December 25, 2016
I should mention that we are no longer in Sydney, but have come to Hobart, Tasmania, an Australian island to the southwest of the main island. We came here because it was described as beautiful and remote. Since many of our Australia locals will be more urban, we wanted to get away for a week.
Tasmania is remote and sleepy, with one notable exception. Each year, Hobart bustles with activity during the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race.
When we were booking places to stay, we found it incredibly hard to find a place to stay starting on December 27. We wondered if that reflected a lack of hotel capacity. Remember, we were thinking “sleepy and remote”. Perhaps they have a miniscule amount of capacity and some people were popping over from the big island.
In a way, we were right. People are popping over, but they are coming in droves.
Yes, we are in Hobart during the one-week when it is nothing like sleepy. The race (630 nautical miles in the ocean) started todayin Sydney and the boats will start to arrive in Hobart on the day after tomorrow. The record for the race is roughly 42 hours, with 40 hours being the “holy grail” of times. These people are sailing through the Tasman Sea. Rather than spend too much time describing the Tasman Sea, let me simply say this: I start to get seasick simply by typing the words “Tasman Sea”. It is known for its high waves and higher winds.
This is sailing for the truly serious mariner.
So Tasmania is still sleepy, but that will soon change.
In fact, it is extra sleepy during Christmas and Boxing Day.
Boxing Day seems to be the one tradition that passed to every former English colony except for our own. It is celebrated in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and (of course) England. The origin of the term is unclear. Some say that it represents people giving gifts to the poor using the boxes that their gifts came in. Other sources believe it refers to “Christmas boxes” which are effectively gratuities for servants and people like milkmen or butchers.
This morning (December 26) we were listening to the news when I heard the quintessential Australian sentence, “Today is Boxing Day! Of course, that means the same three things to everyone: shopping (Boxing Day is their “Black Friday”), the Sydnet Hobart Race and test cricket.”
I love hearing this because the words sound like English, but they still makes about as much sense to me as something spoken in Balinese. First, we do not think of the day after Christmas as a shopping day. Second, we had never heard of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race until one week ago. Finally, test cricket does not even makes sense when you watch it. It is certainly not synonomous with the holiday season for us.
That news quote inspires the rest of this blog during which I will share some Aussie lingo for your amusement.
“That is a right proper Bogan ute.” This refers to a car-truck hybrid popular in Australia. If you have ever seen an El Camino, you have seen a Ute.
They are not unlike trucks in the US – popular with tradesman, but also non-laborers as well. “Bogan” translates to “redneck”. So this sentence means, that is a perfect redneck truck.
“Have a bit of a think” means “take a moment to decide”.
“We are working a treat” means “things are easy”.
“A cracker of a day” means “the weather will be beautiful”.
Aussies like to talk, so they have some have some good colloquialisms for that. “Have a bit of a chat” is one. My favorite is “have a good chin-wag”.
We spent part of the day touring Bruny Island, a small island to the southwest of Tasmania. During the summer, the population more than triples. This democraphic challenge requires a serious adjustment to the police force. They double their numbers to 2 people. The rest of the year, the one officer is Justin.
When Justin first met Sam (our tourguide), he shared some advice that strikes me as incredibly Australian.
“Look Sam. You should not speed. But you should definitely not speed here [he points to a spot on the map] because that is my speed trap. But, if you do speed through there, please just wave at me so that I will know it is you.”
You have to love that serious enforcement!
PS The photo I start the article with features our family and two trees names by Captain Cook 240 years ago. Knowing this creates a connection with history that I do not always feel with buildings. When I saw the Roman Coliseum, I had trouble picturing the Romans filling it. But when the shared item is a living thing, it makes me feel like Captain Cook just left a few minutes before we arrived.
PPS I would like to share one additional moment from our Bruny Island tour today that exemplifies two of our family members. To speed our meals, Sam needed to call ahead with our order. When talking to our group of 18, he listed he options:
Sam then went to each of us and asked for our order. After getting Susie’s, Liam’s and mine, he asked Wiley. “Wait – I need to order?!? What are the options? “
Without missing a moment, Terrill repeats the entire list. But wait, she does not say “mushrooms, lamb, salmon, sausage”. Instead, she details each option from memory, “Lamb braised with a red wine reduction sauce serves with arugula and tomatoes” and “pork sausage crafted by a local award-winning chef served with a side salad”.
We have no idea how we have two children who differed so wildly. Terrill is absolutely focused on everything. Wiley is happy to go with the flow – even if that means missing meals. The food ordering experience embodied both.