Watchdog Blog

Herb Strentz: Not a Bad Time for a Visit Down Under

Posted at 10:55 pm, February 10th, 2010
Herb Strentz Mug

Mindful of the awful winter besetting much of the nation and the political news frustrating all of us, here are 10 travel tips and trivia should you decide to escape Down Under to Australia and New Zealand. (Accommodations provided by our son-in-law’s family and friends not included.)

1. Qantas is an acronym: Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.

2. Just one Iowa lake likely has more pollution (fecal matter, etc.) than there is in all the lakes and rivers of New Zealand combined. Incredible.

3. Speaking of 2., Lake Wakatipu at Queenstown, NZ, is purer than distilled water, or so it is advertised. So much so, that a boat guide said you can operate electric powered tools underwater! He did not offer to demonstrate.

4. No left turns on red in either NZ or Oz. In Oz it is the “overtaking lane”; NZ has it correct as the “passing lane.” (By the way, it is pronounced “Ozzie” not “Aussie,” “Kiwi” is as advertised — the flightless bird and symbol of the NZ Air Force.)

5. Both nations less litigious than the U.S. Examples: trampolines easily accessible at motels; anyone can climb the 153 rungs of the fire-watch Gloucester Tree, more than 60 meters, and two similar trees in Oz; you just climb the metal rungs drilled into the tree; some chicken wire and the spiraling rungs should stop you from falling too far if you slip.

6. TV Satellite dishes face north. Takes some getting used to.

7. Interesting highway sign in NZ: Drink and DrIvE.

8. At the Reef restaurant in Dunedin, NZ, don’t order the Tiger Prawns. A dozen of them come in shells, replete with heads and beady eyes, and skewered on a piece of wrought iron, which hangs down from a gallows type deal affixed to the trivet your plate sits on. Appetizing? I should say!

9. The Oz press is freewheeling. Sometimes that is refreshing. Sometimes, well: A TV station covering the visit of Prince William brought along “We Love You William” signs for girls in the crowd to wave.

10. Your other daughter in Seattle can reach you by cell phone while you sit in a subway car in Perth, Australia. Priceless.

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