Then There Was That Time…….Down Under

A pair of folded orange-framed sunglasses laying on grass.

If you have a mind that frequently inhabits the gutter, this post may not be what you’re expecting. It’s not that kind of Down Under.

If God had wanted me to fly, I assume my bum would feature a blue touch-paper tag with the words ‘light here and step back to a safe distance’. My bum sports no such thing, so I stand by my conviction that flying is not part of my remit. Although I did once use a plethora of flying metaphors in a heart-spun post on The Lockwood Echo’s first anniversary. Maybe I could invite my new followers to have a read here.

So flying is done the old-fashioned way like everyone else. By climbing inside a metal tube, strapped to gallons of highly explosive fuel and propelled to several thousand feet. All whilst in the company of a couple of hundred complete strangers.

I’m not a fan.

But despite that, I once survived a trip as far as you could fly before you came back on yourself.

I went to a Land Down Under.

The trip started in Cairns. Hot and tropical. Various activities were booked where I could engage with this country, its landscape and as little of the wildlife as possible.

One of these activities involved a canoe and a very large lake. My memory will swear on oath the lake was in the shape of a skull and crossbones. It smelt poisonous and it looked dangerous. And what better way to appreciate just how anti-social this lake was than to canoe across it. In canoes. In a completely inexperienced manner.

Now, being in the hot tropics, we all stripped down to swimwear. A rather splendid bikini on my part, showing not too much but not too little. Health and safety was paramount though, so we were all given life-jackets. Less than fetching, but nonetheless an important detail to this tale. The next vital snippet; I couldn’t find my sunglasses.

The organisers of the trip thought it would be fun to disembark and get down and dirty with the…….err…….dirt. An opportunity to learn something of this land, its history and indigenous tribes.

We were shown how rock ochre pigments could be made into a paste with a little water, a varied palette of paint just from the stones lying around our feet. We were encouraged to have a go at face-painting. What fun.

We took this deeply spiritual, ancient, Aboriginal artform and expressed ourselves in the only way that ignorant uncouth tourists can. Although our minds were full of wonder and our hearts full of respect for the tradition and the people to whom it belonged, there was no denying it looked as though we’d just had our first day at kindergarten. Splodges of brown, Adam Ant style stripes, yellow and orange swirls; our little philistine faces more ‘mud bath chic’ than ‘ancestral awakening’.

Cultural immersion over, it was time to head back to our digs. We paddled back to the main shore, miraculously without dying.

Remember those missing sunglasses? During the course of the afternoon, I decided I must’ve left them at a little cafe in town I’d visited that morning. As we were cycling, it seemed the perfect opportunity for me and my travelling companion to take a slight detour back to the cafe.

Inexplicably, we didn’t think anything of the need to get changed. Swimwear, of one description or another, was virtually daywear for much of my Antipodean adventure, more conducive to the water-based lifestyle I found myself living. Even more inexplicably, we didn’t think anything of the need to forgo the life-jackets. If I can canoe in a life-jacket, I can cycle in one. And one final ‘icing on the cake’ accessory, the literal ‘tin hat’ on it all, was a cycling helmet. It’s the lawful legal law in Australia to always wear a cycling helmet whilst using a bicycle style mode of transportation.

We set off. Leaving the lush green forest behind, back to suburbia and people and everyday-ness.

Let me amalgamate those elements for you. Because you are damn well NOT going to see the photographic evidence;

A very white, but slightly sunburnt girl, rocks up to a busy town centre cafe on a bicycle that she is in little control of. She’s wearing a bikini, a life-jacket and a cycling helmet. Her face is sweaty but clearly decorated (as there are no sunglasses to hide any of it) with haphazard red, brown, orange, yellow spots, splats and smudges of ochre paint. She isn’t wearing any kind of shoe. Holiday-zone oblivious to how she looks, she casually walks into the cafe, which is crowded with diners, to enquire whether she’d left her sunglasses there. She had. She takes her sunglasses, thanks the staff and casually walks out.

She catches her reflection in one of the cafe windows. Horror strikes. Crippling mortification. Her head screams;

‘What unholy bag of crap do you look like?’

Her brain back-tracks. Replaying the whole scene again. She glances back into the cafe…….


Australia: I love you.


If you enjoyed this, please feel free to share it, tell all you know about it and visit my Travel Section for more misadventures.

If you didn’t enjoy it, please feel free to pop your thoughts on a postcard and then set fire to it.



  1. You’re so adventurous! I’ve only recently come to terms with the fact that I’m mostly not. My husband and I have friends in Australia, and they’ve been begging us to come visit, but the flight is just so daunting. How did you make it through all those hours??

    Also, it doesn’t help that flying on planes is my personal nemesis, and I have to be drugged in order to do so.

    Love this post. I’m totally picturing you standing in that cafΓ© and it’s cracking me up to no end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m really not very adventurous. I’ve just made it sound that way. The whole trip only came about 5 weeks before I got on that plane. So I had little time to be nervous about the whole shebang, so much to organise, plus I’d just started a new job. And it really was a different person that went. But the flying terrified me! Never been on a plane since. I’d flown before. A bit. Luckily it was free in flight drinks, so a few G&Ts and non-stop snacking helped. Lots of films. We did a 3 day stopover on the way, but just a touchdown for refuel on the way back. 25 hour flight! This was 20 years ago and I hear the world has got smaller, so it might not take so long now πŸ˜‰ Go go go!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 🀣🀣🀣🀣

    What a great sight you must have been. You must have looked so …..individual πŸ˜‚. I love the way that nobody seemed to see this as anything but ordinary. I think I need to visit there πŸ˜‚. Thanks for the chuckle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ‘Individual’, lovely tactful reply ;). For a country that is so connected to its watersports, I doubt it’s unusual to see people walking down the street in full Scuba gear/snorkels/carrying kayaks. Glad it gave you a giggle.


  3. Your description of your bikini-clad, mud-covered self was hilarious β€” but also cute. Perhaps the diners found you utterly adorable? Either way, I’m glad you got your sunglasses back, if only to safeguard your anonymity. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, the sunglasses were very important as I discovered on another excursion. Whilst being instructed on some health and safety, the final piece of advice was to make sure you always had your sunnies on, so that you looked good when you were rescued. A piece of advice I’ve never forgotten ;). Thankyou for suggesting I looked adorable. I could prove how wrong you are with a photo, but I love you for thinking otherwise ;).

      Liked by 2 people

      • Always having your sunnies on really is sound advice β€” and the bit about looking good while being rescued is just genius. I still want sunnies large enough that they cover most of my face so I can plausibly deny any embarrassing photos are me, though. πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am Australian and I saw that whole ‘no one cared’ punchline coming. Great story!

    Although I have to ask … are bicycle helmets *not* a law in other countries? Because I always just assumed that was pretty normal. Like with seat-belts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You really are a very laid back breed πŸ˜‰. Some great lessons in life learned. Wearing a bicycle helmet is not law in the UK. Though it is highly recommended and there have been many campaigns. That trip was the first time I’d ever worn one and I was in my thirties at the time! Thankyou so much for reading. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately there is photographic evidence, but you didn’t hear it from me and it’s locked away never to see light of day again! Yes, Australians are truly lovely laid-back people. It’s a stunning country, alas not without the dangers that Claudette is sadly facing. But fellow Aussie Lucy above also didn’t bat an eyelid at no-one batting an eyelid. Not only very chilled, they must be used to tourists and their mad-cap escapades! Thankyou so much for stopping by. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Thankyou. I was in a dilemma as to what title to give it, then when I thought of this one, I was worried people would think it was rude. Maybe MY mind’s in the gutter πŸ˜‰ I’m getting ‘Down Under’ confused with ‘Down Below’ aren’t I? Thankyou so much for swinging by. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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