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ReportsSunday, 17 March 2002
Central Sydney --> Raby, Sydney, Australia - touring From a scy scraper to a green suburban town south of Sydney. And just out of the big town, things go a little bit easier, especially for my host Ron, who generously took me out for a tour and along to his son’s Air League Camp.
This Sunday morning I had to wake up early to meet my next host, but that was okay for Kathey and Russell. They’d go back to bed after breakfast anyway, as I woke up at 6.30am.
When I woke up I saw the wonderful colours of the sun that just had started a new day somewhere in that Pacific Ocean. Remember, I slept in a bedroom on the 41st floor of that apartment complex...
Russell and I were watched how the statues of Olympic-athletes were being removed off the AMP-tower by a huge helicopter. And with the crowd at a nearby field, I seemed to be quite an operation to get those 14-meter high models were taken away.
Kathey prepared American styled pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast. It wasn’t much later when I had to say goodbye to them, thank them for everything and get back to the well-known ground floor again. Because it was there where Ron Roos, my new host was already awaiting me at 8.30.
Ron had to pick me up this early already, as he had quite an exciting day planned for us. As his son Bradley (16) was on an Air League camp, I might get a chance to get onto a joy flight this day.
Ron is Dutch, just like my hosts of two nights ago, and moved with his wife to Australia some 17 years ago. It was basically because of their mother, who already lived here, that they decided to exchange the cold weather conditions of the Netherlands with the warm sunny side of Australia. And I can’t blame them at all.
In the car Ron tried to reach the people at the Camden Airport, but all the times he tried, he couldn’t reach any official present. So instead of hopping on a plane, he took me for a tour and ended up on Manly Beach, a beautiful laid-back peninsula in the northeast of Sydney. And this neck of land is has white beaches on both sides, the rest of the island is just packed with hotels, apartments and shopping centres.
We went for a walk on the beach and drank a milk shake as it was only some 36 degrees Celsius and the sun was just cooking our balding heads.
Ron is very enthusiast about his son Bradley, as he is going to a special selection school and he wants to become a Black Hawk pilot. Ron told me all about the importance of Bradley going to something like the Air League, which can be compared with flying scouting. It basically teaches children from 9-years-old obedience and knowledge of the flying industry. If they can do an expert study next to the Air League, they can easily end up in the Air Force or the commercial flight industry.
Bradley is also member of the Army Cadets and was recently elected as Cadet of the Year of New South Wales. Ron is very proud on his son and thinks it is a great idea to raise a child with the need to be the best.
“Unfortunately our society on the world is being McDonalized; everybody is all of a sudden a manager. If you sweep the floors or if you handle a company, you get so many things to do and young people really go for it. Alas they’ll suffer exhaustion when they get thirty. In this world we have to compete with very clever and drilled Asian people,” Ron said, “If you can’t do that, you’ll end up on the street. Going for the best of the best is the best you can do.”
Of course you can’t put these facts side by side with the situation in Europe, but I must admit that Ron had a point. I am only not a person that encourages obedience under authority, but that might be my European inside.
Ron’s other big enthusiastic thing is his web project Dutch Online. This website has been running since recently, but basically he wants to gather the Dutch society in Australia on that website. With pride he talks about the conversations he had with Dutch sponsors and how he got in contact with several Dutch companies in Australia. Soon the website will be the ultimate homepage for Dutch people living in Australia, he hopes.
After the walk at Manly, Ron drove me to the Lane Cove Conference Centre, right in a national park, where the Annual Training Camp for the Australian Air League was held this current weekend. I was introduced to some uniformed Air League officials who I had to tell the secret of my success and was welcomed to join in with a hamburger lunch together with the cadets.
One of the loud old leaders of this camp weekend ordered me to a table with some cadets and told me: “You sit here! Tell you story to these cadets.” Well, I don’t do that that easy. I mean, I only talk about my thing when necessary and when I am asked about it. You can understand it is tiring to tell how I got the idea to do letmestayforaday some five times a day to people who have never seen my project… I sat down on that table with my hamburger on a plate and smiled to the young cadets surrounding me. They were all munching their food and were kind of staring at me. “Hi,” I said. “I am a world traveller.”
”We are the band,” one of the guys told me and pointed out that I was on the table with all the cadets that walk in front of the parade. After that, nothing more was said and after some five minutes (I had finished the hamburger), I got back with Ron who had to sit away from the tables.
At three o’clock the Annual Camp would be over for all the participants and Ron would take Bradley home. Until that time, Ron took me along to the Belgian pub Epoque in the nearby suburb Chatswood to enjoy some Belgian fries with mayonnaise and a cold Belgian Hoegaarden beer with lemon – the best of the white beers. With Dutch writing on the wall and the lounge-music of St. Germain on the background it was somewhat pleasuring.
As we had to wait another hour for the camp to finish, we got back to the wildlife park again and I found a big tree with the perfect shadow where we had a little nap. And even in the shadow we were sweating!
The 3pm a parade of all the Air League cadets would end the weekend. They all had to be in uniform and stand in the hot summer sun and await their orders. Then the drums would start and they walked a half circle around the field to salute to a high official and get down the Australian flag. It was remarkable that none of these young guys were fainting, as it was just so hot to walk around there in a uniform.
When everybody was dismissed I met up with Bradley and a friend of him and we all got into the car to drive the 45 minutes to the south-Sydney suburb Raby. And that was quite a drive and that reminds me fairly well how big Sydney is: just 90 kilometres wide and 60 kilometres long…
And their street in Raby made me remind me again with the popular 80’s soap opera Neighbours, which is situated in a dead-end street with a loop in the middle. Raby itself is located in the middle of nowhere and I just can’t understand why every little town here is an official suburb of Sydney. Raby is maybe some 20-streets big and may have a shopping centre, but as soon as you leave Raby, you are suddenly surrounded by farmland or tropical forests. At least it is green...
At home I met up with Ron’s wife Ellen, who worked today serving older people. “A good old job,” said Ron. “There is no pressure, it’s relaxing and a good job.”
With the food that Ron bought along our touring drive through Sydney (at the fish market and at the Italian quarter of Sydney), he started cooking. Ron loves to cook and often watch cooking-programmes on television. He also often tries out the things as seen on a cooking show on television, like the creation of today’s king shrimps, chicken breasts in Hollandaise sauce with a fresh cucumber salad. And mussels. And baked potato-parts. And with the exquisite dessert of apple strudel with warm custard it was all quite luscious!
I asked Ellen what she thought about Ron inviting me at their place. “Oh, well. That’s Ron. He always takes backpackers home. Mostly Dutch, of course, when they are in for a good rest and a good meal during their travels they can take a break here.”
The night ended with Bradley studying in his room (and capturing big spiders to frighten his mother with), Ron and Ellen watching television after their working day and me writing reports on my laptop.
Good night Raby!