Published: December 22nd 2008September 24th 2008
For two commonwealth countries, it's freakishly weird how different Australia and Canada are in the language department. We are
speaking the same language aren't we???
Straight off the plane I was immersed into an entirely new vocabulary. A simple no, becomes nawah. Eighteen becomes ahdeen. Then there are all the little Aussie-isms....heaps, I reckon, cheers, nawah worries, good on ya, bewdy, bloody rippa, ta...
...oh, and could it be possible that all Australians really
call each other mate?? Oh yes they do ....mate
I freakin' love Australia!! ...and Australians for that matter!
For the first week everytime an Aussie said to me, 'How ya go'hn?' I thought they wanted to know my general direction and how I was going to get there. So I'd answer, "Well I plan to take the number #202 bus to the southbank train station, then get on to platform #2 and head.....(then realize they were only asking how I am).........oh um....I'm okay, thanks...you?" ....this was followed by a burst of good-natured Aussie laughter (at my expense of course). Cheeky buggers. Pretty soon I was throwing out 'how ya go'hns' to anyone that would look my way. When in Rome.
like to add interesting adjectives to any of their plain old nouns or verbs. My favorite one is 'dodgy' as it was used quite often to make hysterical commentary. i.e. dodgy biscuits, dodgy wallaby, dodgy driving....
But enough about the language differences. and if I were to really think about it, all I need to do is travel across Canada to find a whole other version of English there too...oh, and some hard-core spoon playing....but I digress.
I arrived in Brisbane after a long cramped flight from Canada, and found my homebase out in a suburb called Carindale. Home sweet home for the next few weeks. I'm not big on cities, but Brisbane IS a lovely, small city. Most of the homes in my area are reddish orange or tan brick with clay tile roofs....a slightly mediterranean feel, especially when you add smatterings of exotic foliage and the strange sounds.......the first morning I awoke startled to hear strange laughter coming from outside my bedroom window. A resident Kukkaburra I'm told later. So to recap, not only are Aussie people bizzare, but apparently their wildlife is too. Oh, and before I go any further.....I just want to mention, Tim Tams are very close to what we in Canada call methamphetamine. You are a very cruel race.
On a side note, you'd think after 25 years of driving in Canada, I'd just jump in a car here in Australia and go ...but really, if you think of it, driving on the wrong side of road...on the wrong side of car...and shifting with the other hand is kinda freaky! To make sure I didn't do anything super stupid...like crash, I hired a driving school fella to come by and give me a lesson. It turned out to be the best $50 I spent.....in no time I had the hang of it...keep LEFT keep LEFT keep LEFT....and my windshield has never been so clean! (turn signals aren't in the same spot either) lol
The spring weather here in Brissie was about 28c most days. A nice cool breeze off the ocean in the afternoons made the humidity bearable. I zigged and zagged all over the CBD (keeping left keeping left keeping left) taking in all the touristy things. Southbank is lovely with its winding paths along the riverway, and really cool fake beach complete with sand and lifeguards. Oh
and a ferriswheel like the London Eye. I was just touristing up a storm. I had lunch in a botanical park and it was a peaceful spot until this gigantic crazy Ibis landed on my plate scattering food and shit everywhere!! Again, with the birds!!
I'm pleased to see the regular city folk eating their lunches on the benches under the cool shade of gigantic figs, joggers and bikers buzzing by...it reminded me of my Vancouver on one of our rare sunny days when all the Vancouverites get out and about around the seawall. I felt the twing of homesickness just for a second. As expected, Brisbane has its share of touristy stuff, lots of museums and galleries to while away the afternoons, trips back and forth across the river on a citycat ferry. All the old government buildings are slowly being upstaged by newer, funkier skyscrapers, but Brisbane still maintains a charm you can feel as you make your way around.
I love all the crazy suburb names like Woolloongabba (which I practiced saying for 1/2 an hour and it still sounds ridiculous).
One of the highlights right in Brisbane was taking an old riverboat up
to the Lone Pine Sanctuary, to get up close and personal with a few koalas and kangaroos. Being Canadian, I'd never met either critter in person before, so the hands-on experience was fantastic...and at home we really don't want to pat a grizzy or hand feed a Moose. The riverboat ride allowed you to peek at all the multimillion dollars homes up the riverway perched on the hillsides. Some of the Queenslander homes made of fancy iron lacework are amazing...and I can picture myself sipping G&T's out on verandah in the late 1800's on a lazy humid afternoon.
Someone recommended I go to Mt. Coot-tha to check out the botanical gardens (a perfect suggestion for a horticultural freak like me). I can't get over all the flora and fauna here in Queensland...its fabulous....especially the bottlebrush and pink pigeons. I went back again in the evening to check out the Brisbane skyline, and I'm glad I did. It was a breathtaking city view and lovely to watch the sunset. Too bad 1,000,000 other people had the same idea, and I was jaustled slightly while straining for a look. I also made it out to all the 'Heads'. Burleigh being the
nicest. I'd spend the day walking the paths, and hanging out on the nice sandy beaches watching the surfers and contemplating why Australians put Beetroot on everything. The sun here is very intense and this poor little pasty white canadian girl had to seek shade often.
Every local, whether it was a video store clerk or a nosy neighbour would have a weird expression come over their face and they would tilt their head ever so slightly whenever I spoke. I would then have to repeat myself and they'd hang on every syllable. Never had I ever been so highly regarded before!! The one with the funny accent. It was great!
Homeswapping is definately the way to experience the 'lifestyle' of another country firsthand. I enjoyed grocery shopping and exploring all of Brisbane on my own, while my Australian homeswappers took great care of my house back in Canada. We met up later and had a few laughs over drinks and dinner reliving all the strange circumstances and odd things we encountered while living each others lives. I highly recommend trying this.
After about three weeks in gorgous Brisbane, I don't hear the Aussie accent anymore. I
am truly embedded. I've eaten meat pies for breakfast and lamingtons for tea. In fact, come to think of it, it's my accent that is the only foreign thing now.