Extra vowels show acclimatisation process well underway

A QUICK trip back to Melbourne revealed the horrifying truth. Back in my old house, I recalled the five long winters I'd lived there, and shivered.

Fair enough - it's winter in that southern city, after all. Except my visit coincided with a week of blue skies.

The mornings were crisp, but there was no icy crunch on the lawn when I picked up the newspaper.

It was midday, I was sitting in a sunny backyard on a pleasant 18-degree day, and I was shivering. I'd acclimatised to Queensland.

Getting used to a place sneaks up on you. One day you realise you just made it all the way to the PCYC without overshooting the Side St turn off.

Trying to explain or get a high-five for the achievement seemed pointless - but there was a skip in my step as I headed in.

Other signs are more obvious. Or should I say, other signs are more obvious, ay.

Years before I arrived, I knew my fella had picked up this Queenslanderism, and I mocked him happily.

It took me a month, but suddenly my vowel-count was up, too.

Every time, the signs I'm settling take me by surprise. Because I keep running face first into the signs that I haven't.

Flying out to Melbourne, my seat in the Gladdy departure lounge was alongside a huge Harley-Davidson.

Obviously it's a key feature of the airport's attractions, and I guess when you can't get an instrument landing system, you make do with what you can.

No-one else seemed concerned - perhaps I was surrounded by undercover bikies.

Perhaps Gladstone types ride motorbikes onto planes on a regular basis. But I'm still chalking it up as one of the weirder things I've seen catching a plane - and I've flown in and out of Delhi.

Driving past Gladdy's fast food joints, I don't think I'll ever shake the double-take I do every time I see the 20-car queue.

On the flipside, I never quite believe it when a colleague blames the "shocking traffic" for running late.

(And I never quite believe it that I'm running late - again - when I only allow five minutes to get across town.)

So maybe I've still got some Gladstone acclimatising to do. But at least I'll be warm doing it.

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