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So Long, Australia, and Thanks for All the Barramundi
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All good things must come to an end, they say. And unfortunately, that's true for my time in Australia. I will leave Australia next week for good (well, barring a visit). I have spent nearly three years here and have really fallen for Australia and its people.

This list includes some of the things I will miss most about Australia. soblue
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1. Board Game: Travel Around Australia [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
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I've been fortunate in my time here to travel quite a bit around Australia, to every state/territory except Tasmania. (That was an oversight, I meant to get there!)

Australia is a beautiful country. I can honestly say I have liked pretty much every place I've gone. I hit all of the big cities - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth - and some of the secondary ones like Newcastle and Cairns. I drove from Canberra to the mining town of Broken Hill, which is a cool place AND (along with nearby Silverton, a ghost town) is where some iconic Aussie movies were made, including Priscilla Queen of the Desert and the Mad Max movies.

I drove from Perth to Shark Bay, which is incredibly beautiful and the home of some representatives of the oldest living beings on the planet (stromatolites). I hit Uluru (Ayer's Rock), drove to the beaches in Queensland and New South Wales. I explored lots of small towns near Canberra like Yass and Queanbeyan and Captain's Flat and Goulburn (home of the Big Merino). And still there are places I regret missing, including Tasmania and the Top End.

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2. Board Game: Those Ragged Bloody Heroes. The Australian 7th Division at Gona: November 29-December 10, 1942 [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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A separate shout-out for the Australian War Memorial. It's in Canberra so I've been able to visit it about eight times. I highly recommend it. The memorial part itself is very moving and well done. There are a lot of names on that wall, many from well-known conflicts like the two World Wars. But a lot of names from other wars that people in the North may not realize Australia played a role in, like the Konfrontasi between Malaysia and Indonesia in the 1960s.

And the museum exhibits are very good.
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3. Board Game: Worldwide Wines [Average Rating:4.93 Unranked]
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Oh, the wine. It's good here, really good.

So's the food. A big change from the 1970s when it was still meat and two veg, like in England. After World War II, Italians and Greeks came to Australia in greater numbers and brought their cuisines. But the food scene really began to change in the 1970s. And now influences from Asia especially have helped make Australian cities some of the best places to eat in the world. Canberra itself has a great restaurant scene for a city of 350,000. The presence of Parliament and a lot of expense accounts helps, of course.

And barramundi. Mmm, barramundi. That's good fish.

But it's not just the fancy stuff that's good. I love meat pies! And sausage sizzles!
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4. Board Game: Scrabble: Chocolate Edition [Average Rating:5.83 Unranked]
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And Tim Tams.



Mmmm, Tim Tams...
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5. Board Game: Coffee! [Average Rating:4.44 Unranked]
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And I'll miss the coffee. Starbucks about a year ago closed a bunch of branches around Australia, keeping a few in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. In doing so, Starbucks admitted that the great coffee culture already present in Australia made it less fertile ground(s) for the chain.

It's quite an Italian style coffee culture, thanks to the wave of Italian immigrants to Australia especially after World War II. Grazi! You can get a good cup of coffee even in dusty small towns.

A brief guide to coffee if you find yourself here:

short black = espresso
long black = espresso watered down with hot water
skinny flat white = Kate Moss. No, really it's an espresso drink
with skim milk; flat white is with regular milk
latte = espresso drink with even more milk
cappuccino = cappucino


When I first arrived in Australia, right after leaving the airport I went to a cafe. I ordered "coffee with cream". The barrista looked at me if I were speaking Mongolian; my friend interpreted "flat white" for me...
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6. Board Game: Australian Menagerie [Average Rating:6.02 Unranked]
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I'm not a birdwatcher. But for a North American, the birds here are INCREDIBLE. Outside my house in Canberra we have sulfur-crested cockatoos and king parrots and crimson rosellas and gallahs (not to mention magpies and curawongs and new varieties of pigeon) and all sorts of brightly colored birds. And of course, the occasional kookaburra, "merry merry king of the bush is he."

In the US, they'd be exotic critters in a zoo. Here, they are just hanging out in my yard. The other morning I stopped and stared up into a tree outside my house for five minutes, just watching the king parrots and crimson rosellas eating and flying around. I'll miss 'em.

And of course, the kangaroo and wallaby. They aren't in my yard, fortunately, but they are great to watch when you go out to reserves like Namadji or Tidbinbilla. But they're like deer in the US - they don't mix well with traffic.
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7. Board Game: Passport to Australia [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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One of the things I really like about Australia is the whole egalitarian thing. Let me give an example from one field, medicine. In the US, most doctors I've encountered have introduced themselves (professionally) as "Dr Sawbones" or "Dr Death". Here, they introduce themselves as "Sue" and "Rex" and "Tony." And American nurses I have known here tell me how much easier relations between nurses and doctors are than in the US, where they are more hierarchical. It's kind of a casual thing that appeals to me.

No it isn't perfect, and there are problems and exceptions, and maybe it comes as the flip side of a less-than-respectful attitude to authority (which I also like) but generally Australians are I've found pretty friendly and open. As long as you don't come the raw prawn with them, that is.
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8. Board Game: Australia [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1356]
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One of the great things about living in Australia has been the language. I mean, it's English which makes it easy for an American.

But it's a different strain (not 'strine) of English, which makes it interesting as well.

A sample of my favorite Aussie words:

arvo = afternoon
rort = fraud
stoush = fight, argument
hoon = somebody who drives fast and like an idiot
bogan = redneck
CUB = cashed-up bogan
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9. Board Game: Don't Make Me Laugh Jr. [Average Rating:3.75 Unranked]
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I will definitely miss the Australian sense of humor. Lots of teasing (which I enjoy and can give as good as I take). Lots of self-deprecation. Not too much seriousness.

I love listening to Ragin Roy Slavin and HG Nelson - two characters who have a sports talk show. Their coverage of the Grand Finals (ie, championships) of Australian Rules Football and the National Rugby League are rib-achingly funny. I still remember one of them saying, after a rugby player had been injured, saying "he's busted his scrotum". Can you imagine the NFL allowing two loons to provide live radio coverage of the Super Bowl like that?

"Larrikin humour tends to be good natured, self-depreciating, and quite subtle."

This link has some examples. But it is rated R, so click at your own peril.

http://www.convictcreations.com/culture/comedy.htm

Oh and just because it's funny, an example of a joke about Australian tactfulness:

Three blokes were working on a high rise building project, Macca, Chook and Simmo. Chook falls off and is killed instantly. As the ambulance takes the body away, Simmo says,"Someone should go and tell his wife." Macca says, "OK, I`m pretty good at that sensitive stuff, I'll do it."

Two hours later, Macca comes back carrying a slab of VB*. Simmo says,"Where did you get that, Macca?"

"Chook's missus gave it to me." "That's unbelievable, you told the lady her husband was dead and she gave you beer?"

Macca says, "Well not exactly. When she answered the door, I said to her, "You must be Chook`s widow." She said, "No, I'm not a widow."

And I said, "Wanna bet me a slab?"


*slab = case of beer
VB = Victoria Bitter, a popular Australian beer.


Reminds me of another joke, aimed at Queenslanders. "Why do Queenslanders call their favorite beer "XXXX"? Because they can't spell 'beer'." (For the record, it was a Queenslander who told me that one!)
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10. Board Game: American Idol Board Game [Average Rating:1.78 Unranked]
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I've also encountered some really good music here. Yeah, we've all heard of AC/DC and Men At Work and Midnight Oil and INXS up in North America. But I've really enjoyed listening to Triple J and hearing some of the Australian bands making music now. A few I really like include Nick Cave, the Grates, Ash Grunwald, the Dallas Crane, Little Red, Leader Cheetah ("Leader Cheetah" rhymes if you say it with an Australian accent), Powderfinger, and the Howling Bells.

Oh and Tim Minchin, who is insanely funny, and not recommended for those offended by profanity or severe skepticism about religion, whether established or of the spiritual New Age kind.
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11. Board Game: Travel Australia Game [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
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I guess in all honesty there are a couple of things I won't miss. One is having the seasons backwards from the north. A warm Christmas I can accept - it's warm in places like Hawaii, too. But a cold Fourth of July is just strange!
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12. Board Game: Monopoly: Cricket Australia Charity [Average Rating:3.75 Unranked]
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And cricket. Won't miss that a bit.
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13. Board Game: Spider Wars [Average Rating:5.27 Overall Rank:9134]
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Oh and I won't miss the spiders. Australia is a spidery place. And many of the spiders are insanely poisonous (as are the snakes and the drop bears).

I'm sure Shelob was from here.
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14. Board Game: Tailgate Racing [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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I definitely won't miss the tailgating! I once had an Australian friend tell me that they were taught in driver's education that you always use the gas or the brake. It seems like it. In any case, it's rare for me to drive for very long without somebody right on my bumper!

Maybe it's a reflection of Australian optimism?

"Oh she'll be all right, I'm sure if I have to I can stop without hitting the car ahead!"
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15. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: Friends & Foes [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked]
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But mostly, I will miss all the friends I have made across the game board. You know who you are. Guys, if you are ever in my neck of the woods (wherever that may be), drop me a line. We'll put up a spare bed and get a game on the table. Thanks.
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16. Board Game: Medieval [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:3879]
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Oh and a very fine farewell gift from the Monday night gang - thanks again!
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