Like many people growing up in Northern Ireland my concept of Australia comes from watching bad Australian soaps and animal programs starring Rolf Harris. To me Australia is all about beaches, barbecues, and strange animals.
During my trip to Perth I went on my first ever Australian BBQ. There really are outdoor barbecues at picnic spots that are free to use. It was a bit different than I was expecting. I’m used to barbecues being a wire grill with charcoal but this ran on gas and had a hot plate. It was spotlessly clean and worked perfectly. I can’t imagine having these in Northern Ireland, if the vandals didn’t destroy them the rain certainly would.
I also got to see kookaburras. This is something else that I associate with Australia because of the song I was taught as a child, “Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree…”. That’s as far as my knowledge of the birds went. It turns out that they are a type of kingfisher. They were tame and rather cute with little short legs. There was a whole group of them on the trees and ground around the barbecues. (I’ve been trying to find a collective noun for them and they may be called “a riot of kookaburras” which is fairly appropriate.) They also like meat, maybe more than I do. I was warned that they might try to steal my food but I was wasn’t expecting an aerial assault. I mean seriously, one bird swooped down and stole the chicken kebab I was eating, grabbing the wooden stick right out of my hand.
Once I got over that shock I had to try to eat while defending my food. I didn’t see the nasty little bird that stole my last piece of sausage until it landed on me and scratched my hand. I’m not sure that I still think these birds are cute but they are certainly photogenic.