Friday, 9 March 2012

On Australia, reflections

Well, it has been several months, so I should lay down some thoughts.

Despite the fact that the size of Australia psyched me out, I rather enjoyed myself there. In fact, I would cheerfully go back there. Heck, I rather think I will at some point.

However, there are a number of disconcerting things about Australia. Most of these are in the form of drive-through bottle shops. These are where you go in your ute to get your slabs of tinnies and stubbies to put in your esky. For those of you not up in your "Strine": "These are where you go in your pickup to get your cases of [beer in] cans and stubby bottles to up in your cooler." In other words, they are liquor stores. The disconcerting thing is that they are often drive-through affairs whereas the grocery stores usually aren't. At least, I didn't see any. Given the emphasis against drunk driving in the last upteen years, I would have thought that separating alcohol and cars a bit more would be a good thing. Then again, I live in Quebec were the acronym for the liquor stores is SAQ and the acronym for the car and driver licensing agency is SAAQ.

Regarding utes, I found it interesting that Australian pickup trucks are generally quite a bit smaller than their North American cousins. Nowadays, all the pickups in North America seem to be these ginormous creatures. The small pickups of my youth are no longer sold. Not Australia. There the small pickup lives on, sometimes in the form of a car-sized version, such as this one in Sydney.There are also more "trucky" versions such as this one in Dimboola:
This one also illustrates a particularly variety of Aussie "ute", namely the tray-back. This is a very utilitarian arrangement. Also of note is the very off-road setup of this one complete with a snorkel for fording rivers in flood. Given the dryness of Australia, I rather suspect that the latter option is more macho appeal than real utility.

Getting back to booze, I was chatting with someone at the Youth Hostel in Hall's Gap. I believe the man's name was Simon. Anyway, I was talking about how I wasn't quite sure if it was culturally sensitive of me to put a sticker of an aboriginal picture of a kangaroo on Leonardo as a symbol of Australia. Given that I had bought the sticker at the aboriginal culture center at the park, chances are it was "OK" and that the image didn't have a particularly deep cultural significance. (Part of this relative worry was inspired by my previous trip to the general area, where at the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand, there was a display of culturally inappropriate souvenirs. One was a tea-towel with an image of statue of a famous chief. The issue wasn't reproducing the image, it was using it for such a lowly item.) Anyway, Simon commented that if I wanted to really have a symbol of "European" Australia, I should put a sticker of a tinny of beer on the bike!

In other news, I have posted pictures from Christmas. Many of the images feature nieces and nephew.

No comments: