Brisbane, May 25
I'm not sure what kind of information makes its way back up to Canada, but the change in weather and seasons in Australia has lead to severe rain storms and flooding along the southeastern coast. Some of the areas that were most damaged are right along our planned route south from Brisbane to Sydney, with the main Pacific Highway washed out completely.
I spoke to an older local couple, who were also taking advantage of the free camground that we were staying at, and they had said that "the south coast is shutdown, flooded. You can't go that way anymore, don't you watch the news on television?" Well, actually no. We had not seen the news on tv for quite some time and were unaware how bad the damage actually was. It was bad. It was even declared a national state of emergency.
Our goal for the coming days was to meet up with an ex-colleague of Cameron's in Byron Bay, which is in or near the affected areas. Information became a priority, so we called Sam and found out that his area was not too badly affected and that the roads were still open. So part of the plan tentatively remains intact. The other part of the plan is to go surfing but apparently the beaches are closed right now due to unpredictable tides and very strong currents. I guess we'll see what happens in a few days!
As we drove down the motorway from Cairns to Brisbane, which is actually quite a long drive (almost 2 days of solid driving), we jokingly pointed out some of the things that we noticed while being in Australia. We thought it would be fun to write down some of these things and post them on the blog.
So below are some random observations.
- Australian men, true mid-aged Aussies, wear short shorts that show a lot of man leg. Think 'The Crocodile Hunter'. It's an interesting style.
- There are no Burger Kings, but "Hungry Jacks" are virtually the same. Hungary Jacks must be Burger King but under a different name, otherwise Burger King has been completely robbed! The logos, menus, and restaurants are absolutely identical. I assume Burger King could not get the proper name rights in Australia?
- Rugby, Aussie Rules Football and Cricket are the biggest sports.
- Hockey, or 'Ice Hockey', is basically non-existent in Australia. Field hockey is the only hockey that is followed. (as if!)
- Bathing suits are called "swimming costumes" (and Kiwi's call them "Togs"). Costumes?
- Unlike NZ and the US, beer and alcohol are not sold in the grocery store. Instead, there are massive drive through bottle stores (which we unfortunately could not drive through with our 3.5 meter high caravan) where you can purchase your poison without leaving the comforts of your car.
- Beer is just as ridiculously expensive as it is back in Canada ($13-$18 for a 6 pack of beer).
- Draft beer is served in a "schooner" size, which is smaller than a pint (similar to a sleeve I think?)
- Kiwi's and Aussies call beer the "piss". You can imagine our faces when people say "let's go drink some piss"!
- Aussies understand that the meaning of "Happy Hour" is 2 for 1 drinks. Kiwi's on the other hand unfortunately think that Happy Hour is $1 off your $6 beer.
- Australian paper currency is very colourful, more colourful than CDN notes, and each denomination has its own different size
- All coin currency has the Queen on the back (heads) just like in Canada and New Zealand
- Australian $2 coins are smaller than the $1 coins, and $0.50 coins are the largest (go figure?)
- Meat pies and sausage rolls are sold everywhere (and none are vegetarian - that is Nicole's two cents)
- Australians, as well as Kiwi's & Caymanians, drive on the wrong side of the road. Why are Canadians the only Commonwealth nation not to adopt the backwards left lane driving system?
- According to the 'concierge' at our hostel, the massive bats in Cairns are referred to as "large black birds" so that they don't frighten the common tourist.
- Aussie TV and news has a significant focus on England and its news. It seems Aussies care much more about the Commonwealth motherland than Canadians do.
- Speaking of the British. Could there be more British tourists here? I can't recall the last time we met a fellow tourist that wasn't from the UK.
- Ketchup is rarely free!
- Australians and Kiwi's put beets on hamburgers and sandwiches. Beetroot is as common as tomatoes down here.
- Like in New Zealand, when hungry at a pub or sports bar (and some restaurants) you actually have to order everything at the bar and pay each time. Nobody comes to serve you! Is that not weird? I guess that's why tipping is not necessary!
- Most restaurants will not serve you alcohol unless you purchase food (liquor law).
- Aussie hostels are no better than hostels in Peru or Ecuador. Why is it so hard to provide a decent pillow?!
- Aussies and Kiwi's are compared to one another like Canadians are to Americans, and Chinese are to Japanese.
- Blockbuster movies and national television programs are far behind. We wanted to go to the movies one night but we'd seen all of the showings already! We watched a "new" episode of the Amazing Race but we had already seen the spisode 9 months before!
- Pharmacies are called Chemists.
- Kebabs and Medditeranean fast food is very popular with Aussies.
- Sushi is very expensive (at least compared to Vancouver).
- Coffee is also very expensive. $3.50 minimum for a long black (double espresso basically). Drip or filtered coffee is hard to find. In fact, only North American chains serve filtered coffee. Aussies think Noth American coffee is too weak and basically crap. They may have a good argument?
- Aussies like the car/pick-up combo vehicles. You know those weird looking cars with the large open pick-up-style backend that were big with the mullet crew in the 80's? Is it a car? Is it a pick up? Too funny. But actually quite a functional vehicle, no?
- Aussies don't seem to know how to pronounce the letter 'R' properly. It takes on more of an 'A' sound. Like the word 'camper' is pronounced 'campa'. Basically anything ending in 'ER' has an 'AH' sound.
It's actually quite hard to capture all that we've seen and experienced and put it into words, but there you go.
We're now just outside of Brisbane and heading to the Australia Zoo to feed some kangaroos and pet koala bears!