Australians call it the bush. I call it the woods. The kangaroos call it home. I can’t get a straight answer on what actually constitutes bush. Some say it’s the type of animals dwelling within. Some say it’s the eucalyptus. Others believe the term was coined during a time when giants ruled the Earth and a small bush was the size and shape of a peasant woman’s pubic area. That was 50,000 BC, and the name really stuck.
Thinking it was named after the pubis, my brain overflowing with dirty jokes, I of course jumped at the chance to go camping there! It was either camp in the bush or spend some time in Melbourne. Duh!
My new best friend from France, Faustine, and I hopped in a little rental, grabbed a map, and navigated ourselves to the bush (refraining from dirty joke #1). On our way we stopped at an winery where I tried an Australian wine made from a French grape- the chambourcin. I think it’s my new favorite grape. I savored that baby for days. I also took the time to shoot an ad for our rental car. If only I had Photoshop to saturate the greens and fix up the sky a bit (I think advertising will never leave me, no matter how far I run.).
We pulled into the bush (refraining from dirty joke #2) and were greeted by Andrew French, his family, and 3.6 million flies. Nobody told me that, outside of the big cities, Australia hosts 4,000 flies to each human. They sell special hats so you can see through the flies! They have several species of flies. March flies bite! Upon arrival, we were covered in 163 of the different species, and my germaphobe self immediately imagined all the fly poo that was seeping into my pores. Is it really true flies poo every time they land?
Speaking of poo, there was lots of it since the camp was home to a real working farm full of chickens and roosters (or chooks, as they say here), horses, lots of cows, a few peacocks, and several wild kangaroos! Once we grew somewhat accustomed to the flies, we had a great time. We rode on horseback through the 95 acres of bush (refraining). My horse cantered through mangroves and streams too! I still feel like there is a fiery steed between my legs (not refraining: I guess the horse was in 2 bushes at once! Sorry.).
The French family was the most interesting part. An inventor, Andrew French owns the patents to several household items and could probably own a nice beach house in Sydney if he wanted. But he chooses to live in the bush on a sustainable land where he uses a solar panel/tank that he invented to collect and heat the rainwater. His 2 kids were quite precocious little fellas. At 3 and 10 they had no rules. They rode standing up in the back of a pick-up (Britney Spears would love it here.). They were the smartest kids I’ve met. The 10-year-old asked me why the Americans had re-elected Bush and what I thought about pulling out of Iraq. I checked his back and there was not a panel of wires. Name one American 10-yr-old who can name the prime minister of Australia. Name one 30-yr-old who can name the prime minister of Australia. It’s Kevin Rudd (Sadly, I didn‘t know until I got here.).
The kids taught me how to crack a whip, which is a very important skill in the bush. We put a cigarette in a mannequin’s mouth and tried to hit it out with the whip. Not to brag, but I cracked many a cigarette in half.
After 2 rides with the steed and a moonlit trip to do doughnuts on the sand dunes while standing in the back of a pick-up, I was a certified bush camper. Even though I still don’t know what the bush is.