Back in Australia -- First Impressions

First impressions of Australia started on the airplanes. On our first leg (Chicago - LA), our seatmate said not one word to  us, and the flight attendants were efficient. No one really seemed to be happy to be there, or in the moment.

On the second leg (LA - Melbourne), our seatmate was a chatty, friendly, Australian man, 35 y/o, who woks for FILAS shoes, returning to home in Melbourne from holidays in Canada with friends. He happily showed my daughter how to operate the remote for her viewing screen, and played thumnb wars and rock, paper, scissors with her. The flight attendants were all helpful (down on knees with flashlight searching for a lost sandal) and cheerful. They all seemed happy to be on the flight. Isabelle made fast friends with them all to the point she scored some QANTAS pajamas for her dad, and we were invited to see the flight deck and have a chat with the captain -- a privilege I've never had before and thoroughly enjoyed.

there is no doubt in my mind we are living in a place where population density is high. Roads are narrower and speed limits are faster. (Husband tells me the speed limits are actually slower than in the US, so it must be my perception that they are faster.) Houses are closer together, and parking spaces are smaller.

Daughter with her flight attendant friends saying "bye" to passengers as they disembark.

That said, there are bits of nature everywhere. Large houses on small lots are surrounded by foliage. There are three parks within a kilometer (half-mile) of our house.

Shopping, for necessities and discretionary, is as much of a weekend activity here as back in the US. Our local Shopping Centre (mall) was filled with humanity this weekend as we ventured out to explore and stock our kitchen. The shopping centre connected us with the train station, which at some future date will connect us with all that Melbourne has to offer; the local library branch, where about 30 patrons were queued up waiting for the doors to open, on a Sunday afternoon; a small outdoor play area alive with families; and even the grocery stores.

Oh yes, two of the anchor stores for the shopping centre are the national grocery stores, Coles and Woolworths. Additionally, close by, still inside the shopping centre were butcher shops supplying poultry, fish and seafood, pork, beef, and lamb; a fresh bread bakery, and a green grocer with so many tables of fresh fruit and veg. The choices, sounds, number of people, and overall chaos of it was overwhelming. My husband kept pointing out stores to me that he thought would interest me, and eventually, they might. But on my first day, did I see the bookstore? No. Did I want to browse the craft store? No. I just wanted out. It was all too much.

I will have to carve out my quiet spaces in this densely populated suburb of Melbourne, population 4 million. This challenge, I gladly take on, in my new home.


The flight deck of a QANTAS air bus.


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