Our “A Bit About” feature is a chance to highlight the countries of origin of our many Amintro members. This month, in honour of founder Charlene Nadalin, the daughter of Italian and Australian immigrants, we’ re taking a peek at “the land down under.”  After all, what could be better than contemplating summer in Australia (right now!) while we’re dealing with the harsh winter reality in Canada? Brrrr……!!

Summer in Australia officially begins in December and ends at the end of February. For those of us who have immigrated to Canada, we know those exact same months here are typically bitterly cold, with lots of snow and ice on the ground. Thinking of going on a holiday? Sounds like Australia might be the ideal place to vacation this time of year! That said there are lots of fun facts about Australia we’d love to share and probably a few myths we should debunk while we’re at it. For example, much like how most Canadians don’t live in an igloo, we’re pretty sure not every Australian knows how to surf or wrestles crocodiles and carries a big knife! Here’s what we can tell you:

Australia is a magnificent country that encompasses every type of geography from large expanses of the outback, (both grassy or desert-like) to tropical rainforests, the Great Barrier Reef, beaches and large urban, metropolitan centres. While it has some highland areas, most notably the “Great Dividing Range,” it’s actually the flattest continent on earth. It’s the smallest continent, but the 6th largest country in the world. Australia is of course well known for some of its unique animal inhabitants, including koalas, kangaroos and the duck-billed platypus. Indigenous Australians (Aboriginals) comprise about 3.3% of the population. At one point, over 500 different indigenous groups existed, speaking more than 250 languages. Ayers Rock, now known as Uluru (the name change formally recognizes its strong aboriginal history) is considered a very spiritual place for Australian aboriginals. It’s also considered an iconic Australian site to visit. Other iconic sites associated with the country include the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour (where one of the world’s longest and widest steel span bridges is located), Bondi Beach and of course, “the outback.”

Geographically massive and, as we stated earlier, very diverse – visitors to Australia often plan to spend a significant amount of time there when visiting. After all, typically – to travel there from Canada takes a significant amount of time and a fairly heavy investment. In order to see and do all that you might want to experience, you would have to travel via plane across the continent while there and depending on the time of year you visit you won’t just be taking shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits with you because there is a huge diversity of climate and weather conditions across the country. During the summer months, temperatures can rise as high as 25C in Sydney or 36C at Uluru while in winter they dip to an average of 18C and 21C respectively.

It’s safe to say that with Australia you should assume nothing and take nothing for granted but the scenery is spectacular, the locals friendly and you won’t need to learn a new language to navigate while there. It’s a long way to go for a visit but absolutely worth the effort and really does live up to the status of “trip of a lifetime.” Perhaps most famous of all is the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Sydney harbour. As one of the first countries to welcome in the New Year – perhaps consider Australia as your next destination (in time for New Year’s Eve of course) if travel was part of New Year’s resolutions this year. Take a new Amintro friend with you and 2020 will be a great year too!

As part of our feature country each month we also offer Amintronians a recipe that reflects a traditional or popular dish the locals enjoy. Today – while a bit cliché perhaps – we offer up a fish recipe (no, it’s not “throw another shrimp on the barby!) for a popular fish found in the area and that Australians love to enjoy.

Barramundi Fish

Ready in about 20 minutes and courtesy of taste.com


  • 1 bunch broccolini, trimmed, halved crossways

    Courtesy of taste.com

  • 400g tomato medley mix
  • 200g green beans, trimmed
  • 2/3 cup Australian extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 (150g each) boneless barramundi fillets with skin on, skin scored (see note)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 small lemon, rind zested into fine strips, juiced


  • Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  • Place vegetables on prepared tray. Drizzle with 1tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for 12 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add fish, skin-side down. Cook for 2 minutes or until skin is very crispy around edges and centre is just starting to crisp. Place fish, skin-side up, on top of vegetables on tray. Bake for 4 minutes or until fish is just cooked through and vegetables are tender.
  • Heat remaining oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant (do not brown). Add chives and parsley. Cook for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat. Add lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve barramundi and vegetables drizzled with warm garlic and herb oil.


Written by Sheralyn Roman