Last fall I planned a work event in Australia, but I wasn’t planning to go. A few weeks before, my boss asked if I would like to attend the conference. At first, I was stressed about the thought of going while we were trying to finish our adoption paperwork. Then I got smart and realized that you don’t turn down a free ten days in Australia! I also let our social worker know that I would be out of the country and begged her to finish our home study so I could mail everything to FAC before I left. Asking nicely (or bugging repeatedly) worked and I picked it up on the way to the airport! I have never been so happy to have something in the mail.
Our event was in Melbourne and I had to fly from Knoxville to Dallas to LA to Melbourne. It was around 25 hours of traveling, but completely worth it. I LOVED Australia-the people were friendly and I could listen to the locals read the phone book and be entertained. One thing I have noticed from traveling to different countries if how much more active people seem to be. I know some of that has to do with city life because I saw it in DC. I arrived on a Saturday morning and as tempting as the bed looked, I knew I had to stay up until bedtime so I went for a five mile run along the river. I passed so many people biking and running and the river was filled with rowing teams. Note-the men I passed running had much shorter shorts than at home.
I also ran on the treadmill one day and only knew what the distance was if I did a 5k or 10k. Math challenged, folks.
Most of the week was spent at the conference, but I had the chance to see some of the city during free time. I attempted to visit the Zoo and when we arrived, it was closed due to a high wind storm. Luckily they brought animals to the conference so I was able to see a dingo and kangaroo.
Ella the dingo
The team we work with in Melbroune took us to a horse race one afternoon. They had a horse running in one of the races, so we got the VIP treatment. I didn’t have anything to wear and all the stores were closed, so it was Target to the rescue. I was secretly thrilled to have an excuse to check out Australian Target (and of course Nick made fun of me for going there in another country).
We had lunch before the races and then they took us down to the stables where the horses were being held and exercised.
Right before the race, we went down to the ring where the jockeys and trainers were before they went on the track. As someone who has been obsessed with horses and wanted to be a jockey at one point, I was in heaven. I knew that dream was never happening once I hit a certain height, but I never realized how tiny the jockeys are until I was that close!
I take advantage of any chance to channel Kate Middleton, even if my fascinator came from Target!
Right before the horses went on the track, the trainer went over the race plan with the jockey. I was secretly geeking out at this experience, but hopefully I just looked like another calm horse owner. It is a different experience to watch a race with people who have time and money invested in the horses. There were lots of choice words flying as they came across the finish line (and why do curse words even sound nice with an accent?!). I’ve been to big horse races, including the Preakness, but I’ve always been in the stands. Standing at the finish line is another experience because you can feel the horses thundering past you….it was an awesome sound.
Apparently there was an animal theme to my time in Australia because the last night we went to Phillips Island to watch the wild penguins come in at sunset. They don’t allow you to take photos of the penguins and they catch you quickly if you try, so all I have to show is the beach. It was so neat to watch them come out of the water in groups and start waddling up the beach.
We stopped along the way and saw koalas hanging out in the trees. Of course the Americans were freaking out! Fun fact-the locals referred to them as drop bears. We also picked up pizza and had a picnic overlooking the ocean. It was about 60 degrees and sunny and I just kept thinking, “I’m having pizza in Australia. Is this real life?”
It was a great trip; Australia is definitely on my list for a return trip.