Category Archives: holidays

Canberra – Cooma – South Coast


Seems the new aesthetic for Canberra hotels is “auspol shitpost”, I got into it after a while




I ran past the intersection of Polo Flat Road and Geebung St in Cooma, bit of a bush poetry reference going on here


Cooma was very quiet but the pub had Kosciuszko Pale Ale on tap and the clouds were good


Perisher was even quieter than Cooma, but they still had snow. Beard status: unpopular progressive album


Tathra is really beautiful. “Imagine being in the snow then driving 300 km to a beach like this” -some Australians


A wallaby and joey at Arugunnu in Mimosa Rocks National Park.


I haven’t been to Mystery Bay since I was a kid, when I thought these rocks were petrified wood, which apparently they aren’t. The geological term for Mystery Bay is a ‘kink zone’ so I was probably too young for it at the time.


It was surprisingly hard to find fresh oysters but driving to Pambula was worth it. There are some who would find oysters for morning tea, two days in a row, to be excessive, but they are weak.


The fattest, fluffiest, laziest cat in the world lives at the heritage village of Central Tilba, where they also have great cheese and scones.


The mouth of the Bega River at the north end of Tathra Beach.


Silvery gibbon at Mogo Zoo. These are Indonesian animals but I think it’s picked up some gestures from the locals.


Near Pretty Beach. I used to come on family holidays a few beaches north from here when I was a kid but never noticed how insanely lovely it is.


Halloween, mate

I’ve been hanging out for Australia to celebrate Halloween since I was small: when I was seven or eight I forlornly attempted to trick-or-treat my street in western Sydney. On reflection, it’s probably good that I gave up well before I got to the Milat residence. Yeah, those Milats

So I have a strong bias towards Halloween. I can sympathise with Australians who grumble about it being “Americanisation”, but only a little: if it were an entirely American invention, we should still embrace it. Just as we have adopted the internet: because it’s awesome.

Except that it wasn’t an American invention. Halloween has been celebrated in Scotland and Ireland for centuries and was brought to the USA and Canada by settlers. What I’m wondering is why it wasn’t also brought to Australia.

Even more curious is the fact that the Scottish and Irish celebration of Halloween is not widely known in the south of England: see the comments to this article on Guy Fawkes Night.

I have a pet theory about this, which like most pets is very poorly researched. Halloween and Guy Fawkes are only six days apart. In those countries with strong native Catholic traditions, Halloween would be a natural rival to the originally anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes Night, and was celebrated in parallel – or, possibly, reborn as part of the Celtic Revival.

In the early years of the Australian colonies, by contrast, the cultural traditions of Catholic settlers were suppressed: as was, for example, the Irish language. So Guy Fawkes Night took over, and Halloween came to be seen as alien and American. A similar process may have happened in England: perhaps Guy Fawkes absorbed or syncretised the 17th-century English celebration of Halloween.

(I think Guy Fawkes eventually morphed into the Queen’s birthday Cracker Night which was sadly extinguished in the 1980s. In New Zealand, I understand, it’s still celebrated on the 5th of November.)

Either that, or it was all due to a lack of turnips, which are what the original Irish and Scottish Jack o’ Lanterns are made from.


I’m taking the family down the coast tomorrow, where I’ll be meeting even more of my family and having the third 40th birthday party so far. I’ll be back next week.

Happy Queen’s Birthday!

The tradition of the monarch having multiple birthdays dates back to the days of Elizabeth I, who famously asked “what’s the use of being Queen if one can’t have as many birthdays as one desires?”

By the end of her reign, Elizabeth was having as many as four birthdays a year, often announced on the day if Her Majesty felt in need of a pick-me-up.

Because Elizabeth had created the Duke of Essex as Master of the Royal Extra-special Surprise Birthday (a birthday which was to fall on a different date each year, which Her Majesty was not to be informed of in advance, and which had extra cake), this tradition was carried on after her death.

During the Civil War, almost all of the royal birthdays were lost or destroyed by Parliamentary forces. The two surviving birthdays were concealed by Royalists in a disused privy at Edinburgh Castle, and were not celebrated again until after the Restoration.

The apparent multiplication of royal birthdays with the expansion of Empire is in fact an illusion brought on by one of the birthdays having crossed the International Date Line during World War II, when it was shipped to New Zealand for safe keeping.

In Australia in the 1990s, lukewarm enthusiasm for republicanism and the ban on fireworks lead to a brief-lived and unsuccessful movement to rechristen the Queen’s Birthday long weekend “It’s been a while since Easter”

Hope you enjoy your Queen(s’)(‘s) Birthdays(es)!