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What does an Australian Christmas mean for a backpacker!?
An Australian Christmas – It’s not meant to be summer!!
Most backpackers on a working holiday visa come from the northern hemisphere, where we are used to cold, wet and miserable weather around Christmas, well unless you are lucky enough to be from somewhere that gets snow in December and looks like the places on the Christmas cards, not the UK then! However, being in the land down under… 40C in December!? It’s just not cricket!!
In the UK we are used to freezing cold, torrential rain and just all round misery. Huddling round our 2 bar fire, woolly hat and scarfs on trying to keep the hypothermia at bay. Not in Australia, no sir!
Wake up in your hostel dorm bed rough as toast from the heavy drinking the night before, well it is Christmas after all…. Like you ever needed an excuse. Drag yourself out of your pit, detach your tongue from the inside of your cheek, hold your forehead and tell yourself you’re never drinking again, that goon stuff is downright evil!!!
Oh shit yeh it’s Christmas! Clamber to the door, look up at the air-con unit that
has been running none-stop for the last 3 months and it’s reading 33C…. But it’s 9AM what the f**k have you been doing all night!?!? You open the door to the outside world, the sun hits your face and you fully expect to vaporize like one of the vampires off Blade that stayed out past its curfew. Yeah that’s what the AC unit has been doing, it’s knocking 40 out here!
Sat outside on Christmas day having your dinner is just a surreal thing in its self. So now it’s 1pm and hitting 43C, you’re shaking like a shitting dog from all the goon last night, well there’s only one thing for it…. get back on the goon and get in that swimming pool!!!
So who’s making Christmas dinner for the 50 of us!?
Now this is where you start to feel like a family away from home, after all, none of us have our family around us. Living with people in such close proximity for any length of time means you can’t help but get to know each other very quickly. Take away everyones family and you can’t help but get on with each other, the person that chooses to judge and be un-accepting of peoples differences in culture/ attitude will be the loneliest person in the camp. Everyone just seems to get along, after all you’ve only got each other, your family is 10,000 miles away.
Anyway’s back to dinner! We were lucky that our hostel manager, Lesley, was very much involved with us backpackers, she didn’t just see us as a meal ticket. She used to spend the weekends playing our silly drinking games and basically just get messed up with us. She really did live for the backpackers. So we made a deal, Lesley would cook all the meats at her house and bring them down to the hostel and we would do the rest in the hostel kitchen i.e. the veg, the roasties and the puddings. The 2 electric cookers we had in the hostel kitchen had never worked so hard in their lives. Well only 5 out of the total 8 electric rings actually worked. Hectic times with everyone trying to chip in and do their bit, all came good in the end though.
What if you don’t want to stay in the hostel all day?
I never actually did this but it is a well-known fact that if you head to any beach within a 5-mile radius of any capital city, you won’t be alone! In the bigger, city hostels where it would be impossible to make Christmas dinner for 400 people the thing to do is head down to the local beach, boombox, crate of “tinnies”/”piss” disposable BBQ and a rake of “snags” for a mass backpacker BBQ.
Bondi beach, Sydney is spot to head for if your in NSW over Christmas. It’s been the hotspot for a backpacker Christmas day for many years, only one problem… Alcohol is banned!! Straight vodka in water bottles it is then 🙂
Unfortunately, this Christmas just gone 5000 backpackers descended on St Kilda beach Melbourne and got a little too rowdy, after the police disbanded the drunken revelers, apparently $18000 worth of cleanup was left behind. I’d say from now on this could be a thing of the past.
In future years maybe it would be best to get a few car loads together and head out of town and camp for a few days in a more secluded spot and enjoy Christmas in smaller numbers.
Christmas without family Isn’t really Christmas!
For most of us that statement rings true. Back in our home countries, we spend 95% of the year running in that worldwide race that is also known as the rat race. All of us with our own agendas, places we have to be and very little time for anyone else. Christmas is the one time of the year when most of us get at least a week off to spend with family, but what if you’re on the other side of the planet.
If you’re the type to ever feel home sick, now’s the time it will hit you. Some people fly home at great expense for a couple of weeks to a month. This can have it’s own problems, for example, not many employers will let you take a month off when you can only work a maximum of 6 months for them anyway. £1000 flights and no job to go back to, not the best plan for most situations.
For the vast majority of us, bang some extra data allowance on your internet dongle and Skype home. If you don’t have your own laptop, as I didn’t at the time, your best bet it to throw a fellow backpacker $5-10 to have a go on their Skype account.
All in all, for some, Christmas away from home is just a step too far. The need to be with family consumes them. For most, it’s a time when family is missed but the odds are you’ll be home for the next one and every other one after that. Out of all the people that set off on a jaunt into the wide world, not many of them travel for more than 2-3 years.
An Australian Christmas is just something else from what most of us are used to, mainly because it’s summer in the southern hemisphere…. It’s just bloody strange!!