Before I came to Australia, I imagined it as the Great Outback, with kangaroos aplenty hopping into the sunset. And surfers at the beach going "So where the bloody hell are ya?" or people greeting you "G'day mate!" as you walk past them on the street.
Of course as I slowly adapt to the Aussie way of life (I feel flattered when people assume that I've been here longer than my 10 months), I've found a lot of the stereotypes to be untrue. I haven't heard anyone use the word "bloody" but I've heard and uttered many "Hey how's it going?"s.
But what really struck me the most is just how massive Australia is- it's about the size of China (or half the size of Russia) and I remember one weekend when E and I drove about 1000 km down the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool and back, feeling like we've gone to the end of the world but realizing that we've barely moved on the map at all!
Because of the geography and history of the continent, it is also a megadiverse country, containing the majority of the world's species. This is a far cry from the concrete jungle I grew up in, and I love walking down the streets here and admiring the diversity of trees and foliage around me.
I am also endlessly fascinated by the native animals here, some of whom I have never ever heard of until I stepped foot in Australia! We all know the kookaburra, the kangaroo, the platypus, the koala and the wombat, but do you know about the echidna, the lyrebird, the quokka or the dingo?
Our first stop in Ballarat had to to be the Ballarat Wildlife Sanctuary Park because I saw pictures of visitors interacting with the kangaroos on the website and I decided that I had to play tourist at last once.
By the end of our afternoon there, I was ready to bring a kangaroo home! Until E broke my heart by informing me that it would be illegal.
Nonetheless, we took plenty of photos to remember the day by.
You can view the slideshow of all our photos from the Wildlife Sanctuary here!