What is a doovalacky

Bicultural Urbanite Brianna
As a tourist at home

Stock up on vitamin D | © Brianna Summers

In the darkest days of the German winter, the vitamin D deficiency triggers my instinct to find my home, and so I do the same as the ducks and set out on the long seasonal migration southwards.

After a 24 hour flight, I land disheveled and dehydrated in Melbourne, reunited with my family after almost twelve months. I step in front of Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, immediately overwhelmed by the bright colors and botanical scents of the Australian summer. I'm back home, but definitely not locals anymore. Like a tourist visiting her past, I enjoy my old favorite dishes, stock up on essentials and explore the youngest incarnation of the most livable city in the world.

In my time here I get a snapshot of life in Australia. The image that slowly develops reveals a mishmash of the familiar, the uncanny and the unexpected. Half portrait, half landscape, the scene is populated with familiar faces, striking new architecture, overcrowded trams and seagulls chasing fries on the beach.

Like an art historian on BuzzFeed, I will now try to analyze this picture by showing my favorite passages in list form. (Finally is a Listicle long overdue on this blog.)

Drinks with old friends in Fitzroy | © Brianna Summers


1) Staying with my parents at the Hotel Sommer (the service is fantastic, five stars!).

2) Hanging out with my siblings and their partners / children / dogs.

3) words like doovalacky ('Whatnot'), longneck (750ml beer bottle), op shop (Thrift shop), garbo (Garbage collection employee), servo (Gas station), spay bol (Spagetti Bolognese) and woop woop (the Australian equivalent of dabbing) - and being understood by the people around me.

4) In the drugstore discounter Chemist’s Going to the warehouse pretending to be on the Raff game show Supermarket sweep.

5) Going to the big reading bookstore pretending I never have to leave.

6) Swim a few laps in the outdoor pool and enjoy the luxury of designated lanes. (Incredibly, the Germans have not yet fully understood the FAST / MEDIUM / SLOW system, which leads to frustrating traffic jams and dangerous overtaking maneuvers.)

The clocks at Flinders Street Station | © Brianna Summers


1) As much avocado bread as I can - and the fact that I still have a mortgage refutes the myth popularized by conservative Australian politicians that you can't afford both!

2) Fresh, high-quality vegetables and fruit, a welcome change from the endless cabbage, paprika and kohlrabi parade that greets me every week at Lidl.

3) Culinary delicacies like meat pies, sushi rolls for two fifty dollars, fish and chips (with the one so popular in Australia, of course Chicken Salt), really hot Indian curries and authentic Asian food.

4) A range of sweets from my childhood including - but not limited to - Musk Sticks, Minties, Chocolate Freckles and Hedgehog (Australia's answer to the cold dog).

5) Cola Slurpees. I recently discovered that slurpees are now just a dollar. This is especially remarkable when you consider that in my absence Australia has become so wealthy and expensive that a single dollar is, in principle, worthless. Unless you like cola slurpees.

Australian classic: avocado bread | © Wikipedia Commons


1) Vegemite. Needless to say.

2) Sun and vitamin D. The Berlin winter is cloudy, dreary and lasts FIVE MONTHS.

3) papaya ointment. Just like with Kathmandu clothing or flip-flops in winter, Australians abroad can be reliably identified by using this cream. This cult ointment, used as lip care, is popular with Australian women all over the world.

4) briefs. Like many of my compatriots, I usually buy Bonds branded underpants. Bonds seems to have a firm grip on the country's underwear market or has at least managed to build such fanatical brand loyalty that practically every elastic bond on the entire continent bears the endless declaration BONDSBONDSBONDS.

Essentials for Australian expats © Brianna Summers

... AM I AMAZED BY ...

1) The sheer density of traffic and the SIZE of cars on Australian roads. At peak times you have the feeling of watching a monster truck derby at a snail's pace.

2) Melbourne tap water. Why does it taste like heavily chlorinated swimming pool water?

3) The night life. Many of my old local bars have been swallowed up by the sands of time. Fortunately found in my beloved Cherry Bar but still every Thursday Soul In The Basement instead of.

4) PayWave. This debit card equivalent of a pack that never runs out TimTam- Cookies is just amazing. As if I had won the lottery, I pay contactlessly everywhere and completely forget how much I am actually spending. Aside from the obvious pitfalls (spending all of my money), I find this incredibly practical.

5) The ridiculously low attendance at “One Day International” cricket games (ODI). Families are clearly flocking to the Big Bash league - the national Twenty20 cricket competition - and baby boomers stick with the internationals, leaving me and a handful of other tragic ODI fans in their mid-thirties to fail miserably successfully circling Melbourne cricket ground with a single wave of La Ola.


But at some point even the most beautiful things come to an end. After absorbing enough rays of the sun, I thank my gracious hosts at the Hotel Sommer while I discreetly struggled with my suitcase to close it without bursting too many tubes of papaya ointment.

See you next year, Australia. | © Brianna Summers
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