TEN THINGS I LIKED & DISLIKED ABOUT AUSTRALIA

Jan 30th, 2004, 05:37 PM
  #41  
 
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Scurry - of course we bend the rules as much as possible and our prime concern is the happiness and comfort of our guests. Recently we had 3 guests who wanted a 12midnight checkout - that's for the Continental flight from Cairns to US via Guam - because no-one was coming into their room the next day we let them have the extra time for nothing, although they offered to pay for a full night. But what happens when you have guests arriving at 11am - hot and tired from a long flight and dying for a shower? Good, reliable, honest, casual cleaners are hard to come by and here in the heat they prefer to work mid to late morning (there are some operators who won't let their cleaning staff use the a/c). The hourly cleaning rate here is about $15 -($25 from an agency) with time and a half on Saturdays and double time Sundays and public holidays. So if you ask a cleaner to work an extra hour on Sundays it costs another $30 - quite a chunk on a $90 room before other considerable expenses are taken into account.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 11:06 PM
  #42  
 
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Scurry - if you've ever seen that comedy classic "Fawlty Towers" (bound to be running on cable somewhere, sometime) you might remember John Cleese's manic, incompetent hotel proprietor screaming in frustration at his bewildered guests "What's wrong with you people? Don't you realise I'm trying to run a hotel here?" (Pat runs an entirely different esablishment, by the way, I'm reliably informed.)

Airsick - I insisted that my wife read your kind remarks, and she thinks you've badly misread me. Actually, she's right, as usual. Apart form being fat and idle, I'm dead boring.

Anyway, as far as Canberra is concerned, and I speak as a former Sydneysider .... Bill Bryson did get it wrong, at least in part. Yes, this city is a whipping boy for many Australians on the grounds that for part of the year we play host to Australia's federal pols (who, as I like to point out, THEY elect).

But if I was looking for frenzied nightlife and beaches, I wouldn't come here. Our (European) history is short -the city was planned and built in the 20th century and its main industries are government, academia, tourism and a bit of IT. This means that it lacks the untidiness, traffic jams, pollution and yes, excitement of Sydney, or even Melbourne. Which is why Canberrans enjoy the occasional trip to Sin City, which is only 3 hours' drive away, much as residents of DC manage a weekend escape to NYC.

But most Canberrans are passionate about their city and wouldn't live anywhere else (at least until they retire, when they may decide to escape the frosty winters in favour of the beautiful, unspoilt NSW South Coast, only 2 hours' drive away).

Having said that, there's much that Canberra can tell the visitor about Australia's history and culture, it's a beautiful city built around a fine lake, set in classic Australian countryside, miles of yellow rye grass with patches of green pine plantations backdropped by the brilliantly blue Brindabella Ranges, gateway to the Snowy Mountains (oh yes, we're also only 3 hours' drive from the ski fields).

We host the National Gallery, National Museum, National Library, Australian War Memorial and other institutions where you'll see exhibitions that you won't see anywhere else.

Demographically Canberrans are the best-educated, smartest, youngest, fittest and healthiest people in Australia (none of this applies to me, by the way). We have very active and professional artistic, intellectual and sporting scenes, much better than you'd expect in a city of only 300,000 people.

In the brief time he spent here Bill Bryson would have missed all this, and maybe that's fair enough - he was a tourist, not a resident, and he needed instant gratification. But it was pretty dumb to do no prior research, pull into a motel on Northbourne Avenue, walk into our famously dead city centre, ask a group of cerebrally-challenged skateboarders where to eat, get a predictable response ("McDonalds")and have a miserable night. Any halfway-bright Canberran could have told him to go to one of several suburban centres for clubs with live music, bars, cafes and good restaurants of most ethnic persuasions.

But then, readers of Bill Bryson (and actually I like the guy) will know that despite being a millionaire he's pretty cheap, and may have resented the $10 cab fare. After all, this is a guy who refused to pay for a pass to Colonial Williamsburg, and then complained that he didn't see much. Hell, I bought a Patriot's Pass, and I'm not even a patriot.

In summary, me old mate Airsick, Canberra is actually a great place, "Australia's best secret" in many ways, excellent for many visitors, but not all. If I were a 25-year-old British backpacker focussed on getting paralytic and managing the old quick legover with another backpacker of the female persuasion, no, I wouldn't bother with Australia's national capital. I'd find it way too boring. More mature and discerning travellers will have a different perspective. Interestingly, an American family I met a while ago who'd seen most of what Australia has to offer nominated Canberra as the highlight of their Australian tour. If it helps, I've met quite a few Canadians who turned up here on a temporary assignment and have no intention of ever leaving.




Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 12:01 AM
  #43  
 
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Thanks Neil - my husband, Mike, is still not above doing the odd Basil Fawlty impersonation (not in front of the guests) and my female friends and I still do the odd Sybil ..."I knoooooow"
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 03:32 AM
  #44  
 
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Ahhh, that explains it. "Please...you must excuse him...he's from Barcelona."
USNR is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 10:03 AM
  #45  
 
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Yikes, I just checked the places we've reserved and one of them does have a 10 AM check-out (the place in Noosa). That is early! I'm used to an 11 AM check-out - that seems reasonable. Oh well, what can you do? That particular day, we'll be leaving Noosa and we're booked on a 9 PM flight to Darwin from Brisbane. Plan was to spend some looking around Brisbane or go to the Australian Zoo or something - I guess the earlier start means we'll just have more time!
SusanInToronto is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 12:15 PM
  #46  
 
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Susan - check with your Noosa accommodation - by 10.00am check out it often means room only to be vacated at 10.00am - usually to make way for incoming guests. Our departing guests are welcome to make use of the rest of the guest's communal areas - tea/coffee, watch TV, use pool, go into town, take a day trip and leave luggage etc until ready to depart from airport.
pat_woolford is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 12:56 PM
  #47  
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Yes Neil. Holding the mouse can be akin to clutching a double martini: One either becomes terribly amusing or agonizingly annoying. Your wife's opinion notwithstanding,I would say you are blessed with the former vs. the latter.
Did H.G. Wells build Canberra? Sounds like something out of The Time Machine where the "youngest,fittest and healthiest" Eloi co-exist around a "fine lake," despite the threat of being cannabalized by the subterranean Morlocks, a.k.a. "The Federal Pols."
What a fab place to visit this year!
Cancel my ticket with Air Canada. Does anyone know where I can buy a slightly used DeLorean? (Preferably with right-hand drive).
Well,I think I'll have another martini so I can think of something else that will really annoy the jingoists!
Airsick_ is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 02:46 PM
  #48  
 
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I'm surprised nobody bit when I said "smartest" in view of the many Canberra-bashers in this country. Personally, I put down to a lurking national inferiority complex (in its extreme form this also produces hypersensitivity to criticism, not that you'll find any of that here).

I like the idea of HG Wells designing Canberra, and the Morlocks analogy isn't bad - find a photo of Parliament House on the web and you'll see that it's actually partly covered by earth, a sort of big Hobbit residence housing 5,000 underground toilers.

The city was actually designed by a Chicago architect, Walter Burley Griffin (and his wife, Marion Mahoney Griffin). They did a fine job overall but were sabotaged by exponents of the "garden city" movement, resulting in the parklike appearance that bored Mr Bryson. The Griffins' concept would have produced a denser, more urban feel, and I agree that we'd have been better off had they won the argument.

I'd love to join you in a martini, Airsick - but would we both fit?. This is as good an excuse as any to quote a cautionary poem by Dorothy Parker:

"I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under the host."




Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 06:44 PM
  #49  
 
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Sorry, meant to mention that anyone interested in what Canberra has to offer should take a look at www.canberratourism.com.au.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 08:32 PM
  #50  
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Ha! Reminds me of what Joan Rivers said about California's Malibu Beach: Where you can lay on the stars and look at the sand.
Airsick_ is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2004, 03:20 PM
  #51  
 
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I have a bad feeling that I'm going to lose this contest. By the way, when speaking of Canberra's industries I neglected to mention that the Australian Capital Teritory is the only jurisdiction that permits trading in X-rated porn videos, creating a thriving mail-order business and possibly adding a bit of spice to the lives of that other local industry, the diplomatic community.
Neil_Oz is offline  
May 27th, 2004, 08:42 AM
  #52  
 
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"3)This Australian Mateship Thing: I'm female and visited a male friend in Port Stephens. At first I found it quite charming while walking with my friend, the men would greet one another on the street with a "Hi Mate" or "How ya Goin' Mate?" However, after awhile I started to find it quite offensive.
I told my friend that men should greet the man and woman - not just the man, or none at all and he said it was part of the "Australian Way," particularly in the suburbs."

Bit of a moot point. All British colonialists tend to have 'mateship'. The term comes from shipmates, if you didn't get along with the other blokes on a ship, you're doomed. The concept of mateship lives on in most colonies.

A 'mate' is a male. It's offensive to call a female 'mate'. To greet a male with "G'day mate." is acceptable. To greet a male and a female is offensive to both as you'd obviously have alterior motives to be so pretentiously anal retentive with a politically correct greeting (which doesn't wash in any country but the US).

To greet a woman only would definately be a bit sleazy, and to call a woman mate is like calling a bloke 'shiela', or refering to a male as a female.

America did have mateship when it was a colony and for a few hundred years afterwards, unfortunately the English / Euro culture of America has been whitewashed with the Spanish and Portuguese cultures from the south and nameless hundreds of other nationalities that have moved in to set up shop.
xbgtcoupe is offline  
May 27th, 2004, 10:06 AM
  #53  
 
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I wonder about the previous poster's (xbgtcoupe) comment about the US's english/ european culture being unfortunately whitewashed (strange choice of color) by the influx of Spanish and Portugeuese ( darn few of them about); is the USof A being confused with the US of Brazil? and aren't the spaniards and the portuguese europeans. And hundreds of nameless other nationalities ( aren't there just 191 or 193 ; does this person's hundreds include their aforementioned english/ europeans, excluding for some reason the spaniards and the portuguese.

Are these nameless others too terrible to be named? Most of us here in America are descendants of immigrants, many non english/ european ( probably a majority if you've excluded the iberian peninsula from europe.) Does this mean we can once again enjoy pesetas in Spain rather than that expensive euro?.

Most of us here enjoy the cultural diversity of the hundred of nameless.
Many of us like our black, brown and yellow mates. I wonder where this poster is from?

Neil, if this person is australian , who do you think they are voting for in the upcoming election and are they monarchists or republicans. Do you think they employ hundreds of nameless for the menial tasks necessary for the survival of our current level of "civilization" or is this person a private island called Zenaphobia?

AndrewDavid
AndrewDavid is offline  
May 27th, 2004, 07:39 PM
  #54  
 
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Well, AD (mate) I was starting to think this forum was getting a bit tame. In the words of the old Chinese proverb, "Be careful what you wish for - you might get it."

An odd post, that's for sure. Ah, hell, let's call a spade a spade - a racist rant. I don't know whether xbgtcoupe is a political conservative and monarchist, but I'd like to think he is (let's assume it's a "he").

I wouldn't be surprised if he has some sympathy with a now-departed politician named Pauline Hanson, former leader of the misnamed "One Nation" party. Pauline has now had her 15 minutes of fame, but during her heyday she was left gobsmacked when a TV interviewer asked her if she was xenophobic. She didn't know whether to take it as a compliment or to indignantly deny that, despite being a fish-and-chip shop proprietor, she was Greek. After a stunned silence she spat out "Please explain!" Pauline isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

This sort of thing keeps happening to Queensland politicians. A former state premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (a.k.a. "Joh Bananas"), was left equally gobsmacked when asked to explain the Westminster doctrine of the separation of powers (i.e. legislature-judiciary-executive). That was a new one on him and sounded suspiciously like communist subversion. Back in the 70s a new senator (nominated by the above premier) arrived in Canberra, got lost in Parliament House and after being rescued complained that the phones didn't work. It had to be explained that it was necessary to dial "0" to make an outside call. (Outraged Queenslanders can feel free to contribute to contribute their stories of Southerner dimwits, I can take it.)

I too find it refeshing to live in a culturally diverse country - much more fun that the old monochrome. Of course, there are people who feel threatened by that but refuse to seek professional help.

I don't know if the writer has actually been to the United States, but if he'd visited your city of Santa Fe, he'd have been seriously alarmed to discover evidence of Spanish settlement predating the English landings at Jamestown and Plymouth Rock. Not to mention Pueblo structures nearby that predate any European by some centuries.

The writer's reaction to women being called "mate" (which most younger women find endearing rather than offensive) suggests a dash of misogyny. For the benefit of any remaining Hansonites I should explain that that isn't a skin disease.

I hope visitors to these shores don't get the impression that this sort of thing is representative of real Australians.

Of course, xbgtcoupe might just be a troll, in which case we've both just bitten like hungry bream.
Neil_Oz is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 09:28 AM
  #55  
 
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Live in US and am exploring moving to Australia. Looking for someone who lives or has lived in Australia for an extended period of time; preferably from US...Anyone?
EFrame is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 10:54 AM
  #56  
 
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My family lived in Melbourne for 2.5 years, and all of us are fond of Australia. I'm not American, but have lived in the U.S. as well, so I think I can imagine how an American might experience Australia. You're most welcome to e-mail me if you wish.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 02:53 PM
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EFrame, if you post your enquiry as a new topic you'll get more attention. You could get some useful tips here, but bear in mind that this is a travel forum, so obviously you'll need to spread your net wider. Good luck.
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