With the Aussies


The following is a report for friends from a lecture tour to Australia in the summer of 2002.

While sitting in the Adelaide airport I thought I’d try keying in some more notes from my visit here. I am headed to Melbourne today.

I took a pleasant walk along the strand this morning. It was clear, crisp, and the sky had that quality of light you only get when the sun is low on the (northern) horizon in mid winter. Reminded me of Harrisburg on a clear winter day down along the river. Of course there’s the soothing sound of the waves washing up on shore here. Though early there were quite a few people out walking along the beach, and waves of cyclists in their spandex whirred passsed. I took a different inland route back and passed several houses with wattle privacy fences. This is definately an exclusive area.

Folks in Adelaide proudly point out that they were one of the only areas not originally settled by convicts. Naturally that’s the reason South Australia is so much more civilized than the other states–or so they say.

The end of a conference like this is bittersweet for me. I feel at home here among the Kiwis and Aussies. They treat me like a visiting dignitary. I guess they just don’t know me as well as my colleagues in the states. . .

They closed the conference with one of the more loquacious Kiwis giving out South Australian champagne for gag awards. Deep down I was hoping they would give me something or single me out in some way. When they got to “best job in the world” I was wondering how that would pan out. When he started out describing the best job as one who gets to fly around the world attending wind conferences the guessing was over. It was a hoot and I gladly picked up my bottle. I guess it’s not such a bad job after all.

Did you know that the Aussies pronounce “Aus” as Os from which they get “Oz”. The conference organizers were AusWEA, pronounce “Oswee”. Took me most of the week to figure that out.

Nancy, Ian Piggin said to say hello. He was sorry you didn’t come. He liked my lecture on aesthetics–so did a number of others as well. He still works with a small Adelaide company.

Here’s some expressions I wrote down on my handy dandy, ever ready notebook.

Laboreals = Labor Liberals, equivalent to our Republicrats

Fair dinkum = true

Putting some skin on the road = not sure, getting started I guess

First is best dressed = early bird gets the worm

Rooting = having sex, so don’t talk about a “rooting section”

One sandwich short of a picnic = Briticism for dump

Rat bag = Briticism for irritated

Drongo = Briticism for moron

Muppet = Briticism for silly

Tearing around like a cut snake = willy nilly?

In the same paddock = on the same page

Carve and run = cut and run, used to describe speculators

POM = prisoner of mother England, also pommy, pommies for Brits

Here’s a good one I heard at the conference. Politicians have two ears and one mouth. They listen twice as much as they say–or act.

And they really do say g’day mate despite what you’ve been told that it’s a dead expression.

Out of some 300 there were only four Americans at this conference: one Canadian from BC, one Mexican studying in Melbourne, and one other yankee.