GreenAroundTheGlobe - Part 15

Meet Barney

by Amy on July 19, 2010 · 3 comments

Meet our newest friend, Barney the Koala.

Barney is cute and cuddly.

Barney has his own Facebook page with lots of friends.More than we have for this blog in fact (hint hint…we would appreciate your fan love here!).

Barney also has a thing for the ladies and groping whatever he can get his claws on. But we love him despite his lecherous ways.

Want to get felt up by hold the cutest Koala in Queensland? Barney lives in Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island, Queensland.  For a reasonable fee, you can tour the wildlife preserve and hold Barney or one of his pals along with a python, cockatoo and various other creatures unique to Australia.

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Australianisms

by Amy on July 15, 2010 · 4 comments

After eight months on the road, we both let out a subtle sigh of relief upon landing in our first English speaking country.  How nice, we thought, to have conversations more complex than the requisite Where are you from?  Where are you going? What am I eating? exchange. We’d be able to read street signs and advertisements.  Ask for directions when lost without having to engage in complicated hand rituals. Read labels on items at the grocery store.

For the first few days, our excitement was transformed into delight as our ears were suddenly immersed in the familiar.  We could pick up bits of interesting conversation at the coffee shop, listen to the radio news reports and easily navigate our way around.

But then slowly, words that seemed familiar but not quite comprehendible began creeping up around us.

GFC?
Cracker?
Esky?

While Australia sounds like an English speaking country, and technically it is an English speaking country, to our American ears, it’s not quite the English that we were used to.  Australians abbreviate EVERYTHING.  I’m not sure how they evolved to be the most linguistically lazy people on the planet, but it seems that nothing and no one in Australia is called by its/their full name. The GFC that we kept hearing about on television ads against the newly proposed mining tax?  That would be the Global Financial Crisis, Australians’ catch phrase for the worldwide economic recession. A tour guide named Shazza? Her birth certificate says Sharon but no one has ever called her by her given name. Not even her mother.

So here for your amusement (or in case you ever find yourself struggling to understand what an Aussie is saying to you) are a few of our favorite Australian words and phrases, translated for your American English ears:

  • How ya’ going? = How are you?
  • Love/Mate = Mr./Mrs.
  • Bikkie = biscuit = cookie
  • Iced Coffee = ice cream coffee float
  • Reckon = I guess
  • GFC = Global Financial Crisis
  • Capsicum = bell pepper
  • Beautiful (adjective applied to food) = delicious or good
  • Footie = Australian Rules Football
  • Cracker = great, wonderful, fantastic
  • Esky = cooler
  • Joey = baby kangaroo
  • Rego = car registration
  • Ute = utility truck. Sort of like a 1970s low rider pick up.
  • Zebra Crossing = pedestrian crossing
  • Mozzie = mosquito

What are your favorite Australianisms (or other isms from the many English speaking countries around the world)?  Share in the comments below.

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Since getting my PADI scuba certification back in November when we were in Dahab, Egypt, I had completed 21 dives before arriving in Cairns, Australia in June.  I was fortunate to dive on beautiful reefs in many countries during those 7 months, including: Thailand, Vietnam, Bali and the Gili Islands.  However, due to her many ear infections when she was little, Amy is relegated to snorkeling while I scuba dive.  Sometimes, like in the Red Sea, this arrangement worked out great.  There was good visibility, calm seas, and plenty of shallow coral and fish for Amy to see snorkeling while I dove.  Other times, like in Thailand off of Koh Tao, the sea was rough, currents were strong, visibility was low and most of the reefs were 10 meters (33 feet) or deeper.  These conditions make finding trips that work for both of us more difficult.

While doing my research on day trips to see the Great Barrier Reef I was looking for a company that would be able to provide a great experience for both of us.  After looking into numerous options, I am very happy we went with Ocean Free.  The boat was an excellent choice.  The small group and beautiful sailboat provided a relaxing and luxurious first experience for both of us out to the Great Barrier Reef.  The trip to Green Island from Cairns got under way at 8am and we were offered fresh coffee and muffins as soon as we stepped on board.  As we motored out of the harbor I was introduced to my dive instructor and Amy met her fellow snorkelers.  The 14-person group on the boat that day was about 2/3 snorkelers and 1/3 divers.

Once we arrived to the anchorage point off Green Island I went on one of two dives for the day.  While the reef was not the most spectacular I had seen (that title remains with the Red Sea) it was colorful with lots of marine life.  And after the dive I was able to drop my scuba equipment on the boat and jump in to snorkel with Amy before lunch and snap these pictures.

After a delicious lunch on board the boat, the captain ran us over to Green Island in the dingy so that we could take an hour and walk on the nearly deserted beautiful white sand beaches.   We finished the afternoon with another snorkel and dive before starting the trip back to Cairns.

Perhaps the best part of the trip with Ocean Free was the sail back.  Since the wind was with us we were able to hoist the sails, kill the engine and peacefully cut through the small waves rolling across the blue water of the Coral Sea.  All the while being offered wine, cheese and fruit as we chatted and lounged with our fellow tourists with the sun sinking ever lower on the horizon.

My decision to go on the Ocean Free was reinforced the next day when I went alone on a high speed catamaran for three additional dives.  While the diving was great, the location was not ideal for snorkeling.  Many of the best sea life and coral was too deep for the 60 or so snorkelers that made up the majority of the nearly 100 people on board this much larger boat.  And while the high speed, larger boats offer divers a better chance to see sections of the reef that are further from Cairns, the Ocean Free was a trip we both could enjoy.

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