Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our One Year Australia-versary...and a Contest!

Is it just me, or does Zack look a little nervous here? Maybe he's just tired after such a long flight!
If you had told me on January 1, 2011 that within four months I would quit my job, sell my car, pack up everything I own, say goodbye to my dog (sniff sniff!), and be living in another country halfway around the world, I would have told you that you were crazy. But here we are! Even as everything was coming together, I kept saying, "I won't believe this is actually happening until we have landed in Australia and I am sitting in Melbourne drinking a glass of wine." The picture on the left shows that famous glass of wine!

On April 29, 2011, we landed in Melbourne, Australia with eight boxes, four suitcases, a couple of instruments, a bike, and golf clubs (which Zack still hasn't used!). We had no idea where we were going or what we were doing, but we made it work. Now we have jobs, friends, furniture, a few more bikes, a couple of new hobbies, and lots of awesome memories. We've had family and friends come visit, and we've seen so much of this beautiful country. Oh, and we have almost 30,000 hits on this blog!

When trying to think of how best to summarize our first year here, I decided to get the negatives out of the way first. There are eight main things that have bothered me while living in Australia. The links will take you back to related blog posts.

1. Missing our dog Molly.
2. Little annoyances and inconveniences.
3. Difficulties with airlines.
4. Zack's ridiculous workload.
5. Rainy, gray weather.
6. Being so far away from family.
7. The lack of holiday celebrations.
8. The loud and/or annoying birds, especially the pooping pigeons.

I was flipping through my online picture albums and realized that there are hundreds of happy memories I could share, but I've really kind of already done that on this blog over the past year! So instead, I narrowed it down to ten memorable moments that made me think, "Wow, being in Australia is an amazing experience." I've included the links in case you want to reread the old blog posts related to each memory. These are in no particular order:

1. Wading through knee-deep water with my sister Morgan while seeing hundreds of waterfalls stream down Uluru.
2. The feeling of awe upon seeing the Sydney Opera House for the first time.
3. Mountain biking among the huge, hopping kangaroos at Lysterfield.
4. Hanging out on beautiful Johanna Beach on Christmas night with glow sticks.
5. Seeing hundreds of incredible sunsets and several fireworks shows from our apartment balcony.
6. Belting out 80s songs on our walk home from the tram after the Rock of Ages show for Zack's birthday.
7. My brother Justin showing me "Nemo" while snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.
8. Surfing alone in the clear, blue water at Bondi Beach and treating myself to an ice cream cone afterward.
9. Biking to go see Queen Elizabeth II ride down St Kilda Road in a royal tram on a random weekday.
10.Watching wombats crawl around our tent at Wilsons Promontory.

Okay, contest time. This one is meant to satisfy my own curiosity, reward our readers, and help me plan for future blog entries. To enter, please leave a comment on this post with answers to each of the following questions:

1. Who are you, and where do you live?
2. What has been your favorite blog post, and why?
3. What is your favorite picture on this blog, and why?
4. How long have you been a reader of this blog?
5. How often do you check or read this blog?
6. What are some topics you'd like to see covered in upcoming blog posts?
7. What is one thing that you think Zack and/or I should be sure to do before our second year Australia-versary?
8. Anything else you'd like to share? Compliments, bribes, etc. are all accepted. :)

The winner will be chosen at random. Your comment with answers to the questions above is worth one entry. But you can earn extra entries! With each person you get to "follow" our blog either as a member or by e-mail, you get an additional entry. If you share a link to our blog on your Facebook page, Twitter, or on your blog, you earn three extra entries! Just let me know if you have earned additional entries somehow. The deadline is May 5 (yes, I'll wait until the end of May 5 in the United States!).

Now I suppose you want to know what you will win? Well, if you live outside of Australia, I will send you an Australian prize pack. I'm not quite sure what that means yet, but I promise it will be worthwhile. Trust me. If you live within Australia, I'll send you a United States prize pack. And if you're American but live in Australia, well, then I'm not sure what I'll do, but I'll work something out. Good luck, and thanks for playing along.

Happy one year Australia-versary to us!

Our last "family" photo on the shores of Lake Michigan before leaving. Molly does not look amused that we are going to Australia without her. And our lovely mix of cold weather gear borrowed from my parents is especially attractive!


  1. Yippee! Can I enter your contest? This will be far more fun than writing my final essays for classes. :)

  2. Hi Aubree!
    I'll use your contest as an opportunity to say hello and to thank you for sharing all your wonderful experiences. My husband and I moved to Melbourne last July. Shortly after moving here I was searching online for any info I could get on Melbourne and ran across your blog. I've been reading it ever since. Love your energy and am impressed by all you've done and seen in one year. Your sunset photos are the best. Looking forward to seeing what year two brings for you and Zack.

    1. Thanks for reading Marla; I hope you two are having fun in Australia as well!

  3. If you can't get the comment thing to work, just e-mail me at or use some other method like Facebook and I'll copy it here.

    Denver, CO
    The great barrier reef blogs were my favorite. It looked like a lot of fun
    Been reading the blog for about a year
    I read almost every blog
    I have no topics to suggest. You and Zach are active, thus you keep it interesting.
    The blogs are interesting because you keep them short, simple, fun and you have the gift of articulation. A few weeks ago you clearly explained the political landscape in just a few sentences. Also the pictures are great. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words.
    I hope you and Zack are doing well.

  4. Kristian CampbellApril 30, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    1. My name is Kristian and I live with my awesome husband in the Bayside area.
    2. I guess I have to say this one is my favorite. (See number four.)
    3. Your family of three at the bottom of the blog is a great pic. I can relate to missing my little furry friend too.
    4. Been a fan for about 20 minutes! I just found you on a whim- was searching for expats living in Melbourne and bam!
    5. I'm sure I'll be reading of your adventures regularly now.
    6. Not sure about topic ideas...
    7. I think you and Zack should have coffee with my husband and I some time before year 2!
    8. I'm a Florida girl who moved to Melbourne almost four years ago. What an adventure! Still can't get used to these winters though... must not be as tough for you two!

    1. Hi Kristian-glad you found our blog! We'd love to meet up sometime for coffee-just let us know when would be a good time. :)

  5. Congrats on one year and a great blog!

    1. I am Laurie and I am an American living in Melbourne (1.25 years so far!)
    2. I like your posts about the trips you have taken as it gives me some idea of where I want to travel. Also really like your observations and likes/dislikes as it gives me an idea of what others in similar situations are experiencing (good and bad).
    3. I like the animals!
    4. Hmmm,I found it on an Expat directory several months ago.
    5. I really enjoy reading blogs so I tend to check my "Blogroll" every day after checking facebook
    6. More of the same!
    7. I will take Kristian's lead and say we should meet up sometime! I'm always keen to meet other Americans in the city and swap stories, etc.
    8. Keep up the good work!

    1. Agreed Laurie-we should definitely meet up-I think you and your husband have a lot in common with Zack and me!

  6. Hi Aubree,

    I will take this opportunity to say hi too. I moved to Melbourne from NYC 2 months ago. When it looked like I would be moving to Melbourne rather than Sydney, I went looking for info and landed on your blog.

    You have really helped me feel excited of all that was waiting for me here and since landing in Melbourne, I've noticed that I recognize many landmarks from your blog pics!

    I've really liked your every day posts with sunset pics from your balcony and the Great Barrie Reef one. This is on the top of my list.

    Now that I am here I find your blog as interesting as before and read every post. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Welcome to Melbourne-glad the blog has helped you out!

  7. 1. My name is Molly Brown and I live with Justin and Cindy, second cage on the left. If you see a yellow lab, that is not me. I am the brown one.
    2. My favorite blog post is any one that mentions me. I like to know that you are still missing me.
    3. My favorite picture was in your March 3, 2012 blog. It is the one where I am winning the fight with Mascot on the couch. I like it because I always win.
    4. I have been having this blog read to me since the beginning.
    5. My current owners read it to me twice a week.
    6. I want to know if the dogs bark with an accent in Australia. How many people own dogs? Are there dog parks or swimming pools that they have just for dogs? Are there vicious dogs that attack people in Australia. Do the police use dogs to track down criminals? Around here there is “Pet Supplies Plus” or “PetSmart.” What stores are over there? Lamb and Venison is the main meat in dog food here. Do they use kangaroo meat in the dog food over there?
    7. Come back to the States to visit me.
    8. I rule and Mascot drools.

    1. Molly!! To answer your questions, there are some beaches that are designated as off-leash areas for dogs. Yes, sometimes mean dogs attack people here too. I saw a dog at the airport checking for produce when we flew to Tasmania, but I'm not sure about the criminal thing. There aren't many bad people here! There are some pet stores, but no big chains. And I don't know what's in the food, because I don't buy it anymore since you're not with me. I would love to come visit you; we miss you so much. Be nice to Mascot and tell your Aunt Cindy and Uncle Justin hi for me!

  8. 1. I am Sue Dill, your mother, and I live with your awesome father in Holland, MI, USA.
    2. I enjoy all of them but I especially enjoy Aubree’s Observations. And I liked the blogs that we helped you write because we were with you!
    3. I loved the picture of you in your fascinator (Oct. 23, 2011). And the sunsets. And the Great Ocean Road. Well, I like them all, really.
    4. Since April 25, 2011
    5. Twice a day. Sometimes more. Yes, I’m obsessed.
    6. Your trip to New Zeeland. Our second visit. Maybe a post from Zack.
    7. Bungee jump, since you survived the Tough Mudder.
    8. You are an amazing writer and I so appreciate that you take the time to give us a glimpse of your life in the Land Down Under.

    1. Mom, you ARE obsessed! Hopefully now that you're subscribed, you'll get notifications when there are new posts, so you won't have to check it thirty times a day. You're probably responsible for 20,000 of our nearly 30,000 hits, aren't you? If Zack ever stops working, I'll try to get him to do a post.

  9. 1. I am Ray Dill, father, and co-founder of the Aubree (Dill) Keys Fan Club. I live in Holland, MI.
    2. I enjoyed reliving our Aussie vacation via the various posts; but, I also like the running commentary on your daily life and experiences.
    3. I like the Tough Mudder pictures. I am jealous and envious.
    4. I have been a reader since the blog's inception.
    5. I check the blog 2-3 times a week.
    6. I look forward to pictures of your New Zealand walks
    7. One thing you need to do . . . you obviously need to bungee jump!! I understand there is a place near Queenstown that has four different jumps and you get a shirt indicating you have done them all.
    8. It is great to keep up with your life via the blog "diary". Keep it up!

    1. Hi Dad! You know they have Tough Mudder events in the United States-do one! And yes, we will definitely bungee jump in New Zealand. I'm not sure about four different jumps though, unless you're funding this adventure!

  10. 1. Who are you, and where do you live?
    Hi Aubree! It's Kelly Koster (old friend)....still here in Holland, MI

    2. What has been your favorite blog post, and why?
    Really hard to pick one. I really enjoy your observations about Australia because they are so interesting to me. I also enjoyed reading about everything your family did when they visited because it was so fun to imagine you all in Australia together having the time of your lives. I loved hearing about the great barrier reef.

    3. What is your favorite picture on this blog, and why?
    Probably the landscape shots along the ocean because they are so breathtaking, and also the night shot of luna park with the fireworks from your Australia day post.

    4. How long have you been a reader of this blog?
    Ever since you started the blog!

    5. How often do you check or read this blog?
    Whenever google reader lets me know there's a new post.

    6. What are some topics you'd like to see covered in upcoming blog posts?
    How your teaching/subbing is going...I know you wrote a bit about this, but I'd love to hear more about the education system over there.

    7. What is one thing that you think Zack and/or I should be sure to do before our second year Australia-versary?
    You guys are so crazy adventurous I think you need to take advantage of Australia's love of extreme sports and try zorbing or some other crazy thing I would never do. ;)

    8. Anything else you'd like to share? Compliments, bribes, etc. are all accepted. :)
    I am in awe that you were able to uproot your life and move half way around the world. Not just anyone can do that. I get nervous on a flight to florida, let alone Australia. I am one who likes my comfort zone and can't even imagine doing what you have done. It is amazing!!! I just love to see all the fun things you would have never experienced had you not taken this leap and it makes me want to take more chances like that in life too. Happy one year anniversary in Australia!!

    1. Hey Kelly! I haven't been getting a ton of teaching positions lately, but when the term starts to pick up, I'm sure I'll have more stories to share. I had never heard of zorbing but just looked it up and it looks awesome! And yeah, sometimes I can't believe I uprooted my life like that either. Great to hear from you-thanks for reading!

  11. My name is Cindy and I live in Wyoming, Michigan. I share my couch with two adorable dogs and one silly husband.

    I am not sure I can pick one favorite blog from the over 150 entries you have posted. I really enjoy the blogs explaining unique Australian holidays, but also enjoy reading about how you have adapted American traditions while in Australia. Before visiting Australia, I enjoyed your observation blogs because they helped me prepare and look forward to my visit. Of course, I also enjoy all the entries from my time in Australia because it was an amazing trip of a lifetime and I want to come back!

    My favorite pictures are from Uluru and all the waterfalls the rain created since there aren’t many pictures out there of Uluru in the rain.

    I have followed the blog since it was created because I have to keep Molly up to date on what is going on around the world with both of you.

    I usually read entries from my email in the morning while eating breakfast. When it is slow at work, I usually stop on by to read comments or post some of my own.

    I would like to see a post from Zack about his kiteboarding/kite surfing experience (if he was able to do it this summer with all time he seems to be at work!)

    Before your second Australia-versary, you should go on a hot air balloon ride. It would be worth every penny (even though pennies don’t exist in Australia)

    Molly misses you and sends her love and kisses. We also taught Molly to catch a Frisbee, she is getting better every time!

    1. Zack decided he didn't want to do the kiteboarding, because he thinks that the water in St Kilda Bay is nasty and that he would turn green or grow a third eye or something. Wimp! A hot air balloon is definitely on my bucket list-maybe in New Zealand? Give Molly a big hug for us!

  12. 1. I am Morgan, your favoritest sister in Santa Cruz, CA
    2. I enjoy seeing the different plants and animals
    3. My favorite pictures are either me...with a koala, or all of our Uluru waterfall pictures
    4. I started reading it right away, duh!
    5. I check it whenever it says something new has happened
    6. I want you to go visit my adopted koala :)
    7. Spend time in Western Australia with the geological amazingness happening there
    8. See you soon.... :)

    1. Morgan, are you planning to visit?

    2. Three words: Working Holiday Visa.

  13. 1. Hey! I'm Pam and I live in the DC area, but I just moved here from Guam last month.
    2. I love everything that I've read so far! We visited Cairns, Sydney, and Melbourne in January and I was Australia sick as soon as we got on the plane back to Guam. Thus began google searches for Australia blogs. =)
    3. Again, I love anything that gives me a glimpse at life in Australia. =)
    4. Since January!
    5. It's in my google reader, so whenever you post!
    6. I'd love a day in the life post. Wondering if your routine is similar to what it was back in the states.
    7. I'm not sure what all you've done since I'm a newish reader, but my favorite thing in Melbourne and the main reason we went was the Australia Open.
    8. Love your blog! My husband's job doesn't exist in Australia so I have to live vicariously through you. =)

    1. Hi Pam! Good idea on the "day in the life" post; I'll do that for sure. We had a great time at the Australian Open too. Thanks for reading!

  14. 1. Hi Aubree, I am Danielle Forte and live in Boulder, Colorado
    2. I've enjoyed many of your posts but especially like your Observations of Australia. They crack me up and make me appreciate the subtle differences between our two cultures that can turn out to be monumental when you're dealing with them. (e.g. having to bring ketchup to a restaurant b/c otherwise they would charge you for it! so funny!)
    3. My favorite picture is of you jumping on the shore of the beach across from your apartment during sunset when you first moved in there. You look so happy and carefree - like you're really soaking it all in.
    4. Ever since day 1
    5. Every week or so, or more if I'm not bogged down with school work.
    6. I'd love to hear about people and their pets in Australia vs. the states and your take on this.
    7. I don't know Australia that well, so I would say whatever one thing you both are dying to do, but have been putting off for one reason or another.
    8. Keep it coming, Aubree. I love living vicariously through your posts! Also, I'm a POOR GRADUATE STUDENT who is in need of a pick-me-up care package from Australia to get me through finals. :D (how's that for a bribe/guilt-trip? I know the guilt works on us Catholics!) tee hee.

    1. Hi Danielle! Nice guilt trip-glad you're enjoying the blog. :)

  15. (I know I'm past your deadline, but posting anyways)
    1. Nathan, Denver, CO
    2. All of the "Observations About Australia" posts, highly interesting and well written
    3. Uluru in the Rain. Sunsets happen daily, not as frequently as waterfalls down a huge red rock in the desert.
    4. Since you left CO
    5. Every week or two
    6. Since I dont' have any Australian vacation plans in the foreseeable future: any observations/differences in your new area of the world, cutural, natural, geographic, language, anything that might be interesting (see #2)
    7. Explore other nearby parts of the world, there's lots of amazing places within a relatively short flight compared to flying from the states.
    8. Your organized gatherings, camping trips, soccer leadership (no offense to Jon) are missed here in CO. I hope you continue to enjoy your adventures abroad while the rest of us will surely enjoy reading about them.

    1. Hey Nathan-good to hear from you! Yeah, we definitely plan on hitting up New Zealand, Thailand, and hopefully Fiji within the next year. I miss Colorado!