Dan and Justy Down Under


January 24, 2005

Dan or Justy

Austalia doesn't have a rep for being a regulated society. It is the only wild west left, after all. But Aussies regulate themselves quite a bit.

To scuba dive, one must be trained. No reputable outfit will hire gear to someone without certification. To become certified in Australia means to have a doctor attest (after exam) that you have none of the approved government list of conditions that are believed to be "bad". No such ironclad system exists in the US. Now I'm not saying anyone ought to go diving if they've got a serious medical issue. I am saying that this amounts to government regulation of who can dive. A bad thing.

There are lots of public health initiatives in progress. One very visible one is the no smoking anywhere in public rules. It is exceedingly rare to see anyone smoke in public. Anywhere. This is one I can get behind. :)

Finally, in keeping with the dominant language gene of Aussies, many public education programs use rhymed slogans. In fact, I've yet to see an un-rhymed one. Examples run the gamut from "Break the drive and stay alive!" to the positively Orwellian "A fed animal is a dead animal."

A man stopped to admire the van today. He noticed we were inside and (being a bit hard of hearing I surmise) yelled to us (from a meter away) not to swim in the canals. Yes, we agreed. "There's bull sharks in there. More dangerous than Tigers, I reckon." Yes, we agreed. "I only tell you because I like Americans." Thanks, we said. "Don't like George Bush much, tho." You're in good company, we said. "He's a bit much." At least 48% of Americans agree, we said. And with that he was off.

On Bribie Island we met a spry 86 yr old woman out for her daily constitutional. She was a wonder of great attitude. She and her husband had spent 3 years traveling Australia in a campervan. They meant to take 1, but she wanted to see what exactly made the country tick. This took about 3 times as long. Great flooding in the far north prevented them from visiting the Kimberly and it is still a regret of hers.

She has a metal pin holding her back together. The doctors told her not to gain weight and keep walking. That was 5 years ago and she's still at it. She moved to Bribie after her husband died. She'd had a friend here for years, who raved about the living. Life goes on and she loves the less hurried lifestyle as compared to further south near Sydney.

People everywhere living their lives, passing before our eyes.

What appears on the map to have a one lane road, turned out to be a bustling little island! We did a last minute turn-off the highway to Bribie Island. After a short confab at the information booth (both ladies claimed more Germans than Yanks ever got their way) we knew the islands hot spots. Finding a computer store willing to allow us to hook in and upload the latest batch of news, we settled into a pleasant afternoon on Bribie!

The Kakadu bird reserve, a no boat wild bird roost at the edge of the island provided us with a pleasant walk, and birding. Dan started his first Birds! documentary. Across the bay the Glass House Mountains loomed, invitingly. We knew we'd be visiting them tomorrow, but this particular perspective on them was one we would not be able to see from closer range. The distance flattened the mountain range into a 2 dimensional squiggly horizon. Sure to be a stupendous sunset site on a less cloudy day.

The evenings rest was taken on the opposite side of the island, a surfers hot spot named Woorim. This side of the island had the American and Australian long range guns during WWII as the first line of defense against a strike on Brisbane. There is still a bunker here.

After a great dinner and our first bottle of wine we made plans for the next day.

Itinerary Highlights
January 20: Winery Tour
21-23: Moreton Bay Diving
25: Australia Zoo
26-30: Lady Elliot Island
February 13: Diving the Yongala
15-17: Cape Tribulation + Daintree Rain Forest
17-20: Atherton Tablelands
22-28: Coral Sea Diving Liveaboard
March 11-13: OzTek Dive Conference: Sydney
14: Fly to New Zealand
20: Poor Knights Islands Diving
31: Mt. Cook
April 2-4: Queenstown
TBD: To Be Dreamed

Digital Pix Courtesy of Shimmivision.com
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