On the road again

Well we’ve waved TTFN to Melbourne for now and are now on the fourth leg of our Australian Jaunt, dodging ‘roos and Drop-Bears with the added threat of bush fires today. We hope to dodge any large scale fires by hugging the coast as much as possible. Which has paid off so far as we’re heading toward sundown.

Rather ticked off at the car hire company for being a bunch of chiseling cheese parers. Decided to have a go back by painstakingly highlighting every last single fault which they had not spotted in their pre-rental checklist, photographing every single ding or rock chip, as I’m sure the bastards will try to charge my credit card for every last tiny scratch. They didn’t even wash the bloody thing properly. However, I’ve already spoken to my credit card company, and they agree there’s dodgy dealings afoot.

A stern but polite letter will also be going out to the hire company’s head office like the previously mentioned franchise practices I’m not happy with. I did ask them to countersign my updated damage report, but the staff refused. That too will be in my very detailed report to their head office. People who try to cheat me nowadays tend to lose. My ducks are all patiently sitting in a row, each carefully recorded piece of evidence awaiting every attempted incidence of overcharging. You might say I’m being a bit paranoid, but my attitude simply reflects previous experience with car hire companies. Trust does not figure largely in the relationship.

Regardless of the aforementioned, we are now well on our way and have been doing even more “Oohing” at the big sky scenery and deliciously turquoise seascapes. Yes it’s hot, with me taking plenty of roadside time-outs to snooze through temperatures topping 42 Celsius according to the cars thermometer. Well, we’re not in a rush and have made lots of time for this trip, so an impromptu snooze is just the ticket. Tomorrow the temperature is predicted to drop to something more comfortable in the mid 20’s as we round the corner into New South Wales and decide upon whether we’re going to bother with Canberra.

Wildlife sightings have been reduced to spotting roadkill, with two ‘Roos and a couple of Wombats today. Wombats are about the size of a Vietnamese pot bellied pig covered in dark brown fur. There was one bloody smear that could have been an incautious Koala, but it was hard to tell. All we’ve seen of live Australian fauna is cattle and sheep. Oh, and the many Parakeets and Lorikeet variants with the odd Fruitbat around dusk. Beware the Fruitbats, they’re like Socialists, they shit on everything.

Reading has been restricted to my rather dog eared copy of the Gulag Achipelago, Alexandr Solzhenitzyn’s chronicle of his arrest and imprisonment in the Soviet Prison system. It should be compulsory reading for anyone studying ‘political science’ at University. Full text pdf here if you want your eyes opened about totalitarian collectivist government. I first read it in 1975, along with his fictional follow-on “The First Circle” having cut my teeth on the disturbing A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich at school. Hardly holiday reading, unless of course you’re me, but interesting first hand perspectives from someone who survived the Soviet system of thought crime and punishment. Anyone thinking of creating thought crime offences should take careful note.

More cheerfully I can report on my first experience with the notorious Australian “Meat pie” which is as close as the Aussies have to a national dish. The flavour, for my last remaining British reader, is akin to one of the old “Fleur de Lys” latterly “Pukka” steak and kidney pies with a smidgeon of Bovril, encased in pastry that would probably sink a German WWII pocket battleship. Quite tasty, although a little heavy for a hot day.

Anyway, that’s it for now as supper time beckons and I’ve been saving my appetite. TTFN.

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13 thoughts on “On the road again”

  1. Canberra not worth it, but NSW coast is good. Opportunities for whale watching boat trips. Some nice little small towns. e.g. Berry. Some hill top view points with cafes and almost tame kookaburras. Blue Mountains behind Sydney, Katoomba and beyond a must. HMAS Nowra has a good air museum and restaurant.Museum used to be free if you were eating.
    Conducted Bush walk is well worth it – experience billy bush tea and damper.
    On my first visit I was told that Aussies are not stupid and stuck all their pollies (they abbreviate all words) in the middle of nowhere where they could not ruin a good city.
    Don’t go looking for the Black Stump, or even beyond. Somewhere out in the Gafa.
    Poems of AB (Banjo) Paterson and Henry Lawson will amuse and pass time.
    To get a feel for the people visit a real pub (not a tarted up yuppiefied one) or an RSL, Returned and Services League club. As a furrriner you just sign in. Or a country town fair – the tree trunk chopping is amazing.
    The fish n chips are good and you will already know the advantages of BYO restaurants.
    They are lovely people. Enjoy.

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    1. We are, and have already taken your advice on almost all points but the conducted bush walk and RSL. There’s a definite dichotomy between rural and urban Aussies though. The rural variety have no side to them.
      They either like you or they don’t and are not shy about letting you know. Which is refreshing.

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  2. I always understood this typically Australian dish was called a ‘Floater’ on account of being served in a bowl of pea soup?

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    1. I don’t know. Haven’t come across it yet and we’ve stopped in a number of eateries across the board. For a national dish it seems particularly scarce. Maybe it’s one of those urban myths? Will report back if I find out otherwise.

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    2. Ah, a little research has turned up trumps. Turns out it’s an Adelaide thing. More of a regional than a national dish. Never came across it in Sydney or Cairns, and I think Melbourne’s a bit too posh for something as proletarian as a meat pie floater.

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        1. Do I get danger money for that? No, but seriously, the difference appears to be that Marmite is made with beef extract (Bouillon) and Vegemite not. They’re both yeast extract based. Never got the taste for either myself, although there are two camps who fervently believe that their preferred version is best. Here’s a link which may assist. However, before you decide, there’s an NZ version called Promite of which I readily confess to knowing nothing. Follow this link to find out.

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  3. Thanks for the comment on Hire Cars. It wouldn’t have occurred to me. But it will now. If I ever hire a car.
    It is freezing here, which brings me once again to my Winter Fuel Allowance, no longer existing, that is. However, someone appears to be appealing that decision.

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