Wednesday 7 April 2021

Trans-Tasman bubble, yay!

Well, thanks for including Tassie, Scott - but, the Apple Isle aside, you’ve left out some of the best bits. Victoria, yeah - but what about South Australia, and the Northern Territory? I’ve had some of my best Aussie fun in those states. 

Both my home town, Christchurch, and sister city Adelaide owe some of their history to the same dubious character, Edward Gibbon Wakefield (his page on begins with the throwaway sentence: Wakefield developed his theories of colonisation while serving a term at Newgate Prison for abducting and marrying a teenage heiress. They don't talk about that in SA when they're telling you, as they always do, that they're not convict-settled.) 

So I felt comfortable there, with the grid road system, heritage buildings, central square, all that - but it's outside the city that I've had the best times. Riding a camel, herding cattle on horseback, glamping, hiking through the Flinders Ranges, sighting an enormous feral cat, swimming with tuna and sealions, spotting koalas and being wowed by cuttlefish on Kangaroo Island, sleeping underground in Coober Pedy, surviving a dust storm, eating sheep's milk haloumi, cuddling a roo joey, being awed by amazing ancient rocks, lying on my back in the grass waggling my legs in the air to - successfully - attract an emu. And people think SA is just about the wine!

And then there's the Territory. Where to start? With Darwin, the frontier town? Japanese bombing, Cyclone Tracy, a-dingo-ate-my-baby court case, NT News headlines, rough and ready citizens. Really, though, it's all about the Outback - gloriously empty mile after mile of red soil and blue sky, and a flicker along the edges where the colours meet. Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon. Aboriginal culture, ancient and modern art, music and stories. 

Even rougher and readier Alice Springs, where the annual Henley-on-Todd regatta involves people holding boats around their waists as they run along the dry riverbed. Opals. Road trains. School of the Air and the Flying Doctor. Stone curlews screaming like murder victims in the night, dingoes howling, bats ticking past like clockwork toys. More water than you'd expect - lakes like mirrors, waterfalls, rivers below towering canyon walls, or between sandy banks draped with untrustworthily sleeping crocs. Barramundi on every menu. 

I could go on, and on, and on. I've had so, SO much fun in the Territory and South Australia. Terrific places to visit, and guaranteed to deliver great stories. Go there! You can, Kiwis, now...

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