I fell down and went boom: my experience with the Australian health care system

Well yesterday did NOT go as planned…

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I just spent a good six hours in the emergency room and my travel plans for the next month or so may be royally screwed up (or at the very least some rescheduling may be required).

So, yesterday in Australia was a national holiday called “Australia Day,” which commemorated the landing of the first boatload of convicts on the shores of what is now Sydney; it is Australia’s equivalent of American’s 4th of July & Columbus Day combined, only it would be like our celebrating the landing at Jamestown, which we don’t do.

My friend that I’m currently traveling with is a first generation Australian, and he wanted to start the day attending an event in support of the Aboriginals. which began with a rally, followed by a march, which ended at a park across the street from some government building (where families with grievances presented them to the powers that be). In the park there were actives, performances, political speeches, and myriad of booths selling or advocating things that would be of interest to the folks who participated in the rally and march.

It was a very hot day, we had gotten up unusually, and in-spite of wearing a hat, and having done a fairly decent job of staying hydrated, I was tired. After, as we were walking around the park, we stopped at this one booth that was selling T-shirts with pro-aboriginal/political “stuff” on them, and at one point I took a step backwards; too late I realized I had just unwittingly stepped backwards off of a lawn and over a curb to a slightly sunken street … backwards… so that right away I was put off balance; and THEN … just to put a cherry on an already bad situation, I spotted the baby carriage that had hooked itself under RIGHT under my foot JUST as I had stepped back to ensure that I would have NO chance to catch myself. My friend described it as a slow motion “arse over tits” moment; he saw what was about to happen but couldn’t stop it…

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About three weeks later my friend spotted this safety advertisement and said, “I’m afraid this poster gives me flashbacks to your accident a couple of weeks ago. The moment when you were in pretty much this position was frozen into my memory. And I felt as helpless as the guy on the escalator.”, it’s so perfect that I’m adding it to this post.

Apparently he was not alone in this, he said that a bunch of people were like, “oh shit”… while my body was airborne, and before my head hit the ground/pavement with an incredible THUNK (before my body had finished the trip — see above).

Don’t be horrified for the baby, it was fine; the pram was of the sort where the wheels jet out in front of the carriage, so tipped over them without upsetting the baby… it wasn’t hurt. In fact I have been calling then incident a “hit and run by a baby carriage” because the mother didn’t stick around more than the amount of time it took her to make sure her baby was fine. According to my friend she stayed around only for a few minutes after that and then she took off … probably afraid of being blamed.

That said… I lay there for all of a moment in shock, and then began to cry out and curled into the fetal position; my head began to throb and I checked the back of my head for blood (there was a HUGE lump from a acute subdural hematoma, but the skin had not broken, so no blood gushing out of me… but as soon as I turned my head a little to get access to the lump the world began to spin sickeningly. My benign positional vertigo, which had for the most part left me alone these past two year was back with a WILL. Before I was aware of much, a woman was by my side proclaiming herself to be a professional nurse and folks were yelling for help; and not too long after that the emergency staff for the event joined her, took over, checked me, declared no blood, and that they were happy that I hadn’t passed out. (Turns out I’d fallen only a few steps away from their tent, and they’d just been complaining about how bored they were because no one had needed them).

The medical personnel in the course of checking my condition asked me to open my mouth and close it… and right away there was a massive CLICK sound; the force of the impact had essentially “sprained” the tendons that hold the jaw to the rest of the head, and my jaw was dislocating when I opened it. Not good!  Then they asked me a series of questions about my preexisting conditions which I rattled off as best I could (I was having a bit of trouble answering them)…  then after a bit I remembered to tell them that I have a history of herniated disks in my neck which I have had extensive physical therapy for (in my car I even carry around a Saunders Cervical HomeTrac Traction Device, just in case). As such, they weren’t taking any chances, and put me in a head brace and then told me to straighten my legs and not move.

[My friend, who (and I did not know this before the trip) has been an active member of the New South Wales State Emergency Service (NSW SES) ever since he was in high school (and continues to be, checking in with them whenever he’s in the country) … was absolutely great! He held my hand to sooth me when he could and knew when to stay out of the professionals’ way when he couldn’t (all of which makes him doubly useful as a travel companion). That said, at a certain point he began to feel useless and a bit helpless … but remembering how I like to document everything, he started taking pictures to show me later. This made me very happy.]

So… from my perspective the next thing I knew was they were crossing my arms and rolling me on my side in order to put something hard under me (my world began to spin sickeningly) … and then lifted me on to some sort of conveyance, at which point they moved me, telling folks to get out of the way.

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To quote my friend, I got the fancy police escort through the event to where the ambulance was parked, at which point they transferred me off the jeep, and then essentially tipped me off of the hard plastic orange stretcher and onto the ambulance’s white wheeled one. If you look closely at my face you’ll see I a was NOT enjoying myself… the whole world was spinning sickeningly and at various speeds depending on if they had just tipped me or not, not to mention that my head hurt.

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Then they took me to the hospital for a CT scan again tipping me to transfer me between beds… It was NOT a happy time. (Having my friend there with me the whole time, holding my hands and making sure none of my stuff got lost in the fray — he held on to my hat, my cell phone, etc., was all a huge help and a major stress reducer.) … Once they’d finished testing me the good news was no visible brain bleeds and they released me … the bad news was that my positional vertigo was back with a will… really horrible spinning that actually had me dry barfing into a bag just from being repositioned from reclining to sitting (again my friend seeing my distress grabbed me and held me till the spinning stopped, which was a mercy)… They had kept me for 6 hours in a neck restraint; I was not even allowed to bend my knees to try to get comfortable, and let me just say that peeing while laying down is a bitch.

Once we finally home, in order to keep me in a elevated position as I slept, my friend (on my instruction) put a couch cushion on the bed, and I used his travel pillow to support my head … putting the pillows that would normally be under my head under my knees. I know from pervious experience that I’ll be needing to sleep like this for the next few days (it keeps the head steady, because the spinning that would happen as the head normally moves around during sleep could result in my barfing while still asleep — VERY Dangerous — and even if you don’t barf it keeps you from sleep well, which slows down the healing.

As of today the dizzy was so bad I can barely walk… so as to my trip, we’ll see what happens… but we may need to completely redo our plans if my brain doesn’t adjust to the new normal quickly enough ….

That said, the ER visitbecause I’m not an Australian citizen and do not qualify for their national insurance policy, has so far only cost me $138 AU (112.07 US) out of pocket (Jaw drop… ) for having seen the doctor, and while they haven’t charged my card yet, they said because of the CT scan and two other tests, there would be 3 more charges of that amount… so $552 AUD total (or … $432.23 USD!!!)

Seriously, this is the information they handed me about the fees I would have to pay:

From the Hospital’s Medicare ineligible patient fees list (Basically everyone from an overseas country that does not have socialized medicine and a reciprocal agreement with Australia):

Everyone pays a consultation fee of $138.00 AUD  (or 108.06 USD!!!)

Then, for tests:
Pathology test, $138AUD
ECG $138AUD
X-ray $138AUD
etc., (I was assured my CT was the same amount)
Inpatient accommodation for one day (had I needed it would have been): $2,214 AUD
ICU accommodation for one day: $5,616 AUD

Now, let’s keep in mind that in the USA the average cost of an ER visit is about $1,233 USD ($1,574.41 AUD)
… that’s JUST the visit, and maybe a blood test or something…
Then you have to add the AVERAGE cost of a C.T. scan, which is around another $1,200… so about $2,500 for my visit if I’m lucky …. and while based on Obamacare my insurance would have had to pay for it, because of the size of my deductible… which is a whopping 7K — I’d still be paying out of packet … so… other than that amount being applied to my maximum out of pocket, which is also 7k (seriously)… if I were healthy the rest of the year my insurance would essentially pay nothing.

The big unanswered question is how much the the ambulance will cost me. According to my friends THAT is the really expensive charge in Australia, but according to the hospital staffer, he thought it might be only another $200 over that because of how close we were to the hospital, and the fact that I fell down at an insured event (they would according to him pay the lions share of the charge).

but those bills to my card have yet to process — but if what they said holds true my out of pocket in the US WITH insurance covering parts would still run me a heck of a lot more than this will have … and if it that’s the case I’m not even going to bother dealing with the international travel insurance for reimbursement … going to save it for when I need something a hell of beans more expensive.

 

Invasion day/ Australia day: A Rally in support of the Aboriginal population

 

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The black above, red beneath with a yellow sun in the middle is the flag of the Aborigianl

While the PLAN had been to spend the whole day attending a series of events that were scattered around the city through to the massive fireworks display at night, the only thing we managed to attend was a rally in support of the Australian Aboriginals (because I fell down and went boom). However, while at the march I learned that, their presence on the land, for a myriad of reasons, is STILL not legally recognized, either NOW or historically, because of a legal declaration made by the British 200 years ago that the Australian continent was terra nullius (i.e., empty of humans). The mind boggles, really it does.

On top of that, a major issue that apparently hadn’t really BEEN until just this year, was the fact that Australia day, which celebrates the landing of the first boatload of western settlers is also, from the Aboriginal point of view the day that marks the west’s invasion of their historical lands (kind of like Columbus day and the 4th of July rolled into one).

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Anyway, my friend that I’m traveling with is fairly solidly left wing in his politics, and told me that while I didn’t have to come with if I didn’t want to, this is the event he would be attending first thing in the morning (as in we had wake up way earlier than I’m used to in order to be there on time, which may have been part of why I tripped), but since I didn’t know much about Aboriginals, in spite of my background in Native Americans, I decided I should go with him. AFTER we were going to go do all the more sort of normal celebrate the day things.

The following is the details about the rally from their facebook page:

“Invasion Day 2018 rally:
The war on Aboriginal people continues… Sovereignty and Justice Now! This rally will mark 230 years since British military forces invaded Gadigal land and declared British rule over this continent, along with Aotearoa and other Pacific Islands. While colonial regime continues to hold a day of celebration, we resist the ongoing war against Aboriginal people. From the brutalisation of black youth in detention, the murder of men and women in custody, the theft of children from families, the destruction of Aboriginal lands to feed corporate profits, the apartheid NT Intervention, the forced removal of communities,First Nations on this continent are under heavy assault from a new wave of dispossession. But the fightback is also growing and urgently needs your support. This rally has been initiated by Fighting In Resistance Equally (FIRE), a coalition that organised last years impactful and successful “Invasion Day 2017 rally – no pride in genocide!”
Also the last two successful marches on human rights day, December 10 last year and this year.

FIRE believes that standing against the colonial system and the racist mindset that was brought here in 1788 is crucial to all struggles against oppression and exploitation.”

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So yesterday, before I hit the floor and went boom, at the march/protest in support of Aboriginals … I had questions.

Firstly I must admit that my eyebrows went up when we first arrived to see what was clearly socialist types coopting what was supposed to be a pro aboriginal thing with their own stuff… HATE when that happens in the US when whites try to co-opt Native American protests… Or the way I learned that moveon.org, after I signed their initial petition about how the Feds should “move on” from being obsessed with Clinton’s sex life, felt that as I had signed ONE thing they believed in that give them the right to put my electronic signature on EVERY petition they were coming up with … so that now I just won’t sign any of those things anymore and at one point sent MoveOn an angry cease and desist email.

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And then I was SERIOUSLY put off by the fact that they put up a Palestinian guy to speak who was making false comparisons (if you support the Aboriginals you must support the Palestinians) and blaming the Israelis for atrocities that WERE done to the Palestinians, no doubt … ONLY it was by their Jordanians and Syrians “brothers” rather than the Israelis who had done them, but rewriting that history to put it all on Israel’s back… and he even had the audacity to claim we’d done child abductions, when the PLO had ACTUALLY been abducting Christian Lebanese children and turning them into child warriors before the Lebanese war …. I think he thinks that when Israel offers free health care and university degrees and such, we’re abducting their kids… and watching all the young hipsters nodding their heads with how right he was… set me off no end…

Basically (and modern genetic testing techniques back me up on this) we were arguably there before the Palestinians — although more than a few Palestinians would be shocked to learn, and the genetic testing also backs this up, their ancestors had been Jews and were forcibly converted to Islam generations ago at the point of a sword — and we were driven off our land by waves of invaders, and from my perspective Palestinians are a bit like… well some time in an alternative reality future, white people — many of whom are actually have Aboriginal ancestry they have forgotten about — being pissed off because Aboriginals who had escaped the genocide in Australia, got rich, came home and bought up all of Sydney and then declared an Aboriginal state, saying the white people could continue to live there but they would have to adhere to aboriginal law. It in fact would make a pretty good alternative reality book…

Add to that the fact that I was tired, and it was really hot, and I was NOT in a happy mode towards the start of that day…

So I immediately had some doubts about pretty much anything I heard after that… There was a chant, “always was, always will be aboriginal land” which I couldn’t quite make sense of. If it were true, does that mean all the young middle class hipsters who were chanting it were willing to contact some suffering Aboriginal families and put their money where their mouth was? “Hey, I’ve been chanting this, I own a couple of properties around Sydney I inherited from my family…. I’ve decided my family stole it from you guys so HERE, take my property I’m sailing back to the UK?” Don’t think so… so WHAT in fact did the chant mean?

My friend who I travel with was trying to explain it to me, but then a complete stranger who was walking near us, was this nice guy called Luke who offered some very coherent explanations, and for the rest of the march he became my teacher, explaining in a lot of detail stuff I had not known.

With regards to the chant, NO, Luke agreed I was right, none of these guys were likely to hand over their homes, but it was more of a constitutional issue. Until quite recently there hadn’t even been any discussion that the Australian constitution should even recognize Aboriginals as having been there first (which in this day and age is kind of head scratcher, and completely inconsistent with how the rest of the world views Australians), and the constitution here still doesn’t although discussions have commenced. (I did note later to my friend that the ONLY reason the US constitution is any different, in case you didn’t know we have always legally recognized the tribes as “dependent sovereigns” even if we didn’t stand by our words, is because at the time of the founding we were at war with the French and NEEDED the tribes on our side in that war.) But there’s apparently push back from the sort of Australians who would have voted for Trump (the sorts who were wearing Australians flags yesterday, instead of showing up at pro aboriginal protests), who like in the US don’t tend to be the folks living in cities — although some of them do (and it’s pretty easy to spot them on Australia day). To paraphrase his friend Sonja, who we met up with at the event, there are 3 sorts of Australians… the all white and claim their ancestory to early settlers “we’re Australians! This is OUR land” crowd… then there’s the urban yes we’re Australians but we feel really bad about what was done to the Aboriginals crowd, and thirdly the more recent recent immigrants and or refugees or first generations folks who are of the “we’re just happy to be here” crowd…. but then we agreed there’s a 4th group, the “who gives a fuck about politics this is just a day off work” crowd. And I learned there’s a Northern territory that isn’t actually under the same laws as the rest of the country (from a legal viewpoint a bit like Louisiana which has a completely different legal system from the rest of the USA, or Canadian territories which aren’t actually states) and in these Northern territories some pretty gruesome stuff is still happening, kids still being separated from parents without due process, etc — which I had not ever heard about before.

So I learned a lot. It was good… and after that we attended a thing in a park where aboriginal dance groups and singers performed, and various aboriginal artists exhibited their works

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After, I found these articles about the march in Sydney and some others around the country… was kind of hoping I’d spot me of my friend in the march, but so far no luck.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/25/invasion-day-rally-where-protests-will-be-held-across-australia

http://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/hundreds-gather-for-invasion-day-protest-march-in-sydney/news-story/fb0f514ff0088107a2b6b0b307d6bb1a

http://www.news.com.au/national/hope-australia-burns-to-the-ground-tens-of-thousands-protest-across-the-country/news-story/558c5aabea78c258cdf9c155259497c4

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/invasion-day-rally-in-sydney-draws-thousands-of-protesters-20180126-h0orw4.html

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Observations about Australia

One thing I’ve learned: the Australian government offices have the good sense to set up customer support booths for various services that need to be completed on-line, and they do it in city malls (next to basic needs things, like grocery stores — which are ALSO located in said malls)…. how brilliant is that?!

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In addition, a lot of the post offices are ALSO in these same said malls (buy your gifts and send them without having to leave the cool embrace of central air) … I’m thinking with the way malls are going in the US currently, maybe our government/postal authorities should be thinking about doing the same thing. Just saying.

And a 2nd thing… Just like in Canada, pretty much every point of sale in Australia allows you to tap your credit card to pay (instead of swiping like in the USA). For folks who are using credit cards, they still need to put in a pin… but for those of us using our phones, or the Apple watch, no such 2nd step is required (because the pin or thumbprint we have to use to open said devices is functionally the same second verification of ownership).

Shop staff here in Australia are used to the credit card and pin (which is the norm in most of the rest of the world — US is behind on this), and have gotten somewhat used to people who use their phones instead, but I’ve lost count of the people whose faces have lit up with delight and “wow, I’ve never seen that before” or “we’re in the future now!” or “COOL!” at seeing me do it with my Apple watch.  EVEN drink machines at train stations accept a tap from my apple watch! So no more digging for coins, or having to break up larger bills… in fact because of the fact that tap us used almost EVERYWHERE here in Australia, during the last few weeks I’ve only accumulated THREE coins in my pocket!!

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And as someone who has a LONG habit of losing her credit cards (a trait that is particularly painful when traveling internationally), the fact that I’ve only had to pull that sucker out of my wallet twice in the last three weeks has made my life SO much easier and more secure.

 

BATS!!! Sydney, Australia has VERY big bats, and a lot of them

BATS!!!!! Great big flying bats!! And I mean they’re huge,

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Apparently the locals call them “Flying-Foxes” and there are three different species in town

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I’ve seen them in zoos, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the wild… and its not just one or two, it’s like there are thousands of them and they just don’t stop coming

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I can’t know for sure but I’m thinking these ones might be the Grey-headed flying foxes which apparently are the biggest variety living in Australia… cause they’re frigging huge…. and they just kept coming and coming… I was standing there shooting picture of these guys for like 20 minutes, just mesmerized.

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My friend, who is from Sydney said he’s never sure when he sees this nightly display — which happens in parts of town that the bats seem to prefer — if its thousands of them or if its the same bunch just circling

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However, according to what I read while prepping this post, there aren’t as many bats as there were a few weeks ago. Earlier in the month, while I was at the sea shore and Sydney had that record breaking heat wave, the bats were literally dying on the trees where they hung.

 

In Australia, prostitution is legal

We’re walking down the street and and my travel partner, who is from Australia, goes, “and this would be a brothel” …. one of the things I learned on this trip was that, prostitution is legal in Australia. That said, each state seems to have legalized it differently. In some, independent sex workers without any government regulation are ok, but whore houses are not; while in other parts of Australia, like New South Wales — where Sydney is– it’s exactly the opposite — sex workers are heavily regulated/tested, etc., and tend to work in whore houses. That said, I’m really no expert on this so I could be getting it wrong…

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I will say this, Australian whore house, a country where it’s legal, are a lot harder to spot than the South Korean ones (where I used to work), where it’s not legal.

In Korea what you tend to see are “happy ending massage parlors” but everyone knows that they offer much more than that; and they are really easy to spot because they have two spinning barbershop poles side by side in front of them… even though in South Korea prostitution is “technically” illegal. In fact whore houses in Korea were so common and easy to spot that it was a running joke among my students.

What’s interesting to me is that while I’ve always heard about people traveling to Thailand or the Amsterdam and places like that, to partake of the sex trade, I’ve never heard of folks coming to Australia for it… live and learn.

 

Inner Space Furniture, a really cool store in Leura Australia

Inner Space is a mind blowingly, densely packed yet very cool furniture is located in Leura, New South wales. It’s definitely worth a visit if only to ooh and awh over the merchandise (some of which you might even consider shipping home) which is spread through three rooms — although it’s probably best to leave the kids outside.

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Leura is the town that essentially adjoins Katoomba while also being geographically distinct from it, because of how the cliffs of how Australia’s “Grand Canyon” are arranged. Leura, like Katoomba, essentially rolls up its sidewalks at 5pm, but in my opinion it does have better/trendier shopping along with some decent restaurants that supplements what Katoomba offers (Katoomba has a Korean restaurant, Leura has Greek one, etc) — and as such is worth a visit.

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That said, it’s also part of any of the hop-on/hop-off bus tickets you might purchase, so you can organize your visit to drop you off here at the end of the day and then grab a taxi, or take the train to take you back after dinner (the busses stop running at about 4:30).

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While in this store I met a woman with incredible personal style, who said that Katoomba and this Leura are where all the hipsters from the Newtown neighborhood in Sydney are moving, because they could no longer afford to live in Newtown — a population that apparently included herself and her girlfriend. She also said she has to AVOID coming into this shop because she goes a little purchase crazy while there… not that I blame her.

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That said, while there are some smaller/light items for sale in the shop, for those of us who aren’t in any way locals, and have to worry about what will size/weight fit into our suitcases, a store like this can give you ideas of what to google search for later. (Very little of their merchandise was produced by local artists.)

For instance, I did some serious drooling over those decorative animal heads on the walls which were in my opinion amazingly cheap at $269… only to learn upon getting home that Amazon was selling something similar for about the same price. Amazon happily is only acting as a portal for this company, with it’s own online site; where I learned these are items commonly found/produced in Indonesia… so I then googled “Indonesia carved skulls”, and found this shop, and this one, etc.  ALL of that said…  the prices at this shop WERE about the same prices I’m seeing on line when you add in shipping; so, if I were living in Australia, I’d be going a little purchase crazy in this shop …  especially since all the prices are competitive with on line sources (once you factor in shipping costs), with the added advantage of you’ll know exactly what your buying while with an on line purchase you can never be exactly sure…. especially with hand carved items like these

Katoomba, Australia : Three sisters & Prince Henry Cliff Walk

Spent my first day in Katoomba appreciating the rock formation that is The Three Sisters, in all it’s glory (and it is pretty glorious); and, I got in a good two plus hours of mostly easy hiking between Echo point and Katoomba Falls, along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk: a paved walkway which skirts just below the top of the plateau upon which the city of Katoomba sits. In this case I think the pictures speak for themselves, while at the same time doing no real justice how it feels to be in the presence of this sort of natural beauty in real life. Really, this view IS worth the trip.

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As such, there’s really not much for me to say about these photos, other than I had wonderful afternoon enjoying the views, so I’ll let them do the talking.

 

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This is the document that the QR code on the left links too: http://www.naturetourismservices.com.au/3sisters.html

The QR code link is worth following as it loads a really well written description of the location and the available walks (better than what I could do here).

I began my visit at what is called Echo Point… I’m not sure why as I didn’t hear any echo’s when folks called out… but maybe if EVERYONE was quiet, and one person did, we might…

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After enjoying the views from Echo point I took the ramp (which leads off to the right of the point — looking out towards the sisters) down to the Prince Henry Cliff walk that goes from the point to the falls

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In this picture I was actually as impressed with the foreground as the background, especially the color

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A former Apple employee took this with the new phone and airdropped it to me — while it looked WAY better on his phone, I’m not sure it looks better on my computer screen… could be he airdropped a low pixel version

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You’ll notice that it was windy as heck, and that the Australians were all wearing sweaters or coats… that’s because along with being windy it was 66F, which in my mind made it great weather for some serious walking…
Menapause and carrying around 30 lb of excess fat, it’s a thing

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IMG_0680Also, before I started the walk I was very specific with the park staff about how I had bad hips and knees and needed to know if there’s be any serious amounts of stairs and or climbing along the way… suffice it to say they lied when they said no difficult stairs and that the whole thing was well paved throughout. There weren’t a LOT of spots like this, but if I were actually handicapped I’d be seriously pissed off… as it was it just slowed me down for a bit.

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High tea @ Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa: Katoomba, Australia

Lilianfels Resort & Spa is located in an historic house in the town of Katoomba, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, near the Blue Mountain‘s Three Sisters rock formation on the edge of what Australians refer to as their “grand canyon.” Among other attractions available to those NOT staying at the hotel, is their High Tea … but for me, the meal was a MAJOR let down; it was no where near as tasty as it looked, and is most definitely NOT worth the calories.

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High Tea for one

As those who follow my blog know, I have a tradition of going to High Tea with my best friend since childhood, who from time to time will join me for a few days (she loves traveling, but not alone, and her hubby doesn’t, so she’ll take a few days off and join up with me. Since she’s not here to share it with me, I am having high-tea with an oversized teddy bear I spotted on the other side of the room that looked lonely (there being no children in the room that day).

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Having the bear as my partner tea partner was my idea, not theirs — they just looked at me funny when I asked if I could. But as I was one of the first people to show up, and no kids had arrived, they let me have it.
All in all the sandwiches were ok but not amazing nor worth much of a mention; to be honest I have had better at pretty much every high tea I’ve ever gone to. The hot tea  and the scone were fine (nothing particularly memorable),
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and in spite of having sat myself directly adjacent to the window, my only view was of a smallish garden with high hedge rows behind it.
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So mostly I’m going to talk about what should have been the highlight of the Tea, especially considering how pretty they were…. the desserts,

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When I fist got the tray, I was seriously impressed that the Panna-cotta has cotton candy on top of it … but here is the thing, and this was the first in a long stream of bad thinking and planning on the part of the pastry chef:  When you get a high tea you don’t dive into the desserts first. Instead,  you leisurely have the sandwiches and the scones… So that between arriving on my table and my finally getting to it ….the cotton candy did what cotton candy does when dampened… it shrinks and turns into a sticky glob
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The yellow thing in the middle turned out to be a white chocolate spoon. At first I was like “well that’s smart” … but as soon as tried to use it as a spoon, it snapped…. and then when I tried to use that now shortened “half” spoon, it also snapped … So that finally I just gave up and grabbed my metal spoon…. only to find that the Panna-cotta was kind of tasteless and definitely not worth the calories, and I left it half eaten.
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Next I had what turned out to be a beet root tart (Australians like Canadians are very into eating beets — because they’re healthy) and and love beets in general …. but this tart? Well let’s just say it’s ‘different’… nothing to write home about, and leave it at that…. but beetroot, healthy… so I ate the whole thing.

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This cheesecake dropped a pineapple apricot jam on my leg as soon as picked it up … and since again, it was more pretty than tasty, I put it down after the first bite 

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A custard tart with fruit perched on it… the custard was good the cup that held it was not so much — you sort of had to pick the fruit off and eat it separate because the custard wasn’t firm enough to hold it in place and the whole thing was way to big to pop into your mouth whole… again, bad pastry design.

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This oh so precious looking brownie ???  Again, not very tasty. In fact I once again put it down after the first bite because it just wasn’t worth the calories. And the hard candy on top did help a bit, but it was mostly just sugar.

All in all, don’t waste your time.

Katoomba, Australia: Pins On Lurline, an upscale resturant

Pins on Lurline (the latter is the name of the street it’s on) is a tasty, slightly pricey, upscale, chef driven restaurant that you will probably need to book well in advance if you want a seat. Located in New South Wales Australia, in the tourist town of Katoomba, not far from Echo Point Lookout (a favorite point for viewing the Three Sisters); this restaurant is listed as 5 stars on Yelp, and as 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor. 

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Upon first arriving in Katoomba I tried to find a good place to eat dinner. This restaurant was listed as one of the very best it town on multiple sites, so I called and asked if they were open and could have dinner there… suffice it to say the guy who picked up the phone almost laughed at me, and gave a clear “no, sorry, we’re fully booked.” And since, for the most part, I can’t be bothered with this sort of place (unless its a very tiny yet popular place, I rarely find the food at places that require booking ahead to be worth the hassle), I just sort of wrote it off as one of the places I wouldn’t be going to.

The next day was a bit windy, but I decided to walk down the street towards the Three Sisters, the major tourism draw for this town, which took me right by the restaurant. I decided to go up to the building and if possible try to stick my head in, and maybe to make a booking — because I had seen they had Kangaroo on the menu, and I wanted to try it.

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As luck would have it, although the place was completely empty, the door was open although there was woman was inside standing near the bar, who seemed to be busy taking phone bookings for that evening. I assumed therefore that it wasn’t open yet for business, but that they were just prepping for that evening.

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So I asked if I could see the menu and maybe make a booking, and she was like, “well we’re open now, would you like lunch?”
“You’re open?”
“Yes, we’ve just started doing lunch on weekends. Didn’t you see the sign?” (it was a Saturday)
“I was just walking by and I didn’t see any sign.”
“Oh, it must have blown over” (like I said, it was windy

Now here’s the thing, according to the various web sites I had looked at Pins wasn’t supposed to be open at lunch, and even the night before when I called the guy hadn’t mentioned it … and if I hadn’t been walking right by it I would I would never have known. Which sort of explains why I was the only person in the restaurant for most of my meal… towards the very end a 2nd couple also stopped by to make reservations, and ended up staying for lunch.

I ordered the pumpkin soup …. normally they put a dollop of cream on top but for me that didn’t.

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It ended up being kind of overwhelmingly peppery without the added fat, but coffee is good. It surprised me a bit because in the the states pumpkin soup would normally be sweeter, and with cinnamon in it. Apparently that’s NOT how the Aussies like it, what I learned from talking to the woman is that here pumpkin soup is always savory and with lots of pepper (a fact later confirmed to me by others).

For my main I ordered the seared kangaroo with a green salad. The woman “warned” me that Kangaroo because it’s so low fat has to be eaten rare, and I told her that was fine because I actually prefer my steak “blue” … which is a bit like seared tuna, and is borderline raw. 

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She said that because their usual dressing are full of oil the cook did some improving. The kangaroo was not bad, but not amazing… Bison is way more flavorful and I can see why in this case the locals tended to prefer to eat lamb, mutton or beef. But apparently apparently Kangaroo is very healthy. The way it was cooked it came out tender; and the taste was more like ostrich than beef or bison… it has a very subtle flavor … I actually felt that the cook has overwhelmed it with the taste of charring/burned edges.

 

The Australian Egg

Firstly….Let’s hear it for countries where you don’t refrigerate eggs.

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You’ve got to love the Australian sense of humor; that said, in Aussie slang words are shortened, so chickens become chooks

Most Americans don’t realize this but the rest of the world does not refrigerate their eggs (read this link to understand why we do it when the rest of the world doesn’t, if you don’t already know). While staying at Airbnb’s in the US owned by recent immigrants I have regularly had to explain to them why storing their eggs decoratively on a table (the same way as fruit), is not only NOT a good idea, it’s down right dangerous — and then explained to them why that is.

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So, here in Australia, if you’re shopping for eggs, do NOT look for them in the refrigerated section…. you’ll find them stacked up in the aisles.