Tag Archives: Australian

Awkward Gully and questionable town mottos

8 Aug

I recently drove over Awkward Gully, then Purgatory Creek. A while later came Skeleton Creek. The names made me laugh (what can I say, there wasn’t much else around to keep me amused). Once upon a time, they must have been called those for a reason. But why? For the former, I’d like to think that it wasn’t the gully itself that was awkward, but that it was named after an embarrassing event that occurred there. “Let’s sit down, Astrid, I have something to tell you. I… I love you. Passionately. I want you to deflower you right here in this gully.” “Well actually, Arthur, I asked you here today to let you know that I’m your biological mother. Good day.”

Tidy Towns: Another amazing tourism drawcard.

While I’m on the topic of ‘Things I Saw While Driving Between Tamworth and Byron Bay’, I would like to say to the tourism committees of small towns everywhere: Look, we know you have a tough job coming up with a motto that encapsulates what you’re about while also attracting tourists. But really, WHAT THE HELL? To wit:

“Find yourself in… Uralla”

So I get that they’re alluding to the spiritual sense of “finding yourself”. But as this is emblazoned across a sign not so far out of this small town, it comes across as more of a geographical help than anything. “Keep going along this road and you’ll find yourself in… Uralla”.  Was it a statement of fact… or a warning?

“First town of the North Coast: Grafton”

Well, it’s technically correct, I suppose, so full marks for geographical relevance. The excitement factor, however, is nil. Minus nil, if possible.

“Byron Bay Arts & Industrial Estate – a uniquely Byron experience”

As my passenger at the time mentioned: “Yes, sheds are a uniquely Byron experience”. Well put, passenger, well put.

“Worth a visit: Mayfield”

Okay, this wasn’t on my trip, but damn if it doesn’t make me smile every time I see it. WHY is it worth a visit? Well, it’s really not, as any Novocastrian will tell you; there is literally NOTHING of interest there (apart from a fish and chip shop oh-so-humorously called ‘Happy Hookers’, and you can only find that interesting for a VERY brief period of time).

The encouragement award goes to the Guyra caravan park, by the way – a sign proudly proclaims that it’s the caravan park at the highest altitude in Australia. I guess in the crowded tourism park market, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get those travellers in…


Stuff (that) Mel gives me

18 Jul

How does one feel when one’s friend starts a blog populated solely by items one has emailed to that friend in the past? Flattered, sure. And a bit weird, to be honest. And thirsty, definitely thirsty. Where's the blog of the stuff I've emailed YOU, huh?

My friend Shaun (of the now possibly defunct Popcorn and Wine blog, and the definitely defunct blog I could have sworn was called Random Ramblings, but I can’t find any remnants of it anywhere so maybe not) has started a blog called ‘Stuff that Mel gives me’*. Over the years I’ve apparently emailed him hundreds of links to videos, images, articles and whatever else can be found on the internet. I thought he would have been giving them a perfunctory glance before sending them to the trash, but it seems he’s been saving these emails and links, and is now showcasing some of them on the blog.

I love the idea. Like everyone else, I send links to my friends with the hope that they laugh or cry or are enlightened by the content. But it’s also a bit nerve wracking – after all, every time I send a random link to someone I have a mini moment of “What if they hate it and they lose whatever respect they had for me?” Now, with this blog, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD CAN LOSE THEIR RESPECT FOR ME. Exciting times, people, exciting times.

Of course, it also totally appeals to the narcissist in me – I naturally have impeccable taste and want everyone to see the wonders I’ve curated from the world wide web (albeit filtered through what I thought Shaun would like, then what he chooses to post on the blog).

You should totally bookmark the site, sign up to email updates or add it to your RSS feed right now… after all, with Shaun’s record, it seems this blog may not last long.

*The blog itself is titled ‘Stuff that Mel gives me’, but the address reads ‘Stuff Mel gives me’. The inconsistency is troubling in itself, but it’s also not factually correct – it would be much better if it was ‘Stuff Mel has sent me links to’ or ‘Stuff Mel has directed me to on the internet’. Catchy, no? Anyway, Shaun is aware of this, and I’m sure his next blog will be named in a more correct manner. We can all relax.


18 Feb

Smithereens by Shaun Micallef, Penguin Books, 2004 (re-released in 2011, but original version reviewed here)

smithereens by shaun micallef. Mwah!The mayor’s wife was on the verandah to meet me in sensible shoes offset by an insensible hat. She also had a décolletage that not only demanded to be looked at but leapt out and ran across the lawn to slap your face for doing so. A complicated woman.

Oh, Shaun Micallef. How I love you so.

[At a dinner party] before dessert is served, the table should be completely cleared of all dishes from the previous courses, and these should then be washed loudly in the kitchen with lots of audible sighing.

Shaun Micallef (aka My Future Husband {If He Wasn’t Already Happily Married with Children, Living in Another City, Pretty Much Out of My Age Range and Entirely Out of My League}) is a freaking genius. We all know him from his sketch, talk, (mock) news and quiz shows, but you should really get to know him as an author, too.

Smithereens is a collection of short stories and plays by this now 48-year-old. Many are just two pages long – the longest is 12 pages – but each one is so jam-packed with absurd humour that I found myself taking ages to read each chapter, as I had to pause to think about the clever wording and hilarious set-ups all the freaking time. It’s actually for that reason that I needed to space out my Smithereens reading sessions – I didn’t want to just get in the ‘ha, that’s funny’, skimming-to-the-next-page mindset. This is a book to be savoured.

The plotlines vary wildly. There’s the death of Pope John Paul I, an imagined meeting with the then Govenor General Peter Hollingworth, a tale of a small-town GP who tells a depressed woman that she’s depressed because she’s actually a bloody awful person… they’re all here, and lots more, wrapped in crazy, sometimes acidic, always imaginative prose. But it’s not the stories themselves that are so awesome – it’s Shaun’s clever, clever words. Having said that, my favourite would have to be ‘Visiting Rites (A Play)’, a dark, bittersweet and perhaps pretty accurate tale of a son visiting his dad in a nursing home. Happy times.

Read it when you want to enter a place where anything is possible. It will also help if you do it when you don’t mind having to think – or laugh, loudly and often – while you read.