We realize that everyone might not know what is really going on, so decided to we should put some things into context for those on the periphery. Rule #1 of journalistic storytelling is the 5 w’s: who, what, where, when, and why. Hence, the CTV news magazine program. To avoid copyright violation, we’re adding a couple extra w’s: wagga, wagga.
W1. If you are reading this, you probably know who we are. If you just stumbled onto the blog and you don’t know at least one of us (and we don’t know you!), disregard that invitation to come visit us. And those of you who know one or both of the humans involved, but not the felines, have now been introduced to them in the last entry.
W2. What? Moving to Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia.
W3. Where? See W2. And W6. And W7. Or maybe it is W6&7.
W4: When? Now. But it will take a few months to sell house, etc.
W5: Why not? Everyone we know, even strangers we meet, seems to want to move to Australia. And after more than 10 years in her job at the University of Alberta, Lisa started to think it was time for a major career move. Charles Sturt University advertised a Professorship in Information Studies. Working on the British academic model, a professor in Australia is more prestigious, and more senior, than a professor in Canada. More on this on wikipedia if anyone cares. So it was a step up; she applied for the job, got it. So, that in a nutshell is why. There are other, more intricate details that some of you already know, and which may or may not surface at some point in more detailed ‘Why’ story, but for now, ‘nough said.
W6: Wagga. See W7.
W7: Wagga. See W6.
W6&7: Wagga Wagga is the largest inland city in New South Wales, Australia. Aussies just call it Wagga. It’s a Wiradjuri (W8?) term meaning “Land of many crows”. Not sure why…didn’t see any crows but the kookaburras were really loud. Think ibises are pests? Try sleeping near the Murrumbidgee River where all the kookaburras are nesting.
We were in Wagga in 2010 for a few days for Lisa’s interview and to get to know the city. It’s got a real 1950’s small town feel: it actually has a downtown core, but no shopping malls! It is going to be a bit of a culture shock, but neither of us grew up in a big city so we should be able to handle it.
First impressions when we were there were mixed, partly because it was flooded; but after the jetlag subsided our perspective on the town got better and better. It was weird though, being in a small city with a really (really!) slow pace of life. On our visit, we stayed at the Lawson Inn, on the edge of the CBD, or central business district (Aus-speak for downtown). It is a motel, in Canadian terms. There are no big hotels. No highrises. No big buildings. Strange; but similar to Owen Sound, Ontario (where Lisa grew up). Hmm, talk about life coming full circle.
We discovered a great place for breakfast called Cache. It was a few blocks away, maybe 1 km, just far enough to drive rather than walk. Every day we went, we ended up having to sit in the car reading the local paper waiting for it to open because there is no traffic. In Edmonton at 845 am, that would take at least 10 minutes. Wagga, you could count it in seconds. We were early for everything.
The town eventually did start to grow on us. There were some good restaurants (Cache, for example, Three Chefs, an OK Indian place, and a good Thai place. The last two both being byo! a whole new concept we will gladly get used to). We visited an olive grove where owners Bruce and Joo-Yee grow a variety of olives, make really good oils and cure fabulous manzanillo olives in ginger, citrus and other interesting flavours. There’s a winery at Charles Sturt where faculty and staff get a 25% discount (that kicks UofA’s ass right there…furlough days or discount chardonnay, which would you prefer?). About a 30 minute drive away, in Junee, is a really great organic licorice factory. And Narrandera, about an hour away, has a koala reserve. What more could you ask for? Well, maybe a real butcher shop? Aha – Wagga’s got it!!
Everyone we met was genuinely friendly. Typical interaction in winery, petrol station, everywhere:
- Where are you from? Canada.
- Oh, it’s cold there. Why are you here, no one comes to Wagga? Job interview at Uni (don’t waste effort calling it Charles Sturt University, Sturt, or even University…Australian language reflects their attitudes and culture, beautifully!)
- Hope you get it mate, if you do look me up and we can have dinner/pint/etc…
And they mean it!
There are a few things we will have to get used to, due to the slower pace. Many stores aren’t open on Sunday. They even close early on Saturday. Restaurants are typically closed Sunday, Monday, and maybe Tuesday (how dare they close! maybe we need to teach them about old-fashioned Alberta entrepreneurism). No basements and large lots (what? Don’t the developers understand how to maximize square footage?). But, really, it seems like a pretty livable town where we can enjoy a really great quality of life.
We just have to beware of bogans in utes, ferals, and hairy panic. More on these terms/concepts in future entries.