October 2017 Expat Update


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October was an incredibly busy month and I really haven’t had time to digest it all yet.  It started with our incredible trip to Papua New Guinea and a visis from my brother and his family.  But we also experienced the absolute hardest thing about living overseas: being away from family.

Read: our September Expat Update

Highlights of October

Double Digit Birthday

We have a child in double digits!  How did that happen!?!  Ella turned 10 this month and we had fun celebrating our little girl, that really isn’t very little anymore.  Her birthday fell in the school holidays, but we had her class party in September.  For the actual day, we went for a mother-daughter pedicure, a family trip to the Science Centre and a low-key birthday dinner at home.  Our birthday season is now complete and it is always a bit of a relief to have that busy time behind us.

Cuboree Scout Camp

Gavin attended the Victoria Cuboree (Scouts) which is held every three years in the nearby Dandenongs.  It is a 5 day camp with 3,700 campers attending from all over the state.  It is a massive undertaking with a small city erected in the woods.  Each day brings tons of fun for the kids as they muck around in the mud, complete challenges and have a fantastic time.

All ready to go!

Paul was involved in setting up their pack’s area and he was mighty impressed with the logistics and scale of the event. Gavin had a great time, although he was pretty exhausted when we picked him up.

PNG Cruise

Luxury travel…what is this all about!?!

We are independent, budget travelers and although we cruised pre-kids, I was a bit of a snob about resorts, tours and cruises.  However, when we noticed that P&O Cruises had an itinerary to Papua New Guinea (PNG), we were completed hooked.  We knew the destination would be amazing (and it was!) but we didn’t expect to love the cruise experience nearly as much as we did.

Arriving at our first PNG port

I have always been fascinated by tribal cultures and visiting PNG was like stepping into an anthropology text.  We visited very remote islands that are practically untouched by the modern world.  We learned about their culture and way of life and cherished the interactions we had.  Another highlight was experiencing the incredible underwater marine life of PNG.  We have snorkeled in many parts of the world, but this was definitely some of the healthiest and most diverse coral and marine life we have ever seen.

Papua New Guinea

Traditional dancing on Kiriwina

PNG wood carvings

boats Trobriand

Go for a ride with one of the young boys in a traditional canoe

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Our cruise left from Cairns in Queensland and it was great to return to an area we were in, in May.  Paul and the older kids went canyoning and we had lots of time to relax and enjoy the lagoon in the centre of the city.

Josephine Falls vines

Family Visit & Showing off Melbourne

The very next day after we landed back in Melbourne, my brother and his family arrived for a visit.  Their daughter is 18 months and our kids are completely smitten with their little cousin.  We had so much fun hanging around together and showing them Melbourne.  It was their first visit to Australia and I have a feeling they will be back!

Since Steve and his family live on the other side of Canada from us, we don’t get to see them as much as would like.  It was so nice to have a solid two weeks together to catch up.

So happy to all be together!

Seeing some Aussie animals

Cousin time!

She was smothered with attention.

We have come to love Melbourne as a city and we can definitely see why it is known as the most livable city in the world.  While the kids were in school, I got to play tour guide and show them the tourist sites of Melbourne.  We visited St. Kilda, the trendy laneways, the markets, a wildlife sanctuary and more.  By the end of the week after listening to myself sing the praise of this city, I was wondering how could we possibly move away?

Great Ocean Road

During their visit, we rented a beach house in Apollo Bay on Great Ocean Road for a long weekend.  Since it is shoulder season and a bit cool still, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves.  We visited the classic Great Ocean Road sites like the 12 Apostles, but also spent lots of time enjoying the seaside view from our beach house.  Steve was eager to get some surfing in and the kids braved the cool waters to join him.

The cliffs along Great Ocean Road

Nothing better then family time!

The cousins all together.

Braving the very chilly waters

Showing them the sites

The 12 Apostles never get old!

The Grotto is one of my fav parts along the drive

Hanging out at our beach house

Again, we feel so lucky to live so close to this beautiful area of Australia.  A few hours from our house, this striking coastline with its orange cliffs, unusual rock formations and world class beaches is an awesome weekend getaway.


Last year at Halloween, we had recently arrived in Melbourne and I was feeling pretty blue about the house selection process.  Halloween was a further disappointment for me as I missed trick or treating and felt like the kids were missing out on such a fun night.

Ella and her buddies

School Halloween party

Had to carve some jack-o-lanterns!

Miles and Gavin

Trick or treating amongst the rose bushes!

While Halloween has not traditionally been celebrated in Australia, it is really catching on.  Fast forward to this year and we had Halloween parties to attend and trick or treating organized with friends.  While it is not the same as in Canada, it was still great for the kids to get dressed up.  You have to work really hard for your lollies (candy) here as very few houses give out candy.  But the kids had a blast running up and down the streets to find the decorations, which symbolized a participating house.  It was a bit strange trick or treating in the warm weather and day time, but it felt good to celebrate and we are so thankful for the community that we have become a part of.

October Lows

Health Scares

The hardest thing about living overseas is being away from family and friends.  While technology does make it a lot easier to feel closer, it is still hard.

My Mom had open heart surgery in October and it just happened to coincide with my brother being here in Australia.  We both felt helpless being so far away, unable to support both my Mom and my Dad through this very scary surgery.

My Mom is at home recovering now and the surgery was a success.  Thanks to Facetime, we talk daily, but I really wish I could have been there.  My brother has since gone back to Canada and visited Mom, so I feel better that there is one of us closer now.  Living overseas we notice all the birthdays and celebrations we miss, but the most challenging thing is being away when your family needs you the most.

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What’s Next

Breathing!  October was a totally whirlwind and I have just gotten back from a solo trip to Singapore with Gavin.  I am looking forward to living the regular routine for the next little while and getting ramped up for Christmas.

We have a couple of camping weekends planned, some end-of-school (school ends in December here) events and then we have to get ourselves psyched up for another Southern Hemisphere Christmas.  We won’t have any visitors this year at Christmas, so we aren’t overly enthused with the festive season approaching.

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