The Rules of Australia

schooners1

Wednesday, 3 May, 2017

Darwin, Australia

One) Australians Are Really Good At Drinking… Schooners

“You alright, I’ll have a pint of Guinness.”
“We don’t do pints here.”
“Pardon?”
“Nah, no pints here, mate, just schooners.”
“Your bar is called ‘The Irish Pub’. You’re not really doing a great job of representing the Irish if I can’t even get a pint of Guinness… wait, what the heck’s a schooner?”
“It’s basically three quarters of a pint.”
“Right. I’ll take two halves then, and a bigger glass on the side. Thanks.”

So, I drink less these days. Not through choice though, might I add, but because the locals are giving me 25% less booze each round. You can get a pint in a lot of bars, and if the option’s there I do go for the adult’s drink – it just blows my mind that a pint is not considered the norm in a pub.

Most Australians seem to preference a schooner though, which is strange when you consider how much pride they take in their drinking capabilities – perhaps they just feel insecure about the size of their hands and want to make them look bigger.

This is a country where a redback spider can start climbing up your leg as you’re washing your hair – the spider would obviously not be an issue to me, but the distraction could lead to shampoo in the eyes, and as everybody knows, there is no greater pain than that. Basically, all I’m trying to say, is that there are some days when we go into a pub and need more than a downsized beer.

Two) I Am England

An English man walks into a bar, takes his time choosing a drink while he works out what a schooner is and then gets called a pom (a prison of the motherland). This progresses onto getting ribbed about the sports you didn’t even know you cared about.

“Your Under-13s ultimate frisbee team took an absolute pasting against the Aussies last week, ay?”
“Look, man. That frisbee loss still cuts pretty close to the heart. Can we just leave it, yeah?”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s usually friendly banter. I just don’t really know how to respond to a man that is yet to upgrade to a full pint giving it large about cricket.

I must say though, there is a refreshing change to it. In Asia, it was,
“You’re from England. The Royal Family are just the best.” – Ok, I’ll them know you think so when I get home.
In Australia, it’s more a case of,
“Our koalas are better than your koalas.”
“But, we don’t even…”
“I bet the pom is gutted that Neighbours beat Coronation Street in the ratings this week.”
“Oh, is that show even still…”

And so on.

Three) No Road Is Too Long

Thirty-one United Kingdoms could fit inside Australia – which to be frank, means they most definitely should be beating us at ultimate frisbee, they have so much more space to practice their throwing in.

Having such a huge country does have more than just an impact on their frisbee team though, it also means the place requires really long roads – we’ve essentially just travelled from Tasmania to Darwin. That’s a distance of 4,191.2 km. It literally takes less time to drive from England to Africa.

There was obviously a lot to see along the way across that amount of distance – but, there was also a lot of nothing too. There are times when you won’t see another car for a couple of hours, nor will you see shops or petrol stations.

You know the wheels are moving, but the dry flat scenery does not seem to be moving with you – it feels like you’re getting really far, but also nowhere at all. When you’re resorting to ‘I Spy’ to keep you entertained, it’s a bad enough sign – but, when the lack of scenery also means you’re having to regurgitate the same answers, you know the road’s not got much going on.

I started the journey to Darwin as a young, wide-eyed wanderer, and ended the trip as an old, wise wizard. Next week we will go to Cairns, which is another casual thirty-one hour drive – it’s in the state next door, man!

So, so far we have covered – small beers, good frisbee teams, and long roads – which brings me perfectly onto my next point.

echidna

echidna

Four) Their Koalas Are Better Than Yours

So much of what Australia has to offer is exclusive only to Australia – as I previously mention, we don’t have koalas in the UK. So, each time you set out on one of those 54 hour journeys across the country, it’s rare that the scenery at the end of the road doesn’t make it all worthwhile. You’re always going to see something unfamiliar and captivating.

Bondi beach is probably the best beach I have ever visited, Uluru is certainly the best rock I have ever been to, and yeah, I’m not going to see a koala anywhere else. Although, they are riddled with chlamydia, so, is that completely a bad thing? We already have enough of that floating around on the Tiger Tiger nightclub dance floor – we probably don’t need a cute bear passing more about.

Talking of interesting, unique and weird – Australia really does have a lot of animals that fit that bill. They’re fascinating to see, and we’ve been trying to collect them as we go – by that I mean spot one and take a picture. There wouldn’t be much room for clothes in my backpack if there was an echidna and platypus in there taking up space.

They’re two of the weirdest ones right there – the echidna and the platypus – mammals that lay eggs, say what? Before Australia, the only mammal I knew of that could lay an egg was Humpty Dumpty’s mum (at least, I assume she’s a mammal).

Unique sized beer, unique animals – what else have I seen here but nowhere else? Oh, yeah, a bushfire.

That’s quite an experience. It’s like you’ve been summoned to the gates of hell – you’re just driving down the road, getting into your daily 3-hour stint of ‘I Spy’ when all of a sudden all the trees and bushes either side of you are in flames.

After looking out the window for a few minutes, I asked Monica if we should call the fire brigade; she turned to me now as a skeleton in a black cloak with an axe to her side and said, “There are no fire brigades where you are going, young man.” I was concerned. We’re on a budget, where did she find the money for the cloak and axe?

We’re in Darwin now, and it is hot as hell – seriously, it feels like we never left that bushfire. Instead of showers, I take the ALS ice bucket challenge each morning before breakfast.

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