Categories: Australia, Authors Blogs
It was not long ago that my loving and caring wife whom I adore came home from work and stated almost immediately; “We should talk.” Now, any man – or a woman if you are one – who hears this simple phrase from their significant other will immediately and unequivocally go on the defensive. What did I do? What happened? What is wrong? Oh no, something bad is about to be said and I am not going to like this. Time to rethink my whole life.
Turned out not really. Well a little bit. She had been informed of an opportunity at work and it would help her career tremendously if WE pursued it. It was something that would set us both up career-wise and financially for life. But it would require us to move. And not locally, or even in the same time zone. Or continent. We were moving to Australia. We were headed right smack dab in the dead center. To a place called Alice Springs.
When we made this decision, it promoted me to start to learn more about our friends from down under. I realized very quickly that I knew absolutely nothing usable about Australia. I didn’t even know they drove right-hand drive. What I did know based on my limited learning and whatever Paul Hogan taught me in the early 90s. And most of that was absolutely wrong. Here is the extent of what I without a doubt KNEW. First, all Australians are decedent from convicts (Nope), the aboriginals are very much like the North American Indians (not even remotely), their national anthem is a Men at Work tune (sorta), and everything – I do mean everything – in Australia is trying to kill you (well…that could still be true; In fact, pretty sure it is). Beyond that I knew about the Great Barrier Reef thanks to Shark Week on Discovery, they love Opera in Sydney because they have a building that looks like ships sails, everyone drinks Fosters, and women are called Shelas. The Great Barrier Reef turns out is the only part that is true and if I am to trust the media and scientists, it may not be there for much longer. The Opera House is actually more based on an unpeeled orange, no one drinks fosters because it is crap, and if you call a woman a shela expect to be slapped.
I began my research, of course, on the internet. Watching tourist blogs, official tourism videos, Pintrest providing some fun visuals that led to other things. My wife decided that Bill Bryson would be of great help and read “In a Sunburned Country” while I got the Audible version to listen to while I worked. David Hunt’s “Girt; The Unauthorized History of Australia” was more enjoyable and educational. I also had to check out what Josh Gates had to say about Australia and learned about Tasmanian Tigers and about Harold Lasseter. The knowledge on Lasseter would be more valuable than I thought as I learned more about Alice and the history of the outback. (See that episode on the Travel Channel by clicking HERE)
Netflix provided the best research of all. At first, every “Australia’s Most Dangerous” comes up, which does not help with the whole “everything is going to kill us” mentality we already had. Outback Truckers was more educational. I did not know about road trains (massive three to four trailer long semi haulers that can’t stop for shit). I have always given a double hauler in the States a wide berth but these behemoths were going to be something new. Bitumen is what they call the pavement, corrugations are the wash-boarding of the dirt roads, and “Fucking Roo’s” will do more damage to a car than to a semi-truck any day of the week and I should never drive around sunset going west or after dark. Even the damn Kangaroos are out to get you and will sacrifice themselves for a chance to kill a human. It also gave me a tremendous appreciation for exactly how big Australia is and how distant and hard things can be.
So, we are off to somewhere big, hot, and probably dangerous. Nine thousand miles from anything familiar. Where even getting a rasher of proper bacon will be a challenge. Everyone thinks we are nuts. But when given an opportunity to experience somewhere new, and unlike anywhere else I have been, I’ll take it. This is going to be fun.