Tonight we’re staying at Gunnedah, a country town in Central New South Wales that boasts that it’s the Koala Capital of the World.
Given that Australia is the only country that has koalas (little furry “bears” that have razor sharp claws), it’s fair enough to say it’s the Koala Capital of the World. The problem is, there are no koalas in Gunnedah.
If you go to the Koala Capital of the World, you expect to see koalas.
Driving in we saw none. Checking into our motel we saw none. Walking to the pub we saw none. We didn’t necessarily expect to see koalas cavorting naked down the centre of the street, or scurrying up telegraph poles looking for gum leaves, (koalas are not particularly intelligent creatures) however today we drove 650kms to the Koala Capital of the World, and we expected to see at least one damn koala!
We felt ripped off.
Admittedly, koalas are notoriously shy creatures. It’s not often you see them in the wild, unlike kangaroos that hop around everywhere, often into the paths of oncoming vehicles, causing extensive damage and sometimes death or serious injury to the drivers.
If you hit a koala you’d just squash it flat. Or it would bounce off your car like a hairy soccer ball. A squealing hairy soccer ball.
I believe you can find a recipe on the internet for koala stew. First though you would have to skin it, and that would be tough. They may look like cute little critters, but koala fur is like steel wool. And like I say, they can be vicious with their sharp claws. You would have to be very hungry to want to eat koala stew.
Before we got to the Koala Capital of the World however, Jennifer and I had a disturbing little episode when we went to buy lunch.
We went into a bakery in a small country town called Casino. Everywhere throughout the bakery were signs: WE WON’T SERVE YOU IF YOU ARE TALKING ON A MOBILE PHONE.
There were three of these signs placed prominently on the front counter, and several on the walls. A young lass came up to serve me. I felt like pulling out my mobile phone and asking directory assistance if there were any other bakeries in Casino.
There’s no doubt that some people can be thoughtless, and sometimes rude, when they are conducting a transaction in a shop and they’re on their mobiles. But there was something very aggressive and confrontational about these signs that made both Jennifer and me want to turn and walk out.
The signs were angry, and they emanated an energy that made us feel angry. But that’s what they, the people running the bakery wanted, in a sense. They expected rudeness, and in getting the rudeness, they would feel absolutely justified in displaying their signs.
Energetically, these people were out of balance. We looked at the servers behind the counter. They all had a dark vibe about them, as if they’d been conditioned to expect bad behaviour from their customers. So Jennifer and I were sweet and charming, even though the signs had made us feel quite affronted.
Then I noticed a tip jar. A large glass jar where customers could leave a tip, in coins. Presumably these were people who had not used their mobile phones. The thing about the tip jar though, it held some coins, but the jar was also full of a bright blue liquid. It looked like acid. I figured this was so no-one would steal the coins out of the jar. If they tried, they would get the flesh burned off their thieving little fingers.
I’ve never seen a tip jar booby trapped with acid like this before. There would have been about $1.80 in coins in the jar.
Despite the bakery’s food looking good, the signs and the acid filled tip jar were disconcerting, so Jennifer and I walked out and found another bakery further up the street. It was smaller, less salubrious, but when we walked in we were greeted by the manager with genuine warmth.
As I put my lunch order in I made a call on my mobile phone, just to check to see if I’d get acid thrown in my face. Thankfully, I didn’t.
I left a tip.
We ate dinner tonight at the Gunnedah Courthouse Hotel. We ordered a Spanish “parmi.” Crumbed deep friend chicken breast covered with chorizo sausage, red and green peppers, tomato and cheese, put under a griller. Spanish parmigiana in an Australian country pub – for $15.
The wonders of globalisation.