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Australia Day, the official national day of our nation, is celebrated on 26 January each year. This date marks the anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet at Port Jackson, New South Wales in 1788. If you’re paying attention, you might have realised that this means we get a public holiday this Monday! Yay! In honour of this day, I thought I would share with you some of the things I love and miss about home when I’m overseas. Yup, even with the big time travel bug, I do get homesick at times!
1. The weather
In Perth, you can expect clear blue skies like this most of the year. Not only do we enjoy plenty of sun, the humidity is low and there is often a light sea breeze. These add up to balmy temperatures averaging between 15-25C annually. Sure, it sometimes gets up to 40-45C in summer, but the lack of humidity makes this heat bearable, and the heatwaves only last a couple of days anyway.
The other thing I love about Perth is the predictability of our weather. Hot dry summers and cool wet winters are what we get here, year in, year out. This means you can leave your umbrella in storage for at least 6 months of the year. It rarely rains in the summer, and when it does, you’ll know before it starts because that clear blue sky turns grey. Even if you do get caught out, the summer rain usually doesn’t last long anyway, so you can usually just wait it out.
2. The running tracks
You know how they say that horses sweat, men perspire and women glow? Not where I come from, they don’t! In my country of birth Malaysia, and my first Australian hometown Brisbane, the women sweat. A lot. Just stepping out of the shower, you’ll sweat. That’s what happens in tropical and subtropical locations. And it was partly because of this that I never took to running until I came to Perth.
With a name like Travelling Omnomnivore, it’s no secret that I love my noms. I can’t say I love exercising as much, but I do love the feeling of accomplishment after a workout, and being able to eat guilt-free. Or perhaps guilt-less.
3. The great outdoors
Australians love being outdoors and it’s not just because of our great weather. Being a large island nation, we have great beaches and coastlines. So much so that I’ve become a bit of a beach snob. I’ve been disappointed at many beaches overseas because it’s too crowded or too pebbly or the sand isn’t powdery enough. And as the largest state yet with a smaller population than the eastern states, Western Australia still has vast stretches of unspoilt beautiful coastline that you can enjoy pretty much all to yourself if you’re prepared to drive the distance.
4. The food
I know this sounds weird given that Perth doesn’t really get a mention together with places like Tokyo, Paris, New York, or even Singapore and Sydney. But on a more global scale, prices notwithstanding, I don’t think we fare too badly. Perhaps it’s because the food is familiar and therefore comforting to me. But what I do appreciate also are the variety and the freshness of the produce and seafood. From Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese or Indian, to Italian, Greek, French or Middle Eastern, you’ll find all manner of cuisines here (and indeed in Australia in general) thanks to the diversity of our population. And because the produce is so fresh, the quality is usually pretty good too. No need to turn to MacDonald’s as an alternative to dodgy Chinese food as a source of comfort, as I’ve done in Spain!
5. The people
The big smile of this young lady from my local gelateria is the norm rather than the exception here. The people in Perth are generally more friendly than in other bigger cities across the nation and around the world. The bus drivers greet you as you board, and people call out thanks as they disembark. In contrast, there have been many times where I instinctively greeted a bus driver overseas, only to be rewarded with a glare and an impatient wave towards the back of the bus. And more often than not, when I return from an overseas trip, I get a “welcome home” from the customs officer, giving me the much needed reminder that home really is a rather sweet place to be.
Happy Australia Day, everyone!
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