Tag Archives: Australian Slang

Sydney Reccy

Reccy: Aussie slang for reconnaissance mission.

While I hung out waiting for Heidi to finish up at St. Pat’s, my eye fell on a list of rules for uniforms and grooming.

It’s very specific, especially with the haircuts.  I must be old because I don’t know what lines, steps, “under No. 2 in length,” or the other prohibitions even are.  I do know that “fringe” is what we call “bangs” in the US.  When you think about it, fringe is a lot more descriptive than bangs.

I wandered the halls a bit and learned from a display that St. Pat’s most famous “old boy,” as they call alumni, is Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark, the novel upon which the movie Schindler’s List was based.  How did an Aussie come to write a book about the Holocaust?  Heidi Googled this later and read the story to me. On a visit to Los Anglese, Keneally went into a luggage store to buy a suitcase and happened to talk to the owner, Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor.  When Pfefferberg learned Keneally was an author, he told him about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews, and urged him to write the story.  The rest, as they say, is history.

There were display cases featuring Cricket awards.

It reminded me of Eton, but spacious, bright, and new.

There was a physical acknowledgement of the Darug Aboriginal people, upon whose former land the school stands.

When Heidi was done with her year-end odds and ends, we walked across the street to the bus stop and waited.  And waited.  She consulted her transport app and reckoned it would take as long to wait for the bus as to walk, so we gave up and ambled toward the train station.  That was fine with me because it was a nice day and the neighborhood we walked through was lovely.

Houses in Australia tend to be one story (think about heat rising).  It was spring, and everything was in bloom.  These are some photos of Australian houses I took elsewhere, but they seem pretty typical of what I saw near the school—Victorian or Edwardian with beautiful gardens and massive trees.

We took the train into the CBD.  That’s Central Business District, for those of you who like to spell things out.  We headed for the QVB, or Queen Victoria Building, and here I will use the word massive again.  So many things in Australia are massive.  The QVB, constructed in 1893, fills an entire city block.

We wandered around inside and gawked at window displays of the high-end shops and the architectural features.

You can’t see it because of my lousy photo-taking abilities, but the clock is incredibly detailed with lots of—literally—bells and whistles and a train that runs around it at the lower level. Just think, this was the era when clocks used to be the proud main feature of buildings.

We sat down for lunch at a tea shop, and I noticed the tables adjacent to us had Chinese newspapers scattered on them.

I could say this over and over but I’ll just say it here—there is such a big Chinese presence in Australia that I sometimes had these weird moments where I had to check myself and ask, “Where am I?  Am I in China?  No, I’m in Australia.”

When you think of the geography, it makes sense.

 

There are Chinatowns in Sydney and Melbourne but also Thai towns and Japan towns and probably Korean and Vietnamese neighborhoods.  So if you like any of these types of foods, you’re in luck in Australia.

After lunch we hit a couple shops where Heidi returned some clothes, then she led me to Hyde Park, the “Central Park” of Sydney.  It is dominated by St. Mary’s Cathedral, which seemed to be the most massive church I had ever seen.  And I’ve seen a lot of churches.

It’s frustrating that photos cannot capture the scale of things.  I tried including Heidi, and a lamppost, in these two photos to give a sense of scale of the trees, but that didn’t really work.

This is the ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) war memorial.

Next stop: Bondi Beach

How Ya Goin’?

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?