Disney World boasts of being the happiest place on earth, but I think Australia has really given the
It seems like we’ve been in Australia forever, but I can’t believe it’s already coming to a close. We definitely have packed as much as possible into our 16 days here! Our knowledge of the country has grown immensely and we finally seem to all be pronouncing the names of the places we’ve visited correctly. Cairns, Sydney, and Melbourne have all had their own feel to them similar to the differences between states in the US. Melbourne and Sydney are not nearly as laid back as Cairns, but they still are much more so than the US. Sydney has by far been the most packed and populated, but that likely is being highlighted more by the Vivid Festival going on. Navigating Sydney and Melbourne via public transportation has been a greatly appreciated luxury. It’s amazing how much better transport seems to be handled here. Cairn’s we did not make as much use of their transport system, but it really wasn’t necessary as everything was easily within walking distance.
Sydney has brought us back to more of the hustle and bustle we are used to seeing in the US, but there are definitely still differences. The streets here are crowded, but boy are they clean. Everyone here is very mindful of their trash and even the streets have had sweepers out on them it seems like daily. The restaurants throughout are trip have seemed to be very environmentally conscious as well almost exclusively using paper straws and wooden or metal utensils as opposed to plastic.
This eco-friendly mentality was reflected in our first company visit in Sydney to see the ANZ Olympic Stadium. The stadium is the only Olympic stadium that continues to be profitable subsequent to its’ Olympic games. They really make as much use of the space as possible as well. It’s innovative structure with movable stand allows the stadium to put on pretty much any event. One thing in particular I appreciated about the stadium was the partial use of the wall space for children’s artwork to encourage their efforts.
After our stadium tour, we were off to our next scavenger hunt. We really couldn’t have asked for better weather, and we definitely got a feel for how big the city is. At the end of the day, most of us had walked well over 10 miles! I have to say though, walking here is the best way to take in the city. We got to really appreciate the scenery here and enjoy different stops along our way. My favorite destination was the Botanical Garden. We managed to time our hunt well so we were going through it and walking by St. Mary’s Church right as the sun was starting to go down. The lighting was beautiful for our photos.
Sunday was our infamous bridge climb. To say we were all a little nervous would be putting it lightly. At the start of our climb our guide suggested those feeling a bit scared come to the front and we immediately all bolted to be as close to her as possible. The staff here showed us how different they are from American’s as well. On my way up, I was speaking to one of the members and she mentioned she was very scared of heights before working here. I asked her why on earth she applied then and she retorted “Because it’s an [expletive] awesome job!” Touché. Australians seem to be pretty blunt and much more daring than us, that much I’m sure of.
Surprisingly enough, we found we were all most comfortable at the highest parts of the bridge as opposed to the lower areas. With that being said, all of our legs were still quivering when we got down to the bottom.
On Monday and Tuesday, we finished the last of our company visits. The American Chamber of Commerce was our first visit. One of the differences they highlighted was employee turnover. Robert told us that employees tend to move around a lot in their careers and mentioned that 2 to 3 years for lower level positions and 5 to 6 years for upper level was considered about the normal length of stay. He also talked about the difference in rewarding successes in Australia. Australians tend not to do so as opposed to Americans. This is reflected in our different motivators. Australians are egalitarian where as Americans are success driven.
Employment Innovations spoke more on this, and they specifically touched on how Australians tend to not reward success. Part of this is because of high wages. Added perks are not needed to live. Australia has the second highest minimum wage that allows for a “frugal but comfortable” lifestyle. America’s minimum wage on the other hand is not even livable which results in “rewards” such as tips being a necessity.
The Sydney Opera House visit was brief, but I loved it. The theatre junkie in me was definitely jealous of hearing how they make use of the space to inspire school children. Our tour guide told us that the space is donated throughout the year to be used by local public schools to be used for student performances and show them what they could one day accomplish. The space was very well utilized and it seems like they never stop looking forward here. One of the things they struggle with at the Opera House is not being able to use the banquet space when the theatres are in use. This limits the amount of revenue they are able to take in. To mitigate this issue, they are currently constructing an additional banquet space. This will help them increase revenue and decrease dependency on the government for funding. Currently only 3% of their funding comes from the Australian Government, so this should be able to bridge that gap.
Our last visit was to Cochlear. If the technology there wasn’t enough to excite to us, the people definitely were. It was amazing to see the skill set put into creating such small yet important devices. Each device takes around 4 weeks to make and around 30,000 are made there yearly. What really blew me away was the amount of work done by hand. The implants are so tiny, yet Cochlear spends around 6 months doing the initial training of each of their manufacturing employees so they can hand weld and cut the implants. I would have thought that in a work environment where you have to be so concentrated and have such strenuous eye activity the workers would seem miserable, but that wasn’t the case at all. Our guide told us that Cochlear does a wonderful job taking care of its employees and because of this they have very low turnover.
Reflecting on the trip, we all joked that Professor Ormsbee could easily double as a travel agent. Any opportunity we thought of doing it seemed he had knowledge of and if it was at all doable it was included in the budget. I still can’t believe how nice all of the rooms we stayed in were. Every night our trip included a more than decent view of this beautiful country. My favorite by far was our gorgeous ocean views in Cairns. I’m not sure how, but somehow our small budget seemed to have doubled based off of our experiences and accommodations. Disney World boasts of being the happiest place on earth, but I think Australia has really given them a run for their money.