Australian Anecdotes

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Oceania » Australia
April 25th 2006
Published: May 14th 2006
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Wild BirdsWild BirdsWild Birds

On Daydream Island, Whitsundays

Bite Size Stories of this Huge Country

Kangaroo (Cannes):
Haven’t seen any in the wild, but ate one last night. Not bad, not gamey like I thought it would be. But I still prefer beef.

$24 Drink (Cannes):
In Australia they think Smirnoff is good Vodka. I disagree. This is why I ordered an Absolute Red Bull. But when I was handed the drink it was green and looked like a science experiment gone bad. I thought it must just be the black light, so I handed the girl behind the bar $6 and grabbed the drink. She laughed at me and said, “no, that will be $24” What? Why? What is this? which she replied “Absinthe, vodka, and Red Bull” Great! It was the most expensive, disgusting drink I have ever drank in my life. The good thing was, I didn’t need another drink for the rest of the night!

Fed Up and Stressed Out (Airlie Beach):
I was through with winging my way through Australia. I was almost to the point of anxiety attacks when I walked into Peterpan’s Travel and booked the rest of my trip. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted off
Indian HeadIndian HeadIndian Head

Fraser Island
the coast and I needed to see if it was possible. We sat down with a calendar and worked it all out. Bus to Hervey Bay, a couple days on Fraser Island, bus to Brisbane, a couple days in the city, 15 hour bus ride to Sydney, a few days there, fly to Alice Springs and go on a 4-day camping trip in the Outback (including Ayers Rock)…then fly from Alice Springs to Sydney and out of Australia.
Perfect right? Well…3 hours after I booked all that, feeling pretty good about everything, I got on the bus to Hervery Bay. And what happens on the bus? I meet a girl. A girl from Finland. A girl I was checking on while we were waiting for the bus. A girl that just happened to be sitting right in front of me and struck up a conversation as soon as we started moving. This girl was about my age, fun to talk to, very good-looking, and had the exact same opinion of this route in Australia as I. You know what else we had in common? We both just booked itineraries that we had to stick to…and of course, they were different
Main HighwayMain HighwayMain Highway

Light traffic on Fraser Island
itineraries. I got off in Hervey Bay; she went on to Rainbow Beach…and besides exchanging e-mails…that’s that.

Realization (Hervey Bay):
So I think I know why I can’t really get into Australia. I haven’t met any Australians. I haven’t learned anything about Australia. I have only been with other travelers, most of whom care less about the country they are in and just want to go from beach to beach, bar to bar, and bed to bed. Which is all great…more power to them. I would be doing the same thing if I were in their shoes. But I’m not. That’s not what my trip is about. That’s why I need to get into the Outback.
That being said, the few Australians I have met, most of them being older people in the Laundromat, restaurants, etc, have been some of the friendliest, most upbeat people I have ever met.

Sand for Days (Fraser Island):
The largest sand island in the world. No soil, only sand. I guess at one time there was soil and a forest grew, but then that forest was buried by sand…then another forest grew using the buried forest as a base, then that
Forest from the SandForest from the SandForest from the Sand

The newest forest being buried by sand
one was buried, and on and on and on over millions of years. Now there’s this huge sand island, with lakes and rain forests, and lots and lots of sand. There are no roads on Fraser Island, so you have to hire a 4WD. It’s really a fun place to go 4WDing and camping. The 75-mile beach is the main highway…with traffic rules and everything. I spent a couple days out there and it’s definitely been the highlight of Australia so far. I had a good group of people from all over…a couple girls from Turkey, brothers from Germany, a French girl, a British guy, and an American (who when explaining what he does back home, in San Jose, tried to explain to me what a Storage Area Network is…small world). All these people are attending university in Sydney, most of them graduate studies, and were on their Easter Break. It was a great time, with Lake McKenzie being the highlight.

Lollyberries (Fraser Island):
Berries that have absolutely no flavor, but they have acids that highlight the flavor already in your month. 5 people ate them and were asked to explain what they tasted like. Everybody said something different.
Lake McKenzieLake McKenzieLake McKenzie

You can't tell from the pic, but this is the whitest white sand beach I have ever seen.
Mine tasted like eggs.

Exfoliating Fish (Fraser Island):
The fish in Lake Wabby surround you and eat the dead skin off your body. Spa treatment Fraser Island style!

Bats (Hervey Bay):
At around 6:00pm in this certain place in Hervey Bay, thousands and thousands of bats take flight from the trees, literally making the sky go black. They are a protected species of fruit bat, so you can’t kill them. They are reproducing at extreme rates.

Obnoxious Lesbians (Brisbane): Semi-Explicit
I went and saw Beth Orton tonight at The Tivoli in Brisbane. A great little venue that reminded me of the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, but without the bouncy floor. Since the place was so small, I was able to situate myself right in front of the stage. Surrounding me were these young lesbian girls. They seemed harmless enough, until Beth came on. I didn’t realize that Beth Orton would draw a huge gay crowd until I got there. Her new album, Comfort of Strangers, has kinda been my go-to-bed album since I’ve been traveling. Her lyrics are reminiscent of early Fiona Apple, but with the edginess of Liz Phair, back when Liz Phair had an edge.
Beth OrtonBeth OrtonBeth Orton

The Tivoli, Brisbane
There is also a country feel to her new album; almost an Emmylou Harris meets Neko Case sound. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the riot grrl crowd I would’ve expected at an early 90’s Ani show. Anyway, I of course don’t have a problem with this scene, and these girls were actually fun to watch at first. They were having a blast, and the one right in front of me smelled like high school. OK, I guess I better explain that…do you remember that Liz Claiborne perfume, the one that came in the yellow triangle bottle? It was big around 1990? Anyway, she smelled like that, and it brought me back in time a little. But I digress. As the night went on, these girls got more and more intoxicated and more and more physical with each other. I think at one point they were trying to shock me, because one of them kept looking back at me after each make-out session with her girlfriend. I guess she didn’t realize I am from San Francisco and not much they could do was going to shock me. But…they could offend me…and others. And this they did. They would not shut their mouths. If they weren’t eating each other’s faces…they were talking in very loud, annoying voices over Beth’s songs. In between songs they would demand their favorite songs. We were close enough for Beth to hear this, and during her encore, when she asked for requests…and the girls screamed out the songs they wanted to hear…Beth looked right at them and said “I can’t hear you, I’m deaf to you, you are so fucking obnoxious!” At which point I started clapping along with the rest of the crowd.

Country-Rockin’ Irish Lads (Brisbane):
I am staying in Prince Consort Hostel in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. Brisbane has been explained as Australia’s redneck city, but I see it more as a working-class city, almost like Chicago, but much smaller. Anyway, there are these Irish guys in the room next to me. Pretty rough looking, huge guys who are always walking around with their shirts off and drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. They are covered with what looks like gang tattoos. Rough guys.
So I was a little confused when I was trying to go to sleep last night (at 1:00am) when “Jackson” by Johnny Cash starts blasting through my walls. “That's weird” I thought, and then put my headphones on to attempt to drown out the sound. But then “Cocaine Blues” came on and it was even louder…then “Folsom Prison Blues”. My curiosity got the best of me so I finally went outside. Here were these Irish gangsters with their arms around each other singing Johnny at the top of their lungs with their strong Irish accents. It was the funniest thing I had ever seen and I, of course, had to join them for a beer. Turned out to be pretty nice guys.

Horror Movies and Dreams (Brisbane): Semi-Explicit and Disgusting
Just a tip, don’t watch the horror movie Hostel while staying in a Hostel. In fact, don’t watch the movie at all…the most horrific part of it is the acting…that and dreaming you are being sold to ‘murder tourists’, tourists who go to developing countries to torture and murder people and get away with it…these guys make sex tourists look like saints. The movie is supposedly inspired by true events, but I’m not sure of the legitimacy of that.

LOST (Brisbane):
For some reason people out here take the TV show LOST very seriously. They either love it and it’s all they want to talk about…or they absolutely hate it and think everyone who watches it should kill him/herself for being so stupid. Weird.

Reminders of Home (Sydney):
I went out in “The Rocks” area of Sydney last night with a guy I met on Fraser Island a few days ago. The Rocks is this great little area near the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Derek is from San Jose and was also in the IT industry, but now he’s just finishing up his masters in International Business. Anyway, as we were sitting there, talking about work, etc…I look up at the Rugby Union game on the screens around the bar and the first thing I notice in the ‘ca’ symbol all over the sidelines…then I look at the players and they all have huge ‘ca’ symbols on their chests. The Brumbies main sponsor is Computer Associates (sorry, CA Inc.). Just thought it was funny that I would notice that while I was deep in a conversation about that very subject.

3-Minute Angels (Sydney):
A group of massage therapists who work in the clubs and pubs of Sydney each night. They dress in sexy clothes and will give you a 3 minute massage for whatever you want to pay them…some might pay a dollar…some might pay a hundred. Seems like they make pretty good money for little work…pretty cool idea…reminds me of Sarena’s traveling spa idea.

Anzac Day (Sydney):
So it’s Anzac Day, Australia’s version of Veteran’s Day. I had to be up at 3:00am to get to the airport to fly to Alice Springs…but since it’s a holiday people were partying hard last night. I did not sleep one second with the noise outside. I will never stay in Kings Cross again.

Blue Mountains (outside Sydney):
Went to the Blue Mountains. Took the train. Hiked around. Wasn’t impressed.

10,000 Hits! (Sydney):
My blogs have been viewed over 10,000 times! I know that’s about how many times a day Taralee gets hits on her myspace…but I’m still pretty proud of it. Even though I’m not too proud of this blog, and if you’re still reading I give you permission to stop now, but look through the pics…oh, and check out the last story…the Outback really was the best part.

Beer (Alice Springs):
Pints, Schooners, Jugs, Pots…Mid-Strength, Bitter, Full Strength…Carleton Draught, Toothey, Toothey’s New, VB, MB…you can’t just order a beer in this country, you have to know exactly what size, what percentage of alcohol, and what brand and flavor you want. And as soon as you get used to what you like, you get to another town and they don’t serve pints, only schooners…and they don’t have Carleton on Tooheys! Ahhh!

Out Here (Alice Springs):
I feel a 100%!b(MISSING)etter being in Alice. I finally feel like I am in Australia. Out of the 20,000 people who live here, 50%!a(MISSING)re aborigines. Red dirt everywhere, heat and flies…and country bars that look like they look like Crocodile Dundee should be walking out at any moment.

Bennie (Alice Springs):
I am having dinner in Alice my first night and Bennie comes walking up. Bennie is a Swiss guy I shared a room with in Cannes. Cannes is a long, long way from Alice. It’s like meeting someone in LA and then running into them in Oklahoma City 3 weeks later.

Aboriginal People (Red Center):
The Aboriginal people are different from any race on this planet. I think it’s safe to say that most Caucasians are similar looking, most Asians, most Africans…but the Aborigines look nothing like any of these. It’s really pretty cool to see people who are so distinctively different looking than anyone else. But it’s sad to see that most of them are beligerntly drunk by 6am.

Dodgy Fooker (Red Center):
So we’re all in the bus driving out to Ayers Rock for our camping trip and there is a blockade of police in the road. They all have shotguns out and are looking very serious. They make our guide, Natalie, get out of the bus and open the trailer. As she is doing that, one of the cops gets on the bus and walks around looking at each of the 22 passengers. He then asks me for some ID, which I produce immediately because for some reason I am scared even though I knew I had no reason to be.
From that time on, I was known as the ‘Dodgy Fooker’, a term coined by my new Scottish friend Andy. A term that means the police only picked on me because I looked like criminal. On a side note, Andy is probably the funniest person I have ever met. We brought 4
Great GroupGreat GroupGreat Group

Part of my camping group...I won't even try to spell the Frech names...but the Scotsman is Andy
beers in the ice chest out to watch the sunset at the rock, and these 2 Koreans that were in the group drank two of them…and instead of just asking them to buy us 2 more, Andy turned the whole incidents into a 3 day joke...Ayers Rock Happy Hour…2 for Free…Free Beer in the Outback…I don’t think the Koreans spoke very good English, so I don’t think even understood….but it was some funny stuff. Guess you had to be there.

Like, Like, Like (Red Center):
I was like going to the store to get like some stuff to like make dinner and like when I like park my car I like remember that I like left my purse at home so I like call my boyfriend to like come and meet me with it and he’s like “I’m not coming out there, the game is on” and I’m like “oh my god, do you want to like eat dinner sometime tonight or like just stare to death” and he’s like…..
I never realized how many times young American girls use the word ‘Like” I will like never use like use that word again!

The End (Red Center):

The flies were seriously insane. I wore a net around my head most of the time. They would go up your nose, in your eyes, in your ears!
have to say being in the Outback, camping in swags under the stars, hiking 20kms a day, being covered in flies (who when you swat them don’t go away like American flies, they go get 2 friends and come back) and hanging out with probably the best group of 20 people I have met has really made my trip to Australia worth it. It was such a great experience that I can’t really even explain it. I might even say it has been the best part of my trip so far. It was just beautiful. Sitting around campfires telling stories with people from all over the world. Somehow we just all clicked so well. Even after 4 days together in the desert, we all had dinner together when we got back to Alice and pretty much partied together all night.
I have come to the conclusion that it’s all about the company you keep. I could be in the most beautiful place in the world, but if I’m surrounded my assholes then I am going to be miserable…but on the flipside I could be sitting in the desert getting eaten alive by bugs but have the time of my life
Camp FireCamp FireCamp Fire

We built the mother of all campfires...9ft.tall!
because of the people who are in that desert with me. I really like to be on my own at times…but I am starting to think that good friends are the key to a happy life…and I’m glad I am lucky enough to have quite a few, most of whom probably stopped reading quite awhile ago ;-)

What's Next?
I have decided to skip New Zealand for purposes of money and weather. It is cold there now, but not cold enough to will be raining non-stop and it's hard to do all the great outdoors stuff in the rain. I also have to remind myself that I do not have a job and I cannot afford to run around these countries like I do.
So I fly to Auckland tomorrow, because my ticket back to Asia is from New Zealand. I spend one night there and then I'm off to Malaysia. I am going to travel for awhile there and try to find a job. Either teaching English or whatever else I can get without a proper work visa. I may have to go back to Thailand for what I'm looking for, or maybe back to Cambodia. Anyway, I will be in Asia doing something. I still plan on being home for the 4th of July!


1st May 2006

In the immortal words of Dave:
"Its not where but who you're with that really matters."

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