Guest blog – He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich

[Hey folks – here’s another guest blog, this time from Lisa’s friend and colleague, Dr. John Budd, who has been visiting from Missouri, USA. We’ve used his trip as an excuse to visit some of our favourite haunts and to explore a bit, too. Enjoy!]

Here I am in Australia—or Oz, as the natives call it. I’m now accustomed to being upside down, so my equilibrium is as effective as it ever was. The trip (the lllooonnggg trip) started from St. Louis, but the Los Angeles to Sydney leg was the brutal one. As we crossed the International Date Line the Qantas crew revealed their brand new uniforms, to thunderous acclaim (among those of us who were awake). Actually, Qantas did a fine job all along the way.

Nice new uniforms for the crew!

Nice new uniforms for the crew!

The first stop was Adelaide, where I was officially hosted by the University of South Australia (UniSA), but really hosted by Diane and Rich Velasquez. And fine hosts they were. They took me, first, to the Cleland Reserve where I had the opportunity to feed kangaroos and wallabies by hand. Precocious little critters they were, too, coming right up to me to get the food. We also saw koalas and a couple of Tasmanian devils. Funny, they didn’t look at all like the animals that go after Bugs Bunny. We next took a tour of the Barossa wine region—a lovely setting where there are literally hundreds of wine growers and a number of wineries. We agreed that a boutique winery—Gibson—had our favorite wines. The last stop was Seppelts, which specializes in tawny (or port). I’d never tried port before, but theirs is a very smooth and tasty concoction.

Are Tassie Devils cute?

Are Tassie Devils cute?

On to Sydney next for a few days, on my own, at a great place, Sebel Pier One Hotel, right at Dawes Point on the bay. I had time to take in the Aquarium and Taronga Zoo, which is gorgeously situated. A treat was taking the Harbor Ferry from Circular Quay to get to the Zoo. That afforded a perfect view of the Opera House and the ANZAC Bridge. Plus, I took time to wander around the Sydney Central Business District (Australian for “downtown”). It was a genuinely pleasant get-away, and an interlude between the two major stops.

Wagga CBD - where you can shop till you drop (or until everything closes early, most days)

Wagga CBD – where you can shop till you drop (or until everything closes early; except late shopping night, on Thursdays)

Next, to Wagga Wagga (called, simply, Wagga), Charles Sturt University, and visiting Lisa and Dan Given. I learned first-hand that Dan is a superior cook—very creative, and managing to make dishes that are actually healthy. I’m considering hiring him as my personal chef, but I don’t think I can afford him. You can see from Lisa’s last blog post that we went on a mission to stalk the wild koala. Check out Dan’s photos; we really did see koalas in the wild (plus cockatoos and a kookaburra). Lisa has been kind enough to show me around downtown Wagga, which reminds me a bit of Midwestern downtowns. The people are super friendly. I managed to give my Smithsonian ball cap to a shop person where Lisa was shopping, so she declared Lisa a “special customer” and reduced the price of her purchase. BTW, Lisa also got some shoes to die for; if you’re lucky, you may see them some day.

Yipes - is that what people in Tumbarumba look like? Hope not...

Yipes – is this what people in Tumbarumba look like? Hope not…

Kim Thompson drove us to Tumbarumba (which I can’t help but call Chumbawamba), and we saw Paddy’s River Falls, which was a real treat. And then we traveled on to Paddy’s River Dam, and were reminded that an Australian “dam” is really a pond, not a structure controlling water flow. But there was a nice trail around it. After the Tumbarumba Shire (yes, Shire), we entered to Tumut Shire and wandered around there. Kim was a real sport driving us all over the territory.

I’ve also been busy with work the past two weeks. I’ve been meeting with doctoral students and holding one-on-one meetings with students and faculty. I really enjoy making these kinds of connections, so I’ve looked forward to meeting everyone and sharing my (ahem) expertise. I did a scary scholarly communication presentation on the 13th  that had people quaking in their boots (or at least their “thongs,” which Australians call flip-flops).

Gee, who would want to miss all this?

Gee, who would want to miss all this?

Everything has been a genuine pleasure—especially staying with Diane and Rich and with Lisa and Dan. They’re the most gracious and generous hosts anyone could imagine. I’ll be returning home on Jan. 15, which will give me time to re-acquaint myself with my wonderful cat, Bitsy, do some laundry, and then prepare for the ALISE and ALA Midwinter Meetings in Philadelphia. While the temperature has been mostly ideal here (usually in the 80s F), I’m missing (but not much) lows in Columbia approaching -20 F. Alas, I’ll be back into frigid winter soon, but no one can take this great trip away from me. If you have the chance, travel Down Under; you definitely won’t regret it.

About waggadventure

Canadians newly relocated to Australia.
This entry was posted in cultural differences, Riverina, small town culture, visitors, wagga wagga, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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