Lessons Learned & Memories Made on the Oz Roadtrip

Home Sweet Home

After nearly two months on the road, HeatherAdam & I knew the Oz Roadtrip was quickly coming to a close.  We hadn’t seen it all, but we’d seen quite a bit & it was time to head back east.  While I’ve already written about most of the highlights of our trip in my previous posts, I couldn’t resist one more reflection on some of the smaller moments that made this trip such a memorable experience for me.

ON CAMPING:

  • As it turns out, empty tents that are not pegged down have a silly habit of blowing away . . . *Oops!*  Thank you Mr. Caravan Park Owner who (begrudgingly) chased it down & stored it in a shed until we returned from our day out . . . Imagine our surprise (& embarrassment) when we “rocked up” (Aussie lingo for “arrived”) to our campsite & realized it wasn’t quite where we had left it. 0:-)
  • Pitching a tent on concrete can actually be more comfortable than pitching it on grass or dirt, namely when the ground is sloped, rocky, or has a well hidden sprinkler system that rudely awakens you to monsoon-like conditions at 5:30 a.m.  ‘Nuff said. 😉
  • It’s amazing how adaptable one can be to living the life of a vagabond.  I wasn’t quite sure how I would fare with constant travel for weeks on end, sleeping in a tent on the cold, hard ground (haha – little did I realize then how luxurious it was to actually have the “walls” of a tent to protect me from the elements . . . I would soon find out during my 7-day “Desert Patrol” tour with Groovy Grape, which I plan to write about in an upcoming post).  Honestly, though, traveling became such a normal part of my life for those two months that I found myself referring to “home” as wherever we made camp for the night.  In fact, I once almost caught myself referring to the tent as my “apartment” – how crazy is that?!
ON FOOD & DRINK:
  • I think it was around day two of our trip when Adam offered me some cereal he had packed from home.  I took a quick look at the label on the container & the bits of what I now know to be dried fruit & immediately remarked “Australians eat beets in their cereal?!”  Those who know me well will not be surprised that I can be so gullible.  Just for the record, no, Aussies definitively do *not* eat dried beets in their cereal (Thank goodness!  Although beets do appear on menus here with more frequency than I’ve seen in the States).  In any event, Adam had packed the cereal in an empty container that must have originally contained beets.  As we would say in America, my bad! 0;-)  Needless to say, he & Heather would not let me live that one down for days!
  • We were fortunate to enjoy many great eats during our travels, but one treat that was sorely missing was s’mores!  For an American, s’mores & camping go hand-in-hand, but sadly I learned that it is difficult, if not impossible, to find graham crackers in Australia!  Or as Adam would say “GRAY-um” crackers.  Craziness! – Both the Australian pronunciation of the word & the fact that they don’t carry this product here.  Wonders never cease!

One of my favorite pumpkin dishes from our road trip: Potato & pumpkin quiche from the Salamanca Markets in Hobart, Tasmania

  • While there are some foods from back home that are sorely missing here, or that are just not quite the same, there are also new foods & food combinations to enjoy.  I think I’ve mentioned previously in my blog that pumpkin has been a favorite food of mine since I “discovered” it here in Australia.  What I didn’t know until Heather informed me a few weeks into our trip, is that what Aussies refer to as “pumpkin” is not the Halloween jack-o-lantern type of pumpkin that I was picturing; It is actually butternut pumpkin or what we in the U.S. refer to as butternut squash.  Aha! [light bulb turns on] . . . now it makes so much more sense why they use this as an ingredient in so many savory dishes & also why I had such a hard time finding savory “pumpkin” recipes when I tried to do a google search on this topic last Thanksgiving!  In any case, it really is such a versatile & delicious food that I think I will have to devote an entire post to some of my favorite pumpkin-inspired meals in the future. 🙂

A Delicious Coffee from Three Bags Full in Melbourne, Victoria

  • If there is one thing I’ve learned about Australians, it’s how seriously they take their coffee & Adam is no exception.  We tried many a coffee during our road trip & I slowly started to ascertain the differences between a good cup & a bad one (it’s becoming even more clear to me now that I have taken a barista training course in Sydney, but more on that in a future post).  Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned (or should I say confirmed?) about myself through my coffee tastings is how far a good cup of coffee can go in putting me on the path to a great day. 🙂
ON AUSSIE LINGO:
  • It’s impossible to reminisce about our road trip & not have Adam’s kooky attempt at an American accent come to mind.  It sounded to me & Heather like he was trying to do an impression of a redneck pirate!  Ridiculous combination, I know, but just listen to this & judge for yourself!  OK, you might not pick up on the pirate part, but it was clear to us when we instructed Adam to work on articulating the letter “R” (Aussies tend to swallow this sound when it occurs near the end of a word, similar to Bostonians).  Anyway, perhaps he took our advice too much to heart as he seemed to us to be saying “Arrrr!” 😉
  • Adam fared much better at speaking “American English” than I did with “Australian English.”  It’s not the accent I’m after (believe me, I wouldn’t even come close!)  All I want to do is try to pronounce Australian place names & other words with a reasonable degree of correctness.  It’s why I spent weeks trying to master the pronunciation of Melbourne (it sounds sort of like “MEL-bin”) & why Adam couldn’t help but tease me every time we came across a new town during our trip.  Places like Geelong (JUH-long) & even more tricky, Launceston (LAWN-sess-ton), boggle the mind . . . well, at least my mind! 😉
  • It also amused me how amazed Adam was that most Americans pronounce words like “berry,” “bury” & “Barry” exactly the same.  I can hear the difference in the way he says them if I listen closely, but it’s a real effort for me to mimic his speech.  Interestingly, I once had this same conversation with my friend Christine who is from Queens, NY, so while not all Americans have trouble with these subtle distinctions, to Heather & I they’re all the same.
FINAL THOUGHTS:
  • Another memory woven throughout the fabric of our entire trip is the almost nightly ritual of watching an episode or two of Dexter on Adam’s laptop in the back of the van.  It’s an American show, but neither Heather nor I had seen it before (it airs on Showtime) & Adam got us both hooked . . . Because watching a tv show about a serial killer is a great way to lull yourself to sleep at night when you’re camping out in the middle of nowhere. 😉  (N.B. to Adam & Heather: I’ve only watched two more episodes since we ended our trip, so don’t spoil it!)

Aussies, Beware: Crazy American Driver Behind the Wheel!

ME, in the driver’s seat after we had switched drivers at a pit stop . . . always a genius when it comes to directions: “So, we have to go left to get going in the right direction again, right?”
ADAM: “Yes.”
ME, with a slightly terrified tone to my voice: “And I drive on the left?”
ADAM, witty as ever: “That would be preferable, yes.”
Ah . . . memories 😉
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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    May 30, 2011 @ 17:08:19

    Oh the memories 🙂 I have my own, of course, so I love reading what you and Adam remember about the trip, since different things stick out to each of us for different reasons.

    I think about the road trip constantly and wish I was out on the road still!

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      May 31, 2011 @ 08:26:21

      I miss it (& YOU) too! Well now we have our US roadtrip to look forward to . . . whenever we’ve both had a chance to save up some money again! 😉

      Reply

  2. Camille
    May 30, 2011 @ 19:37:38

    With all the signs posted in your travels one would THINK they would have posted a sign at your campsite -Beware – Automatic Sprinkler System! I would have loved to see the look on your (wet) face when that happened, or the look on your face when your tent was nowhere to be found. Definite Kodak moments.

    Thanks for sharing all those special times you had with Heather and Adam on your Ozzie road trip. I can imagine all the great momens, food and laughs the three of you shared.

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      May 31, 2011 @ 08:29:24

      Hahaha – mom, you are so right except that it wasn’t exactly a campsite . . . 0:-) I wanted to take a picture of the tent getting soaked, but I would have had to stand right in the line of fire in order to do it! But, yes, a picture of my wet face would have been even funnier. 😉

      Reply

  3. Aunt Penny
    May 31, 2011 @ 00:19:41

    I was wondering why I don’t see pumpkin dishes in restaurants here; mystery solved. I love butternut squash soup and I’m sure I would enjoy many of the dishes you are tasting in Oz.

    I know your camping experience was fun for the most part, but I’ll bet you’re enjoying the luxury of sleeping in a bed right now.

    XO

    Reply

    • nicoleinoz
      May 31, 2011 @ 08:30:57

      It is great to have a bed again! Not to mention a roof over my head – it has been raining constantly here. I’ve been told winter is the rainy season in Sydney, so I’m in for a few months of wet weather. 😦

      Reply

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