Greetings from Palm Cove Australia, where I am on my own in this country for the first time since arriving 18 days ago. I am reading the guest information book in my room and under “Swimming” it says:
Crocodiles are occasionally seen off the beaches but generally they inhabit creeks and estuaries that flow into the ocean. They are ambush predators and generally do not actively hunt or expend a lot of energy in the process.
Is this supposed to make me feel safer?
Visitors are discouraged from wading in creeks, waterways and mangroves where water is shallow or knee deep. Visitors should NOT swim in the ocean at night.
I can abide by those guidelines, but apparently others cannot. Before I left Melbourne my friends were telling me about recent croc deaths. A park ranger was fishing with her family—wading in a shallow creek. One minute she was there, the next she was gone. They found her dismembered body a few days later. A German tourist went swimming in a creek that had a sign warning, “NO SWIMMING—CROCODILES.” It even had a picture of a crocodile with its mouth gaping open, for non-English speakers. That was his last swim, ever. As I was riding into town on the hotel shuttle, I saw dozens of people fishing and wading in the creeks and mangrove swamps. What gives? These are probably the same people who would swim in the ocean at night.
The one thing I dreaded about this trip was the 15-hour flight from LA to Sydney. I have to say, it wasn’t that bad.
I had my compression socks, eye mask, ear plugs, down pillow, crossword puzzles, and a book, which I thought might be overkill but the movie selection wasn’t great so I was glad to have it.
I did watch one really good movie, All the Money in the World, about the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson. It starred Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Christopher Plummer, and his grandson Charlie Plummer as the grandson. This was the movie Kevin Spacey was cut from after his #MeToo moment.
There was an Aussie sitting next to me on the plane who was returning from a vacation in Mexico. He raved about Mexico, took a sleeping pill, then didn’t move for 15 hours except when I shook him awake so I could go to the bathroom. It’s interesting how Mexico was exotic to him but he was dreading going back to Australia (and work). I have spent a lot of time in Mexico and it no longer feels exotic.
And Australia—does it feel exotic? There have been moments when I thought, “This could be Minnesota.” Like this view of Heidi’s family’s farm:
But then there were the roos. These photos aren’t great, but they are candid.
There are other landscapes, of giant gum (eucalyptus) trees that feel alien, in a stunningly beautiful way.
The language is English but they shorten many words (a journalist is a journo, a medic is an ambo) and so much slang that I have often found myself staring blankly at the speaker. A newly arrived immigrant is a FOB (Fresh off the Boat) and going to hang out with your friends is hooning around.
In the UK I was thrown by the standard greeting, “Ya’ll right?” In Australia, the greeting is “How ya goin’?” instead of, “How ya doin’?” as we would ask in the US. Aussies really do say, “G’day”—not everywhere, but here and there and more so in the country.
People are so friendly. Yesterday when I was checking my bag at the airport, the agent told me about her favorite tour here, while hundreds of people waited behind me. None of them seemed irritated.
Is Australia as expensive as I’d read? It depends. Hotels are very reasonable, while meals out are outrageously expensive, and food in groceries is somewhere in between. The American dollar is strong against the Australian, so I get to take 30% off everything.
Heidi and her family have been so welcoming. Heidi’s Auntie Margaret gave up her flat in Sydney for us to use for a couple nights. This is the view. Horrible, huh?