The Good, the Bad, and the Thank-yous – Australia
It’s time again for the final article on the current location, always entitled The Good, the Bad, and the Thank-yous. The location? Well it’s a bit murky as you chose the Big Rum Bottle which is actually in Bundaberg, Australia. There’s not a whole lot to Bundaberg except for the rum distillery, so you got some other “Big” things and a trip in a camper van as a bonus. (I’m all about value for money.) But, as they say, all good things must come to an end so it’s time to stop standing on my head, and leave Australia. First, I’ll tell you what was good and what was not-so-good, as well as thanking those who helped make this location special, or simply made it easier. While travel is my love, it can sure be exhausting doing it long-term, and sometimes you’re given some great advice or a soft place to land. So, without further ado. . .
They speak English! Yeh, I know, I know; so very American. But it does make getting around, meeting people and ordering food easier.
The free camping areas – the best campground I stayed at wasn’t really a campground as much as a rest-stop. These are scattered throughout Australia and, though the bathrooms are basic, they often have lots of picnic tables, some barbecue areas, trees, and larger areas to park or pitch a tent.
The weather – yes, I finally warmed up!
The U.S. Dollar – okay, I know Australians aren’t thrilled about it but their dollar isn’t doing so well against the U.S. Dollar (as of this writing in 9/2013) and, well, it really helped me.
The farm in Thangool – I can’t even. . . (Read about it here).
The people – they really want you to like Australia. No, they’re not as friendly as many of the folks in Vietnam, most of the people in St. John’s Newfoundland, and every person in Ireland, but they do care what you think. And many of them are very polite. They say, “Pardon?” instead of the traditional American, “Huh?” Something that I will now work on. And they seem to not be in so much of a rush and will take the time stop, talk and be polite.
The campgrounds, or holiday parks, or caravan parks – whatever you want to call them, a rose by any other name would smell like a can of sardines as that’s how tightly they shove everyone in. Really Australia, you keep reminding everyone how big you are, yet you shove your campers in so tightly that they can barely see a ray of sunshine in between the campsites.
The prices – thank goodness the Australia Dollar is weak against the U.S. Dollar. It’s all that saved me from living on the street. (Ok, I did live in a van for a while and also with my friends’ parents.)
People wanting me to pick stuff – Whenever I mentioned that this was also an around-the-world job hunt, I was told I could pick something – strawberries, peppers, ginger – or about a sign in the window for a short-order cook. And when I asked about volunteer work, I was told that a hostel was trading free room and board for work. (Inconceivable! This word, “volunteering,” I do not think it means what you think it means.) Australia issues under-thirties work visas and most end up working in fields picking things. They seem to have no concept of a foreign worker who might be older than thirty and who brings a resume (CV) filled with experience.
The shortening and cutesiness of words – please note; this is just personal preference. The Aussies shorten everything and add “ey” or “ie” to the end of the shortened words to make them sound cute. I don’t do it because then it seems like a silly American making fun of them which, honestly, it would be. And while we’re on the subject, to me, the Australian accent sounds like a drunken American attempting to do an English accent. (Boom, just insulted Australians and Americans.)
They don’t understand the concept of under-promising and over-delivering. This is something I learned through many years of working in tourism. Australians seem to work on the over-promise, under-deliver concept. Yes, it’s nice. But they’ll tell you something is a must do/see and, when you do/see it, it tends to be a bit less than you’d expected (note: the Manly Ferry and the seventy-two colors in the sand at Rainbow Beach). Besides my feelings on this, I also heard this from other travelers.
The history – I now understand why Europeans are underwhelmed when they come to America and miss a sense of history. Yes, like Australia, America is a young country. I like to point out the Anasazi, or Ancient Ones, who lived in the desert southwest in America left cliff dwellings and petroglyphs for us to see. Perhaps the Aboriginal Australians have some of the history which can be experienced in central Australia. Around the sides, however, the history comes down to the convicts who inhabited so much of the place (yet their descendants won’t allow me to come work here).
First, a big THANK YOU to those who let me crash at their houses. Janette and Mark (Farmer Jane’s parents) – thanks for allowing me to stay in a comfortable place, taking me to see the Big Rum Bottle and introducing me to Yuki, my real, live teddy bear (okay, he’s a dog, but he sure is cuddly). Thanks to Rosemary in Hervey Bay. I appreciate the stay and the loaner computer. And thanks to Jeanette and Vern in Thangool. I can’t even explain what my stay there meant to me. Your farm is a place of peace and beauty. You welcomed me to your school Christmas party and drove me to the races so I could enjoy a bit of wine (okay, maybe a bit more than a bit) and not get to see what an Australian jail looked like. And you introduced me to your animals and allowed me to give them nicknames (thanks Lampshade, Cher, Colored Girls and White Chicks).
Thank you to the nice bus drivers who understood that I didn’t have small bills and let me ride for free. I learned.
Thanks to Jack, Sue and the students at TAFE in Sydney. Yes, I know Sydney wasn’t part of this vote and was simply an in-between place, but I had such fun meeting you and sharing my experience. I love meeting our next generation of travel and tourism experts. Sue, I wish we lived closer I think we’d have fun hanging out. Jack, my former boss, it was so wonderful to see you again. You still inspire me and I enjoyed our dinners and ferry ride. (Steve Jobs was not saying “Ow!”)
Thank you to the people in the campground who shared meals, good conversation, and even refrigerators. This is what makes camping great.
As always, thank you to you, those who have read about my Australian journey. Heck, those who have read about the journey of the last nine-and-a-half months. You may be wondering about the volunteer opportunity for this vote. Unfortunately, I just never got to it. But, as it’s part of the deal, I’ll be heading back to Akumal, Mexico for a little R&R in a couple of days and will be stopping by the Hekab Be Biblioteca where I previously volunteered (read it here). Oh, and I’ll have an update on what’s next. In the meantime, I give you the budget and the links, all gathered up together. Perhaps you should bookmark this one in case you decide to come here.
Accommodations – $251 – note – camper van rental is listed under transportation category and I stayed with friend’s families many other nights. Much of these expenses are campground fees.
Activities – $87 – There were many more activities to spend my money on but, unfortunately, there was less money available to so them. Here and there DMA is provided with media rates or comps. The actual prices are included in the total here.*
Food and drink – $450 – don’t forget, I stayed with other people and we shared meals.
Transportation – $490 – this includes rental of Van Morrison and fuel.
A grand total of $1278
*Drop Me Anywhere would like to thank Australia Zoo, Bundaberg Rum Distillery and Noosa River and Canal Cruises for their comps in support of travel writers and helping me tell you about my experience. As always, no positive reviews were promised, or given, in exchange for any discounts or comps.
**Airfare is not included because you will, no doubt, be coming from a location other than Sydney.
***The Australian Dollar is currently at about $0.70 of the US Dollar and that helped immensely. If given options of what currency to price things in, try various options and convert them. Sometimes it pays to, well, pay, in a foreign currency.
Food and Drink