My second day in Australia started with my friend Ray showing me how “real men” eat toast with vegemite:


He gave me a bite.
It was horrendous.
Friendly advice (if you’re not from Australia): don’t eat vegemite.

In the late morning, Ray took me to his local bank so I could get some Australian money. Look how pretty it is:


Did you notice that the bills (or “notes” as the locals call them) are different sizes?

Australian money, by the way, can not be torn. I’m not saying it’s illegal to tear it, but rather that it’s physically impossible. (This is not an April Fool’s prank to get you to ruin your money. I’m serious. Try it sometime — just a little piece on the corner if you don’t believe me.) Also, if the bills get wet, they don’t get soggy. They’re made with some type of plastic that’s water resistant.

For lunch, Ray drove us to a little food store/bakery, where I had a meat pie . . .


. . .followed by a neenish tart:


Both of these items are popular in Australia, and let me tell you . . . they were SO GOOD.

Our next stop was a place called Oakvale Farm and Fauna World:


We saw all kinds of cute, scary, and exotic creatures . . .


. . . but the highlight was probably getting up close and personal with this kangaroo:


Or should I say *two* kangaroos? In case you missed it, that’s a mama kangaroo with a joey in her pouch! I wasn’t planning to go anywhere near them because I’ve learned not to mess with baby animals when the parents are nearby, but Ray assured me it was okay. (He’s a veterinary surgeon, so he KNOWS animals.) And then he proved it by petting the heads of both kangaroos.

Another highlight was getting to pet a koala:


In fact, I got to pet several. It was a weekday afternoon, so the farm wasn’t crowded, and I had more koala time than I needed.

I also got to feed some wallabies:


On the way back to Ray’s place, we stopped at the scenic lookout . . .


. . . and ended up having a lazy evening at home. No complaints. It was exactly what I needed, as I still hadn’t fully adjusted to the time suddenly being 15 hours later than it was back at home in New York City.

The whole family and I ordered Malaysian food and watched the Dodgers’ exhibition game against the Australian team. Here we are lounging in the living room (with Yasiel Puig at the plate):


It was nice to get a look at the Sydney Cricket Ground on TV. I figured out a few things and got a much better idea of what to expect at MLB’s Opening Series, which was now just two days away.

After dinner, Ray asked me if I wanted to see some possums.


Umm, yeah, why not . . . right? But I wondered if there were any zoos open at that hour. Silly me. Ray told me there were possums all over the place right outside his house, so he grabbed some food . . .


. . . and led me to the back yard. He then flung the food onto the lawn five meters away. Within a minute or two, THIS happened:



For a city boy like me from halfway across the world, it was amazing to see all this stuff firsthand. I’m sure it was old news for Ray, so I owe him a big thanks for being my personal tour guide and patiently showing everything to me.


  1. Ray Burton

    The possums send their best wishes and wonder when ” the bloke with the funny accent ” is coming back to feed them.

  2. James Lee

    Zack, I enjoy your non-baseball entries just as well as your baseball blogs. These are particularly interesting as my wife & I visited Australia in 2012 and really enjoyed the places we visited. We only saw kangoroo joeys on the wild, but we saw koala joeys on a zoo. Just amazing to see so many different animals & birds everywhere, like the kookaburra bird that was sitting on a bannister right next to our table at a restaurant near Palm Cove. Looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip.

  3. kslo69

    Great entry Zack. How awesome to have a local family put you up and show you all the back roads. FYI, I got to your page just fine this morning, but when I tried to click on a previous entry (3/22/14) I got a “this page cannot be trusted” notice, and a recommendation that I inform the site’s owner. So now you know. Scrolling down and accessing the comments section was not a problem, obviously.

  4. Zack Hample

    Well, you can tell them that I miss them and think of them often.

    According to Wikipedia, it’s “a dark brown Australian food paste made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives.” According to me, it’s the worst thing ever.

    Thanks so much. It’s nice to know that people are actually enjoying the non-baseball stuff. I’ve actually gotten a few nasty messages from people over the years when I’ve strayed from baseball.

    What is there not to be sure about? Too creamy? Too much sugar? Artificial coloring? Too much deliciousness?

    That’s really weird. I have no idea what to make of it, but thanks for the heads-up. I guess I won’t do anything about it unless I hear the same thing from more people. As for your first statement, yes, I consider myself very very lucky.


  5. bdweingarten

    Nice post. Never seen too many possums before? I see them from time to time in Upstate NY, but for some reason in America they have the silent “o” at the front of “opossum.” Have you been to any games back in America yet?

  6. Zack Hample

    I don’t think I had ever seen a possum prior to this trip. I went to the Mets game on April 2nd, and it was awful.

    I’m glad you feel that way — more neenish tarts for me!

  7. Zack Hample

    Damn, son! I hope you were okay. I wonder how that bite even happened. Were you trying to feed one? If you were with Ray, he wouldn’t have let that happen.

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