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i may have to save up for therapy

4 Mar

“God bless America. God save the Queen. God defend New Zealand and thank Christ for Australia.” – Crowe 

I have tried to write this post for many weeks now and I can’t seem to pin point it. Writing about our Australian adventuring is difficult, damn difficult. You see, there were so many characters along the way that made our stay incredible and so many beautiful meals with so many good people. I’m just going to jump in. (You know when I did not jump in? In Australia where the Great Whites swim. Unless I really had to pee and there was no other choice. Please,  you’ve been there, hold that judgement.)

When we arrived in Australia on December 22, we intended to stay for a week or so over the holidays with Lucas’ aunt and uncle. What a joke! We ended up exploring Australia for 8 weeks to the day. We hadn’t planned on his uncle giving us a Honda ST-1100 to explore the west coast with so we changed what little plans we had and we geared up and set out after the holidays.

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Our first stop was in Bunbury and I was excited to get there because Lucas had lived there for almost a year and worked as a bar manager, (only some of you will know how fun Lucas is as a bar manager.. amiright or amiright?). It was here that I learned just how expensive it is to eat in Western Australia. As I walked up the street with Lucas, reading the menus, I silently cursed under my breath trying to find justification to spend 30 dollars on one Indian dish, 30 dollars on pad thai, or even 13 dollars on a ramekin of olives.  You can say it’s the “poor girl” in me, Lucas calls it being “cheap” and I call it being “fiscally responsible.” Finally, we found a turkish bakery that made falafels -18 dollars for two. Done.

The following days were glorious. We stayed at Lucas’ uncle’s neighbour’s farm house, (um, hello and THANK YOU generous, kind people who gave us a home to stay without really knowing us!), we went to my first horse race and went for a 15km walk during a heat warning without enough water. It wasn’t our smartest move by far as we underestimated how much water we would need but for the 6 hours it took us, we got to see some beautiful landscape, discussed our families and future plans, listened to birds that sound just like monkeys and we saw a handful of kangaroos. At one point, we stopped on the trail as three kangaroos passed in front of us. I always laugh when I see them because it’s so silly to see large mammals hop in the forest! Every time I see them I hear “boooing” in my head. You know, the cartoon sound? Literally, in my head, every time.

Farmhouse lovin'.

Farmhouse lovin’.

From the farm house, we made it to Margret River which is where we really wanted to go as it’s the place for wine and for those of you who know, know that I love me some wine! Of course the whole experience couldn’t have been made without the people. The people are what make traveling worth it for me which brings us to L. L allowed Lucas and I to stay at his home while he and his children went on a week’s vacation. We spent the first night together getting to know each other over dinner as he and his children showed us what we would have to do while they were gone; how to feed the chooks, don’t let the dogs eat the baby chooks, how to water the massive gardens and where the river to swim in is.

We learned a shit ton from L. His ability to grow organic vegetables, herbs, use animals like the chooks to heighten the quality of his gardens and how to do it without chemicals blew us away. The bonus was that he looked a bit like Jason Stathem. Can I get a hells yeah from my ladies?

Now Toby, no more eating the baby chooks, got it?

Now Toby, no more eating the baby chooks, got it?

I booked Lucas and I into a wine tour. We were doing our own but it wasn’t as fun for Lucas because he drove the bike so he had to spit some of the tastings out… and ain’t no man of mine is going to waste wine like that. So I booked with Wine for Dudes which was unpretentious, fun, laid back and just a good time. The tour was amazing but that’s not why I’m writing about this; while we were on the tour, we found out that Fat Freddy’s Drop was playing in Pemburton. What an experience. The venue was outside in a small space with trees and a river behind the stage, a little grassy knoll and lots of happy, hippy, beautiful Australians. Right before FFD took the stage I made my way to the front and danced my ass off because you can’t help but move. Fat Freddy’s is the perfect mix between an array of genres. Don’t believe me? You want a taste? Tell me you want a taste.. say it: “Tana, give me a taste of that Fat Freddy’s Drop.” Why didn’t you just say so? Click here, sugar-pants.

From Margaret River we made it down to Albany where we met the one and only P. Interesting, he was. A single man living in a single story farm house that could very well have been in some sort of magazine, I’m sure of it.

Raise your hand, now raise it higher.. now stand up. That was P’s energy all. of. the. time. I was mesmerized by how much energy he had; everything was a party with bubbly wine,  poppers, popping the bubbly, sparkles, loud dance music (“dance party time!” as he liked to call it.) He was happy, welcoming, kind and every girls’ best friend. We loved him. We loved him so much in fact that we stayed with him twice; once on the way to Esperance and again on the way back to Perth. One particular thing: he loves the worms in the Tequila bottles. So much so that he had purchased a bottle that came with extra. He put some on his salad, he put some in shots, he put some right in his mouth. My favourite quote from P? Holding the bottle of Tequila with 29 worms in it: “It’s like a fucking lollipop when you get to my age.” He had me at lollipop.

From P’s we made it to our last stop along the coast to Esperance. We stayed with N and J who are around our age. They just bought this brand new house and in just under a year, N will be travelling the world for about a year. J, her partner doesn’t want to travel at all and so they will go their own ways for that year and see what happens. I think N will be blown away by how different men are around the world. I think the world will pounce on her like a sexy,  cross-cultural tiger, smothering her with knowledge, culture, languages, foods, and a lust for travelling that she will never be able to shake off. I think that she is the perfect person to do a trip like this and I am so excited for her.

They referred to themselves as “bogans” which is the Australian equivalent to my family who are Hillbillies. If you can’t point them out they’re the swearing’-drinkin’-quadin’-shoe wearin’- don’t-you-hug-me-just-pass-over-a-beer-and-my-truck-keys Australian. And it was with them that we went camping for Australian Day.

You know how we, in Canada have Canada day? Everyone has a polite BBQ in the backyard with neighbours and family and we all go home at night? Hm, yeah, not here. We camped for two nights on the beach which was incredible but for the actual holiday,  we four wheeled our asses over sand dunes to a camping ground as they had friends there. When we left our campsite to go to their friends to celebrate Australian Day, everyone was wasted (it was about 3pm so, obviously), but when we arrived, the alcohol consumption grew exponentially and I started to get nervous. I wasn’t drinking. No seriously, I wasn’t. The music was blaring, everyone was swearing and some of the men had drool and drinks running down their chin. One in particular actually, and he was the one who punched a smaller, younger guy in the head and took him by his neck and threw him into the door. Fun, right? I felt so sick to my stomach. What I found most interesting is that, even though the younger guy didn’t do a thing to provoke the bigger guy everyone made the younger guy apologize to the one who punched him. No one told the bigger one that his actions we not ok, that it was unacceptable, that he needed to apologize; not even the next day. It was like everyone looked the other way. Any guy who picks fight with a smaller, younger guy is just a loser. You don’t do that.

Our campsite. No filter. Right?!

Our campsite. No filter. Right?!

I was ready to leave at this point and tried to get things into place but rounding up a bunch of drunk Australian’s is not the easiest thing to organize. People were yelling, the dog went missing, two people went to go get it in different directions. When the dog was finally back in the car, our host came back half an hour later from looking for it and realized that we had it in the car. He looked at me, trying to focus on my face, slowly swaying back and forth. I looked at him, standing in the open door of the driver’s seat and said “I’m just a little nervous because you’re so inebriated.” “Inebriated? What’s that?” “I mean, you’re really, really, really drunk.” “No I’m not. I drive better when I’m like this anyway.”

I would never, in my life, get into a car with a drunk driver and here I was, doing just that. The saving grace is that we had to get back to our camp site over sand dunes which means we have to move slowly most of the time.

Drinking and driving in Australia is accepted in a way it is not in Canada. In Canada, it is an embarrassment to drink and drive and have your family and friends know about it. It’s a social shame. Here, it’s odd not to drink and drive. Earlier, after saying that I was a bit nervous to get in the truck with J, I had one of the girlfriends talk her way through the justification of driving drunk to me. I let her go on, without saying a word and just listened:

“Well, he does seem to drive better after drinking. I know it’s bad, I’ mean it’s not good  to drink and drive but I mean, nothing has ever happened before. I have been with my partner for 10 years who does it and I’m still here. I know it’s bad, but it’s just what they do here. It’s, you know, just the way it is. It’s bad but, it could be worse. You’ll be ok.”

Oh, thank you for that reassurance.

At one point in the night, a man told me that he would like to “ride my quad” and proceeded to bump his groin up against my back side. To give you a picture, he had a mullet (they all did, really), a tank top with multiple stains on it, a drink splashing from his hand, and some food stuck in the corner of his mouth. He had been doing this to pretty much every woman there (except his wife who wasn’t there because she was home with the kids) and Lucas and I looked at each other and smiled with raised eye brows, the “hey!” look. Lucas didn’t have to react in some manner of male dominance, he knows if I was really in trouble or felt uncomfortable, I would let him know but I can handle my shit, ya dig? I took this man’s arms and removed them from the side of my face and stepped aside out of the way of his groin. I smiled and said “If you keep that up there will be a second head going through the door.” The guy followed me and continued to shake his hips at me and with one look he stopped and said “Aw, no, I”m just joking with ya.” I said “that’s fine, just make the joke funny next time.” I didn’t hear from him again. Aw, shucks.

Everything was a bit of a mess from that point, people were yelling at each other, others were trying to leave, others were trying to stay. I got in the truck with Lucas in the hopes that this would be a sign that it’s time to go. I must admit, the group of them were trying to leave, for as drunk as they were. Finally we started going and almost hit a tree before we even left the camp park. Then into the sandy dunes we went. I felt ok when we were going slow; the rocks slowed us down but then I realized that we could flip the car going over them – a slow rollover is still better than hitting something at speed in my books, (funny how your standards change from situation to situation). At one point we were on such an angle that I had to put my foot on the door because I could have stood up.  We had another truck with us driving the rest of the group and J would cut them off, racing them, almost hitting them. I told him that I could be dropped off and that he could come back driving, just drop me off. He wasn’t having any of it – he was having fun.

After a time, we made it  back to our campsite on the beach. Before he had stopped the car, I opened the door and jumped out. He wasn’t going as fast and I wasn’t going to let him kill me… I would do it myself, thank. you. very. much.

Tomorrow Lucas and I fly to Singapore. My time here has flashed before my eyes. You know, it’s all flashing before my eyes very quickly and it makes me a bit sad. I love travelling and will never stop doing it.  I suppose that’s the way it goes though; each moment has to pass by to get to the next moment. Nothing is stagnant, life is always moving forward with time, even if you are not.

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‘stralia!