SO, what's YOUR excuse


Feb 18, 2002


The Bottom Line Over eighty percent is the infamous Outback

Well fair bloody dinkum, have I ever had it with that Peter Smith Bloke. He's always telling us how grouse Australia is but hell - fair suck of the sav, we don't even know what he's talking about half the time.



Hold on, hold on - sorry that's Australian. What I meant was - aren't we all just a little tired of Peter Smith going on about Australia as if it is some good place to visit. Good place to visit! that's crazy! For a start Europe is much closer, it is full of history and there are a lot of people around in case we get lost. Much safer than going to some backwoods place a long way away where they say they speak English but who could ever understand them? At least in Europe there are people that can speak real English.



And Australia is a dangerous place. Huge kangaroos, bears that live in trees, a duck they call a platypus thats poisonous and speaking of poison there are millions of poisonous snakes and spiders just waiting to get us. And how about the American tourist who got eaten by a crocodile! And he says its safe - no way!



Australia has still got the Queen in charge (?), they call the President the Governor General and he doesn't live in a sensible White House - no, he lives in a Yarralumla, whatever that is. And the boss of the country is called a Prime minister - sounds like prime steak.



But it gets worse - Australians don't even go to Church, well hardly any of them so we would probably have to carry a gun to protect ourselves except they won't even let anybody do that! Life must be cheap in Australia.


Now does that sound familiar or a bit over the top?


Maybe it is just partly true or perhaps there are other reasons.


But the fact remains that in the last ten years tourists from Europe have averaged in the region of ten times those from the USA. Now why is this so? One reason could be that several Australian Television programmes are very high rating across Europe and while not travel programmes they do show the Australian lifestyle in quite some detail. These programmes are not shown in the USA.



The nearest television programming I know of shown in the US is the farcically produced so called Australian Survivor series and Steve the Crocodile Hunter. Yes Steve exists and yes he is Australian but his exploits are as typical of average Australians as Evil Knievels are of average Americans.



The high rating Australian Survivor Series in the US gave completely the wrong impression. In fact, so contrived was the story Australians were literally asked to treat it as a comedy by the producer. Australians didn't and here it "died" ratings wise about half way through the series. They had certainly found a unique location, no one having seen it before or since!



Or is there some other reason - I truly don't know but it seems to me Americans are interested in Australia but something stops them visiting in anywhere near the numbers that would relate to Europeans.



Having been to the USA and enjoyed it very much I can say without doubt that at the bottom line the two countries are quite similar. The only thing true in the preamble is the language difference, but we found that quite manageable in most cases. And where we didn't understand we simply said so and no one seemed to object to putting something another way that we could understand. It is the same here.



In fact I only got caught once in anything like an embarrassing way - that was when we rented a car in San Francisco and I was shown the location of the hidden gas pipe. To cut a long story short here gas is gas, that is LPG, Liquefied Petroleum Gas which many cars use and some cars can only use. Little did I know that gas in the USA is petroleum, or simply petrol as we call it. I never did find out what gas, as in LPG, is called.



The truth is that Americans coming here do not find themselves in any difficulty. The cities and countryside around the cities are very similar. We live in similar housing, drive very similar cars (on the opposite side of the road), the same range of accommodation is freely available and the people are similar i.e. predominantly friendly and helpful.



So what is different. For a start in a country very similar in size to the USA, there are only six cities with a population of over a million people, and four of the six are on the east coast. These four are about five hundred miles apart, and it is three thousand miles across to Perth. Therefore things are much more spread out.



The unique wildlife is well spread generally. Koalas are essentially only seen in the wild in the far south east, crocodiles in the far north and wombats mostly thru the southern central area. Kangaroos do roam across most of the country.


Over eighty percent is the infamous Outback, readily accessible from any of the major cities, with Adelaide being the best located.



So distance is much greater depending on how much you want to see. But really thats what makes it a great place to visit - the vastness of not only the Outback but the open spaces just about everywhere.



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