Tag Archives: kangaroo

An Open Letter to Australia: You Are Amazing, Yet Odd At The Same Time

Dear Straya,

I should apologize.

Before I finally decided to visit you, I paid you no mind.

You were near the bottom of the short barrel of countries I hardly wanted to visit. Yet, I gave you a go and I must say, you’ve really impressed me. You’ve opened my eyes to just how fascinating and diverse of a country you truly are.

Though I have a newly lit fondness for you, there are some things I discovered that boggled my mind that we need to discuss right now.

I’ll just jump right into it.

I’ve accepted that you call our American Smarties, Rockets

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and what you call Smarties are nothing like my Smarties at all.

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I’ve accepted that.

I can even accept that you call Rice Krispies Cereal, this…

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Rice Bubbles makes sense, but I cannot wrap my head around this next one.

What. Is. This?

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Is this supposed to be what I would normally call Rice Krispies Treats? Why do you call it LCMs?

Upon further investigation, you came up with the name “LCMs” based on the best alphabet letters according to a popular vote by your Aussie children. If I were still a kid. I def would have chosen “x” or “z” for sure.

Now, for your so-called Rice Bubbles, we would normally put in milk. But apparently, your milk is “betta“.

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Also what the heck is this?

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I’ve seen these pint-sized pickup trucks all over Australia. You refer to them as a ute. If I drove one of these around back home, I’d get made fun of.

I also understand that our popular jello gelatin is referred to as jelly here. Taking a jelly shot just doesn’t have the same ring to it as a jello shot does. But look at this!

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I’ve never heard of a wine flavored gelatin! I have a few good friends at home who might enjoy that.

I do love your Fairy Bread. That is something we should have in my fat American country. I also like the name “hundreds and thousands” over what I’d simply call “sprinkles”.

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And your delicious Weet-bix cereal curbed my cereal craving for a while. I eventually tried all of your flavors, except for the banana one. Who makes a banana flavored cereal?

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Also, your kangaroo meat is super lean, yet mighty tasty. I did feel a bit guilty about eating one especially after becoming pals with this one here…

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As a matter of fact, most of your food was nice, except for that vile Vegemite. How many times were you forced to eat that before you began to like it? And yes, I did do it the correct way -just a thin layer spread over toast with some butter. I tried it twice and decided and it was not nice.

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I even ate the best tea of my life. Yes, you read that correctly. I “ate” tea…because apparently Australia, sometimes you refer to “going out for a meal” as “going out for tea”. I took this literally. I was more confused than ever when I found this out.

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Speaking of being confused. I found myself lost quite a bit by the way you shorten all of your words and add your own spin to them.

Some words your inhabitants said to me that I needed translated into American English include the following:


Arvo – afternoon.

Someone said to me, “What are you up to in the arvo Dan?
Me: “…what?”

Ta – thank you.

“Ta ta back to ya.” I actually said that to someone. It’s wrong.

Footy – AFL (Australian Football League)

Nothing like the football league back home, the NFL.

Biccy – a biscuit, but in the States, we’d refer to their biscuits as a cookie. I still have no clue what they call an actual American biscuit.

Servo – a petrol station. I’d refer to it as a gas station.

Bottle-o – basically a bottle shop (liquor store)

Tradie – someone who works in the field of trade I suppose.

Cabbie – a taxi. I found myself adopting this word into my vocabulary.

Froth or Frothin’– really keen or amped about something. This is probably my favorite new word to use.

Yeah naw – No.

Naw yeah – Yes.


 

Moving along.

Australia, I remember casually bringing up cotton candy to one of your Sydneysiders and they had no clue what I was talking about. I had to google ‘cotton candy’ it in front of him. Come to find out, you refer to cotton candy as “fairy floss”. That’s a creative name actually.

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I was also baffled by why your Hungry Jacks (Burger King everywhere else) offered spiders on the menu. Is Australia so overrun with meaty spiders that you actually offer it restaurants? I googled that too…

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“Ohhh, you mean a float!” I said to an Aussie friend. “Like a root beer float.”

He then responded, “What the hell is a root beer?

Are you kidding me Australia? How is root beer not a thing for you? Apparently Dr. Pepper is not all that popular either. Root Beer is probably my personal favorite pop (soda, soft drink, fizzy drink). I grew up saying pop.

Instead you guys have soft drinks called Solo and Cascade. I tasted your Solo drink and wondered “Why the hell am I drinking sour mix?” This tastes like something you’d use to make a Long Island Iced Tea or a Whiskey Sour. Not something you just drink on your own. I could barely finish the bottle.

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I do love your chicken salt. As odd as it sounds, it tastes exactly what you’d expect it to taste like – salt that tastes like chicken. I devoured many of your chips (fries) dusted in chicken salt. (America, what are you doing? We need this.)

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Oh, and you have an ice cream shop called Cold Rock which is a blatant rip of our Cold Stone.

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I needed to restock on toiletries one day. I’ve come to terms that your deodorant is shaped in a funny container. But then I came across what looked strikingly similar to what I’d call Axe Body Spray. Oh, it is Axe but just a different name. But why?

 

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On the subject of different names, How dare you change the name of one of my favorite childhood characters.

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Who the f*ck is Wally?

His name is Waldo!

I was playing the Australian version of Cards Against Humanity with a bunch of your Tassies and was dealt this card…

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I was like, “What the heck is a fo…tus?

I found out it’s how you and the Brits spell the word “fetus”. So odd.

That same group of Tassies busted out a game of classic Uno.

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But they all pronounced it as “yoo-no”, not as the Spanish pronunciation of “ooo-no”. Not sure if this is an Aussie thing, but that whole dang Tassie group pronounced it as “yoo-no” as if nothing sounded weird about it.

However, I think the one sole thing that bothered me the most about you is your abundance of flies. There were flies everywhere I went, especially near the beaches, flying all up in my face…in my mouth. I hated that. That was my only major gripe.

Contrary to what us Americans are fed in the media by the spoonfuls, I didn’t come across a single snake and rarely a spider (except for that spider that literally flew into my room in Brizzy) in all your states and territories that I visited.

Otherwise, Australia, like I mentioned above. I have a new found appreciation of you, even though you can be a bit odd sometimes. Your inhabitants, most particularly my Aussie friends, definitely made the trip extra special for me. Many thanks to them 🙂

I’ll be back again someday to experience more of your Aussie oddities!

 

Sincerely,

Daniel Adventure Born

(P.S. – The Quest to the Seven Continents continues in Asia, continent #3, beginning in Bali, Indonesia!)

 

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Battle of the Beaches: Sunshine Coast vs Gold Coast

Along a short stretch of the eastern border of Queensland, you’ll find two of the Australia’s most adorned holiday coasts:

The Sunshine Coast towards the north and The Gold Coast towards the south, with approximately a two-hour drive between the two.

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Brisbane is the only major city that separates these two rival coasts from spilling into each other.

I’ve heard of both coasts before but if you’re like me and know squat about Australia, then you have NO idea what the heck they actually are, what kind of people or beaches they inhabit, the food, the atmosphere, the weather…nothing. I’m going in blind and documenting my personal experiences in both areas.

I’m visiting the Sunshine Coast first for a few days and then the Gold Coast immediately after. I originally only planned on seeing the Gold but was presented with an opportunity to see the Sunshine.

So I decided to compare the two.

The Sunshine Coast

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Image Courtesy of Sunshinecoast.com

  • Population: Approx 300,000 (2015) (Different sources claim a bit more or less)
  • Location: 100 km (62 mi) North of Brisbane
  • Average Temperatures: Average High (25.4ºC / 78ºF) Average Low (15.8ºC / 60ºF)
  • Areas of Interest: Australia Zoo, Noosa National Park, Kings Beach, Mooloolaba Beach, Underwater World Sealife, Koondalilla Falls

My new friend Dorelle invited me to stay at her place in Kawana Island to experience the Sunshine Coast.  Kawana Island looks like a suburb you’ll find on the shores of Laguna Beach, California; totally relaxed filled with exquisite homes. Just the name of it alone sounds like a place I wanted to be. I took a train ride to Landsborough where she was able to scoop me up.

A little background on Dorelle; she isn’t originally from the Sunshine Coast but was actually born straight up in the middle of the Outback bush! A true Aussie if I’ve ever met one.

Her place was situated in a central location: relatively close to the beaches and the main city areas, but just far enough away from all the hustle and bustle. Immediately after getting settled into my room, we drove to her sister and her soon-to-be surfer brother in-laws house near Coolum Beach. They lived in a hilly, oceanside area in a lofty abode that resembled a luxury Colorado ski lodge. We drove just a few minutes out to the nearest beaches in Wilkinson Park.

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Now, the beaches in this particular area weren’t at all your typical beaches. Imagine an ordinary beach but add some of Mother Nature’s pizzaz to it. A few cliffs overlooking the bounds, smooth stones of all different sizes laid upon plots of the sands, perfect surf size waves, and tropical floral along the scape. There was no one else in sight! Maybe because it was October which is technically still spring in the southern hemisphere. We even accidentally wandered upon a nude beach or two but thankfully no one was around.

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Soon we drove back to her sisters home where we had rotisserie chicken and chips (fries) with chicken salt on them. Chicken salt is exactly what it sounds like. Salt that tastes like chicken and it was glorious. Why have I not heard of this before?

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Accompanied by wine and a fresh salad bowl they spruced up in the kitchen, it was a perfect first meal in the Sunshine Coast.

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The next morning, Dorelle took me further north to see the Sunshine Coasts most famous beach, the Noosa Heads. Along the beach were a few stone stacks, works of art, that beachgoers created creating an art scene perfect for pictures, especially during sunrise or sunset. Just like the beach before, this one looked amazing.

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I began to realize that the Sunshine Coast wasn’t filled with as many backpackers as I imagined. More so locals and older travelers.

We took her bikes out later in the day and rode into town during the sunsetting hours.

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The ride took us through Double Bay Beach Park, the Wyuna Canal, the Parrearra Channel, La Balsa Park, and to various lighthouses near the Beacon Lighthouse Reserve.

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We even rode past Steve Irwin’s old house he used to live in ages ago. We visited Mooloolaba Beach shortly afterwards. 

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It was during this bike ride when I felt that I could move here and be perfectly happy. The weather was always great (at least this time of year), the people were pleasant, the beaches were superb, limited crazy drunk backpackers, and a variety of choices for food and leisure activities. Oh and chicken salt!

The amazing Dorelle prepared a to-go bag of snacks for my train/bus journey to the Gold Coast the following days, including these Anzac biscuits her mom made.

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They call them biscuits, I call them cookies. Regardless, they were mighty tasty, even for being the sugar-free version. By the way, ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

In the short time I was in the Sunshine Coast, she showed me quite a lot! Thanks for that.

The Gold Coast

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  • Population: Approx 507,000 (2015) (Different sources claim a bit more or less)
  • Location: 66 km (41 mi) Southeast of Brisbane
  • Average Temperatures: Average High (21ºC / 77ºF) Average Low (17.2ºC / 63ºF)
  • Areas of Interest: Surfer’s Paradise Beach, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Dreamworld, Wet N’ Wild Water World, Warner Bros. Movie World, Burleigh Heads Beach

I had two friends I wanted to visit here; Jess and then Daniel. But before I get to them, I spent one night in a backpacker’s hostel in an area of the Gold Coast called Surfer’s Paradise. Already I could tell a difference. This was a major backpacker’s destination. There were backpackers everywhere, along the city to the beaches and a majority of them were from Germany. I didn’t get to mingle much with them though. I did meet an English backpacker who had a car planning a drive to Byron Bay the next day. I would have tagged along but I had friends here in the Gold Coast I planned to see, starting with Jess. I met her in Nepal in October 2014. She volunteered in Pokhara when I did. She picked me up from the hostel and went straight to one of the beaches.

But first, what the heck is this?

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I spotted this in Johns Laws Park. It’s called a Ute (yoot). Like a miniature version of a pickup truck we have in the States. I saw these unusual looking cars back in Brisbane as well.

Burleigh Beach was wide open and had clear waters.

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Jess and I waded in the water for about ten minutes until she spotted a jellyfish just a couple meters away. That’s when my time in that beach was suddenly over. Bye.

I mentioned to Jess that at some point in Australia, I wanted to find a way to hang out with kangaroos. Upon hearing this, she knew the perfect place in the Gold Coast where I could do such a thing, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

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It had your typical zoo stuff along with a few animals native to Australia including, koalas, dingos, echidnas, wallabys, and the most iconic Australian animal, the kangaroo. However, at this wildlife sanctuary you don’t get to just look at the kangaroos, you get to hang out and get silly with them as long as you want. No extra charge!

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This was task #26 I needed to accomplish on my personal ATLAS.

ATLAS Updated

Jess took me to Burleigh Head National Park, where we climbed the top of a small footing that looked upon Surfer’s Paradise.

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Thanks Jess! I look forward to reuniting in Nepal.

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Later that evening, my friend Daniel picked me up from one of the outdoor malls in the city. I met him during my first days in Fiji recently while scuba diving with bull sharks. I thought he was from England, but realized my mistake just in time to contact him. We went back to his place in Southport where he and his dad welcomed me to red wine with cheese, grapes, and crackers. How did they know I loved red wine so much? Must have read my mind. It was a perfect welcoming to such a calming place that felt more like a private resort mainly because of this stunning view from their wholesome back deck.

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Daniel has a big bushy dog named Pebbles that he takes out almost every morning to nearby beaches or parks. One of the beaches we went to was Main Beach, one of the only dog-friendly beaches in the Gold Coast. And yes there were dogs everywhere and they were lovin’ life!

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The Nerang River was also a cool spot to see the line of water that bled into the main city.

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As far as Daniel goes, I think I enjoyed the most just relaxing at his place. It was the most opportune place to unwind, catch up on blogging, and I was perfectly content because we drank wine every night and also because they had ice cream, my biggest guilty pleasure. Man, I could live here in the Gold Coast too!

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I wasn’t able to go to Dreamworld Theme Park because at the time of my arrival, one of the water attractions malfunctioned killing four people. It was an unfortunate event that crippled any idea of me attending one of the other parks. It wouldn’t have felt right.

Later on, Daniel graciously drove me to the Coolangatta Airport where I would eventually board a flight to Sydney. Thanks to him, his dad, and of course Pebbles. Everything was perfect.

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The Verdict

So which is better? The Sunshine or the Gold? I can’t give a totally unbiased opinion of either because I didn’t experience the whole scope of the coasts and was only presented with a snapshot of each. I also had the luxury of local friends to show me around. If I were on my own completely, it would have been a different story.

Sunshine Coast Pros 

  • More “natural” beaches
  • Less touristy
  • Tons of outdoor areas of interest
  • Major Surf Destination
  • Excellent year-round weather
  • I found it to be very clean

Sunshine Coast Cons

  • I don’t have a single con.

Gold Coast Pros

  • More backpacker friendly
  • Easier access to Brisbane, Byron Bay, and usually cheaper flights to Sydney.
  • Major Surf Destination
  • A Better Variety in the Nightlife/Social  Scene
  • Cool Theme Parks

Gold Coast Cons

  • A lot more touristy resulting in sometimes annoying backpackers and loads more schoolies*, but thats just being nit picky. Sometimes those annoying backpackers end up being good friends of mine.

*Schoolies are the Australian equivalent to the crazed up Spring Breakers we have in the US, but instead of having spring breaks every year, schoolies only party hard once when their 12th year of school is complete, thank goodness.

I enjoyed both coasts immensely but the slight edge, and I mean VERY slight edge goes to the Sunshine Coast only because it felt a little more natural as far as the beaches and the people there. Not as many tourists who usually get in my way were around. However, as far as backpacking purposes, I would choose the Gold Coast to meet more people along the way. It’s also a bit closer to Brisbane and Byron Bay which is always a plus.

Australia, you haven’t struck out yet. Onwards to Sydney!