Good morning again, students and friends, and thank you for again for all your Messages.
Most of you have asked to hear some more about our brief trip to Australia, so here you go!
When we planned Uncle David’s 80th Birthday surprise, I only knew (vaguely) that he lived ‘near Melbourne’. Wow, yippee and hooray when I discovered where he and his wife Heather actually live:
It is a breathtakingly beautiful place, and I had carefully chosen our hotel to be just a short walk in one direction to Aldi and in the other direction, along the most beautiful pathway lined by native trees and shrubs looking over Safety Beach, to my uncle and aunt’s house.
Uncle David adjusted remarkably quickly to his long-lost niece and her German husband suddenly appearing at his Australian door in Dromana, Victoria, singing ‘Happy Birthday’. Once we had hugged all the lovely cousins, wiped our eyes several times, and clarified that yes, we really, really wanted to eat fish and chips as his birthday meal and yes I would certainly drink a glass of champagne, and Horst had been looking forward to a glass of pure Australian water from an Australian tap for yonks*, I told him we were planning to spend a whole week on the Mornington Peninsula.
“See you tomorrow!” I said to Uncle David, when it was time for Cousin Leah to drive us back to our hotel later that evening.
“What a luxury is that?” he answered, “To be able to say ‘See you tomorrow!”
We’d already achieved what we set out to do – the Birthday surprise – but when my Uncle asked me what else I would like to do in Australia, I knew exactly. I wanted to meet a Koala, and I knew that only 30 minutes’ drive from Dromana I could do just that. So off we popped to The Moonlit Sanctuary, where our guide Claudia (who had left Berlin 20 years before) told us everything we wanted to know about these adorable animals. https://moonlitsanctuary.com.au/
We learned that Koalas are super-fussy* eaters: they not only only eat eucalyptus leaves – but there are only five types of eucalyptus tree acceptable. Not only that, eucalyptus leaves are not bursting with nourishment, so they have to chomp* for many hours every day, whilst sitting in their tree (which isn’t uncomfortable for them because they have a bony plate where we have a bottom*) and those leaves take 18 hours to pass through their digestive systems.
Claudia was telling us all this, and then bent down to pick up some Koala poo. Surely not! But yes, she picked it up and broke it in half and offered it to us to smell. I was over-enthusiastic and sniffed dramatically, thereby actually inhaling the Koala poo into my left nostril.*
It was so fragrant! It smelled of eucalyptus, a Fisherman’s Friend of a poo, and it reminded me of the fragrance of the gum tree leaves my Australian grandfather Wilf sent me when I was a miserable English teenager. He wrote me that I should crumble those leaves and smell them, and that was the smell of Australia. I spent many hours smelling those leaves, and dreaming of a world far away from England.
So many years later, here I was. Far away from England, with Koala poo up my nose.
yonks = sehr lange Zeit
chomp: mampfen, kauen
To learn more about Koalas:
To brush up your Aussie slang:
Wonderful Australian Wildlife:
Endangered species, + quiz: