Cracker by Damian Christie

Things that I learnt on my summer vacation in Australia

In Australia, it’s okay for the Prime Minister to go to the Whitehouse, have a discussion with the President and come out addressing the nation with the phrase “We want Saddam Hussein to get Fair Dinkum!” Bush however, didn’t find it to his liking, apparently getting weighed down by the detail and reasoning of Mr Howard’s speech.

In Australia, marketing is either too easy, or they’re in desperate need of some talented Kiwi ad execs. “When you think of B&D, think of the best garages in Australia!” and “Lipton Black Tea – it’s the technical term for the brown tea you’ve always enjoyed” are true-life examples.

In Australia, in one of the main newspapers they have a section called “The Path to War.” The morning I read it the lead article in that section was “US/Australia free trade agreement proceeding well says P.M.”

In Australia, they have amazing snorkling and scuba diving. 1500 varieties of fish in the Great Barrier Reef alone, as well as some of the most amazing shapes and colours of coral.

The colour from coral is caused by an algae which lives on the coral. This algae can only survive within a narrow temperature band. Warming of the water in recent years, whether caused by global warming or a natural cyclic change has caused much of the algae to die off, resulting in underwater forests of dead white coral. The phenomenon is known as coral bleaching.

Strangely however, this algae has no problem living under your skin when you accidentally cut yourself on the coral while learning to scuba dive. Your hand gets really infected, swells up and you look like a retard.

In Australia, when you scuba dive, you must equalize the pressure in your ears upon your descent, approximately every 1 metre/3 feet. If you don’t, and keep descending, you could perforate your eardrums. The same applies on the ascent to the surface.

If you don’t equalize properly on your ascent, your ears remain blocked for a couple of days. You can’t hear, sound like Helen Keller with a heroin habit and have to talk in sign language. With a swollen hand.

In Australia, there’s a beach called Whitehaven Beach. It has the whitest sand anywhere in the world, due to the fact that it’s composed of 98.9% silica. It reflects the sun really well.

When you land on Whitehaven Beach, it is essential to remember to bring AND APPLY sunscreen, don’t just forget to bring it and leave it in your suitcase, reasoning that the ozone hole isn’t even near Australia and you’re 1/16 Maori or something anyway so it doesn’t matter. YOU WILL GET VERY BURNT.

In Australia, the Queensland town of Airlie Beach has a 1 to 4 male to female ratio, composed almost entirely of tanned early 20-something European backpackers.

In Australia, very few tanned early 20-something European backpackers are interested in a deaf-mute, red-elephantitis-handed, psoriasis-skinned travel writer.

Psoriasis is a serious skin condition affecting 2.6% of the population, most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. It is no laughing matter. Nor is it the name of a Russian space station.

In New Zealand, it’s surprising how interested Customs are in the film canister full of white powder you brought home.

Not so surprising is the difficulty convincing them it’s merely Whitehaven Beach sand, 98.9% silica ‘n’ all, when you’re completely deaf and the only phrase you can sign with your inflamed hand is “Keep Cool til After School”.

Jeez it’s great to be back home.