14 Surprising Things about Parenting in Australia

For our eleventh Motherhood Around the World interview, we talked to Gaby Fearn, who lives in Sydney with her husband and one-year-old daughter, Clementine. Here are 14 things she finds surprising about being a mom in Australia…

Gaby’s background: Gaby was born and raised in Vancouver, but in 2008, she went backpacking through Australia with a friend and ended up meeting her now-husband at a rock-climbing gym. “We dated for just a few weeks before I had to go back to Canada,” she remembers. “But I lasted for only four months before I moved to Sydney to be with him.” Gaby now works as a photographer and yoga teacher, as well as writing the blog This Little Port.

On first impressions: During my first trip here, I was traveling with my best friend, and I remember we were both shocked by how incredibly good looking everyone was! We were coming from the Canadian winter, and everyone here seemed fit, tanned and attractive. I was also surprised by how huge and urban Sydney was. I guess I expected it to be laid-back and beachy!

On making friends: When I first moved to Sydney, I found it quite hard to make friends. I kept befriending other expats, and then they’d leave and I would be friendless again. While Australians were really friendly on the surface, many of the people I knew already had a tight circle of friends from high school or university, and they seemed happy with that. It was hard to get past that initial stage of being an acquaintance.

Now that I have a baby, though, it’s a completely different story! Aussie mums are quite welcoming of expat mums, I think because what we have in common (motherhood) is so much bigger than any difference in where we’re from. You tend to see the same people all the time—at the park, the library, the shops—and I’ve become friends with other mums just because I bump into them so often! Women and men I’ve met in Australia are very open and share a lot—everything from details of their sex lives to parenting challenges. Some of my Aussie friends are now the people I feel closest to.

On sleep camps: Government-subsidized programs help parents teach their babies to sleep. I haven’t been to one (though I did consider it when we were in the middle of sleep hell with our daughter) but many of my friends have. The sleep camps are centers, usually attached to a hospital, that are run by nurses. Most mums I know went when their babies were around six or seven months old. You go for five days and four nights, and they put you and your baby on a strict schedule of feeding, napping and sleeping. If you’re really desperate for sleep, you also have the option of having a nurse handle your baby for the whole first night so you can sleep, but after that you spend the next few nights with your baby overnight while the nurses show you what to do. They use controlled crying and other techniques. I have friends who say it saved their lives, friends who left feeling “meh” about the whole thing, and a friend who left after a day because, in her words, “they left my baby in a cupboard to cry.”

On slang: For the longest time, I felt like Australians were speaking a different language! Some of the vocabulary and expressions are very British, so we say “pram, nappy and dummy” instead of “stroller, diaper and pacifier.” Other expressions are more Australian. Your kid might “chuck a tanty at the shops” (throw a tantrum at the grocery store) or “try to pash another bubba” (try to kiss another baby). This is one of my favorite expressions—”pash” comes from passion, and basically means “to make out with.” Another favorite phrase is “you and your misses might have a DNM,” which means “you and your wife might have a deep and meaningful conversation.”

Australians also tend to say what something is not rather than what it is. In response to “how are you?” Australians will say “not bad” rather than “fine.” If you ask what someone is like as a person, an Aussie will reply, “he’s not a bad bloke,” instead of saying, “he’s a good guy.” If they actually dislike someone, they will describe that person as “being pretty average.”

On the high cost of living: Sydney is insanely expensive—it ranks among the world’s most unaffordable cities to live (this year it’s the fifth most expensive city in the world). Sydney now ranks as the second most unaffordable housing market in the English-speaking world. Experts are telling young families like us that there is no point in buying property because we will never come out on top. It’s getting to the point where many of our friends are considering moving. It’s actually quite depressing.

I’m also constantly shocked by how much little things cost. A small coffee here costs around $4, and a cocktail at a bar will cost you around $17 (in U.S. dollars). Clothes, books and music cost way, way more than they do in North America. I do all my book shopping online and try to wait to shop for clothes until we visit Canada.

People are generally paid well here, though, so it almost evens out. For example, when I first arrived, I worked retail jobs for minimum wage. But minimum wage in Sydney was literally double what minimum wage was in Vancouver at the time. Right now the minimum wage in Sydney is $15.65 (in U.S. dollars) per hour.

On seasons: The fact that the seasons are opposite (in the southern hemisphere vs. the northern hemisphere) was hard to wrap my head around. Even after six years here, I’m still disoriented when we celebrate Christmas in mid-summer. It just feels wrong! Summers are long and brutally hot. The hottest months are January and February, when temperatures can soar above 95F. When I was pregnant, we experienced the hottest day ever recorded in Sydney! The mercury peaked at 115F in the shade, and I spent all day at home, sitting under the air-conditioner. My absolutely insane husband, however, went golfing. He came home saying, “It was a bit warm out there.” Australians have a gift for understatement!

Winters in Sydney are mild and short, so, because of that, houses aren’t well equipped for the cold. No one has central heating, and insulation is dodgy at best. And even in the coldest months, Australians have a habit of keeping windows open at all times. I’ll often find myself visiting someone’s home, absolutely shivering. It’s weird—you’ll actually dress your child in more clothes when inside, and then when you get ready to go outside, you’ll strip layers off! People keep their windows wide open even when they have babies—the philosophy being that everyone needs that healthy fresh air.

On safety: The official rules around safety are even stricter here than in the United States. Carseats are mandatory, and we have to have an extra belt that goes around the top of the carseat. Heat stroke is so common and rates of skin cancer so high that children’s school uniforms include sun hats—the “No hat, No play” rule is strictly enforced, meaning that kids can’t play outside unless they’re wearing their hats.

Australia is home to many dangerous animals, including sharks, crocodiles and poisonous spiders. Magpie birds aren’t a problem here in Sydney, but in Canberra (the capital) and some of the bush areas, magpies can be very aggressive. In the rural areas, people will walk with big sticks to protect the magpies from swooping near children. Some cyclists wear helmets with spikes to deter them! I used to work with a girl who grew up on a farm, and she would walk around with a huge stick (especially at dawn and dusk) to ward off the kangaroos. In certain parts of Australia, the kangaroos are enormous, taller than a man, and can be quite vicious.

Most Aussies live in coastal cities and towns, and each year lives are lost due to rip tides, waves, sharks and crocodiles. For all of these reasons, Australian children learn to swim at a very young age. Most of my friends take their babies to swimming classes when they’re six months old. Clementine will be starting lessons soon!

Despite all the recognized dangers, however, people are still somewhat laid-back. There’s the Australian saying, “She’ll be right, mate,” which roughly translates as “Everything is fine. Don’t worry.”

On playgrounds: Because the weather is so good year round, kids spend a ton of time outside. In Sydney, we’re lucky to have so many parks and playgrounds. They always have lots of swings and slides (which Australians call “slippery dips”). It’s also hard to emphasize just how important the culture of sporting is to Australians. My husband is keen for Clementine to be involved in swimming and athletics (like running, hurdles, javelin). Her granddad already talks about how excited he is for her athletics tournaments! If her dad gets his way, she will also rock climb and play soccer and cricket.

On drinking: In Australia, the beverage of choice (especially for men) is beer, and the people we know like to party. In general, bars and pubs don’t have table service. You line up at the bar to order your drinks and food. Because you have to go up to the bar to order, one person will usually order (and pay for) the entire table’s drinks. My husband says this is an example of Australia’s egalitarian nature. Then the next person takes their turn buying drinks, and so on and so forth. It’s called a shout, as in, “It’s my shout.” This system means that everyone drinks a lot more than they otherwise would!

On food: Because of the climate, people can do amazing things in their own backyards—my old house had an avocado tree and a passion fruit tree! Australians are big meat eaters and most kids grow up having “sausage sizzles” (backyard barbecues where hot dogs are served) and Sunday roasts (roast chicken/lamb) every week. Meat pies (filled with beef, lamb or chicken) are also big here. There’s quite a strong pub culture, and you’ll often see families out for dinner at the pub. Mum and Dad will be drinking beer and eating steak, while the kids have fish and chips. Some pubs get so full of kids on the weekends that they have special play areas. A typical weekday breakfast is toast with Vegemite, a thick yeast spread that’s very salty. Having not grown up with it, I find it disgusting! But my husband has been giving Clementine Vegemite on toast since she was eight months old, and she loves it.

On work/life balance: The Australians we know like to work hard and play hard. People get a minimum of four weeks paid vacation a year. And there’s always the age-old tradition of “chucking a sickie.” This means you have the day off but you’re not really sick. Basically, it’s socially accepted that you can occasionally call in sick, just to have the day off.

On travel: Travel is quite popular in Australia. Common destinations are: Bali, Thailand, Fiji and New Zealand. It’s funny because people seem to think that Bali is “right next door” because there are so many Australians there, but it’s actually a six-and-a-half hour flight from Sydney! People don’t realize just how isolated Australia is.

On loving Sydney: Thinking about life in Sydney, one word keeps coming to mind: fun. Most people are very fun-loving and always up for a laugh. There’s an endless line-up of festivals, shows and events. The beaches are ridiculously amazing, the national parks absolutely breathtaking and the country towns impossibly quaint. I love how active we can be as a family thanks to the good weather. I’m really glad to be raising Clementine in such a vibrant, diverse city.

Thank you so much, Gaby!

P.S. Motherhood in Japan, Norway, Mexico, Northern Ireland, China, England, India, Abu Dhabi, Congo and Germany.

(Interview by Caroline Donofrio. Photos courtesy of Gaby Fearn; top portrait of Gaby and Clem, photo of Clementine in winter and family photos by Gui Jorge; photo of Gaby near ferry by Lou Buma; photos of Gaby while pregnant by Belinda Kypriotis)

  1. Mindy Noble says...

    I just moved from California to Australia with my daughter, son, and husband. I have to say, my experience as been pretty different than Gaby’s, it comes to how expensive things are. That said, I don’t live in Sydney. I live over in Coffs Harbour in NSW.

    Everything here seems to be cheaper than what I remember it being in the states. I can usually find a small coffee for a dollar or two and clothes aren’t that expensive at all. My childcare costs are so low thanks to all the rebates and the like. Plus, the quality of everything is better. I have my kiddos at Petit Early Learning Center ( and wow is there a difference. Just the quality of education is so much higher but the cost is so much lower.

    Everything else was pretty spot on minus the kangaroo comment and the “chucking a sickie” comment. Those two not so much. It’s pretty frowned upon at my work to call in sick without being sick, so I’ve only heard that phrase used negatively.

  2. Michelle says...

    Her is a link to a “sleep center” in Melbourne. I used it over twenty years ago.

  3. Michelle says...

    Here is a link to a “sleep center” in Melbourne. I used it over twenty years ago.

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  5. Louise says...

    I’m Canadian and lived in Sydney for three years back in the 90s. My second son was born there. Although isolating at first I made great friends through various playgroups. I loved driving around and exploring the city and all the beaches. The climate couldn’t be better but does take adjusting to. The sun is very strong, luckily sun screen is affordable. And I’ve never been so cold in my house in the winter…saved by flannel PJs and heated blankets.
    I miss the very blue clear sky. And the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. And the tall gum trees…. And eating fish and chips at the beach. And the coffee everywhere was so good. And the outdoor lifestyle.
    I left Sydney with a new vocabulary which I still use – rubbish bin, take-away, dummy (garbage can, take-out, soother), the love of sleeping in a cold room (those Sydney winter nights) and having no fear of our harmless bugs and spiders.
    Sydney offers a great lifestyle. It’s expensive but if you have the opportunity to experience it, spiders and all, even for a short time it’s well worth it.

  6. Monika says...

    I am an expat from Sweden and although Oz doesn’t have the amazing 480 days of paid parental leave it is the best place to raise kids! Finding the article quite negative and unhappy and innacurately depicting Sydney and Australia – perhaps Gaby would be happier in Canada? This country has really reached out and supported me fantastically during the baby years and now in school years as well. Feeling great gratitude for waking up to the smell of the warm country and ocean and the wildlife. See the positive – always.

  7. Becca says...

    I’m an American who has been living in Australia for about 18 years now, and I’m now raising two Australian-American kids (who are really more Aussie than American) with my Australian husband. Some of what she says is very accurate; but I don’t agree with all of it. We were just in the US in March; very few things are cheaper there. (For instance the GPS system we put off buying until we were in the US, is actually cheaper here. A lot of basic grocery items like bread and milk are more expensive in the US too. Even clothes – at the level we buy them, which is Target – are cheaper here than in the US.) School uniforms mean we save a ton of money, because the pieces are so cheap – like, $2 t-shirts and $5 pants – and our school has a swaps table where we can pick up, for free, clothes in the next size up that other parents are getting rid of. Plus, since everyone wears the same clothes, by mid-year everything is stained and so there’s absolutely no stigma attached to sending your kids to school with a giant ketchup stain on their shirt – because everyone else is in the same boat. No having to spend tons of money two or three times a year for a new wardrobe for your kids, just to keep up appearances at school! It’s brilliant!

    Also, a hot dog is totally different to a sausage. They’re both made with ‘junk meat’ but the composition and taste and texture and everything is completely different.

    We live in the bush; have kangaroos and magpies and echidnas and cockatoos (black and white) and rosellas and tons of lizards etc. on our property; we’ve never felt threatened by the wildlife. (Kangaroos would rather just hop away than bother you.)

    Also, she neglected to talk about one very big thing that makes a huge difference in raising my kids here rather than in the US – we have incredibly generous family benefits. Also, HECS+Austudy = we don’t have to save up tens of thousands of dollars to pay for our kids to go to uni.

    On the whole, although there are a swag of things I miss about living in the US (like, it’s impossible to get a decent bagel or burrito here, and don’t even get me started on the way Aussies hate on Halloween and Thanksgiving), we’re much better off here financially than we’d be if we were living in the US. My husband and I both are easily paid 3x more here than we’d be paid in the US for doing the exact same jobs; plus there’s family benefits; plus the lifestyle is just better in a lot of ways/

  8. As an Australian mum (in Melbourne) I enjoyed reading an expat’s take on what parenting is like in Australia. So many things I take for granted are actually quite odd :)

  9. Great post! Thanks for sharing your story.

    I believe in the ‘opportunity to connect’… We as parents should always on a look out position, always waiting for opportunity how to connect with our kids, especially the big ones. If we are just always ready, we could see these opportunities everyday. :)


  10. Thank you for this great series. I was procrastinating on a university assignment about Australian Identity, and coincidently this was relevant anyway!
    As an Australian I have always thought the comments about the use of aussie slang are far fetched, however words like ‘slippery dip’ and ‘sausage sizzle’ are actually everyday words for me and must sound so silly to people outside of Australia.
    I don’t agree with how dangerous Gaby has said Australia is, I’ve never met a shark or crocodile, and barely a snake. It possibly comes down to being educated from a young age to be cautious in certain situations, where as tourists have to learn this in a short period of time. The only animal I’ve had troubles with in my 25 years is a magpie, and that was during spring.
    Also agree with the on the surface friendliness of aussies, and am glad to hear motherhood introduced you to a close group of friends.

  11. This was passed onto me by an American Mum friend. As a Sydney Australian Mum living in the USA, its true, Australia really cannot be more culturally different from the USA but i LOVED LOVED LOVED how spot on this Canadian Mum living in Sydney was in her observations of the people living down under and their culture! Brilliant! It made me so home sick!

  12. I love this!! I will definitely be reading the rest of your series Joanna!

    As an aussie through and through i LOVE VEGGIEMITE!!! Please don’t hate me ha ha ha ha Or peanut butter and jam (I don’t like that but my son does lol)

    Re; the life guards, there are that many beaches across australia that to man them all would be such a huge task (And as someone else has said they are mostly made up of volunteers)

    Winter is cold this yr! ok, not as bad as you americans/canadians but I’m freezing my tooth off today and I’m over it! ha ha ha

    Summers are wonderful! Although last yr and the yr before was ridiculously hot, like a couple of weeks in the 30-40’s :|

    I live 3 hours south of sydney in a coastal town with one of the whitest beaches in the southern hemisphere and this place is magical and we are so blessed, even with all our creepy, crawly dangerous animals ha ha ha And like others have said i don’t even notice the dangerous animals.

    But let me tell you the kangaroos, are a pest and i want to scare all the ones near my house away lol My friend who lives on a farm they kill them because they are such a pest in australia especially to the farmers….

    And travelling to bali is only 6 hours! Thats nothing ;) I am driving 11 hours next weekend to see a friend (on said above farm) for a surprise. I travel an hr or so every day in the car for uni and what not. I think we are not as fased by distance because we do live in such a huge country so we know no different!

    But Gaby you did such a great description!!!

  13. I love this series! There are some great ideas from around the world about parenting.

    As a Sydneysider I agree with a lot of what Gaby says, in particular how isolated and expensive Sydney is. You can tell I am local as I had never noticed we say “not bad” rather than “fine”

  14. I’m from New Zealand and everything she has said is very similar here! It’s hilarious reading some of this as it seems so second nature to us!

    Always look forward to this series- they are so interesting.

  15. I LOVE, LOVE reading articles on Motherhood Around the World. Please keeping coming. Thanks

  16. I am not a mom yet but I LOVE, LOVE reading Thing about Parenting!! Please keep it coming!!.

  17. Haha, “slippery dip”! I haven’t heard that in a while (Australian in Paris).

  18. Joanna, I cannot tell you how much I love this series. I am not a mother, but I am fascinated by people and their cultures, and how people relate to each other. It is so interesting to see how after we have children, we become more open and can relate way more easily to other people from all kinds of background and culture. Those things actually seem to become secondary, and flexibility and adaptation become key elements.

    We need to remember this is not what Australia is like, because what it is like very relative. This is Sydney seen through Gaby’s eyes, who is from Vancouver, Canada. So, so fascinating! Thanks for sharing your experience, Gaby! :)

    Thank you!

  19. This is such a fascinating series. I think it would be awesome to do a similar series set within the US as well. Like most New Yorkers, I tend to fantasize (compulsively) about raising our child outside of the city. I have very elaborate day dreams about all these places and the lives we would lead in them. It would be so interesting to hear what day to day real life is actually like in these places (not just Instagram snippets). What’s a Tuesday at home with your children actually look like in Portland Maine? Or Kansas City? Pittsburgh PA? Nantucket? Etc. I’m sure it would shed a new perspective on motherhood across the board.

  20. Such a fantastic, fascinating series. As a Sydneysider born & bred- but now living in Dubai (with my American hubby & about to have my first baby)- I must say this post made me super homesick! How I yearn for my wonderful (albeit insanely expensive!) city!!! Oh, & diehard Vegemite fan for life! ;)

  21. I’m from Perth but living in NYC and this made me so wonderfully homesick – thanks Gaby and all of the other Aussies who chimed in with their comments.

    Fresh air and vegemite. A must for any happy morning. :)

    And seriously… midwives, neighborhood mothers support group and sleep schools are such a gift. Everytime my friends back “home” mentioned it to me, I was beyond jealous. Not to mention the health care system and holiday time ;) Those things really do add up to have such a beneficial impact on a new family and their emotional welfare.

    Thanks Jo, this series is just wonderful!

  22. Amazing. I loved reading this. What a great series of posts! Thanks!

  23. I found this really interesting and neat to hear her comparisons since I’m from Canada as well.

    The neatest things are the slang and sayings. So different and neat!

  24. I think I would like Australia, mostly because of the climate. I grew up w. an English father and my husband is English, so the slang wouldn’t be too hard for me to learn. Australia sounds somewhat like a warm Canada (I live in Canada). I can relate to the high cost of living, but being paid well. That’s what my city is like. Australia is a bit far away for me, though… I would rather move to the States. The scary poisonous bugs and sharks definitely freak me out, but then so does winter driving for 7 months of the year here! Dangers are relative I suppose.

  25. I loved this article, Thank you Gaby for sharing! You have depicted Australian living beautifully. The memories of growing up in outback Australia with Big Red Kangaroos cruising around in the backyard were some of my most fondest. I totally remember my mother making me walk around with a big stick at dusk ‘just incase’. One reader said that description was “way off the mark” but not for all of us!!! I totally voucher for the annoying ‘no central heating’. I have never lived in a house with it and Sydney winters do get a bit chilly, even most houses in the southern areas of oz (where it gets really cold!) don’t have it. If you live around the Inner West Gaby we should definitely go for one of those $17 cocktails- and only one because they truly do cost as much or more than a meal!!!!

  26. Hey all! Just thought I’d weigh in on a few things that came up…

    Darrin and Cassie – the pool is at Bondi Icebergs :)

    Re: annual leave… After one year at a job, you are entitled to 4 weeks leave. Many of our friends and family here get 6 to 7 weeks leave per year.

    Re: sleep camp. For the Aussies who were confused, I was referring to Tresilian and Karitane. I know we don’t call them sleep camp, but I guess that made more sense for American readers.

    Re: car seats… The guidelines for turning the carseat to face forward are based on height and weight so some babies do face forward from quite early. My daughter happens to be tiny so she’s still rear facing at 15 months!

    Re: healthcare… Australia has public healthcare, but there is also a private system. So when you’re pregnant you can choose to go public or private. I went public, and chose a birth centre, which meant that all of my prenatal care and most of my care during birth was provided by midwives. It was also 100% free. If you go private, you can have a private obstetrician in a public hospital, or go to a private hospital. It usually ends up costing over $5000, some of which you might get back if you have private health insurance.

    Re: “chucking a sickie” … I totally get that not everyone does this, but I have to say that most Aussies I know have chucked a sickie at least once (usually more). Most workplaces have at least a few sick leave days not requiring a doctor’s certificate. In Canada we would call it “taking a mental health day.”

    Loved reading through everyone’s comments!

  27. It’s interesting what you say about sleep camps. I’m from Queensland and no-one I know with children has ever been to one. I wonder if it differs from state to state.

  28. These are fantastic reads! Even as a Grandmother I can appreciate the stories being told through these young mom’s narratives. Thank you for sharing. It’s fun to learn traditions for each Country and how the mom’s have blended in to the culture so well! Love it!! ;)

  29. As an American married to an Aussie I related to this post quite well! I adore the country and would move there in a second, but my husband’s work is far more profitable here. We recently just took our 2 year old son back ‘home’ to meet his extended family. I had been several times before, but it was a whole different perspective for me having a ‘bub’ in tow. We live in Florida, so the weather is warm year round. However, I would say that our Aussie family has figured out how to enjoy being outdoors more than us. As far as slang is concerned, they tend to shorten words and add an ‘ie’ or a ‘y’ to the end…brekky for breakfast, prezzie for present etc…. Good on ya mate = good job. Bob’s your uncle = and there you go. For example, “Take a left, go over the bridge, past the street sign and bob’s your uncle.” Never got used to that one. Being part of the commonwealth, they’re big on tea too…love it! When my mother in law first came to visit she was astonished that I didn’t own a tea kettle and thought that drinking iced tea was so bizarre! I’ve never jumped on the Vegamite wagon, but I prefer their bread to US bread…not as sweet and much softer!

  30. Have you thought about interviewing foreigners (to the US) living in the United States? I think it’s fascinating to hear what others have to say about raising kids here.

  31. Thanks so much for having me Joanna & Caroline! x

  32. Thank you so much for this feature. As a 20 year old student from PR and living in Boston, I’m getting to that stage (am I the only one?) thinking about where I want to live my life. I think these features show a great immense of personal information that is very interesting, useful, and insightful. Thank you!

  33. Just to say that I love this series. I’m a Brit who started out parenting life in the US before heading to France. It’s truly heartening to hear the stories of other expat mamas, mamans, mummys and mommies — wherever they may be. Oh, and the sleep camp sounds genius. I can relate to the need to have a change of scenery to create new sleep-through-the-night habits. For us spending a week away from our small creaky old house in a spacious VRBO was what made the initial difference. However, what I would have given to have expert nursing advice along the way!

  34. Thanks for sharing, Gaby! I’m currently planning a trip for Australia this November, and man, I’ve learned how remote AND spread out it is. It’s tough!

    Also, your comment about vegemite made me laugh; my british friend gave a few of us samples of marmite AND vegemite. Have you seen those youtubes where a dog licks a lime? That was our reaction (though vegemite was slightly more manageable, but still…not a do-over for me).

  35. Dang, that’s a cute baby!

  36. This was a fascinating read. It’s always interesting to reas about parenting {and life in general} in other countries, so I’m very excited that I found your series. Australia always comes to mind as a sunny, laidback and vibrant place in general, so having such a vibrant outdoor culture makes sense. Inalso love how much the government and laws keep families, health and safety in mind. Great post! Also, Clementine is absolutely adorable. Those eyes!

  37. B. says...

    While I love all of your posts, this is my favorite series and I hope you keep it going as long as you can!

  38. I love this series and I’m not even a mother! I think its always so wonderful to hear about different cultures and ways of life around the world.

    I am currently an American living in Rio de Janeiro and it has been a really interesting cultural experience. And as seen in all these posts, some really wonderful things, and some things that really make me miss home!

    Read more on my blog:

  39. Not a bad post at all. Really enjoyed reading about mothering in my own country… great perspective on things I take for granted! And sleep camp is called “sleep school” here in Melbourne. We live on 11 acres on the edge of Melbourne and our 4 and 6 year olds know to always wear gumboots (not sure what you call these in the US… rain boots maybe? Rubber boots?) outside in case of snakes, never to walk through long grass in summer, to always let the dog run ahead of them (to scare away snakes), and to bang their boots on the ground before putting them on in case any spiders have taken up residence inside. Simple precautions are just part of daily life, so the creepy crawlies are nothing to be scared of! In summer, when the paddocks are dry we get roos grazing on the lawn around our house, and the kids know to steer clear of them. But the dog will still give them a run for their money though!

    And when I was a kid we used to ride our bikes through magpie territory with ice cream containers on our heads just in case. But kids are supposed to have helmets on these days anyway!

  40. Gaby, thanks for your post! I really enjoyed reading it and love the beautiful photos of Bondi.

    I think the way a ‘sickie’ is perceived can depend on the kind of work you do and your employer.

    I work for a large professional services firm and it’s not uncommon for someone to take a day when things are quiet… we jokingly call it a ‘mental health day’. It’s better to take one day and have minimal impact on your work than to get so burnt out that you need a big chunk of time off later on. My employer requires a medical certificate if you are sick for more than three consecutive days.

    I get 20 days/4 weeks paid annual leave per year and think this is quite standard, but, once again, this can vary between industries and employers. It’s also worth mentioning that just because you entitled to the leave, it doesn’t mean you can easily take it – especially in small businesses.

    The cold house thing is SO TRUE, especially in Queensland (I’m from Brisbane). Many homes just weren’t designed for the cold. We have a family friend who had moved here from Finland – upon discovering it was 14 degrees inside her house, she declared, ‘You people live like SPARTANS! It would never be 14 degrees inside a Finnish house!'(14 degrees Celsius is about 57 Farenheit).

    Fresh air and Vegemite are crucial to my happiness!

  41. This was great! I’m a Vancouverite, also planted in Sydney! I could relate to SO much of what she was saying, both about home and about being an expat here and the observations of Sydney siders!

  42. For someone like me who used to live and work as a live-in nanny in Melbourne during my early 20s this article was pretty amazing to read. I recall many of the same experiences though I was a nanny and not a mother. Especially I remember how my host mom would go on and on about the importance of sun hats, however for me as a Scandinavian I never really truely understood the fuss about the sun hat. Also I of course remember vegimite. Many of my nanny friends from overseas found it disgusting but I ended up liking as much as I would choose it for my lunch. And oh, the Australian mentality I really miss that. Aussies are just fantastic!

  43. I found the differences pretty accurate, being an Australian living in Melbourne with an American husband , he thinks the same. My husband is always amazed how expensive it is to live here. We don’t really think about the dangerous animals, just know to be careful and yes we do all place an importance on learning to swim as there are a lot of dangerousness rip tides! I love it here but could also happily live in Colorado where my husband is from.

  44. What a great post!! You show cased our city beautifully and your images are amazing. I love my city and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s do interesting to hear what others think of our way of life.

  45. This was a great read as a pregnant ex-pat also living in Sydney (although I’m from New Zealand originally, which probably isn’t quite so different). I’ve never heard of sleep camps! I even googled it but couldn’t find much information – I’ll have to ask around to find out more before my baby is due in November.

    Re: the comment above about health insurance – hospital stays are generally covered by the public health system (government) but I think it’s quite common to also have some private health cover as then you’re covered for any “extra” costs like ambulance trips, private rooms, specialists that might not be covered by the public health system.

  46. Smerks, I’ve been living in the Netherlands for 6 years (with my Dutch husband). Feel free to ask any questions.

  47. I love love this series!

  48. I adore this motherhood series!!! More please! Gabby what is this amazing pool next to the ocean on the second picture?! Looks heavenly!

  49. Unfortunately due to current climate change our kids will experience a very different Australia to the one we grew up with. It’s very sad.

  50. @wanderlustywriter, we do have a lot of lifeguards on our beaches, but we have just so many of them that it is not feasible for them to be all watched all of the time. Our Bondi Lifeguards have a bit of a hero status here in Australia (and rightly so). I live in Melbourne in, but am from Sydney originally. I really notice the temperature in houses when I go back to Sydney, because Melbourne is that bit colder there is far better insulation and heating, which I have to say is very nice. Although, even in the middle of winter the kids still go outside a lot – ‘no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ is the general view.

  51. This made me so ‘homesick’ for Australia (though I, too, am from and live in Vancouver, Canada). This is a dead-on take on ex-pat life in Australia…even if I never had kids there :)

  52. I’m an Australian mum living in San Francisco so I’ve kind of got the opposite situation to Gaby!
    My two oldest children were born in Australia (we moved when they were 5 and 1) and my youngest was born here in the US 3 months ago so I’m getting to experience motherhood in two different countries. For the most part it’s pretty similar. Australians are definitely much more laid back than Americans when it comes to parenting though. There’s a lot more helicopter parenting going on in the playgrounds here than back home! And I never once had another parent condemn me for buying my kids the non-organic strawberries in Australia. Maybe that’s just an SF thing ;)
    Certain things are made easier for parents in Australia – like the fact that there’s a family room (with private nursing area, microwaves, bottle warmer, tv, play area etc) and allocated family parking spaces at pretty much every shopping centre. I’ve never heard of the sleep camps though. They sound like a good idea. Maybe that’s a Sydney thing or a more recent thing. It has been 4 years since I had a baby in Australia ;)

    My husband I lived in Sydney for 5 years before we had kids but moved back to our smaller home city to be near family and buy a house. Gaby’s right about Sydney being super expensive. Actually, all of Australia is expensive – even compared to San Francisco – but Sydney is just crazy. In fact, when moved to San Francisco we were choosing between here and going back to Sydney and SF was going to be the more affordable option! I know that’s probably hard for most people living in San Francisco to believe!

    Swimming is definitely much more popular in Australia than it is here in America. I was surprised when my oldest daughter started school a few years back and she was the only kid in her kindergarten class who could swim! You’d never find that in Australia. Most babies start swim lessons around 4 to 6 months.

    Australia isn’t quite as dangerous as people think. Sure there are lots of deadly animals but most people will never come into contact with them. Australians tend to exaggerate to foreigners a little when it comes to this! That said, don’t leave your shoes outside overnight unless you want a spider or two to move in! Checking inside shoes before putting them on is definitely one thing I don’t miss about Australia! My husband and I both grew up in rural areas and neither of us have heard of anyone carrying a stick to ward off dangerous creatures though! We did have to watch out for swooping magpies and there was that one time my mum found a giant brown snake in our laundry room… Ok, maybe Australia can be a little scary!

    I’m not sure if the laws in Australia regarding car seats have changed in the last few years but in the past they were not as strict as they are here in California. As someone else pointed out in the comments it’s legal to turn baby seats to forward facing at a much earlier age. 6 months I seem to recall. I was very surprised when we moved to California and our 1 year old had to go back to rear facing after facing forward for 6 months.

    Oh and I just have to correct one thing… You’ll never catch an Australian putting a hot dog on a bbq! Sausages, yes, but hot dogs… that’s just sacrilege!

  53. After loving ALL the motherhood around the world posts so far, it was so interesting to read one about my home country! Parenting in other parts of the world just seems so exotic compared with Australia, so it was great to see Oz from an international perspective.

    Just to weigh in about ‘chucking a sickie’ — it really depends what type of organisation you work for — it’s more acceptable in some than others, and I think the reason that some employers turn a blind eye to it is that it can be good for employee morale and mental health, when used in moderation, for example if someone is quite stressed and just needs a day at home to chill out. My coworkers and I are quite honest with each other about whether we’re really sick, or just taking a ‘mental health day’! Having said this, you only get a small number of days of sick leave per year that you can take without a doctor’s certificate, so the days that you can take off without providing evidence are quite limited.

  54. Could you do a segment of this from a mother in Italy..I would be really interested in that. (= Thanks! Really enjoy checking in here.

  55. I am laughing reading this post because I have the doors and windows open right now to let the air in (and, yes, it is the middle of winter.) It was sweet to read these observations on living in our city. I had no idea that sleep school was an Australian thing. We went for the full on stay with my big kid. I know a good handful of people who have been with one of their kids. Also it’s not just an overnight camp, they do home visits and day stays at the sleep school too.
    I am not sure about the roast dinner comments though – probably the norm in very anglo Aussie families but these days most people seem to have a more varied cultural heritage.

  56. I moved to Australia 20 odd years ago, and can confirm that the slang can be very interesting! I still come across new ones every now and again, even after all this time.
    I was able to take my daughter to a sleep camp (‘camp’ is a little misleading – it was a purpose built, beautifully decorated place with excellent facilities, tonnes of toys and an amazing playground!). And, as it was part of a public and government funded hospital, I did not pay a cent for my week’s stay. I was so grateful for the guidance and the care shown to me and my little one. We really are a lucky country.
    I’m amazed at Australia’s reputation for having dangerous animals! I’ve lived in a capital city and two smaller, country towns and have not had a single encounter with a snake or crocodile or angry kangaroo!
    And, finally – Vegemite is an acquired taste (it took me about 2 years to come around – oops, adjust, I mean!). The trick is to have a scraping of it on lavishly buttered hot toast. It becomes an addictive, umami treat that way. Never, EVER accept a spoonful of it neat. I don’t know a single Aussie who will eat Vegemite that way – but it seems to a favourite way of introducing Vegemite to the unsuspecting visitor!

  57. Just to clarify the Insurance question. Australia has a good public health care system, which will cover off any emergency hospital care, having a baby in the public hospital (including pre and post natal care), dental for school aged children in public schools and some GP’s will “Bulk Bill” (Essentially means they don’t charge anything more than the Public Health System – Medicare, will cover). However, its very difficult to get appointments with GP’s that only bulk bill and we also have very good private hospitals here (and a lot of women I know choose to birth in a private hospital with their choice of obstetricians). The Government here HIGHLY encourages all Australians to take out Private Health Cover (encourages by charging a Levy Surcharge on our taxes if we earn over a certain amount of money which means that even the most basic of private health is worthwhile taking out just so we’re not having to pay the extra tax) this is done to relieve the burden on the public system. Having said that, I’m currently pregnant and have private health cover, but not “top level” cover, so I’m not covered to give birth in a Private Hospital (only a public hospital in a semi private – i.e. shared, room). I’m choosing to have my baby at a birthing centre, which is run by midwives, but connected to the major public hospital here in Perth.
    Apologies for the extensive post, didn’t mean for it to be so long! And thanks for the series, I’m really enjoying it!
    PS – My Flat White in Perth this morning cost me US $4.50

  58. Reading this makes me want to move back to Aussie even more! I love it there, both of my children were born over there, and my husband is an aussie, but we moved to NZ a few years ago to be closer to my family. But I yearn for all things Australian….it is such an amazing place that once it gets into your soul it keeps tugging at your heartstrings….

  59. The friend with the stick for the kangaroos … I highly doubt it. They tend to hop away as soon as you get close! But otherwise it’s a pretty good representation of my city, where I’ve lived most of my life.

    Oh, except it’s ‘D & M’, not DNM.

    Also, it’s rare to chuck sickies anymore. People here mostly work insane hours, some of the longest in the OECD.

  60. Im an American living in Sydney, and also newly pregnant. One of the biggest pieces missing here is the difference in medical care during and after pregnancy. I suppose that may be because Gaby comes from a country with socialized healthcare, but the medical system–while being top quality like the US system–is vastly different. I wish I could contribute more about the differences, but my head is still spinning as I learn all my options and sometimes lack of options as I go along. The entire prenatal and childbirth process is very different in many aspects. Maybe some contributors will chime in–I know I have a lot to learn! Thanks for publishing this article. It is a great series!

  61. I wouldn’t be put off coming to Australia because of the wildlife! You only see some of these crazy scary animals when you go far out of the city, or towards the top of Aus where it’s more tropical. I did get my lunch stolen off me the other day by a swooping kookaburra though!

    I love our cheap and quick flights to Bali. It almost makes up for us having to spend thousands and travel for 24hrs just to get to Europe!

  62. So funny to read one of these about my own country! Agree with the other Aussies that saying ‘not bad’, ‘not good’, ‘not hot’ is definitely a thing, and my boyfriend describes everything he doesn’t like as “pretty average”!

    BUT keeping a stick to fend off kangaroos is about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard- they are very shy and would only be a danger if cornered (probably in a house) and feeling very threatened (most likely by dogs). Certainly not a danger to people! (All the other dangerous animals are true though, and normal- I live in Queensland and between the box jellyfish, crocodiles and sharks it’s not worth swimming in the sea.)

  63. Gaby I’m chuckling so much at this – do you know my brother and sister and I used to wear ice cream containers on our heads to walk to catch the school bus? We would get swooped by magpies! Such a great read. Kellie xx

  64. On insurance. Most Australians don’t have insurance, the government pays for all costs of pregnancy and delivery including a small hospital stay. All checks up of babes and children are also funded by government as well. I had a midwife come to my house every day for two weeks after birth to help with all things baby- breast feeding mostly- completely provided by govt. There is the option to have private health insurance if you want, in which case you do have an out of pocket cost for your OB and hospital stay.

  65. oh…and welcome to Australia Gaby and thankyou for your lovely post x

  66. I reckon the friend who told you she was beating off kangaroos with a stick was having a lend of you.

    Otherwise, top stuff.

  67. this post has actually made me teary lol….hearing someone speak of your city/country in such high regard really makes you feel lucky…we are lucky and tend to forget it sometimes. australia is just wonderful and we should thank her every day :)

  68. I really disagree about the comments on Australian work ethic – “chucking a sickie” is said negatively when someone is sceptic that someone is actually sick. In reality most workplaces insist on doctors certificates for even single days of sick leave. The high cost of living was spot on though.

  69. I may have missed it but I didn’t see anything on health insurance. Just curious how it compares to other countries.

  70. I absolutely loved this piece. As a local who lives in the East of Sydney, I thought this was spot on. It’s so lovely to hear things that people from abroad think about our country. I know I love it but it’s so nice to hear others love it too. Thanks for sharing – this was so beautiful.

  71. Just found your blog. This was a really interesting read–kind of made me wish I were raising my twin babies in Australia! Except for the spiders sharks and alligators, and the high rent. Still searching for that perfect place :)

  72. I’ve lived in Australia all of my life. I’m not a mother yet, but I’ve never heard of sleep camps from friends that are mothers. That sounds really bizarre to me!

    In terms of the Aussie slang – I would say those phrases are a little bit more like an exaggerated Australian slang rather than every day talk. There are lots of slang words though that I can’t think of because I use them every day without noticing, like thongs (flip flops) and togs (bathing suit). There is a fairly big difference with slang depending on if you are in the city or country. In smaller country towns the pace is a lot slower, service is a lot slower, people are a lot more laid back and use more slang! And locals are more friendly and like to “have a laugh” (make jokes and friendly banter).

    Winters in Queensland feel so cold because our house is full of gaps, even though the winter is actually not that cold. There is a big gap under our front door, in our floor boards and the house is surrounded by glass windows which get very cold. All of the cold air gets in and it’s very common for houses not to have heating.

    My family and lots of families I know take at least 1 or 2 beach holidays per year and go camping or stay in a house near the beach.

    Christmas dinners are typically cold meats such as cold ham, chicken, prawns. And lots of salads and cherries, avocado, mango and a pavlova for dessert. In summer it is also typical to have a BBQ with steak and sausages, salads, swimming in the pool or at the beach, drinking beer and playing or watching cricket with friends.

    I grew up in North Queensland where there was a lot of rainforest, wild life and humid weather. I saw crocodiles, snakes, bandicoots, goannas, possums, big spiders, lots of different types of frogs and lizards and birds and kangaroos on a regular basis! We were always interested in watching them, but were careful to not get too close and to have a lot of knowledge about which animals are dangerous etc… I even used to swim in the river where crocodiles lived and even went down a river with rapids floating on a tube, where crocodiles lived, without much fear! Swimming between the flags at the beach or in a stinger net (to keep jellyfish out in Northern Australia) always feels safe because there are life guards and people around. It’s when you are swimming early morning or after dark in un patrolled areas and often surfers that are alone when there is danger of sharks. In general Australia is very peaceful and safe and I think that gives Australian’s a sense of security (even with the dangerous animals).

    Having lived here all of my life – I could obviously talk all day about where I live… but I thought this is a small taste of my perspective after reading the article. :) It was really interesting to read about my own country after reading about so many foreign locations with wide eyes.

  73. di says...

    Such a great read, I don’t normally read a full post…but this was a really interesting view on us Aussies!

  74. P.S. Oh and the four weeks leave a year? I WISH!!! My husband gets three weeks and that’s considered quite generous. He works long hours (about 12 hours a day) which is considered quite standard.

  75. Reading this as an Australian mum I felt very proud of our little nation, thank you Gaby. Things which we just think are standard apparently are not? Like sleep school, I actually don’t know many mums who haven’t tried sleep school at some point in their child’s early months/years. I’d never noticed how we say something is ‘not’ rather than how it is either, but that’s so true! I live in a more southern (so colder) part of Australia than Gaby in Sydney and at the moment feel that winter is just dragging on and on and is so much colder than usual this year so I was a bit amused about all the good weather! But next to a Canadian/US northern winter I know it’s nothing, but often people from overseas are so shocked to hear that it snows where I come from. I can totally relate about the lack of insulation and heating in homes though, I guess we figure winter isn’t THAT bad here so why bother properly heating/insulating but for those short periods of cold our house is chilly! We have a seven week old daughter born in the depths of a Victorian winter and it’s been hard to keep our home warm enough, she sleeps out in the lounge room next to the fire because her bedroom is too cold. Bring on the Aussie summer! When I was pregnant over summer we lived in inland South Australia (one of the hottest, driest states) and sweltered through 5 days straight of 45-47 degrees celcius in our house with no cooling. Yup, totally standard here!

  76. Hey Joanna, I love your Motherhood around the World series, but, erm, I live in Sydney, and this one is way off the mark. Hahaha, I can imagine your readers imagining “kangaroos taller than men”, us all drinking $17 cocktails and shivering because “nobody has central heating” (what the?!) — Also, Aussies have some of the highest rates of work attendance in the world, some of the highest hours worked per week on average in the OECD, 4 weeks vacation is actually the maximum — and the “sickie” went out in the 70s! I get the idea of having expat ‘moms’ write the series, but maybe some local mums would give this a bit of balance?! It’s too funny!!

  77. As an Australian I thought this post was pretty much spot on. I love how people from overseas see it as such a dangerous place! Although since I lived in a really remote rural area and killed a brown snake (second most venomous snake in Australia) with a shovel at my back door, I am inclined to agree!

  78. Haha love this! I’m a kiwi living in southern California and it made me miss home (even though nz isn’t Australia the culture is pretty similar).
    I give my toddler marmite (same as Vegemite) and he loves it!

    Thank you Joanna!

  79. What a lovely and fresh perspective. And Clementine is ADORABLE!

  80. You’ve hit the nail on the head describing Sydney! As a born and bred Novocastrian (from Newcastle, just north of Sydney) who is now living in a big country town, much of the outsiders perspective of Sydney is very true! And I had no idea that “no hat, no play” didn’t apply in other countries! I think that growing up with dangerous animals you just learn to appreciate the risk and make a judgement every time you do something like move wood or swim at an unpatrolled beach. And once you get to towns west of the great dividing range all the culture changes again-to even more laid back in most cases. Great article and beautiful photos, makes me proud to say this is my place :)

  81. Totally made me miss Sydney/home, too! I’ve been living in SF for two years and ache for sea breezes like Sydney has.

    Agree re: sick days – it’s actually pretty hard to ‘chuck a sickie’ if you work for a serious employer, but we do love taking vacations. It’s a common small-talk topic in the office – where’s your next vacation? And Aussies don’t care about the distance – just take a sleeping pill on the plane and watch a movie :)

    I also laughed a lot about fresh air. Had no idea that was Australian, but maybe it is! I talked our landlord into putting up steel screen doors on our front and back doors so we get a nice air flow. In hindsight, he did seem to think that was weird!

    Great series, Joanna!

  82. It’s fun to read this as an Australian — you don’t really think about how your culture must seem from the outside (even what I would consider as a very similar culture: Canadian). Although the sleep camp stuff sounded pretty ominous — I’ve only heard of one or two of mums who have done that in my extended circle!

  83. I love reading these. I never knew how different it was to raise kids in various countries. It’s mind-opening to learn about how cultures across the globe do parenting. :] // ☼

  84. Two things…

    (1) I’m so glad you’re back! I missed your blog over the past few weeks. I hope your vacation was lovely.

    (2) Have you ever considered putting together a book of these stories someday? I think this could be such a fascinating collection, along the lines of “A World of Babies” (which I highly recommend if you haven’t come across it already).

  85. jm says...

    This was a really fun read! I think the idea of sleep camps is so interesting. American parents are pretty much left on their own to figure it all out. Great series!

  86. Coming from Perth on the west coast it is cheaper (and closer) to fly to Bali or another south East Asian country than it is to fly to Sydney or the east coast. It’s even cheaper than flying to the north of Western Australia (broome)! That’s why there so many Aussies in Bali. Most urban beaches are patrolled by surf life savers during the warmer months. They are volunteers. Growing up here it becomes ingrained to swim between the red and yellow flags the surf life savers place on the beach to mark the safe swimming areas. Beaches get closed when sharks come in too close. In perth they have started a controversial shark baiting program of which I am not a fan, the ocean is their habitat, we are just visitors. We eat more sharks in our fish and chips than they eat people! In my lifetime I have encountered a couple of snakes (as in there was one in the general area that slithered off), red back spiders get a swift whack with a thong (flip flop) and I’m yet to see a crocodile outside a zoo. I think the danger factor is a bit exaggerated. Guess it depends on where you live – it’s a very big and diverse country! And yes, car seats become forward facing at about 6 months based on height of the child.

  87. Oh this just made me miss home so much! I think her observations of Aussies are quite spot on, and it’s really the people I miss most.

  88. Oh this made me laugh! Our little family of three are Australians living in Seattle, and many of the things in this post have made me ache for home (Australians always call their home country ‘home’).

    The things that really stood out to me as being so true were that we say what things are NOT (i.e. you are ‘not bad’) and the whole fresh air thing! Every morning I announce to the family ‘let’s open up those windows and get some nice fresh air in’. I didn’t even realize it was a particularly Aussie thing to do. :)

    This interview is great but it really reads sort of touristy (which is the point of these interviews I guess). You can tell that it’s not written by someone who has grown up in the country – which isn’t a bad thing, I just think it only shows things in the best possible light.
    I would disagree about the work/life balance of Australia – chucking a sickie is not socially accepted, most companies will require you to have a doctor’s certificate to prove you were really sick, and if you get caught taking the day off you’re in big trouble. The government and companies are not really geared towards helping families create a good balance – even though you get lots of holiday time, many companies are not flexible when it comes to changing your hours or wanting to work part-time. Childcare is subsidized by the government (assuming you earn below the threshold) but nannies are very uncommon and financially out of reach for many families.

    Just sayin’.

  89. This is a great series. My husband is Dutch and we often talk about the differences of how our children are growing up in NYC v his nieces in Utrecht. If you go the Dutch profile route in the future, I know someone you can interview!

  90. wow! this is my favorite motherhood post yet. I think its so interesting because australia seems so similar to the US but its also so different. i love learning about all the different slang!

  91. Soooo cool. We went to Australia a few years ago and fell in love instantly. We immediately started daydreaming about moving there… so it’s great to read about someone who actually did it!

    I love the idea of socially acceptable fake sick days. NEED.

  92. I love your motherhood posts. We are considering moving from Brooklyn to Amsterdam and I’m dying to read a similar post about what life is like there before we take the plunge… can I request a motherhood post about Holland?

  93. this was such a good one! and it’s awesome to hear that they have requirements like the sun hats for children. her beach/water pictures are making me very, very ready for a trip to australia (just not the entire day-long flight).

  94. Great post, Gaby. I hear you on the crazy living costs in Sydney and the freezing houses in winter! What is that about?! It’s a beautiful place to raise a family though. I’m also an expat and feel very fortunate to live in the lucky country.

  95. Isn’t it legal to turn your child forward-facing in the car seat at a very young age in Australia? I’ve heard something about 6 months? Here in the USA it’s highly encouraged to keep your child rear-facing for at least 2 years, but ideally until he/she outgrows the rear-facing capacity of a car seat (usually after 3/4 years old). In Sweden kids rear-face until they’re ready for booster seats! I’m not sure if what I heard about 6 months is true but it seems so careless given the vast research supporting how much safer rear-facing is. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing :)

  96. The Motherhood Around The World series is my favorite, and I don’t even have kids! I just love hearing about day-to-day life in other countries. Keep them coming!

  97. I loved this post! My step-mum is a Sydneysider and I’ve spent lots of time there. One thing I’ve noticed about Aussie parents is they are obsessed with sun protection – kids are usually head-to-toe in SPF gear plus a sweet floppy hat. It’s pretty cute. Australians are very aware of skin cancer and have very high rates, so they are really careful with their kiddos.

  98. Hi Jo – love your blog! Let me know if you want to feature anyone from South Africa in this great series;)

  99. Joanna. I am so glad you’re back! You are the break from the daily grind of being a new mama. 5 minutes “me” time reading your blog!

    I find these posts so interesting. This one in particular. The language differences must be because of so many Irish emigrating to Aus. Nearly all of the phrases used we use! Cant wait for the next post.

    Gillian, Dublin.

  100. Loved this post. I’ve visited Australia, never lived there, and totally agree about the beautiful, friendly people and the grossness that is vegemite. I was a little surprised on the section about safety–I remember being shocked that there were no lifeguards on the beaches and that everyone was so blase about there being sharks, stingrays, etc. in the water. Do parents take their children in the ocean regardless? In NJ there is always a lifeguard on duty in the summer and we don’t even have such an array of sea life to contend with!

  101. Thank you for this. I am seriously considering moving to Australia after Graduation.

    P.S. I’m so glad you’re back!

  102. I love this series SO much! It makes me wonder where I want to end up…

  103. Joanna – Do they have Sleep Doulas where you are? That’s what we used. Many people in Toronto I know have used them. You can either have a consult and train yourself – or have them do it for you!
    I’ve done it with both of my boys. Life saver!

  104. I adore living in Sydney too – the climate is amazing – we spend most of our lives outside as it is so mild. The beaches are beyond beautiful – most days I walk the dogs along one of the promenades as sea breezes are the best. The wildlife takes some getting used to – but now it’s a breeze (we are from NZ originally). Our place in the country – 1/5 hrs south of Sydney – has possums, wombats and snakes on it – and the snakes pretty much stay away – they don’t like to be disturbed – so they slither off when they hear one of us or one of the dogs coming! Amazing what you get relaxed about!!!

  105. I’m from Sydney and now raising my kids in Canada (though we go back home every year). So I know all these differences (and vice versa). I know what you mean about windows and doors open. It will be October/November here in Canada, and I’ll still try and crack the doors open for a bit of each day. My kids will probably want to play Hockey and Ski, but I’ll definitely find a place they can play cricket too!

    I do appreciate how well people build and heat houses here, but the appreciation of water in Australia is different. People THINK about water more, especially the lack of it.

    I think this was pretty spot on description of the differences. Makes me a bit homesick.

  106. While I don’t have kids, I loved reading this because I studied abroad in Melbourne one fall semester in college and this brought me right back! Especially the comments about slang words and how expensive everything was. I remember coming home the skinniest and tannest I’d ever been in my life because of how little I ate (had to ration my food due to prices!) and how active I was due to the great weather. And Vegemite to this day is still the grossest thing I’ve ever eaten! :)

  107. I’ve never heard of sleep camps before, super interesting!

  108. I love this series so much–every time it’s posted I think, “Oh there can’t possibly be something new to say about parenting in another country” and by the end I’m always wanting more! Thanks for another interesting view!


  109. What a lovely post. I am so glad you are continuing this series. Views like these are so refreshing. Beautiful photos. Australia is on my bucket list. Maybe I’ll take my future kiddo there !:)

  110. s an Australian (who lived in Vancouver for 8 years) – I found this post so interesting! I left Australia when I was 23 and had my children in Vancouver so did the opposite to Gaby. I find it so amusing about all the dangerous animals – when you grow up there, you never even consider them! But as soon as I moved away that’s all foreigners ever ask about! I found that routine is very important to new mothers and most people who went to the ‘sleep camps’ come back so much happier. I imposed similar sleep training with my two boys and it was very much looked down upon in Vancouver where attachment parenting is the trend. It’s funny how we can move across the world, live our adult lives in a different country – yet still hold onto the norms of our own culture without even knowing you’re performing them? Great post and amazing photos – it makes me miss my country of origin!!

  111. PS i think the sleep camps sound pretty amazing. i found it SUCH a struggle to teach my children how to sleep and felt so on my own!