Lamingtons for Australia Day in the Wild West of the USA.

I was told as soon as I left Australia for my adventure around the world I would have a newfound sense of patriotism. I have always been patriotic about Melbourne (maybe because it is the best place in the world?), but have never really been a flag-toting, sausage eating, Crikey-shouting Aussie.

My friends in Melbourne have always been super organised with our bigger parties – we are huge fans of facebook events. It works for me because now I have gone, they invite me to everything anyway so I can see what is happening back at home. So when I saw the group was heading out for an Australia Day Picnic and rowing a boat to Herring Island, I remembered how my American friends Sam and Nina would always host parties on the American holidays like the 4th July. So, as an Australian, I felt it was my duty to host an Australia Day party here in Phoenix, Arizona.

I got a little excited about the prospect of introducing our friends to a bit of Australian culture. It wouldn’t be Australia day without lamingtons, so I baked a sponge and set to work putting together some Aussie baked deliciousness. For my non-Australian readers, lamingtons are a dense sponge cake filled with raspberry jam, dipped in a chocolate syrupy sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut.

Our friends Erin and Brandon showed up with their super cute son, Liam. He loved to pose for the camera!liam-smallBrandon brought us some of his raspberry honey mead, which was fruity, delicious and 15% alcohol. It sure didn’t taste like it – I am glad Brandon told me so I didn’t drink 8 glasses of it (it was that tasty) and make a fool of myself.

Chris, Jasmine and Mike were there too with their dogs Jabba and Toby, who were having a ball running around the yard after the cats.

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Coffee, beer and sippy cups.

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We sat out the back near the fire and listened to the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown, along with the rest of Australia and expats around the world. It is a national tradition to tune into the countdown of the best songs of 2013 as voted by us, and run around and dance crazy in the sun, on the beach, next to a lake, on an island, in the city….

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I told Jasmine we dress up crazy on Australia Day, and I was impressed – she came armed with some underpants to wear on her head.

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We fired up the BBQ and threw on some English style sausages, the closest we could come to Aussie sausages here. I had bought some cheap white bread (the only kind allowed at a typical Aussie BBQ) and we smeared our bread with ketchup and onions, topping with a passable Aussie sausage.

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We also had fries covered in chicken salt. Just like the old days at the beach when you would run out of the water, up to the fish and chip stand, grab folded paper packets filled with crunchy deep fried potato and topped with spoonfuls and spoonfuls of delicious, yellow salt. We would take a bite and then use the bitten end to smoosh onto the paper and scrape up as much of the MSG-laden salt as possible.

We sat around the fire for a bit more, drinking, talking and passing around plates of lamingtons.

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Mike wasn’t hugely happy about having to hold the plate for Jasmine and not being able to eat them yet.

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Late at night we ended up back inside, drinking cups of hibiscus tea, gingerbread coffee and peach ale. We all sat around reading, watching clips online, chatting, and maybe taking a nap or two on the couch. We stayed up until No #15 on the Hottest 100, listening to all the radio presenters and people calling in from home. Finally we couldn’t stay up anymore so everyone went to sleep.

But as I got into bed something urged me to turn Triple J back on – we were at #2 (Lorde – Royals) and so I lay there waiting for #1. And it was worth it – my favourite (and it seems everyone else in Australia’s too) song of 2013, from little old fellow Melbournian Vance Joy, Riptide.

Mid last year my friends and I campervanned around the whole of New Zealand. I’d heard this cool song from a local singer/songwriter. It had just been recorded and I loved it – so I used it in the film I made about our roadtrip. Over the next few months we watched the song skyrocket, and now it is played on radios worldwide.



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