Linz - now down in Oz

Latest news on Linz (ex Ski Higher) travels



October 2006 - The (not so) usual update

Hello all Hope you are all well. There’s been quite a lot happening since my last update, so here goes….
I have just returned from a week of touring Tasmania, taking in Launceston, the capital Hobart, the former penal colony at Port Arthur and the east coast beaches and national parks. I hired a car and cruised around taking in the scenery and going for a few walks. It was very relaxing and very pretty. The weather was pretty good too so I was lucky. It’s a beautiful state and reminded me a lot of England/New Zealand. I saw Tassie devils, watched penguins and hand fed kangaroos, as well as doing a spot of wine tasting and visiting a lavender farm of all things. It was great to see some new things (much as I love Victoria nd Melbourne).
Just prior to my trip I moved house. My man and I have now bought our own place, which has three bedrooms and a huge back garden with lots of potential. It’s fantastic to be out of a rented flat and into a proper house with lots of room and a garden to grow plants and enjoy the approaching summer. Herbs and tomatoes are already sown!
The other main big news is that I am expecting a baby in late January. As many of you will know, it’s been something I have wanted for a long time so I am over the moon. As I write, I am just over 5 months pregnant and feeling very well. It’s all gone well so far with very few of the usual side effects (morning sickness etc.). Fingers crossed that it continues this way. And long may I fit my normal clothes (with the odd button undone here and there!) Baby is due 27th January but I am hoping for the day before as that is Australia Day and we’ll get our picture in the paper.
That’s about it for now. Next time I write, I should be a semi-permanent resident and hopefully teaching part time if all goes according to plan, as I am applying for my visa this week.
All the best for now, Linz


July 2006 - A quick trip home

Hi all
Just a quick hello. Not really got a huge amount of news from the last three months. June has been so cold in Melbourne (coldest winter for many years apparently) so I haven’t really done much except hang out at home in front of the TV -- the world cup and Wimbledon kept me up late at night. The country went wilder with each Australian match in the world cup but things got ugly in the Italian area of Melbourne when Italy won on that dubious penalty!
On the not so cold days I’ve cruised around some of the lesser city sights and managed to catch a game or two of Aussie rules. As ever, I plod along with my volunteer work, which is enjoyable – I run a conversation class for some Chinese folks and do some marketing work for a local seniors centre (I’ve done two newsletters, built a web site and written a brochure). At the moment I am ploughing through my visa application, which is pretty extensive. Of course the light at the end of the tunnel will be a work permit, which will hopefully prevent me going completely broke and mad (and that is not far away!)
In April the nation celebrated Anzac Day, the equivalent of the UK’s Remembrance Sunday to remember the casualties of war. I had no idea what a big deal it was. I took part in the very moving Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in the city (5:30am, freezing cold and pitch black – me and about 10,000 others). Later in the day, there was the war veterans’ parade, which was massive – it took 4 hours to go past. It was a pretty impressive day in all. The other big thing was the F1 Grand Prix. That took place in Albert Park in the city centre. The noise was deafening. I managed to see some of the practice rounds by standing on traffic barriers and peering over the fence (other people were doing the same!)
I spent pretty much all of May back in the UK seeing family and friends. My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a small family party so it was a good time to go back. Of course it rained a lot and just as I returned to a freezing cold Melbourne, the heatwave set in. Great!
I am planning some more sightseeing when the weather improves – Tasmania and the Great Ocean Road (spectacular south west coast of Victoria) are top of the list. I’ve had to shelve plans for further teacher training at the moment. As a non-permanent resident, I was recently informed of revised fees for me as an “international student.” They are obscene and prohibitive (as is the cost of the visa). So, I’ll be going out to work instead. There are still teaching jobs open to me (just not as many)so hopefully I can get a couple of days teaching and some other work as well.
That’s all for now. Next time I write I’ll be back in my shorts and flip flops I hope!
Linz x



April 2006 - Next Steps

Well, it’ll come as no surprise that I am really enjoying my time over here and am not really rushing to get back. Having got myself pretty settled, I have decided to stay on and have just extended my visa. I will be back to see my family in late April/May but plan to return a few weeks later so that I can continue my teacher training and stay long term. Besides which, the Aussie rules football season starts this weekend and I don’t want to miss that, or the F1 Grand Prix which takes place in the city centre this weekend. It’s all go…


March 2006

The city was abuzz most of this month for the Commonwealth Games. I have to confess to being a bit fed up of hearing the Aussie national anthem constantly, for all the gold medals they won. However, it was fantastic to be part of it all. I watched as the Queen’s Baton relay arrived, and I went to St Kilda beach to watch a very impressive triathlon competition. I also went to some of the athletics finals at the MCG. It was the first time I’d been to the home of Australian cricket and it was awesome being in the crowd of 86,000 people going nuts for every Aussie performance. The weather was very kind and is still unseasonably warm for mid-autumn. Meanwhile, I have got really stuck into my volunteering work. I am now working as an English conversation tutor for two organisations as well as doing some PR & fund raising work for my local aged care centre. It’s good to be using the old brain again. Would be even better to be paid for it!

February 2006

This was a tough month as I spent all of it studying for my English teaching qualification, which I successfully obtained. It was very rewarding but really hard going. Despite only being a four-week course, it took over all the students’ lives (there were only 5 of us on the course). It was a tough mix of classes, assignments, practical teaching and preparation. I haven’t worked so hard in years! Still, I forged some new friendships and got a lot nearer to my goal of becoming a teacher fairly soon. Unfortunately I am not in a position to get a decent job here yet, but I’m on the way. Somehow, I managed to fit in working as well but was exhausted at the end of it all and so I have been pretty lazy in March. To offset the stress a bit, I joined a yoga class. After spending the last four winters getting lots of mountain air and skiing exercise, I’ve become a bit sluggish and I always fancied a go at yoga which is really enjoyable.

January 2006

I took my second trip to New Zealand for most of January. Thanks to all who entertained me – Marc, Barbara, Dave & Lizzie, Kate & JB. Wicked to see you, plus Anna and the Try clan. I had five days of excess in Auckland city with Marc, and seemed to visit a lot of bars and restaurants. I did however also go up the Sky Tower (soooo high), visit an underground penguin colony (sooo cold) and go whale/dolphin watching (sooo cool) After a couple of days chilling out chez Barb in her leafy hideaway, I headed off for ten days with a hire car, tent and sleeping bag. A couple of thousand km later and I’d seen giant trees, the Bay of Islands, glow worm caves, black sand beaches, mud pools and thermal springs in Rotorua, Lake Taupo and the mountains, Napier and Hawk’s Bay wine country, and finally windy Wellington. I reckon I only saw half of what I wanted to. Though the weather was kind (apart from the day my tent blew into Lake Rotorua as I was taking it down), the time went too quickly. But it was all great, as expected.

December 2005

Went up to Queensland to stay with Sandra, an old pal from France. Being based near Surfer’s Paradise, we were ideally placed to tour the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, as well as northern New South Wales. It felt like we saw and did loads in our two week road trip but we really only scratched the surface of Queensland and so I haven’t seen any of the tropical bits. That said, I met lots of lovely people and we drank many bottles of wine on the way. The best bits: seeing Steve Irwin and family in action at the Australia Zoo, where I got up close and personal with koalas and kangaroos (but not crocs!); standing inside the “Big Pineapple” (QLD); running through the “Big Banana” (Coffs Harbour); lunching in trendy Byron Bay and catching up with friends is a very hot Brisbane. Oh yes, and almost drowning in the rip at Broadbeach, near Surfer’s Paradise.
Xmas was a weird affair. Being at the height of summer holidays, it all felt very subdued and totally different in atmosphere to the northern hemisphere. I struggled to cope with tinsel and snowy Santa scenes in the shops when it was 35 degrees outside. Xmas telly wasn’t what I was used to (you can’t beat sitting down to James Bond with a box of chocs) but I did my best to inject some traditional spirit. I had a fully decorated tree at home, complete with flashing lights and candy canes. Xmas dinner was of course cooked on the barby and so prawns had to be had. Not a slice of turkey in sight. My sherry trifle lasted about 10 seconds as it was devoured with gusto by all involved on the day. And I wore my party hat all afternoon in the pub before passing out on the sofa after too much champagne. New Year was quite different. I still managed to get tipsy but was working in the restaurant so it was pretty busy. It was doubly gruelling since the weather was really hot and we were dealing with strong sunshine and temperatures of 43 degrees! In true Melbourne fashion, next day was pouring with rain and a mere 13 degrees. Crazy place.

19 October 2005

Just back in Melly after a week in Sydney and 3 weeks in NZ. Jesus (Andy) is alive and well in the back of beyond just outside Queenstown -- I finally met up with him. AMAZING country -- been in helicopters, on glaciers, jet boating, whale watching and drinking as much wine as poss. Needed to come back for a rest. Thinking of you all as my summer begins and your winter creeps closer.

Linz x


15 September 2005

Great cricketing scenes on the news at this end. Masses in Trafalgar Square compared to no-one at the airport over here to welcome the Aussies home. Hah! No-one wants to discuss cricket with me and Ricky Ponting all over the news looking sheepish, just like Warnie whose wife has slagged him off in just about every women's mag over here.

Linz x


10 August 2005

Hi folks. Wet & windy down here so quite jealous of your sunshine. Hope the fetes are the usual scenes of debauchery. Will be thinking of you for the fete des bucherons. All good here and enjoying being a tourist plus relishing being in civilisation -- familiar TV, food, cinema, shops. Just GREAT to be somewhere English-speaking (of sorts). Take care,

Linz x


26 July 2005

Dear all

Finally I'm settled in a chilly Melbourne and able to communicate with the world. 'll be based here for much of my time although I will be on the road now and again when I visit NZ, Sydney, Brisbane etc.

Anyway, all is very, very well and here is a quick summary of my experiences so far:

Weather is wet and windy and sometimes sunny. It averages 15 degrees which I can live with as it's winter but wish I had more clothes. Fortunately this is a serious shopping city so supply is not an issue. I reckon the cost of living here is pretty cheap but even so, I have discovered the merits of op shops (charity shops) where bargains are to be had for those on a budget. Besides, everyone hangs out in trainers and jogging pants anyway so I blend right in among the scruffs.

Food - this is very diverse and quite cheap. I've never seen so many Macdonalds and Subway outlets or 24-hour supermarkets. One of my fave wines (Jacobs Creek) is dirt cheap and available in "casks" (boxes). The bottle shops (off licences) are great and I even found Stones' Ginger Wine last week, just to stave off that winter nip in the air. I'm in food heaven - good Chinese, Greek, Italian, pies and fish & chips. Cadbury's chocolate in abundance and HP sauce no problem. Can even make do with Vegemite instead of Marmite. Lamingtons are good (sponge cake squares with jam and coconut).

In general - the city is very, very multi-cultural and MASSIVE. Really sprawling but laid out in grids, which makes navigation easy. I'm in an eastern suburb about 20 mins out on the train. Have tried my hand at driving which is not too bad except that after 9 years on mainland Europe, I'm now back on the UK side of the road and driving an automatic. Fortunately the traffic is not scary even though the main route into the city is a 5-lane highway.

Everything about the place feels really familiar just the jargon takes a bit of getting used to, e.g. a doona is a duvet, and a booze bus is a mobile breathalyser van. The TV is great - just a few terrestrial channels but loads of familiar UK stuff and I'm getting into the local gameshows and news programmes. What's not so normal are the bird noises (very different and there are lovely parrot-like birds in the palms down by St Kilda beach), and the residential areas which have more of an American feel to them. Joined the local Blockbuster DVD rental shop and the local library for my films/books fix.

Shopping - I live a 5 min drive from the biggest shopping centre I've ever seen (Chadstone). LOVE it. There's HMV, Mango, Accessorize, Body Shop and all sorts of book shops and the like. Bought the new Harry Potter book for a mere $30 (12 quid/18 euros). There are several malls and arcades in the city, which are a combination of chic, large and architecturally beautiful.

Activities so far - looked at Luna Park (local fairground dating from 1912) but not yet braved the famous roller coaster, been to a huge cinema (saw War of the Worlds), been to a leisure centre (played in the wave pool - closest to surfing yet), been to the top of Melbourne's tallest building (Rialto Towers) and the Crown Casino complex and best of all last week I went, along 45,500 others, to the Telstra Dome to watch an Aussie rules football match - St Kilda vs Collingwood. I'm an addict and now watch as much footy on TV as I can. Weekends are heaven.

That's pretty much it for now. I'll write again soon.