I lived in Brisbane, Australia for four years with my family. I moved there for my stepdad’s company when I was fifteen, and moved back to Utah to go to BYU.
Right after I finished junior high, my mom told me we’d be moving Down Under. I was so excited, which I think surprised my mom a little. But I’ve always had the yearning to travel to new places. I envisioned Australia as a sunny, tropical paradise with charming surfer dudes and kangaroos a-plenty.
My school was much different than a U.S. high school. We wore strict uniforms and abided by a no make-up, no jewelry, hair pulled back at all times rule. Academics were taken seriously. Although it was an adjustment at first, I loved the experience I had at my school and the lifelong friends I made there.
I came to love Australia more than I ever expected.
I took my husband back in 2008, and hoped to go back again someday. We had been talking about it for years, so when cheap flights came up, we pulled the trigger.
We went with my oldest daughter and left our littlest two behind. It was a good move. The 12+ hour flight and the ensuing jet lag was not something we wanted to deal with with our babies when we only had two weeks to explore.
As we descended into Brisbane and saw the familiar coastline, the orange-roofed ceilings, and the winding Brisbane river, I was elated. It was surreal to be going to the place I loved so much with my little girl.
Our trip exceeded all of my expectations, and it was truly magical to be there again. It felt like coming home.
Leaving was hard, as usual, and I couldn’t help but cry as we said goodbye to our friends and the country that has half of my heart.
But I know we’ll be back again.
My friend, Eleasah, and I met our first year of high school. My oldest daughter is named after her!
The sunsets on Australian beaches are unbeatable.
Our friends were such generous hosts. They were kind enough to show us some of their favorite, lesser-known beaches.
My high school, John Paul College
You’re not supposed to step foot on the special school mosaic in the main building, but Clay’s a rebel.
I loved showing the family around my old stomping grounds.
We held some cute koalas and fed kangaroos.
We even saw a mama kangaroo with a baby joey poking out of her pouch!
We loved Byron Bay. Such a laid-back, artsy beach town. The lighthouse and the walk surrounding it was incredible. We spotted pods of dolphins and stopped at the most easterly point in all of Australia.
We visited “The Farm,” with cute farm animals, beautiful scenery, and a farm-to-table restaurant.
We said goodbye to Clay, then my girl and I headed off to Queenstown, New Zealand.
Milford Sound was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. It was judged by TripAdvisor as the world’s top travel destination, and I can see why. The beauty of the mountains jutting out of the blue Tasman Sea is almost otherworldly.
It made me so happy to watch my girl fall in love with Australia. We both miss it already.
Some of our favorite spots:
New Zealand Natural Ice Cream
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
The Farm Byron Bay
Byron Bay Lighthouse
Gelato from Mrs. Ferg
Ice cream from Patagonia
If you want more recommendations, feel free to contact me!