A positive start to the week…

The life expectancy in Australia is currently 84 years for females, and it makes me wonder what the hell people do their whole lives.

There’s school for the first 18 years, then maybe another 4 years for tertiary education or learning a trade. A couple more challenging, exciting years of settling into your chosen profession…then what? 40 years of clocking in and out? And even when you retire at 65, there’s still 20 years to fill. I guess you can while away a good 20 years raising a family, but what if you’re childfree? WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO FOR THE NEXT 55 YEARS?! Motherf***ing cross stitch?  The prospect of decades of nine-to-five with occasional drinking breaks is not filling me with joie de vivre.

This is probably an indication that I really need a hobby. Or a new job. Or an illegitimate baby.

Inga’s Travelogue (or, The Time I Got Drunk In Ballarat & Other Stories)

So it turns out I’m the biggest Ballarat fan girl in Australia.

For those of you playing at home, Ballarat is a town (ok, technically it’s a ‘city’) about 100 kilometres out of Melbourne, population 96,000. In 1851 someone discovered gold in the area, effectively launching the town on a muddy, bloody journey that’s rendered it a premier destination in the Goldfields tour district. The unfortunate Eureka Rebellion further secured Ballarat a significant place in Australia’s historical tapestry.

Also, it kicks ass.

My little mate Nikki and I decided to get our country pants on and treat ourselves to a weekend out of the city. We left work in a tizz on Friday afternoon. An hour and forty-five minutes later we checked into a cheap little motel in the middle of Ballarat town centre and unleashed ourselves onto the general population. That is, we peered hesitantly through the windows of the pub next door then sidled inside. We asked the girl behind the bar where we could order a meal, and she gestured vaguely into the next room. We entered to find a dining area approximately the same size as my bedroom, with a bored looking woman sitting alone in an empty kitchen. We asked her if she was lonely back there by herself and she said no, it will get busier later on. We ordered some rissoles and a parma, and an hour later we were still her only customers.

After dinner we donned our high heels and tottered off down the hill in search of  entertainment. Nikki had found a trendy looking nightspot on the internet, called Bluestone 101. It’s a massive bluestone building which in a previous life was either a hay storage warehouse or a winery, depending on which 19 year old bartender you happen to ask. It’s so cavernous that blow heaters are used for climate control, as well as oil heaters in various spots against the wall (Ballarat’s a chilly old place in mid-August). Despite its toasty warm interior and tasteful fusion of modern decor and 1880’s architecture, the place had a grand total of twelve patrons. A few more stragglers trickled in over the next couple of hours, but by that time Nikki and I had drunk enough vodka to face the chill again and experience what else the city had to offer. Just as we left, a hollering lesbian got manhandled out the door by a security guard. When he let her go she turned around, punched him in the face, deftly danced back a few steps, yelled “I’ll eat you for breakfast, c***!”, blew him a kiss and swaggered off up the street. Nikki and I followed her (at a safe distance), figuring wherever she was going was bound to be exciting.

We followed her to George’s Hotel. It’s also old and cavernous; additionally it was crawling with ladies who prefer the company of other ladies, some of whom were also old and cavernous. We had a strong suspicion we’d inadvertently wound up in the local gay nightclub, until some young blokes came up and put the moves on Nikki. Then some older ones put the moves on me. Then some more young ones put the moves on both of us, and at this point we decided we adored Ballarat. By the end of the night we had more new friends than we knew what to do with, a swag of local knowledge (the drug dealers hang out in the Big W carpark), I had the phone number of a local real estate agent, an extra shoe, and a terribly aesthetically pleasing 29 year old concreter to walk me home (because by 4am Nikki and I were both a little disoriented and not entirely sure whether we were supposed to be staggering up the hill or down). I gave Concreter what I hope was my phone number, but in the state I was in it could very well have been my shoe size.

The next day we decided to do something a little more wholesome, so we drove out to Waubra to check out the wind farm. I’m a nut for wind farms, I really don’t know why. I could sit and watch a wind turbine for hours.

Waubra Wind Farm, part thereof

Wind farm freak, entirety

In the late afternoon we gave ourselves a self-guided walking tour of the town to absorb the culture. We found daffodils and a Mexican restaurant and an adorable young gay man who was happy to chat about his dermal piercings.

As evening fell, we felt an irresistible urge to return to George’s. We promised each other we’d only go for a little while – have a couple of drinks, a bit of a dance, then get home for a good night’s sleep.

I’m sure you can guess how that resolution turned out.

This time around we made friends with Rob, a 50-ish divorcee who looked like Mick Jagger and busted out the dance moves better than any of the young bucks. There was ginger Trav with the broken leg, Brendan and Andrew who taught us about the local barley farming industry, and little 22 year old Simon who was horrified by our cuss words. We later found him peeing in the church yard, and proceeded to mortify him further with penis jokes.

We got back to the motel at 3.30am, barefoot and sharing a gravy smothered sausage we’d wheedled off a pair of street vendors for $1 because that was all the money we had left. (The previous night I’d offered to barter the extra shoe I’d found for a cup of chips – they declined, but it ensured they remembered us).

Amazingly we both woke up relatively hangover free, and geared up for our final day in The ‘Rat. Our first stop was the Ballarat Wildlife Park. The emus and kangaroos had free run of the place, which made me feel sad for the wombats, echidnas, koalas, cobras and crocodiles that were shut away in rather small enclosures looking a little depressed. Granted, a free range spitting cobra zoo probably isn’t toddler friendly, but you’d sure get your money’s worth of excitement.

Kangaroo island roo and her wee little bubba roo

After the wildlife park we spent a very happy hour trawling through antiques at the astonishing  Mill Markets, then moseyed over to Kryal Castle. We’re still not sure what exactly Kryal Castle is, and we weren’t willing to pay the $20 per head entry fee to find out. We asked the lady at the admission counter “so what is this place?”, and she replied drily “it’s a castle.”  We decided not to give her our money, and took some goofy photos on the drawbridge instead.

Medieval inappropriateness

"It's a castle."

Sadly it was now late Sunday afternoon and time to head back to metropolis, so reluctantly we turned eastwards.

But I can’t lie, I do feel a vague warmth inside when I gaze upon my Melbourne.

Melbourne as seen at 80km/hr on the Westgate

Welcome home.

I still spend too much time watching Channel V

Dear Chris Brown and Justin Bieber,

Please don’t sing about “if I had your child”. How old are you guys now, twelve? Thirteen? It’s creepy. The only reason I’d reproduce with either of you is to claim the ludicrous amounts of child support to which I’d be entitled. And Chris Brown, if you ever laid a finger on me you can guarantee all your future hits would be sung through an electronic larynx. Rihanna should’ve rolled her Barbados peeps together and bashed your skinny, lady-beating ass when she had the chance.

We're totes ready for the responsibilities and gravity of fatherhood, yo!

Dear Jessie J,

If we should “forget about the price tag” and you don’t need my money, money, money – then why did you charge me $1.69 to download this song?

Like, omg, the world is so shallow. I'm in the entertainment industry for the philanthropic benefits.

Dear Amy,

You should have gone to rehab. You’re setting a really bad example.

Requiescat in pace, Amy.

Dear Gotye,

Your film clip moves me. To the point where I may even have your babies, even though fiscally it makes more sense to have Justin’s.

 

Lots of love,

Inga.

So I don’t bore you all to death…

…I’ve started a separate blog for my real estate purchasing adventures. It’s primarily a place for me to turn my thoughts, ideas, reservations and outright panic into succinct literature. It’s mostly for my own sanity, but if any of my learned and experienced blog friends have advice to lend along the way, I would be most grateful.

Welcome to My Miner’s Cottage.

The GOF Travelogues

His Royal GOFness descended from his lofty perch late last month to beat me with sticks and belittle my life choices pay his little princess a visit. He amused himself for a few days while I was at work, then for one reason or another we ended up at Ballarat for the weekend.

I thoroughly enjoy Ballarat each time I’m there, but for the life of me I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it’s the beautiful old buildings, or the golden, violent history, or the fact that I’m the only person within a seventy kilometre radius with the vaguest drop of ethnicity.

Or it could very well be the property prices. GOF had his arm wildly clutched by an overexcited Inga on several occasions as we wandered past glossy real estate agency displays featuring armies of 3 bedroom homes for $200,000 and well under. To compare, $200,000 in my suburb would currently buy me a pebble and a mailbox to put in front of my pebble.

Real estate revelations aside, the rest of the weekend was groovy. GOF greeted Ballarat with his usual gruff observational narrative (“there’s a big bugger with a pick on his shoulder”), then proceeded to edify me with the history of the cantilevered verandah. We shivered our way through the Botanical Gardens, and he graciously tolerated my fangirl obsession with the Waubra Wind Farm while I graciously tolerated his misnavigation on the way to St. Arnaud and his making the Subway girl think I was his mentally challenged daughter. We visited the requisite relatives, then I threw him on a plane, slapped its hindquarters and sent him back on his way to the Far North.

Sadly, there are no photos to add to my blog post. If there’s one thing GOF and I have in common (I suspect there’s more than one thing, but if I think on it too long I start to get hives), it’s our inept holiday photography. Mrs GOF was aghast when GOF came home with a grand total of eight snapshots for the whole trip. As I pointed out to her, she knows perfectly well what we both look like, and we certainly don’t look (or behave) any better in different latitudes.

So instead here’s a photo from his last visit in 2009, when he made me drink the ickypoo shitwater from the Daylesford mineral springs:

Someone call child services!

Stupid yucky Daylesford

Mari gat kik tru

Tomorrow is the birthday of a very special lady in the lives of both myself and GOF.

Mum possibly has to be seen to be believed. I’ve never met anyone quite like her. She laughs. Oh lord, how she laughs. If Dad and I perform just the right antics, we can make her cry from laughter. So can the cat, the dog, John Cleese, random insects and oxygen. She’ll try to recount exactly what’s making her laugh, then trail off with a hissssssssss noise in the back of her throat and randomly belt whoever happens to be standing nearest while the tears run down her face.

Sometimes I’ll catch myself laughing like Mum, and it makes me happy.

Undoubtedly Mum was a sweet little thing when she first moved to Australia with Dad, but years of having her innocent chain yanked by her cynical husband and precocious daughter has given her an edge. Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, so she can wind you up without you suspecting she’s winding at all. Case in point…Mum and I both enjoy our two minute noodles. Mum likes to poach an egg with hers, a concept which has never appealed to me. The last time I was back home visiting, the following took place:

Mum: Are you cooking noodles?

Inga: Yep.

Mum: Would you like me to crack an egg into them?

Inga: No thanks.

Mum: Are you sure?

Inga:  I’m sure.

Mum: I’ll just crack an egg into it and see if you like it.

Inga: MUM! I said no!

Mum: Are you sure?

Inga: YES!!

Mum: Why don’t you want me to crack an egg into them?

Inga: BECAUSE I DON’T WANT YOU TO!!! I DON’T WANT AN EGG IN THEM!!!

Mum: Are you sure? You might like it.

Inga: MUM ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO A SINGLE WORD I’M SAYING?!?!?!

Mum: How about I just crack an egg in there?

At this point I’ll realise she’s yanking my chain, and facepalm myself for falling for it. The sad thing is, a few weeks later I discovered I rather enjoyed a poached egg with my two minute noodles, and have been doing it ever since.

I remember the first time I ever looked at Mum and went holy crap, she’s an amazing woman. I was 11 or 12, and we went to the hospital to visit an old gentleman friend who was dying. He couldn’t move or speak, and we weren’t even sure that he knew we were there. Dad and I stood awkwardly against the wall, while Mum sat down next to him, took his hand and prattled away like she was chatting to someone over a cup of tea. She can’t have been much older than I am now.

Prattling is one of the things she does best. Mum can talk from Millaa Millaa to Mossman about that time when I was a baby and she thought I’d eaten two cents but I didn’t. Several years ago she was on a plane from the USA, and found herself sitting next to a deaf couple. Fourteen hours on a plane with no one to talk to? You might as well jam bamboo splinters under her fingernails. So she pulled a notepad out of her handbag, scribbled down “hello, my name is Mrs GOF”, and passed it over to her hearing impaired travel buddies. Lo and behold, she now had someone to ‘talk’ to and she tells me they still stop and say hello when they see her around town.

She has amazing stories to tell, but often they’re mixed in with stories like ‘The Time the Dog Pulled A Funny Face’ and ‘Look I Bought A Rubber Mallet’. Being so small and vibrant and unassuming, it’s easy to forget that behind the beaming smile and bouncy afro there’s a lady who’s lived twenty more lives than I ever will. I wish she’d write her stories down.

Happy Birthday, Little Lapun. Love you long time XOX

4 biskit insait