we’ve come to a land down under

So week one of my time in Australia has come to an end. This was always going to be the part of the trip that flew by. The excitement of meeting old touring buddies as well as friends from Hereford, thrown in with the start of an Ashes test series and the general carnage that is a cricket tour has made for some serious time passing by before ones eyes.

Brisbane gets a bad press from a number of people I know. I quite liked it. The people were far friendlier than the stories I have heard. I have listened to tales of people being fined for J-walking and general other harmless misdemeanour’s by Queensland’s finest, but I came across nothing like that. The city itself was clean and tidy while its folks seemed to respect the place, maintaining the cities smart image through places such as the Botanical Gardens. All of the transportation and infrastructure was extremely modern and well designed. It was just a decent city from what I could see. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is quite a difficult update to write seeing as this is a travel blog and I saw very little of Brisbane. Other than the forty minute walk to the ground from my hostel, several bars frequented by cricket fans and the only value for money offer in the whole city, the superbly efficient and free to use train system, I can’t say I saw a great deal of the city itself. Did I miss much? Nope, not really. Sure it would have been cool to have the time to go down and have a look at the Gold Coast, but I’ve seen enough beaches in the last few weeks to satisfy my desire to look at beautiful white sands and crystal clear waters. As it happens I’m back by the seaside, in a quaint little town called Glenelg, situated just outside of Adelaide.

One thing is for sure – everyone I have met is talking money. I have wrote previously about the need to have days off doing very little in Ashes in preparation for this seven week jaunt across Oz for financial reasons. See, while the rest of the world has been fighting a global recession, Australia has seen its economy go from strength to strength. I am led to believe the main reason for this is the sale of large quantities of iron ore to China, which has made Australia into the global economic super power it is today! The result has been a near halving of the pound in relation to the Aussie dollar over the past few years. The lads who toured here eight years ago sung a song in which they boasted, ‘We got three dollars to the pound’ and that they were ‘So rich, its unbelievable’. Fast forward to today and we are getting $1.60 to the pound. Yes, that’s right. $1.60. When you throw in that the cost of living in this land has also risen sharply, you can see why all of England’s supporters are shitting themselves at the prospect of being in financial ruin come January 7th and the final day of the test series!

Here’s some of the ridiculous prices I have paid so far. $28 for a bottle of house white. $4.20 for a 500ml bottle of water in the cricket ground. $7 for an hour on the internet. $17 for a jug of crap Aussie beer, which actual volume provided about two full English pints. You get the picture, its fucking expensive here. These are just some of the prices that I have handed over, I won’t even start on the price of pub grub which I have only touched once after a beer fuelled afternoon in the Chalk Hotel watching Australia bat. Of course its gutting to part which such volumes of cash, especially after being in places such as Cambodia or Indonesia where the cost of living was dirt cheap. But that’s just the way it is so I’m am just getting on with it, paying what needs paying and still having a great time with my mates.

There are rules that need following to ensure that I can see the trip through to the end. I’ve strictly told myself not to get pissed for the sake of it, like you would in the evenings on most tours, and ensure when I am out smashing it up, I do it properly! One blow out a test match or something like that…..exceptions maybe made if we win, naturally. I’m determined not to allow the money situation to become a feature. It’s quite difficult not to do a conversion in your head of what you are actually paying for in pound sterling. The trick is to just accept that this is an expensive tour and just get on with it. When everyone else around you is constantly banging the money drum, its only natural that you start calculating everything. I’m lucky that I am saving twelve nights accommodation in Sydney, which is a godsend.

Brisbane was a big social event. The first afternoon was spent getting merry with the usual faces, as well as Pete and Susannah from home and Rob, another mate who has been living and working in Victoria since the start of the English summer. In fact, I was just leaving the bar just when they turned up after downing a couple of bottles of the house white in the Pig & Whistle boozer. It would have been rude not to stay for a few more so blow out number one was well and truly achieved on the first night of the tour. Anyway, it was great to catch up and spend some quality time with them in their rather smart rented apartment. I get the feeling that Pete is starting to fall for the lure of overseas cricket tours, see you in Calcutta, Pete-o!

A lot gets made and written about Australian cricket fans. The Corridor of Uncertainty (English cricket fanzine) has published an excellent article outlining the type of behaviour usually associated with Ozzie cricket followers. They have a reputation for getting pissed on very little amounts of beer, being obnoxious to anyone nearby, swearing profusely and generally being antisocial arseholes. Obviously now I am so open minded from travelling (hahaha) I wasn’t so quick to judge a couple of lads sat in front of us on day one, who started drinking as soon as play started. They had all the hallmarks of being a nightmare for the next five days – we quickly learnt that was not the case. It was great to spend some time watching cricket with some locals that were not anything like that those stereotyped Aussies outlined above. We got to know one lad called Dev-o (all Aussies nicknames for people end -o) really well, sharing beers with him in the evening and watching the cricket unfold over the five days. The highlight was during a slow evening session in a reasonably quiet Gabba cricket ground. Dev-o had sunk a few by this point and took it upon himself to shout at each Aussie player to ‘Give us a wave!’ This was met by either ‘You are a crowd pleaser!’ or ‘You are not a crowd pleaser!’ depending on whether he got a response or not! Michael Clarke in particular finally waved after hearing the shout that he would left alone if he got just one wave….only to be followed with, ‘Only joking Pup, give us another wave!’ Good luck in your AFL comeback, Dev-o!

One test down and four to go. Here’s hoping the money doesn’t run out…….(there I go again)


4 Responses to “we’ve come to a land down under”

  1. 1 Donna
    December 1, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Money money money ….must be funny its a rich man’s world!Glad you are enjoying the tour Richard and meeting locals as well as old mates sounds great fun hope. I hope you continue to enjoy the Tour and being back by the seaside just outside of Adelaide! Wow, enjoy!!

  2. 2 Matt
    December 1, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Yo Rich
    Glad you’ve made it to Adelaide – my favourite place in OZ for cricket.
    It surprised me in your blog that there was not a single mention of Ali Cook’s cover drive (or the cricket in general for that matter – sure you enjoyed it though).
    The atmosphere in the ground looked great on the last day, when none of the Aussies turned up, and it was all English – the songs were booming out!!
    Must be great being in OZ with all the stuff criticising Australia (we were never on top when I was there).
    Enjoy the second test
    Matt (who doesn’t give a shit about the state of your facial hair 🙂

  3. December 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Matt – I thought about writing about the cricket but it’s not really what this page was about….i’ll have to send you an email with my cricket musings at some point.

    And yes, Ally Cook was Gower-esque once he past 180 😉


    • 4 Matt
      December 2, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      Yeah, fair point – I knew your blog wasn’t going to be about cricket – thought you might have squeezed a bit in though.
      Amazing how things change around – Ali Cook’s gone from being expected to be dropped, to being touted as a potential test run-scoring record breaker (14 test centuries and only 25 years old).
      The funniest thing was apparently after day 3, the Australian newspaper printed an apology to the Aussie selectors, saying they had got the selection right (Malcolm Conn was on TMS on the last day, and it was difficult for him to criticise the Aussies without appearing very fickle).

      Good to see Ali Cook is disciplined enough to only get the cover drive out when he’s past 180 🙂
      He was very, very good though!!

      Enjoy Adelaide – and the hill (watch out for pissed Aussies throwing stuff at you)



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