A Rainy Australia Day in New York

When I lived in Sydney, Australia Day meant a long summer weekend.

Australia is the world’s smallest continent, the world’s largest island (technically), a great place to live, a country filled with wonderful people who are partial to sacrcasm, a space with a diverse landscape, from the underwater beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, to the earthiness of Ayers Rock, to the stunning urban skyline of Sydney… Not to mention, it is home to a myriad wildlife: kangaroos, wombats, koalas, and dare I mention, spiders and snakes!

Harbour Bridge and Opera House – by night

The Centrepoint Tower (right) – a Sydney icon

The temperatures may be reversed in the Northern Hemisphere, but I always celebrated my Australianess on January 26th. While I can’t sip on Semillon Sauvignon Blanc in the backyard under the summer’s rays, I can indulge in good Aussie tucker and watch the Australian (tennis) Open from New York.

The Aussie dining scene thrives in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Last year, I had meat pies and lamingtons from Tuck Shop stop on East 1st Street. Previous years included vegemite on toast with a flat white from Ruby’s on Mulberry Street, and the Shearer’s Burger (complete with fried egg, beetroot and pineapple – my husband wasn’t a fan!) from Sheep Station in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

This year, I had planned visits to two new Australian places: Toby’s Estate, a café in Williamsburg, and Pie Face, a meat pie chain by Times Square.

I had an inkling Toby’s Estate would deliver good coffee. They roast their own beans and Aussies man the espresso machine. The makings of a perfect cappuccino were all there: firm foam and a dark espresso pour with generous dose of golden crema, and a bold, smooth flavour. Eating Anzac cookies, listening to Crowded House, hearing the Australian accent, and being surrunded by Aussie memorabilia – Weet-Bix, a Milo canister, a football (and I don’t even like rugby): these were all bonuses.

Anzac biscuits and coffee

Toby’s Estate – exterior shot

It wasn’t until I got to Pie Face, located at the corner of The Late Show with David Letterman’s Ed Sullivan Theatre, that I grew nostalgic. Standing a stone’s throw away from Times Square, I though back to my hometown of Sydney, and how my mind was always filled with dreams of living in New York…

The vividly remember traveling to the Big Apple for the first time, back in February 2001, when a couple of friends and I stood in Times Square before midnight on the day of our arrival. Many say this area has Disneyfied since its rock ’n’ roll days of the ’70s and ’80s, but I was awestruck as I took in the Square’s expanse. Standing in the middle of it all, I immediately fell in love with New York. It buzzed, it crackled, it pulsated — I was electrictrified. I knew I had to come back and experience it all for real.

And I did, a few years later.

Looking on to Times Square

It’s all happening here

Scene of the Ball Drop

I hadn’t anticipated to write a reflection in this post, but this is what I was thinking about in Times Square today. And I felt renergised while reliving that same tingling sensation I’d felt while falling for New York all those years ago. This was the space I needed to reflect on how good the city has been to me over the years.

At the same time, I felt that longing for Sydney. Because, ultimately, home is where the heart is.

Looking at the Harbour Bridge from Pyrmont


40 thoughts on “A Rainy Australia Day in New York

  1. You are making me nostalgic about Australia and I live here! All I can say is that all of Australia experienced a rainy Australia Day although it didn’t take away from Cold Chisel, snags on the BBQ, the mateship of every group that walked by (or stumbled), free-flowing beer and the one defining cheer that was so prominent at the Sydney Olympics (and I am sure the world remembers) – Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!

    With love from Sydney! xx

    • Hilarious sis! Oh, Cold Chisel..! And I guess the rain didn’t stop the bbq’s. Love ya xx Have a great loooong weekend 🙂 PS I hope the Times Square memories brought back some memories of NYE a few years back!

  2. I have to admit I would also find it a hard choice- NYC or Sydney. After reading your post I was about to move to New York! You have the best of both worlds- living in NYC and visiting Sydney for a quick fix every now and again!
    We sweltered in 38C heat in Perth on Australia Day – I think I might have preferred the rain!

    • Hi Jenny! yes, it’s been exactly that – quick Sydney trip, and then back to NYC or OC/LA – for a few years now! I am envious of the temps in Perth but then again, I am sure some rain would be welcomed to cool down the asphalt and sand! Perth is one place I must visit! Thank you 🙂

  3. Aww sounds like you are missing Australia! It’s funny how we can feel homesick living somewhere as nice as New York or London and yet want to to rush back when we are back home 🙂 I sometimes feel like I am stuck in the middle and not sure if I belong in any place (London or my own country) 🙂 It’s a strange feeling 🙂
    I’ve never been to Australia, but it’s on my list (my list is too long :D) Have a great weekend!

    • Hi Kristina – I also have a list a mile long and I don’t think I will ever reach the end of it 🙂 Australia is so far away and I miss it – and part of me wants to keep the gypsy/traveler in me, alive forever. Realistic or not – I am not sure? Though I guess we can only enjoy every day and every place we travel to as much as possible! I am glad I am not alone in that feeling – and I thank you so much for understanding and for your comment! Have a great weekend!

  4. I have to check out Pie Face. It’s right in my neighborhood. Times Square was always brightly lit like Picadilly in London. When it was so sleazy and undergoing renovation in the 90’s, the city mandated that all new buildings provide neon billboards and lights to preserve the atmosphere. The pedestrian mall and closing of parts of Broadway is new in the past several years and has made a difference in the feel. So many people are no longer constrained to the sidewalk. Australia Day. Imagine that. I always find it strange when most of the rest of the world doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

    • Yes, do check out the meat pie shop and tell them an Aussie sent you 😉 It is quite a change to see the seating in Times Square as I knew it without that, though it is growing on me given the lack of traffic in an already congested area. I guess each country has their days to commemorate – Thanksgiving for US and Australia Day for Oz. Thank you!

  5. When I was about 6, I very nearly became a £10 pom. I remember the interviews at Australia House on The Strand in London to this day. I drew generalised outlines of Australia on everything and I know I made an impression when I demonstrated this skill at the Australian High Commission. I pored over the pictures in the emigration pack brochures. I was so excited to be going to Australia. Unfortunately it didn’t happen for us, my parents backed out, but I still sometimes wonder how different my life would have been if it had.
    Another great post Marina with some lovely shots of your adopted home. I’m glad you got your Anzac Biscuits!
    My aunt runs a chain of pie shops in Adelaide btw 😉

    • Wow – I must read up on this 10 pound pom phenomenon! Thanks for your comment – I am intrigued now! What is the name of your aunt’s meat pie store?? Life is always peppered with “what if’s” isn’t it?. It’s hard to do alot of the time, though knowing we can change our own direction is pretty cool. The Mark Twain quote drives that home for me (on my About) page. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did… so throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

  6. Happy belated Australia Day Marina! Nothing wrong with nostalgia, i love wallowing in it myself…
    I really need to do more traveling, you are such an inspiration. Some of your rainy day New York pictures look almost like paintings, especially “looking on to Times Square”. Beautiful!

    I’ve have tried Vegemite on toast…not keen on it…

    • Thanks Karen! I think at this time of year, it’s easy to wallow a little 🙂 If there’s one thing this blog does – to inspire more travel – then I am so happy for it! Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I am glad you noticed that photo of Times Square – I am not sure what i did (perhaps some rain on the lens, some retouching, exposure) though it reminds me of a watercolour. Unbelievable that I wasn’t a huge fan of the rain before, and ever since I have been in possession of my camera, I see it as a great time to get out there and capture ‘life’! Vegemite is an acquired taste 😉 If you liked it (not being an Aussie), I would be very surprised.

  7. Great that you can find some aussie spirits in NY. Australia is an amazing country and continent. Sydney is a city that will allways have a special place in my heart. This is where I “stood on my own feets” as a 19 year old nannie, back in 95-96 😀

    • Thank you – and Happy Belated Australia Day to you too. I can relate – I was sad not to be in Australia at all on the day.. though there are always the hometown memories to reflect upon!

  8. Glad you hear that you’re embracing your Aussie culture in the States…and that there are a couple of places to assist you in that!! When we were still living in the States, it was really hard for Lara to find meat pies and sausage rolls…we ordered them from Atlanta and had them shipped to Kentucky on dry ice if I remember correctly. Funny thing is, we’re not huge pie eaters when we’re in Oz! We do indulge now and again though.
    P.S. – One of my favorite holidays is the 4th of July. Barbecue and beer!
    P.S.S. – I love vegemite

    • It’s so fun finding new Aussie businesses in NYC – I’m instantly supporting them 🙂 Wow – what an effort you went to, to get a meat pie fix but I hear ya – I hardly ever eat any of the Aussie junk food when I am in Sydney! I also love vegemite – on toast with melted butter!! Thanks 🙂

  9. Not sure about the vegemite on toast but I like lamington very much, yum! yum!
    I’ve been in Australia a few times, and always had a fantastic time. On our last trip we drove from Melbourne to Adelaide along the coast, and on the way back we did it inland – beautiful landscape and delicious wine. Sydney is a very nice city but I love Melbourne. Every opportunity that we have I want to go there, I want to escape windy Wellington 😉

    • Hi Alicia! Lamingtons are so good! That would have been a great drive – I have never done the Great Ocean Road though seen photos. Ahhh – maybe soon 🙂 Melbourne is great isn’t it? To me, it is so European in its feel: alleyways, hidden cafes, boutique shopping – whereas Sydney is all about the harbour: its beaches, the Bridge, the sweeping views along the shoreline. I hope you get to Oz soon! Thank you!

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