A Tender Tale

But the swagman he up and jumped in the water hole
Drowning himself by the Coolabah tree,
And his ghost may be heard as it sings in the Billabong,
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"
 ...(Proposed) National Song of Australia

After Christmas we took off and after crossing the equator at 180 degrees (can you say Golden Shellback?) we sailed on down to Australia. Wow!. I could spend a week talking about Sydney - and Manley Beach (wolf whistle here!). It was New Years - and the middle of Summer. Yup everything is backwards and or upside down in Australia. After having sailed a few thousand miles at 12 knots... we get off the ship - and jump into a Chevy - er - they call them Holdens down under - anyway - jump into this taxi - which takes off going 100 on the WRONG side of the street!... We thought we were going to die! Actually - you get used to driving on the left pretty quickly - and 100KilloMeters per hour is roughly 60 Miles per hour - hardly flying - but after a week at 12 knots - it seemed like it!

It's kind of strange - as an American - I'd always thought of the song Waltzing Matilda as a fun "non-sense" song - however - once "down under" you quickly come to appreciate that this song is really about the heart and soul of a nation - and a continent. It's about the heritage of those pioneers who in seeking freedom - explored and tamed (and continue to tame) a vast and incredibly diverse land. Australia is big - and most things in it are scaled to match. Take trucks. Here - 60 feet, 5 axels, 14 tires and 80,000 pounds is a big truck. In Australia a truck may go 170 feet; have 18 axels, 70 tires and weigh in at more than 400,000 pounds. These "Road trains" run the "out-back" highway called the Matilda Highway - which runs from the population centers in the south - up to the Northern coastal towns. The highway passes through a large part of what is Australia - and like the song it's named for - shares much of the heritage and history of the land.

We stayed in Australia just long enough to have a good time - and pickup a stow-away. She sneaked on board and hid in a fan room - so they say - most of us suspected she had help - but we didn't know for sure. Anyway - we dipped into Brisbane and dumped her off - and went on to Guam.

© 1997 Common Cents Computers