Life In Oz

Trip Start Aug 08, 2007
Trip End Sep 01, 2009

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Flag of Australia  ,
Thursday, March 13, 2008

Okay so I have some time to kill, so here are a few more notes on Australia that I didn't write about elsewhere.

FOOD - Not the most culinary of places in the world but it does have its particular flavours.  Pies are everywhere, convenience stores, petrol stations, little corner shacks, you'll find them everywhere and some good ones too, my favourite being steak and cheese and one I had in Cairns which was steak, egg, cheese and with a slice of bacon on top.  Some places even put sprigs of herbs on top to make them look fancy.  Then there's the famous Aussie barbecue.  These happen everywhere and on a regular basis mainly because the weather is just perfect for it and I've seen everything cooked on a barbie from bacon and eggs to a garlic bread, before I'd came here I didn't realise BBQ's could be so versatile.  And you'll find BBQ areas and hotplates everywhere you go, from beaches to national parks you'll find an area all set up and ready to barbecue on which I thought was brilliant.  Also lads, if a girl over here asks you if you want a sausage sizzle don't get too excited as I did, all it means is do you want a sausage sandwich from the barbie.

DRINK - Lots of points to make on the drinking front but first and foremost is the size of drinks.  Aussies will generally drink half pints or 3 quarter half pints but very rarely full pints.  If you go to the bar and ask for a Castelmaine XXXX for example you'll more than likely receive a half pint of it.  On arriving in Oz I immediately thought that they were a load of jessies drinking half pints, but I had it explained to me that they drink smaller measures because of the heat and that their beer would get warm if they got full pints - still not sure on that one though.  Then not only that but they have weird names for all their measures.  Three quarter pints are often called schooners and half pints are called things like pots and jars, and then depending on what state you're in the names change.  I like calling a pint a pint personally.

Next they don't drink Fosters over here, I only saw it once on the west coast, rumour has it that its so bad that they only export it now and Castlemainne XXXX and VB seems to be the main brews.  One of the brews I particularly liked was 'Pure Blonde' which was a 4.7% lager that was low in carbs so good for you, meaning of course that you can look after your 6 pack better  - or can drink twice as much - can't wait for that one to reach England.  What they do drink a lot of over here is spirit and mixers in cans, like JD and Coke, Bundaberg Rum and Coke and stuff like that.  They also sell the travelers favourite tipple - Goon.  As I might have mentioned before this is a plastic bag full of strong but minging wine for often less than 50p a litre - not for the connoisseur.

In a lot of pubs they have a cocktail glass on the bar with some drink in it, this is actually the tips jar and if you look closely you'll see coins in the bottom.  When I first saw this from afar I'd made the mistake of thinking Rich had bought some sort of lady drink for himself but it was in fact the tips jar.  And finally there is the 'Sunday Sesh'.  Sunday is renowned as the being the last day of the weekend so drinking all day seems to be the thing to do and almost everyone does.  In coral bay I saw more people out on the Sunday then I did on the Saturday night.  I'd be interested to see the work attendance stats for a Monday.

PEOPLE - Australians are generally really friendly people and always up for a chat about anything and everything.  I was slightly disappointed at the lack of good natured 'pom bashing' I was expecting to be involved in.  Maybe England's rugby world cup win over the Aussies has silenced them a bit.  On the other side of the coin though I did find some of it a bit false, like in every shop they'll ask you 'how are ya' to which I'd usually reply 'yeah I'm good, how are you', to which they wouldn't reply at all and just carry on tilling.  Makes me think its all a bit in the "Have a Nice Day" category of things.

ANIMALS & INSECTS - Koalas, Crocodiles, Kangaroos, Possums, Wombats, Emus, Cassowarries.  Even after 10 weeks I was still marvelling at the sights of these animals that I'd never seen before.  And then there were the tons of dolphins, sharks, sting rays and all sorts of other marine life.  And as for the insects well Australia has 6 of the 10 most dangerous snakes in the world, and something like 20 of the top 25 most dangerous spiders and thats to add to the box jellyfish and the other array of stingers out there.

HISTORY - It's amazing to think that this country's modern history is less than 240 years old - discovered in only 1770 by Captain James Cook (I need to read up more about this guy, his feats are amazing).  And I think it's because of this that the place is really good for understanding the history of the country.  The wide variety of musuems are first class and the war monuments are really worthy of what they're commemorating.  In general tourism is done in a very good way, even the smallest little towns have very good tourist offices with tons of info and pamphlets on the surrounding areas.  You could quite easily get by without a guide book.  And on the topic of Toursim, in order to enhance it a lot of towns have taken it on themselves to have a big something or other as a toursit attraction to their towns.  There's the big banana in Coffs Harbour, the big pineapple in Woombye, the big lobster in Kingston, the big prawn in Ballina and there's even a big poo in Kiama.

GEOGRAPHY - It's amazing that the population of Australia is only around the 20 million mark, a third of the population of the UK in a country almost the size of the US.  This means that you can travel for hundreds of miles in this country without seeing a soul - wherelse can you do that?  And the contrast in terrain is also amazing from the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters on the west and east coasts to the red clay of the outback to the tropical wetlands of Kakadu and Cape Tribulation, to the mountain scenery of south east australia.

Overall Australia comes across as a country that is extremely confident in it's standing - it knows its country is very good and it doesn't mind telling the rest of the world.  I like it too, great country and great people.
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