Interesting Characters

March 1992

Perth, Western Australia

Our hostel in Perth was fantastic. It was run by a lovely, kindly lady, who had even turned a blind eye to the couple of young men, who had parked themselves and their van in the hostel car park and were using the hostel’s resources.

She had travelled herself and was very supportive of all of us. I think her attitude, had helped foster the wonderful atmosphere in the hostel.

We (the backpackers) had all got along really well and had travelled around together doing many enjoyable activities. I think it was the most fun, I have had in any hostel ever. It is probably the reason why I have a soft spot for Perth. However having been there since, in the heat of Summer, I realise now Perth can be pretty tough in the hot weather. (March is Autumn fortunately.)

I will always remember this terrific Irish guy who was staying there. He was a real character and had decided he was heading off to Kalgoorlie,(an Outback gold-mining town) with a couple of people, whom he had found through an advertisement in the paper. We had all been very concerned. Journeys into The Outback need to be taken seriously. (Especially if you intend to go off the beaten track, which I generally would not recommend, unless you are with somebody experienced.)

When the car had come to pick him up, red flags were waving in just about everybody’s mind. The car (I use the word loosely) definitely did not look remotely roadworthy and his companions had not looked particularly trustworthy.

Super Drift Car

From Gif

Super Drift Car

A day later the Irish guy had much to our relief turned up back at the hostel. He had recounted his  epic misadventure with relish.

The engine of the old wreck had started to overheat when they had barely left Perth. He had also been less than impressed that his companion’s supplies, had seemed to consist solely of alcohol. By the time they had reached Karlgoorlie, he had had enough.

He had headed straight back to Perth on his own.Perth.png


Glenelg Beach, Adelaide


February 1992

We then went down to Glenelg Beach, where I had my first swim in the sea, since I had been away. Absolute bliss!

The water was so warm, it felt like a tepid bath.

To our astonishment somebody we hadn’t known, had just walked up to us and had instructed us to take care of his eski which had been full of ice creams.

It is worth noting that humans are not the only creatures who enjoy warm water. Stick to patrolled beaches. I have actually been on a beach on one occasion, when they have cleared the water due to a shark sighting.

shark fin

Bull sharks can even find their way into inland waterways.

Shark attacks are relatively rare. However they do happen.

It is also worth noting that much as beaches(both in Australia and worldwide) might look inviting, it really is better to stick to patrolled beaches as riptides can also be a real issue.

Source: Beachsafe

Further information can be obtained below:

Surf Life Saving Factsheets-South Australia


Glenelg Beach.png



It’s Not All Fun-Australia, February 1992

Reading back through my travel diaries, I was reminded how innocent we were.

I often wonder at how busy my guardian angel has been over the years and I am so grateful to God for his protection. I was generally guided by my instincts and fortunately they had seemed to serve me pretty well. However we had not known it at the time, but we had not picked a particularly good time to be travelling around Australia.  Unbenownst to us Ivan Milat, (one of Australia’s most notorious ever serial killers) was in the middle of  an horrendous killing spree, at the time.

We had met a young German girl in a hostel in Adelaide, who had been keen to hitch-hike from Adelaide to Sidney on her own, as she could not afford the fare, which was some sixty dollars.We had tried desperately to dissuade her. Fortunately we had eventually succeeded. Instead she had undertaken a little job to raise the money. I go cold thinking about it now, pondering the fate that might have awaited any or all of us, had we decided to hitch-hike.

When we returned to England the faces of the two British girls Caroline Clark and Joanne Walters, who had gone missing while touring Australia, had been all over the news.

The Backpacker Murders

When we had all finally discovered the horrendous truth, my blood had run cold.

Moral of this story: Do Not Hitchhike.

Arriving at Kakadu

April 1992

Immediately I had noticed the place was alive. Dragonflies hovered back and forth. Noisy cockatoos flew overhead and we could see magpie geese. These birds had managed to sabotage the Northern Territory’s attempts to grow rice. There were many varieties of gum trees to be seen and plenty of paperbark trees. You could see quite clearly from these trees, how far the water must have risen during the wet season, as the bark had peeled off to that level. I got a good look at a dingo, as it had hesitated ahead of the coach. We walked to the paintings at Nourlangie Rock.

Walking up to the rock, we saw a huge Golden Orb Spider, Its web was practically invisible. The paintings were almost touching. We saw the Lightning Man and learned of his story.


Namarrkun is the lightning man. He came out of the sky riding storm clouds. Bright light arced across each of his shoulders. With stone axes fixed to his head, elbows and knees he made thunderous sounds by striking the clouds. When men and women disobeyed the law, Namarrkun would hiss and crackle and even strike the wrongdoer.



Dugg Ventura

Department of Industries and Regional Development.

Treacle Tarts, Pork Pies and Bathroom Locks

To talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax– Of cabbages–and kings

Lewis Caroll

Yesterday’s post  about queues grew out of a conversation I had with one of my youngsters. It is interesting how often we are influenced by a past, of which we have we have little or no personal knowledge. I have therefore decided to share a little more about my experiences settling into another culture.

Australian Hospitality

On my first trip to Australia. I had the touching experience of being welcomed by relatives, to whom I was a total stranger. I had been met with great hospitality. Back in England, I came to understand that Australians are also generally very open to visiting people they don’t know. Out of the blue, we would be contacted by a friend of a friend of a friend, who had wanted to stay with us in the UK. An Australian friend has since explained that this willingnesss to visit strangers and to accept strangers into their homes, had stemmed from the era when getting anywhere could take weeks. People would readily open their abodes to people, who were travelling around this vast (much of it is still sparsely populated) country.

Australians in common with many from warmer climes tend to flee the UK in droves once the leaves start turning brown. In truth many people struggle with a UK Winter. On the flip side, Australians have often stared at me in disbelief, when I recount that on my first visit here, I had willingly traversed The Outback in the Summer heat. AS A GENERAL RULE, DON’T DO IT!!

The Inbetweeners in The Outback

Caution as they use a bit of salty language.


Australians visiting the UK

While still living in the UK, I had begun learning to adapt to Australian culture. I would listen as Australians who had stayed with us, had tried to wrap their head around the things which had puzzled or confused them. Things like why do we put plastic bowls in our sinks?  I really don’t know the answer but I still do it. I have had to try to explain things to my offspring- things like why we sing at football matches. I might not like football in general (don’t get me started about my struggles to understand Aussie Rules football.)  but I have nonetheless attended one UK football match and one Australian Rules football match. During my solitary football/soccer experience watching Portsmouth(Pompey) go up the first division, I had witnessed people climbing poles and a pitch invasion.  I  also still remember Millwall (warning contains some strong language).(It is probably different now-no apparently not!  I just checked You Tube.) Australian Rules football games are usually very family frendly.

Singing at football

‘You’ll never walk alone’ can still reduce me to tears.

To this day, if I see somebody stick their arm out at a bus stop, I think “Ah British.” This is another one of my British foibles. As I explain to people, if you don’t stick your arm out in the UK, the bus will just sail by, as we have something called request stops.(see video) Mindblowingly buses would not infrequently speed by, even if your arm was stuck out resolutely. I remember the story of this wonderful bus driver, who had decided to skip stopping to pick up passengers completely, in his determination to keep to his schedule.

Great Advice About London Buses

It is so interesting to learn how other nations perceive us.  I once went to a talk given by a very famous Australian woman, who had mentioned her frustration with our British love of meetings, whereas she had wanted to just to get on and do things.  Australians also bemoan our whinging (complaining), although I have to say I listened to a fair amount of whinging from Aussies, who had struggled with some of our British customs, while they were visiting the UK. For my part I have always been mystified by the general lack of overflows on Australian sinks and locks on toilet and bathroom doors. My parents had found this particularly challenging when they had come for a visit. My father said he had felt he needed to adopt the habit of singing while he was in the bathroom. We did eventually install locks ourselves in later years.

singing in the shower One of my youngsters loves Harry Potter. Suddenly I had been asked about treacle tart. I said I felt I had failed as a mother. Had I really never introduced my children, to the rare delicacy, that is treacle tart? Pork pies (a very British indulgence) are one of my guilty pleasures. You can easily buy pork pies here, if you know where to look. Every now and again, I suddenly get a desperate longing for a pork pie. It (the pork pie) often doesn’t even make it home, as it is usually an urge I have to satisfy right there and then. My children had also found UK driving really fast. I don’t know whether that’s British or just my family. I have always tried to explain my cultural differences (or as they consider them “idiosyncracies”) I think that is how we teach people to be more open and accepting of each other. There are some brilliant videos on You Tube, which we will sit and watch together occasionally, to help demonstrate some of my more British issues. (There is often a bit of negotiation involved, although I sometimes feel I get a raw deal, frequently having to watch a full half hour of videos in exchange for one of my five minute “gems”.(Please see below). I’ll watch your videos, if you watch mine.



Some Very British Problems

Honestly I think I have experienced all of these issues at one point or another.





Townsville to Airlie Beach

February 1992

Forty five minutes out of Townsville, (at about 5:45pm) we (our coach) had a tyre blowout. The tyre was absolutely torn to shreds. There was just a lump of solid rubber left around the wheel hub. The poor old coach driver donned his overalls and tried to change the tyre. Unfortunately he was unable to remove the wheel nuts. He had to hitch into town and we were left alone and  “defenceless” in the bush with all the mosquitoes. It was too stuffy on the coach, so I smothered myself with insect repellent and sat outside writing a letter.

He (the coach driver) returned some 15-20 minutes later with a guy and then the two of them tried to loosen the wheel nuts, Another guy then stopped and offered to help. Before long there were three men and umpteen levers being used to try pry off the silly wheel nuts.

Suddenly one of the men had had a (moment of) inspiration.

He exclaimed, “They’re left-handed mate!”

Sure enough they had all been trying to turn the wheel nuts the wrong way. Then very quickly but two and a half hours late, we were once more on our way.

(Everybody on the bus had mucked in. I was letting people use my insect repellent. Another guy was walking down the bus, offering wine and packets of peanuts.)