Tree frogs and toilets

I’m looking out the window and its snowing quite hard. It is not that cold but as I stared at the snow I started to think what I could write about today that was totally different.

I remembered a trip to Australia in 1977. We had landed in Sydney, loaded down with camping gear, because we planned to rough it a bit, since fancy hotels or hotels of any kind were not on the budget.

We did all the touristy things, like visiting the famous Sydney Opera House, I have the pictures to prove it, and the fantastic Zoo they have there. I liked Sydney but there was one episode that was upsetting.

We decided to get a decent breakfast, so we stopped at a restaurant in a small hotel. There were not that many in the restaurant, as I suppose the rush was over. The service was slow, but I noticed the waiter would go to everyone, including those who came in after us, but would not go to a couple who sat in the corner. When he came to offer us coffee I said to him, “Those gentlemen have been waiting for a long time”, he looked at me and said “I don’t wait tables on them”, actually he used a derogatory Aussie term which I don’t recollect. The fact was these were obviously East Indian businessmen, complete with turbans, as I recall. I found this very disturbing, and felt I should say or do something, but what, and I did not want to embarrass my partner. We left the restaurant shortly after that, but I have never forgotten the episode.

We took a bus up the coast and camped on Bribie Island for a few days and then caught the bus to Cairns, which is on the Gold Coast. We found a campsite and set up our tent. The mosquitoes were like small helicopters and I could hear a kookaburra laughing at us in the trees. We settled for the night and half way through it started to rain. We had gone in March, unaware that this was monsoon season. It wasn’t long before the water was seeping in and we were wondering what to do next, as pretty soon we would be completely awash. We grabbed everything, and ran for the toilets, I didn’t know which it was, the guys or girls and I didn’t care. We piled everything on the floor and sat the night out on the toilets along with what seemed like a thousand tree frogs who had come in out of the rain.

The following morning we ventured out to town and all over the road were huge cane toads that had come out of the cane fields during the rain. Many had been run over leaving large green splatters.

Despite these mishaps I had a wonderful time in Australia, and I found most of people very kind, however some were concerned that we might be ‘Limies’, the Aussie term for British people. We decided to tell everyone we were Canadians, it worked for everyone, despite our accents.

6 Responses

  1. Another fascinating tale, i think there are always moments in your life where you wish you had something but dont. You can never be sure that if you had something that it would of helped anyway. Austrailia is on my very long list a places to go on world tour!

  2. oops left out the word said not once but twice!
    It was a test honest!

  3. You have definitely been to some cool places. That kid is holding the largest toad I have ever seen! That puppy would scare me if I ran into it in a dark alley. LOL!

  4. OMG, I did not know toads grew that large. Now I will have nightmares … LOL

    As far as the East Indian businessmen, that happens everywhere. In the 1970s, my girlfriend and I were driving from Houston to Austin, Texas. We were hungry so we stopped in Giddings. We sat there for an hour before it finally dawned on us that they would not wait on us because we were hippie chicks.

  5. People here in Utah often think we are Australian but we are British.

  6. Hi Ruth,
    wow – I don’t think I’ve had so many buttons pushed in the one post before.

    First, I didn’t really understand about bigotry when I was very young, we were ‘different’ and subject to name-calling and ‘exclusion’ – not being served at the main counter; being sent to the back of the bus, and only allowed to sit in the front row at the movies – that sort of thing.

    In later years I heard the North of Queensland called ‘the deep North’, and it was true!

    And the toads, yes, monsters – I hate them to this day…

    And rainy camping – I did most of my camping in New Zealand, where they dont have snakes (or toads) but they DO have rain. I can recall nights where the blokes spent most of the night digging trenches around the tents to take the ‘flood-waters’ away.

    Racism in Australia had settled down a bit over the years, but sadly coming back in force these days with all the dreadful things that are happening around the world.

    I grew up in the days of ‘pommy’ migration – they were a target in those days – and, yes, the Canadian accent is often mistaken for, as you say – limeys…

    good story, thanks..

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