The Yarra Valley, petting kangaroos and lots of drinking with my new bogan friends!
Take a quick detour to Adventures in Australia Part 1 if you haven’t read it already!
Shortly after Rainbow Serpent with Mel, my new group of friends I refer to as “The Castle Crew” (due to their homemade festival castle), invited me to spend some time with them in their hometown of the Yarra Valley. Just an hour East of Melbourne I rode up there for a few days of trouble making, the promise of seeing wild kangaroos and a visit to the Healesville Animal Sanctuary. The Yarra Valley reminds me a lot of upstate New York with the beautiful Yarra River, rolling green hills, vineyards and farms; it’s really picturesque.
Being the newbie tourist, I was so excited to see Kangaroos! Typical, I know. But they’re these cute, deer, mouse, bunny creations and I was dying to start crossing creatures off my Aussie bucket list. My new mates took me to a friends property who was caretaker for two motherless roo’s, so this would be a sure thing! I got up close and personal with the little fellas and even got to feed them! A native might roll their eyes but I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it!
We also checked out the Healesville Sanctuary which is the type of things you take your little kids to (it’s essentially a glorified zoo) but again I loved seeing the myriad of crazy looking Australian animals and the live bird show was super entertaining! If you want to see huge birds of prey swooping overhead and finally see a platypus, echidna and Koala all in one place, the sanctuary is definitely worth a visit.
After all of the wholesome activities it was apparent we were in need of some mischief. My friend Timmy asked what we drink in New York. Immediately I thought of the typical Brooklyn special you find at many bars: a shot of whiskey and a cheap beer for about 5$. A bottle of Jameson and a slab (a carton of 24 beer cans) of Australia’s finest cheapest beer, VB, was purchased to properly show them how we drink in NYC. I hung out with Zuey, Timmy and Woody in Zuey’s dad’s garage/communal hangout area. Zuey’s dad is an old, hippy biker type who taught me loads of Aussie slang (such as adding an O at the end of every word) and they had a great, big, drooling, sweetheart of a dog named Boz. I knew we were in for a good night.
It didn’t take long before we were pissed (drunk) and Timmy took out his tattoo gun! Wait…a tattoo gun? Yes, you heard me right. Timmy is a fun loving, carefree, human being who gives zero fucks about conventional things like letting strangers tattoo him. He’s kind and caring, has an open heart and insisted I tattooed him right then and there. When a drunk Ozzie insists you tattoo him, you oblige… naturally! In honor of my trip to Straya (Australia) I tattooed a nice, big kangaroo on Timmy’s leg. It was hilarious and so much fun and I think it came out pretty damned good for my very first tattoo! That was a night I’ll never forget.
The next night is one I would rather like to forget but this journal wouldn’t be fun if I left out the embarrassing parts! We took a trip to St. Kilda, a party town by the beach in Melbourne. The memories are a bit blurry, but I somehow ended up fighting with a bartender and getting dragged out of the club. As I yelled curse words at the building I heard the bouncer say loud and clear in his thick ozzie accent: “REAL CLAAAASSY AMERICA!” Clearly I was doing my country proud already by reinforcing the American stereotype of being a loud and rowdy drunk.
Word to the wise…don’t go out with group of Ozzie bogans (australian heathens) if you don’t want to drink. They will not let you be sober. In fact they will purposely shout you (buy you) drinks until you are completely para (inebriated). It may sound wrong to us politically correct American’s but this is just how they show their affections. Not letting you stay sober is Australian for love.
After such a raucous last couple days we decided to do something wholesome on my last night and it certainly topped off my visit with the castle crew. A short drive and a 20 minute hike led us to 7 acre rock in Powelltown. We came equipped with personal bean bags, take out Indian food, camera’s and a few beers just in time for sunset.
It was tough to say farewell to the castle crew but I knew I had to continue the journey and that my bonds with this wonderful group would last a lifetime.
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