My Croc-wearing Vancouver friends would be interested in knowing that Perthians seem to
dislike hate loath Crocs. I’ve been told they’re so ugly, they’re actually offensive. During my first week in Perth, with little luggage, I went out on a Friday night in the city with some new friends. I was in my best travel/outdoors clothes, oblivious to the fiercely-strict and widely enforced “leather shoe” policy. It is considered quite an achievement that while wearing a fleece and Crocs, I managed to waltz right past the bouncers — who looked at my attire — into one of the poshest bars in the city. Surrounded by people wearing suits, some friends of friends I met congratulated me on the accomplishment, before joking to have me thrown out.
Being in Western Australia now, far from Vancouver, I’m reminded of home in the strangest ways: In Vancouver I ate “WA Grown” apples; now I eat “W.A. Grown” apples.
The other day I sat down for breakfast and began to spread peanut butter over a banana. Halfway through I noticed my coworkers watching — no, staring — at me. With a look of half curiosity, half disgust. “What the heck are you doing?!” they exclaimed.
“Oh… yeah, hmmm. You guys don’t eat peanut butter and banana here. Do you guys eat peanut butter and jam? It’s sort of like that.” I pointed out, to help my case.
“Heard of it…. but nah, never tried it”, one guy responded, with nods of agreement from the rest. They winced as I began to devour my creation.
“Well in Canada everyone eats peanut butter and jam. And many eat PB and banana. It definitely beats your Vegemite!”, I told them.
(If you don’t know, Vegemite is a thick, salty, nearly black yeast paste that every Australian loves. But nobody else has heard of it, and if they have, probably think it’s gross.)
The slang here is so diverse it’s like learning another dialect. I’ve stopped noting all the new words that Australians have invented. Most people have no idea that a substantial proportion of their vocabulary cannot be found in the dictionary. “Oxford? What’s that anyway! We’re in Australia, not England, mate”, they’d tell me.
Some of my favourites are what they call groups of people. An electrician is universally referred to as a “Sparky”, and a carpenter as a “Chippy”. For obvious reasons. But a red-headed person is a “Ranga”: Because they look like orangutans! I’ll never look at another red-head again without seeing a large, mainly solitary, arboreal ape.
On the topic of funny names, I’ve met so many miners with nicknames now. A few are perfect, and some others have interesting stories behind them. Examples of the funner nicknames include Smurf, Twiggy, Pedro, Cowboy, Ripper, Pirate, Peewee, Rookie, Gun, Sumo, Deathie, Turtle (and his brother Tortoise), Download, Hollywood, Rimo, Superdave, and Slugger.
I’ve put up a few more photos from underground at the mine, and some from a recent climbing trip. I should have a couple more of Perth in the near future. Check them out via the thumbnail above!