There are a lot of things about Australia that I haven't really fit into any specific journal entries, so here is a random sampling of observations:
VEGEMITE - Vegemite is nasty, and it's everywhere. It is this spread that they put on toast, sandwiches--basically any bread. It looks like Nutella but it tastes like very salty puke.
NEIGHBOURS - During dinners at the Serpent hostel in Cairns, there were TVs mounted everywhere. On TV was either The Simpsons (they LOVE The Simpsons in Australia) or this awful Australian psuedo-soap opera called Neighbours. It's just horribly cheesy and badly acted, but it's on ALL THE TIME! Every time one of the hostels had a TV, Neighbours was playing.
LANGUAGE - It's so interesting to hang out with the Aussies and the English and the Irish--we'll be talking and they start to laugh mid-conversation and I have to go back and figure out what triggered it. I was offered candy, but when I call it candy I get a laugh. It's sweets or chocolate. "What IS candy?" they ask. "Just chocolate, or all sweets?" "All sweets. Do you use the word candy for anything?" "No. Well, maybe just candy floss." "What the hell is candy floss?" Some charades, then I understand. "Oh, it's cotton candy." "Cotton candy!" Hysterical laughter. I offer someone a Tim Tam, which are these amazing Australian chocolate cookies that people at work always bring me when they go to Australia. "What is that?" "It's a really good chocolate cookie." "Cookie! That's not a cookie, it's a biscuit. You know, like tea and biscuits. We do not use the word cookie." I ask where the trash can is. "You mean the rubbish bin." You don't have friends, you have mates, which sounds somehow more intimate and personal to me. Never say vacation, it's a holiday of course. Piss up = party where everyone gets smashed. You use piss a lot actually, like when you're giving someone a hard time you're "taking the piss outta 'em." "Cheers" is the universal word, it means hello, goodbye, thank you, you're welcome, oh goody, and it's also used as a toast. And you don't go to college, you go to university, or just "uni."
TOILETS - A word about bathrooms. First of all, you don't call them bathrooms, you call them toilets, otherwise people look at you strangely and explain that there are no baths. We think it's a little crude sounding. And the public toilets in Australia have been remarkably clean, even at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. They pretty much all have hand driers only, which is very annoying. Almost all the toilets have two buttons to flush, and we haven't quite figured out why. And as for what direction the water flushes, we can't figure that out either because it just kind of goes down with a big WOOSH.
EMUS - We have encountered many large birds in Australia. Emus are evil and scary. They give you very frightening looks.
STA TRAVEL - They are everywhere we look, and all the backpackers we meet are traveling on STA Travel tickets.