Thoughts on my new home in “The Land Down Under”.
I’ve made it a habit of writing a “First Impressions” article whenever I start to settle somewhere new, so here we are.
It’s a beautiful sunny winter morning in Austinmer, New South Wales, and I’ve been living here for about three weeks. Though that’s only a tiny fraction of my allotted one-year stay in Australia, I’ve had a great introduction to the laid-back and inviting lifestyle.
The area I live in is quaint and peaceful. Within ten minutes I can walk to Thai restaurants, florist shops, lively bars, quirky thrift stores, beachside bistros, and trendy cafes selling top notch coffee, yet I can still hear the faint rushing of the ocean from my bedroom every night.
Sometimes the nearby beaches are completely deserted, leaving me alone with the soft sand and the shockingly blue, seemingly infinite Pacific. Yet sometimes the beachfronts spring to life with locals strolling, dogs playing fetch, and surfers scoping out the waves.
I would like to reinforce that it’s winter in Australia right now, so even on the sunniest days the beaches are nowhere near as crowded as they will be in summertime. The best weather comparison I can think of for this “winter” is mid-October in New England. I can go running in shorts during the warm, 60°F afternoons, but I’m always bundled up in sweaters by the time the sun sets at 6pm.
Businesses are also in a slump for the winter, so it’s been difficult for me to find a job in hospitality. I am pretty keen to work as everyone knows Australia is one of the most expensive countries to live in, but I’ve been enjoying my current unemployment by exploring my surroundings with amazing people.
Austinmer is located right on the Grand Pacific Drive, a scenic driving route starting just below Sydney in the Royal National Park and snaking down the east coast of New South Wales. The coastline is made up of rugged cliffs that bend and curve to create little alcoves filled with picturesque beaches. Part of this highway also holds the famous Sea Cliff Bridge, which branches out from the massive rocks and coasts right over the ocean.
There’s also a few lookout spots in the area that truly amazed my eyes. Just past the Sea Cliff Bridge lies Bald Hill, where I got a breathtaking view of the giant, sloping hills that tower over the little beaches below. We also hiked up a steep forest trail to the Sublime Point Lookout, where the vicious wind almost blew me off the cliff edge but I still enjoyed the scenic view of our neighborhood.
Austinmer is conveniently located 20 minutes north of Wollongong and one hour south of Sydney, so I can still taste that exciting city life when I need it. We made sure to catch the last night of Sydney’s Vivid Festival, where the whole city bursted with colorful lights and vibrant digital graphics.
After three weeks in Australia, I’ve realized how lucky I am to have a nice place to live and great people to live with. I’m thrilled that I have 344 more days to explore this gorgeous country.