10 Things They Don't Tell You About Backpacking Oz
Trip Start Jan 13, 2011
31Trip End Ongoing
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1. Skippy ain't so sweet.
Kangaroos are bloody scary. Honestly. A far cry from the connotations we have of fluffy life-saving friendly creatures that bound across bush land, rescuing young boys from wells. There is nothing more terrifying than seeing a pair of ears appear above long grass and hearing the loud and clear "fuck off" of the thud of a hind leg on solid earth. Actually there is; it’s seeing those ears, hearing that thud, then seeing several more pairs of ears, realising the grass is as least 5 foot tall so they are some pretty hefty kangaroos...all this having just received the warning that angry kangaroos can rip your insides out with their hind legs should they choose to do so
2. You will stoop to unhygienic depths you never imagined possible.
Everyone knows backpackers are dirty creatures who don’t wash their clothes often enough, but it goes so much further than that. It will put your university/dole years to shame. You won’t wash the bed sheets in your van, ever. You will pick up bed bugs from every hostel you stay in and bring them along for your road-trip. You will eat from dirty plates, clean cutlery with baby-wipes (thank god for baby-wipes) and eat out-of-date food, because you paid for it. You will piss in unimaginable places, whipping your pants down at the side of the highway, hoping you can finish before a truck passes/snake bites you. You will drip dry and then not change your underwear for another 2 days. Should you have a stomach upset on an occasion that you have run out of toilet roll, as my partner did, you will run into the low lying spinifex grass behind a small dead tree, armed with only a sheet of note paper and a carrier bag to wipe yourself with
3. Oldies do it best.
On the road you’ll meet The Grey Nomads. These are the people you want to be when you are older. They’ve reached retirement age, sold their houses to buy a kick-ass mobile home and are spending their kids inheritance on touring Australia. They are first up in the morning walking their dogs and the last to bed at night after sitting by the fire, drinking brandy and playing music. They put you to shame. Their mobile homes are like space-craft. Huge things that tow their 4x4’s and their boat and their bikes behind them. They have wide screen TV’s and washing machines (I kid you not.) They have tool-kits and first aid packs and generators and more often than not are glad to bandage you up, jump start your clapped out van or let you charge a mobile phone or two. Grey Nomads are friendly and inviting. They also have the best travel advice, so say g’day and accept an invite to sit by the fire.
4. Avoid Opal Fuel.
Every guide book tells you Opal Fuel is alright. It isn’t. You’ll find it most places in the Northern Territory because it is a low aromatic fuel and it can’t be sniffed to get high
5. You will get homesick and miss your mum.
If not your mum then your cat/dog/bed/brother/friends/favourite tea. It usually happens when you get sick, which happens a lot as you move from place to place, hostel to hostel. Accept it. Call whoever and have a cry. Even if you are 34 years old.
6. Not all locals are characters from Wolf Creek.
Meeting locals adds a whole new dimension to your trip, because you start experiencing it like you live there, not like a tourist
7. Get used to the word 'BUSH.’
Bush. Bush. Bush. Big Bush. You have to be able to say it and hear it without cracking a smile. The word is used so often you can’t escape it. You may go out to explore the bush, you may go bush whacking, you may eat bush tucker, you may sleep in the bush…the possibilities of bush are endless
8. Spiders will constantly panic you.
You will learn to identify the really nasty ones, the ones you seriously want to avoid. The Red-Back, the Funnel Web, the White-Tail and so on. Unfortunately the only way to truly identify one is to see one and once you’ve seen one you’ll feel so close to inevitable spider related death it is unreal. You’ll learn to recognise the friendly Huntsman who is massive and fast but eats all the other nasties. You’ll learn to love or at least tolerate him. However, every other spider you can’t identify will in your mind be one that is going to kill you. A lime green one on the van perhaps, one with weird orange legs in the toilet, the black one on your bed. Then you’ll feel something you’re sure is a spider bite even though it didn’t go anywhere near you, you’ll get palpitations, text your mum to tell her you love her and prepare for your untimely death. On the upside, when you do actually wake the next morning you’ll feel lucky to be alive and seize the day for sure.
9. Going home will be scary.
I’ve not done it yet, I’ve not ventured home
10. Koala’s have Chlamydia.
Sorry, but it’s true.