‘Finding oneself’ appears to be the universally accepted fuel for wanderlust these days. I am 19 years old and on a quest to go on quests. Can’t say I’m too optimistic about discovering my true self lurking beneath a rock abroad, or dispersed within the general ether of foreign parts, but hey, worth a try … right?
Despite my love of travelling, missing home is an unavoidable reality. When you’re feeling homesick, you can find comfort in the smallest of things. It is sometimes within tiny, seemingly insignificant, moments or details where the greatest degree of solace dwells.
For me, I find it (possibly disproportionately) consoling how the green man in Australia is walking in the opposite direction to the one at home; forever travelling in a westerly direction as opposed to his Pom counterpart, frozen as he is, facing the east.
Why on earth do I find this so quaintly satisfying? Well, if the aforementioned men were to, one day, forget they were inanimate collections of LED lights who lack consciousness — and thus the ability to make any rational decisions — and clamber out of their residential black cuboid in order to go for a (casual) stroll round the world, they’d meet in the middle. Instead of embarking upon a relentless struggle whereby one man would be constantly chasing the other, a never-ending game of cat and mouse, they’d stride confidently towards one another, meeting in roughly Kuala Lumpur with time to spare for a quick spot of afternoon tea.
So when I arrived at the ‘most easterly point of the Australian coast’ in Byron Bay, having just struggled to the top of what felt like Everest, (but let’s be honest resembled more the hill pictured in that classic Windows desktop picture all PC owners will be familiar with), as far away from home as we could be without going to NZ, I was able to combat any hint of homesickness with pleasant thoughts of animated green men. Strange consolation technique, but hey, you’ve been warned previously about my rapidly degenerating mental state.
So, a big sorry to all those disgruntled pedestrians relying on the omnipotent authority of that classic safety beacon — all hail the power of emerald illumination in the shape of a stickman! — but please let me indulge in this one, albeit lame, comfort. Live a little! Maybe even jaywalk! I don’t know. Just don’t disrupt the men — they’re too busy crossing the world.
If you managed to struggle through my crazed ramblings up there, I applaud you. You waded your way through tedious verbosity in order to learn just one interesting titbit of information; the Australian green man faces the left. As a reward, you get some more fun facts (yay!), put plainly and unpretentiously. You’re welcome.
- Do not be offended if someone compliments you on your ‘thongs’. It is not what you think. Aussies do not have x-ray vision, just weird slang for flip flops.
- The sand squeaks! If you close your eyes and walk across Byron Bay, it sounds like some sort of mouse massacre is taking place. All ye rodents, beware.
- Walkers crisps are not Walkers, and no, they are not Lays either. They are SMITHS and — get this — (I nearly fainted out of disgust) the pink packet is not the smelly-but-delicious prawn cocktail flavour that us Brits will forever associate with lurid magenta, BUT SALT AND VINEGAR. Like seriously, what? At least prawns have a faint pinky tinge to them once cooked. Neither salt, nor vinegar, is pink. This is just so wrong and I can’t think about it anymore because it upsets me too much.
- Indooroopilly is not pronounced phonetically. Anna and I were practically laughed off the train when we politely asked if we were at the right station. Apparently it’s common sense that a word which SO CLEARLY has five syllables, is actually pronounced ‘in-druh-plee’. Never have we felt more posh. Our bad.
- In simple Australian vocabulary, everyone is either a ‘mate’ or a ‘boss’. Or both. Lord knows what colloquialism you’d give an employee who you’re not the greatest fan of.
- The word ‘vegemite’ is actually used as a noun. Our greyhound bus driver (who may or may not have been high, we couldn’t tell …) blessed us with the description of ‘happy little vegemites’. No lie. I guess you don’t always get to choose your nicknames though … Just ask yours truly, referred to as ‘little brat’ for most of my childhood by my loving elder sisters.