Struth folks, it's almost November. Crikey where'd the month go. Stone the crows and knock me on the head with a dead Dingo's donger if this isn't the last post for Phoctober which for various reasons has been a bit of a dry argument this year. Grab me a VB and bung on the cork hat, it's time for a few pickies with a tinny in hand and a quick squizz at what goes on at my place when we're not chasing emus from the outside dunny and fishing crocs outta the swimming pool. The joe blakes are all loved up and down by the creek and the blowies are buzzing in the laundry. Won't be long before the brown bombers start clinging to the bonce and Santa arrives on six white boomers . . . .Erm no, we don't actually talk like that. Not in Sydney anyway although the boys have been known to crack a fat and the girls can be skanks.
Don't get me wrong, I love where I live and am eternally grateful for my parent's hard decision to move 12,000 miles from their own families to give us a good start in life.
I often wish we'd gone to Canada but that wasn't an option. Australia is great, but it's just another country. It's huge, it's expensive, it's dry and the four minute shower is mandatory at the Bainbridge's 'desperately trying to be green' homestead. We can't water our garden or wash our car with a hose. The summer smells of bushfire smoke and everything as we've previously established wants to kill you. Getting from A to B takes a long time and little change in landscape. A drive from Sydney to Brisbane (about 10 hours) takes you through gum forests, into Banana Country then Sugar Cane . .that's it. We do have natural wonders, a highly developed cultural life (apparently the Australian Ballet is highly regarded for it's fluid interpretations). We have the biggest Gay Mardis Gras, the Grand Prix, World Rugby and arguably the highest proportion of elite sportspeople per head of population (just tipped the 21 million mark). We have great food from all over the world. Great cultural tolerance - except for the lebs because they're all related to suicide bombers (despite the fact that most are Christian) But the chinks are happy because they're now off the hook. (Now don't go giving me curry over my lack of political correctness, I'm playing up for the cameras).
The beauty of Australia is in its diversity. We're relaxed, irreverent, foul mouthed, varied, casual, largely tolerant and uniquely unable to name a suburb creatively. We are to some extent little America and to another, little China. We've got some lovely landmarks and a penchant for 'big' things . . usually bananas, potatoes, prawns and pineapples although I believe there's a big Lobster in South Australia and perhaps a giant VB bottle somewhere in the outback.
One thing I've realised through travelling and blogging is that every country has its charm. The US has amazing natural history, stunning customer service and no . . the Greyhound and Trains are not a mugger's paradise, they're cheap . . you guys should try them sometimes. Europe is antique and modern. Sophisticated and raw. Small enough to travel from country to country and taste a plethora of different cultures and lifestyles. Even countries within countries have different cultures, languages, dialects and accents. You can travel 10kms and people speak differently.
Not here although there are slight nuances between city accents and a great divide between city and country. Here - we're a multicultural blend of everything with a stereotypical attitude to everything. My Korean neighbours don't speak English but Barbecue and wear thongs. My Estonian girlfriend makes Risolya for Christmas but has no accent. My Cypriot friend looks Greek but speaks Strine. The Somali trolley boys at Coles wear Billabong jackets that they couldn't afford in their own country and Islamic women are free to practice their faith and wear the hi jab. Even the Pentecostals are welcome because they pay a load of tax. We love the diversity of halal butchers, Chinese grocers, Vietnamese bakeries and Thai yumminess, Korean Barbecue, Greek fishmongers and Italian deli's. Dining out here is an international experience yet there are some things which are quintessentially Australian . . . nobody calls their kids Bruce or Sheila any more (what is the world coming to?). Everyone takes an esky to a barbie and BYO is endemic. Meat pies are eaten at footy games and schooner's are the measure of a beer, not a small sailing ship.
There are a number of Aussie Icons of which you may or may not be aware, the Hills Hoist, the Esky, The Wine Cask and the Cochlear Implant to name a few. Like many countries, our good designs are snapped up overseas because funding for them here seems not to be forthcoming.
I didn't have to go to far for this post, all these pictures are from my own home or garden . . .these are things that are quintessentially Australian to me . . I'm not big into meat pies, cork hats or blue singleted beer bellies . . but five minutes around my place and this is why I still call Australia home. *runs off and sings Peter Allen song*
My verandah . . keeps the house cool, great for kids to ride their trykes around and the place we sit in the evening during summer righting the wrongs of the world . . .but it's a long way to the washing line (60 metres!)
Water sports . . millions of Australians have pools. When you fly into Kingsford Smith, the landscape is smattered with little blue holes. Handy in a bushfire as well. They're a shit to maintain in winter but the summer enjoyment is worth the chemical overload . .
Vegemite . .love it or hate it, we're really pissed that it's now owned by an American company. This particular shot is from Uyuni Salt flats in Paraguay, no respectable Australian travels without it.
Thongs, clearly these won't fit around my bum . .they are footwear people not underwear. Acceptable everywhere except nightclubs and posh restaurants. Valuable in thwacking spiders, keeping the soles of your feet from burning on the sand (warning to Bondi visitors) and help absorb the bindis instead of having them puncture the soles of your feet! They must be Haviainas because they're soft and uber comfy. Pommies you will get sore between your toes but persevere . . .
Weird flowers. . . this is a Sandra Gordon Grevillea . .the birds love em because they're nectar bearing but they look funny, you can't pick them for a vase and they make you itch when pruning!
Weather . . 30 one minute . .hailing golf balls the next. We watched this hailstorm last February in our bathers! The temperature dropped minimally but after it was over, the lawn was STEAMING! (and poor Babysis' car was totalled!). There is nothing 'reliable' about our weather. Summer can be hot, humid, dry and wet. . Autumn is cold and windy and Winter . .anyone's guess. Spring is usually pretty good although we had snow in the blue mountains on Wednesday and today it was 30!
Rainbow Lorikeets. As I sit here, these small parrots are chirruping away in the treetops and are INVISIBLE. Can you imagine a bird of so much colour blending into the gum trees? Well they do. This one however was very cooperative and munching my Robin Gordon Grevillea just outside Adam's bedroom . .they're noisy but so, so, beautifully coloured.
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree . .actually this is my sister's gum tree. We have them hear but I tend to hear them laugh before rain rather than see them. They do laugh and they do sound funny.
Babybro's Rodeo . . Holden . . Aussie car brand from General Motors. As Australian as the meat pie and blue singlet! You're either a Holden man or a Ford Man. . .-
Galahs, one of the most underrated cockatoos here. Snapped these lovers this afternoon. These are not drinking. The pool has just been dosed with chlorine. They're sharpening their beaks on the coping stones and licking the lime in the pebble crete much like you give a caged bird cuttlefish to chomp. Very pretty.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. Australian natives despite their well travelled reputation. They are INCREDIBLY noisy in a bunch. The size of a chicken, somehow they know when seed has been put in the tray. I only feed when I have visitors and want to impress but they come . . yep . . build it and they will come!
Blue Tongue lizard . .docile . .slow . .had one in the shower once but he was happy to be scooped up in a cylindrical post pack and released somewhere a little further than my bathroom . .
got snails in your garden? Get one!
Rather pathetic flag that my bro put up in the front lawn on some Vinidex tubing. Hey, it's not class but it shows we're proud!
The barbie . .can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want. ALL Australians have one, use one, invite friends to one . . .although sometimes you BYO alcohol and meat! It is a male bastion. The women do the work, the salads, the table laying . . men turn a chop! Talent eh?
Al Fresco Christmas . . it's usually warm and we eat outside. Cold cuts (although I do bake a glazed ham) salad, fruit, chocolate fountain, more fruit . . .Mango Daquiries and a game of cricket.
Lemon scented Gum . . how does a tree like this smell like lemons? It does. I love this tree but I hate that the bastards are diciduous all year round. I spend every Saturday blowing leaves down one end of the verandah only to have a cool change blow them back. Some pursuits are futile but necessary.
There, just a little of my world. No fall, no snow, no funny accents, no rich history, no water . . .but it's still God's country . .if only I could turn the temperature down in January . .it's not easy being green! Right, off to throw a prawn on the barbie, thwack that redback off the toilet seat with my thong and make a pavlova!