Rachel Down Under!

Aussie Rules

Posted in Australia, Sydney by rssmith218 on November 24, 2010

Another week in the field, and I have officially delved into two essential aspects of the Australian experience:

1. VEGEMITE

Enjoying your toast, Katelyn? Mmmm, of course she is- Katelyn is a true Aussie!

Yes, I have been in Australia for more than 3 months now, and I have only just gotten around to trying this Australian “delicacy.” Vegemite is a dark brown, fairly foul-looking food paste/yeast extract that is actually a by-product of beer manufacture. Despite its rather disgusting appearance and texture, it is remarkably popular and Vegemite is a staple food in most Australian households, as you can see from this video:

However, Vegemite’s popularity does not extend outside of Australia, and during my time here, I have been warned by countless foreigners about the saltiness and bitterness of Vegemite. These numerous warnings, combined with Vegemite’s unappetizing appearence, have previously prevented me from being too eager to try this iconic Australian food. However, with encouragement from my labmates Katie and Katelyn, I tried Vegemite under the best conditions possible- with good, fresh bread, and an optimal vegemite-to-butter ratio, as you can see below!

The verdict? Not too bad! I can’t say that Vegemite will likely be added to my weekly shopping list, but I can definitely see how a craving for Vegemite could develop with repeated exposure…who knows, maybe if I develop a true taste for it, I’ll even invest in some Vegemite apparel, as displayed in this window I spotted in downtown Sydney. Vegemite pajamas to go with your Ugg boots, anyone?

2. Driving!

Yep, my first experience driving on the left side of the road! And I wasn’t driving just any car, but a monster-sized Toyota Hilux with manual transmission. I was pretty proud of myself for not getting into a wreck, although by the end of our trip, the engine was smoking  and my co-pilot, Ceiwen, was exhausted from continuously having to yell “move right, move right!” to prevent me from drifting off the left side of the road.

Uh oh, how far did I drift? All the way to Iceland? Looks like it!

These triumphs took place within two “modified” estuaries on the outskirts of Sydney, in Botany Bay and Port Kembla, which you can see below.

Unfortunately, it was raining so heavily while we were in Botany Bay that I was unable to even get my camera out to take a picture, but here is the not-so-lovely Port Kembla…

Despite the obvious pollution present at Port Kembla, this busy port is home to some very nice, and happily huge pelicans!

After a busy week out in the field, I relaxed with weekend trips to Vaucluse House and Cove Beach in Watson’s Bay, as well as the Hyde Park Africa Festival and the Glebe Street Markets. Aisha, Gregorio, and I also spent a wonderful Friday evening exploring the Rocks and Chinatown night markets.

And now, South American style…

Haha! Believe it or not, we were on a quest for dessert, and over the course of the night, we sampled various Sydney delicacies, which we proceeded to rank in terms of goodness. Here is the final talley, from worst to best. Photo credits to Gregorio.

4. Chinese fried ice cream. Does this really sound like a good idea?

3. Emperor’s Garden Chinese cream puffs! Worth queueing for?

2. Chocolate-covered strawberries…can’t really go wrong here!

1. And finally- half ricotta, half chocolate cannolis- the night’s grand champion of desserts!

Mmmmmmmmm. So good.

My mouth is watering just thinking about that cannoli!

I am skipping out on the fieldwork this week, as I am heading to Brisbane on Thursday morning to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m a bit disappointed to miss out on this week’s fieldtrip to three of our most beautiful estuaries, but I will have the opportunity to visit these sites in February when we go to collect our experiments. Here’s a quick map of these estuaries, just for reference. One of them is Jervis Bay, where I went camping last week.

I’m excited for my trip to Brisbane, and I want to wish everyone in the States a very Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers!

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3 Responses

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  1. Lenore said, on November 24, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Hmmm, if there were a third end on that cannoli, I’d try to join you and Aisha in big bite. I love cannolis!

  2. Aunt PJ said, on November 26, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Hey, Rachel! We’ll miss you and your mom at our Thanksgiving table this year. We’ll be missing Emily and Allan too but Andrew and Stephanie were able to come so, with Jennie and David, we’ll still be setting a table for 6. And I’m only baking 5 pies. How will we get by?
    Anyway, you’re one of the people we’re thankful for. Lots of hugs and love to you,
    PJ

  3. Lisa said, on November 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Is that really what vegemite is made of? I guess there’s a reason it hasn’t really made the journey across the ocean. I do find the wide array of merchandise amusing, though. And I wonder which is harder- learning to drive on the opposite side of the road, or learning to merge onto the Hull Street exit in a stick shift. You managed one, so I’m sure you’ll get the hang of the other in no time!


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