Thursday, September 30, 2010


Tuesday was my 31st birthday.  The above picture is from before going out to dinner on Wednesday.  Ben had to work on my birthday so we went out the day after to Hallam's Waterfront.  The pants and shirt I am wearing were sent to me from Sarah and Hannah.  Thanks girls!  We had a great dinner.  We started with half a dozen oysters with different toppings.  One was a three cheese topping, one was deep fried oyster with wasabi mayo and one was topped with ginger and shallots.  I had crumbed trevalla for my main which was a mild flavored white fish.  Ben had a seafood pasta dish with pink fish and mussels.  We also shared a fennel panzanella salad with raspberry dressing.  We had a butterscotch and Bailey's ice cream parfait for dessert.  We want to come back to this restaurant for lunch sometime because it overlooks the river and since it was dark we weren't able to see much of it at dinner. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Aussie Coffee and Tea

We've found that Australians really like their coffee and tea.  Every hotel we have stayed in here has had a full tea service in the room with an electric kettle, tea cups and saucers, and a variety of tea bags.  The electric kettle is neat because you just fill it with water, plug it in, and the water is hot in just a minute or so rather than putting a tea kettle on the stove top. 

The coffee is different than what we are used to because Australians do not brew their coffee and the drinks are all espresso based instead.  If you want to make coffee at home, your options are instant or to use a french press, also called a plunger here.  We have been using a french press at home but when we are out and Ben wants his typical black coffee he orders a long black which is a double shot of espresso mixed with hot water.  A flat white is a shot of espresso with steamed milk and no froth.  I order cafe lattes which are the same as a flat white but with foam.  There is also a coffee flavored milk drink sold cold in the grocery stores in cardboard milk cartons.

When we are home having coffee or tea we have been enjoying these Koala cookies:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Long Walk and Culinary Adventures

We had a great walk today along the North Esk river (it joins the South Esk to create the Tamar River in the center of town).  We walked about 1.4 miles, then reached the Heritage Forest park, and came back to the car along Invermay Road.  All told, we totalled almost 4 miles.

After our barbecue with friends over the weekend, we decided to extend our culinary adventures and try grilling kangaroo at home.  Our grocer had fillets marinated in "Bush Plum."  The steaks turned out excellent, very tender with a good flavor.  It was a little smoky, somewhere between beef and venison.

I did some research on kangaroo meat, and it has an interesting history.  There are no farms in the country.  Instead, the government has a program for culling to keep the wild population in check.  The meat is very lean with only 2% fat, and high in linoleic acid (which is supposedly good for you).  Interestingly, 70% of the meat is exported.  Next on the list is "kanga bangas" (sausages)!

First Shift

I had my first shift yesterday.  Our house is only a short 10-minute walk from the hospital--what a nice commute!  I met up with the director at 8am and met the registrars and students that were on for the day.  After an orientation to the department and computer system, I started seeing patients and supervising the registrars.

Interns and junior registrars are expected to go over patients more thouroughly with the consultant (me) than more senior registrars.  The senior registrars often see patients and figure out what to do with them on their own.  This is different than the States where every patient has to be seen and examined by the attending.  There are more registrars than I had in Chicago, so I don't need to see as many patients on my own.

Thankfully, the medicine is the same in Tasmania as it is in the States.  (We're all the same species!)  Most of the challenges will be process issues (How do I get this done?).  Another challenge is different names and availability of medications.  For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not available.  Instead, a related drug call paracetamol is used.

Overall, a pretty good day.  I'll be working eight 10-hour shifts per fortnight, so it shouldn't take to long to get up to speed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kangaroo on the Barbie

Today we drove out to Lilydale (about 30 minutes away) for our first Australian BBQ.  We went to the home of a couple that a contact from the hospital knows and thought we would like to meet. Two other couples also came over that were friends of theirs.  One of the couples had an adorable 7 or 8 month old baby boy.  They have a gorgeous place on 3.5 acres with multiple ponds, sheep, chickens, and even a playtpus in the pond which we didn't get to see because they are very shy.  We had shish kabobs, potato salad, green salad, and a choice of meat including lamb, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, and kangaroo!  Ben and I both tried the kangaroo and it was delicious!  It was like a tender beef steak with a very mild flavor and was marinated in a BBQ sauce.  It was a beautiful day and we were able to sit out on their deck and look out over their property while eating.  It was fun to be around Australians and we may get together with them next Saturday for Australia's version of the Super Bowl, the AFL (Aussie Rules Football) Grand Final if Ben doesn't have to work. 

Friday, September 17, 2010


After many delays, my license has been approved.  The visa was finalized last week, so I'm now eligible to work.  I'll have my first shift in the ED at Launceston General Hospital on Monday morning.


Here are a few pictures from our walk around Hobart.  The city was founded in 1803 as a penal colony.  This makes Hobart the second-oldest city in Australia.  Hobart was founded after the British became worried about French explorers in the area.  The city is founded at the mouth of the Derwent river, giving Hobart an excellent natural harbor.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Aurora Australis

We took a nice walk around Hobart and the harbor today.  We came across the Aurora Australis, an icebreaker in the Australian Antarctic Division.

Hobart is the second-busiest port in Australia (behind Sydney) and is the base for Australia's Antarctic research.  The research currently focuses on four areas:  Ice, ocean, atmosphere, and climate; Southern Ocean ecosystems; Adaptation to environmental change; and Impact of human activities in Antarctica.

The Aurora Australis is named after the southern version of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).  It's a huge ship that can carry 2-3 helicopters, desalinize 45,000 litres of water per day, and break through 1.5 metres of ice.  Quite a ship!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh no: Oprah!

As I'm sure most of you have heard, Oprah announced on her season premiere that she is taking the audience to Australia!  We left Chicago to get away from Oprah and now she is following us.:)  She is going to tape her show at the Sydney Opera House and the tourism industry here is of course thrilled with all of the publicity. 

In other news, we are currently in Hobart about 2.5 hours from Launceston.  Hobart is Tasmania's capital.  We are staying here for two nights.  We are here because Ben has a meeting tomorrow regarding his medical license.  This is part of the process for him to begin working. 

Reading a great book right now called, "A Town Like Alice."  It is by Nevil Shute and was published in 1950.  A lot of the story takes place in Australia and is about a girl going to Australia after World War II to find an Australian soldier she met while a prisoner of the Japanese during the war.  My friend Marissa recommended it to me and I was able to find a copy of it in one of the second hand bookstores in Launceston.  New books are very expensive in Australia so I plan on shopping at the second hand shops and getting a library card while here. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kings Bridge Walk

We've been on the lookout for new running trails for Leigh.  Parts of the city are too steep for regular running, so we're searching for relatively flat paths.  Thankfully, this often means the trails are near the river and very scenic.  This walk was along the north bank of the South Esk River and connects to Cataract Gorge Reserve.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hanging Out


Not much to report, we've just been hanging around our new place for the last couple of days and I've had some good runs around town.  Ben even got to watch the Saints/Vikings NFL game.  They showed it here yesterday morning.  Tonight we are going out to dinner and to a movie and tomorrow will be church and going to meet a couple that our contact at the hospital thought we would get along with and like to meet.  We found out yesterday that our visas went through.  In the next week or so Ben will probably be going to Hobart for an interview and then will start working soon after that.  You may have noticed the slideshow of pictures at the top of the blog.  I'm working on trying to figure out how to make the pictures bigger and to add more pictures to it.  If you click on the pictures it will take you to flickr where you can see the pictures bigger.  Also wanted to say Happy Birthday to our sister Hannah! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010


We saw "The Cheesecake Shop" right around the corner from us and our new friends from church told us how good the cheesecakes were so Ben and I walked over there yesterday and look what we got:
The top half is a strawberry glazed baked cheesecake which is a traditional thick cheesecake and the bottom half is a lemon continental cheesecake which is lighter and fluffier in texture.  It could be dangerous having this place so close to our house.:)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Election Update

The Labor Party has managed to form a minority government after three independents sided with Labor rather than with the Coalition.

To recap, Australians elected 73 Coalition members and 72 Labor members to the 150-seat House of Representatives.  Over the past 2+ weeks the two major parties have negotiated with 4 independents and 1 Green party member to enable them to form a minority government.  The Green member and 3 of the independents signed a confidence and supply agreement with Labor enabling them to reach 76 seats and form a government.

This makes Julia Gillard the prime minister and the first female PM elected to office in Australia.  It also creates a somewhat fragile power balance which may mean Australia could hold another national election before the expiration of the three-year term.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tasmanian Devils

Today we finally got to see some Tasmanian devils after being in Tasmania for almost 3 weeks.  We went to the Tasmania Zoo.  It was in a very rustic setting several kilometers outside of town and had tons of different animals.  There were over 70 different exhibits including lots of different birds, quolls, a wombat, monkeys, wedge tail eagles (Australia's largest bird of prey), blue penguins, eastern grey kangaroos, red-necked wallabies, and of course Tasmanian Devils.  We got to see the Tasmanian Devils feeding and the penguins too. 
A Tasmanian Devil - isn't she cute?

Or just scary?

We even got to pet one! 

Baby Emu


Monday, September 6, 2010

Tassie Hospitality

We found a church to try yesterday called Door of Hope.  It is a large church that is in an old factory.  The service was good and we were surprised to see the pastor from Willow Creek in Chicago, Bill Hybels, in a video clip advertising for a Global Leadership Summit.  After the service we met a man who lived in the Chicago area for six months, is a doctor, and his wife works for Willow Australia.  Turns out Bill Hybels has been to Launceston a few times to speak.  Small world!  The man invited us over to his house for lunch.  We felt like we were going to be intruding because it was Father's Day here yesterday and it was going to be a Father's Day lunch but he said we were more than welcome.  We had a great time meeting his family and talking about Chicago and the differences between Australia and the States.  He told us a cute story about when they first lived in Chicago and woke up to a lot of snow.  They sent the kids off to school but soon after the kids were back home because it was a snow day.  They didn't know anything about snow days since it doesn't really snow in Australia.  It was a great afternoon and we are going to go back to the church on Sunday in part because we enjoyed the service and style of worship, but also because we were made to feel so welcome.  It just goes to show what a difference it makes to reach out to newcomers at church. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010


We've been enjoying passionfruit while in Australia. Rarely seen in the States (except Hawaii), the passionfruit is commonly used here. We've seen it in yogurt, ice cream, fruit juices, and several desserts. It's also used in a soft drink called Passiona.

The passion fruit has a tart, citrus-like flavor and is filled with small seeds which add crunchy texture to the fruit.  It got its name by New World missionaries who used various parts of the plant and fruit as religious symbols.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Australian Lingo

We've come across some interesting lingo in the month we've been in Australia so far.  Here are some of our favorites:

capsicum-bell pepper
trolley-grocery cart
cuppa-cup of coffee or tea
fresh-chilly outside
take away-take out or food to go
tasty cheese-cheddar cheese
good on you-good for you, good job
no worries-it's all good
tomato sauce-ketchup

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We moved into our new place today and it is gorgeous! Bigger and nicer than our place in Chicago, without the amazing view of the Chicago River, Navy Pier, and Lake Michigan of course.:) Here are some pictures:
Our room
Living Room
Guest Room

Bathroom/Laundry Room