Big Question Marks

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Australia Day!

Hello and happy Australia Day! Soon we'll be off to the festivities (believe it or not, more fireworks) and a full report on how the Aussies celebrate their day-- we've heard it basically about getting trashed and having barbecues. We expect more of the fashions we spotted at the Australian Open- flags worn as capes, face paint, strange wigs. Full report & photos to come tomorrow.

As for updates, the biggest news this week is Dayle got a job! It's quite dull- basically data entry and paperwork for a web solutions company. It's lame, but there's plenty of moments there that remind her of the movie "Office Space". Just something to pay the bills while she looks for something better (ie. in journalism), anyway... the company was pretty busy, so it was basically phone call Tuesday morning, interview in the afternoon, start work on Wednesday morning. And it's already a long weekend! (Thank god for that)

Adrian's still on the hunt, but managed to make the perfect latte for an interview at a cafe. This is after he fibbed a little and said he had "heaps" of coffee making experience-- and after his little bluff over the phone, took to the internet to find's guide to making gourmet coffees. Much research followed, and with zero practical experience, Adrian made his first latte with full confidence. He even made a design in the foam- a circle!

In other news, Dayle's first tram to work ended up crashing into another tram... so after planning to be on time, of course she wasn't. (Yeah, yeah, what else is new?!) No one was hurt, there wasn't even any damage, but the whole scene looked very much out of a 9/11 terrorism/disaster movie... people screaming, bouncing around. Quite funny, really.

We had a visit this week from our friends Bianca (from Germany) and John the ranger (from Taunton National Park in Queensland). Good fun! We sat around chatting, and had some beers in the "backyard"-- actually, more like the parking lot next to our front door. The house is getting pretty crowded and we're really missing having a living room and a backyard/front yard/porch... so we might try to find something better at some point. The landlord's quite annoying and comes around a little too often.... but that's another long and tiresome story.
For now, we're off to celebrate our very first Australia Day. And weird-- where we Canadians celebrate our independence from Europe on Canada Day, the Aussies are celebrating the first European settlements on the continent. But really it's about the beer for all of us, isn't it?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Our Year in the Merde

We can hardly believe it-- today marks our one-year anniversary of travel!

Saturday, January 20, 2007 was the day we finally packed up our gear (and left a lot of it behind as well), dragged our families and friends to the airport for sad goodbyes, and hopped on our Cathay Pacific flight to Bangkok. It didn't feel real until well into the 22 hour flight, and somewhere along the way we even lost a day (so tomorrow will be our first Jan 21 in ages!). We arrived sleepy, confused, and overwhelmed in Bangkok... and you all know the story from there.

It's been a fabulous year! We've learned more than ever this year that plans will always change, and to "carpe diem" every day of our lives. If you want to go somewhere, go! And if you see something cool in a shop, buy it (unless it's zillions of dollars, or something)! There is something to be said for hard work, but what's the point if you don't enjoy it afterward? These have probably been our most important lessons this year. And saying that, we've STILL left places and things to do till "later"...

And as for keeping flexible-- well, we certainly never envisioned ourselves as cherry pickers, construction workers, living four months in the tropic jungle, flitting off to Hong Kong for 10 days, camping for almost three months, moving into a cottage in the country (with the biggest spiders we'd ever seen!) and then, never really getting out of Queensland. But it's been awesome anyway.

For those of you who keep asking the BIGGEST question of all : "When are you coming home?" We really don't know. Now that we've slaved away on the harvest trail for our three months, we'll be applying for our second year visas soon, and we'll probably stay as long as we can in Oz. We also didn't realize before we left Canada that this country is massive, and that there are fabulous things to see at every end of this land. Daisy's just resting up now for the road trip of a lifetime-- we still plan to travel around the centre (Uluru!), Northern Territory (Crocodile Dundee land), and Western Australia (an untouched beauty and THE place to explore here nowadays). And then who knows? Tassie's still on the list, New Zealand's just a short plane trip away, and then there's all the wonderful countries between here and Canada.

Only now we're starting to run into all the lovely hassles of long-term travel: expiring health insurance, OHIP paperwork, invalid return flight tickets, expiring credit cards and drivers licenses (Adrian's a Queenslander now), and digital cameras going wonky (and there's a wee bit of occasional homesickness too). But we'll tell anyone who's thinking about doing what we're doing: IT'S ALL WORTH IT. Because you just never know when Australia will be too dried-up, Hong Kong will be too polluted, or the political climate of some other country will be too dangerous to go. And with technology today, mail travels halfway across the globe in two weeks, email keeps us instantly close, and cheap long-distance calling can keep us chatting easily for hours.

If anyone needs any travel ideas, there's heaps of exotic destinations you'd never think of and gorgeous photos in Lonely Planet's The Blue List. Adrian quite enjoyed reading about tourism, Kim Jong-il-style, in Tony Wheeler's Bad Lands, and Dayle's just starting to read Long Way Round, Ewan McGregor's travel memoir chronicling Ewan and his best mate's motorcycle ride around the world. Three cheers for travel!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Yesterday we took the day off job-hunting and went to the Australian Open tennis series. We'd been pumped about it for ages, watching on TV a series held in Perth (Western Australia) in the weeks leading up to the Melbourne series- just trying to figure out the rules of the game and scoring, which seems like the most random pile of numbers sometimes (though people probably say that about baseball, too).

Adrian caught a few more matches than Dayle (who was at a quasi-job interview in the early afternoon, learning all about the techniques of scooping gelato, while contemplating this new career path). With us at the matches was Nathalie, a Parisienne who was our tennis tutor for the day. It was great fun!

We bought the $29 ground passes, which allows you to check out almost all of the games, less the really big-name matches held in two grand arenas, Vodafone and Rod Laver. But since we're not exactly tennis experts, it didn't bother us too much that we missed people like Federer and Baghdatis. We were hoping to catch the Williams sisters playing a doubles match, but the stands filled up way too fast for us. Adrian tried to catch Canadian player Daniel Nestor, but the game wasn't anything special. He and Nathalie watched a ladies singles match between French player Aravane Rezai and Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh, which was most notable for its very spirited, flag-waving Taiwanese cheering squad (perhaps what helped Su-Wei to victory?).

We did, however, end up watching a couple of really (surprisingly!) captivating men's singles matches. When we couldn't get in to see Venus and Serena whip some ass, we joined Nathalie is cheering for Frenchie Paul-Henri Mathieu, who duked it out to win a FOUR HOUR marathon match vs. Austrian Stefan Koubek on Court 3. And what a match it was! It was great fun just being in the crowd, close enough to hear the players' grunting. But as the Rolex clock in the corner of the court kept ticking and we found it painful to just SIT for that long, our respect for these players/tennis players in general grew and grew. What endurance this battle must have taken! We got quite hungry around the 2 1/2 hour mark and had to tuck into our buns and peanut butter stash... but we didn't see these guys snack on anything. Yikes!

And just when it looked like Koubek (see pic above left) was going to take the match, somehow Mathieu (right) would come back. It went on and on like this for five sets. While much of the crowd was cheering for Koubek (perhaps the locals mixed up "Austrian" with "Australian"), there were several France flags floating around as well, and the occasional French singsong cheer made us giggle. Tabernac!

We must have been almost as relieved as the players when it finished at 4:00 on the dot. We stuck around for the next match, but the pair of mixed doubles contenders just looked really amateur after that tense contest we'd just seen.

By then, the big lights had come on, and we heard a hubbub coming from the Margaret Court Arena, where we found American Mardy Fish facing off against Jarkko Nieminen from Finland. As soon as we saw a group of eight shirtless American guys spelling "F I S H F O O D" on their bare chests, we decided to cheer for Jarkko. It wasn't long before the rain started (our first rain since we've moved to Melbourne, nearly a month ago!), and the whole match got moved indoors to the Vodafone Area- one of the big stadiums our ground pass didn't let us into! So we got to watch this match in style-- we sat two rows from the court, got to analyze replays on the Jumbotron, and watched a more enhanced version of the game, with players having the opportunity to challenge tough calls with the big screen. So cool!

We sat in a confusing mash-up of fans-- mostly Finns cheering for Jarkko and waving Finnish flags, but there were a couple loud American-sounding dudes (or shudder, they may have been Canadians) in our area who kept cheering, or almost commentating, for Mardy. "Ace in the place, Mardy," etc; WHATEVER that meant. The umpire had to keep saying "THANK YOU." loudly to shut the excited crowd up. There was plenty of good tension in this match, which went to 2:36 on the clock but by the time it was over, it was nearly 11pm! Mardy's fun to watch, as he's a bit of a hothead and wears a really silly-looking headband (see right photo). Jarkko is kind of gawky-looking but liked to challenge the calls, which always made the crowd cheer. (The tennis grunts were better in the Mathieu vs. Koubek match, though.) There were lots of comebacks and very even scoring between the pair, which was exciting. Jarkko finally beat Mardy (see left, the win!), proving that America is NOT #1. But most of all, we felt quite sorry for the ball-running kids on the court-- they looked exhausted by the end of the night. And by the end, we became totally hooked on tennis and actually understand the game now! (We may even go back next week!)

So that's the wrap-up on our first live sporting event since we left home almost a year ago. Melbourne's a big sporting city, so we plan to hit plenty more events-- Aussie Rules Football (AFL), surfing comps, Grand Prix (good news-- we are both hired on to work at the Grand Prix, March 13-16, we just found out! Insider reports to come, of course). One thing that was funny about the fans here is this crazy Aussie patriotism--ie. large groups of people wearing the Oz flag as a cape, and other Southern-Cross-adorned garments. Singing "Waltzing Matilda", no less. There were also many people with yellow-and-green face paint, wigs, and outfits, which we think is an Aussie thing too, but we haven't the foggiest why they'd choose yellow & green. We do think it might be a preview of how nuts it's going to get next week, on January 26 or 28th (depends on the state), which is Australia Day. Our first also! Woohoo!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Word of the day: Bogan

We've been in Oz almost 11 months now, and we thought we had the language here figured out-- that is, until a recent conversation with our Melburnian friend Michelle, who drops the word "bogan" in a sentence and we're all blank stares again.

"You don't know what a bogan is?" she said, shocked.
"Uh, no, we really don't..." Adrian and I look at each other sheepishly, once again feeling like foreign tourists.

We tried to understand the concept across these vast cultural barriers, and came up with a vague understanding of something like a "hoon" or "townie". But the funny-sounding word kept popping into my head, and so a mini-research project began...

It seems there's actually quite a cult following of bogans. They appear somewhat like our Canadian concept of "trailer trash", with mullets and flannel shirts, though maybe a little more rock n' roll (especially AC/DC). Bogans are said to drink a lot of VB (Victoria Bitter) beer and have a slang all their own, and drive/display on front lawns cool cars like the Holden Commodore, Holden Kingswood, and Ford Falcon (which, funnily enough, are also typical backpacker cars over here!) Bogans tend to favour oversized tattoos of the Southern Cross-- just like those drunk shirtless Canadian guys you bump into at Edgefest showing off their big "I AM CANADIAN" tatts. Here are a few definitions I found online:

-Wikipedia: An Aussie/New Zealander term for a person who is, or is perceived to be uncouth, unsophisticated or of a lower-class background.

-Urban Dictionary: An Australian who usually goes by the name of Gaz, Darryn, Bazza or something similar, with a keen eye for Holdens, Fords and panel vans. They are usually found sporting a flannellette shirt, tight, black ripped jeans, moccassins or Ugg boots and AC/DC merchandise.

- And read a very in-depth bogan definition on

According to, the term is believed to have originated right here in Melbourne in the 1980s, although there are also theories that the first fleet to land in Australia were actually bogan prisoners. There is even a shire (like a county in Canada) in western New South Wales with the unfortunate name of Bogan Shire. It looks like a nice place to visit-- maybe it will be part of our next road trip!

There are many cultural essays on boganism-- click HERE and HERE-- but the icing on the cake was finding sketch comedy clips of respected actor Eric Bana as Poida (a true bogan!) on the 1990's Aussie show Full Frontal. Though Mr. Bana would probably prefer to be remembered from his work in Munich, Troy, or Hulk, we couldn't help but unearth a few clips of Poida (that's "Peter" in 'boaglish') for you at home to enjoy:

Storytime with Poida (from Full Frontal)

Poida hosts A Current Affair (from Full Frontal)

Poida hosts A Current Affair 2 (from Full Frontal)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy "International Year of the Potato"

Happy new year! Hope it was a good one for you all, and that it wasn't too chilly back in Canuckistan. Our boiling-hot New Year's Eve was a definite first for us-- we spent it on the beach with friends, watching three simultaneous fireworks shows from different directions (they LOVE their fireworks here) and we all went for a dip in the supposedly non-shark-infested bay-- refreshing!

Now it's back to the grind: the job hunt, organizing our home, and spending way too much time online. Luckily, we've somehow come up with the time to post a couple of awesome videos from our Stanthorpe days with the creepy-crawlies. Check them out here and enjoy! [Arachnophobes, please note the material may cause nightmares]

In other good news, Dayle got a brand-spankin'-new camera for Xmas and once we get through the tome of a manual, we'll be taking better videos and pics than ever before. We're especially excited for the 6x optical zoom for the upcoming Australian Open tennis championships, since close-up tickets, of course, are way too "dear" (that's your Aussie term for the day, kids- it means "expensive"). Not that we're real tennis buffs or anything, and really, we could have gone to those pro tennis matches in Toronto, but it just seems cooler to do it here! We've been brushing up on the game the last few nights during dinnertime on our two-channel television-- there's a series going on in Perth right this moment. The Open kicks off in Melbourne on January 14-- anyone have suggestions on who we should go see? We've been a little out of the sports world for a while now...

Hail to the almighty potato!