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Ellsworth native describes Australian life and more

Hines stands next to a koala in Queensland, a state located in Northeastern Australia. Submitted photo1 / 2
Hines in front of the world famous Sydney Opera House. Submitted photo2 / 2

Aaron Hines has called Australia home for the last three years and found it similar to life in his hometown, Ellsworth.

"I have really found Melbourne, and all of Australia, to be a wonderful place to live to work," he said during an e-mail interview appearing in last week's Herald. "The people are fantastic and down to earth; the culture is diverse and multi-cultural, and overall I have found that much of Australia is similar to that of the Midwest - friendly, hardworking, honest and family oriented."

Hines, the son of Joe and Judy Hines, graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1997 and earned a degree from UW-Stout in 2003 and a Masters of Arts in Applied Communications from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology last December. He presently works in the Public Relations Department as the Industry Relations Officer for the Hales Institute, a vocational school in Melbourne.

In the first half of the e-mail interview published in last week's Herald, Hines described what led him to Australia and other adventures. Now, in the second, he explains traditional Australian cultures and his communication with friends and family back home.

Australian cultures/traditions that you think Americans would have no idea about?

I don't think people from the US realize the sheer size of the country... I mean it is the only country which is also its own continent ... my family came to visit me for my graduation in December and they were shocked by the enormity of the country ... we drove along the coast for five days straight (Melbourne to Adelaide) and didn't even scratch the surface.  To put it into perspective, Australia is three-fourths the size of the US spanning west to east from California to Ohio and north to south it spans into Canada, covering all of the US and spanning into Mexico. Therefore, there are many diverse areas...however, much of the country is a virtually 95 percent of the population lives along the outer coastal areas around the country... if you go to the North in Queensland, you can find the "Crocodile Hunter" areas, but also the Great Barrier Reef and some of the most breathtaking white sand beaches in the world.... Northern territory is densely populated and is the rainforest region... Western Australia and South Australia are known as the "wine country" and also contain the majority of the famous "Outback" areas.... Victoria is the home to Melbourne and much of the farming communities... New South Wales is the home of many small surfing towns and the famous (and largest) Australian city, Sydney.  Australia even has its own version of Washington, DC... called Canberra... it's an independent area where the federal government resides.

Like Canada, Australia is and continues to be a Commonwealth nation, and under the rule of the British Monarch ... meaning the Queen of England is still the acting "Head of State."

Like the Native Americans in the US, the "first people" of Australia were those known as the "Aboriginal" people.  And only within the last two years (since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has taken leadership) has the government formally apologized for the racial injustices that were imposed upon the Aboriginal people by previous generations.

 Also like the US, Australia was colonized by the Britis... originally the British used Australia as a place to send their criminals and prisoners. While this often carries a bit of a negative stigma ... in retrospect much of the crimes of these so-called "criminals" would not even be considered unlawful by today's more liberal standards or at most misdemeanors/petty crime.  So basically, the country was built on the backs of "criminals," British service men (Guards) and missionaries.  Later (1950-1970's) the country realized its rich natural resources and began high manufacturing productions...this required much skilled and unskilled labor, so they opened up the flood gates to countries US, Canada, Europe and Asia... thus, a high level of immigration came from areas such as Italy and Greece.   

Describe the differences between Melbourne and Sydney.

Well everyone who lives in Sydney says it's the best city in Australia... and vice versa for Melbourne.  I have only briefly been to Sydney on a couple occasions and spent a few days there on a holiday last year, so I cannot really give an accurate depiction of the city as a whole.  What I can say from my experience is Sydney is very much a "tourist" city with many sites (opera house, Sydney Harbour Bridge, circular key, inner city beaches), whereas Melbourne is recognized internationally as one of the most "livable cities in the world."  By that I mean it is very much accessible and has one of the best transportation systems in the entire world (Trams and Trains). The style of living is certainly different because of the weather... Melbourne is known for great fall, spring and winter surfing, but the water is cold because it washes up from the arctic... Whereas Sydney is further to the north and gets Pacific Ocean water, so it's warm... so Sydney is more known or their inner city beaches.  However, Melbourne has a world renowned reputation of being a cafe culture and is very "European" based alfresco dining. Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin are all very different and diverse... just as Los Angles, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Boston and New York are very different from each other.

What is the perspective of the United States in Australia?

It is a bit difficult for me to give you the perspective of the US in Australia, as I am still an outsider looking in on many levels... however, from my own personal experiences, culturally Melbourne and the other large Australian cities are somewhat "Americanized" and share a very similar viewpoint, as most other Western developed countries. Because of its proximity in the South Pacific (directly between USA and Asian nations like China and Japan), Australia is very much on the cutting edge when it comes to manufacturing and technology.  The rapid growth of communication tools and other technologies has created a globalized world, so relationships between large western countries like USA and Australia rely on each other economically and politically.  It's very much a "big brother (USA) and little brother (Australia)" scenario, where there may be ideological disagreements and certain alternative viewpoints on issues (foreign policy, climate control, etc.), but at the end of the day there is a mutual respect and a common need to maintain a positive relationship. Mainly the government and the people of Australia are very receptive to the United States... In fact, much of their news coverage in Australia (print and television) is very thorough when it comes to US news. For instance, there was an overwhelming coverage of the election and a huge coverage of President Obama's inauguration.

You listed Joe and Judy as your parents, what about other siblings?

I have two older brothers: Barry Hines, who currently lives in Onamia, Minn... who is the superintendent at Izaty's on Lake Mille Lacs. He has recently taken a new job in Eau Claire.

Adam Hines, who currently lives in Ellsworth with his wife Jenni Hines and their daughter Addison Hines.  He works in Hudson and they own Studio Hair and Tanning on Main Street, Ellsworth. My grandparents are Lester and Joyce Hines.

Fondest memories of Ellsworth?

I have so many wonderful memories of Ellsworth, I don't know if I could pinpoint just one.  Summer is my favorite season... boating, swimming and wakeboarding in the St. Croix, Lake Pepin and Mississippi River, and camping with friends along the banks of Diamond Bluff, playing baseball for EHS and the Hubbers, golfing at Ellsworth Country Club, men's night with my Brother Adam and my Dad, and the Pierce County Fair (particularly the Demo Derby, which was a family tradition that I participated in for four years)...many very fond memories of preparing derby cars with friends Luke Nelson, Nick Bayer, Luke Flemming, Troy Graetz and Chris Wandamacher at the Nelson Plumbing Shop near Summit Park.  I also enjoyed just driving around the river bottoms with the windows down, taking in the fresh air and listening to music with my friend Joey Brunner.   

Last time you've been home?

Since leaving in August 2006... I came home for my college roommate's wedding in May 2007 and I also came home for Christmas this past year (December 2008)... I am planning a trip home for my cousin Troy Graetz's wedding and my friend Adam Haster's wedding at the end of September/beginning of October 2009.  It is always wonderful to be back in Ellsworth to visit family and friends, especially when you can attend important events like weddings and holidays.

How often do you stay in contact with family and friends back here?

I talk to my closest friends and family via email and Facebook weekly or fortnightly... I talk to my best friend Joey Brunner (who lives in Ellsworth) on Skype a couple times a month... I speak to my parents and siblings once a week (sometimes more) and usually talk to them on email too. When I am home, I try my best to meet up with as many people as I can... depending upon how much time I have, it can sometimes be very hard. I keep abreast of the latest local news through the Pierce County Herald online, St. Paul Pioneer Press online and I download the KQRS Morning show PodCast everyday and listen while on my way to work.... But, in case I miss anything, my aunt Sharon Hines collects news articles and other local "things of interest" that she feels I would like to have and generally sends me a package every couple months.  Receiving a package from home is definitely a highlight for me!