A hot, sunny day at a beautiful beach is usually what comes to mind when most people think of Australia.
This was what came to mind when I thought of Australia:
Thanks to far too many gripping specials on the Discovery Channel, I was all too well-informed about the different ways that Australia might kill me: sharks, crocodiles, spiders, snakes, jellyfish, octopus, stone fish, riptides, hole in the ozone, the Outback, hungry dingos, glassing, Vegemite, etc. As you may have noticed a theme in that list, yes, the ocean is Australia’s favourite place to kill you.
And why was everything there venomous? Even the marsupials!
Koalas – Like teddy bears, but ALIVE!
Geckos – Nature’s greatest weapon against insects trying to bite me.
Cool trees – You could build some kinds of awesome treehouses in these trees. Wait, do snakes live in these trees?
Pumpkin – Australian pumpkin is equivalent to some kind of squash here in North America and is far more widely used Down Under. Pumpkin scones, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin curry, and so on. Puzzlingly, no pumpkin pie.
Beer Fridges – The house that I was staying in had side-by-side refrigerators, which looked identical. But one was for food and one was for beer. And boy, did I ever get in trouble for trying to put the orange juice in the beer fridge! As if it would contaminate the beer.
Radio and TV – My favourite discovery was probably the Hamish and Andy podcast, which I started listening to almost every day and kept on listening upon my return to Canada. I also enjoyed the casual style of news broadcasts. I once heard the lead anchor comment on a news item saying that “that would really be a pain in the bum”. That would never fly on Canadian TV. Nor would an ad like this (apologies to any vegetarians watching):
“The Castle” – Prior to going to Australia, the only Australian films I had seen were the ones made by Baz Luhrmann. Every Australian I met was shocked and dismayed that I had never seen (nor heard of) “The Castle”. This low budget movie is about a family fighting airport bureaucracy to keep their home.
It is packed full of Australianisms, not all of which I could understand from one viewing, but I think it was critical to improving my understanding of Australian culture and their sense of humour.
And I’m happy to report that my only deadly creature encounters happened safely behind thick walls of glass at the Australia Zoo. More on that later.