I’m not Australian by citizenship, but I have left bits of my heart Downunder, where I went to university, worked and made lifelong friends. I left Sydney in 2007, and have missed the sun, surf and sand ever since. I might not be true blue Aussie, but the harbour city is still a place I call home.
1. The weather
I have lived through winters in London, which aren’t half as cold as I expected; the worst thing is the rain and grey, cloudy skies. I have weathered 19 inch snowstorms in New York City and battled brown slush and ice, all the while missing the searing hot summers and mild winters of Sydney.
2. Cheap, delicious Thai food
I haven’t found a good Thai place to replace my old stalwart in Randwick on Alison Road. I can get Thai food delivered to me here in New York at anytime of day or night, but it’s just not as authentic as Thai in Australia.
3. Footie and cricket
Granted, when I was in London there was plenty of rugby and cricket to watch, but Americans have never heard of rugby and no inkling how cricket works. Sports bars usually show American football, baseball, basketball or ice hockey – all games without a large international playing field.
Croatia has gorgeous beaches, I’m told. As do the Virgin Islands. But if you’ve ever been to Australia, you’ll forgive me if I say that the most beautiful beaches in the world are Downunder, and nothing will shake me from that belief. I still remember the horror I felt when I went to Brighton Beach (UK) and found pebbles instead of sand!
5. No worries mate
I love that laidback, Australian phrase. Hardly anything is no worries here in New York City, where the hustle is on from dawn to dusk. The friendliness of Australians, coupled with their easy, relaxed approach to everything seem to make life a little better.
6. Respect for the environment
The average Australian is likely to be far better informed about recycling, how to separate waste correctly, composting, and other green initiatives. Most shoppers bring their own bags to do groceries, and there’s been talk of a new carbon tax to take into account the cost of carbon emissions. As a consumer, I’m horrified. As a closet environmentalist, I like the idea.
7. Fresh seafood
In Manhattan, food is never, really, fresh. Even in Whole Foods, even at Trader Joe’s. Everything in Manhattan has been carted in from miles around – upstate New York or New Jersey at the closest, or flown in from overseas and driven across one of the many bridges that link the island to the mainland. And what I miss most about the food in Australia is the fresh, literally just-out-of-the-water seafood. Which you can’t get in Manhattan, not really.
Granted, no place is perfect, and Australia certainly has its fair share of downs along with ups. There are plenty of frustrations about living in Sydney, like the ridiculously high cost of living, the high taxes, the impossibility of buying into the bubbling property market, the increasingly choked traffic on the streets – but after four years away, it’s about time I went home and had a Tim Tam.
What do you miss about places that you’ve called home?