9 a.m. and the mercury is racing up to 30 degrees. “Better watch out” locals tell us. “It’s going to be a ripper”. They’re right, so we retreat into the air conditioned world which reminds us of home and what temperatures at Christmas should be.
But then we’re on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and it’s a cloudless Christmas Eve. Still, Christmas is Christmas and though the Mooloolaba Beach is scattered with bodies, the radio station plays – rather incongruously – White Christmas.
There’s a crush of consumers at the mall where one retailer, pinching part of the lyrics of that other Christmas standard, Jingle Bells, displays women’s panties which declare ‘Jangle your Balls off’. Aussies…
A long way from the browsers and buyers at the shops is the relative peace of the Australian bush – relative because it’s as noisy as Grand Central compared to the hush of ours. There’s a quarrel of kookaburras, the love song of whipbirds – a high-pitched prelude, then a lash, followed by a forgiving chew chew. Though it sounds like a solo, an old timer told us it takes two to tango in this aural masochism – one chew chewing kisses – after being lashed.
At night a garrison of geckos competes with the deep engine idle of cane toads. And then the next morning, the sound of that familiar Christmas ritual. No, not church-going – just children ripping and rending the paper which has kept them at bay from their presents for days under the Christmas tree.