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This day in 1985 … I had been in Melbourne for a couple of weeks, staying with friends, relaxing, catching up and enjoying the holiday mood.

My first impressions of Australia ? …..

In my journal I wrote about the clear blue skies, the space, wide streets, the trees, the temperatures, sunshine, 29 degrees, but then chilly the next day at only 19 degrees. The weather changes within hours.

Houses were mainly detached single storey buildings in reasonable sized wrap around gardens, often with verandahs. They all had fly screens at the doors and windows. Back gardens were secluded, with barbeques and covered patio areas. There were lemon trees in the gardens, with fruit on them.

(Remember this is a twenty something English girl writing this, who had only travelled to Europe a couple of times.)

I was taken to Healesville Sanctuary and I saw my first real life koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, dingoes and possums. We went to lovely gardens up in the hills, with lakes and black swans. We had picnics on the banks of the Yarra River, we had lots of barbecues in the back yard. We visited the Mornington Peninsular, beaches and stunning views.

I went sightseeing in the city, trams, art galleries, Fitzroy Gardens, Cooks Cottage, I enjoyed walking around.

I relaxed with my friends and their kids, went swimming, to the movies. I enjoyed browsing the shops, comparing and getting used to new concepts of milk bar and drive in bottle shops.

There were 5 tv channels, four of them commercial channels. ABC seemed relatively familiar, one channel showed mostly ethnic and foreign language films. The other three had so many adverts. Programmes like MASH or Happy Days were shown every day, with a few minutes show, then ad break even before the opening credits. So many ad breaks.

Album charts this month included Madonna, Wham, Sade, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Duran Duran, Alison Moyet, Paul McCartney and Lionel Richie.

Films of the time – Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Indiana Jones

Meanwhile, Western Europe was covered in snow. Rome had first snow in fourteen years. I was happy to be in Australia and not struggling through the snow in London to get to work.

I was enjoying my first January summer and making plans for the coming months. I loved Australia from my first hours in the country. Little did I know that it was the beginning of a life long connection. It was different, exciting, beautiful but had the comfort of the English language.

One thing I need to mention from the flight that I didn’t cover in the previous gap year post….
“Oh, and the toilets in Dubai airport, genuine stand up and aim ones, with special tiles for your feet position. Amazing.” (I’ve obviously come across these several times since, including our bank offices in India, but it seems I was quite amused by my first encounter.)

favourite place