The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

sunset at Coronation Beach


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Australia – By Douglas Adams – A bloody good read!

I have never posted anything on my blog written by someone else but I recently received this in an email and thought it was worth sharing with my blog followers. Australians will get a laugh out of it – and everyone else will probably be totally confused…..unless of course you have been to Australia, or know an Australian, and then you will be nodding your head saying “This is sooo true!”

The following is by Douglas Adams of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame.

Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the bottom half of the planet.

It is recognizable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge into the girting sea.

Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology, but they still call it the “Great Australian Bight”, proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory but they can’t spell either.

The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as continent, island or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically, it is unique in this.

The second confusing thing about Australia is the animals. They can be divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9 of them. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most poisonous arachnids, Australia has all of them. However, there are few snakes,
possibly because the spiders have killed them all.

But even the spiders won’t go near the sea. Any visitors should be careful to check inside boots (before putting them on), under toilet seats (before sitting down) and generally everywhere else. A stick is very useful for this task.

aborigine-1The last confusing thing about Australia is the inhabitants.A short history: Sometime around 40,000 years ago some people arrived in boats from the north. They ate all the available food, and a lot of them died. The ones who survived learned respect for the balance of nature, man’s proper place in the scheme of things, and spiders. They settled in and spent a lot of the intervening time making up strange stories.

Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north. More accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged people in charge. They tried to plant their crops in autumn (failing to take account of the reversal of the seasons), ate all their food, and a lot of them died.

About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since. It is interesting to note here that the Europeans always consider themselves vastly superior to any other race they encounter, since they can lie, cheat, steal and litigate (marks of a civilized culture they say), whereas all the Aboriginals can do is happily survive being left in the middle of a vast red-hot desert, equipped with a stick.

Eventually, the new lot of people stopped being Europeans on ‘extended holiday’ and became Australians. The changes are subtle, but deep, caused by the mind-stretching expanses of nothingness and eerie quiet, where a person
can sit perfectly still and look deep inside themselves to the core of their essence, their reasons for being, and the necessity of checking inside their boots every morning for fatal surprises. They also picked up the most finely
tuned sense of irony in the world, and the Aboriginal gift for making up stories. Be warned.

There is also the matter of the beaches. Australian beaches are simply the nicest and best in the world, although anyone actually venturing into the sea will have to contend with sharks, stinging jellyfish, stonefish (a fish which sits on the bottom of the sea, pretends to be a rock and has venomous barbs sticking out of its back that will kill just from the pain) and
surfboarders. However, watching a beach sunset is worth the risk.

sunset at Coronation Beach

As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a dour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger. Faced with insurmountable odds and impossible problems, they smile disarmingly and look for a stick. Major engineering feats have been performed with sheets of corrugated iron, string and mud.

Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the ‘Grass is greener on the other side of the fence’ syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence. They call the land “Oz” or “Godzone” (a verbal contraction of “God’s Own Country”). The irritating thing about this is they may be right.

There are some traps for the unsuspecting traveller, though.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, suggest that the beer is imperfect, unless you are comparing it to another kind of Australian beer.
  • Do not wear a Hawaiian shirt.
  • Religion and Politics are fairly safe topics of conversation (Australians don’t care too much about either) but Sport is a minefield.

The only correct answer to “So, howdya like our country, eh?” is “Best (insert your own regional swear word here) country in the world!”

It is very likely that, on arriving, some cheerful Australians will ‘adopt’ you on your first night, and take you to a pub where Australian beer is served. Despite the obvious danger, do not refuse. It is a form of initiation rite. You will wake up late the next day with an astonishing hangover, a foul taste in your mouth, and wearing strange clothes.

Your hosts will usually make sure you get home, and waive off any legal difficulties with “It’s his first time in Australia, so we took him to the pub,” to which the policeman will sagely nod and close his notebook. Be sure to tell the story of these events to every other Australian you encounter, adding new embellishments at every stage and noting how strong the beer was. Thus you will be accepted into this unique culture.

Typical Australian sayings:-

“G’Day.” ” She’ll be right, mate.” ” No Worries.”

Tips to Surviving Australia:

  • Don’t ever put your hand down a hole for any reason WHATSOEVER.
  • The beer is stronger than you think, regardless of how strong you think it is.
  • Always carry a stick.
  • Air-conditioning is imperative.
  • Do not attempt to use Australian slang unless you are a trained linguist and extremely good in a fist fight.
  • Wear thick socks.
  • Take good maps. Stopping to ask directions only works when there are people nearby.
  • If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at all times, or you will die.
  • Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is always a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore.

How to identify Australians:
They waddle when they walk due to the 53 expired petrol discount vouchers stuffed in their wallet or purse.
They pronounce Melbourne as “Mel-bin “.
They think it makes perfect sense to decorate highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep.
They think “Woolloomooloo” is a perfectly reasonable name for a place; that “Wagga Wagga” can be abbreviated to “Wagga” but “Woy Woy” can’t be called “Woy”.
Their hamburgers will contain beetroot. Apparently it’s a must-have.
They don’t think it’s summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle.
Will react in horror when companies try to market “Anzac cookies”
They believe that all train timetables are works of fiction.

This is pretty typically my Australia. Thank you Douglas Adams. Gotta love it!


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The Finger!

The finger

I was given the finger the other day
But not at all in a nasty way
It’s the Aussie way of saying “G’day”.

As you drive by caravans, motorhomes and cars
Drivers lift their finger to you as you pass
To say “Hello fellow traveller, have a good day
And be safe on your journey as you travel your way”.

The laconic finger is lazily lifted
It takes no effort, you hardly shift it
Just a tick off the steering wheel as you go by
And when others don’t do it you wonder why.

Some drivers exuberantly wave their whole hand –
You’ll get different waves as you travel this land.
Some lean out the window and shout a hello
But it’s the Aussie finger that you’ll get to know.

It’s given by truckies, and farmers, and miners
And makes you feel part of a group, Aussie’s finest
They go by in a flash, but you still see the finger
And the memory of all those waves will linger.

It binds all the travellers on all roads as one
And it makes you feel good when your day’s drive is done
So lift up that finger or wave a G’day
And wish fellow travellers a good trip today.

Interesting study done about The Finger by the ABC


Derby – On the Trail of the Tin Dragon

Tasmania is the most amazing place to travel. There is so much history and at every turn in the road there is so much evidence of this history still to see. Jose and I left Swimcart Beach to travel to a rally in Bridport that we had been invited to, and I was really interested to visit Derby, where my sister had lived in the early 1980’s. She used to live in the old Bank House and I had visited her there for a very cold Christmas one year.

The house Marion used to live in is now a Gift Shop in the rooms that were the bank chambers.

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I knew Derby was an old tin mining town but since my last visit they have developed this side of its history into more of a tourist attraction.We really only stumbled across this because of my interest in going to Derby as it is not well promoted as a Tourist Attraction.

The Tin Interpretation Centre at Derby is a ‘must see’ experience if you are travelling that way.It is a beautiful building with an wonderful wall of theatre that tells the story of the discovery of tin in the area and how the early miners harnessed the power of the water to successfully mine the tin. The climax is the devastating flood in 1929, which broke the banks of the dam and spilled billions of litres of water through the town. You can find out a bit more about it here.

There is also a tribute to the contribution of the Chinese miners, and I loved this part of the Centre, as you will see by the number of photos I took of the wall murals!

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There is free camping at the river on the outskirts of town – a nice grassy area with shady trees and toilet facilities – and it’s close enough to walk into the little town.

We left Derby and our next stop was following a track beside the Ringarooma River which led to an old Chinese miners hut. Inside were story panels of the life of a Chinese tin miner. I found this really interesting, too, and was happy to leave my donation in the tin at the door.

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By the time we got to Weldborough we were ready to sample the Tasmanian Boutique beers on tap – they also had ciders available.

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While enjoying our ‘coldies’ in the beer garden we met a couple who were camped at the back of the pub and they told us of a couple of good camping spots to try as we headed west.

Weldborough is on the Trail of the Tin Dragon as it was the site of the confrontation between the Chinese miners and the ‘whites’. The Chinese had walked from Bridport and were on the way to Derby when they were stopped from going any further by an angry mob. They turned around and trudged all the way back to Bridport and came back with a police escort that quietened the mob and gave them safe passage to Derby.

We had planned to stay at Scottsdale that night but the free camp was very crowded so we did our shopping, fueled up our motorhomes, and headed off to Bridport to enter the rally early. It was hot, the roads had been winding and steep, and the roadworks everywhere had contributed to a tiring day. We were ready to stop!

This little map will show you the area I have been talking about and the route we took over the last couple of days. It will also give you an idea of the long walks the miners had when they were landed by boat at Bridport and had to get to Derby! When I think about that I realise that we have got it soooo good these days!

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