From Lisbon to Brisbane, or “from Lizzie to Brizzie” as the Aussies would say, is about the challenges that I have faced as a 25-year-old German student, moving from Portugal to Australia for an internship at Channel 7. Coming from Europe to Queensland is not only a large distance to cover, but it is also a large new cultural adventure in terms of language, city, climate, food and surf.
On top of speaking a completely different language to German, “Australian English” can also have its challenges for those who speak English fluently. Upon arriving at the airport in Brisbane, you will be welcomed with an enthusiastic, “G´day. Ow ya goin’ mate?” Slang such as “arvo, barbie, esky, shoey, chuck a uey” can be really confusing. Even native English speakers will have a “bloody hard time” understanding it. However, don´t let this intimidate you and just ask with a big smile on your face: “Could you please repeat it, mate?”
Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia and located between the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. You might feel small at first, but it is the perfect starting point for an adventure – ideal for lovers of the city as well as the ocean. One can find whatever the heart beats for: from vivid, colourful shopping streets, to cosy, alternative cafes; fancy, multinational restaurants; trendy bars with stunning views and a buzzing night life. Another great way to explore the city is to catch one of the free city ferries and to discover Brisbane from the river. With a little bit of luck, one can maybe spot a koala hanging out, lazing on one of the branches of the lush green trees, or even see a kangaroo zigzagging through one of the many beautiful parks. If you see a monkey, just wave at them and say: “See you soon, big baboon.”
Australia is a huge country and by huge, I mean 22 times bigger than Germany. (The Netherlands would fit 182 times into Australia!). For such a big country, it is not a surprise that it can be divided into four different climate zones. Parts of Queensland have a subtropical climate and therefore one can expect hot temperatures in summer and mild to warm temperatures, even in winter. So, don´t be surprised seeing some Australians rugged up with a jacket, beanie and Ugg boots on when temperatures are around 20 degrees Celsius. It would be baking hot for some Europeans, but for the Queenslander, it is still winter and the only time they can wear it. Furthermore, it feels as if the sun lives only about “three quarters of a mile from us,” according to the Irish comedian Dylan Moran. Thus, always wear sunscreen, or zinc for the fair-skinned, to prevent yourself from looking like a “bloody beetroot”.
Tim Tams, Weet-Bix and Vegemite may sound foreign at first, but you will soon learn to love them. Whatever you do, don´t make the mistake of mixing up Vegemite with Nutella. Yes, it looks similar – both dark brown. But no, the taste is completely different and a pure spoon of Vegemite could ruin your day. Try a classic toast with “avo” and a thin layer of vegemite on top. It will give it some extra flavour. If you become “hangry”, eat some Weet-Bix, they will fill you up. For chocolate lovers, try some Tim Tams, which come in many delicious flavours. If you are just having a “snackcident” in town, go to one of the many pie shops. They are amazing! After a good party, I used to buy some for my walk back home and if people asked me how far away I lived, I replied with: “2 pies away.”
As an experienced beach bummer and big ocean lover, I can only recommend the beaches in Queensland to everyone. Within a 1.5-hour drive north, one can surf the most perfect running longboarding waves in beautiful Noosa. For those who are not so into surfing, Noosa offers plenty more than that: from relaxed river cruises to a refreshing snorkel or swim in one of the breath-taking, crystal blue bays. Just an hour south of Brisbane is the Gold Coast — “Goldy” — and its most southerly town is called Coolangatta, in short “Cooly”. It is a sleepy little surfer village with one of the world’s most famous surf spots, “Snapper Rocks”. From long-boarder to short-boarder, everyone will fall in love with this beautiful town and its perfect lines when the surf is pumping. Another mind-blowing place is North Stradbroke or also known as “Straddie”. Catch the ferry from Cleveland and spent a weekend discovering the beautiful beaches at this paradise of an island. The only downside about surfing in Queensland can be the big crowds as soon as a good swell hits the coast. However, go out with a lot of confidence, a big smile and make use of the friendliness of Australians. After a little chat in the water, I am sure that you will catch a wave as well.
To come to a point, moving from Lisbon to Brisbane was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The cultural differences can be quite challenging in the beginning but once you conquer them, you will fall in love with it. The friendliness and openness with which Aussies welcome every foreigner surprises me every time, and the beauty of the country blows my mind away each day. Thus, enjoy your time in Brisbane and “I tell ya, you gotta love Straya.”
By Anna Werling