Breweries on the Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Our beer tasting adventure around the world continues with a tour of the breweries on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula! Mornington Peninsula is southeast of Melbourne and is known for its beautiful beach views, nature hikes, and wineries. It is the perfect weekend getaway from the urban life of Melbourne, and the ideal setting for our first community brewery tour. So grab a glass and settle in for a trip to the Mornington Peninsula breweries!

Mornington Peninsula Breweries

A map of the Mornington Peninsula Breweries with pictures and labels: Hickinbotham of Dromana, Jetty Road Brewery, Mornington Peninsula Brewery, Red Hill Brewery, St Andrews Beach Brewery - The Places We Live

Hickinbotham of Dromana

Hickinbotham of Dromana. Dromana VIC Australia. Fireplaces with a paddle of five beer tasters in the foreground ranging from light to dark. - The Places We Live World Beer

Hickinbotham of Dromana is definitely more of a winery than a brewery. The restaurant is surrounded by farmland and vineyards, complete with lawn games and farm animals. The restaurant is upscale with lovely decor, white tablecloths, and quality cuisine. However, it is also family friendly; when we were there, we saw parents out playing with their children, and what we think was a toddler birthday party.

As part of our Mornington Peninsula breweries adventure, we ordered an $11 USD paddle. It came with five 100 ml tasters from a good sized collection of prize winning brews. We tried the Hix Summer/Aussie Pale Ale, Pilsener, Pale Ale, Wheat Beer, and Irish Stout. All of the beer received our top marks, but the Summer Ale in particular was amazing! We even purchased a $7 USD “stubby” (bottle) to take home and it was just as delicious a few days later. Josh and I both agreed that the Hix Summer/Aussie Pale Ale is one of the best brews we have ever had. So yummy!

Address: 194 Nepean Hwy, Dromana VIC 3936, Australia [MAP]

Phone: +61 03 59 810355

Hours: Wed-Mon 11AM-5PM

Links: WebsiteFacebookInstagram

Learn more about where and how we lived for FREE on the peninsula.

Jetty Road Brewery

Jetty Road Brewery, Dromana, VIC Australia. Four glass tasters stand in a line: two light colored, one brown, and one cider. The Places We Live World Beer

Jetty Road Brewery is tucked away in an industrial zone, which is one of my favorite styles for a brewery. The slogan at JRB is “By Locals, For Locals” and they seem to be living up to that, with a laid-back, blue collar feel, mixed with an upscale hipster decor. It definitely had the feel of a neighborhood hang out spot for those with an appreciation for fine food and good beer.

We ordered the $11 (USD) paddle of four tasters. Each paddle comes with the Pale Ale, Amber Ale, IPA, and a choice of either the Northern English Brown or Apple Cider. We selected the cider, which was crisp and delicious, but I think we should have had the brown instead. The beers were all quite tasty, but the pale ale stood out above the rest. Of the Mornington Peninsula breweries, Jetty Road’s collection seemed to have a bit more carbonation, giving their beers a nice, crisp flavor. I also wish I had ordered food because their farm-to-kitchen menu looked amazing!

Address: 12-14 Brasser Ave, Dromana VIC 3926, Australia [MAP]

Phone: +61 03 59 872754

Hours: Thu 4PM – 9PM, Fri & Sat 12PM – 11PM, Sun 12PM – 9PM

Links: WebsiteFacebookInstagram

♦ Planning your own beer tasting adventure? Give these a try! ♦

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Mornington Peninsula Brewery

We weren’t able to visit all of the Mornington Peninsula breweries, and in an unfortunate twist of fate, the one we missed is actually named “Mornington Peninsula Brewery”. However, we did pick up a selection of their beer from the local bottle shop, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The brewery is located in the city of Mornington, at the Northern end of the shire. They have a large selection of brews which are distributed widely across the country.

It’s a shame we weren’t able to visit in person, because the Brewery Bar looks amazing! Their kitchen specializes in wood-fired pizza, complimented by a selection of Mornington Peninsula wines (in addition to their beer, of course). Check out their website for specials and a schedule of live music events.

Address: 72 Watt Road, Mornington VIC 3931, Australia [MAP]

Phone: +61 03 59 763663

Hours: Thu & Fri 3PM – 11PM, Sat 12PM – late, Sun 12PM – 7PM

Links: Website

Check out our world beer adventure in CHINA.

Red Hill Brewery

Red Hill Brewery. Red Hill South, VIC Australia. Menu next to a line of half empty beer tasters. The Places We Live World Beer

Our tour of the Mornington Peninsula Breweries continues with a trip to Red Hill Brewery. The city of Red Hill is surrounded by rolling hills, windy roads, and their famous vineyards, perfect for cruising with the top down on a sunny day. Just past the Red Hill Vineyard lies the collection of buildings which houses Red Hill Brewery and their attached restaurant… which specializes in American Southern food. These guys know the key to my heart.

We ordered a $9 USD paddle that came with four 130ml tasters. The paddle included their Golden Ale, Pilsner, A Crazy American Lost in Belgium, and Red Bike Session IPA. My favorite was the Golden Ale, but I really enjoyed the unique flavoring of the Belgian. It was described as a fruity and yeasty Belgian that was “dangerously hopped” with USA-style hops. We also grabbed some Mac n’Cheese and cornbread to compliment our liquid treats, and were not disappointed. Red Hill was the smallest location we visited, but they are punching above their weight when it comes to delivering great food and drink.

Address: 88 Shoreham Rd, Red Hill South VIC 3937, Australia [MAP]

Phone: +61 03 59 892959

Hours: Thu – Sun 11AM – 6PM

Links: Website Facebook Instagram Twitter

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St. Andrews Beach Brewery

St Andrews Beach Brewery. Fingal, VIC Australia. Front page of the menu next to a labeled beer tasting paddle with four full glasses. The Places We Live World Beer

If I lived here, St. Andrews Beach Brewery is absolutely the kind of place I would take my friends on every sunny weekend. It is located on the grounds of an old horse racing stable, with 92 acres of tracks that have been turned into gardens and farmland. The restaurant gates let into the open-air stables that have been refitted with tables, lighting, and televisions. I could have easily spent all day there… and nearly did. As it was raining during our visit, we opted to enjoy our brews inside next to the fire.

St Andrews Beach Brewery. Fingal VIC Australia. Nice quality picnic benches with umbrellas sit on a green lawn. In the background, horse stables have been converted to intimate dining rooms with chairs, tables, and flat screen tvs. The Places We Live World Beer

For our Mornington Peninsula breweries adventure, we ordered the $9 USD paddle that included four pre-set tasters. The set included their 6 Furlongs Pale Ale, The Strapper Australian Lager, Box 54 Golden Ale, and Race Day Pilsner. I appreciated that each brew had a unique logo and name; it shows that the brewer really took some time and care with each one. It’s a simple, professional touch that blended well with the overall atmosphere. Our favorite was the Pilsner, which had a nice, crisp flavor with just the right amount of hoppy bitterness.

Address: 160 Sandy Rd, Fingal VIC 3939, Australia [Map]

Phone: +61 03 59 886854

Hours: Mon – Thu 12PM – 5PM, Fri 12PM – 7PM, Sat & Sun 11AM – 7PM

Links: Website Facebook Instagram

Wrapping Up

And thus concludes our tour of the Mornington Peninsula breweries! All in all, we had a great time exploring the local beer culture and getting the chance to spend some time mixing it up with the locals. We found the people of the peninsula to be warm and inviting, and had a great time at each and every stop along the way. If you’re planning to visit the area, you would do well to plan some extra time for exploring the booming beer scene on the Mornington Peninsula.

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Mornington Peninsula Breweries - The Places We Live Jetty Road Brewery Pin Hickinbotham of Dromana Pin

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RTW Travel Budget – May 2018

Around The World Travel Budget

There seem to be a bazillion travel bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our around the world travel budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy this Australia travel budget!

Check out our full-time travel budgets from a different month. ♥

In our preparations for this ’round the world (RTW) trip, we assumed that we would not actually make much money for at least a full year. So, the plan for this first year was to evenly spread out our savings. This left us with $200 USD per week on one year of RTW adventure for two.

May 2018 Travel Budget

For the most part, this has been a very suitable around the world travel budget. As our travel “careers” develop, we hope to keep the budget as is until we are able to break even in terms of money spent versus money made. We are slowly building up our income and our social reach. Week Three of this month marked the first official time we relied entirely on my blog income and Josh’s creative writing income.

Jen’s Travel Career: I’m a Travel Blogger! ♥

May Travel

May RTW Budget - The Places We Live.png

The majority of the month of May was spent in Victoria, Australia. As we were a little late in purchasing tickets, I opted to save money by purchasing two separate flights. We got two flights from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur for $137. Then we stayed in a hotel near the airport in the town of Sepang, Malaysia for $13 per night. Finally, we purchased two tickets to Melbourne, Australia for $368.

Cost of Living for Two


  • Average Daily Food Cost = 36 MYR = $9 USD
    • Brunch- two entrees and two milk teas at a restaurant
    • Snack – two ice cream cones from the convenience store
    • Dinner – two entrees and two sodas at a restaurant
  • Average Daily Accommodation Cost = 54 MYR = $13 USD
    • Basic hotel in a rural neighborhood
    • Included: wifi and air conditioning


  • Average Daily Food Cost = 10 AUD = $8 USD
    • Breakfast – cereal, milk, banana, and coffee from the grocery store
    • Lunch – PB&J sandwich, chips, and soda from the grocery store
    • Dinner – two entrees and two beers from grocery store
  • Average Daily Accommodation Cost = 0 AUD = $0 USD
    • Two House Sits – free

Get a better look at the cost of Malaysia travel from our month in Malaysia. ♥

Month-Ending Balances

Around the Word Travel Budget - The Places We Live

As we wrap up our fifth month of our RTW travel, we have pulled $4,614 from our savings account. This puts us $214 over budget for the year so far. Not too bad really, but we hope to knock that down by the end of next month.

Weekly Break Down

Our average withdraw was $200 per week, which is right on goal for our around the world travel budget. We hope to reduce this next month by continuing to focus on house sitting (a huge money saver) and building better routines around transition days (consistently our most expensive days).

Week One

RTW Budget May Week 1 - The Places We Live.png

Our week in Sepang, Malaysia was very quiet, but also very cheap. However, Week One overall was our most expensive week due to our plane tickets. We saved quite a bit of money ($302) by flying out of Malaysia instead of Thailand, and saved even more by taking a red-eye flight (saving us $13 on a hotel).

Once in Australia, we moved into our new house sit in Melbourne, bought groceries and toiletries, and filled up our MYKI card for the bus. The rest of the week, we made and ate meals at home, went for hikes, and laid low. We made $20 and spent $583, putting our savings withdraw at $563 for Week One.

Read more about our week in Sepang, Malaysia. ♥

Week Two

RTW Budget Australia Week Two2 - The Places We Live.png

Week Two was a much better week for our around the world budget. We were able to do a lot of things while still not over spending. There was an amazing pastry shop down the road that we frequented and we were able to take a tour of downtown Melbourne. It was really nice to live a tourist life this week while we were living near the city center. We made $72 and spent $173, putting our savings withdraw at $101 for Week Two.

Week Three

RTW Budget Australia Week Three - The Places We Live.png

Week Three put us back to our routines. We were house sitting in a small suburb on the Mornington Peninsula and had a lot more opportunity to live the local lifestyle. We cooked at home, went on a lot of amazing hikes, and chatted with the neighbors at the parks. This was also our first week to stop freelance work and focus entirely on our new travel careers (scary!). We made $0 and spent $88, putting our savings withdraw at $88 for Week Three.

Check out our amazing house sit on the Mornington Peninsula. ♥

Week Four

RTW Budget Australia Week Four- The Places We Live.png

Our fourth week of our around the world budget for May was pretty good. We had a couple of more expensive days, enjoying a trip to a local brewery and celebrating the completion of Josh’s first draft of the novel with a date night. Even with all of that, we still came in $17 under budget. We made $0 and spent $183, putting our savings withdraw at $183 for Week Four.

Read more about our hike to Cape Schanck. ♥

Week Five

RTW Budget Australia Week Five - The Places We Live.png

Week Five proved to be another excellent savings week. The weather was great, so we went on a lot of hikes, made some delicious home-cooked meals, and visited a local bakery and breweries. We paid very close attention of our budget this week as we were determined to stay in budget this month… and we did! Josh made $29 from his short story publications on Medium and we spent $93, putting our savings withdraw at $55 for Week Five.

Wrap Up

I am so proud of us for this month. Even after purchasing tickets to Australia, we were still able to stick to our $200 per week around the world budget! We still had to pull our maximum goal amount from savings, but our travel career income is slowly increasing. Josh made $50 from his Medium publications. Although I didn’t make any money this month with my affiliate ads, the month went really well and I am expecting a decent check for next month. Thank you all so much for clicking on my affiliate ads!!

Around the Word Travel Budget - The Places We Live.png

We have been officially on the road for 22 weeks. At our budget goal of $200 per week, that would put our overall goal at $4,400. We have pulled $4,614 out of our savings account over the last five months of traveling, putting us at $214 over budget for the year.

We are now officially at the six month mark. This is the last month that we agreed to be comfortable with not making a lot of money. By July, our goal is to make enough money that we can start coming in under our max budget. In preparation for that, our goal for June is to put our spending at no more than the $800, regardless of income. I think this could be challenging considering our next destination, but we’re determined to reach our long-term goals. Wish us luck!

Read more about our Around the World Travel Budget here! ♥

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Cape Schanck

Our current house sit is in the little town of McRae, on the Mornington Peninsula. There are numerous hiking trails criss-crossing the peninsula, including one that runs nearly the whole length of the oceanside shore. While there’s no way we could do them all in our limited time here, we are on a mission to hike the entire Two Bays Walking Track, which spans the peninsula from north to south. So be ready for an upcoming, giant post about the Australian hike of a lifetime. Until then, here is a sneak peek at one of our side excursions hiking Cape Schanck in Victoria, Australia.

Check out our beautiful and FREE accommodation in Australia.

Cape Schanck Lighthouse

The Cape Schanck Lighthouse is only about 20 minutes from McRae by car. It was a pleasant drive through open farmland and sprawling wineries. The parking lot had plenty of space (even on the sunny weekend) and admission was free… my favorite price.

The lighthouse was built in the late 1950s but has been out of use for some time. It is possible to take a tour of the lighthouse for a fee, but we opted to just walk around it and get some pictures. Even without a tour, there were plenty of things for us to do.

Cape Schank Lighthouse in Victoria, Australia is white with a red roof. There is a large grassy lawn on the land side with a cement walking path and scattered picnic tables.

The Cape

There were a few different walking paths that shot off from parking lot. The two on the Southwestern border, next to the free-use bathrooms, eventually merge together and lead down to the cape. After the merge, the dirt trail becomes a series of wooden staircases and boardwalks.

Cape Schanck in Victoria, Australia on the Mornington Peninsula is a cape surrounded by Busherangers Bay and the ocean. There is a wooden boardwalk leading from the hilltop to the end of the cape.

The views are absolutely beautiful! We were able to catch the sunset behind the lighthouse and the evening glow of the nearby Bushrangers Bay. The walkway was a bit narrow, but felt plenty sturdy. It was a really enjoyable walk to the bottom.

We love hiking. Read more about my favorite hike so far. 

Once at the bottom, we were free to explore the rocks and tide pools. We didn’t see any cool creatures, but I enjoyed the large kelp that littered the beach. I had no idea they were so big! I also really liked the various rock formations. The stack at the end is called Pulpit Rock.

Pulpit Rock at the end of Cape Schanck is a rock pillar surrounded by water and tide pools. A family looks on at the rock from the nearby tide pools in Victoria, Australia.

Bushrangers Beach

The cape trail isn’t technically part of the Two Bays Walking Track, but it is accesible from the Cape Schank parking lot. So, after exploring, we got back to business and headed for the trail access at the Southeastern corner of the lot. After walking for about an hour along Bushrangers Bay, the trail splits. To the North, the Two Bays track continues. To the South, there is a trail marked Bushrangers Beach. Since we’d already spent most of the day wandering off of Two Bays, we decided to head down and check out the beach.

Learn more about Cape Schanck walking tracks. ♦

The beach sits in a small cove surrounded by cliff edges, the bay, and a lovely farm. There were a surprising number of people on the beach, given that you have to hike in, but at the same time it didn’t feel crowded. It still had a wonderful, secluded feeling to it. It almost seemed like our own secret beach.

Bushrangers Bay is part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park in Victoria, Australia. The sand shows footprints of heavy foot-traffic. Past the sand, dark rocks break the ocean waves. In the distance, Cape Schanck and Pulpit Rock is visible.

Two Bay Trail – Cape Schanck

I can not wait to share our 16 mile hike of the Two Bays Walking Track. Each segment has provided us with views of wild kangaroos, beautiful birds, and stunning sunsets. We still have three segments left to hike, but I saved some of the best for last. Next up, is the southern half of the Greens Bush section. I can’t wait. Stay tuned!

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Cape Schanck Lighthouse Cape Schanck I hiked Bushranger


The Places We Live – McCrae, Australia

We had a wonderful time in houses sitting in central Melbourne and had far more fun adventures than I had time to write about. But now it’s time to move on. We’re now house sitting in a spacious home about an hour south of Melbourne with a beautiful dog named Bo.

McCrae, Victoria

Mornington Peninsula Shire, Victoria, Australia. The Places We Live. Mornington Peninsula shown on a map of Australia relative to Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth. To the side, a collage of locations around the peninsula including the ocean, beach boxes, and rolling farm land.

McCrae is a suburb of Melbourne, located on the Mornington Peninsula. As the town sits directly along the bay, it is a common tourist destination packed with beaches and bush land. The full-time population is around 3,000 people, but it is obvious the town is prepared to host many more during the summer months.

Read more about what our life is like as an American visiting Australia. ♥

We are fortunate to have our house sit on the Mornington Peninsula perched near the top of a local mountain. In addition to the amazing view of both the bay and the sea, we are only a five minute drive from town and a 15 minute walk from the popular look-out on Arthur’s Seat.

Cup of coffee with a view of a small town, trees, and the

The House

Our house sit in Australia is a 70’s style home, tucked away in a high-end neighborhood. The owners only recently purchased it and are considering a remodel. It looks like this is a common theme in the neighborhood, and that this area will be full of modern mini-mansions by the end of the decade. The current average price for the neighboring homes are between $750k and $1M USD.

Our house sits have been amazing! Check out our sit in Hua Hin, Thailand. ♥

The place where we live on the Mornington Peninsula is on a large lot with a long front- and backyard frequented by kookaburras and kangaroos. The inside has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living spaces, and large front windows. Although the home still holds a lot of its 70’s charm, the owners have decorated it beautifully and their passion for modern art is obvious throughout.


Our Family

Our house sitting hosts are a married couple preparing for retirement. We enjoyed a delicious dinner with them before they left and found them to be incredibly interesting and kind. As they used to host a bed and breakfast, we were treated with all of the pampering of a new guest. For the rest of the month, the two of them are visiting Singapore for a work conference, then have a long, guided tour through Vietnam. It sounds like they are going to have an amazing time.

The star of the show is our new fur baby, Bo. He is less than a year old and already a pretty big puppy. I chose this home specifically so we could meet Bo. My mom adopted a Hungarian Vizsla shortly before I moved out. I remember really appreciating how smart and beautiful she was. Bo is much the same, although his puppy brain gives him a lack of attention that can be a little difficult. It took about two days for us to truly bond, but now we are inseparable.

Bo, a Hungarian Visla dog (red coated sporting dog), sits on top of a colorful bed.

Life in McCrae

We’re living the suburban life here in McCrae with a strict, morning routine:

6:30 AM – Bo starts (and won’t stop) whining to be let out of his kennel. I attempt to make him wait until a decent hour and show him that I am in charge of wake-up time.

6:45 AM – I give up trying to teach Bo any lessons and just wake up. Bo has breakfast, goes pee, then falls immediately asleep again. I make a cup of coffee and enjoy an hour of quiet time while wishing I was still asleep.

8:00 AM – As long as it isn’t raining too hard, it is chore time. I sweep the foot paths in the yard, collect the poo, get the mail, water the outdoor potted plants, fill any holes created by Bo and kangaroos, water and fertilize the garden, tend the compost, and water the indoor plants.

Jen from The Places We Live standing behind a fenced in garden. The garden has three rows of green plants.

8:45 AM – I turn on the hot water for coffee, calm Bo down, and wake up Josh. [Editor’s note: Josh does other chores not listed here. Just to be clear.]

9:15 AM – Josh and I drive Bo to a dog park located about 10 minutes away. It is an excellent park with kind regulars. We walk loops around the park and gossip with the humans while Bo runs his little heart out with his friends.

Three dogs stand together on a lawn.

It makes for a long and exhausting morning, but we are usually back to real life by 10:00 or so. As most of the food isn’t that different from home, and restaurants are very expensive, we tend to eat at home. Around 2:00 PM each day, Josh and I will usually leave the house for some sort of adventure. The peninsula is an excellent place for hiking, so we usually get in 12-15k steps per day.

What’s Next

Our goal for this house sit is to hike as much as possible, see the penguins on Phillip Island, drive the Great Ocean Road, and teach Bo three new tricks. So far, the hiking has been going very well and we are having a ton of fun. Bo is almost lying down on command and is getting much better at sitting patiently while we put our shoes on. The weather should be improving within the next few days, so we’re on call to drive out to Phillip Island as soon as it does.


We have the pleasure of sitting at this house for three weeks, so we have plenty of time to explore. We’ve already seen some amazing animals, awesome sunsets, and had some… interesting Australian foods. I have no doubt that the rest of this sit will be epic!

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Mornington Peninsula Blog - The Places We Live


Australia: The Land Down Under

May marks our mid-way point before heading back to the USA for the holidays. While Asia has been fun, we decided to head to Australia for a quick stop-over in the more familiar world of tacos, carpeting, and enforced cross-walks. Surprisingly, though, we were wrong to assume that it would be an easy transition. Australia may have many of the comforts of home, but it is not home. It is a country literally on the other side of the world from mine. It is the land down-under, the upside-down. As an American in Australia, I feel like I’ve been transported to another dimension where everything seems familiar, but is actually completely different.

Read about our crazy decision to quit our jobs, sell our things, and travel the world. ♥

Fall in May

Park with winding sidewalk, bench, and tree. It is a fall day with orange and yellow leaves on the tree and on the lawn.

It’s Fall here. Yeah. Let that settle in.

While my friends start toning their beach bodies and picking out this year’s patio flowers, this American in Australia is watching the leaves turn and fall. At this very moment, I am wearing a sweater, sitting under a blanket, and drinking hot tea. I keep thinking I need to start buying Christmas presents. What should I cook for Thanksgiving this year? What am I going to wear for Halloween? Despite the fact that it is MAY, I feel my usual holiday anxieties creeping up on me.

Check out our Thanksgiving dinner in Miami, Florida. ♥ 

Creatures of the Unknown

Strange green and red bush and white flowers in Australia.

I keep kicking myself for not having visited a zoo or arboretum yet, but really, doing that would be a little silly. If I want to see new plants or animals, all I have to do is look outside. Even a walk around the block has Josh and I stopping every few feet to ask each other, “What the sh*t is that?!”

Our backyard has trees with seed pods that pop randomly out of spiky balls that look like toilet brushes. The power lines at the dog park sag due from the flock of cockatoos that rest there… and squawk as loudly as they can. Our front yard is visited by kangaroos in the same way deer do at home. And my new friend that I rely on to keep the mozzies away is a six-inch diameter spider that lives in the kitchen curtains. We’ve named her Princess Kimi.

Today’s Shower Thought: My great-grandparents moved to the USA from a small town in Italy back in 1907. I watched a movie about Italian immigrants once that blew my mind and really made me wonder what life must have been like for Great-Grandpa Dion. Now I am American in Australia, where everything is familiar, yet so entirely different. I wonder if Grandpa Dion felt like that when he came to America, if he saw people that looked similar to him and had similar cultures to him, but in a landscape that seemed so incredibly foreign.


Alternate Dimension Dining

Dry groceries on a counter. Uncle Tobys Honey 4 Whole Grain Cheerios, Sunbites Grain Waves in Sour Cream and Chives, Aussie Made Baked Beans, Tim Tams, 4 Pines Pale Ale

Australia has two major grocery stores: Coles and Woolworth’s (Woolies). In “nipping down to the Woolies”, we see so many familiar packages with so few familiar items. The biscuit aisle is packed with things like Grain Waves and Shapes. The lollies aisle hosts some of the weirdest names with items like Choc Bars and Lumps.

Everything looks edible and delicious, but after a taste of Vegemite, I’m starting to have some trust issues.

Collage of an American man tasting Vegemite in Australia. First image shows a jar of Vegemite, cube of butter, and some toast ready to be dressed. The next image shows a man holding up a slice of toast with Vegemite and butter on it. He is smiling. Final image shows the man with the toast and he looks to be in pain.

Unrecognizable English

Believe it or not, it is actually kind of difficult as an American in Australia to understand what people are saying. They speak English, sure. But the accent and the Aussie’s pension for shortening everything makes it difficult to follow along sometimes.

Then there are the words that just have different meanings. “CBD” for downtown (this one may be Melbourne-specific), “footpath” for sidewalk, “boot” for trunk of the car, “hot chips” for fries, and “lollies” for candy. This is just a sampling of what we’ve run into so far, and that’s on top of the already British words that are common in the Australian language as well, like “pissed” for drunk, “torch” for flashlight, and “lift” for elevator.

I liked this post written by an Australian born, English professor in England. ♦

Life in the Upside-Down

Jen and Josh from The Places We Live get a selfie in front of the Melbourne, Australia sky line

Thankfully, life here in Australia isn’t full of smoke monsters and demon dogs (although I do find Princess Kimi to be quite frightening). We’re learning to shake out our shoes before putting them on, drive on the other side of the road, and make our trolly deposits.

Our adventures so far have been amazing. I can’t even keep up with all of the great moments we have had. Work has been good, too. Josh should be done with the first draft of his novel by the end of the month, I’ve seen excellent growth with The Places We Live, and if you haven’t seen Josh’s piece at The Open Journal for Arts and Letters about our Penang trip, please check it out. I thought it was beautiful. I can’t wait to share more of our life in the familiar-but-different land down under!

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A Couple of Americans in Australia - The Places We Live


The Places We Live: Melbourne, Australia

Our adventure around the world continues with another edition of The Places We Live: Melbourne, Australia! A seven hour, red-eye flight got us from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne for about $150 each. We left one growing and bustling city simply to land in a new one. We were immediately struck by the familiar sounds of the English language, as well as the bitter chill that comes with the fall in May (?!)Read on to find out more about our first home sit in the land down under!

Read more about our week in Sepang, Malaysia before flying to Australia. ♥

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria, on the southern tip of Australia. With a population hovering around five million “Melbournians”, Melbourne ranks as the second most populous city in Australia, just behind Sydney. Thanks to its highly rated educational, cultural, and economic standing, Melbourne has been ranked as the World’s Most Livable City for the last seven years in a row!

Map of Australia with Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth labeled. There is a teal flag being used to highlight Melbourne

We are in Australia as a short reprieve from the more foreign lands of Asia to celebrate our six month nomad anniversary. I didn’t specifically pick Melbourne for any real reason except that it was the cheapest city to fly to. Once that was decided, we started looking for house sits and found two back-to-back that would last us through the entire month of May. That would leave us with just enough time to fly back to China for our scheduled sit in Chengdu this June.

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Our New House

The front of a two story, brick, Victorian home in Melbourne, AusOur first home in Melbourne is only a few miles outside of the CBD (Australian for “downtown”). Using the trolley system (ranked as the largest in the world), we were able to get to and from town in about 20 minutes for $3 USD each. The trollies are very convenient, clean, and easy to navigate.

The house itself is a Victorian row house (look at me pretending to know what I’m talking about!). It is part of a very large duplex with a small front and back garden (Australian for yard). It didn’t look very large from the outside, but it was deep and had two levels, so it was actually quite spacious on the inside. There are three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a den, two living rooms, a dining room, a large kitchen, and a garage. The prices I saw for homes of similar size in the neighborhood were going for about $750k USD.

Our house looks very similar to the other homes in the neighborhood. We get the impression that indoor-outdoor space is important to the Melbournians. Like most of the neighboring homes, the first floor was covered in windows and doors to the outside. Despite the cold of the upcoming winter (that’s right, it is FALL here), our host had the majority of the doors and windows open.

Check out our lovely house sit in Kuala Lumpur. ♥

Our New Family

Our host, Ms. J, only recently moved into the home and works as a Vicar at the neighboring church. She has traveled quite a bit and has a lot of experience hosting house sitters in her home. She was super welcoming and made us feel very comfortable.

We were very excited about this sit because we would get to enjoy the company of two adult cats. They, unfortunately, we far less excited to meet us. We did eventually become friends, but it took a lot of pandering.

A large, brown cat with black striping sits on a bed with a pink blanket. It is labeled Marley The Places We LiveMarley

I know we’re not supposed to pick favorites, but Marley was my favorite. He was the ruler of the house and was not afraid to wave his authority over us. Marley was the first to wake us up each morning for breakfast, yelled at us when we left the wrong doors closed, etc. I wormed my way into Marley’s heart one night with an invitation onto my heated blanket. He slept with me each night after that.

Meet Jack, the cat we watched near the beach in Thailand. ♥

A Black cat with green eyes stands on carpet next to a banister. The image is labeled Betsy The Places We Live.Betsy

Betsy liked Josh right away. Although she would hide from me, I could usually find her cuddled on a chair as close to Josh as possible without actually touching him. She did warm up to me after a little bit and at least stopped hiding from me. She liked that I fed her minced kangaroo meat for dinner (a common pet food in Australia) and I loved her beeping mews.

Meet Lucy, our indifferent dog roommate in Chengdu, China. ♥

Living in Melbourne

As with all of the places we live, our budget in Australia is $200 USD per week. That affords us $38 Australian dollars per day, including housing, food, transportation, entertainment, visas, and tickets back out of the country. That is a pretty tight budget here, so we are very grateful for the free housing our house sits provide.

Shopping for groceries has proven to be fairly inexpensive, and although some of the names are unfamiliar, most of the food is recognizable. We were able to do quite well on our budget with our usual staples, plus some local microbrews and snacks. We have all of the kitchen appliances are we are used to and have been finding it easy to cook at home on a budget.

Some of the groceries we purchased in Melbourne, Australia. Uncle Tobys brand Honey Whole Grain Cherrios, Sunbites brand Grain Waves, SPC brand Aussie Made Baked Beans, Tim Tam, 4 Pines Pale Ale

The weather has been cold and very rainy since we arrived, so most of our days are spent working at the kitchen table. We have gotten in the habit of keeping our eye on the windows, ready to run outside for a walk during every break in the clouds. There are a lot of parks nearby and so many interesting birds and plants to look at.

Overall, we are liking Melbourne a lot. It has a hipster vibe very similar to Portland, Oregon but with the cleanliness and seriousness of Vancouver, Canada. We’re really excited to do more exploring in this amazing city and country!

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Australian flag. Melbourne, Australia House Sitting  Melbourne Australia skyline in black and white with teal frame  The Places We Live - Melbourne Australia