Down Under Observations



It’s cloudy outside. A few minutes ago it was sunny. Weather in Aussie land turns on a dime. The other day we were at our base camp in Oatley and it was warm and beautiful. Suddenly a terrific wind started blowing. The house has a flagpole with a flag. It got so windy my over-active imagination figured the pole might snap and the top end might become a projective crashing through the glass door and flying through the house. Ray was out getting something at the store and he said when he went in it was warm and nice. He came out and it was cold and blowing gale force winds.

Australia is a country the size of the U.S. with the population of Los Angeles. Wrap your head around that one. They have hundreds of mile of beach front that haven’t even been explored, I’m guessing as no roads go near it. Opportunity cries out. When you drive around the countryside you get a sense of how big the place is and how sparsely populated as well.

The Blue Mountains are part of a range that run down the eastern side of the continent, like a big spine. And boy are there eucalyptus trees. Everywhere. That is what gives the Blue Mountains the name Blue Mountains. The trees emit some chemical? and the sun reflecting off the trees look blue from a distance. When we flew to and from Cairns, we got a birds eye view of the range.

The streets and freeways are very clean. No sponsors needed for clean up. There are Hungry Jacks, McDonalds, and KFCs all over the place which is a sad thing to report.

We haven’t seen a skunk so they must not be here. And we haven’t seen a rabbit. Why rabbits? Well, a fellow from the Britain brought some rabbits down here in the 1800s and rabbits being rabbits, they multiplied and multiplied. Rabbits became a big problem eating everything in their way. So the Aussie’s have been busy killing rabbits anyway they can since then. Poison, shooting. Even fencing. Hence the name of the film “Rabbit-Proof Fences”. Check it out of you can thru either Netflix or the video store. Anyway, they actually installed these fences all over the place to beat back the rabbits. So…given all this history, I’m surprised we haven’t seen rabbit on every menu, not even one. And we haven’t seen dead rabbits on the roadway. And no lucky rabbit’s feet.

Sydney has the highest standard of living of any city on the planet according to something Ray read. It is quite lovely for a big city. And very expensive. It’s very easy to get around if you use the train. Cars, not so much. There are many rolling hills in Sydney with water seemingly everywhere. Bays, rivers, estuaries. You name it in the water department and they have it. Even a quay.

This country is young. Lots of babies and baby carriages. Sometimes you get trapped on the trains by the carriages, there are so many. With plenty of room to grow, more people seems to be a priority!!

Australia seems like America in many ways. It is a melting pot of different nationalities. Not many blacks, however. Lots of Asians from all over Asia a few muslims based solely on noticing the head scarves. And the country seems to have figured out how to separate church and state. If they have a “fundamentalist” group, it doesn’t show. And actually, there is not an overabundance of churches that I’ve noticed.

According to one of the young women at the Sydney aquarium, it’s easy to get a one year work Visa. She was the U.S. She applied, came over, and found work immediately. Unemployment is not a big problem. And I’ve not seen any homeless people. Admittedly, we might not be in the areas they would hanging out at…but we haven’t seen any…just saying.

They have fun street signs. ‘Stay left unless overtaking’ means, stay in the slow lane unless you’re passing. People really follow that rule. ‘Giveway’ means, yield. ‘Form one lane’ means the lanes are collapsing from 3 to 2, say. ‘Don’t queue in the intersection’ means don’t block the intersection. Fun differences.

Now, about driving on the wrong side of the road. It is challenging. Besides that problem of signallng a lane change with the windshield wipers, it messes with your mind. I don’t know left from right. If Ray sas, “Turn left”, my natural inclination is to want to cross the intersection…but that’s on my right. EEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKK. And going to right side of the car to get in the drivers seat is a hoot. We keep getting that wrong too. What I LOVE about their roads are the roundabouts. The roundabouts make driving so much easier with very few actual stops required. Saves on stop signs, stops lights. Keeps things moving. Very, very good. I’ll miss them when we return. The roads here are in good shape and when you retreat from the city, they are uncrowded compared to ours. That makes driving pleasurable.

What’s really fun are the names of towns, cities. Lots of words ending in ‘oo’ and ‘gong’. Just fun, descriptive names. Look at a map and you’ll get the flavor of the language.

So, those are some our observations.

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