Sydney & Melbourne: 2 cities, 12 days, 1 Bronto

Starr Stephenson

Starr Stephenson

As a Bronto, my day to day always tends to have an undercurrent of fun. Our office in Durham, NC is a cool place to work, and there’s always something going on around here, such as Spirit Week and Brontoween.

As an event planner on the marketing team, I get to help make our tradeshows and events fun, too, which is awesome. It can also be challenging, though, and no two events are ever the same. Our team is usually the first to arrive and the last to leave, all while juggling the curveballs that inevitably pop up.

Getting to travel occasionally is one of the added bonuses of planning events, and I recently had the opportunity to travel to Australia for the first time. To say that I was excited is an understatement. For two weeks, I helped with events, worked with our team and met vendors. But I also had the weekends free and did my best to take advantage of my time there. Here are a few of the highlights:

  1. English is my only “fluent” language. As an American, what makes Australia so great to visit isn’t the 24 hours it takes to get there, but the nonexistent language barrier. I was able to interact with everyone and read the maps and traffic signs. I’ve traveled to non-English speaking countries and often felt intimidated because of my limited knowledge of their language.
  2. Just walk. Renting cars and taking taxis tend to be part of any work trip. But in a country where they drive on the other side of the road, I wasn’t getting behind the wheel. But both cities were very walkabie, which made it easy to get around and explore.
  3. The Opera House is as stunning as you would expect … and yet I was still stunned. The Opera House was magical. I landed on a Saturday morning. I was tired and cranky, but I purposefully booked a show at the Opera House to force myself to stay awake and acclimate to the time zone. I walked around the harbor, enjoyed lunch at a little waterfront café and got to see the Opera House up close and personal. And seeing Dinner there – a dark comedy – was the perfect way to end my first day in Australia.
  4. The seagull struggle is real. It is important to note that the seagulls on the harbor are aggressive. I laughed at the warning paper I was given at the café, until a seagull almost got away with my salad.
  5. Sailing on Darling Harbor. With my love for water and sailing, I arranged to take a trip on Australia’s retired America’s Cup sailboat. It gave me a different view of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, and I got to see more of the coastline – all while getting to spend time on a boat.
  6. Melbourne = Art and Food. After a day of site visits, our GM in Australia took me to Chin Chin, one of the places everyone raved about. Every single thing he ordered was amazing! My only regret is I didn’t make it there more than once. Best Pad See Ew of my life! The city is also full of amazing art and graffiti. It was such a colorful environment, and I found myself smiling for no reason. I also had the chance to attend an art show for a relative of a fellow Bronto, which was really wonderful.
  7. The Yarra Valley and cool climate wine. The Yarra Valley is located about 45 minutes from Melbourne and is well-known for its wine. I visited several of the wineries and saw much of the countryside. My absolute favorite was Medhurst. Beautiful tasting room, awesome staff and really good wine. An added bonus was seeing a troop of kangaroos on the drive back to Melbourne.
  8. Melbourne Cup is a national holiday. The Melbourne Cup is like the Kentucky Derby, except it’s watched by an entire country. Some of our team attended an event at the Bondi Beach Icebergs club to watch it. I wore a ridiculous fascinator in hopes of winning “best hat” but didn’t make the cut! I also learned how to bet on a horse. I lost my $20, but the views of the beach, hanging out with the team and getting to look ridiculous was well worth it.
  9. I love shopping and fashion. Loving shopping and working for a company whose target customers are retailers is about as close as I’ll ever come to working in fashion. Being introduced to new brands and unique shops in another country just made it even better! I made it a point to stop in a few of our customers’ stores, such as Aesop and RM Williams, and checked out several other interesting boutiques as well.
  10. Coming home. The best part of every trip is the feeling you get when you sleep in your own bed after 2 weeks.

I loved my time in Australia and would happily volunteer for any future events there. It was so worth the long flight. It was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity and was simply amazing, but working for a such an awesome company is even better.


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