You’ll notice the bugs first. Not just because Western Australia has a wider variety of crawlies than out east; but, because they swarm out here. You’ll notice the mullets second – for the same reason. Paraburdoo has a population of 2,000; 3 registered hair dressers; an extended family of beetles and stink bugs; and haircuts that belong in a biker gang of Billy Ray Cyruses.
These are a few of the most noticeable differences between Melbourne, VIC, and my newest working holiday home:
My nine Melbourne flatmates could hand-feed the neighborhood possum, Charles.
In Paraburdoo, (if I had less consideration for my metacarpals), I can tickle the teeth of monitor lizards, giant centipedes, cockatoos, and bats. Alternatively, I could become food for March flies, cockroaches, and an assortment of unrecognized, potentially deadly, spiders/ants/hornets/feral cats.
Para (as the locals call it) has one bar, and I work at it. You can imagine how this fails to thrill like the 24-hour dance parties of St. Kilda. Unless you consider two pool tables and a 10:00pm close worth mentioning.
The day I left Melbourne, I burned my umbrella.
After two months of heat (35 Celsius on a cold day) in Western Oz, winter has set in and goosebumps appear if the wind blows below 28 degrees. (I still can’t convert these numbers to Fahrenheit, and simply classify temps as “Hot”, “Warmer” and “Not-too-Cold”). In other words, sweat has become my new perfume.
Coffee is the wine of Melbourne, and every customer had an opinion on how theirs was made. Sauce on the side; egg whites only; could I hand pick the olives out of the Greek salad, please? But all it takes to serve a hotel full of miners is a medium rare steak, a side of chips, and an ice cold brew.
If I left the house without my giant fake glasses, neon-colored leggings and hideous “vintage” sweater, Melbourne hipsters would glare me off the sidewalks.
In Para, I’m out of place because I don’t own a blue and yellow one-piece work suit and steel-toed boots. Why worry about appearances, when you’re constantly working anyway? Which is why I haven’t worn makeup in 54 days.
As Hadyn and I near the 2.5 month anniversary of our employment at the Paraburdoo Inn, Hotel, Bar and Bistro, we’ve gotten the unique Western Australian experience I wanted. This country is a thousand ways more Australian than a big city, and I’m glad I took the time to learn that.
Still, I miss lattes, ethnic food, tap beers, movie theaters, clothing stores, and multiple TV channels. Ah, and people who don’t hyphenate their names with – Lee.