some our friends told us about Polo in the City, which is exactly what it sounds like: a polo match held in the heart of the city. 🙂 Luckily, there is a fabulous green space right between Perth’s CBD and the Swan River called Langley Park, where the polo was played (and where we also attend Taste of Perth a few months back) – and even more lucky, the weather this past weekend here was perth-fect (hehe).

Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 2 Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 10

 

This was our first polo match, but kind of like when I went to ascot in October, we didnt watch too much of the ponies (much to Barr’s dismay) – it was very a “see and be seen” kind of event, with lots of socializing, champagne, and sun. My main takeaways from the sport were:

  • The horses tails are braided
  • Not getting hit in the head/accidentally hitting someone in the head with the mallet would be a skill in it of itself

Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 3

 

Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 8

During the divot stomping, I stopped to play with some pups. Because why not?

During the divot stomping, I stopped to play with some pups. Because why not?

After a quick nap, we rallied for the Perth’s Christmas Parade downtown. Our friends, Toni and Nuno, hosted a lovely BBQ at their flat beforehand and then we headed down to watch Santa roll through Western Australia (I was super impressed that Perth was so lively post-9PM!) 😉

Santa! I know him!

Santa! I know him!

And just to really round out this “all over the place” post, here are some delicious peppermint (not bubblegum – don’t let the color fool you) macarons that my girlfriend Becca and I whipped up! She’s a baking whiz – I had to learn from the best.

Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 1Merry merry, indeed! It was a memorable last weekend in Perth. Until next time…

 

The one with PerThanksgiving

Even though it doesn’t really feel like it in Australia, the holiday season is upon us! 🙂 We didnt make it to the states last year for Thanksgiving either (kind of a long and expensive flight for turkey), we were again blessed to spend the holiday with good friends (we miss you, Virginia!) And we did miss our pup as well, but don’t worry – he looked like he was enjoying the meal back in Houston with my sister:

Patiently waiting for a single crumb to fall

Dash patiently waiting for a single crumb to fall – bless his heart! 

For our second expat Thanksgiving, we escaped Perth and headed south to Margaret River, land of wine, beaches, and kangaroos. A very organized couple rented an absolutely amazing house for five couples and six children…a very full house! We even managed to snag a good ole’ Texas style deep-friend turkey – it’s the little things. Everyone brought a few goodies for the big dinner (a few days delayed from actual Thanksgiving Day, but memorable, delicious, and happy all the same), and the guys even did the dishes 😉

Yummo!

Yummo!

Putting the finishing touches on the meal

Putting the finishing touches on the meal

A fabulously set table - true red, white, and blue!

A fabulously set table – true red, white, and blue!

And it wouldn’t be a trip down to Margaret River without excessive kangaroo sightings! The kids loved it (and who am I kidding, the adults did too).

Perth Thanksgiving Abbys Roads33 Perth Thanksgiving Abbys Roads22On our last morning there, a group of us got up waaaaay too early from a post-turkey coma to surf. Thankfully, we did have a former professional surfer in  the group who had plenty of tips for a first-timer like me (as well as an excessive number of surfboards). It was a bit like what I would imagine being stuck in a washing machine would be like, but I’m so glad I tried. (Barr, of course, is a natural).

Perth Thanksgiving Abbys Roads69 Perth Thanksgiving Abbys Roads

 

Western Australia is unfortunately well known for shark attacks on surfers, so I was a bit apprehensive , but there are always the helicopters scouring the coast for any suspicious shadows (sharks are also tagged and monitored just for this purpose).

Can you see the helicopter?

Can you see the helicopter?

It was such an ideal weekend and Thanksgiving, and I am especially thankful for the wonderful friends we’ve made here in Perth over the last few weeks and months….as well as for views like this:

Perth Thanksgiving Abbys Roads53

Until next time…

 

The one with the tunnel tour

About 20 minutes south of Perth CBD is the fabulous city of Fremantle. Home to  Western Australia’s largest collection of heritage listed buildings, “Freo” (yes like the Dockers) is named after Charles Fremantle, a British naval officer who took formal possession of the mouth of the Swan River in the name of King George in 1829.  Almost 186 years later, Fremantle is fresh, bustling, artsy, historical, and home to the Fremantle Prison.

Fremantle Prison (image via One Perth)

Fremantle Prison Tunnel Tour Abbys Roads8

The prison was opened in 1855 to house convicts sent to Australia from England, and it was still operational (for maximum security prisoners no less!) until 1991. It was ultimately closed following two massive prisoner riots – the fact that the Fremantle Prison was the last prison in the developed world that still used the bucket system probably didnt help with prisoner unrest.

The sorry aftermath of the 1988 Fremantle Prison riot (image via Wikipedia)

You’re probably wondering where the tunnels come into play. Your patience is going to pay off. 🙂 Beneath the prison grounds is a large network of tunnels built by the prisoners beginning in 1852. Now you’re probably wondering if the prisoner-built tunnel system was built for the purposes of escape, but actually these tunnels were dug to create a fresh water supply for first just the prison, but was ultimately utilized for the entire town of Fremantle.

The tunnels are now part of the Fremantle Prison Tunnels Tour for those individuals older than 12, in fairly good physical condition, and it is not for those with any semblance of claustrophobia or fear of heights. Case in point:

The shaft we climbed down to access the tunnels – yikes! You’re strapped in though.

I don’t know who these peeps are – we weren’t allowed to bring anything down the tunnels with us so no pictures of us actually in the tunnels – but it gives you an idea of how tight the tunnels are! (image via VisitFremantle.com.au)

You also get to wear some pretty sweet gear:

Proof we actually did the tour

Proof we actually did the tour

Once you have descended into the depths of the tunnels, your guide (the two we had were so great!) explains the history of the tunnels, how they were built and for what purpose – I can’t imagine how the prisoners spent 15+ hours down there each and every day.

One of our favorite parts was when we approached the deeper portions of the tunnel, where the water was very deep: pairs of us lumbered into these teeny canoes to continue to paddle through the tunnel network. At the end boating portion, the guide stopped the group and asked everyone to turn off their headlamps to “see” what it is actually like to experience complete and utter darkness – the term “light at the end of the tunnel” has never meant more to me.

If you ever find yourself in Fremantle, I can’t recommend the Fremantle Prison Tunnel Tour enough! It’s an incredibly unique experience. If tight tunnels and heights aren’t your thing (or you’re with a younger group), the prison offers some other tours that may be up your alley. Until next time…

The one with Rottnest Island

To my fellow Americans: happy Thanksgiving Eve {yes it’s a thing}! By the time you read this, the sun will be setting on Thanksgiving Eve in Perth, Western Australia and we Blantons will be resting up for burgers and Cheerwine 😉 No, no turkey for us on actual Thanksgiving – though we are making a weekend trip with some friends to celebrate the holiday belatedly on Saturday – but rather we’re escaping to an American bar here that stocks DDP (Cheerwine for Barr – one of his faves), almost authentic burgers, and non stop sports (even college games!)

But before the respective big meals (in true American fashion), enjoy some stories and snaps from a recent trip to Rottnest Island. Locally known here in WA as “Rotto”, Rottnest is a little island off the coast of Perth – we hadnt been yet, so a work team event for a day on the island was great timing to enjoy some of the amazing weather we’ve been enjoying.

A Rottnest beach from the boat on our way in

A Rottnest beach from the boat on our way in: beautiful white sand beaches and blue waters

Historically, the island was part of an 17th century European colony, followed by an Aboriginal prison, then an internment camp for suspected enemy Austrians and Germans during WWI and WWII, and now a tourist destination. And what a destination:

RottnestIslandAbbysRoads361 RottnestIslandAbbysRoads433

Rottnest Island doesn’t have a hotel, per say, but does have little “chalets” that you can rent for the night, the week, the month – they’re a bit rustic, but I suppose it’s all part of the experience 🙂

If you’re only going for the day (like us), you can enjoy some of the beaches:

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Take a bike ride on one of the many trails that snake through the island:

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A biking quokka and I

Hike around the dunes and hills:

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Barr was much braver than I

Barr was much braver than I

Selfie time!

Selfie time!

Or enjoy a meal/drinks with a quokka, the happiest animal on the planet (what did we do before Buzzfeed?)! A quokka is a little animal (about the size of a domestic cat) in the marsupial family, so it moves around a lot like a kangaroo. Rottnest Island is the only place in the world where native quokkas can be found, and they’re very gentle (at least the ones we encountered on the island.)

Quokkas everywhere

Quokkas everywhere

You can find more adorable pictures of quokkas here and here…oh and here:

This is NOT photoshopped, people! This selfie with Barr, a work friend, and their new quokka buddy is 100% the real deal :)

This is NOT photoshopped, people! This selfie with Barr, a work friend, and their new quokka buddy is 100% the real deal 🙂

Now I hope all of y’all, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, have a safe and festive holiday season 🙂 Home really is where your heart is and I pray all my friends, family, and readers’ hearts are full and happy. Until next time…

The one about Melbourne

I’ve been remiss with my blogging over the last week and have really missed it! I had a draft of my post from last Tuesday all queued up to automatically post, and have been pretty out of pocket ahead of even that.  But I’m back in action. You see, I needed a full 5 days or so to recover from the trip that was Melbourne.

{Part of} Melbourne from our hotel

{Part of} Melbourne from our hotel

Hosier Lane

Hosier Lane

Cheesing at the Brighton Beach Boxes

Cheesing at the Brighton Beach Boxes

I. AM. OBSESSED. Dear Melbourne, you are one of my new favorite cities. Love, Abby. Fresh, funky, foodie, and fun. (Gotta love an alliteration.) {And I will also apologize for the fact that all my pictures are iPhone – the big girl camera didnt make it on this trip, sadly.}

Melbourne word cloud via TrulyDeeply.com.au

Barr and I had a solid 5 days of time in Melbourne, and it just wasnt enough! I have on my blog list to put together a few little travel itineraries and must see lists for tourists and visitors to places like Melbourne, Sydney, Dubai, Perth, etc, but for now: the low-down on this particular trip 🙂

  • Melbourne basics:
    • Public transportation is a breeze! Make sure you get a Myki card to traverse the tram (largest tram system in the world) and train systems.
    • Named the “World’s Most Livable City” by the Economic Intelligence Unit for the 4th year in a row – I can see why!
    • I loved popping down the little laneways and arcades throughout the city – some of them looked completely deserted, but harbored some of the best shops and cafes.
    • Many of the Victorian-era buildings are exceedingly well-preserved against a backdrop of some of the newer skyscrapers.
    • Layers, layers, layers! Weather in Melbourne changes at the drop of a hat (from what we could tell even over the course of 5 days!), so layers are essential.
  • Food: A foodie and coffee snob’s heaven!
    • Our first meal in Melbourne was at Rice, Paper, Scissors – amazing Vietnamese small plates and after the red eye from Perth, the coffee was a good boost too 😉
    • We grabbed drinks at Black Pearl and our bartender was Australian, but went to UNC! Small world. Oh, and the drinks were a treat too.
    • Melbourne is said to have the largest Greek-speaking population outside of Greece, so this fact, coupled with the fact that Masterchef (one of my favorite shows, you’ll remember) judge, George Calombaris owns (several) Greek eateries in Melbourne, I had to visit at least one. Gazi was it! Gazi was authentically Greek and their customer service was just the best – plus they could make everything gluten free! Masterchef sighting sold separately.
    • Coffee is sacred in Melbourne. I wouldn’t categorize the following as the “best”, but I though they were pretty good {skinny} flat whites! And trust me, there are shops on every corner (even a Starbucks or two), so you can easily pick your poison: Market Lane, Seven Seeds, Axil, Dukes Coffee Roasters, or just wander down Degraves St or Centre Place for plenty of options.

Via TheInteriorsAddict.com

  • I won’t list every single restaurant (only one more), but here are some of the super cute cards that I snagged from a few of the restaurants we stopped by:
Hihou (unique Japanese), Cumulus (out of this world breakfast), Borsch, Vodka & Tears (need I say more?), Rice Paper Scissors (aforementioned), and Movida (authentic Spanish tapas)

Hihou (unique Japanese), Cumulus (out of this world breakfast), Borsch, Vodka & Tears (need I say more?), Rice Paper Scissors (aforementioned), and Movida (authentic Spanish tapas)

  • Claypots. This was such a treat and one of our favorite spots. A local Melbournite (?) graciously brought us here for dinner in St Kilda. The seafood was so simple and flavorful and the atmosphere was really unique and funky – plus there’s a great bar next door.
Claypots decor in the outdoor seating area

Claypots decor in the outdoor seating area

  • Sights:
    • Melbourne has an extensive network of quaint laneways and arcades sprinkled throughout the city. Two of the more well known are Hosier Lane (“urban art” aka graffiti) and Degraves Street (tons of coffee shops and teeny cafes).
Hosier Lane urban art

Hosier Lane urban art

Hosier Lane artist at work

Hosier Lane artist at work

Centre Place

Centre Place

  • The Brighton Beach Boxes are well worth a visit. They’re privately owned beach sheds that the owners paint in a colorfully fun manner – and we were told they can go for up to $500k!
The beach boxes on Brighton Beach

The beach boxes on Brighton Beach

Melbourne from Brighton Beach

Melbourne from Brighton Beach

Hanging out in the red, white, and blue beach box

Hanging out in the red, white, and blue beach box

Barr doing a little boxing

Barr doing a little ‘roo boxing

Barr captured this hilarious shot of a ocean kayaker photobombing some wedding shots :)

Barr captured this hilarious shot of a ocean kayaker photobombing some wedding shots 🙂 Would love to know how those bad boys turn out!

Botanic Gardens in Melbourne

Botanic Gardens in Melbourne

Botanic Gardens in Melbourne

Botanic Gardens in Melbourne

  • Being the huge book nerd that I am, visiting the State Library of Victoria was such a treat. Not only were there a seemingly endless number of rooms of books, but the architecture of the library itself would distract even the most studious individual.
Loved the library's carrells!

Loved the library’s carrels!

Barr taking it all in at the State Library of Victoria

Barr taking it all in at the State Library of Victoria

  • I stopped by the National Gallery of Victoria for the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit – that particular exhibit was so-so, but the permanent exhibits made up for that! (That, and the costume on display below):
A JPG number worn by none other than Beyonce!

A JPG number worn by none other than Beyonce!

Case in point – neat to see IRL!

So there you have it! We’ve heard folks say that Sydney is like your one night stand and Melbourne is like your girlfriend, and in a weird way, I have to agree – Melbourne has wooed me, hook, line and sinker. 🙂 Until next time…

The one about FIFO

When we first learned of a potential move to Perth, being the planner that I am, started looking at the rental market in town – I was immediately struck (and perplexed) by the excessive use of the abbreviation F.I.F.O. in many of the listings. Obviously I Googled: “fly in, fly out” indicating that an employment whereby the employee works in a remote area and instead of relocating them (and their families) to the worksite, the employee flies out for a period of time, returns for a similar stretch of time, before returning back to the remote site.

Obviously this was a prevalent way of life (and employment) in Perth given the number of times it was referenced in real estate, but I didn’t realize there was such a culture around this type of employment in Perth until we moved here. The mining industry in Western Australia is primarily what drives FIFO.

Here you can see how FIFO workers across the country fly in (and fly out) of northwestern WA, where most of the mines operate:

Image via The Australian

Given that many of the mines/ports in Western Australia are far from (or in smaller) towns, the FIFO lifestyle is utilized. It is estimated that by 2015, there will be over 63,000 FIFO workers in Western Australia.

A common sight at the Perth Airport (or just Perth in general)  – the “orange collar boom” (image via PerthNow.com.au)

I’ve typically heard that FIFO work is about 2 weeks on, 2 weeks back in Perth. And of course, just like with any type of work, there are benefits and drawbacks, but given the importance of mining to Western Australia, there is never a shortage of news stories on FIFO work and workers. No matter where you stand, however, there is no denying the importance and sacrifice of FIFO workers here in Australia.

And lastly, as a demonstration as to how deeply ingrained and commonplace the FIFO culture and lifestyle is in Australia, below is my new favorite commercial (I literally turn into a blubbering mess any time it comes on TV here) – it features 5 Aussie travelers (flying Qantas of course!), coming home to their families (Qantas’ new slogan is “Welcome Home”), and one of those travelers is none other than a miner, presumably FIFO.

Until next time…

The one with Melbourne Cup

Another week in Australia, another horse race! Last Tuesday was the illustrious Melbourne Cup, dubbed “the race that stops the nation”. For those that are interested in thoroughbred horse racing (Kentucky folks, I’m talking to you!), here are some quick facts about the race:

  • The race is 3,200 meters or just shy of 2 miles (for a basis of comparison, the Kentucky Derby is 2,012 meters or 1 and 1/4 mile), so these horses are running a ways!
  • The cup is held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria and is always held on the first Tuesday in November (Election Day in the states).

Flemington Racecourse

  •  It is the richest “two-mile” handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races. Horse qualification is 3 years old and over.
    • I was a bit confused on the handicap thing, so Wikipedia helped clear it up a bit: “The Melbourne Cup race is a handicap contest in which the weight of the jockey and riding gear is adjusted with ballast to a nominated figure. Older horses carry more weight than younger ones, and weights are adjusted further according to the horse’s previous results. Minimum jockey weight is 49kg (108lbs).”
  • Attendance to the Melbourne Cup typically hovers around 100,000 spectators at the Flemington Racecourse.
  • Melbourne Cup day is a public holiday for all working within metropolitan Melbourne and some parts of regional Victoria. And while we didn’t have a public holiday in Perth, there were plenty of events, parties, lunches, betting, and spectating around the city.

Which brings me to how I spent Melbourne Cup 2014! In hindsight, Barr and I wished we had gone to Melbourne for the big day, but since it was a random Tuesday, it makes things a bit tricky!

The American Women’s Club organized a big group of us to get a table at the Subiaco Hotel for lunch, drinks, dress up, and race watching. The Subi Hotel put on a nice luncheon and we had a ball (even though my horse didn’t win! We did have a “big” winner at our table, which was fun 🙂 ).

Melbourne Cup lunch at the Subi Hotel

The wonderful ladies of the American Women's Club of Perth in our Melbourne Cup finery

The wonderful ladies of the American Women’s Club of Perth in our Melbourne Cup finery

Getting ready for the big race!

The winner of the 2014 Melbourne Cup was Protectionist, who finished the 2 mile race in 3 minutes and 17 seconds, beating the second place horse by 4 lengths – a pretty significant margin!

This year’s race was a tad marred, however, by the deaths of two of the horses: Admire Rakti and Araldo. Admire Rakti was the favorite horse going into the Melbourne Cup and sadly ended up finishing last when his jockey felt something was amiss after the first turn and pulled up on him; after the race, he was led to his stable and suffered from cardiac arrest. Araldo broke on of his hind legs following the race, after being spooked by a spectator and an errant flag waved in his face (as a result, flags are now banned from the Melbourne Cup).

Protectionist just prior to running the Melbourne Cup (image via Wikipedia)

I don’t want to end on a Debbie Downer note though! So here is one last picture of us enjoying the fun that the Melbourne Cup does offer – cheers to Susie for helping to organize a great afternoon watching the ponies 🙂 Until next time…

MelbourneCupAbbysRoads1

The one comparing expat Dubai vs. Perth

I hesitated using the “vs.” in the title of this post because I don’t want to make it sound like these two fine cities are competing (in this case, for the affection of the expat Blantons)…because in my mind, they are not. There is no “winner” or “loser” in this little post/exercise, but rather just something I’ve been ruminating over for a few months now. I don’t know how many people make this jump from one of these cities to another, but as a summation of the two, I thought it would be an interesting view. So without further ado….

  • Dubai
    • Significant and established expat community: Only 10% of the population in the UAE is Emirati, leaving 90% to the expats (and Americans are few and far between).
    • Cultural diversity: Dubai is the biggest melting pot of cultures that I have ever had to privilege to experience. The vast number of different languages, religions, foods, home cities, and traditions in this city is mind boggling and humbling. I loved that aspect. The downside to this, however, would be that there are some significant communication barriers that ensue. If you’ve ever had to direct a cabbie around or ordered takeout in Dubai, you know what I am talking about.
    • Muslim country: Islam is the official religion of the UAE and the religion permeates into the civic laws and practices. While I didn’t have to cover my hair, there are certain rules citizens must abide by and of which to be cognizant.
    • Haves” and “have nots“: I have never before seen more wealth displayed by material objects than I did in Dubai (cars, villas and apartments, jewelry, clothes, shoes, food, etc). I have also never before seen such a marked discrepancy between the rich and the poor. Dubai was (and still is) being built upon the backs of tens of thousands of laborers, who work all hours in the heat for very little pay.
    • The lack of seasonality: The best way to describe the “seasons” of Dubai are hot, hotter, and “don’t go outside or you’ll melt”.
    • Ease of travel: I forgot the exact stat, but there is a ridiculous percentage of the world’s population that lives within an 8 hour flight of Dubai – that, coupled with the fact that DXB is the Emirates airline hub, means that there is continual easy, quick, and lovely travel all within a quick (single) flight.
    • Hotel and restaurant scene: I love Charlotte, NC, Houston, TX, Louisville, KY and yes, even Durham, NC, but I wouldn’t say that any of these cities are hugely “trendy”; if a hot new hotel or restaurant opens in the states, it typically is in LA or NYC. Globally, you could probably include London and Dubai to that list. And even though I am the furthest thing from trendy, it was fun to go to a new restaurant or hot spot in Dubai that could only boast other locations in London, LA, NYC, etc.

  • Perth
    • Western similarities: I did love the cultural diversity in Dubai, but it was nice to move to a city where English was most everyone’s first language, we could easily find a church to attend (note: there are churches in Dubai!!! We were never religiously persecuted, but Protestant churches in Dubai were few and far between, that’s all), we could hold hands in public, and I could purchase wine with ease.
    • Aussie slang: This is a positive and a negative. On the plus side, I’ve loved learning that while Australians do speak English, they have their own twist with different words and phrases that are completely uniquely Australian – it’s fun! On the (kinda) downside, initially I did have trouble understanding certain faster clipped accents or aforementioned terms. Not really a “downside” I suppose – it’s all part of the adventure 🙂
    • Wine and coffee: The wine and coffee in Perth (and basically Australia at large, from what I have experienced) are heads and shoulders above anything I’ve ever had before – perfection.
    • Isolated: I’ve written to this point before, but it can’t be overstated enough (especially if you’re considering a move to Perth), the city is isolated. There are some great spots within driving distance and Bali is only a 4 hour flight (not to mention all the smaller perhaps less well known WA locales that are within a faster flight such as the Kimberley’s, Exmouth, Albany), but even getting to the east coast of Australia is a long(ish) flight – not just a hop, skip and a jump to be sure. You’ve just got to be ready for long flights (but the perk of that is racking up those frequent flyer miles!)
    • Weather changes: Our first few weeks here gave me a bit of a pause when I thought about my prayers for rain in Dubai because it felt that all we had in terms of weather was rain, rain, and more rain. A friend (and fellow expat) asked the question of “Do we live in Perth or Seattle?” Completely valid query. That being said, the temperatures were mild (for winter!) and we did get some sunny days. And then once winter started to wrap up and spring began, you’d be crazy to complain. The season changes are more subtle than I experienced in the states, but it exists, and for the most part, the weather here that Ive seen is excellent.
    • Gorgeous natural green spaces, walking paths, and waterfronts: Dubai had a handful of green spaces and waterfronts, but most were completely manmade. Perth has some of the loveliest parks, hiking trails, vineyards, lakes, riverside running paths, and beaches (no artificial islands in sight).
Image via Emirates

Image via Emirates

  • Dubai and Perth
    • Expensive: Dubai and Perth are pricey. Period. End of subject. Groceries, rent, cars, eating out. That being said, Dubai’s taxis and petrol are super cheap!
    • Beaches: Ask me if I would choose between the beach and the mountains and Ill choose the beach every single time. Dubai and Perth have fabulous, free beaches in abundance. I will really miss living within either walking distance or a ten minute drive when we eventually head back to the states.
    • Safety: While I didn’t ever feel that Charlotte was “dangerous”, Perth and Dubai are exceedingly safe cities. Of course one always has to be aware of their surroundings and the neighborhood (and not be unnecessarily reckless), but the crime rates in Dubai and Perth is minute and that helped me rest easy.
    • Fabulous local/drivable opportunities: We have been blessed to do a lot of local travel near to Perth (Margaret River, Swan Valley, Lancelin Beach) and Dubai (Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, camel riding in the desert) – these quick weekend or day road trips have been some of our favorites.
    • Dream fulfilling: This is a bit of a personal one (and cheesy), but as our time abroad draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on these last 18 months as some of the most fulfilling, fun, and humbling of my life. There have been ups and downs (nothing is perfect, y’all!), but Barr and I have wanderlust and have a tendency for itchy feet and choosing the “harder” path sometimes, and our times in Perth and Dubai have filled our desire to live abroad and be citizens of the world to a “t”.

The one to understand daylight savings in Perth

How misleading of a blog title. Why? Well, Perth does not go through the biannual tradition of “springing forward” and “falling back” an hour. I remember asking some Australian friends if they did DST here and was met with incredulity and scorn – “What’s the point?” was their anthem.

What’s interesting (which I guess is in the eye of the beholder) about daylight savings time in Australia is that some  states do change their clocks, while others (like WA, the Northern Territory and Queensland) refrain. So on the first week in October, Sydney, Melbourne, and the rest of the DST-practing Aussie cities sprung forward (it is spring here after all).

The Australian states, for your reference

After doing a bit of research, I can see why some native Perth folk get heated and opinionated on the subject of DST here: the issue of whether or not Western Australia should engage in daylight savings has come up in referendum and put to a vote multiple times in recent memory (most recently 2009, but similar experiments and subsequent votes took place in 1974, 1985, and 1992). In 2006, the Western Australian government put forth a 3 year trial period whereby Western Australia would practice daylight savings for 3 years and after that period, would vote on the referendum.

In the weeks leading up to the vote in 2009, apparently the campaigning was relentless (timely given upcoming election day in the states – stay strong, North Carolinians who I am sure are sick and tired of hearing campaign ads!). Those in favor of DST were primarily business people, who maintained that it would make dealing with businesses from the east of Australia easier during the summer as it would reduce the time difference. On the other side, those opposed were farmers and many in rural areas of WA, as well as a good chunk of people who just thought it wasn’t relevant in this day and age.

Finally, in what I can call Western Australia’s “hanging chad moment“, the vote was upon them – it was such a big deal that non-voters were fined $20-$50 and the government ending up making a cool $622,000 on said fines. Anyhoo, the referendum to maintain daylight savings in Western Australia was ultimately struck down with 55% of votes against, and that, dear readers, is why Perth does not practice daylight savings.

So to friends and family in the states who recently “fell back” an hour, I am sorry you lost an hour of daylight and I am also sorry that we are now even further in time difference from you (however please bear this new time difference in mind when you decide to Skype/FaceTime/call) 😉 Until next time…