Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Planning a trip Downunder? Australian Oddities

Here is a little guide to avoid confusion when you arrive Downunder.

Settle down, I’ll boil the billy and we can chew the fat. 

If you’re planning a trip to Australia, Downunder, the Great Southern Land… you could find a few things perplexing. I hope you find the links entertaining. :)

Alright, apart from the time zone difference, once you set foot in Australia there are a few discrepancies that might confuse the tourist.

Driving on the wrong side of the road makes perfect sense to us. We prefer you to do the same while visiting. In case you forget, we've put up 'Keep left' signs before roundabouts.

Our currency is colourful, as is our language. Apparently our accent is unintelligible but that’s ok. We know what we mean. There are those who say we talk to fast. Good reason for that, too much to do, see, enjoy, to waste time making ourselves understood.

So the beach is looking good? Well, sunshine and surf have their own confusing traits. The sun burns even when the day is overcast. Time and tide conspire to create rips and undercurrents. Although the sand is golden, the waves seem perfect, the temperature is high and the water invites immersion, beware. 

Quote from EXILED: Autumn's Peril
Rips do exactly that, they rip the swimmer out of their comfort zone and transport them to depths unknown. The water between the flags, though more crowded is monitored. Unless you have gills, best to keep within sight of the surf lifesavers

They aren’t called  Life savers because they are sweet. Watch out for budgie smugglers. No, they don’t endanger the wildlife but they can be scary.

Travelling inland, you may come across our cuddly critters. Don’t be fooled. They aren’t cuddly at all. Koalas have spurs. They are noisy, cantankerous and relatively hard to see. They can be cute and lovable, but don’t think of hugging one without a handler.

Mind you if you have the time and the energy a ride though the Snowy Mountains on horseback is an amazing experience. Share the beauty of our 'mountains' and wild brumbies. 

The taste of billy brewed tea is memorable as is being caught in a snow storm in the middle of summer.

The platypus probably isn’t our most outgoing creature. They might look confusing if you manage to see one. Don’t be tempted to touch. The male has a poisonous spur. Friendly hey!

Ditto the kangaroo. They can be aggressive. Those long toes have been known to tear the unsuspecting human. They too are cute and have their place. Taste good on a BBQ.

Speaking of BBQ’s… although the advertisement says ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’, in actuality we call them prawns. ‘Shrimp’ where I was raised is a term used to describe someone of diminutive size, so if you are shorter than average… No, we wouldn’t call you that…

Emus, kookaburras, cockatoos… not cuddly. If you watched Steve Irwin back in the day, you will know our bush is full of dangerous biting critters. It’s a wonder we venture outdoors. Really… come on. You have bears. We have tiny spiders, snakes, ticks, scorpions. I know which I would prefer to run away from.
 from EXILED: Autumn's Peril

Sharks… have a look at the videos at and you will understand that the sharks we swim among, aren’t great whites, bull or tiger sharks, they are our own grey nurse sharks. 

Whitehaven Beach /Hamilton Island

The diving experience at South West Rocks, Coffs Harbour, and Lord Howe Island equals the thrill of the Great Barrier Reef and Hamilton Island
Coral on Great Barrier Reef

We all know how amazing a swim there can be. Don’t worry about the irikanji or the salt water crocs… 
Diving is a wonderful adventure further south… all year round. 

Worth a trip Downunder all on its own. Diving through FishRock Cave and emerging through the Heavenly Window to be among fifty friendly sharks has to go on your ‘bucket list’.

Another confusing concept tourists come up against here in Oz, is distance.
 “Just down the road…”  Probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.
 When Dad says he’ll check the front gate and he’s gone for the day, gives an example of the size of properties ‘out back’. 

An outback station can be the size of Texas. Driving between towns means driving through what appears to be empty tracts of land. For hours and hours and hours. 

If you want to experience the distance safely and in comfort try a trip from Sydney to Perth on the Indian Pacific train. First class travel, air conditioned comfort as you cross the continent. Three days to experience the vast distances. Or travel from Adelaide to Darwin on the Ghan. This trip gives you the feeling of true desert distances. Even on the coast the empty land between towns can surprise tourists from Europe.

Visit Alice Springs, walk the ToddRiver. The dry river bed lies six feet above the river. It runs underground. Now, what’s confusing about that? Makes sense when the temperature above ground averages86deg F most of the year.

The Flying Doctor Service, the life line for those living in the north, has headquarters in Alice. The map in the base shows the country they cover. Six faint outlines of Great Britain lie within area marked as the scope of the Alice Springs base. Three or four planes take care of all the people living within that region.
Even on the coast, tourists mistake distances. 

No, you aren’t going to drive to Cairns from Sydney in one day. Sydney to Brisbane sure… allow twelve hours. 

You will want to stop at Byron Bay for a look at the lighthouse and a swim. 

Or break your trip after five hours and stop at Coffs over night. If it’s winter, take a whale watching trip out of the Harbour and enjoy the Pacific Ocean in all its glory. 
The whales never fail to entertain.

We eat tea, keep chooks in the backyard, boil the billy for a drink, throw snags on the bbq, spin yarns to confuse tourists and love our country with a passion. 

Wanna hear a yarn? Ask about drop bears… tree funnel webs… or a bridge for sale in Sydney!!

Damn, looking up the tree funnel web… seems the stories told around the campfire were true. I will be more careful next time I venture into the backyard paddock where I used to live!

 Ask me about our biting ants… and discover where the inspiration for the Tarack in my Science fiction Fantasy novels The Chronicles of Caleath comes from!

Right you are, hope these few snippets of information straightens a few things out for you… see you soon!