Hats Off to the Australians – Day 158

November 4, 2010 No Comments


365 Days to a Balanced Life Journey – Day 158


Quote of the Day

“Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the ‘Grass is Greener on the other side of the fence’ syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence.” – Douglas Adams – English

It is hard to believe that at 5:30am tomorrow I start my journey home to Vancouver.  It will take me another 10 days and two more countries to get there but all too soon this very cathartic time in my life will be just another memory in a life full of great memories.

In the 4 and half weeks that I have been in Australia I did not take one tour or do one touristy thing!  I spent surprisingly little time at the beach both because the weather was too rainy or too hot.  I simply fell into a heavenly rhythm of doing only what suited me at that moment.  The thought of actually committing to a tour did not appeal to me at all (I barely made it to the shuttle bus on time)!

Even though I did not achieve all the things I thought I would (do we ever?), I have been pleasantly surprised with the results of this Solitude Journey.  I tried to use my time productively but also realized this could not be an all work and no play situation (hence the very few blog posts I made while here).  It is a rare gift I have been given to spend 5 weeks without responsibility and commitments but secure in the knowledge that I have a wonderful family to return to.  Talk about the best of both worlds!!!!

I was pleased with how I was able to balance my alone time with spending some quality time with a few friends.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and will miss many aspects of my daily “Australian” routine including some very lovely people who have made my trip extremely pleasant ( a big thank you to all the staff at the Radisson Resort here on the Gold Coast).

I have been fascinated by the Australian people and have learned what a strong resourceful nation this is.  They are a curious mix of bodam (redneck) and refined.  For the most part they are very polite and friendly.  They are always amusing but at times the humor was lost on me either because I could not understand what they were saying or they were using slang words that made no sense to me at all (like bodam).

I might have mentioned before that they appear to like their drink, betting and sport.  I didn’t watch much TV while here because it was mostly dog racing, horse racing, rugby and cricket (if I never see another cricket match again it will be too soon for me).

I had the privilege of being here during Carnival.  That is a few weeks of horseracing centered on this week’s Melbourne Cup.  The insanity that accompanies these races is fascinating to watch.  It seems EVERYONE bets on the Melbourne Cup and EVERYONE is required to wear the silliest dresses and hats they can find (or outrageous suits for the guys).  I am sure they do not see them as silly but trust me…I understand that they spend an entire year searching for the perfect hat for next year.  Believe me no one has found it yet.  In addition, it appears EVERYONE is required to drink their body weight in alcohol on that day (which might explain the training days leading up to the event).  Sadly those frilly dresses and enormous hats do not fare well after a day of heavy drinking.  One poor woman had not even got out of her car before the 3 foot monstrosity on her head was snapped in two leaving her with a droopy head piece.

They learn early to bet on the horses here in Australia.  One bloke told me his mother used to give him 50 cents to take to school during Carnival as teacher was running some betting pool.

At first it is easy to look at this lifestyle critically coming from staid North America but what I have come to appreciate is that Australia is a nation of people who know how to have a good time and are not afraid to relax and live life to its fullest (and look a little silly in the process).  They have traditions like the 150 year old Melbourne Cup that unites (and stops) a nation at precisely 3:00pm on race day.  Everyone gathers at their local race track, pub, restaurant or house party to watch this magnificent race (most companies give a stat holiday).  It was truly exciting to see these beautiful horses bred to compete to run in this race move in unison down the track.  I only had a small wager on the horses but I found myself yelling at the big screen TV in my hotel lobby (I hope others were too) and was truly exhilarated by this race.  I think I could get hooked on this way of life down here. :)

For those of you who have not visited this diverse country, I encourage you to do so.  But don’t expect the Australians to be like other English speaking countries (do they speak English here? I think it is more Australian than English).  Come prepared to have a good time and while you are here, wear a silly hat just for fun.

“There is no better way of life in the world than that of the Australian.  I firmly believe this.  The grumbling, growling, cursing, profane, laughing, beer drink, abusive, loyal-to-his-mates Australian is one of the few free men left on this earth.  He fears no one, crawls to no one, bludges on no one, and acknowledges no master.  Learn his way.  Learn his language.  Get yourself accepted as one of him and you will enter a world that you never dreamed existed.  And once you have entered it, you will never leave it.” – John O’Grady


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