Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were the hip and trendy places to do internships in horticulture back in the late 1980s. Everyone who was anyone was doing it; which is sort of why I was not that interested in doing what everyone else was doing already, even if I could have afforded to go to any of those exotic places. I did my internship in Saratoga.
All I knew about Australia was Olivia Newton John, Helen Reddy, eucalyptus trees, and that it is the place where summer goes when it leaves here.
Since writing online and learning a bit more about horticulture in Australia, I incidentally found that Australia is stranger than I would have imagined.
There are no Pontiacs in Australia! Seriously! When someone asked about what to do with a surplus of peaches that were too overripe and squishy to can, I suggested that they get thrown at the neighbor’s Pontiac. It was such a fun tradition among kids in the Santa Clara Valley back in the 1970s. I did not expect to be taken seriously; but I did not expect to be informed that there are no Pontiacs there! How totally primitive! I did not even ask about Buicks. If they lack Buicks, I REALLY do not want to know about it. I did happen to ask if cars were driven on the left side of the road, which they are; not that it matters. Without Pontiacs, who cares?
Then there are these terrifying animals known as wallabies! They look like humongous rats! They come out early in the morning and again in the evening, when their victims are most vulnerable. They always stare at whomever is taking their picture, as if plotting revenge. They aim their ears too, in order to hear everything that is being said. They are watching and listening right now!
The middle of Australia is known as the Red Center, which sounds rather like Oklahoma. Uluru is a huge red rock at the center of the Red Center. It really is the color of Oklahoma, and sort of shaped like the 1979 Pontiac Bonneville in the other picture above. You should have seen the pictures that another blogger posted of this fascinating place, and nearby places! The geology alone is fascinating, and mixed with it are all sorts of eucalyptus trees just growing wild. I mean wild, as in they are native there; not exotic like they are here. It is weird to see them out in their natural environments, like valley oaks and coast live oaks here. Wallabies do not seem to bother them much. Most of Australia seems rather flat. There are not many high mountains, and they are not really all that high.
Queenslander is an architectural style developed for the climate of Australia. It is named for the northeastern state of Queensland; so has nothing to do with slandering an unpopular queen. I did not know that it was all that different from the Ranch architecture that is common here until someone explained that the homes are up off the ground to allow for air circulation underneath. Some are up high enough for another story to fit below. I suppose that the lower floor could either be at ground level, or elevated as well. Unlike Ranch architecture, Queenslander can be either one or two stories. Also, they tend to be somewhat bisymmetrical, with the front door and steps in the middle, and the left side matching the right side. Some have extra rooms, such as a solarium, on one side. Porches extend at least across the fronts of the homes. Many extend around the sides as well. Simple Queenslander homes tend to be rather square, with only four sides. Their roofs are also rather square, sloping toward all four sides, instead of just sloping to the front and back like roofs of common Ranch architecture often do. One advantage over Ranch architecture is the hood over the steps to the porch. It diverts rain to the sides if there are no gutters. Queenslander homes do not seem to have prominent garages visible from the front, perhaps because Australians lack Pontiacs or other cars that are worth showing off.
Australia is less populous than California is, and almost everyone lives near the coast. That is something that I was sort of aware of. What I did not know is that there are FIVE cities that are more populous than San Jose! BOTH Melbourne AND Sydney are more populous than Los Angeles! How are there enough people left over to live anywhere else? Adelaide is one of the five major cities, and also has a climate remarkably similar to that of San Jose. It even sort of looks like San Jose, with the East Hills in the background. It does not look as big as San Jose though. Adelaide seems to be a bit more centralized, with more high density development, and less urban sprawl. This might be a result of a lack of Pontiacs or other nice cars to drive to suburban areas. Perhaps people just prefer to live closer to town because wallabies live on the outskirts. Queenslander homes seem to be on suburban parcels that are probably on the outskirts, but they are also outfitted with those distinctive fences.