“Is their way of living different from ours?”

That's the question many people asked me when I came back from a trip to Sydney.

Yes, the Aussies drive on the left of the road! I gasped every time our car took a turn, thinking we were going to hit the incoming traffic.

At first sight, Sydney may look like an American city. From New York, the Statue of Liberty greets the visitors. In Sydney, the Opera House is the world-known landmark. Other than that, the downtown big hotels, high-rises, MacDonald’s are everywhere.

The differences are not in the big cities appearances, but in the way the Aussies live. I noticed they were more laid-back. Work is not the main goal of their lives as it is for us. We were invited to dinner at three clubs. Apparently, it’s common practice to be members of clubs where you can enjoy drinks or dinner, play at the mini-casino, watch a show or a movie, or dance on a Saturday night. I never heard of similar clubs in the U.S.

In Sydney, the winter temperature is mild. Most Aussie houses don’t have heating or air-conditioning. If it’s too cold in winter, they use electrical heaters in the room where they sit. Remember that their winter months are June, July and August. I saw the laundry drying on ropes in the backyard. No dryer. They consider the sun and wind a healthier way to dry the laundry.

Food and clothes are more expensive than in the U.S. But the people I met dressed quite elegantly, spend a lot on their clothes and often eat out. Gasoline is outrageously expensive, $ 4/ gallon. Jewelry and luxury items, silver, gold, diamond, are almost twice as expensive as in the U.S. So how do the Aussies manage to live well, better than we do?

They have kangaroo, koala bear, austrich, and an awfully ugly pig-like animal (can't remember it's name).

And the Botanical Garden have the weirdest trees with swollen trunks.

I tasted and loved the Tim-Tam (chocolate wafers), vegemite (low-calorie yeast spread you eat on a buttered toast), Pavlova (a delicious almond and meringue cake).

The Aussies I met are more relaxed than my American compatriots. They don’t try to save for the future. They don’t need to. Their social security (I can’t remember what they call it) is by far better than ours. They have great health care plan, better fringe benefits, long maternity leaves, fantastic hospitals, easier public transportations (we used the train to downtown twice).

Mona Risk's BABIES IN THE BARGAIN is medical romance in the genre of ER and Gray's Anatomy and a bestselling romance at The Wild Rose Press. Also selling at Amazon.com, Fictionwise, Barnes&Noble,...


  1. Scarlet Pumpernickel // August 12, 2009 at 11:34 PM  

    Mona you pictures are lovely! What an interesting trip! We met a lovely couple from Australia this summer on our cruise. When I read your article I realize I had forgotten to send them a follow up email! Thanks for reminding me! Interesting about the health care and retirement. With all the discussions going on in America today about such issues, it's good to hear about Australia's successful programs. Thanks for a great informative post.

  2. Mary Marvella // August 13, 2009 at 1:31 AM  

    Mona, love the photos and your perspective on life in Australia. I've heard interesting things about the scenery and the people.


  3. Jianne Carlo // August 13, 2009 at 7:58 AM  

    I wish we had clubs like that up here! Wouldn't it be wonderful to have places like that to go to? I suspect these clubs are remanants of British Colonial rule.

    Lovely piece Mona, thanks for sharing,


  4. Judy // August 13, 2009 at 8:17 AM  

    Thanks, Mona, for a lovely snapshot of life in Sydney. Looks like you had fun!It's always interesting to me to see how others live. Thanks again.

  5. Barbara Monajem // August 13, 2009 at 8:45 AM  

    Heh. I think your pig-like animal may be a wombat. I would love to go to Australia and see the wildlife there.

    Thanks for the pics!

  6. Edie Ramer // August 13, 2009 at 9:28 AM  

    Love your pictures. I want to move to Austrailia! It sounds lovely. My CP lives in Perth.

  7. wendy // August 13, 2009 at 12:34 PM  

    Very interesting write up, Mona. And it's all true as this is my perception from the inside of the country. Some Australia's are way too laid back, and we rely on our immigrants to operate the business that have long hours such as food businesses like groceries and restaurants. We are, well, not exactly lazy, but I don't think some of us have the energy or motivation. There are many exceptions, of course.

    I live in a tiny country town that if it were any sleepier it'd have to be under some sleeping beauty kind of enchantment. It's very pretty between the bay and the bush, though.

  8. Cheryl // August 13, 2009 at 12:37 PM  

    LUCKY YOU, MONA!!! I have always wanted to go to Australia, and felt like if I did, I might never come back. LOL The people from there seem lovely and welcoming, and it's a place I have always wondered about and longed to visit. So glad you got to go! Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it!

  9. Mary Ricksen // August 13, 2009 at 1:03 PM  

    So if the Australian's can do health care, and all those other things, better than we can. We should take a page out of their book.
    Your travels have also taught me about places I will never see. Thanks Mona.!

  10. Mona Risk // August 13, 2009 at 1:41 PM  

    Scarlet, my husband has a lot of relatives there: his SIL, nephew and nieces, cousins and extended family. For a week we lived in an Aussie house and were hosted by Aussie people. We were not there as tourists. So it gave us a good insight on how they live and I found much more relaxing than our daily life.

  11. Mona Risk // August 13, 2009 at 1:45 PM  

    mary, I forgot to tell you about the school system. Kids have four months terms with several vacation breaks in between. At Christmas a month off. After their summer term , Jan, Feb, Mar, two weeks off, after their Fall term, one week off, and after their Winter term, July Aug Sept, one week off. There is no such thing as a two- month long summer break which suits working parents well.

  12. Mona Risk // August 13, 2009 at 1:47 PM  

    Jianne, I love their clubs. The food was good. Singles or widows/widowers can meet people. It's different from bars. More family oriented.

  13. Mona Risk // August 13, 2009 at 1:51 PM  

    Judy, as I said in a previous comment, it's the first time I traveled and had a chance to live like the locals. I even hung my laundry on ropes in the sun. It was dry in five minutes with the breeze and sunshine although the weather was relatively cold.

  14. Mona Risk // August 13, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

    Barbara, thanks for remind me of the name. My cute ugly pig is called a wombat. To tease me, my hubby's nieces gave me a stuffed wombat as a souvenir of our visit to the Wildlife Center.

  15. Mona Risk // August 13, 2009 at 1:55 PM  

    Cheryl, you'd love Australia. Yeah, their accent is adorable too.

  16. Mona Risk // August 13, 2009 at 1:57 PM  

    Mary, I am glad you can share my traveling from the comfort of your chair. Stay tune for more on my blog tonight, if things keep being stable with my Mom.

  17. Beth Trissel // August 13, 2009 at 4:03 PM  

    Fabulous Mona. You certainly are a world traveler. Love your pics.
    Thanks for being entertaining as well as informative.

  18. Nightingale // August 13, 2009 at 4:13 PM  

    Great photos and an interesting overview of Australia. I know you must have enjoyed the trip. Did you have friends there already?

  19. Joanne // August 13, 2009 at 4:41 PM  

    Wow, Mona, what an exciting trip. I had friends who traveled to Australia many years ago. It's a long trip--but what an experience. The schooling that you describe sounds a lot like the year round school they offer in Raleigh, NC.

  20. Celia Yeary // August 13, 2009 at 4:43 PM  

    MONA--I think I'll move to Australia.Your descriptions sound great--and fun. Celia

  21. Pamela Varnado // August 13, 2009 at 5:09 PM  

    I love reading and learning about other countries. It's interesting that many cultures take a more laid back approach to life. I think us Americans get caught up in the hustle and bustle of things too often.

    Love the pictures.

  22. Maggie Toussaint // August 13, 2009 at 5:48 PM  

    Hi Mona,
    I thoroughly enjoyed seeing your photos and hearing about the differences between cultures. I don't know as I will ever have the opportunity to travel to Australia, so it was lovely to experience it through your eyes.

    Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

  23. Autumn Jordon // August 13, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

    Sigh... One day. The pictures are awesome. Thanks for sharing a snapshot of the lives down under. It sounds like a wonderful way of life.

    AJ, who still hangs her laundry out.

  24. Mona Risk // August 13, 2009 at 10:26 PM  

    Thank you Edie, Wendy, Beth, Joanne, Linda, Celia, Pam, Maggie, Autumn for stopping by.

    Wendy It's interesting to hear an Aussie comment on m perception. I know my friend Margaret Tanner, an Aussie from Melbourne tried to post a comment but couldn't.

    Linda, my DH's brother and his family live there.

  25. Dayana // August 16, 2009 at 12:42 AM  

    Thank you for sharing your trip to Australia with us, Mona. I'm always interested in learning how people in other countries live day to day.

    The photos are lovely. And the information interesting. Thank you for sharing your perspective.


  26. Anonymous // August 19, 2009 at 9:16 PM  

    You'll find that the clubs are a purely New South Wales (a state) phenomenon).

    It's not true we don't work as hard as our compatriots in the US, we do it's just we don't believe that it's the be end and all of our lives.

    Most of our homes are heated or air conditioned depending where in the country you live.

    Our health system is based upon choice. Everyone pays 1.5% of their taxable income as a Medicare levy but they can take out private health cover and chose their Doctor and their Hospital.