This whole Worthing versus the World thing is a very serious project. So serious in fact that we have travelled to the other side of the world (Australia) in our search for somewhere better than sunny Worthing.
Some of you might think this is fun or that I’m having a good time, but that’s like telling Judith Chalmers (or more recently Craig Doyle) that they weren’t at work when they made you that TV programme. Those guys are under a lot of pressure to find out all the facts about a place, visit everywhere, write an interesting and informative report then record it for the Great British Public to watch, knowing their words have a potentially massive impact on local tourism, and could bring down an entire country if they give it a bad review.
I feel the same weight upon my broad, manly shoulders but this is the path I have chosen (or the path that chose me – think about it) and therefore it is my cross to bear.
Keep that in mind as you read about the last month and a bit I’ve been swanning around Australia in the summer to see if it’s better to hang out at the Great Barrier Reef or Cissbury Ring, to drink VB or Harveys, to eat meat pies or Cornish pasties, to watch cricket or football, to have a hat with corks on or not to have a hat with corks on. All these questions and more may or may not be answered as we investigate Worthing versus Australia!
Let’s find out.
1. Is the weather better than Brighton?
We’re here in summer. An Australian summer! Wow, what a treat eh? Think again dear reader – this is what a summer in Australia looks like:
Everywhere we went people would say that they haven’t seen weather like it / it’s the worst summer weather in 40 years / this time last year it was ten degrees hotter etc etc. Yeah, cheers Australia!
There’s actually been so much rain that some of the areas we were in at the beginning of our time here are so flooded they have been declared natural disaster zones and everyone’s been evacuated. Fortunately we avoided all of that and the longer we’ve been here, the more decent weather we’ve seen but I always carry a jumper with me and often need to wear jeans outside, which is shocking. Just shocking.
So an Australian summer is basically the same as an English summer. A bit of sun, a bit of rain, and a bit of freakish weather. While Australia’s attempt to make us feel at home is appreciated, I’d rather have had non-stop summery sunshine – 4 points
2. Proximity and quality of the seaside (a pier must be present for full points here)
We’ve stayed all over the east coast of the country, and so we saw a lot of seaside. Some of it has been truly lush – we took a trip out to Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef which was proper, proper nice but didn’t have a pier (just a jetty). Ben and Jo took us to a lovely secret beach in Sydney too. We saw the famous beach of Bondi as well and lovely Glenelg in Adelaide, but these aside the beaches weren’t generally all that wicked. Nice, but not mind-blowing.
However, the varying lushness of beaches is not the main issue here. Those of you that read The Travelling Mallorys New Year message will be waiting for my review of St Kilda beach and it’s so-called pier.
They definitely call it a pier.
and to the untrained eye it looks a bit like a pier. Even I was fooled initially.
but it’s not a pier it’s a jetty / harbour, and here’s why:
- It’s made of concrete
- It goes round a corner and reconnects with the land so it’s a harbour
- Boats tie themselves to it so it’s a jetty
- Penguins live on the end of it. Piers are not a habitat for wildlife.
To be fair, the tea we had in the shop was really nice and the penguins were very cute, but that’s not a pier. This is a pier and that’s why it was Pier of the Year 2006.
It’s one thing not to have a pier, but to lure people in with the promise of a pier and deliver a jetty / harbour is just plain wrong and should be banned under the Geneva Convention (in fact, it probably is. I’m going to check). That said, you got some lovely beaches and seaside Australia, plus some cute little penguins which save you from a truly low score – 6 points
3. Local delicacies and quality of food
Think of food in Australia and you probably think of barbecued dingo bollocks. Or you do if you watch as much I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here as I do. Anyway, we’ve actually done quite a lot of our own cooking in Australia because a) the hostels here have kitchens and b) Australia is bloody expensive so eating out as much as we did in Southeast Asia just isn’t an option.
That said, I have got in there with some local nosh and despite costing an arm and a leg it’s been jolly nice. The wife was very keen for me to try a lamington – a sort of coconut and chocolate covered sponge cake – so I did. In fact, I didn’t just try a lamington. I tried the biggest lamington the world has ever seen!
Other local delicacies that I have been photographed stuffing in my mouth while my eyes try to pop out of my head were fish and chips on the beach (which I always laugh at tourists for having at home, so I thought I ought to do it when we are the tourists), a really really spicy kebab and the traditional Aussie meat pie.
We also cooked a well nice Christmas dinner, made all the better by me not giving up on the Christmas Eve sprout hunt until I emerged victorious and ready to devour the little green balls.
It’s a shame it’s so expensive to eat out because the food we’ve had has been pretty much all nice. Mind you, it has meant the wife has got the apron back on and been cooking some amazing food for me, notably a heart-shaped nectarine and cherry crumble, but I digress. Good food, a bit expensive but so it’s – 7 points
4. Friendliness and attractiveness of the locals
Australians are renowned as being the most friendly people on earth, but I’m going to challenge that because in my experience that’s not 100% accurate.
What Australian people are really good at is customer service, and so if you’re in a shop they’ll be really nice to you. If you’re borrowing their snorkel gear they’ll be really helpful. If you’re on their bus they’ll tell you when to get off. However, generally speaking, Aussies aren’t all that polite, and here’s a few reasons why.
Driving – no bugger will let you out, even in a traffic jam, and if you let them out they won’t say thank you. Is that friendly? I don’t think so. One guy I was talking to in a queue for a bus was so amazed that in England people let you out he felt it was worth mentioning to me after hearing my accent.
Queuing – I know in England we have evolved to be good at queuing, but our Australian cousins don’t seem to have carried those genes through to the modern day. People even push you out the way when you’re waiting to cross the road and it’s a red man. Rudeness!
In a lift – we’re staying in an apartment block in Melbourne and the whole time we’ve been here only one person has said ‘hello’ back to me when I’ve said it to them, and guess what – it was a bloody Brit! Outrageous!
Sticking rigidly to stupid pointless rules – Or as my wife would say, being officious. For example, we were sat in an area that a bar likes to reserve for people eating, but we were only having a drink. They politely asked us to move, but there were no tables in the main bit and loads of free tables in the ‘dining’ bit, but the barmaid was having none of it. Jobsworth!
They will run your foot over – I had my foot run over by an Australian. Well, a 70% Australian, and she did say sorry, but that has never happened to me in Worthing! Ouch!
So while we have met some genuinely lovely Australians (especially the ones who let us stay with them who we love dearly), for every Rolf Harris you’ve got a Ricky Ponting.
Well Australia, some of your gang is nice but some of them are only nice to you if you’re handing over the reddies – 5 points
5. Availability and quality of real ale
I thought I was going to be onto a winner over here on the ale front, but it started very badly with a can of Castlemaine XXXX Gold. It’s a low calorie beer (it was all they had available) and it tasted like the condensation on the bedroom window the morning after a massive night out. Watery with a hint of unpleasant beerage. Not nice.
On the plus side, from there, the only way was up and I’ve had some good stuff at some micro-breweries. I especially enjoyed this one from the Wig and Pen in Canberra.
I have been getting right into the Fat Yak – a floral pale ale – and I had the nicest beer I’ve had in the whole time we’ve been away just outside Byron Bay from a local place that I just can’t remember the name of. Doesn’t matter, I won’t be going back there anytime soon.
The downside is that, like everything else, beer is bloody expensive. Those of you that spend lots of your time in pubs sat opposite someone holding a beer (so most of you) will notice that the beer you see in the picture above isn’t a pint, but it’s not a half pint either. It’s what these crazies call a schooner, and it’s what I have to have to keep the cost per beer under £5. A pint of beer will set you back about £6.50, and to me, knowing you can only afford one beer takes a lot of the fun out of drinking. It’s heartbreaking because there is some really nice stuff available.
Speaking of ale-related heartbreak, we went to a place in Melbourne that sold my joint favourite ale of all time (Timothy Taylor Landlord. The other one is Harveys Best). My eyes lit up, I had butterflies in my stomach, palpitations in my chest – the real taste of home that I have been missing all these months. Funny that something costing £2.69 in Morrisons can bring so much pleasure. But as so often happens, my pleasure was followed by pain when I saw the price. $14 which is about £9.50. For a bottle of beer.
My pain was clear for all to see as I realised I couldn’t afford it. The tears were stemmed only when my wonderful wife offered to go without a drink so I could have the Timothy Taylor, but that would never do. She loves booze almost as much as I do, so we settled for two not so expensive beers and made them last as long as we possibly could because we knew it was the only beer we would have out of the house.
And so I refer you back to my opening paragraphs dear reader. This blog is a record of my labour of love to find somewhere more exciting to live than Worthing, but on that quest I am feeling the pain that only those who have enough money for just one beer can appreciate.
And before this gets any more self-indulgent, let’s get to the score. Some really nice beer and widely available if not affordable to our dwindling finances – 8 points
So all in all a mixed bag for Australia with a final score of 32 points. Feel free to challenge, complain and comment below, but remember I’m the captain of this ship as well as being judge and jury. This has been Worthing versus Australia. Thanks for reading.