"What is Dubbo?" That was the first question 24-year-old Maria Goltermann had when she found out she would be visiting Australia from Denmark. Maria has 12 weeks to learn all she can about Dubbo, its visitor offerings and the Australian lifestyle.


Dubbo has been my home for 3 months and I quickly got a daily routine here, which also means that some of my top things to do don’t just include tourist sights, but things that were part of my everyday. 

1st place - Zoofari Lodge

Something that really swept me of my feet was the Zoofari Lodge at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.  I now really understand why people in Dubbo are so proud of the zoo. Sure I’d been out there before, but getting “behind the scenes” and having a tour guide to show us around was the perfect way to visit the zoo. Not to speak of the lodges we slept in, waking up to the animals on the savannah and feeding the giraffes. An experiences I won’t forget and will always recommend to people that live in Dubbo as well as people that come to visit Dubbo! 


2nd place - Crossfit

The second of my favourite things to do in Dubbo, was Crossfit at Crossfit Dubbo which I’ve previously written about here. I really enjoyed going to Crossfit after work, and it was a big part of establishing my life in Dubbo too. Even though I was really excited to come to Australia and to see as much as possible of the country, it was just as important to me to establish a life in Dubbo, with work and routines like I would have back home. And I’m just saying, if you start doing Crossfit it’s hard to stop, so I’m definitely going to continue when I’m back home again. 


3rd place - Royal Flying Doctors Service

Third place would have to be my visit to the Royal Flying Doctors Service. For an overseas visitor like me, it can be hard to understand how important the RFDS is to Australia and the outback. But having been to the outback now and seeing the great distances, as well as heard stories from people that have been helped by RFDS, I can now see how great it is, and how amazing the dentists, doctors and nurses are for these people. This is definitely a must visit for people coming to Dubbo, as it is a big part of Australia.  


4th place - Rugby culture and the Dubbo Roos 

Fourth place goes to The Dubbo Roos. I loved watching the games on the weekends. Sport always brings a city together, and it was always fun to be a part of and seeing how many people would show up to support the local teams. I experienced that rugby was a big part of Dubbo, so I believe to get the full ‘Dubbo experience’ you need to experience a Dubbo Roos home game, with the rest of the city. 


5th place - The Old Dubbo Gaol

Fifth place goes to the Old Dubbo Gaol. This is also a must-see in Dubbo, it’s a big part of Dubbo’s history and therefore also something people in Dubbo as well as visitors should know about. Get a tour with a guide and hear the stories of the prisoners that have been locked up here. The museum is not very big, so its perfect for families with children or people that are usually not very fond of museums. I even found out that there was a Dane locked up years back. Who would have thought the Danes had already discovered Dubbo back then! 



This was my top 5 of things to do in Dubbo. I have loved my life here, and there has been so much more to it. I love the country around the city and not to speak of the friendliest people I have ever met live in Dubbo. I’m so happy that my stay in Australia ended up being in Dubbo, and I know I’ll be back to visit very soon. 

Have a great week everyone! My next post will be when I’m back home in Denmark. 



“To travel is to live” 

A quote by the amazing Danish author – Hans Christian Andersen, and as you all probably have realised by now, that is quote I like to live by. 
Last week I went on a little day trip to Wellington with the PR department at council, a quick stop for lunch at the local pub “Cow and Calf” and then we were off to take photos of attractions. Wellington is a really nice little town that really indicates, what I would have thought to be, the authentic Australian country town, with beautiful buildings and cute little shops and houses. Not to mention an amazing bakery! 

 
Kangaroo talking to cows 
 
We found the Burrendong Dam! 


The place to go for a good meal in Wellington! 


A few days later I went with my host family to Wagga Wagga for a birthday getaway (or escape) for my host father. 

I was told that Wagga would be cold, so I put on 3 layers of clothes a jacket and my scarf, all ready for the close-to-snowing weather. After the 5 hour drive, we arrive in Wagga, get out of the car ready to watch rugby at the Uni, stands there for 15 minutes and realise if I don’t get out of all that clothes I would probably pass out! What is it with this Aussie weather? Getting all ready for a Danish-like winter day and turns out to be a Danish summer day. 

Anyway, it turned out for the better, if you ask me. Perfect day to spend watching rugby. And although I’m still struggling with the rules, I find it a lot of fun to watch and of course the team that, I was told to go for won! I feel sorry for the people that watch the game with me, as they spend more time answering my questions than actually watching the game. I’ll get there one day! 


Game on at Charles Sturt University!

Moreover, I also got the chance to get a little insight to how Uni-life in Australia is. The school spirit and social community is such a big part of uni-life here, and the fact that many of the students actually live together on campus or just outside seem to bring people even closer together. Whether it was at the game or at the party later, the school spirit was there. 

Uni-life is a lot different in Denmark. People are spread out all over the city, and you mainly just get to know the people from your course and Uni sports teams are not a big part of it. Not said that going to university in Denmark is not great though. We do have major events throughout the year where thousands of people turn up, however I believe that we could learn something from Aussies here. :)

 
Cake and a whole rugby team singing Happy Birthday. 
- Not bad getting old(er). 
 
Amazing dinner with my host family in Wagga. 

Sunday in Wagga, was spent at the beautiful Botanic Garden, a perfect day in perfect weather. I nearly couldn’t believe it myself, but it was actually warmer here than back in Denmark that day. Fortunately, my father told me yesterday that the temperature had gone up to 48 degrees. YES, Denmark does have summer! 
In the Botanic Garden, I just enjoyed that little bit of sun I will see this year. 

AND my gorgeous host brothers taught me how to do a line-out. Maybe I don’t know the rules but I always thought the line-outs looked like so much fun! HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY! :)

Anyhow, a great weekend in Wagga, and it was a tired Dane that came home to Dubbo that Sunday night. We came back to a big roast feast, and unfortunately I’m still struggling with the lamb, but boy is the beef good here in Australia! :D 


My attempt of a line-out. Coming down! 



Hope you all have a great last week of July out there! :)



Oops.. time flies and so much has happened in the past 10 days! Although I enjoy my life in Dubbo – going to work, doing crossfit and watching sports on weekends, I’m only here for a short period of time so I like taking advantage of the fact that people in Dubbo like to travel. And… that they are the nicest people so they invite me along. This means I get to see places that I most likely wouldn’t see if I travelled on my own. 

I’ve been out to see Cotton farms near Warren, I’ve seen towns such as Nyngan, Mudgee and Geurie etc. I wonder if anyone at home have been to these places… 


Picnic Races in Nyngan.. yes I actually watched the races.. I won 2/2 times!


A few weekends ago, I was invited to lunch in a little town called Capertee, just a short trip, we left in the morning around 9.30 and was supposed to be home around 5 o’clock. We stopped for coffee in Mudgee, did a little browsing through the stores and continued on to Capertee. 


Beautiful church in Mudgee

My home country may not be very big, but I’ve lived in big countries before, so I don’t mind driving, and Capertee is only a few hours away from Dubbo. Have I ever driven for 2 hours to have lunch? Kept in mind that this would have been a trip half way across Denmark, just for lunch? Never.. That must be another Aussie experience that I can now cross of the list! Lunch was amazing at the Royal Capertee Hotel - so if you guys ever drive through, its worth stopping and enjoy a meal in authentic surroundings!


At the Royal Capertee Hotel 

On our way back to Dubbo, we just went on a “little” detour to the Capertee Valley.  My parents were at Grand Canyon in America, at the time so we thought it would be a good idea to take a picture at the Canyon at Capertee and go for a little drive…. 6 hours later and we were back in Dubbo!! 

I went to bed very early that night, I can tell you! – Apart from that it was the most beautiful drive and I was really happy I got the chance to see the gorgeous Capertee Valley. 

The next day was spend here in Dubbo in beautiful weather and I got to watch my first Aussie soccer game! Perfect Sunday and warm up game to the big European Championship Final the following day, which (of course!) was won by Portugal! 


The sun didn’t stay for very long… But coming from a country where this weather is pretty normal, you learn to enjoy the time indoor. Hope you all will too! 

   
Capertee Valley




Sunset on the way back to Dubbo 



In the freezing cold, I Friday went to Dubbo’s big pride: The Taronga Western Plains Zoo! But with a coat, scarf, gloves and boots nothings too cold.
I have to admit thought that I was too big of a chicken to go around in one of the carts.

Everybody tells me I should be used to the cold weather, but in my 24 years, I never got used to it…
 
However, that doesn’t matter when you can drive around in your car! And by the time you start watching the tigers, rhinos and all their friends, you don’t even think about the weather anymore.
Anyway, I was so excited to finally be going to the famous Taronga Zoo and I was so lucky to be able to say hello to Wiley the ring-tailed opossum and the 3 year old and 8 kg. koala, Leuca, at the zoo’s Education Centre. Yes, they were as cute up close as they look from afar, and if you have the chance to go to the Education Centre and meet some of the animals, DO IT! It just makes the experience even more unique.

 

Saying hello to the zoo residents

Next, I jumped in the car with my local guide and went for our adventure around the park. I was really amazed about how big the park was, and quickly understood that it wouldn’t just be a few hours walk around the zoo as it is back home.

I would definitely suggest to plan the trip around the park so that you at least see some of the animals being fed. I saw the wild dogs at the zoo entrance… and apparently when getting fed a kangaroo leg that is not a time they want to pose for my blog photos.

 

Dinner Time!                                                              Chilling with the hippos

My favourite part of the park was the Australian park, it was pretty awesome getting so close to the local animals. I wasn’t as cool as some of the children that got really close to the animals, one step at the time…
In my part of the world, we don’t walk out in our backyard and find a large wild animal starring at us, like people here would find rather normal.
My host family think it’s really amusing to scare me with snake stories, as they were probably one of my biggest worries coming here, but lucky enough for me, I’m here in the winter, so they can just keep on talking ;)

 

Connecting with a wallaby and her joey

Anyway… The snakes I saw at the zoo were in cages, and the kangaroos and wallabies did not kick or try to fight me! Maybe next time I’ll try to get closer…
Because I will definitely come back and I now understand why Dubbo is so proud of the Zoo.

I can’t wait for my next adventure in the Great Western Plains. I feel really lucky I’m able to explore this region, I think tourist are missing out not coming here.

Have a great day you all!  :D

 

 

 


A 50 Km. drive from Dubbo and you are in Wellington! Not everything is long distances here in AUS.

And that was very convenient when someone wanted to show me the Wellington Caves, on Thursday.

After a visit to the Visitor Centre in Wellington, to gather info about the town, we were off to the caves. Here we were greeted by our own guide. I was a little sceptical about going into these caves, but I was really drawn by her passion for the caves and the history behind them.

Strike a pose and ready for the caves!

You Aussies keep telling me that the history of my country is much older than yours, but hey! These caves were millions of years old, I’m pretty sure you won’t find many castles in Europe that old.

It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that fossils and full skeleton casts from a Thylacaleo and Diprotodon from the time of the dinosaurs have been found in these caves! We even got to touch bones and teeth from these animals! This all happened in the Bone Cave and Fossil mine. The cool thing is, that you are allowed to come so close to pieces of the history that goes way beyond the time where people were even in Australia, and the guide will tell you stories that you wouldn’t even have thought of going into the caves yourself. Who knew that the Wellington Caves were where palaeontology was born?

Another Must-See is the astonishing Cathedral Cave. This Lime-stone cave is just beautiful and well presented with the famous stalagmite “The Altar” that reaches 15 metres in height. What made it even more stunning was the water coming down the sides of it due to the rainy weather, as well as the water dripping from the stalactite.

I would definitely recommend this to visitors to the area, not to speak of locals who haven’t been! Put an orange helmet on and go back in time with the Wellington Cave guides :D – We even made it back to Dubbo for lunch! How great is it to have all these activities basically in your own backyard!

This also means that I can cross off another town on the list! I’m sure I will be able to go home and talk to many European backpackers that haven’t been to the same places as I have here in AUS, which I think is pretty cool.

I can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since I got to Australia, and I’ve already been to so many places. Not to speak of the weather that has dried up a whole lot more than when I arrived. And it seems like next week will almost be as warm (or cold) as it is in Denmark at the moment, which I find really amusing, as people back home didn’t understand why I chose to leave when it was finally summer :D

 

Entering the Fossil Mine (I'm not sure what's more scary, being in a cave or my face)

 

 

Taken back to when the cave was actively used in WW1

The beautiful Cathedral Cave

 While you are there, take a stroll through the Japanese Garden

 


The Local Life

So… I’ve been so lucky to be able to stay with a local family here in Dubbo. As a part of my NGSE rotary exchange program, I am staying with a Rotarian family.

Although this is not my first time staying with a host family, I was still nervous. I mean, Australians and Danes don’t seem that different, but there will still be cultural differences that I may not have been aware of, and families always have a different way of doing things.

However, my host family has been the kindest! I’ve been staying with them for a week, but I feel like I’ve known them for years. They have let me borrow a car from them whilst I’m here, so that I have the freedom to go wherever I like.

Staying with them has already given me a taste of what Life in Dubbo can be like. Kangaroos on the lawn, dinner at pubs, driving in the left side of the road and rugby on weekends. Does it get any more Australian? I know there is a lot more to the lifestyle, but these are things that you don’t see in most European countries.

Another thing my host family has introduced me to is, Vege-mite, Tim Tam and lamb. Some better than others I must say, and lamb is a whole different story.

So, of course people in Denmark eat lamb, however, my family doesn’t! I kind of figured that, that wouldn’t fit in well in Australia. Well, the family is giving me a hard time about it and maybe one day they will convince me, but I think, just for now I’ll stick to Tim Tams. And Vege-Mite……. Let me put it this way, I won’t be the first in line for that again.  

Anyway… Although I may find it hard to get use to some of the food (most of it is really good!), Australia has only been great to me! Every day I get amazed about how friendly and helpful Australians are. Everything is still very new to me, but people around me just make me feel so comfortable and welcomed. I must say, you Aussies keep impressing me!

Rotary has already done so much for me, not only have they given me the opportunity to experience the Australian culture and helped me with my internship at the council, but all the Rotarians that I have been in contact with, are always looking out for me, both back in Denmark and here in Australia, which I believe is very important in the process of trying to fit in in a new place. 


Experiencing the countryside

As I have only been here for a little over a week, I haven’t had much time to experience what the countryside is like, outside of Dubbo, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing that.

However, I did go to watch the Cockatoos play against the Brumbies in Bathurst this past weekend and later Australia vs. England (which we of course is not going to talk about). Rugby is really becoming on of my favourite sports, I’m starting to know the rules and I’m really enjoying watching it!

The trip to Bathurst also gave me a little bit of an idea of how different distances are here compared to Denmark. Driving for 2.5 hours on way is not a problem for me, as I like driving. But you guys call that within your region! – If I drive for 2.5 hours from my city back home I would be way past the German border. And for people living in the country here, that’s nothing!

Yesterday I was so lucky to come along to a meeting in Warren, which allowed me to experience the Wetla

nds, this somehow reminded me of my trips to the Everglades in Florida. It was amazing! I’m happy there aren’t any snakes this time of the year though, as I’m not sure I would have been ready to meet them all by myself out there. Usually I’m not a bird watcher, but I really enjoyed looking at all the beautiful birds they had in the Wetlands on the other hand.

Well well, I need to get back to work - looking forward to the weekend here in Dubbo – I hope the sun will be shining J (apology to any who may like the rain!)  

New Wallabies fan 

Meeting in Warren 

The wetlands were beautiful



G’day mates! Easier written than said…

With just one week in Australia this is one of the stereotypical expressions that I have learned is actually being used in Australia. My accent still has some improving to do, so I’ll stay away from Aussie slang for now. 

My name is Maria Goltermann, I’m 24 years old and I’m from the country of the Vikings - Denmark! I’ve heard from a couple of locals here in Dubbo, that with a height of 1.78 m., my blonde hair and blue eyes, I certainly scream Scandinavian. However, that’s not the only thing I have in common with my ancestors. I have the deepest passion for travelling and exploring the world. And that’s how I ended up here in Dubbo on a NGSE Rotary Exchange program! 


I've noticed Dubbo has a thing for rhinos! I believe it's related to the rhino conservation programs run by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Where do I come from? 

My part of the world

6 quick facts about my home country- Denmark:

  1. Part of Scandinavia in northern Europe.
  2. Population of 5.6 million. 
  3. Known to be the happiest people in the world  
  4. Home of LEGO, Maersk, Carlsberg, B&O, Bestseller etc.
  5. Popular royal family (especially our crown prince, Frederik and crown princess, Australian Mary) 
  6. Denmark is 14,407 km from Australia.

Coming from a “high standard of living” country it was very important for me to get an education, to be able to get a job in Denmark, as I probably wouldn’t be able to travel for the rest of my life…

So that’s what I did, and on June 10th 2016, I graduated from University of Aarhus with a bachelor degree in Marketing and Management communication. As this will most likely not be enough to secure me a job within this fields, I will be going back to Denmark to do a master degree in Corporate Communication in September.

The family

I was born in a small town in western Denmark, where I lived until I was 8. This was the age where I started to get a taste of experiencing other cultures, as I moved to Greece with my parents, my big sister Julie (25) and my little brother Frederik (17) for 6 months. After these 6 months we came back to our small town, but 3 years later we moved to Portugal, where we lived for 2.5 years. As we came back to Denmark, we decided to move to a bigger city in eastern Jutland (the main part of Denmark). And this is where I started my own trips around the world. I  lived in Jacksonville FL. USA and Miami FL. USA, 3 years apart, doing an high school year exchange and a language school year. Recently, I have been to Singapore doing a study abroad semester as a part of my bachelor degree.

My family is well travelled, my father spends most of his time working in different countries, my sister (Julie, 25) is currently located in Costa Rica doing a few months of summer school after finishing a semester abroad in Canada. My brother came back from a High School year exchange in the U.S. last year.


This is me and my family, including our puppy, Frida. My sister is missing, she's in Costa Rica when this picture was taken.

…and now I am to be found in Dubbo, Australia! A city not many people had heard of back home, but certainly will know all about when I get back.

Why am I here? 

Two years ago I was at my grandparents’ house talking to my grandfather about the big world, and I mentioned to him how I really wanted to go to Australia, as I had always found, what I had heard about the Australian lifestyle, very fascinating. Within 10 min. my grandfather had explained to me how this was definitely something I should do and how we could make this happen. Being the big travel enthusiast that I am, I was ready to jump on the next plane!  however… I had a degree to finish and not to speak of my already planned stay in Singapore, before this dream could really be realized.

Coming home from Singapore in December 2015, I was ready to make this Aussie experience happen! With only a few months left of uni, I sent off my NGSE program application to Rotary and crossed my fingers somebody would take me in as an intern.

After, what had felt like 10 years of waiting, I got a mail from Rotary in Denmark, saying they had an internship offer from Western Plains Regional Council for me. At first I was thrilled! Then I thought to myself, "What is Dubbo?"

After a ton of research, I decided that I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be located, to experience "The Real Australia".

So here I am, 3 months later, at Western Plains Regional Council in Dubbo, overwhelmed and excited at the same time. I have been placed in the marketing department, where I will be working with different people on different projects, as well as documenting my stay through this blog, which I hope you guys will follow.

The Council was, apart from the host family I’m staying with, my first impression of Dubbo, and I must say, I have never been to a place that has made me feel so welcomed from the moment I stepped through the door. I’m very thrilled to be a part of this team and to get to know the city even better!

Bring it on Dubbo!


The Dubbo weather hasn't been quite what I expected during my first five days here, but I'm loving it!

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