In honor of Australia Day I have dug up some photos from when I lived in Australia a few years ago including pictures I took at some Australian Costcos!
(Now, to be fair I had not started blogging yet when I lived in Australia so I wasn't as dedicated to taking pictures of everything, therefore these are a mere drop in the bucket of what you can find at Costcos in Australia.
Australia was my first experience with Costco outside of the US and walking into a Costco Warehouse there was like walking into a little piece of home every time I went into one :) International warehouses are my favorite to explore because their merchandise differs so greatly from the US warehouses I am accustom to. When I lived in Australia briefly in 2013 there were only five Costcos in two states and one territory, but as of today there are now eight Costco Warehouses spanning four states and one territory, and three more are scheduled to open in 2017.
The first Australian Costco I experienced was the Auburn warehouse in Lidcombe, NSW. I was delighted to find many familiar brands in Costco that you couldn't get at Coles or Woolies (Woolworths) including my favorite brand: Kirkland Signature.
Before I had tried Australian ginger ale I was thrilled to find my favorite ginger ale brand from home, Canada Dry, at Costco.
However, the first time I got sick while living in Australia my friends popped out to the store for me and brought back Schweppes Dry Ginger Ale from Woolies and I promptly fell in love. Schweppes Dry Ginger Ale is much "hotter," as it seems to actually have REAL ginger root in it and lots of it! Schweppes Dry Ginger Ale is also much LESS sweet than the ginger ale we have in the US. I love dry ginger ale so much now I can't stand the taste of ginger ale sold in the US because its just way too sweet to me. (I also found Schweppes Dry Ginger Ale throughout the UK.)
Check out this 17.6 oz jar of 100% pure Manuka Honey from NewZealand. A jar this size would cost you about $30-$40 US dollars in the states, but this 500g jar at Costco in Australia costs about half that at about $15.80 US dollars.
Being in the southern hemisphere means the seasons are the opposite of what I'm used to so at first I was amused by all the beach and summer themed Christmas cards but I eventually got into it and of course my 2013 Holiday cards had a decidedly Australian flare to them.
Maybe it was just because it was around the holidays, I can't quite recall but I remember seeing a LOT of awesome gift baskets like these spa/bath themed gift baskets.
Here is definitive proof that Australians love The Simpsons just as much, if not more than Americans do:
Also I found these toothbrushes, and being a huge Simpsons fan I just had to have them :)
For all you Vegemite lovers behold the gigantic 950g tub you can get at Costco!!
If you're asking yourself "Vege-what?" allow me to explain - Vegemite is a concentrated yeast extract (a byproduct of the manufacturing process of making beer). It is an incredibly efficient energy source that spreads well on toast & sandwiches and is beloved by many Australians. It can also be used in soups, casseroles and pastries or pretty much anything you like. Vegemite has an intense salty & savory flavor that takes some getting used to if you did not grow up with it, but even I occasionally found myself spreading it on buttered toast for a quick brekkie. Vegemite is said to be similar to English Marmite found through out the UK. However, having tried both myself I would have to say I definitely prefer the Vegemite over the Marmite.
Now for something that isn't an acquired taste - how about an enormous 5kg tub of rich & creamy Nutella!
WeightWatchers must be huge in Australia because Costco was always carrying different kinds of WeightWatchers food products like these cereal bars which are very similar to Kelloggs Nutri-Grain Bars and they were actually pretty tasty.
I even came across wine in Australia that had WeightWatchers point stickers on the bottles, (but I saw those at Liquorland, not Costco.) Costco in Australia does sell alcohol though. I'm not sure if it's carried at all warehouses but definitely at the Docklands warehouse, which is the first warehouse I visited in Melbourne and where I got this Crystal Head Vodka :)
I dont recall the Costcos in Australia having pharmacies, in fact I'm pretty sure Australia has rather strict regulations on pharmaceuticals for both prescription and OTC medications, but all Australian Costco locations have hearing aids and do hearing tests.
You may not be able to purchase medications at Costco Australia but they do carry toiletries, personal care items and cosmetics. Actually Costco Australia is where I first discovered and purchased Beautys Most Wanted and Jenna Hipp cosmetics. I bought Jenna's "Whats Hot Now" five-free 13-piece nail collection and her fabulous Essential Nail & Hand creams at the Docklands warehouse.
I cannot explain to you how excited I was to discover CLASSIC Herbal Essences shampoos and conditioners in Costco in Australia. This is the original Herbal Essences formula that came out in the US in the late 90s and it smells DIVINE!! This original formula went away in the US sometime in 2006 and I never cared for anything from the new line of Herbal Essences. In 2012 Clairol brought back the so called "classic" Herbal Essences line in the US market in the form of the Smooth collection and the Shine collection. But they had changed the formulas and these reboots do NOT smell the same as the originals. The original formula is apparently still around in Australia and I pretty much washed my hair exclusively with Classic Herbal Essences shampoo & conditioner the entire time I lived in Australia.
The bakery in Australian Costcos have lots of tasty treats. How delicious does this chocolate marble cheesecake look and this decadent chocolate Mud Cake is mouth watering!
Almond croissants?! Why yes please :)
I can't find a picture of them but in Australia Costcos you can get double chocolate cookies from the bakery (rich chocolate cookies with white chocolate chunks), and they are SO DELICIOUS!! I think Kimberly over at AddictedToCostco has a picture of them on her blog.
No Costco would be complete with out a Kirkland Signature Rotisserie chicken!
I also found Beef Bulgogi, a favorite fresh deli item of mine, at a Costco warehouse in Victoria. I know this item is carried on the West Coast, particularly in California but I have never seen it on the East Coast.
Some Australian Costcos have bright yellow signs like this one alerting customers to food demos. These are a great idea especially when the refrigerator case or freezer where an item is located is not right next to the sampling cart.
By late 2013 nearly all US Costcos had switched over from Kirkland Signature SPRING Water to Kirkland Signature PURIFIED water, but Australian Costcos still carried the KS spring water which tastes a MILLION times better to me than the chemically purified water. (Since Costco made the switch from spring water to purified water in the US this is pretty much the only item we buy the brand name of instead of buying the Kirkland Signature brand because I just can't stand the aftertaste the purified water leaves in your mouth.)
By this time Costco in the US had also already changed the packaging of their Household Surface Wipes from these now "old school" Plastic cylinders to the minimalist rectangular packaging we have today. And the US wipes no longer have the Orange scent (my favorite) but you could still get the old packing (with Orange!) in Australia. (Canadian Costcos still have the Orange scent and in the new rectangular packages!)
This 5-piece Pet Grooming Set came in a Decor plastic container that doubled as a pet food storage container, and held a microfiber washing fit and towel, a pet food bowl and a brush. I didn't have a dog but I seriously considered buying this just for the Decor container. If you're not familiar with Decor they are phenomenal. In the US you have to go to specialty stores like The Container Store to find them or turn to the interne, but even then they only have a tiny selection of the massive Decor product line. Ofcourse being an Australian company Decor containers, kitchen and picnic products are widely available throughout Australia.
How cute is this Heys Travel Tots penguin luggage & backpack set?!
I love trying new laundry detergents - I feel like the rest of the world has much cooler names for their laundry soaps than we do. Surf doesn't even need to describe what it smells like - with a name like Surf you know its going to smell tropical and beauty Vanish makes total since for a stain remover and Dynamo and Biozet Attack sound like they will kick some serious stain butt, LOL. At first I thought Softly was a fabric softener but its actually a premium, gentle detergent similar to Woolite. (In case anyone was wondering, Biozet Attack was my favorite detergent!)
It wouldn't really be Costco without a massively unnecessary, yet brilliantly good deal, like this paddle boat.
These brightly colored foam roll-up beach mats are brilliant!
I found cooking oils in small 4 liter and huge 20 liter metal tins.
Did you know that Australians have always been able to get Crispy M&Ms!!?? Crispy M&Ms debuted in the US in 1999 but were discontinued in 2005 and replaced by Pretzel M&Ms in 2010. But their original blue bags and Orange M&M mascot character continued to be available throughout Australia. (In 2015 Mars brought back the Crispy M&Ms to the US but in new green bags.) If you are not familiar with the other two brands of candy in this variety box Maltesers are malted milk balls similar to Whoppers, and Pods are bite size crunchy wafers with caramel and chocolate, kind of like Twix.
Australian Costco foodcourts are amazing. In addition to classic favorites we're used to here in the US like hotdogs, pizza and churros you can also get avocado chicken wraps, meat pies (super tasty), cappuccinos & lattes, and last but not least my all time favorite costco food court item EVER: Mango Passionfruit Fruit Delite. It's kind of like a soft serve/sorbet/gelto and I have begged Costco to bring the Mango Passion Fruit Delite to the US. If anyone has seen these in your food court let me know! (Oh and did I mention you can get BBQ chicken pizza??)
I discovered the Mango Passionfruit Fruit Delite while at the Docklands Costco warehouse which is located right across the street from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. The Docklands warehouse is the most beautiful Costco I have ever been to. The food court has floor to ceiling windows and sits up in the front corner of the warehouse above the Tyre Center and is cantilevered over the walkway below.
Australian Costcos have their own version of the Costco Connection, but I think it only comes out quarterly? Check it out here.
You can't shop online at Costco.com.au but you can join Costco or renew your membership and check out the latest Australian Costco coupons.
Another cool thing you can do on Costco.com.au is place orders for Costco decorated sheet cakes and Costco deli platters. Australians can even order different deli platters like chicken wings and sushi platters! Costco really needs to make this online ordering available in the US.
For additional tidbits about international Costco locations check out July 2015 issue of the US edition of the Costco Connection magazine where they featured products from Costco warehouses around the world.
If you want more Costco Australia you'll have to wait until I venture back down under, but until then check out Costco Mum on Facebook - she's got an great page and thoroughly covers Australian Costcos.
I hope you guys enjoyed this little peak into what Australian Costcos are like :)
Until next time,
the Costco Connoisseur