To bring you up to speed if you’re not yet a regular on this blog, I’m a Dutch Australian who grew up in Australia, then married a Dutch man and lived in The Netherlands from 2002-2007. In December 2007, we moved to Brisbane but then our family relocated to The Hague last year (July 2012).
I received the most wonderful Christmas present from my parents – a plane ticket from Amsterdam-Brisbane (return!) for my daughters and I and we flew on Saturday. After a 25 hour journey with Emirates, when we landed in the early hours of Monday morning, here are the first five things I did when I arrived back in Australia from The Netherlands.
1. Hugged my family
It’s been 17 months since my girls have been in Australia and just over a year for me (as I returned for 2 weeks in November 2012 for my brother’s wedding). It was sooooo good to hug my mum, dad and brother at the airport! Also just wonderful to see my parents have the chance to hug their grandchildren instead of just talking on Skype. The next day I got to hug my other brother and sister in law. Amazing.
2. Saw the Southern Cross
We flew with Emirates and arrived in the early hours of Monday morning. As I looked out the car window on our trip from Brisbane airport to where my family live on the Sunshine Coast, I immediately spotted the Southern Cross constellation amongst the stars and my heart literally skipped a beat.
3. Marvelled at the landscape
The trees and mountains here are so different to The Netherlands – instead of flat open fields dotted with sheep, cows and windmills, the landscape flashing by along the Bruce Highway is what I grew up with – soaring eucalyptus trees, the unique shape of the Glasshouse Mountains, pine tree plantations, green and white road signs. I didn’t consciously register all the individual elements, but together, I felt like I was surrounded by home.
Even though it was around 3am when I walked into my parents kitchen, I could not resist that mouth-watering aroma of the Bowen Mangos. Juicy, sweet deliciousness! Though you can buy mangoes in The Netherlands the taste and aroma are just nothing like these ones you get in Queensland.
5. Listened to the birds
We all went to bed after that long journey at around 4am – and it wasn’t long afterwards that the birds started their morning chorus. The calls of kookaburras, magpies and more shattered the silence. Like the landscape, it was all completely familiar to me, but not to my 6 year old daughter. Though she lived in Australia for several years and would have heard them often, obviously being away for the last 17 months had wiped it from her memory. “Mama, I can’t sleep, what is that scary sound?!” The kookaburra sounded like a witch to her! This filled me with mixed emotions. There was a level of laughter that welled up, but also sadness that my little Dutch Australian didn’t know the sound of a kookaburra! We lay in bed together for a while, identifying the calls and I realised that I couldn’t actually identify too many – but this wonderful Backyard Birds website we found later has changed that. Here’s a noisy minor.
So if you flew from The Netherlands to Australia – or vice versa – after a length of time away, what are the first five things you did (or would do?)
All photos are my own apart from the Southern Cross one (credited above)
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