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Beastly Blog
Friday, 7 April 2006
Dealing down under!
February – April 2006

Adriano’s life has been changed dramatically with a move of over 4000 km from one side of Australia to the other. He left Sydney on the east coast, for Geraldton on the west coast at the beginning of March, a mere 450 km north of Perth. He is working there under his amazing linguistics guise and writing down the Aboriginal languages of the region before they are lost into the sands of time. He has to publish several books on the language in the next few months.

Alexis and Greg furthered their Beastly quest within the media by having a photo shoot with Australia’s Overlander magazine who are covering our trip in May’s issue. Our story “Beast in the Far East” will feature in the May issue of Land Rover Monthly. Alexis and Greg also presented to over 200 people at the Pajero club of Melbourne about their round the world trip.

Alexis was sent to the wonderful Hunter Valley to do some contamination work and ended up spending two weeks enjoying the scenery of the surrounding area with kangaroos bouncing across the arid grasslands. She spent a day travelling around the area and visited the interesting Burning Mountain National Park. The Burning Mountain is a mere smouldering pile of ash spewing sulphur. The amazing thing is that it has been burning for over 5,500 years, possibly started by a strike of lightning.

Alexis organised the Australian Drink Club’s outing to the Yarra Valley Grape Grazing. We courageously journeyed to the Yarra Valley wine region, 50km northeast of Melbourne, for a day of drinking Victoria’s finest booze. We endured the hard task of trying the produces of several different vineyards before heading back to Melbourne to stare blankly into the distance and vomit!

During one of our many journeys around Victoria, we stopped off at a museum that pays tribute to one of Australia’s most endangered species, the Gippsland Giant Worm. The worm is on the world endangered list as it only occupies an area of 50 hectares in the southeast part of Victoria. Very little is known about it as it is so rare. The worm is enormous, reaching up to 4m in length and is the diameter of a wine bottle cork. Apparently it gurgles as it moves through its burrow which can cover an area of over 25m.

Alexis and Greg went on Deal or No Deal, the new world wide quiz show, with the intent of winning $200,000 but after getting on the stage they were pipped at the post by another contestant. The rules are slightly different to the one in the UK, answering questions and you only having one chance to win. They managed to walk away with another tv show under their belt, but unfortunately no money in the pocket!

The Commonwealth Games has gripped Australia and especially Melbourne where the city has been hosting the games. There have been a variety of events going on in addition to the sports events. There were live cook offs, free open air music events, arts events, even a true Aussie beach was constructed in the centre of town. The sporting events hadn’t quite finish as the Grand Prix screamed into Albert Park, a 5 minute walk from Alexis and Greg’s flat. The earsplitting Grand Prix had some dramatic crashes and engine explosions with the usual Ferrari supporters and barely clad women – a great day out!

Greg has been busy writing his memoirs of our world trip, spending every waking hour outside of street cafes and bars typing away. He is now searching for a publisher…. Anyone got any great publishing contacts? As Greg hasn’t been sponsored whilst here in Australia, he has been forced to leave the country and flee to the tropical island of Fiji to renew his visa! God, he leads a hard life!

Notes on Australia

• A Pommie in Australian slang is an English man/woman. A pommie wash is a quick wash using a face cloth, often while still partly clothed – apparently a comical reference to the belief that English people wash less frequently than others due to the cold climate!
• A light bulb is known as a ‘light globe’ in Australia. To lend your support to a team, you ‘barrack’ the team. A capsicum is another word for the vegetable, the pepper.
• If you want to make food ‘Aussie’ then all you have to do is make it with beetroot or pineapple. The Hungry Jacks (Burger King in the UK) fast food restaurant has the Aussie Burger made with beetroot.
• The daylight saving time (putting the clocks back by 1 hour for winter) was prosponed because of the Commonwealth Games in the southern Australian States.
• The words to the Australian National Anthem: Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free; We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil; Our home is girt by sea; Our land abounds in nature’s gifts, Of beauty rich and rare; In history’s page, let every stage Advance Australia Fair. In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.
• There are regular national ‘spelling bees’ on television and in theatres. A spelling bee is a spelling competition for both children and adults where you spell out the word to win or embarrass yourself.
• If you order fish and chips in Australia you are likely to order shark and chips (shark is known as flake).
• Many species of Eucalyptus tree shed their bark in spring time.
• There are only a few chocolate bunnies at Easter as they are being replaced by the chocolate Bilby. The Bilby is a rabbit looking marsupial that has been pushed to the verge of extinction by the more successful and introduced rabbits.
• Cyclones created in the southern hemisphere, rotate in a different direction to tornadoes and hurricanes found in the northern hemisphere due to the Coriolis Effect.
• During public events daring pilots scrawl sky writing across the sky in aviation fuel to make political statements, ask someone to get married or just to wish one of the teams good luck.
• Ginger haired people are called Bluey in Australia.
• Brothels are legal in Melbourne.
• 1 in 4 Australians were born outside of Australia.
• In Australian English, if you are to say a date you would say 23 August not 23rd of August.
• It is believed that there were between 200 and 300 Australian Aboriginal languages at the time of first European contact. Only about 70 of these languages have survived, and all but 20 of these are now on the verge of becoming extict.
• The Hunter wine valley was set up by Vicar Tyrell in the 1850s. He had been sent up from Sydney to set up a parish and found that he kept running out of holy communion wine. To resolve his problem, he set up his own vineyard making his own wine and now his descendants are in control of one of the best known wine producers in the world.
• Many places in Australia you need to place a bid in a public auction if you want to buy a house. You get a survey completed before you place a bid. There is a reserve price but the price usually exceeds that price.
• Australia has 146 big things located around the country. These include a big worm, big pineapple, big mosquito, big banana, big watermelon, big scotsman, big rolling pin and big sundial amongst others.
• There are between 70,000 and 80,000 people on extended overland travel at any one time in Australia according to the RACV.

Posted by Alexis at 12:57 PM BST
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