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Category: Bucket List

Dreamland

Dreamland

I just finished watching both series (seasons) of Dreamland, originally titled Utopia, an Australian satire mocking bureaucratic waste and inefficiency centered on the fictional Nation Building Authority. The show is part of the research I’m conducting prior to traveling to Oz in the next couple of years. I want to have a good feel for the culture and language before I go, as I intend to set a story there.

Why else would I travel halfway around the world?

Oh, right. Vacation.

Anywho, if it’s a vacation, it’ll be a working one.

Dreamland is hilarious, if you understand the comedy inherent to this sort of satire. If not? Eh. You’ll be lost. Some of the humor is dry and some went completely over my head. (That depending on Australian slang, for instance.)

What makes Dreamland so great is the way the actors completely buy into their parts. There’s not one bit of incredulity, even under the most ridiculous situations, like when the WiFi goes out and the only place anyone can get a signal is in the men’s toilet.

Pre-trip Reading

Coincidentally, I also just finished reading Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia by David Hunt. It’s billed as a satire, but struck me as more of a smartassery than anything. I did learn more than I probably will ever need to know about Australia’s founding, and particularly of its early explorers and settlers. If you pick this one up, don’t skip the footnotes, as they contain the funniest bits.

I have a handful of other books on Australia stacked in my various to be read piles, one of which I’ve already started. Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey–and Even Iraq–Are Destined to become Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport was written by Simon Kuper (a sports writer) and Stefan Szymanski (an economist) as every footy’s answer to baseball’s Moneyball.

There are enough statistics in this thing to give even the most dedicated numbers man a headache. It’s taken me weeks to get ninety pages into it. Now, don’t get me wrong. Soccernomics is a fascinating look at the sport that captivates much of the world, but it’s a dense read, especially for a newbie like me. My closest brush with soccer was two seasons of rec ball a decade and a half ago when my son played. Yes, I coached both years, but what did I know? The other mom/coach did all the coaching and training. I stood on the sidelines and made sure the kids didn’t kill each other in a Gatorade-induced frenzy.

Soccer is apparently huge in Straya. The number of leagues and clubs is astounding. I think every ‘burb there must have at least one team (club?) for every age group. I’m not kidding. Since it seems to be something of a national past time, I reckon I’ll have to catch a few matches while there.

I’d really like to understand the game first, though. Since I don’t have a way to watch sports at home, every week, my son and I eat at least once at La Cabana (Dillard) so I can watch part of a match.

I’m the one wearing the wacky t-shirts while avidly watching the TVs mounted high on either end of the main dining room. My son is the one wearing the wacky t-shirts while avidly chatting away about work and such.

And a good ol’ time is had by all.

Bribery

The picture at the top of the page was taken by a good friend who lives in the state of Victoria. She’s bribing me to visit by sending gorgeous imagery of her vacations and off-day trips. Yup, it’s working. I don’t even like beaches, but after seeing the pictures she sends, I’m dying to go.

To satisfy visa requirements, my bucket list trip was originally supposed to alternate between two to three months in Australia and a month or so at home. I’m trying to work out the finances now so I can live in Australia for at least a year, the length of time I figure I’ll need to research and write the aforementioned book. It’s likely I’ll get other stories out of the visit, considering that satisfying visa regs only requires a trip out of country. I don’t have to go all the way home to do that.

Say, isn’t New Zealand nice this time of year? How about Niue?

No idea when I’ll pull everything together for the trip, but I did finally get a passport. Step one, fulfilled. Now on to step two: Global Entry and TSA preCheck. Fun. What was that about bureaucracies again?

Bucket List: Australia

Bucket List: Australia

Note: This post originally appeared on my author blog on 9 December 2015.


My son and I love to travel and we have a ton of places we want to go. For the past few months, we’ve been dreaming of going to Australia. I have friends in the Melbourne and Brisbane areas, so we figured we’d hit both places in one go, since they’re only a couple of hours apart by plane.

One friend, knowing we’re hoping to travel there next year, sent me a few pictures she took during a recent vacation. The one here is of the Twelve Apostle Rocks near Port Campbell, Victoria. It’s summer there and just gorgeous. Who wouldn’t want to go?

The logistics of getting to and from Australia from the States are intricate to someone who’s only ever traveled overseas once. (My son has been out of the country more than I have. How sad is that?) I don’t even have a passport, so that’s the first order of business, and before I even book flights, we have to get visas. Only then will we be able to plan our itinerary.

My son only wants to stay about a week, but I’d like to take advantage of the short duration of Australian visas and linger for a month or so. There’s plenty to do, visits with friends, local historical and natural sights to soak up, soccer. Apparently, soccer is quite big in Australia.

I’ve been doing some preliminary research on the country and have been surprised by the differences between cultures here and there. But this is the great part about visiting a foreign country, even one with shared roots. Hopefully, the stars will align just right and we can make the trip in the next two years or so and experience Straya ourselves.