These are a few of the odd things that set Australia apart from the mother country (i.e. the UK!) Similar, yet different, eh?
The Spider Mailbox
Most suburban houses follow the USA mailbox style, with some sort of box on the edge of the property. But watch out for spiders when fetching the post!
Yet funnel web spiders, some of which can kill you in hours, aren’t the only strange, odd, things.
Merry Christmas in Rye, Victoria
Because just across the road, Santa awaits… inflated to gigantic proportions in an expensive house, built on sand dunes, made in the style of a 19th century colonial house, filled with all the gadgetry and labour-saving devices of the modern world.
A walk in the country can provide a host of oddities, from the deadly to the silly.
These are a few I came across. Places include Melbourne, Port Douglas in tropical Queensland and various sites across the Mornington Peninsular. I’m fascinated by the signs that are put up for public information. A real clue into everything, I think.
Japanese Bomb Sculpture – note the guy mowing the grass in the background. That was a noisy machine I can tell you!
Japanese Bomb Sign – little girl was the only casualty of WW2 on the East Australian mainland. (This contrasts sharply with the tens of thousands killed NOT on the mainland)
Crocodiles and Stinger Signs Next to Each Other! Just off the Captain Cook Highway.
Lotus Blossom in McClelland Art Gallery – contrasts to the large sculptures…
Tourism is Big – this is the Puffing Billy train in the Dandenongs
Big, forward control lorries are common in Australia even in urban areas. They hammer along everywhere, apparently in all lanes.
Graffiti All Over Melbourne – despite the sun and wealth, many of man’s creations are amended with random ink. Cops go on trains in fives.
Even Cats Get Banned from a Vineyard
Man-made Floating Island – this is on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. The breaking surf is The Coral Sea
View from a Yacht – Queensland and it’s hills round Port Douglas. You just point and click, there are views everywhere.
More Views – from near Cpt Cook Hwy. Banana fields just out of sight.
Fascination with Olden Days – signs all over, this is Daintree
Daintree River Crocodile Sign – no paddling and keep your eyes open – they’ve had crocs in excess of 5m long here.
Humourous Daintree Crocodile Signs on the WC Publics
My own image of Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas
Cape Tribulation – here the tropical jungle hits the Great Barrier Reef via the mangrove swamps and beach. It’s where Cook’s ship “Endeavour” was dragged ashore to be fixed after crashing into a coral reef (now named after the ship).
Cassowary v Range Rover; not so fair.
Dangerous Pedestrians! They can injure and kill people when provoked.
Views! Along Captain Cook Highway. Australia is full of views. Loads. All over the place.
Tropical Rain Forest, Hot. This is Mossman Gorge, Queensland.
Garbage Recycling, Queensland Style. In Packers Creek, upstream from Port Douglas, they just dump their boats and leave them to the crocodiles when they’re finished with them.
Sign Overload, some graphically scary – Stingers are not nice
View at Port Douglas, Queensland
Melbourne Memorial to a war on the opposite side of the world – beautiful quotes from Wilfred Own in there.
Random Public Art – McClelland Gallery, Frankston.
Odd Signs with Humour
Serious Melbourne Tram System
Ancient “cold” Tropical Rainforest in the South (Dandenongs)
Odd Signs and characteristic Oz Humour
Blue-ringed octopus in a pool at Cape Schanck – there is no known anti-venom!!! It is there in a crack. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-ringed_octopus
Sudden Waves don’t reach the odd sign.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-bellied_black_snake Red-bellied black snake taken walking down to Cape Schanck
Australia is a strange, deadly place, filled with amazing natural resources.
The quirky humour of the people is to be treasured.
They try to be uppity with their restaurants, vineyards, big boys toys and gadgets, yet underneath, the wild west existence is evident all around.
It’s all in the nature of the place.
We are a mixture of the land we live in and the land we came from.
Paralleling a personal comment I made last week to Stuart, this week in Germany, a prisoner made a post-haste dash for freedom. I think he must’ve been listening to The Velvet Underground’s “The Gift”
In the monolgued song, voiced by Cale in his Welsh accent, poor little man Waldo Jeffers has the bright idea of paying a surprise visit to his absent girl-friend, in a cardoard box. He ends up dead, with little rhythmic arcs of red pulsating gently in the morning sun as a pair of scissors goes through his head. The fun of course, is in the telling.
Today’s story, picked up by the BBC alone, is about a Turkish drug-dealer prisoner in a German jail who followed exactly the same tactics.
He was a big bloke by all accounts and no-one noticed that the box was a bit heavy!
As far as we know, he is “little red rythmic arc” free – and hasn’t been caught.
If there’s anyone who hasn’t heard “The Gift”, well you should. I used to know it almost off by heart. The words are below. View Larger Map
“The Gift” by The Velvet Underground – from White Light/White Heat (1968)
Waldo Jeffers had reached his limit
It was now mid-August, which meant he’d been separated from Marsha for more than two months
Two months, and all he had to show was three dog-eared letters and two very expensive long-distance phone calls
True, when school had ended and she’d returned to Wisconsin and he to Locust, Pennylvania, she had sworn to maintain a certain fidelity
She would date occasionally, but merely as amusement, she would remain faithful
But lately Waldo had begun to worry. He had trouble sleeping at night, and when he did, he had horrible dreams
He lay awake at night, tossing and turning under his depleted quilt protector, tears welling in his eyes
As he pictured Marsha her sworn vows overcome by liquor and the smooth soothings of some Neanderthal
Finally submitting to the final caresses of sexual oblivion, it was more than the human mind could bear.
Visions of Marsha’s faithlessness haunted him, daytime fantasies of sexual abandon permeated his thoughts
And the thing was, they wouldn’t really understand how she really was
He, Waldo, alone understood this. He had intuitively grasped every hook and cranny of her psyche. He’d made her smile
She needed him – and he wasn’t there…
The idea came to him on the Thursday before the Mummers Parade was scheduled to appear
He had just finished mowing and edging the Edelsons’ lawn for a dollar fifty
and had checked the mail box to see if there was at least a word from Marsha
There was nothing but a circular form from the Amalgamated Aluminium Company of America inquiring into his awning needs
At least they cared enough to write. It was a New York company. You could go anywhere in the mail. Then it struck him.
He didn’t have enough money to go to Wisconsin in the accepted fashion, true, but why not mail himself? It was absurdly simple
He would ship himself parcel post, special delivery
The next day Waldo went to the supermarket to purchase the necessary equipment
He bought masking tape, a staple gun and a medium-sized cardboard box, just right for a person of his build
He judged that with a minimum of jostling he could ride quite comfortably
A few airholes, some water, of course some midnight snacks, and he would probably be as good as going tourist
By Friday afternoon Waldo was set. He was thoroughly packed, and the post office had agreed to pick him up at three o’clock
He’d marked the package “fragile”, and as he sat curled up inside, resting on the foam rubber cushioning he’d thoughtfully included
He tried to picture the awe and happiness on Marsha’s face as she opened the door, saw the package, tipped the deliverer
And then opened it to see her Waldo finally there in person. She would kiss him, and then maybe they could see a movie
If only he’d thought of this before…
Suddenly rough hands gripped the package, and he felt himself borne up. He landed with a thud in a truck and was off.
Marsha Bronson had just finished setting her hair. It had been a very rough weekend
She had to remember not to drink like that. Bill had been nice about it, though
After it was over he’d said that he still respected her and, after all, it was certainly the way
of nature, and even though, no, he didn’t love her, he… did feel an affection for her
And, after all, they were grown adults. Oh, what Bill could teach Waldo… But that seemed many years ago
Sheila Klein, her very, very best friend walked in through the porch screen door and into the kitchen
“Oh God, it’s absolutely maudlin outside.”, “Ach, I know what you mean. I feel all icky.”
Marsha tightened the belt on her cotton robe with the silk outer edge
Sheila ran her finger over some salt grains on the kitchen table, licked her fingers and made a face
“I’m supposed to be taking these salt pills, but” – she wrinkled her nose – “they make me feel like throwing up.”
Marsha started to pat herself under the chin, an exercise she’d seen on television
“God, don’t even talk about that.”
She got up from the table and went to the sink, where she picked up a bottle of pink and blue vitamins.
“Want one? Supposed to be better than steak’, and attempted to touch her knees. “I don’t think I’ll ever touch a daiquiri again.”
She gave up and sat down, this time nearer the table that supported the telephone
“Maybe Bill will call”, she said to Sheila’s glance
“After last night I thought you’d be through with him.”
“I know what you mean. My God, he was like an octopus, hands all over the place”
she gestured, raising her arms up in defence.
“Thing is, after a while you get tired fighting with him, you know, and after all I didn’t really do anything Friday and Saturday,
so I kind of owed it to him, you know what I mean.” She started to scratch
Sheila was giggling with her hand over her mouth. “I’ll tell you, I felt the same way, and even after a while”
Here she bent forward in a whisper – “I wanted to.” And now she was laughing very loudly
It was at this point that Mr. Jameson of the Clarence Darrow Post Office rang the door bell of the large stucco colored frame house
When Marsha Bronson opened the door, he helped her carry the package in
He had his yellow and green slips of paper signed and left with a fifteen cent tip
that Marsha had gotten out of her mother’s small beige pocket book in the den
“What do you think it is?” Sheila asked
Marsha stood with her arms folded behind her back
She stared at the brown cardboard carton that sat in the middle of the living room
“I don’t know.”
Inside the package Waldo quivered with excitement as he listened to the muffled voices
Sheila ran her fingernail over the masking tape that ran down the center of the carton
“Why don’t you look at the return address and see who it’s from?”
Waldo felt his heart beating. He could feel the vibrating footsteps. It would be soon
Marsha walked around the carton and read the ink-scratched label. “Oh God – it’s from Waldo!”
“That schmuck!” said Sheila. Waldo trembled with expectation.”You might as well open it”, said Sheila.
Both of them tried to lift the stapled flap.
“Arhh…”, said Marsha, groaning, “He must have nailed it shut.” They tugged at the flap again
“My God, you need a power drill to get this thing opened!” They pulled again.
“You can’t get a grip!” They both stood still, breathing heavily
“Why don’t you get a scissor”, said Sheila.
Marsha ran into the kitchen, but all she could find was a little sewing scissor
Then she remembered that her father kept a collection of tools in the basement
She ran downstairs, and when she came back up she had a large sheet metal cutter in her hand
“This is the best I could find.” She was very out of breath
“Here, you do it. I’m gonna die.” She sank into a large fluffy couch and exhaled noisily
Sheila tried to make a slit between the masking tape and the end of the cardboard
But the blade was too big and there wasn’t enough room. “God damn this thing!” she said, feeling very exasperated
Then, smiling: “I’ve got an idea!” “What?” said Marsha
“Just watch!”, said Sheila, pointing her finger to her head
Inside the package Waldo was so transfixed with excitement that he could hardly breathe
His skin felt prickly from the heat, and he could feel his heart beating in his throat. It would be soon
Sheila stood quite upright and walked around to the other side of the package
Then she sank down to her knees, grasped the cutter by both handles, took a deep breath
and plunged the long blade through the middle of the package
through the masking tape, through the cardboard, through the cushioning,
and right through the center of Waldo Jeffers’ head, which split slightly,
causing little rhythmic arcs of red to pulsate gently in the morning sun
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