Australians – as I suggested in an earlier blog, have a certain way with words (avo=afternoon, for example.)
They have similar affinity with phrases – some you will know :
no problem / g’day / that’d be right / bloody oath! / beyond the black stump.
You get the drift…….
One of my favourites though, is “it’s all good” = people use it to mean “that’s OK, everything’s OK, cool , even No Problem.
Sad to say that insidious (and invidious) multi-outlet burger monster, the yellow arses (McDumpsville) has taken the phrase and tags it onto the end of their latest product launch. So we shall have to stop using it I suppose……
I hadn’t planned a whinge (!) so moving rapidly on to say I am quite living the Life at the moment.
An old friend of my older brother Sean lives here and Lisa, her partner and family took me out on Sunday. For a little spin around the Harbour – picking me up from my local Pier – this is how we do it here!
And mine hostess – in the Galley!
There are 4 sizeable bunks in the fore cabin – and shower room. Liza and David have a double bunk, with their own en-suite shower room! All mod cons, sat-nav and more.
We had a leisurely cruise down the Harbour – under the bridge (of course) but stopped en route (as you do) at Sydney Markets to pick up some fish and the most enormous prawns I have ever seen – I promise. We ate those after mooring up in one of the little bays that surround central Sydney. I was home in time for tea after we explored some way up another of the many rivers that feed into Sydney Harbour.
I was struck later this week – on another trip – by how extraordinary it must have been for the first explorers here (Captain Cook, and then the First Fleet etc) when they came in through the gap in the hills and found themselves in what we now call Sydney – initially it was called Port Jackson. Even today you can get a flavour of that first sighting as parts of this huge harbour have been left quite untouched. Here’s a shot or two taken from the Manly Ferry. That’s not a description of the crew, incidentally (though they usually are!) but an outlying town across the bay from Sydney; Manly sits across a spit of land with the Ocean and one end and the Bay at the other and you can walk from one end to the other in about ten minutes.
If you squint you can even see a tiny yellow beach centre right!!
Mind you, if you looked right and behind this little hill ::::::
There’s the City and the Harbour laid out across the horizon.
Manly once had a well known – and somewhat disreputable artists colony – consisting largely of writers (mostly poets, as it happened) which caught my attention. As did a somewhat derisive poem addressed to the township from one of the more successful poets. Here’s a snapshot which I hope will be legible.
I hope it isn’t too hard to read; you get the bonus of my fingers in shadow at the bottom. Will I ever manage the technology that taking a photo requires? I doubt it……
I also took a trip up-river (past where I am staying) to a town called Parramatta which has early buildings to rival the oldest in Sydney. It owes its existence to being inland and easily reachable by the river. Having established the colony in Jan 1788, the earliest arrivals realised very soon that the local land would not support crops and – fearing starvation – they searched for more fertile land up-river and found it at Parramatta, establishing the town there in November 1788.
Its climate and accessibility made it a popular early choice for Governors (and their wives) and some of the earliest farm experiments and government buildings are still there. Sadly the town itself has grown in a rather disorganised fashion and now hides any quaintness it may have had with a rather boring centre of uninteresting offices and shops.
Though it was extraordinary of learn of one Convict (transported here for 7 years) who was working for the Governor in Sydney and who was moved to Parramatta when his gardening gifts were recognised. He was given a few acres, some animals and other support (and got married), with the proviso that they prove a man and family could be self-sufficient. Suffice to say they did, in less than two years, and were rewarded with further land etc. Eventually, having made a good living, they sold up and bought a larger farm further up-country and retired quite rich. I couldn’t help but reflect on a life that (back home) might have continued in criminality and maybe the gallows, but which, in this colony at least, gave him a true opportunity for a new and successful life. I hope there were many more like him……
But Sydney – and the country around – is moving into Spring now (another reason not to rush back home!) and as the days get warmer, the beaches and bushland will get ever busier. I met with an ex-UK colleague (she now lives in Melbourne and Dubai) who said that the best reason for living in Australia was the sensible work / life balance and – though I could hardly say I am “working”, I do observe that little has changed in that respect since I first visited here (in 1985).
I interpret people’s attitude to work as being the means to fund people’s social life, family and friends and so on.
Work does not wholly seem to overwhelm lives quite as much as it appears to in the UK. Feel free to disagree, of course; it may just be that I’ve become such a non-worker I have completely lost the plot!!
I am off again tomorrow with a friend here who is driving us 2/3 hours up the coast to what remains of a small sea-side community off the beaten track. Like a lot of country places, it is threatened by the growing mining industry here – many small towns, villages and even homesteads are suffering from the boom in mining (for iron and other minerals) or gas from coal seams which is also widespread. The coming years, as a result, will bring huge financial bonuses here – but some fear it comes at the expense of land-destruction and that once the mining moves along, it will leave areas depopulated and poorer. Though central government (Canberra) seems to favour the $$$ it sees to balance books – especially from China, which will buy almost anything mineral, ore and gas to feed its own booming economy. There is almost no trading deficit here – at least at Federal level. Individual states are not much worse off.
Imagine if we could say in the UK that in 10 years or so, there would be NO government need to support the ageing population! Because of an insistence on private pension / health cover that has been going on for many years (they call it “Super” – short for Superannuation – and it has been compulsory), the population should be self-sufficient as it retires. Add to that the booming billions from the industries I mentioned above and the coming years should be very good for Australia.
Unless the politicians manage to turn such a success into a disaster – we shall see……