funny as!

June 10, 2008

As part of my daily routine down under, I’ve been trying all the local productions recommended by friends and people I meet along the way, whether is theatre, music, tv or cinema. After being amazed with old Australian movies such as “Muriel’s Wedding” and “The Adventures of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert”, discovering such contemporary movies as “Two Hands” (starring Heath Ledger), “Sommersault”, and the horrifying true-story based “Wolf Creek”; this time the show which has kept me awake laughing out loud, comes from the little screen. That’s right! Despite my dislike for television, this ABC series has filled my life with joy and new quotations. I find myself constantly laughing on the streets or at work as I remember some of the lines.

I’m talking about the Australian television mockumentary series ‘Summer Heights High’, written by and starring Chris Lilley. The series is about an Australian Public High School, focusing on three main characters, all played by Lilley. The series brings up typical daily situations from the Australian society, which can easily be recognized in other societies around the globe. Chris Lilley, who was born in Sydney and lives in Melbourne, demonstrates his brilliant acting and creative skills by delivering a dark yet hysterical humour. The three protagonists are a spoiled private school exchange student, Ja’mie King; the offensive Tongan break-dancer student Jonah Takalua; as well as the flamboyant, eccentric, frustrated actor, teacher and ‘Director of Performing Arts”, Mr. G.

The show, which brings a high dose of awkward humour, can be for Australia, what ‘Little Britain’ is for the UK, or even what the American version of ‘The Office’ is for the United States. Due to its controversial themes, in addition to constant absolutely wrong statements, the series has divergent opinions amongst its audience. Nevertheless, regardless if you like it or not, Chris Lilley’s talent is something on which we can’t disagree. This outstanding production can be found on DVD somewhere near you, and as I refuse to leave Australia without my own copy in my suitcase, I’ll have one to proudly let you borrow!



The Fratellis – Whistle for the choir 




It was from an unsophisticated thought that I ended up having the adventure of my life, while discovering my new way of traveling, or at least the best way of experiencing Australia.






Camping has never been my thing, probably due to the level of overindulgence in which I was raised. Nonetheless I’ve always had adventure imprinted in my soul. Although I’ve loved road trips since I first started driving, I’ve always been attached to my home comfort. My previous few camping experience can either be described as drunken and forgettable; or sober, painful, and unforgettable. 




After deciding to take some time off work and travel over an extended holiday weekend, my partner and I had the idea of hiring a campervan. Surprisingly or not, that’s a common business down under, as we found several companies which offered the same service. Sold by the website layout, we decided to go with Britz. The vehicle options are endless depending on the number of people you are traveling, desire for luxury, and budget. Whether you plan on hitting sealed roads or the outback, they have the right car for you. 






We decided on the “Elite” Model which accommodates two people, which is fully equipped, and has a toilet with a shower, microwave, air conditioner, cd player. Our kitchen had everything your home kitchen has, at the same time the bed was comfortable enough to make you want to go to sleep. The vehicle had panoramic windows all around, which gave us cinematographic walls, changing according to our location. 




Without having a destination in mind, we hit the road towards the sunset, aiming for the Great Ocean Road. Driving on one of the most beautiful roads in the world, without time or a place to be, was a delightful feeling. Sometimes we were tourists stopping at scenic lookouts, other times we were adventurers who would park the car in the middle of nowhere and hike towards the unknown. We would buy fresh seafood in the small fishing villages, and keep it in our refrigerator until we would accidentally find the perfect place to stop, and cook our meal at the flawless spot. Unintentionally, we found the perfect spot to sleep every night, always away from the city lights. As a result of that, we were blissed out with the incidental lighting every sunset and sunrise. 






After driving through the entire great ocean road; after seeing the massive waves hitting the shore. After spotting koalas, kangaroos, emus, cows, precious birds, and sometimes a few human beings, we decided to drive inland heading up to the Grampians National Park.  Two days of hiking in the cleanest air, under the tropical rain in the rainforest, we decided to go back to the coast and interact with others like us.






As we got close to Apollo Bay, our car suddenly broke down, leaving us along a road without mobile coverage. After panicking and running in circles for a while, we  were rescued by two danish surfers, and with the help of some amazingly well intentioned locals, we got in touch with the road assistance. For a minute we thought our adventure was over, however Britz sent us a tow truck which drove us to a motel in Geelong. The next morning we woke up ready to ride the train back home when the company tells us we have another vehicle on its way and we’ll have an extra day to compensate for what we’ve lost. Following the script of ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert‘, we were back on our Great Ocean Road. 




As we were close to Torquay, we decided to go check out the Rip Curl Surf Championship, the aussie edition of the WCT, which took place in Bells Beach. After surfing half a day at one of the best breaks we’ve surfed, we were ready to settle for the night. At the last moment, we had a couple of good friends joining us. After looking for a good place to spend the night, we ended up on top of a coal mine just off the Great Ocean Road. It was beautiful, mind-blowing and surreal when the sun went down and the absolutely full moon rose. We fell asleep as the night fell, waking up early in the morning on the next day for one of the best surf sessions ever. We surfed at the same spot some local surfers had recommended. It’s called 13th beach, located about 20 minutes east of Torquay. As the morning goes by, as the swell increases, we notice photographers and videographers coming to that remote beach. Soon enough we started seeing some surfers flying over those waves, they were some of the best surfers in the world, like Dane Reynolds, riding and sharing the same waves with us. 






At the end of that memorable day we came home, wishing we could have stayed on the road for a bit longer. The campervan experience was not only approved, but strongly recommended to the ones that like an adventure but can’t let go of cleanliness and some level of comfort. For now we can only look at the pictures and happily remember the extraordinary experience, while planning our next adventure: New Zealand, on the road.