I started this while hurtling through the air, at over 550 miles per hour, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean (the other side of Fiji) on my way back home to Boise. Wanna know what the trans-Pacific flights are like? Sit on your washing machine while it's running and look out the window when it's pitch black outside!!! What tomfoolery and madness, our forefathers must be thinking! You guessed it; I went on walkabout again.

Seemed to me as a bloody good time to jot down my observations on recent Australian trip. At times the trip could have denigrated into the "seagull" trip. You know - fly in, shit on everything and fly out, but I had a heap of fun although the start was a bit ordinary to say the least.

Somehow I had it in my thick scone that I was leaving Boise at 4:00 PM on Friday so I got to the airport at 2:00 PM thinking that I'd have 2 hours to get the show on the road. Well, it turns out that I was meant to be on the 2:20 PM flight connecting to a 4:00 PM flight out of San Francisco. Luckily I was able to fly out of Boise on the 6:20 PM flight and get on the oversold connection out of San Fran into L.A. I planned everything so as to not forget anything and the most important thing to check was missed i.e. the bloody flight details.

I know from previous experience that it takes about 40 minutes to go from one side of L.A. airport to the other and had 50 minutes to catch the Air New Zealand flight, luckily I literally ran into an L.A. cop while getting my hustle on. I give the poor bugger my best Crocodile Dundee/Steve Irwin ""G'day sorry mate" routine and explained my predicament. To my eternal gratefulness he takes me through the airport and points me to a short cut to get from Terminal 7 to Terminal 2. I get to the gate with 40 minutes to spare, forget the shuttles!!!

I've lost count on how many times I've done the trip back and forth across the pond, but it only takes 10 minutes to figure out that it's the same 14 hour bum numbing bullshit it's always been. I get into people watching while nowadays on these flights to pass my time.
   - You've got people on their first plane flight nervously looking around every time the tin crow hits a bump.
   - You've got a group of young fellas who've worked out that the legal drinking age on this flight is 18 (as it is in Australia and New Zealand) and that all alcohol on the flight is free, so they tried their best to drink the plane dry..and coming a miserable second I might add.
   - You've got the glum faces of people realizing that it's back off to work on Monday to pay for their little soirée to the United States of a Miracle or Australia depending on their direction.
   - Last but not least you have the business traveler who have done the trip too many bloody times for their own liking, including a couple who've got the irits that their respective companies are to "Jewish" to let them fly up the front of the bus. Hey at least they're in the bus!!! ;-)

I landed in the southern city of Melbourne (the capitol of the state of Victoria) and had to wait for Khalil and Yamammie to pick me up. I hadn't seen their daughter Nicole or their son Jad as they were born after I left back in '96, so I was looking forward to that. Their expectations of my arrival were a week out as they were happily checking out the back of their eyelids for holes (as anyone would at 11 AM on a Sunday after a big night out on the turps) until I shattered the silence by calling.

Much banter and news was exchanged and it was off to the pub for some much needed supplies of "Crownies" (Crown Lager for those of you haven't had the euphoria of the angels dancing on you tongue). What was the occasion so deserved of crackin' a Crownie or three??? Was it my visit? Yeah right! Was it a birthday? Not even! Was it a moment of some importance? You betcha it was. The National Rugby League Grand Final was on and some imbibing must be partaken upon on such Holy events occurring on the sabbath.

It didn't take but a good nights sleep for me to get over my jet lag, so I was off to my good mates Paul and Cathy's place to hang out with them and their two ankle biters, Ben and Caitlin. We went out for brunch at a great little place and caught up on all the goings-on over the past several years. Paul and I took off for a bit of a drive through the Dandenong Ranges that look over Melbourne. What a great view, although we didn't get out of the car, as it was cold and miserable, a bit like a mother-in-laws kiss. As any Aussie will tell you, if you don't like Melbourne weather, wait 5 minutes but it just so happens that on my visit, the timekeeper was off duty.

From that Antarctic wind blown city it was off to the sunny sub-tropical climes of Terranora on the border of New South Wales and Queensland. My mate Philthy, his bride Jodi along with their three girls Sianne, Kasie and Tayla had the "pleasure" of my company for about a week. Philthy is the sports master at a private school and as part of the curriculum he has to teach surfing classes. Talk about a hard life!!! Who better to teach me than him? So every morning at around sixish we'd be off looking for some waves.

Now, not by any stretch of the imagination would I call what I was doing surfing. It was more like the big unco falling off some foam, but I did manage to get up on the thing more than once, so I am stoked big time. We took time to shoot on down to Byron Bay with the three girls. We must have looked like some kind of poofter family judging by the looks I noticed Philthy, the three girls and myself were getting while walking around. We did hit the Eastern most point in Australia while there. So I now visited the most Northern, Southern, Eastern and South-Western most points of Australia. I only have the most Western to go.

It was my turn to cook a feed for the entire Wilkins/Shegog clan on the Sunday night, which also coincided with the running of the Bathurst 1000 for the V8 Supercars. Good on the Holden's finishing First through Fifth. Aussie's will know what I'm talking about.

Anyways, I cooked a whole fish (by all accounts it turned out amazing) the last time I was here, which set the culinary standard for this trip. I started out with a cream of roasted pumpkin soup with fresh peppercorns, followed by a herb crusted marinated roasted loin of pork with a summer salad. To finish off we had a tropical sponge cake trifle with bourbon laced sponge cake, bananas, kiwi fruit, strawberries, mango and whipped cream. All dishes were made from scratch and fed 10 adults and 6 kids. Apparently everyone loved the menu and my legal representative was pleased that no one keeled over from food poisoning!!! ;-)

I took a day off to cruise on up to Brisbane for the day. I managed to catch up with my Mum, my blood blister (sister) and her fiancée and my good mate Skidders. A good day was had by all, as the next day I was back on the tin crow again.

Returning to my hometown of Alice Springs always has mixed emotions for me. I love flying in and spending a short while catching up with all my mates, but I don't feel like it's home anymore. In fact, I feel homeless in my own country. Maybe, just maybe, Boise is really home now!

I spent a great couple of days catching up with all the usual suspects but due to the Masters Games and a wedding the previous weekend I managed to catch up with a lot of the rugby players I used to play with and against. It was an unofficial reunion of sorts.

Hanging heavy in our hearts was the bomb blast that ripped through the Sari Club in Bali, as 11 years ago to the week we would imbibe upon much revelry and alcohol intake, previously unknown to mankind, in that same bar as part of our end of year footy trip. My heart was saddened further when I found out that a mate's niece was one of the victims.

I was cheered somewhat by the fact the Gavin and Cindy tied the knot and my good mate Fluxy announced he was marrying Sonya at Easter time next year. Damn, another trip back to Australia!!! ;-) I also took my mate Roey's Shelby AC Cobra for a fang. What a rush!!! Forget Viagra, driving the car is all about fun!!! It was like running a billy cart down Anzac hill, motza fun!!!

I came away from this trip a little wiser. On previous occasions I was a man on a mission so to speak, like attending a wedding, trying to avoid a divorce, throw in two funerals, being a travel guide or whatever and you can see what I'm on about. This trip was all about me, I was able to do anything I wanted, when I wanted.

I have a much better appreciation of my mates. In true Aussie tradition, my mates will practically do anything for you, including disposal of the bodies. I never wanted for anything the whole 17 days I was away. Accommodations, cars, food, company was all shared freely and unreserved.

In attending the wedding of a close personal friend, my knowledge was sought in regards to matter of which, I am saddened to say I have first hand experience, the absolving of a union. The only piece of advice I can come up with (and that ultimately with my divorce) is generally divorces are caused by a simple matter of accommodation. We all are born with, learn or are taught habits/mannerisms/traits that will form the foundation of who we are.

As we get older, we get somewhat better at hiding them, but for a while. When marriage comes along both partners are willing to forgo some of those perceived misgiving up until a point. Once that point has been reached it's a matter of if the other person in the relationship is willing to continue and accommodate those actions, which although the core of the person, can not be changed and a resultant 60 percent of marriages travel down the separate corrugated roads of divorce.

All in all it was a great trip for many reasons, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and would do it all again in a heartbeat although you can stick the 20 odd hours flying in each direction right up your jumper. ;-)

Anyway's, I've got a million things to do, so I'd better be like the shepherds and flock off. Hope to hear from you soon.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Stay Happy ;-)