A day full of adventure! Including a train strike; car accident in our taxi; testing negative for Covid (again); swimming at Coogee Beach with 3-continent friends; trying potato scallops with chicken salt; drinking schooners of Furphy and Hahns; a welcome package with vegemite squeezy, Tim Tams, "shapes" crackers, and boogie boards; and crashing for 12+ hours.
Upon arrival, we had to make our way through customs (on the first official day that the borders were back open - there were a lot of people). As we gathered our baggage, a local newspaper photographer took our photograph and asked us how it felt to be coming into the country now that the borders were open again. We said we were thrilled!
That day there was a major train strike in New South Wales, so transportation options were limited. We took a taxi - the first our kids had ever been in - and our youngest son immediately made friends with our driver, Parminder (for real - he's incredibly friendly and genuine, makes friends everywhere he goes). On the way to our place in Randwick (a trip that cost $116 Australian from the airport!), we were in a minor car accident that involved 4 vehicles on the highway when there was a sudden stop. Thankfully no one was injured, and the damage to vehicles wasn't too bad.
We made it to our AirBnB, but they were still cleaning it up after the previous guests and weren't ready for us to check in yet. Thankfully, they let us drop off our luggage and change quickly. We did a rapid covid test and all came back negative again (a requirement of the NSW government), so we were cleared to leave the house.
We met up with our friends Beth and Amy who happened to be in Australia for one final day. They're Australian, but Beth did her postdoc with us at ASU in 2019-2021 and is now working at the University of Exeter in England. They were in Aus visiting family, and we were glad to get to see them before they headed back off the continent again! They took us to Coogee Beach to show us all the good spots and where we all had a swim (or at least waded in 😂) and had some good food and drinks.
Beth & Amy also dropped off a welcome package from my friend/UNSW collaborator and host Kristy Martire. She gifted us boogie boards, vegemite squeezy, Tim Tams, reusable tote (useful!), “shapes” crackers, roll-on sunscreen, & cute little “I love Australia” pencil packs that the boys love. Shapes crackers come in lots of flavors: pizza, barbeque, salt and vinegar, fried chicken, sour cream and onion, cheese and bacon, cheese, and more.
After blissful showers, we gratefully poured ourselves into bed at about 7pm and slept hard through the night, with all of us sleeping 12+ hours.
Tess M.S. Neal
Sharing my sabbatical adventure in Australia with my partner and our two young boys. We are staying in Sydney for 4 months on a Fulbright Scholar Award.