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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Happy Australia Day Staycation

Happy Australia Day. This weekend we were finally able to get back into staycations and we "traveled" to Melbourne, Sydney, and Bondi Beach. It was a whole thing. I have been wanting to do Australia for quite a while, so when I saw that Australia Day was January 26th, I figured this was the month to do it. So, let's talk about it!

Happy Australia Day. This weekend we were finally able to get back into staycations and we "traveled" to Melbourne, Sydney, and Bondi Beach.

I, honestly, didn't do any research on Australia Day, but then I felt kind of bad, because it's right up there with Columbus Day and that sucks. Not only did the Dutch come and take over part of Australia, the Brits came later and also declared that they discovered it and completely colonized it and named a day after it. Um...that's not how discovering something works, but whatever. The decent part is that each Australia Day, people who celebrate also acknowledge the native people and give thanks for the land. And, unlike Columbus Day, they include all the nationalities of people who make up Australia, not just that one white guy who got lost and stumbled upon land he wasn't looking for. (Hurray for Indigenous Peoples Day!)

So, yeah. While it's not the best holiday, I learned some stuff and was still glad that I had a banner and did it for January. Back to the rest of this staycation.

I wanted a little bit of everything, so I had a Sydney Harbour backdrop made and then also picked up a backdrop of Bondi Beach, because when I think of Australia, I think of surfing and the Sydney Opera House. So, we had a great view of the harbor and an iconic landmark. I set my table with a luminary that I used as a vase for eucalyptus stems that I picked up in The Spot at Target. On another trip there, I found some outback animals: a platypus, kangaroo, and koala. I also found an adorable rattlesnake of some kind, which I am using for something else, but thought it would make a good home with these other animals. 

I wanted a very natural feel to my table, so I threw on a rust-colored tablecloth and served food on recycled wheat straw plates that I paired with my favorite yellow cloth napkins. A packet of Wiley Wallaby licorice candies and a mini bottle of 19 Crimes wine completed the tablescape. (If you like flavored licorice, you'll enjoy these candies probably. Eric and I both thought they were gross. I probably should have bought some Marmite for toast instead.)

I debated on whether I should make food or if I would even find anything that I could make that wasn't rack of lamb, but went with a local hand pie shop that was the closest I could come to true Australian fare around here. We got a good variety of things and all of them were pretty hearty: 

Cottage pie (shepherd's pie, but with beef), lamb pot pie, curry pasty, and sausage roll. I thought everything was tasty. I don't generally eat sausage, but all of these meat products are locally sourced and high quality, so I pretended I was on actual vacation and tried it all. The sausage was pretty spicy to me. Eric said it wasn't, but I told him his tongue was broken. 

While we ate, we watched the 2020 Australia Day parade in Melbourne. For having so many people, the parade seemed kind of sparse, and I'm not sure there were a ton of people in attendance, but it could be that tourists there aren't loud and obnoxious like they are here. It started with a tradition by the Australian Air Force and then much of the rest was just people walking in groups. There were a few floats, but not many. It lasted 30 minutes and then we moved on to learning more about Australia Day and the history of the country itself. 

We moved on to dessert, while we enjoyed a nice cruise on Sydney Harbour. I had picked up a slice of bourbon hazelnut pie (kind of like a boozy pecan pie, but hazelnuts) and Anzac cookies, a traditional biscuit made from rolled oats. The cookies were perfectly sweet and not at all tooth-shattering like I assumed they might be. The outside is crunchy and the rest is soft. It's kind of a perfect non-chocolate cookie. I also really liked the pie, but Eric wasn't into it, so I had a whole piece to myself. 

We watched a regular harbor cruise for tourists that was beautiful, but also really hard to hear, because the boat engine, and then one of a family who was taking a 4-day boat getaway on their own. It's like if your family wanted to go camping...except on a boat. They made all their own food and stopped to take advantage of showers and whatnot. We got to see quite a lot more from a different perspective and then got the inside scoop of where to stop and sightsee. 

At some point, we may revisit Australia and do a walking tour of Sydney and/or Melbourne, because the country has so much to see and we basically did a mini hop around to get a little taste of everything on a holiday. You could totally make a whole weekend out of an Australia staycation: one day for Melbourne, one for Sydney, and maybe one for Brisbane or the Outback to learn about the native people. It can be both fun and educational, especially if you're doing it with kids.  

Watch some surfing competitions, take some undersea voyages with scuba divers off the Great Barrier Reef, go on a safari to see all the cool (and sometimes terrifying) wildlife, or celebrate Anzac Day - a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served" - that takes place in April. 

More ways to say g'day, mate to an Australian staycation:

I hope your staycation is bonzer! (that means great or cool) Even though we can't go there right now, and it's one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips, we can plan and we can do the next best thing. What has your favorite staycation been so far?

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