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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas in Peregian

I returned from my week off in the sunny Sunshine Coast and was asked by my jealous co-workers how I enjoyed my break.

My honest reply was of course that it wasn’t really a break, at least not in the holiday sense of the word.

My idea of a break is going to a place where people are a figment of someone else’s imagination, where you can leave your towel on the floor, walk around wearing the same pajama pants 24 hours a day, grow your beard so long so that your face becomes its own buried treasure and you can fart out loud and compliment your effort because there’s no one else around to criticize your personal escape to mandom.

That’s a real holiday.

But let’s face it, that sort of get away is boring, makes for an arcane blog and doesn’t present you with the mental and social challenges of Christmas with the family.

And what a setting!

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, and that’s the earth’s bottom for those of you who are wondering, you don’t just dream about a white Christmas, you scratch your head and wonder what one would even be like, the very concept of snow at Christmas time is foreign and almost as fictional as Santa Claus himself. (insert disclaimer for those of you who still believe in the jolly fat man).

The only equivalent to a sleigh ride here is catching a wave on your boogie board, and the warmest Christmas attire for us Aussies and Kiwis is a bikini or a pair of budgie smugglers. You need flip flops, thongs or jandels (as we kiwis call them) to stop the sand from char grilling your feet until they look like something from a burger king bun. Instead of snow warnings the weather man with zinc on his nose warns you of the danger of a heavy cloud of potential skin cancer moving in from the east with occasional thunder storms.

Actually the difference between an Aussie summer and a kiwi one hit me square in the sun burnt parts of me this year! It’s like the difference between a cat in a potato sack and a wombat in a frying pan!

In the weeks leading up to my holiday I was in Auckland complaining about the December “heat” debilitating my motor functions and harvesting sweat beads all over my hot oppressed self. I was still wearing jeans though, and I slept under my cozy covers.

My first night in Queensland and I was wondering if taking your skin off would help cool you down; jeans were now a thing of stupidity and bed covers were decorations to be kicked off before you went to sleep.

But I can’t complain, our room faced the wonderful expanse that is Peregian Beach, so the sweet sea Breeze came in through my window and had its cool way with me while I slept, only to be greeted by the sun at 5 am, the fiery red bugle boy in the sky, beckoning me to watch him play regardless of whether I liked his flaming hot jazz.

It was nice for my baby though. Being a winter child she has never been 10 minutes out of a jump suit. Now she was free to have fun in the sun with nary a covered bum and little else.

Peregian is beautiful. Alien compared to New Zealand beaches; a strange land full of gum trees, other trees and Bush Turkeys. They came out to look at us once but were suspicious and wouldn’t eat the dried apricot I threw their way, but instead ran away from it like it was a time bomb or a cautiously disguised laxative – more on that later.

In the Sunshine Coast the Beach never gets lonely. We were some of many visitors who offered their bodies to its open arms on a daily bases. One day in Noosa, another in Peregian, you can’t seem to run out of beach there’s so much of it.

In Noosa there’s a bay you can swim in with the fishies and then bake on the sand while parrots in the trees above drop seeds on our head, showing their contempt for the tourist industry or upset that the majority of topless sunbathers consisted of fatties like myself.

Noosaville was a pleasant scene, on a river where you can hire a boat or a barge for an afternoon and travel to a secluded spot, light up the Barbie and feed the sausages you don’t eat to the hordes of fish watching you from under the water’s surface… a mate and I spotted a cloud of little fish, no bigger than my pinky, only better swimmers. They traveled in a thick cloudy mass. We jumped on them to try to separate them and they still stuck together like there was a mysterious gravitational force pulling them together… then they started biting us and the game wasn’t fun any more.

The wild life in Australia is always present it seems. No matter where you are. We ate fish and chips, wonderful fish and chips, by the river in Noosaville under a huddle of palm trees where an Aussie Bat bullied us with a steady rain of miniature coconuts, although missing every time. I threw one back to prove my superiority but failed.

These Queensland Bats are amazing. If you can imagine a Walla bee in a Bat Man costume, that’s a Queensland Bat; only imagine 10,000 of them flapping their way across the sky in the twilight, probably all holding miniature coconuts ready to pelt at the next unsuspecting tourist they see.

I saw a dead bat once on the side of the road in the Gold Coast, like a giant winged teddy bear only smelly, rotten and hardly cuddly. There was is nothing cuddly about the occasional crispy bat you see dangling quite dead like from the power lines in the middle of the day either! A friend of mine once told me a story of when he went to take a bite out of his precious ham burger when suddenly a giant fruity poo landed splat bang in the middle of his dinner still clasped in his hands. They’re a beautiful nuisance and a spectacular treat for a kiwi like myself who knows the only exciting thing in the sky back home is the great big invisible hole in the ozone layer.

Incidentally if you are a kiwi planning a trip to sunny QLD then don’t bother purchasing your sun screen until you get there because the Aussies have obviously cracked the sun screen code, having found a way to provide their citizen’s with cheap lotion, like it was a basic human right or something; unlike New Zealand, the skin cancer capital of the world, where you have to be a suit to get the required amount of UV protection.

(Mental note to self, bring back sun screen next time I go to Oz)

The conundrum of Queensland is people need to wear more clothes, and yet they can’t. Fashion designers have the impossible task of inventing new outfits using the least possible amount of fabric. It gives a hot blooded male the wrong impression when the ladies in the shopping mall are wearing almost the same thing as the ladies at the beach! But it’s the sun that wears the Prada and dictates what people don’t wear, which is practically whatever they can get away with… The ancient Victorians of 130 years ago would not like present day Noosa for that reason, and I’m afraid I must be two thirds Victorian…

Christmas Eve came and my wife and I took a lovely stroll down to the Peregian Township by the sea to listen to the Carolers singing a song called “6 White Bloomers” which I assume is some Australian folk song about underpants. I was hard pressed to hear what it had to do with the true meaning of Christmas and even the usual Christmas intruder, Santa himself, would be confused. It sounded like Karaoke on the beach so we turned around and put the nightmare behind us.

That was the night I ate half a bag of dried apricots to naturally push the indulgent holiday food of the previous 4 days out of my constipated self. It worked like a treat but made for an extra long game of Scruples that night as I politely disappeared from the gaming table to do what can’t be written about. It’s a curious thing about me and holidays, its like my bowels go on holiday too and refuse to do any work and every one wonders why I’m not as mobile as they are!

So apart from the violent tendencies of the wild life, the half naked Australians and the potent apricots I would say Christmas in Peregian is a delightful cultural experiment. A far more enjoyable pass time than hiding in a hole on your holiday or watching the snow land on your windowsill!

So I came home after a week of shorts and an open shirt and quickly put my jeans on. The blankets are cuddly at home in Auckland and I can drive with my windows wound up and as I sleep I wonder if the Christmas Turkey I ate was what was left of one of the locals after feeding him an apricot.

Next Christmas we’re aiming for Fiji…


  1. I should add that the burger tasted so damn good before that bat added his special sauce.

  2. Scruples will never be the same again


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