Thursday, May 17, 2012

"AUSSIE WORD OF THE DAY"

G'day mates! In case you haven't gotten enough of me, (I'm joking of course!) I have recently started a fan page for my blog on Facebook. You can find me there..."Yank in Australia". I update it almost every day with my "Aussie Word of the Day". If you "like" my page, you can join in the conversation! We have a blast discussing the current "word of the day" which is sometimes sharing Aussie Slang, Rhyming Slang and sharing things that I find different from life back home. I hope you will join us!



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BELLS BEACH, BABY!


Bells Beach, Rip Curl Pro
The world’s longest running (since 1961)
and most prestigious world tour surfing event

My husband Ashley and I recently returned from our holiday travels. He’s a phys-ed teacher and Athletic Director of a high school and with year-round school in Australia, he gets a 2-week holiday (which Americans call “vacation”) every ten weeks. We had been looking forward to our vacation to Bells Beach for about a year now. In fact, it was exactly one year ago that we had taken our two teenage boys on holiday and traveled home via The Great Ocean Road. As we passed iconic Bells Beach we couldn’t help but notice all the traffic surrounding it. Turns out it’s the venue for the Rip Curl Pro, one of the most sought after titles on the World Championship Tour held every Easter. We turned off the main highway in an attempt to see all the excitement, but the traffic was too thick and we had a schedule to keep in order to get home. With ten hours of driving looming before us, disappointed, we continued on our journey but couldn’t help but think about what it would be like to return some day to see the competition of every surfer’s dream.

A couple of weeks ago, Ashley and I hurriedly packed up our car (without the boys this time), filled up on petrol and gas (our car runs on two fuels which is nice for long road trips) and drove from our home just outside of Adelaide,South Australia to Torquay, Victoria (outside of Melbourne.) We spent over 8 hours in our car driving along 750-plus kilometers (or over 460 miles) of straight highway covered in “bitumen” (pronounced “bich-oo-men” and Americans would call “asphalt”) across wide-open Australian plains, dotted with gum trees and the occasional dead kangaroo on the side of the road! Yes, that's what I said, "dead kangaroo!" Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but kangaroo are to Aussies what deer are to Americans. We love to see them in the wild, but fear hitting one with our car for the damage they cause. We talked about our kids, laughed about the way we pronounce words differently, (did you know that in Australia, “walk” and “fork” rhyme?) And we even made plans on how we would grow our new SendOutCards business in both America and Australia. We have dreams like everyone else does and know this is the vehicle that will finally change everything! We sang along with The Jets and the Beatles…watched “Two and a Half Men” on DVD…well, I watched and Ashley listened! And we never ran out of things to talk about! Life’s great when you’re married to your best friend!

Along the way we passed little tiny towns that if you sneezed, you’d drive right passed and never notice they were there. In fact, there was one small town in particular that totally captured my imagination! It was obviously owned by a guy who loved this little spot on the South Australian map. I mean, this guy’s name was all over the place; he owned everything! His name was on the seed company, the deli, a meat shoppe and pharmacy. He even had the local footy club named after him! It seemed, no matter where you looked, his name was there! I was so impressed; I figured he had to be some millionaire who decided to settle in the middle of nowhere (or as Aussie’s would say, “beyond Whoop Whoop” which is a fictitious place a long way away) simply for the love of being there. He obviously had quite a big heart and a love for this tiny community to support so many businesses that would sustain the livability there. As we drove through, I couldn’t help but wonder who was this guy? Did he grow up there? What kind of a philanthropist must he be? And then it hit me... I saw his name on the hospital and realized Keith wasn’t the name of a guy…it was the name of the town! “Doh!” I guess I was having one of my Homer Simpson moments! Come on, you can’t tell me you’ve never caught yourself thinking something incredibly stupid like this before! At least I have the guts to tell the whole world! “No guts, no glory!” I always say. Well, I don’t always say that, but it sounded good! =)

Remaining grandstands on Bells Beach
We made it to Torquay in one piece and the next day, walked along the Surf Coast Walk from Torquay to Bells Beach and back. Along the way we took in beautiful vistas of crashing waves against rocky headlands below and eventually made our way to Bells and to our disappointment the surfing competition was the week prior! As we arrived, they were still taking down the grand stands. Oh well…next year maybe. It actually turned out to be okay because this way we had the beach all to ourselves taking a leisurely stroll and soaking in the magnificence and the beauty as the roar of the pounding surf on the gritty sand filled my head. About an hour had passed as I stood amazed and hypnotized by the wonder and majesty of it all, taking pictures of every wave. My poor husband just stood around patiently waiting for me to get my fill, knowing how important the ocean is to me. I could easily have stayed there all day just staring at the waves pounding the beach, but even my husband, as willing as he is to make me happy, has his breaking point!





Interesting fact: There is a classic surfing movie called “Point Break” set at Bells Beach. Wikipedia says, “Although the final scene of the film Point Break is set at Bells Beach, the scene was not filmed there. Bells Beach is a straight stretch and the beach in the film is a cove with spruce trees atop a hill. The actual location of the film was a beach called Indian Beach, in Ecola State Park, located in Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA.” Guess where I’m from originally??? If you’re a regular reader of my blog, or happen to know me in person than you definitely guessed it…I’m from Cannon Beach, Oregon! How cool is that?!

Geelong life savers...you'll also need to search for the sailor,
pirates, a brass band, a mail carrier, artist and swimmers!
Not to be deterred, we spent the next week looking around some of the other coastal towns nearby. I especially loved Geelong…such a pretty city nestled in Stingaree Bay at the gateway to the Bellarine Peninsula with their darling, 7-foot-tall, obelisk-like statues dotting the waterfront. We also got our dose of surf culture in Torquay, the birthplace of iconic brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver. Torquay is alsoVictoria's surfing capital where the beach-based culture is at its strongest. We visited SplitPoint Light House at Aireys Inlet and walked around St. Kilda and Luna Park in Melbourne.

Off The Great Ocean Road, Split Point Light House at Aireys Inlet, Victoria
I took this photo. Isn't it pretty?




Another highlight for me was spending a day in Lorne where we not only discovered Erskine Falls but had some close encounters with cockatoos! One thing I have never gotten tired of is seeing cockatoos flying freely in the sky. Back home in the States the only way you see these beautiful birds is behind bars! Never do you get to see them the way God in His infinite wisdom intended…with their large white wings spread open, flying across the bright blue sky. Living in Australia, we get to see cockatoos quite regularly. In fact, Australians are a bit
“ho hum” about them to tell you the truth! They think of them as noisy, messy pests because they squawk loudly  and chew into telephone wires. But to this Yank, all I see is the bird who starred in "Baretta" (starring Robert Blake 1975-1978) and I want to snap pictures wildly, like some paparazzi chasing after a movie star!

Now imagine these are cockatoos staring you down!
So, you know how it is, when you go to the beach and throw bread into the air, how the seagulls all fly in at your feet waiting for their next morsel? Well, in Lorne it’s exactly that with a twist…the cockatoos do it too! My theory is they were trained by the seagulls on how to get a free meal. Now they just have to be taught to say, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” like the seagulls in the Disney film “Finding Nemo”. This scene is actually set in Sydney's Darling Harbour with the iconic Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House in the background. It’s one of my classic all time favorite lines in a movie! Puts a smile on my face and a chuckle in my heart!

So the cockatoos of Lorne are not only beggars but they are in-your-face beggars! Seagulls will at least keep a respectful distance, but the cockatoos have no problems flying right up to people and stealing their lunch out of their hands, as we saw them do while we were there! One older woman...probably in her 70's was feeding them, when they decided to start landing on her! The poor woman had two on her shoulders and one on her head and they were wildly flapping their wings about, messing up her hair. It was reminiscent of the scene in "The Birds" when Tippy Hedron was attacked by seagulls! Needless to say she won't be feeding the birds in Lorne again any time soon!
Costco, Melbourne, Australia...looks like the one back home in Oregon!
Similar menu...except for the prices and the "Aussie Meat Pie"


Before we left Victoria, there was one last thing this Yank had on her Bucket List...as long as we were near Melbourne we had to go shopping at Costco! Oh yeah!!! We don't have a Costco in Adelaide yet, so shopping at the Melbourne location is always a highlight for me. (Yes, I get to use my Costco card from the States!) Last year when we took our boys with us we shopped at Costco and my son Andrew and I ran around like it was Disneyland! We pushed the oh-so-familiar "normal" shopping carts...er, I mean "trolleys" (see my blog posting "What's Wrong with the Trolleys?") up-and-down every aisle and I took pictures as though we were at a memorable tourist attraction! (Well, to me we were!) We laughed and enjoyed every second of it as we ate our Costco hotdogs and sipped on berry smoothies! Ah…that was the life! It was very reminiscent of our American lives that we miss back in the States.

Love the view of Melbourne from Costco!
Well, Ashley and I spent a couple of hours shopping there and $450 later, we finally left! My poor credit card got a huge workout on that visit! The only really…and I mean REALLY disappointing thing about our Costco run is that the food court happened to be closed the exact week we were there for renovations which meant no hot dogs and no berry smoothies! Argh!!!

Well, our trip is over and we have settled back into life as “normal” but the memories of Bells Beach, Costco, over-friendly cockatoos in Lorne and a man named Keith will forever stay in my mind.

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