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Salient. The Newspaper of Victoria University College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 19, No. 3. March 24, 1955

Over Vacation . . . . — Vic. Students See Aussie — Praise for NZUSA Scheme

Over Vacation . . . .

Vic. Students See Aussie

Praise for NZUSA Scheme

There is only one word to describe Australia, and that is a, peculiarly Australian use of it—mighty—meaning big, overpowering and essentially nice. From the bulging Universities of Sydney and Melbourne, to the thousands of miles of gum forest, rich grazing land and then scrubby gum and semi-desert—that is how we found it.

The differences we found were not in the behaviour of the people, or (in many cases) in our immediate surroundings (many times we found it difficult to imagine that we were not back home in New Zealand), but in the scale on which life was organised. From the hundred Sydney suburbs to the sheep stations around Broken Hill (one is Go square miles in area), everything was huge and massive—dwarfing anything within our previous experience.

Perhaps I should roll you something' of the organisation of our trip. Early last December, Peter Kemp and I—fellow students from VUC—travelled to Australia on the Mono-wal under NZUSA's travel and exchange scheme arranged in conjunction with NUAUS, the Australian-counter-part of NZUSA. Altogether we spent about two and a half months in Australia, working in Sydney for three weeks at the start, and then hitch-hiking through almost all of New South Wales and Victoria, and parts of South Australia and Queensland. We covered in all just on 4000 miles.

Hitch-Hiking Easy

Hitch-hiking in general we found fairly easy. It was no trouble at all to pick up a ride in the vicinity of the cities and as we got further out, those that we did pick up were generally fairly long. On the main highways, however, the numbers of cars on the roads is not very large, and in places it is possible to get caught. The worst experience we had on the whole trip was when we set out from Broken Hill to Mildlura. We waited for six hours by the side of the road. Five cars came past—all full—the temperature was 95deg., and a black cloud of filies—they could be numbered in thousands—buzzed around us and settled on us. Life was not pleasant.

The flies and mosquitoes arc actually the most sanguinary things about Australia—they are absolutely vicious, and no repellant has any effect on them whatever. At night we got into our sleeping bags, put socks on our hands and shirts over our heads. We could be certain that if anything was left exposed, we would be a mass of bites the following morning.

Hitch-bikers Gibbons and Kemp between Melbourne and Adelaide.

Hitch-bikers Gibbons and Kemp between Melbourne and Adelaide.

Averaged 250 M.P.D.

We covered on the average something over 250 miles a day and one day we covered 550 miles, although that time we were travelling until 3 a.m.

At night we slept wherever we could lay our heads down—park benches, stockyards, botanical gardens, beaches and school verandahs were all patronised. We had nothing to keep out the rain. In towns we often stayed at the Y.M.C.A. or similar establishments.

We were fortunate in that, while we were there, Australia was enjoying its most prosperous period since the war, and employment for unskilled labour, such as ourselves, was fairly easy to obtain. Our employment in Sydney yielded £A12/19/- per week for very easy work; later, in Victoria, when our finances were runing low, we made £A10 in three days picking fruit.

Warm Hospitality

Probably our most pleasant memory of the trip is of the warm hospitality and friendliness of the Australians towards us as we travelled around. Many times we were invited into private homes for meals, and two or three times we were invited to stay the night. In Sydney, a casual encounter in the park where we worked resulted in staying with a family for our last week in the country.

On our trip we concentrated on seeing New South Wales and Victoria and mainly due to time limitations, saw only parts of South Australia and Queensland, and nothing of Western Australia.

From Sydney we travelled down the coastal Princes highway to Melbourne stayed there some nine days, then went on by the inland Western and Dukes highways to Adelaide, where we stayed for three days. From Adelaide, we went up to Broken Hill and then down again to Bendigo and Shepparton in Victoria, thence to Canberra and again through Sydney; up the Pacific highway to Brisbane, and as time was now running short, back down the inland New England highway passing through towns recently flooded, to Sydney.

Best Way to Travel

Hitch-hiking is undoubtedly the way to travel if you want to see the country, and meet the people (apart from being about the only way that students can afford). If any VUC students are thinking of going to Aussie under the NZUSA scheme advertised in this Issue. I heartily recommend them to do so. They will have the greatest lima of their lives as we did and their attitude to life will be widened.

P. D. Gibbons.