JoshuasTravels — Oz

Posts categorized “Oz”.

May 25th 2005

no, not Carmen San Diego

It’s not pretty nor professional, and it won’t win me any awards, but (with or without the ‘www dot’) is now fit for public consumption. When I’m in the southern hemisphere I’m a busy man and basically, this gets the job done. It’s not my best effort, but it’ll do until I get around to redesigning it. Honestly, that’ll prolly be about a year from now. After I finish with the Lucky Country (in a little more than a month), my summer’s gonna fly by. Then it’s school time and the Ranger Challenge starts up. After THAT finishes it’s a mad scramble to catch up on academics. Following some winter break rowdiness and the ‘settling into second-semester blues,’ I can see myself revamping into something more magnificent.

It’ll still be updated ‘whenever I feel like it’, ie once or twice every month or two. You can check whenever you want for semi-smooth access to all 764 digi-pics I’ve posted online since my arrival in the GDU. And all umpteen-million words I’ve written about Australia, America, and myself. Plus I’ve thrown in a little profile, a few top links and some visual aids to help me remember where I’ve been.

For no good reason, I’ve hidden my mate Gundy in the site somewhere. Nobody here in Newcastle has been adventerous enough to even try to find him, but if you’re feeling dangerous, let me know if you locate the Guy From Gundagai. It’s really not that hard.

[edit: I’ve switched things around, the Find-Gundy thing is no longer applicable]


May 20th 2005

The Continuing Adventures Of Me

Because of the time zones, I’m actually in the future. Whatever time you’re reading this, I’m about a day ahead of you. Which means that, for me, 12:01AM Thursday, May 19, 2005 was 24 hours before anybody else’s 12:01AM Thursday, May 19, 2005. Really, what I’m trying to (unsuccessfully) brag about is the fact that I saw Star Wars Episode III waaaay before anybody else did back in the Land of Opportunity.


This is cool for a couple of reasons: the geek (and I say “geek” with love, not hate) Aussies do all the zany stuff American geeks do. I saw plenty of Jedi and a few Sith at the opening. They put a lot of thought into it too – Vader’s belt lit up with these little LEDs, just like in the movies. And two people my age (if that doesn’t put my life in perspective…) put on a whole choreographed lightsaber duel. It was a little too good, if you know what I mean. One would put out his hand, as if he was force-pushing and the other would jump back, as if he’d been force-pushed. They did backflips and one-handed cartwheels (so they could swing the lightsaber with the non-flipping hand) for a display that would’ve made Lucas smile.

Having said that, anybody who needs telling knows by now that Lucas has more than made up for the last two films. So I won’t reiterate the fact that Yoda is the motherloving best thing that’s ever happened to cinema, CGI or not.

‘Nuff said. During ‘my travels across Australia,’ I’ve become privy to a few pretty neat-o Aussie tidbits, some of which I’d like to share. Behold:

Cool Ozfact 1:
A doctor in New Zealand was jailed for fraud after claiming to have done an experiment. When he showed the authorities his workbook, the experiment results were done on loose paper slipped between the pages. The courts said if it’s not written directly into the book, it doesn’t count. He was found guilty and given a pretty harsh sentence.

Cool Ozfact 2:
Harold Holt, the Australian PM in the mid-seventies, liked to go ocean swimming at the Australian equivalent of Camp David. Then one morning he went out for a dip and never came back. I love that the PM of a country only slightly smaller than Russia just up and disappeared. As one newspaper article puts it, “it doesn’t take long to become part of the food chain out there.”

Cool Ozfact 3:
A Yard is a long, long beer glass with about the diameter of a schooner and about as tall as a yard. Bob Hawke, another great Australian PM, was a Rhodes Scholar. But, not as a sitting PM, he also held the world record for fastest yard-chugging, which is exactly what it sounds like. Talk about your Renaissance man.

Cool Ozfact 4:
Australia is the only country in the world to ever use alcohol as the official currency. In the early days, the UK was short of coin and wasn’t about to give any to the convicts, so rum was established as the most common currency by the Governor of the new settlement.

Pretty neat, eh?

Joshua Bueller

May 8th 2005

Sometimes I feel like Larry Darrell…

Before I go any further, I think I’ve figured out the new Truman Index website. Here my last three columns:
One on OzSlang
Two on Health
And three on Harry Potter

There’s a Mandarin tree out in our backyard. They’re just starting to ripen, but Impatient Josh has been eating three a day for about a week now. A few are a little tart, but that’s okay. In the Northwest we’ve got plenty of trees but they’re all evergreen – as the saying goes: “pine trees, pine trees everywhere but not a fruit to pick.” For a kid who grew up in Portland, walking out your door to eat a fruit off your own tree is heaven.

Despite all that, this really wasn’t a good week for the old El Chronicler. I started off the week slicing up my finger pretty bad. It’s a long, stupid story, but basically I was trying to modify a pair of earphones, slipped and cut right through my finger, almost to the nail. It hurt a lot but it’s actually healing up pretty nice. And all my mates marvel at how you can look at it and see all the layers of skin, right down to the pink stuff we assume is meat.

A day after that I forgot about the grill and cooked up my lunch inside. While I was prepping my sausages, I warmed up a little canola oil in the frying pan. Then I dropped the two snags into boiling hot oil and made sure to catch the splash with my wrist. This resulted in third degree burns (of course) and a lot of cursing. I took a picture just a day after. Since the picture it’s started to blister which I suppose is a good thing. But it looks terrible.

Hoping to turn my look around, I went to the Trots. That’s how Aussie’s say Horse Races. So I tried my hand at gambling with some of the blokes and shelias from my Bio class. My Delawarean (from the same city Fight Club is “based” in) housemate Rob went, too. It’s a little odd that a guy from Delaware likes Country music so much, but he’d make any Texan proud.

As we walked out the door for the Trots, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful Portland weather. I grew up in a city that only gets about ten non-overcast days a year and I’m currently living in a country that only gets about ten overcast days a year, so I took it as a good omen. It wasn’t. There were 8 races; we got their in time to bet on 7 of them. I don’t know where I spent it all, but my luck has certainly run out. To keep my money from running out, I kept my bets small (read: don’t worry). I tried betting the sure thing, I tired betting the long shot. I tried hedging my bets; I tried betting along with Mr. Success (Rob). I just couldn’t win. Then: a horse called “Portland Bay.” How could I lose? Portland is the city of my youth, one of few cities I identify with and, among other things, the city I still call home. You can’t get much more certain. But just to be sure, I put $5 on Portland Bay “placing.” That means that if Portland bay took first, second, or third place, I’d make enough money to call the whole day even. Portland Bay came in fourth and I almost cried. It was very upsetting. You know, suddenly I don’t feel like writing any more.

The Fenton
PS- Don’t want this newsletter, please submit a short essay on the influence of Iggy Pop on the Red Hot Chili Peppers. No longer than 3,000 words, no later than 10/10/2005. Or you can e-mail me. Your call.

April 22nd 2005

Idle thoughts from an idle man…

Warning: Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, I gotta write big old honk’n emails

The original plan was to swing up to Singapore or Hong Kong for midterm break. But things never go as planned (it’s US$200 cheaper to fly Portland-Hong Kong than Darwin-Hong Kong, even though Darwin is a fraction of the distance), so I took off for Darwin and Perth. The 1flights were a little long and a little spendy, but worth it. I flew Sydney to Darwin, then Darwin-Sydney-Perth, then Perth-Sydney, crossing the continent three times in total. A bit like flying LA to Dallas, Dallas-LA-NYC, then NYC-LA. It wasn’t pretty.

I only had 9 days of traveling, though, so I had to make ’em count. And I found myself metamorphosing into a true backpacker. The whole house went off traveling and before we all left I found myself doing terrible things (like handing out unsolicited advice) and saying things like “10 days? You’d be crazy to bring more than two shirts.” I mean, I’ll check into hostels and see these tourists – I refuse to call them backpackers – check in with an overstuffed backpack and two overflowing duffel bags and man, that’s just irresponsible, you know? But enough of my whinging, though. I had a blast and I was able to fit a lot of living into those 9 days.

Darwin and the NT is the thinnest chapter in the guidebook, and for good reason. The first thing to know about Darwin is that it’s hot. I’ve been to Florida and that was hot. But we’re talking surface of the sun broiling. And it’s humid, so you can’t really do anything between noon and 4PM. I tried once, after I’d had enough ‘sitting in the air conditioned library and catching up on some light reading’. I walked out the door at 3 and was back inside the library by 3:10. It’s that hot.

The second thing to know about Darwin is its 25% aboriginal. Every other city is pretty much 0.001% aborigine, so it was good to see some of the 400,000 year locals. Granted the aboriginal situation is one of very very few taboo topics in the GDU so I was only able to appreciate the situation internally.

It’s an interesting place, though. Permitted independent government in 1978, Darwin is more an outpost than anything else. A cyclone literally ripped the entire town down in ’74, so it’s all fairly new buildings. There’s no industry really industry or anything. The most efficient way to get products from one part of the NT to another is big old road-trains. Basically they take a super-powered semi, hook three or four trailers to the back of it, and go hauling off into the Bush. I saw a few, and they honestly scare me – there are stories of Kangaroos (which are about the size and structure of a human) getting hit by Road Trains and I won’t say more than that ‘cuz it’s not a happy ending.

But the upside to all the heat is that nobody gets uptight because it’s just too hot to really worry about anything. And it’s tiny, the Ozquivalent of Kirksville, I walked across it in a half hour. Of course, you have to pick the right half hour. Josh the idiot tried to do his little “urban walkabout” during the wrong half hour and almost passed out. A litre of water gone, just like that. When I got to the nearest bus stop, I found three other backpackers waiting to pay $2.40 for ride back downtown, having done the exact same thing I did. We’re funny blokes, we are.

But the NT is pretty much unspoiled by human interaction, so day trips are amazing. I took off for Lichfield, which isn’t as famous as Kakadu, but just as cool. We went on a Jumping Crocodile tour where they bait crocs with meat on a stick, then jerked it out of the water so the Crocs had to jump to catch it. And they did this about two feet away from me. I took 30-odd pics and my last three turned out okay. We also saw some big ‘ol Termite mounds and we went hiking and swimming in some really groovy waterfall pools. A bit of funny dialogue:

Tour Guide: “yup, no crocs here. It’s safe to swim”
Seasoned Aussie: “famous last words”
Rest of the Group: “what?” (followed by absolute silence)

True story: two tourists were eaten last year when a tour guide made a mistake. Speaking of killer crocodiles, the NT Museum had a pretty sweet exhibit on Sweetheart, a 17foot croc that didn’t like outboard motors. For about two years, any boat going down the Sweetheart River would get its motor chomped off – the croc would literally destroy the motor but leave the boat (and the tasty people inside the boat) alone. So the authorities killed it and stuffed it and put in a museum.

Fat Pizza is the funniest thing to happen to Australia since the 1960s when Chicago gangster’s tried (and failed) to muscle their way into the fledging Aussie underground. See the film Dirty Deeds for more info, but basically the mob couldn’t intimate the way-tough Aussies. Back on track, though: Fat Pizza is a sort of sketch comedy TV show (they also made a movie) revolving around a pizzeria and the delivery guys. Two of the main characters, Paulie and Bibo, were doing a bit of stand-up at a Darwin nightclub, but my flight flew out too early and I didn’t get to see them. I figured they might show up early and I might get to cash that karmic check I racked up last trip, but no dice. Bummer for sure. But I did sleep in matresssed beds every night this trip, which should be enough for any man.

So, after my horrible Darwin-Sydney-Perth flights, I was picked up for $0 by my pre-booked hostel. Two hilarious middle-aged sisters picked me up (one worked part time at the hostel for grins). They had pretty wicked back-and-forth: “take Williams street, not 2nd” “noooo, Elizabeth will take us right around” “Love, they’re widening the overpass at Elizabeth. You can’t take it.” “ooh, I hate it when they do construction.” I’m not sure if I can fully express the humor of the situation, but it put a grin on my face.

My first impression of Perth was that it is, indeed, the city of millionaires. They flock to Perth because it basically gives them a third of a continent to themselves. And man o man, you can breathe the air and tell you’re in a city with twice the budget it should have. The trains are newer, the cops fitter, the sidewalks cleaner and there are plenty of little Paris Hiltons running around. And plenty of not-so-little Paris Hiltons, too, if you catch my meaning.

There’s something very rugged and manly about realizing that you’ve only rinsed and re-worn (not changed) you shirt in three days and that you’re in Perth, the most isolated city in the world and you’re on a train for Fremantle to the Freo markets for some cheap foods and a tasty drink and that you’re on the far side of the world, thousands of miles away from even the friends you’ve made in your short time in Oz and tens of thousands of miles from anyone you’ve known more than three months. I liked Perth. Of course, it’s even more rugged and manly when you take out your dorky traveler’s journal (which is really no more than a misused comp book) out of your nerdy day pack to jot thoughts like that down.

Freo was pretty rocking. I walked to the Roadhouse, which is the only civilized place in Australia that you can catch the sun as it sets into the ocean. Of course, when I went to see the sunset it was overcast and there was a bunch of construction equipment in the way. But I got the necessary picture.

I shared my hostel with a few frogs, finally. I don’t want to stereotype anyone (lord knows my American accent gets a few groans), but these Frenchies would turn the room light on at 2AM and talk Paris-talk with full voices across the room to each other really early in the morning like. I didn’t want to hate them, but it’s hard not to. Not to mention their English sucked. I mean sure, my French sucks, but I have been able to wow a few Germans by saying things like Fruhstuck.

I’d like to point out that, while I’ve torn up Australia, I know that I haven’t been out of this first world country and never more than a half hour helicopter flight from a major hospital. Having put that in perspective, I really do feel like Oz has broadened my horizons. Both in little things (Oz culture is incredibly more willing to answer stranger’s questions) and big things (the drinking mentality is a totally 180 degree change; we’re waaay too discouraging, they’re waaay too encouraging). More importantly, though, I’ve traveled and hosteled with the Irish, Israeli, German, Japanese, Finnish, South African, Brazilian, you name it. And it’s not just developed-country people, either. I’m in classes with Papa New Guineans and Ethiopians. Just interacting with them has changed my opinions on some things. It’s been a worthwhile experience.

Switching topics completely, I don’t follow the teachings of Joseph Smith. Or Jesus Christ, for that matter. But a lot of my family does, including my grandpa’s grandpa, Thomas Nelson Fenton. My grandparent’s were kind enough to dig out the records and it turns out old Thom served his mission here back in 1906. So I caught a bus to the nearest LDS church and asked around, realizing too late that my Batman shirt might not have been the best choice of apparel. But I was greeted warmly (far more warmly than expected) and I was able to find traces of Elder Fenton, back when he saw roughly the same thing I saw, 99 years ago. I also ran into some missionaries from good old Portland. Retired, they both taught at schools I swam against, thought not often (Milwaukee and Clackamas). It’s such a small world, but we did the only thing left to do: take a picture.

I also caught a bus to Jutland, the most expensive real estate in Australia. If Perth is the city of millionaires, Jutland is the street of billionaires. I got pictures as close as I could without setting off the alarms (I’d read somewhere about cyberneticly enhanced guard-wombats with razor claws).

And I ate at Fast Eddy’s, a pure 50’s American burger joint. The hamburger was delicious, as were the fires. The shake gets an A for effort, but it would’ve been poured down the drain in any American American dinner worth the name. In conclusion, it was good, but Fast Eddy’s won’t make my top 10 list.

I went to the Casino, too, another famous landmark. I gambled $20 and won $10 on my last bet, so I basically made the rich $10 richer. And I rejoiced, because capitalism still works.

Saving the best for last, Top Guns (that’s me referring to myself in third person, it’s a nickname my Aussie housemate gave me ‘cuz of all the pictures I take in my birthday sunglasses) also went scuba diving. That was great. I couldn’t take any pictures for obvious reasons, but it was just like all those discovery channel specials and resort advertisements. It wasn’t the Great Barrier Reef, because that’s technically only from Cairns to Brissy (on other side of The Lucky Country), but it was a carbon-copy of it. And I didn’t get to swim with Whale sharks, because that’s Nigaloo reed, which is about a 600 miles up the coast from Perth and way out of my means.

But I had a great time. It was in the Indian Ocean, so I could point to different patches of water and pretend to make out the outlines of the coasts of Africa, India, and Antarctica. I keep saying I had a great time, but I guess I have to put that in perspective for you: when I certified and got my scuba license, it was in December, in the hood canal. Nobody knows where that is, so just think ‘Canada.’ Very cold. So cold that, as I walked out of the beach to swap tanks, the local hooligan kids threw snowballs at me. After that, I swore I’d never dive in anything cold enough to warrant a wetsuit.

I did wear a wetsuit, though. Not because it was too cold, but because Australia has more things that can kill you than anywhere else and there are these damnable jellyfish that will ruin your whole week. So I slipped into a 3 mm wetsuit to ensure I remained in my rightful spot at the top of the food chain.

After the dive (which was awesome), my dive buddy invited us all back to her and her husband’s place. I can never say no to an Aussie Barbie, so I found myself having a great time in the Northern Suburbs, eating fresh Lobster (they caught it on the dive) and just shooting the bull with the locals.

So that was my trip, in a nutshell.
(two pretty much back-to-back 10-day solo trips is enough to make any man seem a little strange; a few of these pics reflect that)


PS – This should be my last massive, way-to-long sendout – I’m el finsh’d with traveling, except for a trip to Brissy and one to Alice Springs, and those are just weekend trips. I might go to NZ to ski, but maybe not.

April 5th 2005

11 days, 4 cities, 3 shirts, 349 pictures… 1 helluva an adventure MelbourneAdelaideHobart

Warning: This e-mail, like Lou Ferrigno, is bigger than big. It’s huge.

I’d like to extend a warm thanks to all those who wished me a happy birthday. I’m not really a big believer in the hocus-pocus, but somehow it worked. Your wishes came true and I had a most wonderful Birthday. We went to the beach and played a little sand rugby, which was light hearted, good natured and a heckuva lota fun. Before that, my housemates brought out two delicious chocolate cakes – and they did a bang-up job on the Batman/Superman emblems. As a man who has doodled quite a few of those over the years, I was impressed. Then I got my gifts – a copy of The Australian (a kicking Aussie newspaper), and a sampler of the best root beer in Australia. I also got that pair of $6 Aviator sunnies that are in all the pictures and make me look soroguishly handsome. Or is it handsome rouge?

My Fam also sprung out and got me what didn’t know I needed: a website. So if you’ve got some time, head on over to It’s not much more than a photo-dump (who’s ready to see more pictures of Josh in front of things?) right now, but in time it’ll be the best little website ever. Hopefully I’ll be able to stop clogging up your inbox and you’ll be able to read these very words on the site.

Speaking of the sampler I got, we’re going try something. On my part, I’m going to stop saying what a responsible drinker I am. Sure I have my fun, but at the end of the day I’m about twice as sensible with the ‘ol cough medicine as any twenty year old should be. And on your part, you’re going to promise not to flip out if happen to see any bottles in any of the pictures I post, okay? Groovy.

The concert was awesome. Loved the Jack. His opening acts, G. Love and Special Sauce followed by Xavier Rudd (an Aussie that plays like seven instruments at once, including the dij(eridoo]. And OMG, Jack was awesome. He played for almost two hours and it was great. I almost passed out from excitement when the whole building sang “posters” from his first album. I was about a foot from the stage and maybe eight feet from the man with the guitar. I wasn’t the only one that loved him, either. It took the girls behind me about 40 minutes to take all my feminist, non-objectification-of-women theories back to square one. I wasn’t comfortable hearing half of what they yelled, so I won’t even think about repeating it.

The original plan was to hit up Hobart, Tasmania the day after the concert, but life rolls and you’ve got to roll with it. So the concert ended at midnight and I left for the train to Sydney at 4AM, with no sleep and the Jack still raging through my system. The last couple of pictures in the “birthday_Jack_etc” section are of me, pre-concert. I didn’t take my camera to the concert because that’s just dumb. The picture with the “6” in it is my new door decoration, courtesy of It’s a parody of a public service ad and I love it. Also in that sub-section are pictures of me with my mate’s Cricket bat, pictures of me with another mate in our national-pride shirts, and a picture of me with Emily Hillerman. She’s the only other Trumaner to make it to the southern hemisphere, I dropped her an e-mail and we met up for pizza.

So, after I got off the train in Sydney, I hopped it to the Domestic terminal, where I flew out to Melbourne. Melbourne had a Euro-vibe to it and totally rocked. The Queen Victoria Market’s almost came close to rivaling Portland‘s Saturday Market. I saw the US Consulate (Embassies are technically US soil, so they’re only in capitals. Consulates are basically the same thing), the House of Parliament and the garden where the hung Ned Kelly (the Aussie’s own homegrown Robin Hood). There’s also a picture of me with three girls about my age. The conversation with them went something like this:

Me: “excuse me, could you point me towards Federation Square
Them: “sure <looking at the map>.. [are you] from Canada then?”
“no, no, Los Angeles, actually. And you guys?”
“Unbelievable. I go to Truman [Sate University]”

And it took me about ten minutes to convince them. But in the end, we wound up doing the one thing there was left to do at that point: take a picture.

This is also a good time to illustrate my slow progression toward major cities. Initially, when asked, I’d tell people I’m from Portland, Oregon. It’s a fairly big city (bigger than, say, Troutdale) and I figured most people would know where it was. When they didn’t, I started saying Seattle. And now I’m on LA, except when I say “LA” it sounds a lot like how Aussies pronounce Adelaide (duh-lay). So now I’m on Chicago, but that won’t last. I just know I’ll leave Australia telling people I’m from New York.

So the Fitzroy suburb or Melbourne was pretty rocking and so was Chinatown. The Lt. Collins and Collins streets run parallel and are right next to each other, which I thought merited a picture. Incidentally, all Aussie cities will have an Elizabeth St, no matter how small. Just like all US cities will have a MLK or JFK boulevard, or both.

I also visited a little place called Batman Park, which made the whole semester abroad twice as great. It’s named for John Batman, who discovered the Yarra river and founded Melbourne (the city was initially called “Batmania”), but I like to think that John Batman was named after some rodent. Some rodent that flies. And sometimes, when I’ve had a lot of sugar, I like to think that John Batman might’ve been Bob Kane’s inspiration for creating the Dark Knight.

I got on down to Phillip Island, where every night a whole bunch of penguins come out of the water and onto the land. They were neat-o and looked like a bunch of cockroaches swarming around. I don’t have any pictures because they’re strict about the no-flash, but I did snap a few of the little birds below the walkway and of the animals we saw on the trip down. We saw some crazy animals on the trip down: the coo-coo-burgh-ah, a bird that sounds like the laugh right before the song “Wipeout.” Those little things are hilarious. The Gippsland worms are pretty wack, too.

After three days in Melbourne, I’d decided I’d had enough and high-tailed it to Adelaide. Now there’s a song by Warren Zevon called “Mr. Bad Example.” And in the song, Zevon sings “14 hours later I was down in Adelaide / looking through the want ads, sipping Foster’s in the shade.” I realize that’s a song nobody’s heard of by an artist nobody’s heard of and I don’t think I’m cooler or indie-er than anyone, but Zevon rocks socks.


Anyway, I bet you can guess what I did roughly 14 hours after I touched down. I found a paper, a Foster’s, some shade, and somebody to take the picture. It’s hard to find Foster’s in the Great Down Under, too. When you ask for it, they laugh at you and tell you to try a real Aussie beer, like Victoria Bitter (VB) or Toohey’s. Or they laugh at you and tell you, in the voice they reserve for obnoxious Americans and the mentally disabled, that Foster’s is their export beer because it’s so bad that they make the Kiwis (New Zealanders) drink it.

Saw an Aussie Rules Football game, too. It was the opening game of the season and boy howdee, was that was an experience – the first time I’ve ever seen a busy or rude Australian (he got pretty steamed when I didn’t understand the system of lining up to get into the stadium). I won’t even try to explain it. Gleneg beach, right outside Adelaide, was pretty schweet, too. In conclusion, Adelaide is prolly the place I’d live, if I was Australian. But I won’t try to snag Permanent Residenceship there, because the Australians seem to have a problem recognizing my unalienable right to bear arms. They’ve got some of the strictest gun control laws in the world.

So after Adelaide, I was off to Tasmania. But before that, one sour note: I had a free day Wednesday, where I was stuck in Sydney for about 10 hours. Being the studious person I am, I took off to the library and got some work done, planning to nap in the airport until my early early flight. I returned to the airport, than got kicked out a half hour later when it closed. What kind of first world country has an airport – in its major city, nonetheless- that closes? So I caught the last train to Sydney proper and scrounged for a hostel. I checked seven, and they were all booked. It was Easter weekend, you see. I couldn’t have bought a bed for $200. I thought about bumming it in a park, but I’ve read way to much Batman to be comfortable with sleeping on city streets between 11PM and 3AM, so I took a cab back the airport to see if maybe I could sleep by the doors or something.

Bottom line: after 7 days of frugal backpacking, only paying for what I need and staying hungry, life hit me upside the head with a fairly large cab fare I shouldn’t have paid anyway and a cold, cold night hiding from security, sleeping on the cold asphalt between terminals and the car park. That is not a recipe for a happy Josh. Karma owes me big.

Tassie was pretty sweet though. Hobart was very Oregon-ish; very protective of its great outdoors and very, for lack of a better word, “weird.” I saw Port Arthur, which was the Alcatraz maximum-security prison of Australia and reserved for the baddest of the bad convicts. It was a pretty rough place, but it was also where they started a lot of the “rehabilitation” stuff. It was the first time anyone tried to teach a con a trade so they wouldn’t have to steal, that sort of thing. Smith O’Bryan, an Irish journalist revolutionary lived in a cottage at Port Arthur, too. He was pretty much allowed to do whatever he wanted, except leave. As a self-proclaimed revolutionary journalist myself, I thought that was pretty darn cool. The ride to PA was neat-o, too. We stopped and saw some beautiful parts of Tasmania – Devil’s Kitchen and stuff like that.

It was only a day trip, though. Back in Hobart proper, I ventured out to the carnival-thing “10 Days on The Island” with a few fellow backpackers. There I saw this Hula Girl perform. She must’ve been hula hoping 25 hoops around her stomach, and then she had diagonal ones from both shoulders, still rotating. Then she kicked a leg straight out and hooped there, too. All at the same time, and in a crazy rhythm. It was indescribable and by far the most aswesomest thing I’ve seen in Australia yet.

A friendly word of advice: should you ever run into a Tasmanian, never insinuate that they aren’t part of the mainland. They take moderate offense to that. Finally, it looks like Emelia Udd (one of those women in my life that defies classification – confident, best friend, cohort-in-crime and a list of other descriptors) is the only person who is taking me up on my offer to come visit me in Australia. I won’t end with anything fancy, it’s now 1900 words since I said “thanks for wishing me happy birthday” and I’m sure you’ve got more important things to do.

Josh Van Helsing

PS – Please forgive mistakes, this e-mail was scrunched between assignments. I figured it was better imperfect than never.

let's lose charley