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Posted by on Jul 9, 2013

Random Thoughts – Your Questions Answered About Australia


We’ve been off the grid for a bit as we’ve transitioned from New Zealand to Australia (biggest difference — we can actually understand the people in Australia), and after powering on the campervan generator I discovered the dowhatyouwanttrips e-mail box was overflowing with letters from you, our loyal readers. I can only hope to provide satisfactory answers to your fantastic questions.

Would it be possible for you to send some wine from Australia back to the States? Maybe some things we can’t get back here?
Harold and Big Al, Chicago
It may be hard to believe, but you can actually send a case of wine back to the States for nearly what it would cost to buy here. How is that you say? Well, in a word, taxes. The Australian government absolutely pilfers its residents when they buy wine. First, there is the 10% Goods and Services tax. Then, comes the tax on wine (the Wine Equalization tax), a whopping 29%!!! Are you f’ing kidding me? What this means, though, as one winery was able to show us, is that shipping wine to the U.S. is nearly as cheap as buying it here because you don’t have to pay the ridiculous taxes even though shipping the case is quite expensive. So yes, Harold and Big Al, let us know if you want some wine shipped and we’ll find some gems.

Happily enjoying the line up at Mount Langi Ghiran.

Happily enjoying the line up at Mount Langi Ghiran.

You mentioned you could understand Australians better than New Zealanders. Any words of phrases from Australia we should know about?
Babs, Hanover Park
Way to pay attention Babs. There are a host of words and phrases we’re trying to wrap our heads around. Here’s a few: G’day — hello; How you going? — how are you; Good on you — way to go!; Oye — hey!!!; Pokies — slot machines; Jumper — sweatshirt; Esky (for eskimo) — cooler; and best of all Mates Rates — wine industry discount!
In a previous blog post you talked about Netball. Have you been able to play it yet. Also, would Kirk Hinrich be good at Netball?
Matthew, Naperville
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to play Netball yet, though I am still hoping to. As for Kirk Hinrich, no he would suck at Netball. And he would get hurt on the way to the Netball game. What a loser.

Any other new sports you’ve had to pick up in Australia?
Doug, Evanston
Yes!!! Australian Rules Football. And let me tell you, it’s just madness. It’s played with a ball similar, yet slightly larger than a football from the U.S. But you don’t throw the ball, you can only punch it to a teammate or kick it (the most common actions) or I think you can run with it a certain distance. There is a main goal post similar to what we know except it doesn’t have a crossbar. If you kick or carry the ball through this goal post you get six points. But there are two other goal posts on either side of the main ones. If the ball goes between either of these you get one point. Games are basically a free for all, with swarms of people around or near the ball at all times. There’s also much violence, made more interesting because no one is wearing padding. It’s brilliant. We’re hoping to go to a game.

So it looks like you say “Brilliant” now. How British. And lame.
Mona, Chicago
Thanks for the e-mail mom!

You typically talk about something to do with bathrooms in the places you visit. Any updates now that you’re in Australia?
Scott, New Lenox
Timely question Scott!! Just the other night I woke up at 4:45 a.m. and had to pee. I opened our campervan door and there was a kangaroo less than 2 meters from the van (that’s quite close). Though the kangaroos haven’t bothered us when we’ve walked by them previously, who am I to know what will happen when I get out of the van and find a tree to take care of business, they are wild animals after all. I was ready to just hold it, but decided to try and scare the kangaroo away. First, I shone my headlamp light on him and he/she didn’t flinch. Then, I slammed the van door shut and that seemed to do the trick. I wound up peeing a meter away from the van (quite close!) since the holiday park was swarming with other kangaroos. Crazy.

Seriously, these guys are huge!

Seriously, these guys are huge!

Do you miss me?
Patti, Oakhurst, CA
More than you could imagine. We talk about you all the time.

Are these questions for real or do you make them up?
Anna and Sloane, Glenview
The questions in the e-mail bag are as real as George and Sylvia. Not the twins, however. You see, George and Sylvia were unable to have children, but they found some twins they could adopt in Alaska, hence their move to Ketchikan. Sylvia didn’t feel comfortable talking about it, but now that they are settled into their lives in Alaska she said it was OK to come clean. Sorry for deceiving you about them.

George Jr. and Sylvia Jr. with sled dog.

George Jr. and Sylvia Jr. with sled dog.

Any advice for soon-to-be parents?
Dan and Jody, Glen Ellyn
Yes! Take your kids everywhere. Don’t become home bodies. Live your lives with them rather than living their lives. We’ve met parents who have taken their children to live in a foreign country and others who drag their kids places they would rather not go (like to the top of a mountain). The experiences will be worthwhile even if they can’t appreciate it at the time.


  1. You are a mind reader! How did you know I was googling Australian sayings this weekend. Never know when they will come in handy. The biggest question is are you getting “Mates Rates”?
    Love all your answers to our questions.

    love you,

  2. Not a single question about beer from anyone? My question: why so much wine talk and so little beer talk?