My Love-Hate Relationship with Australia

First of all, there’s a lot more to love about Australia than to hate. In fact, I really can’t think of anything I truly hate about Australia. Mild disapproval, in the true tradition of Anglo temperament, is about as strong as it gets.

Loves

1) The people. The friendliest people ever encountered in all our travels. And, although they’re as disgusted with American foreign policy as the next guys, they don’t make it the basis for all conversations. They’re usually more interested in where we come from, how we can live in such cold, and why we drink such weak ass beer. Then there’s the ubiquitous, “mate.” Love it.

A Day on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

To me, one of the oddest things about my recent traveling jag is how much I am enjoying the outdoors. Those who know me well know that I vastly prefer going to a city rather than the country and sitting at a poker table rather than subjecting my delicate complexion to the harsh sun.

But lately, that seems to be changing. In the past couple of years we’ve tromped around the Grand Tetons, hiked along mountain paths in the Andes, walked across Spain, and last week even climbed a mountain that actually involved climbing rather than walking.

Those who know me also know I hate boats. I once got off a boat while it was docked in Seattle Harbor even though they were giving away free drinks. I sometimes sit on the dock and wave to my friends as they head off on a pontoon boat with drinks in hand–even on a calm day.

A Brief Poker Stop in Melbourne

We stumbled upon Melbourne, as is usual for our travels, during what must be it’s most exciting week of the year. There was the Australian Open tennis tournament, the Aussie Millions poker tournament, and a big Chinese Festival along the River Walk. Of course, being me, I gravitated towards the poker.

We arrived on Day 3 of the “Main Event.” The field by that time was down from the original 659 to about 26 and we got to watch a table with poker legend Phil Ivey for a couple of hours. Now, you may think watching other people play poker is about as exciting as watching the proverbial drying paint, and you’d be right. At the final tables of a tournament of this level (the winner got AU$1.5 million), everyone is so “tight” in poker terms that there’s not a lot of action.