Monday, January 8, 2018

HOW DO I KNOW I'M IN AUSTRALIA?

Koala joey at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Kangaroo Island, Australia
I love going to Australia. Since my first trip in 1983, I have been back five times, including my recent trip in December. Here are some of the things that tell me I have arrived in the land Down Under.
Clocks are five hours earlier and I have lost a day! (In the southern hemisphere winter, the time difference between California and Sydney is seven hours.) The trip across the Pacific crosses the International Date Line. On the way home, we gain a day.
Summer flowers at the Coriole winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia
The seasons are switched. When we arrive in December it is summer Down Under. Flowers are blooming and the temperature is warm.
At noon our shadows point south. While the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west, it arcs to the north in the southern hemisphere.
Late afternoon, looking east toward Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island
At night the stars are upside down. Orion is standing on his head and there is no North Star. Instead, the Southern Cross points to the southern pole star.
Traffic is on the left and drivers sit on the right.  Each time I step off the curb I have to remind myself to look to the right for oncoming traffic.
It helps to be reminded to drive on the left in areas popular with tourists
Kangaroo crossing signs. Yellow signs warning drivers to watch out for wildlife (kangaroos, koalas, wombats and more) are common along highways.
Koala, kangaroo, Cape Barren goose and echidna signs--Kangaroo Island
In our rental car our luggage goes in the boot (trunk) and we fill the gas tank with petrol (gas). Although the language in Australia is English, it is full of British terms that take getting used to, not to mention expressions that are uniquely Australian (such as "putting a shrimp on the barbie.")
Everything is metric–road signs are in kilometers, petrol and milk sold in liters, and meat at the supermarket is in kilograms.
No pennies. It took me a while to remember that when getting change from a purchase, there are no pennies. Although items are sold for 99 cents and other odd amounts, the total is rounded off to the nearest five cents. Pennies were abolished a number of years ago. Over time, the difference evens out.
Electricity is 220. The electric kettle in our hotel room boils water almost instantly. And, all electric outlets have an on/off switch and need an adapter to use the American plugs on our phones, computers, etc.
The first floor of our hotel is actually the second floor, while what we consider the first floor in the U.S. is the ground floor. To get to our room on the 37th floor we take the lift (elevator).
View from our balcony at the Meriton Suites Hotel, Sydney, Australia
No tipping. Restaurant workers are paid good wages and, unlike in the U.S., tipping is not expected. If one does tip, it is typically a small amount.
Our delicious rhubarb meringue dessert at Coriole Winery Restaurant
And as everyone cheerfully says in response to any concern--
No worries!

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