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Home Among the Gumtrees


Crazy, these Aussies: this owl, which isn’t an owl at all, they call it Frogmouth, even though a Frogmouth doesn’t eat frogs. And they are all driving on the wrong side of the road (the Aussies – not the Frogmouths). When we got Colin’s car to go to the ship chandler, we had to drive zigzag all the time. And when we activated the blinker switch to pass a car on the left, we each time started the windscreen wiper. We were glad to be back on Alua where the steering wheel is amidships and left and right are marked with red and green lights accordingly.
Our friends Janet, Colin, Kate and Max welcomed us heartily and they do have the home among the gumtrees we knew about by the song of John Williamson we often listened to on our way across the Pacific. And now we do sit on the Veranda out the front and suck in the smell of the gumtrees, watching the wallabies hopping by. And if you ask where and how we first met our Australian friends, read Janet’s report below, published 2011 in Australia’s most widely read weekly newspaper „The Weekend Australian“

Die spinnen, die Aussies: Diese Eule, die gar keine Eule ist, nennen sie Froschmaul, obwohl sie gar keine Frösche frisst. Und wie die Auto fahren (die Aussies, nicht die Froschmäuler): Immer auf der falschen Seite! Als wir Colins Auto ausleihen durften, um zum Ship Chandler zu gelangen, mussten wir dauernd Slalom fahren. Und der Schalter für den Blinker war auch auf der falschen Seite, weshalb wir immer den Scheibenwischer starteten, wenn wir zum Überholen nach links blinken wollten. Da waren wir doch froh, wieder auf der Alua zu sein, wo das Steuerrad in der Mitte und die linke und rechte Seite mit roten bzw. grünen Laternen gekennzeichnet ist.
Unsere Freunde Janet, Colin, Kate und Max hiessen uns herzlich willkommen und hatten genau das Home among the Gumtrees, von dem John Williamson in dem Lied gleichen Titels singt. Oft hatten wir auf unserem Weg über den Pazifik die Anthems von John Williamson gehört und nun sitzen wir also tatsächlich auf der Veranda out the back, atmen den Duft der Gumtrees (Eukalyptusbäume) und bestaunen die Wallabies (kleine Känguruhs) unten am Teich.
Und für all diejenigen, die sich fragen, wo und wie wir unsere australischen Freunde kennenlernten, kopieren wir hier einen Bericht, der von Janet geschrieben wurde und so 2011 in Australiens meist gelesener Wochenzeitung „The Weekend Australian“ erschien:

Not so ski and easy on the Matterhorn

In the frosty shadow of the Matterhorn, we believed we'd be just fine. We reckoned one alpine ski lesson would be enough; friendly folk on beginners' slopes made it look pretty easy. So next day, ready at dawn, a lone family from Queensland, without a ski instructor, eagerly waited for the chairlift to open. We soon realised tropical living had not equipped us for action at altitude.
Slopes with T-bars were avoided after we were catapulted far off track and forced to trundle through thigh-deep snow. Chairlifts abandoned us in places that looked quite different on the map. We were the peculiar people who chose to ditch their dignity, snap the skis free, watch them slide downhill and humbly follow, balanced on bottoms. High above Zermatt, our view of ourselves as a capable family was under assault.
Ignoring pressure areas due to unforgiving boots compressing her shins against persistent woolly wrinkles in socks and long johns, our 13-year-old daughter initially chose to ski on rather than hold us back. As our 16-year-old son's constricted toes ceased to have feeling, he too decided it would get better if he just kept going. His feet were like homemade icy poles packed into a full freezer.
She was saved from seriously swollen shins and he was rescued from tragic toes not by wise parenting but by the human desire to declare defeat and seek comfort in hot chocolate.
Choosing our safest mode of travel amid craggy peaks, we stumbled through the moving door of the cable car. Stepping in beside us were two dear Swiss we would soon know as Nellie and Peter. Our family despondently studied the ski map. "Try here," Nellie and Peter interrupted in sympathetic tones, pointing to other foothills. Their advice helped us to plan beyond our wounds and weariness to again believe that we could ski upright at speed. And we did.
Skiing with these kind-hearted locals and enjoying wisdom, schnapps and fondue at their place were the highlights of our holiday. On their next trip down under, we are eager to share our home with them in non-alpine Brisbane.

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