My husband Pete and I escorted a group of 18 to Australia and New Zealand for three weeks last month.

Australia is the only country that is also a continent. It is about the same size as the continental United States, however, the population of Australia is similar to the state of Texas. Only 10% of Australia’s land mass is inhabited.

I thought I’d give you a few differences I noticed on our visit to Australia. Since we speak the same language the differences are what was so fun to experience.

The first and most obvious difference is the summer there is our winter. The school year is different and spring and fall are completely opposite from the US. The hardest thing to get used to was not the time but what day it was. They are a day ahead (19 hours ahead of us in Portland). We kept asking each other, “What day is it here today?”

Sydney was beautiful. The harbor views were beautiful from our Hyatt Regency hotel located in Darling Harbor. We could easily walk along the harbor front or cross a pedestrian bridge to to the other side of the harbor. The Sydney Opera house was as beautiful as it looks in photos. Our group decided to splurge and have dinner at the Bennelong, the only restaurant inside the Opera house and then went to the Opera, La Bohème.

We learned people in the service industry make a good wage so tipping is not expected. Australia currently has the 12th highest cost of living in the world, with the USA behind at 21st. We were happy the US dollar was strong against the Australian dollar. It made it seem like we were getting a bargain.

It was fun to hear people ask us to “say something” because they loved our accent. We may speak the same language but the words are different. They call a sweater a jumper and a bathing suit a swimming costume or tog. The trunk of a car is called the boot and a parking lot is a car park.

Our cruise took us to Melbourne and Tasmania. We learned the history of Aborigines, went on wildlife tours to see kangaroos, koala’s and wallaby’s, and took a jet boat to visit the spectacular Jurassic Dolerite sea cliffs on the Tasman Peninsula.

We’ve only been home a week and I’m ready to go back!

Next Month: New Zealand