An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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A Beginner’s Guide to Oz: Part II

Welcome back to the second edition of The World By Sea’s: Beginner’s Guide to Oz. In this entry, we’ll continue to explore several random facts that may or may not be of any use. Please enjoy…

6.    The cute and the deadly. No doubt, Australia has the best of both. What’s more adorable than a little sleepy cuddle bear that carries it’s young in a pouch, lives in treetops, eating leaves and its mother’s poo to survive? Probably nothing, except maybe the lovable kangaroo-who also carries its young in a pouch and loves life so much it can’t help but jump everywhere. On the other hand, to balance out all that cuteness, Australia has developed some of the nastiest (in terms of death) creatures on earth. To list a few: funnel web and red back spiders (the Australian black widow); taipan, brown, python and red bellied black snakes; box and Irukandji jelly fish; and of course the prehistoric croc and great white shark. However, the winner of my personal “Bad-Ace Award” goes to the charming blue ringed octopus, who though full grown is about the size of golf ball, it still carries enough venom to kill 26 adults within minutes. Pretty bad-ace, huh?

7.    Two for Forty. There are two things down here that will cost you around 40 Australian Dollars. The first is a case of beer. That’s right, for just shy of 40 bones you can treat yourself to a dozen cold mediocre brewskies! I probably had the same initial reaction you are having right now, the first time I walked into a “bottle-o” (Oz for liquor shop) and stared for minutes at the price tag, trying to remember just what the conversion rate was from US to OZ. Eventually it sunk in that yes, the 6-pack of beer really was $18.
Luckily, if you decide to sober up and stop drinking, there’s another way to spend money–you can buy a cattle ranch. Just drive several hours from the coast and an entire plot of land also run you about $40 Australian (per acre). This sweet  fun fact surfaced the other day whilst standing around with a group of cattle ranchers shootin’ the bull. That said, I went ahead and bought the beer… What– it was a hot day.
8.    Ketchup, water and refills. Maybe it is because I’m American but there are few things I feel are the right of every human being. First, ketchup (which is referred to as “sauce” in Oz) should be a free accompaniment to French fries (which are referred to as “chips”). It should never be an additional cost of $.20 to $1… EVER. Second, if tap water is drinkable, it should be provided with a meal, or at very least not frowned upon on request. Third, and I’ll admit this is a little more flexible—soda and coffee should be assumed to have free refills. That’s all I have to say on this.
9.    Flying Foxes. Just after the sun sets there are certain areas where the sky turns dark with waves of black. At first you think crows but they are bigger. Then you realize they’re not birds at all. “Flying foxes”, otherwise known as fruit bats, by the thousand. I imagine if you owned a fruit tree you would be real annoyed. But to the tourist and young-boy-at-heart, they’re awesome.  I mean, a bat the size of a fox that will dive and swerve to avoid the sound of your clap which fires through the air like an invisible missile? Yeah, that’s awesome.

10.    Dishes or Toads. I couldn’t decide which insignificant fact to use for number 10, so I just going to list them both. They are in no way related.
A.    First, an observation: Once you’ve eaten your dinner in Australia, simply proceed to the kitchen, suds up your dishes and rack em. Because, down under, there’s no need to rinse. That may disturb some people, but I guess for a kid who always had a bar of soap in his mouth growing up, it sort of feels right.
B.    Second, an observation: If ever a pack of beetles are eating your crops, you would think all you need to do is introduce a pack of toads–right? WRONG! Australia tried it once. Not only did the beetles stick around, the cane toads became one of the most invasive species of all time. In other words, if you come to Australia, be ready for some sweet toad action. On a positive note, the ever resourceful Australians have taken a negative gone worse into an opportunity. You can now have for a souvenir a real life-less cane toad figurine or key chain.

Naturally there are million things to see and learn down here, but that should get you started.


1 LaLa { 06.08.09 at 1:05 am }

Dude, I don’t know where you’ve been eating but most Australians I know rinse their dishes.

2 LaLa { 06.08.09 at 1:06 am }

You can also play golf or cricket with cane toads…

3 Derek { 06.09.09 at 7:09 pm }

Ok… so maybe not ALL Aussies wash but don’t rinse…but I’m telling you I see/taste it everywhere I go.

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