Australia part 1

May 22nd, 2007

Australia is a magical place where the sun never stops shining, people smile all the time, little birds sing Waltzing Matilda, and kangaroos hop merrily down the streets. The beer is ice-cold and flows like a river. The locals are universally friendly toward Americans and see us as the saviors of the world that we are, except I think they spell it saviours.

small - Australia - KangarooThe food is cuisine from all over the world, but Australianized, and it benefits from quality local ingredients. Australian beef is famous, and rightly so, and they’ve really embraced the concept of putting meat, in its various forms, inside of pie crusts. Steak and bacon pie, sausage and cheese pie, curry chicken pie, you name it. It’s all very healthy, as long as you consider fat one of the food groups. The locals eat the fatpies with ketchup. They call ketchup tomato sauce, except they don’t say tomato sauce, they say “toe-mah-toe sauce.” Practice that, and really enunciate those Ts: “toe-mah-toe sauce.” Keep working on it, you’re getting there. What we call tomato sauce they call pasta sauce, I think even if it’s on a pizza (or maybe then it becomes pizza sauce). Barbecue sauce is the same as we have, and mustard, but hot dogs are called “American hot dogs.”

The east coast is miles and miles of perfect beaches. Perfect for surfing, perfect for diving, perfect for getting caught in a rip current and drowning, perfect for hiking alongside; you know, all the staples of a sunny vacation. I learned to surf, did a whole lot of hiking, and went dolphin feeding. I passed on the diving and the watery death due to lack of time. Next time, for sure.

Sydney is the most beautiful city I’ve been to in the entire hemisphere. It’s in an ideal setting for a city. The meandering harbor bisects the downtown, crossed by the famous Harbour Bridge and punctuated by the even famouser Opera House. It’s a young energetic place, great for walking around and girl – I mean people – watching. It’s a multicultural place, as the gateway to the rest of Australia, mostly from Asia but from all over. It’s too bad about all the English people, though.

small - Sydney Harbour

Brisbane is one of those little big cities. With a million and a half residents, it somehow still feels like Providence, but without the mafia. I rented a bike and rode for miles – I mean kilometers – by the Brisbane river, along both banks in both directions. I like rivers, because, you know, you can ride bikes along them for miles – I mean kilometers. I saw a good acoustic musician playing cover tunes at a local Brisbane pub and I’m thinking of stealing some of his material.

To really see Australia, you need more than the three weeks I spent. You also need several suitcases full of money. It’s an expensive place to visit, not only because the American dollar is weaker than Pauly Shore in Biosphere, but also because the distances involved are so long. It’s a huge country, with a lot of empty space. That, and they make you pay for ketchup with your french fries (which they call “chips”). Can you believe that? They make you pay for ketchup! I was shocked when I found that one out. How anti-American. I don’t care about free university education. Screw universal health care. I want free ketchup!

I’m pretty sure I’m coming back to Australia, because there is a lot more to see. I never got to the Great Barrier Reef. I know, you can’t go to Australia and not visit the Great Barrier Reef. Well, I did. I also didn’t go to Melbourne or Uluru or the Outback, so I’ll be back, singing along with the birds and hopping along with the roos and wallabies. And next time, I’m bringing my own damn toe-mah-toe sauce.

small - Australia - Wipeout

PS: Sorry about the upside-down pictures. My camera is made for the northern hemisphere.