Author: Johnathon Swift
Five months have passed since we arrived at Melbourne Tullamarine airport (MEL) from Minneapolis St Paul airport (MSP), ready to start this adventure. As I write, I am heading to MEL again, crossing the Bass Strait from Tasmania to the main land, feeling pretty lucky for the experience we’ve had thus far. As Will recently said, “Wife, the world is your oyster.”
The beautiful tree-lined streets and beachside suburb of Elwood is our new home. For those familiar with 50th & France, picture it on crack, a block off the ocean, and everything triple the price. The neighborhood was swampland before developers got their hands on it, which explains the flooding we’ve had with the recent rain. Sting rays and sharks like to hang out at our beach. For two North Americans, it’s a small price to pay to live near the ocean for once in their lives!
All joking aside, this place is awesome and we feel like we’re living the dream. We have city views from one of our balconies and get the ocean breeze from the other. We’re on the third floor of our building, and have cafes, bars and shops right below us. The beach is one block away, which makes it very convenient to walk down with a glass of wine to watch the sunset. As for the sharks and sting rays, the locals tell us not to worry. I’m a little hesitant to dive in, but Will has no fear.
We welcomed our first visitors from Canada in November. Bob and Linda Burns were here as we transitioned from hotel life in East Melbourne to apartment life in Elwood. They explored this beautiful country, endured with us as we settled in, and we all got to attend a wedding in the Macedon Ranges where a lovely Canadian-Australia couple tied the knot.
It felt like Christmas when our shipment of goods arrived from the U.S., all wrapped up in boxes and paper. When Christmas did arrive, I made Tom & Jerry’s to get a taste of home, and cried listening to Christmas records as I missed it. For the Christmas Holiday we headed out to Wilson’s Prom in southeast Victoria. It’s a beautiful park with bush hiking trails and gorgeous beaches. We found a caravan (camper) to rent and relaxed in the country for a few days. We got some quality time with the owner’s dog, Shadow. Miles of beach were all to ourselves and we spent the nights soaking in the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. We did a video chat from the beach on Christmas with my family in South Dakota. They had no electricity because of an ice storm, so they were sitting by the light of flashlights and fireplace while we had crashing waves and sunshine as our background.
We met friends in our apartment and got to bring in 2017 on an amazing part on the top floor of our building. Not bad…
My life as a stay at home wife ended in early January. I got a job with the company who moved us here, and have my husband as a colleague. My first week of work was in Tasmania for meetings, exploring the area, and checking out MONA. I get to work in our division that provides instruments and endoscopes used in surgery. On my second day I learned that one of the scopes is used in esophogectomy procedures, which is what my dad had to remove his tumor during his cancer battle. I was looking for a job where I would be selling products that make a difference in healthcare, and I found a great fit.
Will and I stayed in Tasmania for a few days after our meeting in Hobart. We ate amazing oysters and tried abalone on Bruny Island, and then spent a couple days hiking and soaking up the gorgeous Tasmanian waters near Wineglass Bay. Tasmania is said to have the cleanest air in the world (and it lacks an ozone layer) and the water is crystal clear. Although we didn’t spot any Tasmanian Devils, we saw a lot of wallabies, crazy little fishes, a giant sting ray and an echidna.
Back in Melbourne, we watched Nadal defeat Raonic at the Australian Open (AO) men’s quarterfinals on the eve of Australia Day. The city is buzzing during the AO and it was great fun be in the middle of the action. We’ll be making it an annual event. The next day we celebrated our first Australia Day with Seattle visitors at a party with friends in our apartment. It was a perfect party spot on a large balcony with ocean and city views. The sunny and relaxed day ended at 3 am the next morning with “pissed” (means drunk in Aus slang) Americans, Canadian and Aussies.
We’ve loved the Melbourne summer, hitting up the open air markets, bike trails, beaches and balconies. I have been to Sydney three times for work training and got out for a bit of exploring.
Will had a weekend conference in Lorne on The Great Ocean Road, so I tagged along. Hard to resist this scenery…
Even with both of us working, it still feels like we’re on vacation. We’re still learning to navigate the roadways and interpret the Aussie slang. We’re making new friends, and missing our old friends. Will turned one year older last week. We celebrated with a delicious dinner and at a show listening to our Minneapolis bands Brother Ali and Atmosphere.
Will got called to cover a weekend surgery in Tasmania on his birthday weekend, so I tagged along and we checked out the gorgeous gorge and quaint little downtown of Launceston.
As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, we’ve stocked up on corned beef and cabbage and are excited to host our first party. I publish this post on the 9 year anniversary of the passing of my father, Tom Collins. With that sentiment my friends, I’ll sign off with my dad’s favorite Irish Blessing: “May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.