Elora Robinson went to Australia for a vacation, but came back with a broader global prospective.
“When I came here in 1985, McDonalds was only in Sydney and Melbourne,” the Marion resident in her 70s said. “Now it’s in every small town with 5,000 people or more — and, as a result, their society is changing. It’s becoming a lot more like Americans; people are overweight and eat fast food.”
Robinson was gone for six weeks and was able to see various tourist attractions, including the Blue Mountains and Phillips Island. During the entire time, she stayed in a condominium, which allowed her to cook her own food. Almost every day she said she went down to the local markets to find fresh local produce — a feat that was feasible due to all the ATMs now present in the country.
“It’s the best way to travel,” she said. “All you have to do is slide your card and you get Australian currency. Cooking saved us a lot of money. But, we did spend quite a bit on coffee. We stopped and had little cappuccinos whenever we could. They drink a lot of tea and coffee over there.”
She said there was one major downside: the American dollar wasn’t worth very much – and it cost her more to during her stay.
“It was well worth it,” she said. “I’m retired and there wasn’t anything really keeping me from going, so I just decided to enjoy myself while I was there.”
Robinson said one of the many things she enjoyed doing was using the pokies – an Australian word for slot machines.
“I was only there for about 15 minutes when I won $100,” she said. “I was lucky. It was like Vegas. They had slot machines, entertainment and they served drinks.”
Her gambling streak continued when she went to her first-ever harness race – something she said she wouldn’t get to experience in Kansas. She said she would never forget her first visit to the betting counter.
“I wanted to bet on a show,” she said. “I knew I probably wouldn’t get the first-place winner right and I was doubtful that I would pick the second-place winner. The woman at the counter explained that they don’t have shows in Australia and that place meant that they could come in either second or third place – so I bet on place a lot.”
Robinson said that Australia has become a lot more “Americanized” in the past 25 years and it wasn’t hard to become acclimated to the culture, especially with her brother as a tour guide.
“Jim went over to Australia for some ‘r and r’ during Vietnam, he met Leslie and stayed there with his family,” she said. “He was able to show us around. We spent a lot of time on the beaches. I went swimming a lot and Jim likes to fish, so it worked out for everyone.”
Now, after being home almost a month, Robinson is grateful for the memories she made on the trip — and the foresight she had to bring a journal, camera and iPad along with her on the journey.
“I’ll cherish them for the rest of my life,” she said. “I took over 200 pictures and videos.”
Robinson doesn’t know when or if she will go back to Australia, it all depends on her health.
“It’s not an easy trip,” she said. “We traveled for a total of 18 hours. I’m getting old, so I had to keep getting up on the plane so that my blood didn’t clot. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it in another five years; I’ll be in my 80s by then and that’ll make it even harder.”
While Robinson said she loved visiting her brother and his family, she would not want to live there.
“I loved Australia; it’s a great country, but I couldn’t live there. My family is here. I wouldn’t want to be without them.”