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A Visitor's Guide to the Real Australia - part 3

...Or maybe it is; and if you're up for a bit of adventure, Steve Irwin style, there's the Top End just waiting for you. There are guided tours a-plenty that will ferry you to places where you can scrape skin off your hands and knees climbing up and down magnificent gorges; take snaps of stunning landscapes to show everyone back home what it looked like where you got lost for a week and had to be rescued by the SES; or you might fancy a chopper ride over inaccessible country that hasn’t changed for millions of years. Anyone who likes to get back to nature can book on an off-road bush-safari. Most are well organised, although I’ve heard of the odd one that turned out rough as guts and the management was very reluctant to give refunds to dissatisfied customers. Then, of course, you can choose to drive yourself. Just remember the value of getting some local knowledge first – it can be a life-saver; and definitely take any warning signs seriously. Like the ones about not swimming with crocs. That applies to anywhere in or near (even on land, crocs can run faster than you!) rivers, creeks, billabongs and the sea - our crocs are salties, but they don't mind a bit of fresh. Rivers up north are great for barra which are a treat on the barby; but standing waist-deep in water to fish for them isn’t too smart – crocs love eating them too, plus anything or anyone else they happen on in the vicinity that can be chomped and rolled. If you want to get up close and personal with these prehistoric beasts, do it in a wildlife park from the other side of the fence. Try to match a croc on his own turf and he'll be the one with the toothy smile. So, when it's real steamy hot and you’d kill for a dip, jump into one of the pools of the swanky hotels. The only thing likely to bite there is the drinks bill at the end of your stay.

On the more sophisticated side, wine buffs are well catered for in most states. You can get the wood on where to go from information centres, or maybe the local bottle shop. If an area is suitable for growing grapes, there’ll be a few vineyards around, many of which have cellar-door sales where you can have a taste before you buy. Some even have restaurants, making a day’s drive through the Adelaide hills or Victoria’s Yarra Valley a very pleasant experience. But drivers be warned – there might be booze buses lurking, so if you don’t want to get done for DD, stick to fruit juice, or book a tour and enjoy the plonk without the worry. Happy hunting.

Colloquialisms used in the above text:

backpacker: a traveller who moves from place to place, often by hitching rides, and carrying all their belongings in a backpack.
barby: barbecue, as in the item of cooking equipment; also used for the actual event or occasion – fancy a barby this arvo?
barra: barramundi, a predatory fresh water fish similar to a pike, prized as a tasty and very expensive restaurant dish.
beaut: beautiful, great, wonderful, excellent.
billabong: isolated waterhole, often in the bush, sometimes fed by a spring, or a nearby creek.
bitumen: any road sealed and surfaced with bitumen (tarmac).
blokey: appertaining to male-orientated things that women are unlikely to find entertaining; just for men.
booze bus: police van equipped to test drivers for alcohol consumption – and they do!
bottle shop: a shop that sells take-away liquor (UK: off-licence); can be a pub, but this is generally referred to as “over the bar”.
burl: a try, a go, an attempt, usually at something that has not been experienced before.

Colloquialisms continued on next page...

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