Bryant in Oz

Welcome to the adventures of Bryant in the land down-under:

15 August, 2002

Well I made it, 14 hours in a middle seat and about a half gallon of Diet Coke and I'm still standing. It's winter here, and I could see my breath as I was standing in line to catch a cab. I'm staying downtown at the Sydney Hilton - don't let this impress you. The place more reminds me of a fair-to-middling Best Western, but they have free breakfast so I won't complain any more. While I was waiting for my room to be ready, I took a nice stroll through a botanical garden and visited an art museum (really!). I didn't take any pictures, so the only proof I have that I'm here is this picture I just shot of me holding the in-hotel-room city guide.

And no I didn't screw up the photo, I intentionally sent it upside-down. Get it, Asutralia, down-under, everything's upside-down? Laugh, dammit! No, the water doesn't flow the other way down the drain, either. I checked.


Hold on tight!

20 August, 2002

I'm in Canberra now after 2 days on the snow.  I'll write more later.  Yes, I have seen kangaroos (live and roadkill).

at the trail sign

21 August, 2002

G'day from the capital of Australia, Canberra.  That's CANberra, not CanBERra, or CanberRA.  I'm very appreciative of this distinction, having gone to high school in a town that was forever trying to convince the world to prounce its name NewARK, instead of NEWark, like its significantly larger cousin in New Jersey.  Anyway, I digress.  To my observations, which so many of you have (actually, no one has) been clamoring for.

From Sydney, I drove down the coast to Bega, then inland to the mountains for my first bout with skiing.  Don't do this drive.  It is long, and the road has this frustrating characteristic of connecting every dinky town on the map and making you come to a fist-into-the-forehead frustrating crawl.  Plus, I did the most interesting part in the dark. Boo.

There is a lot of farmland, and a lot of sheep.  Even 5km from Canberra I was in the middle of pasture land.  The whole drive I have kept one eye on the road and the other looking for kangaroos.  You would think that kangaroos would hang with sheep, but alas, not the case.  My search continues.

I stayed two nights in Jindabyne, or "Jindy" as the locals call it.  Here I experienced the Australian interpretation of Mexican food, and was none too impressed.  I miss the taqueria-on-every-corner quality of the mighty Silicon Valley. With no movie theatre in town, I took advantage of my solitary status to rent a DVD that my girlfriend would never see.  My review: "Dude, Where's My Car" is a horrible film.

Still on the movie theme, I had a couple of hours to kill in Canberra and caught a flick in a trendy part of town.  The name of the movie is "Bend it Like Beckham", and is about an Indian girl in the UK who wants to play soccer but her parents want her to, well, do traditionally Indian stuff (cultural ingnorance starts here).  But then comes the wierd part - the film culminates in the "big game", which is attended by a scout from a university in America, who is looking overseas for players to beef up his squad.  Well, of course the Indian girl plays brilliantly, and along with her friend is offered a full scholarship to.......Santa Clara University.  How weird is that?  I'm in Canberra, Australia, watching an indie flick made in the UK, and the parents of the Indian girl are sporting SCU Broncos sweatshirts at the end of the film.

Tomorrow I "alight" Canberra for the final leg of my journey, to the Victorian snow fields.  This is where it gets serious.  Big race on Sunday, the Rocky Valley Rush in Falls Creek.  Here is where all the training pays off.  I'm hoping for a top ten finish.  Oh, I didn't mention that the race coincides with Australian Nationals at Perisher, meaning that none of the hot shots will be there.  Don't think that I didn't notice this.

You may hear from me again, you may not.  I'm staying in a hostel like place in Falls Creek, so I doubt that I'll be able to get on line.  Here is a photo or two in case you miss me.


This one doesn't have me in it.  I call it my
"Sasquatch" photo.  You can barely make out the image
of a kangaroo in it, but believe me, it's there.  I
saw one.


[Ed: after extensive scientific review, the unanimous opinion is that this is actually "big foot". No one knows how it got to Australia, but the large white foot is obvious. QED]
'roos, really, trust me!
Certainly not your father's birds at the pond.  The
woman who took the photo assured me that they don't
eat people, but I'm not sure.

big ass birds
I sampled some of the local cuisine.

An Outback Burger is McDonald's contribution to regional cuisine.  I had one.  Are you sitting down? Here are the ingredients - A thin beef patty, a bun, lettuce (so far, so good, but here is where it gets weird), an omlet, and a BEET.  Yes, a beet.
the golden arches in Oz

25 August, 2002

"Alighting Oz"

That's one of the words that I picked up while I was down here.  It means to leave.  I'm sure you knew that, but I hadn't heard it.  Others:

I never got the hang of walking to the right hand side of the car to get in.  Never once.  I always went to the left hand side, on several occasions to the amusement of bystanders.  Just couldn't get the hang of it. After a while, it became sort of a defiant act that I became proud of.

Everyone wants to know how it's different down here with respect to the view of the world, so here is my take: They are focussed on regional issues, namely to the neighbors to the north, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and East Timor.  Lots of action going on up there.  Refugee issues are big, compounded by the fact that Australia only abandonded its "white Australia" policy in the early seventies.  The US is not as omnipresent as one would expect (as great as we are), but the financial markets are followed closely.  In general, Australians focus a lot on what is going on domestically, which is quite a bit.

Well, that's all I got.  Heading back today.  It's been a good one and I hope to come back soon.