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Well to sum up Australia in a few words? Bonzer!! Ripper!!! BBQ-tastic!!!
Actually we never actually managed a BBQ in all our time, too much rain, but even though it was unusually cruddy weather we loved it anyway. We just had to leave early because that aussie dollar was so super strong it really did cripple us staying for just over a month. I think we managed 6 weeks of our planned 3 months, but at least we leave knowing that we will make sure some way, somehow, we will return to the land down under (where women glow and men plunder… yes I know, I didn’t realise the actual words – weird aren’t they?).
So without question my favourite place was Melbourne, but I was also particularly taken with Adelaide, Cairns and Perth (sorry Sydney, maybe I expected too much of you). Mark however seems to have forgotten the mosquito attacks not to mention the constant threat of some kind of death and would love to go live in Cairns.
Highlights, faves and funnies:
V8 vs maestro
Not long after we were due to leave Adelaide their fringe and then their full arts festivals were on. They were setting up for all kinds of things for that and also they seemed to have some barriers setup for some kind of race that would be going on.
Adelaide is not the hugest city by any means, one of the things that makes it so pleasant in fact, but you would not think that two big things going on in the city could be organised/thought about so very separately.
The opening night of the Adelaide Festival, an outdoor concert where the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, conducted by world reknowned maestro Ennio Morricone, was apparently ruined by it being drowned out by the nearby V8 Supercar race. It shouldn’t be funny. It’s terrible really, but oh my!!
Aussie TV and news
We LOVED Aussie TV, in terms of their kind of news/chat/info type shows. They are just so blunt, it is fantastic. We were there during a crisis for the government where slimy Kevin Rudd decided he wanted to oust the prime minister Julia Gillard. Big stuff for the country and the coverage was gripping. They weren’t all stony faced about stuff that, ok is serious, but took the mick a bit, even when talking to senior politicians. I think the thing that was quite shocking is that most of the politicians joked back. They could hold their own. They didn’t drone and waffle. They were blunt too. I mean politicians are politicians but I thought Australia could teach us and other countries a thing or two. Getting to the point of things for one. It would be fair to say Mark doesn’t get involved/think about UK politics at all if he can help it. He now knows 20 times more about the Australian government than he does our own.
A couple of shows were stand out fantastic. Both on channel 10. The just launched breakfast show with a Kiwi guy who had been sacked from his New Zealand TV job for saying something unprofessional on air. Well that’s pretty much why they hired him I think. He is very funny and just says what he thinks. Again, refreshing. It’s so boring people always saying the right thing for fear of beings sued or of a backlash – things shouldn’t be taken so seriously.
The other program which we both loved (I have never known Mark to ever watch/tolerate daytime TV in the UK) is The Circle. This has 2 main presenters and 2 guest presenters of a rotating familiar few. Again, they just say what they think about stuff and in fact got into a lot of trouble for it even when we were there. There was a backlash for making some comments about the SAS guy who saved all his colleagues and got the victoria cross or something – there was a photo of him looking especially ripped in a swimming pool and they made some comments about him being a meathead or something and they got massively attacked for being disrespectful of a war hero. Fair enough, but they weren’t slating him, they were just being stupid. They laugh at themselves and others. Culturally (or maybe that’s not the right word) there really was a difference to the UK. It’s become so banal and anyone who does say anything about anything gets slated by the media and umpteen ‘groups’ within hours. It’s just all a bit much.
I was also gobsmacked that the news readers use the word ‘bashed’. I thought that was just a slang word but they use it on the actual, grown up sensible news. Don’t know why that tickled me so much!
Cairns Bowling Club
‘Bowlos’ are big in Oz. We were gutted in fact we never got to have a go at barefoot bowls – where the clubs let in the casual bowler for some fun sessions, often including music and BBQs.
We didn’t get to play but while in Cairns we did spend time in the Edge Hill Bowls club, mainly because it was the nearest place you could get a drink where we were staying, out in the suburbs. It was a funny but friendly place with pokies in the corner and a decent little kitchen churning out the pub staples.
I was utterly fascinated by the big board they had up there listing the winners for the latest ‘Goose Club Raffle’. Prizes include a bacon and egg tray, beer, barbers certificate and an array of other interesting things.
What do you do in a foreign (or even just different, up the motorway) land? You have a nose at the house prices. Is that a British thing? I don’t know, but whenever on your hols it’s nice to know what you can get for the price of your current home. It makes you feels better when you can buy 10 acres of the sahara dessert for the cost of your 1 bed studio flat. For some reason though, 90% of the time, in Australia, the estate agent windows were full of pictures and descriptions but without prices. What is the point of that? It just seemed very strange and a bit annoying really. I want to be nosy and see – why the secret?
We kept seeing this Hungry Jacks place and thought it looked incredibly similar to Burger King with it’s logo and colouring – how could they get away with that and not get sued? Turns out that Hungry Jacks is a franchise of Burger King. Who knew they did that? I don’t know why this fascinated me, it just did. Those brands, like McDonalds etc are so strong I would have thought that it would be crazy to have it called different things in different places.
Australian Teenagers Tortured
For anyone who watches the Oz soaps, those school uniforms have always seemed a bit ridiculous haven’t they. Especially when you’re talking about 17/18 year olds. But here’s the thing, that’s not made up for TV, they really do make their school kids (and near adults) look like complete tools.
The boys, in the long tailored shorts – I know it’s hot, but those kind of shorts should not be worn past 9 years old. And they then have socks and ‘sensible’ shoes which are like something only your great uncle Arthur would wear with his cords and his tweed, elbow patches, jacket and a pipe.
The girls then have hideous dresses (sometimes with skirts of a creepily short length considering every other aspect is clearly designed to make them look bad). And their shoes? Oh dear me. I have never seen the like. Well that’s not true, I seem to remember seeing that kind of thing back in the 70s when there was only about 5 styles of shoe available anyhow. And they’re not good in a retro way either. And with socks. Wrong-ity-wrong-wrong.
Hopefully at least these bizarre uniforms keep down the teen pregnancy rates. Though I can’t imagine they work well to keep kids in school once they reach 16. I’d flee first chance I got. I am considering alerting Amnesty to this cruelty.
Toilet graffiti in the Hotel Exeter, Adelaide
The Hotel Exeter was a cool bar in central Adelaide that had been a great place to go for years. Their toilet had some great graffiti, including what is possibly my favourite ever. Someone had simply written ‘Bouillabaisse of broken dreams’ (in reference to the Green Days ‘Boulevard of broken dreams’). I don’t know if this makes me slightly cool for liking the song reference, or, the more likely, sad, for appreciating the Bouillabaisse reference and also Mark and I checking and admiring that they’d spelt it write!!!
Booby Trap shop
This was the name of a lingerie place in Adelaide. I’d only been in Oz a little while and seeing this made me think that I was going to like the place.
Australia was the place where we discovered the joys of Airbnb. It really was a revelation and I really don’t know if we’d have enjoyed ourselves half as much had we had to take the hostel route. Not only did we stay in totally different types of places with different types people we also did things that we wouldn’t have gotten to experience otherwise. It was definitely more a taster of ‘real’ life, rather than being outside in the hostel world like in New Zealand where we met very few New Zealanders. It almost felt like the different people we stayed with represented different elements of our personalities. We’ve been grown up, cultured, silly, foodie, boozie – a little bit of everything.
Can of piss
This was an expression I first heard in New Zealand but then heard a fair amount more in Oz. I learnt that this means a can of beer. Now I’m not known for being lady like and my language isn’t always that fragrant but this, and Mark agreed, is a horrid, horrid expression I’d prefer never to hear again. Don’t know why but just bleuch!
Again I think I mentioned these in regards to New Zealand but they seemed even more prevalent in Australia. So many pubs had a pokie/gaming section.
In one way they were great – you could certainly view some interesting people and interesting goings on, but mainly they were just annoying.
I think the main reason is the god damn noise. Drives you absolutely mad. And I still just can’t get my head around pubs mixed with arcades and betting shops. It makes for a generally male dominated, depressing environment.
Marks latest annoying torture technique was formed
Mark likes to annoy me. A lot! But he also likes to amuse himself more than anything else and sometimes he latches onto to phrases or jokes that he will repeat many, many times a day. There’s been many of the years. I won’t repeat any for fear of reminding him and him starting any of them up again. Plus they probably wouldn’t translate to being written down anyhow.
In particular many of these seem to materialise when we are on holiday. Maybe it’s just because we are together pretty much 24/7 so he can practise them over and over to his constant audience. Anyway, in Australia Mark came up with something so annoying, it’s a wonder I didn’t leave him in the rainforest/dessert.
It goes something like this….
A word is used in any kind of conversation, I might, for instance, say to Mark ‘would you like a yoghurt’. Mark then replies ‘You’re a yoghurt!’.
‘Mark, can you pass me that map’ …. ‘You’re a map’
‘It’s really humid today’ …. ‘You’re humid’
I imagine you get the drift. It is especially handy when we are in a rush or packing and trying to get something done and I need him to do something or answer me something seriously.
‘Have you got the passports?’ …. ‘You’re a passport’ – ok, so not that last one, everyone knows I don’t let Mark near the passports since the notorious bag on car roof incident.
Sometimes it could get quite obscure. I was talking once about some kind of architecture somewhere (I know, cultured aren’t I?) and was saying it was Gehrylike, in reference to the great architect Franky Gehry (who’s work we could have had in Brighton if the council hadn’t p’d him off – gutted!!!). So what is my response? ‘You’re Gehrylike!’ of course – which actually if you think about his wobbly, misshapen buildings isn’t a compliment.
So Australia is the home to the invention of Marks, probably most annoying ever, ‘tortures’.