Sunday, December 4, 2011

Which direction is North in Australia?

A post about misconceptions and other such stuff.

 KriStine  whose comment [on the last post] inspired me to stay home and write this on a rare sunny summer's day when I could be out cavorting with The Dog.
Pamela   who taught me that, horror of horrors, summer doesn't really actually start till 21st December.


In the 6 months since Mr Thumper left us [yes, already], we've been on 2 trips [3 for me], and to tell you the truth, my feet are still not back on the ground.

I don't know if we're good travellers. Like so many, we have certain preconceived notions about other countries. These notions mostly come from such trustworthy sources as telly, movies, Lonely Planet and, of course, Tourist Boards.

They have a lot to answer for.

Rumour has it that many Brits over the last 2 decades have given up perfectly good jobs, packed up a lifetime of memories, said "see ya later!" to best friends, Uncle Bertie and Aunty Meg, and dragged their families 17,000km to Australia...
This pic from here.
...based entirely on episodes from Neighbours.

[Hmmm. Doesn't she look familiar.]

Many people know exactly what the average Australian looks like.
This pic taken from here.
That's right. You can be jealous if you like.

Others think we look like this.
This pic from here.
The man in the funny hat, not the man with the funny bandanna.

The truth, of course, is a little more mundane.

We're not all bums [though we give it a good go].

We don't all carry bowies [just some crims and teenagers].

We don't even usually wear akubras [unless you live in the outback, have lived in the outback, or are a tourist passing through, in which case, you'll be wearing your akubra with a drizabone while walking down George Street in Sydney].

Now, many would-be travellers to Stryliah have very reasonable and pertinent questions about us. And so they should, because things can be very different here.

Here's an example of a question sent to the Tourist Board some years back [which may or may not be authentic]. 

Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)

For the answers to this and many more riveting questions, I'm afraid you'll have to click here.


Why should I be dumbfounded at such gullibility? Before we went to Brazil, I had some preconceptions of my own.

I was afraid all Brasileiras would look like this.
This pic from here.
This pic from here. 
[I suspect The Other Half was counting on it.]

And, of course, I was hoping all Brasileiros would look like this.
This pic from here.
[Yeah right.]


Anyone googling a holiday in Brazil will, at some point, be confronted with The Many Dangers And Annoyances associated with travelling in that country.  

For example, as part of my homework, I read some cautionary notes from our extremely cautious [some might say paranoid] Travel Advisory Board.

An excerpt -
If you are robbed you should cooperate and not resist as these situations can quickly turn violent. Victims have been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators.

I got more useful advice from Lonely Planet Brazil.

Another excerpt -
You’re walking down the street or standing in some public place, when someone surreptitiously sprays a substance on your shoulder, your daypack or anything else connected with you. The substance can be anything from mustard to chocolate or even excrement.

Best of all [if you have absolutely nothing to do today but read this post], have a look at this warning from the Salvador section of Lonely Planet Brazil. I'm sorry I couldn't find it online and you may need a magnifying glass to actually read it.

On the other hand, it may suffice to see that I was worried enough to highlight A Lot of areas the whole section.   

Sometimes, I wonder how we ever made it on the plane.


p>s> Here's something I found by accident, also from the Lonely Planet Brazil online site. I include it here, specially for The Other Half.

Cash & Traveler’s Checks
Even if you are relying mainly on credit or debit cards as your source of funds, it’s not a bad idea to take some cash and traveler’s checks in reserve. You can change these in banks or in casas de câmbio (exchange offices). Banks have slower, more bureaucratic procedures but on the whole give better exchange rates (an exception being Banco do Brasil which charges R$40 commission for every traveler’s check transaction). You’ll usually get a 1% or 2% better exchange rate for cash than for traveler’s checks. Checks, of course, have the advantage of being replaceable if lost or stolen.

Both cash and traveler’s checks should be either in US dollars or euros, and Amex is easily the most recognized traveler’s check. Thomas Cook, Barclays and Citibank traveler’s checks are less widely accepted, but you should be able to cash them in large cities.

Given the many warnings I had read from various reputable sources, was it any wonder I insisted on taking traveller's cheques with us?

Hah. I'm not stupid.

* our summery city, it's started to bucket down again, the temperature has plunged to under 15 and I'm back in my uggies. It looks like Pamela may be right after all.

Back to bed then.


Anonymous said...

Paaaaaahaaaaaaaa! I was very disappointed to find my street NOTHING like Ramsay Street at all when I moved here... BUT... Darwin makes up for it by being one huge crocodile infested cliche and I LOVE IT!

Great post. I'm laughing out loud.

And thank you, you've saved me great expense as, now that I know that those Brazilian boys don't all like that, I think I'll just stay put here with the dodgy ZZ Top lookalikes of the top end!

H (and Flo)

georgia little pea said...

A real life testimonial. How wonderful :)

It's been 30 years since I visited Darwin and the only memory I have of the place is the beer can regatta. ZZ top lookalikes - oh dear. That sounds infinitely worse than the crocs. Thanks for making me laugh too!

Elizabeth said...

So glad you are enjoying summer as we hunker down for winter here.
My nephew just returned to the UK after 2 excellent years working in Australia.
Buster says WOOF

Pamela said...

Such an educational post today. Thank you so much. I suppose I must return the favor by stating that Americans are exactly what everyone else in the world thinks we are. Alas.

And thank you so much for waiting to declare it summer until the official solstice. Your sacrifice means that millions of us in the Northern hemisphere don't have to face winter for another couple of weeks. Thank you. Thank you.

BTW, those replies to the worst tourist board questions were fabulous. They were almost as funny as a Little Dogs on Long Leashes post.

georgia little pea said...

Why thank you Ms P :)

So let me get this right - you really are all skinny, can pass for high school kids even when pushing 30, and are born knowing how to handle guns?


What Remains Now said...

I think this is the last time I'm going to say it because I feel like I'm edging on nagging...but you should be a travel writer. There I'm done.

Sage said...

Yes, we love all those preconceived notions too. I don't think it matters what country you live in! I'm so glad summer has begun--maybe we could trade a little cold for some of your warmth? I wonder what kind of trade agreement that would entail?????

Jean B. said...

Whatdy'yamean, Australians don't look like that? Nor Brazilians? Are you suggesting the ads and movies and tourist Well. I'll just let you know that MY country and its inhabitants are every bit as beautiful as the media shows them to be. Okay, we tend to say 'eh' a lot. And maybe we have our little crime centres and run down neighbourhoods. But at least we know where north is. That's where Santa lives - and he comes to visit us every winter. In the Snow. When Christmas is Supposed To Be. :)

Jan said...

To live in California we must all be blonde and expert surfers. Having a brain is optional.

Kristine said...

Hahahahaha! I am so glad I helped inspire you! I WAS joking when I insinuated all Australians were extreme sports athletes. Well, mostly.

So just to be clear... You don't go bungee jumping every weekend? No crocodile wrestling on a Tuesday evening?


For the record, I actually do have family there - the very Brits you mentioned. They mostly live in the Brisbane area. Do you know them? ;-)

georgia little pea said...

Jan & Jean - Now see? I've just learnt some neat stuff from you that would never make it into a tourist brochure but is so much more interesting for a traveller to know.

Lori - you're too kind and exactly what my self-esteem coach ordered.
I will become a travel writer the instant someone offers me a job. I shall call my reports The Grumpy Traveller. They will doubtless lead to a book deal and TV series, which will win an Emmy, at which time I will thank you profusely in my acceptance speech. Watch this space.

Kristine - what can I say, you're inspiring :)

Croc wrestling on Tuesday? That goes to show how little you know about Stryliah. Tuesday is crab racing night during which we can win a lovely meat tray. Saturdays are when we wrestle crocs, usually after tossing a tinnie and before chucking another shrimp on the barbie.

There. I'm so glad I've been able to set the record right.

Sage - do you have any idea how long it takes us to agree on a trade agreement?!! BTW, the radioman just announced that we're experiencing the mildest start to summer in over 50 years. A top of 19 today with (surprise) some rain. Brrr eh?

Pup Fan said...

Love this post! I don't have anything witty to add, unfortunately... :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the updated travel tips - I get :done: even here in this town, but am so alert when travelling..

I love sniffing this blog's butt...

Elizabeth Keene said...

What were you saying? I've been distracted by a red crotch staring at me.

georgia little pea said...

bwah-ha-ha!!! naughty girl.

rottrover said...

You weren't too late, Georgia -- it's still Sunday afternoon here! I'm sorry you're having so much rain. We're having a lovely day and just got back from my birthday walk. Oh, BTW, we know everyone in OZ doesn't practice extreme sports. Mom's friend lived there for about 10 years. Once a coocaberra (??) pooped on her head, though! It was extreme because she was hosting a big party for her susband's business and she'd just gotten her hair done! BOL!!

-Bart and Ruby

georgia little pea said...

dear Bart and Ruby - kookaburras [though i like your spelling too] are devils in disguise and only 1 step better than [mag]pies [and other birds]. this year quite a few people and dogs got nipped on the heads and ears from nesting birds. blood. arrrgh.

houndstooth said...

Well, I can say you've succeeded in making me feel better about not having any money to go traveling with! :P We tend to travel close to home so the dogs can come along with us. Although we've taken a few long trips with them along!

booahboo said...

what do you mean Brazillians don't look like that?? yous sure?? mebbe if you try looking for them... perhaps? are we getting conned by them travel mags.. and and lonely the planet.. to go to Brazil... and and.. no juicy Brazillian men?

booahboo said...

i was tempted to buy a akubra when i was in Oz.. i ended up coming home with 3 boomerangs (in different sizes) *LOL*... which i intend to use one day to play and not hit me back on the head if it flies back :)

you can't swim?? but whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...

Friko said...

So, all in all, would you recommend a pom to come visit Oz or Brasil?
Only asking.

georgia little pea said...

YES to both. Whether either lives up to your expectations is another thing altogether.

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

We have just had 2 days of summer in a row, thank you! I am computerless and struggling to keep up on my iPad so will check out your links when the Mac is back ... If I can get past the first typical Aussie! Loved that scene in Crocodile Dundee:). Have you seen the Red Dog movie yet? It's on my list of things to do, but has only just been released here. I didn't know kookaburras were that way inclined. Perhap I've been away too long?