Duck-Billed Platitudes

Thoughts from a Visit to South-Eastern Australia

The Blue Mountains really are blue
Salvation on a hot day
A dunny with designer accessories
Kookaburra - a bird with a sense of humour
Parrots - better if they stuck to 'Who's a pretty boy, then?'
These are some random impressions of a scouser abroad in New South Wales and Victoria in Australia in 2007. I found the Australian country, people and lifestyle fantastic and can't wait to get back.
To help Scousers settle in, Sydney has Liverpool, Lime Street and Birkenhead.
It rains in Oz too.
Aussie banknotes are waterproof. We were told that this is because butch Aussies forget to leave their wallets behind when surfing. More likely is that most Aussie banknotes are going to get soaked in beer at some point.
Sydney Harbour Bridge is slightly more impressive than the Widnes-Runcorn Bridge.
We were told that the reason the Blue Mountains are called the Blue Mountains is because they're blue (I didn't bother contributing my knowledge of the optical properties of eucalyptus oil vapour).
Kangaroos do indeed box, and not just Queensberry Rules - some neat Taekwondo too.
Koalas tend to remain out of sight in the wild unless flattened in the road.
Aussie hospitality: we were given a personal tour around a winery in the Hunter Valley and then tasted 16 wines as far as I can remember; our host got drunk with us.
We thankfully encountered little Fosters or Castlemain lager while in Oz. Australians couldn't give a XXXX about what they induce the poms to drink. However, genuine amber nectar is available - it just doesn't go under those names.
Forget about the Bay of Naples - see the Pacific beaches and die.
The official version of Rolf Harris's evergreen classic Tie me kangaroo down, sport mercifully does not now include the verse 'Let me abo go loose, Bruce ... '
Spiders' webs are always a worry in dunnies (rustic toilets).
The moon is upside down. There is still a man in the moon, but he is pensive and gloomy looking rather than fat and jolly.
Kookaburras are good value for money. We watched one steal a chop from a barbie and then fly off and have a good laugh in a tree with all of its mates.
Nesh Aussies: rare but not unknown. We arrived at a nice little B&B on a sweltering day and our room was like a sauna. On going to bed, we found the electric blanket had been left on.
Language lesson: The Aussie for yes is yeeeairss. Scousers returning home say stuff like 'arright Bruce' and 'no worries Wack'.
The southern night sky is brilliant: the Southern Cross, Alpha Centauri, the Magellanic Clouds, etc. Orion is upside down (wouldn't you just know it? - I wish they'd stop tampering with things). The sun still rises in the east, but then has a disconcerting habit of heading north.
A good combination: parrots and earplugs.
Lizards are also good value. Quite large ones can be seen sunning themselves in the road or hanging out in bars.
Kangas are certainly cute. Koalas are cute too but definitely not cuddly. We heard that woman was hospitalised after trying to rescue an injured one.
To feel like a fully paid up Aussie, eat Vegemite on toast for breakfast.
There is a cheese called Mersey Valley - one for homesick Scousers.
I was impressed by an institution known as the drive-in bottle shop. Aussies don't like to waste any time when they have a thirst on.
We never got to see an Aussie 'throw another shrimp on the barbie' Paul Hogan style. However, almost anything that moves (or not even that in the case of roadkill) is a candidate for this treatment.
The Aussie coat of arms features an emu and a kangaroo, allegedly because neither can go backwards. More likely is that both make great burgers.
Aussies are not into portion control. I had a helping of ribs in one place that was the size of one of the smaller Home Counties.
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Freely licensed images (the flag, the dunny, the koala, the stars, the Vegemite and the coat of arms) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Cute kanga
Koala - handle with care!
Breathtaking Elizabeth Beach
The Magellanic clouds
The Australian national dish?
Mmm ... burgers!