Life in Melbourne: October & November 2018 Edition

It’s been a beautiful spring so far with plenty of sunny days to enjoy time outside. Anthony and I got into the Halloween spirit more than usual and spent our free evenings working on costumes and decorations. Since we enjoyed a quiet November, I combined blogs as the highlight of the month was hosting a mammoth Friendsgiving.

Turnbull Stakes Day
Saturday, October 6
Melbourne takes horse racing very seriously. Turnbull Stakes Day is considered the preview for Melbourne Cup and Melbourne Cup is to Australia as the Kentucky Derby is to America. Except the state of Victoria takes it one step further gifting its residents with a public holiday to celebrate Cup Day the first Tuesday of November.

When we caught the train from Southern Cross direct to the Flemington racecourse, I told Anthony that I felt like we were in the Hunger Games with all the ladies in their Dr. Seuss hats and men sporting freshly pressed suits as we zoomed past graffiti clad neighborhoods. I’m totally not one for dressing up and donning a fascinator (aka “Dr. Seuss hat”) on my head, but it’s fun about once a year. Race day to me consists of day drinking and blindly betting on horses with epic names. This year, however, we got to witness the world’s fastest horse Winx win his 28th consecutive race.

Steph and Anthony at Flemington Racecourse for Turnbull Stakes Day 2018
Turnbull Stakes Day 2018

Murder Mystery Trivia
Thursday, October 11
A typical trivia night poses straightforward question and answer sessions, but The National’s murder mystery trivia guided us through thoughtful rounds reminiscent of my favorite game Clue. Our cordial detective host designed anagrams to lead us through who was murdered, where and how. Unfortunately, someone slaughtered Hugh Jackman in the shower with a chainsaw.

Fire Gardens
Friday, October 12
The Royal Botanic Gardens boast striking displays that make you feel a world away from the CBD even though you can occasionally spot the skyline poking through the trees. French artist Compagnie Carabosse completely transformed the gardens in a nocturnal demonstration that lit up the night as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Anthony and I strolled through flaming arches and passed by fields of embers that twisted like a river bend. We stood captivated before large spheres set ablaze on the pond that made us wonder what might be fire or reflection. Oversized kerosene globes hung from shallow trees and in the Ferntree gully, repurposed plain white t-shirts floated in the branches illuminating the path. We spent over 2 hours wandering through the sprawling spectacle and even marveled at the size of the fire extinguishers. Kudos to the artist for his creativity and imagination as the Fire Gardens will remain one of the most remarkable events I’ve attended in Melbourne.

Redwood Forest
Sunday, October 14
Life update: I have lived in Australia for almost 3 years now and today I saw my first snake. It’s not exactly how I wanted to remember our sunny Sunday afternoon, but I’m just glad Anthony saw it before we got too close! I think all three of us equally freaked out, but watching him slink away towards the creek gave me the ultimate creeps. Needless to say, I decided to cut our time exploring the Redwood Forest short because of my heebie-jeebies. On such a beautiful spring day, it’s easy to forget that the critters have been stir crazy after the winter too.

Saturday, October 27
Ironically enough, Australia believes that Halloween is an American holiday even though the tradition originates from the Celts according to Wikipedia. I find it interesting that trick-or-treating here is growing in popularity while it seems to have lost its pull in The States due to increasing safety concerns. Nevertheless, our group of friends embraced creative costumes, homemade decorations and innovative party snacks in the biggest and best Halloween house party I have ever attended, let alone hosted. Anthony crafted spooky silhouettes for our front windows and we showed classic black and white horror movie scenes on mute while the Monster Mash played in the background.

Halloween costume party group photo

One of my favorite bars in Melbourne is called Ponyfish Island, a hidden watering hole tucked away under a pedestrian bridge on the Yarra River and the inspiration for our costume this year. Anthony dressed as a horse and I as a fish, both with leis and tropical drinks of course. Our friends also immensely impressed me with a 100% costume turn out and it elated me that I didn’t have to impose a single $5 fine to the cauldron of shame. We even awarded our friend Dave and his partner Bree the winners of this year’s costume contest: Hannibal Lecter and FBI agent Clarice Starling. I think we all set the bar very high for next year!

Saturday, November 10
For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to host 26 people for Friendsgiving this year. Lesson learned: I will not take that challenge on again! Despite my enormous stress levels, we all enjoyed a really nice day together. We creatively managed to sit everybody with tables outside, in the living room and even in the garage. I could have never dreamed a Friendsgiving so large with more delicious food than I thought possible. We borderline ran out of places to serve everything in our kitchen and I wound up eating leftovers for a solid week.

Group photo at Friendsgiving

What are you thankful for? Every year at Friendsgiving, I make everyone say what they are thankful for and encourage people to not say things like family, friends or health. I am thankful for the opportunity to live in a country that makes me feel safe and can provide me with things like clean running water and Medicare. I’m also super thankful for parents who are so supportive of me living abroad and for friends who don’t make me feel so far away from home. Hope everyone’s hearts (and stomachs) were as full as mine this year!

3 Year Anniversary!
Sunday, November 25
Three years ago today, I landed in Melbourne. I had no idea what to expect as I had done little to no research on the actual city, but decided to start my Australian work and holiday visa here since I had heard nothing but good things. If it turned out to be a bust, I planned on moving to Sydney and since my time here I think I’ve spent all of 4 days there. Life in Melbourne and Australia has continuously provided me with new and exciting experiences that I am so grateful for and for the privilege to call this place home.

Mom is spending Christmas in Australia this year, so stay tuned for posts about our travels through Tasmania and up the coast to Sydney for a bucket list New Year’s Eve!

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