This photo was taken yesterday from our backyard…literally. Although I’m a Canadian on a permanent mission to avoid winter, I’ve done a pretty crappy job of it. After summer in western Canada, I spent my first traveling winter in Hawaii. Now that was hardly a tough winter to endure – the only drawback to winter […]
I lived in Australia on and off for about a year and a half. Although I had a home base near Melbourne, I covered a TON of territory, including all of the epic train rides like The Ghan and the Indian Pacific.
Happy Winter! Happy Anniversary! Two cool (one of them literally so) things happened this week: Winter started in Australia We have reached the one-year milestone of our Aussie adventures! A year ago when we arrived in Australia, winter had begun but we were none the wiser: we enjoyed a few days in Cairns before heading […]
We’re fast approaching the 1-year anniversary of our arrival in Australia. And in the course of our Aussie adventures, some of the local customs, slang, and other characteristics are slowly permeating my daily way of life that’s finding me turning into an Aussie. Here are a few: G’Day Mate My friends have become “mates”. No, this […]
Monday May 18th2009, is a momentous day in my life: I am officially a published author! Whoopee! Having written about personal finance, travel, life hacks, and personal tips for Wise Bread for almost 2 years now, I have been impressed with how the creators of this site were always forward-thinking. So when they approached me […]
As I was inhaling another Australian-style burger the other day, I realized I was eating a burger that nobody in North America (and other places for that matter) had ever seen the likes of. In explaining to some folks at home in Canada how Australians prefer to eat their burgers, the awed silence on the […]
Is there an organization out there to help people who are addicted to the Internet? If not, then I’m sure one will prevail before long. At least I hope so. I always figured that people addicted to the internet were either losers or office workers with way too much time on their hands. (And yes, […]
Australians in general are a fairly cordial and friendly people. This is especially prevalent in the rural countryside, and even extends to the friendly police force, out to keep the peace and do their jobs. So I guess I should have expected that with such a friendly disposition in the country, the friendly police force […]
I was racked with indecision the other day. It was something ultimately trivial, but something that had me flummoxed nonetheless. “I just want a burning bush to show me what to do. Is that so much to ask?” I said in frustration. Be careful what you ask for.
Having recently survived Easter Down Under here in Australia, I continue to marvel at the little differences that exist between two strikingly similar countries – Canada and Australia. Although traveling in countries where the native language is the same as our own seems a little bit like “cheating”, there is a lot to be learned […]
“Okay, ready to rappel – I mean abseil,” I say as I prepare to descend a small cliff near the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. “That’s okay, say rappel. It’s nice to talk to somebody who actually knows what rappelling is and doesn’t call me a Yank for it,” says Chris, our climbing and rappelling (I […]
The mission: To climb Australia’s highest mountain, Mountt Kosciuszko (pronounced kahz-ee-ahz-koh) at 2,228 meters above sea level. The highest peak on the continent. A feat for anybody aiming to climb the highest peaks on each continent. A real notch for the climbing belt, if you ask me. (Sshhh….don’t tell anybody that there’s a chairlift that […]
After being home for a few days in the wake of a month-long evacuation due to the Victorian bush fires, we hear/smell/feel/see something that makes our hearts sing: rain. It pours overnight, and drizzles through the next few days. Although naysayers worry about erosion and the negative long-term restorative effects of too much rain, we […]
Anthony Bourdain has long been my hero. So imagine my distress when I learned that he was in the very same small town in Australia as I – and I didn’t know.
Home, Sweet Home Tuesday, February 24, 2009 – DAY EIGHTEEN Home, Sweet Home After an extremely hesitant but positive response from a local authority that we could return home but must remain vigilant about the fires that are almost too close for comfort, we return home.
Enjoying the ocean, and a different kind of fire… Friday-Sunday, February 20-22, 2009 – DAYS FOURTEEN to SIXTEEN Too many “last straws” have come and gone…we need a rest. My own small break in taking a trip to Melbourne was not exactly restful, and Kelly has worked two full weeks in a highly-charged environment with […]
Thursday, February 19th, 2009 – DAY THIRTEEN It seems like every night I sleep somewhere else. I wake up in the middle of the night – as I do, to pee – and have to re-orient myself before trying to get up. I struggle to remember where I am, how I am oriented (is the […]
Although this image of charred ground may not look dramatic, you may think differently if you knew what it looked like before. Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 – DAY TWELVE The pleasant distractions of last night end when I cough and sputter my way into reality from a solid sleep; the smoke is thick and full. […]
In addition to the hundreds of pumper trucks coming in and out of the Alexandra staging area, armoured personnel carriers are now part of the flotilla. These guys are serious. Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 – DAY ELEVEN Apparently we are not the only ones living out of our car…we pile our belongings into the car […]
There are over 400 tents pitched at the showgrounds, with over 600 emergency workers sleeping in shifts. (And this is not the only base camp established in the area). That’s allotta fire fighting going on. Monday, February 16th: DAY TEN As we pull up to the DSE/CFA base camp in Alexandra for breakfast, I see […]
A panorama of our smoky “stomping grounds” in Rubicon… Sunday, February 15th, 2009 – DAY NINE 8:00am Waking up in and living with smoke takes a toll over time. Your head constantly feels foggy, keeping headaches tenuously at bay. Your throat is raspy, sore, and dry, except for that little chunk of mucus in the […]
Saturday, February 14th, 2009 – DAY EIGHT Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air….or is that smoke? The situation at the relief donations warehouse is out of control. We receive countless truckloads of generous donations, and despite requests to the contrary, lots of it is still used. Gently used clothing is one thing; bleach […]
One of the warehouses, filled and getting fuller with each truckload of donated goods… Friday, February 13th, 2009 – DAY SEVEN Dreaded Friday the 13th. Not only are there superstitious connotations to this ominous day, but it also marks the 70-year anniversary of the 1939 bush fires that devastated this very area. In fact, it […]
Thursday, February 12th, 2009 – DAY SIX 12:20am We have accepted the generous hospitality of some friends who happen to have two dogs and a cat. Although the animals spend very little time in the house, I go to bed to an awful allergy-induced asthma attack. And where is my inhaler? At the home we […]
One of the many trucks of donations being unloaded at the warehouse for sorting and distribution to those affected by the bush fires. Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 – DAY FIVE 7:00am We are heading back to the show grounds for another real meal to start off our busy day at the […]
Kelly sporting a pair of pants donated for bush fire relief…exactly who will benefit from them remains to be seen! Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 – DAY FOUR 7:10am I sleep like a log on the floor of a back room at the local pub in Alexandra. It is amazing how we […]
An exhausted SES (Special Emergency Services) volunteer tries to call home. Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Monday, February 9th, 2009 – DAY THREE 8:25am We sleep solidly, despite lightning in the area (a big risk for additional fires). I snap awake with a start, with very little transition between my peaceful dreams and the stark reality […]
Looking directly at the sun is no problem with the smoke as thick as it is. Victorian Bush Fire Diary: Sunday, February 10th, 2009 7:00am We receive a text message from Melbourne that they are getting heavy rains. They sadly have not come yet here in Mansfield or any other affected area. Taggerty held off […]
The Victorian Bush Fire Diary commences: It’s so hot today, even the candelabra has melted. Saturday, February 7th, 2009 We are prepared for a forecasted day of dense sweltering heat. Temperatures in excess of 48 degrees are on tap. Although I love the heat, I am also keenly aware that with forecasted winds of 100 […]
I got what I asked for, in spades. Heat, heat, and even more…heat.
A question asked of me recently by a reader, and possibly especially pertinent now that we are looking at staying in Australia or even longer, may be: “Do we still consider ourselves to be travelers?” You may wonder how I can satisfy the title of The Professional Hobo if I am in essence “settling down” […]
I would say that our time in Australia is coming to an end and that it is time to move on. But that would be a lie. In fact, quite the opposite: our time in Australia is not coming to an end. But it is still time to move on. Let me explain.
The meaning of “Fair Dinkum” in Australia is elusive at best. Here is what I learned, along with a whole collection of input from readers.
The air is heavy (but not humid) as I step outside from the cool respite of our practically-air-conditioned-it’s-so-cold cottage. I walk into the sunshine, and even at 3pm I immediately feel its rays burning through the first few layers of my skin. Even a breeze on this calm day is too much, creating a sense […]
Kelly has a thing about chili: He figures he makes the best chili, and that’s that. I guess we are all fond of our own chili the most. (It is kind of like being fond of your own farts the most…also a topic closely linked to chili. Hopefully unlike your own farts though, other people […]
Pumpkin Pie…in Australia? Australians love their pumpkin. As part of a standard “meat and three veg” meal, a slice of roasted pumpkin is often tastefully and deliciously included. Go to the supermarket, and you will likely find at least three different varieties of pumpkin, such as butternut squash, Japanese pumpkin (very yummy), and grey pumpkin. […]
Further to my pre-Christmas rant about not having a white Christmas, nor feeling much of the Christmas spirit at all, I felt it only fair to follow up my Scrooge-esque premonitions with a dose of what my Christmas reality looked like. I like warm Christmases!
“You must have a little veggie patch at your place, don’t you? Everybody does,” said one Aussie fellow to me when speaking about the Australian agriculture industry. “Chuck just about anything in the ground, it grows here,” were his wise words to me that day. As it happened, I had indeed just planted some seedlings […]
Christmas in the Australian countryside is markedly different to the Christmasses I grew up with in Toronto. Here are some of the differences.
First off, who the heck is Wilson, why am I at his prom, what on earth is a rosella, and why is it on my freaking head?! Never fear, it will all make sense.
After meeting Bracken our horny and insatiable kangaroo, and feeding the beautiful king parrots here at Kingbilli, we knew we were in the perfect place to become acquainted with native Australian wildlife in ways that most people – even Australians – don’t have a chance to. Such are the benefits of living on a property […]
Your dog just died. “She’ll be right mate,” is the sympathetic response of your Australian friend. Climate change is upon us. The whole country, and in particular the state of Victoria has endured over a decade of drought. “She’ll be right mate,” replies an Aussie as they seem to shrug off an evident problem. You […]
Four seasons in a day? Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I always figured that Australians in general tend to exaggerate. The water levels can’t really be that low can they? (Actually yes: a huge nearby lake is at 23% capacity – 75 feet below its full level – due to more than a […]
Australians and arachnophobes alike will know what I’m talking about here. Despite learning the hard way the punch a centipede bite can pack, seeing snakes slither in Springbrook, and discovering the Australian Huntsman taking over our microwave, we have become somewhat complacent about the dangers that abound here in Australia. We have had so many […]
Yes, one little recipe can do it all! My hero, Jamie Oliver, was the one to show us this little number, although he uses it soley for pizza crusts. Once I got over my fear of using yeast in recipes, I embraced this one fully. It makes a huge amount, which is good because it’s […]
There are two specific sports in Australia, the culmination of which grind many places to a total halt, in some cases warranting an all out public holiday: the Melbourne Cup (a horse race, yes a horse race), and the recently held AFL Grand Final. AFL, which stands for Australian (Rules) Football League, is a […]
Local Australians tend to view the copious King Parrots with varying degrees of enthusiasm or converse nonchalance. Some people are quite interested to observe them when they land on a stair banister close by. Others don’t even bother to give them a second glance. Either way, nobody can deny that King Parrots are gorgeous birds […]
With a giant hole in the ozone layer above Australia, there is an entirely different approach to spending time in the great outdoors here. One in three people suffers a bout with skin cancer, and evidence of it is common; I see many a reconstructed nose, bits of ears missing, or grafted skin on various […]
Eek! The Australian Huntsman. Over the last few months, I have managed to convince myself that there really aren’t an abundance of spiders and snakes here. Having heard from abroad about the proliferance (proliferance [proh-li-fer-ants]: derivative of prolific, meaning in abundance – I really wish that were a word; it makes sense to me) of […]
Can’t decide if you’re a city person or a country person? Here’s an unbiased analysis of the pros and cons of city live vs country life, after having lived extensively in both. Enjoy!
At 5:30pm, Georgie (the young and beautiful owner of Kingbilli) knocks on our door. “Any chance you guys would like to help me wrestle a koala out of a tree in Alex?” No sooner than the words are out of her mouth are our dinner plans put on hold, our shoes are on, and we […]