’Horns Down Under

When 16 Flying Longhorns explored Australia and New Zealand, they embraced every adventure—from tasting kangaroo tail to bungee jumping.


With their “No worries, mate” philosophy, Aussies—and their Kiwi neighbors to the east—are famously easygoing and adventurous. They’re fond of barbecue, football, sunshine, and a good beer.

Sound familiar? As you might suspect, 16 Texas Exes didn’t have much trouble fitting in during a three-week Flying Longhorns journey to Australia and New Zealand. As they snorkeled amid tropical fish on the Great Barrier Reef, cruised Sydney Harbor, and marveled at a glacier in New Zealand’s Mount Cook National Park, they were laid-back and gregarious, says Jenifer Sarver, BJ, BS ’99, Life Member, a Texas Exes committee chair who hosted the trip.

8529062040_26064da5b3_o“This was a very well-traveled group,” Sarver says. “Several had traveled together before, and those who hadn’t bonded fast.”

While Australia and New Zealand felt familiar in some ways, Sarver adds, the travelers were also acutely aware that they were far from home.

One evening, the group enjoyed a barbecue, or “barbie,” in the desolate outback. With no light pollution nearby, the stars were bigger and brighter than in Texas—and the travelers were surprised to note that the constellations were unique to the Southern Hemisphere. “You realize you’re in a different world,” Sarver says.

Among the trip’s highlights was a visit to a Walpiri Aboriginal community. There the Longhorns met townspeople, bought local art, and even had the chance to eat a live grub worm (a staple of the traditional Aboriginal diet). One intrepid traveler found it palatable, while others opted for roasted kangaroo tail at another meal. Another took the ultimate plunge by bungee-jumping in New Zealand, where the death-defying activity originated.

The travelers were eager to spread Longhorn cheer wherever they went. They sipped champagne while watching the sunset over Ayers Rock, an otherworldly rock formation in the desert. After a day of vigorous hiking, Sarver says, “the champagne hit us pretty hard.” The entire group began joking, laughing, and belting out “The Eyes of Texas.” Soon other nearby tourists were snapping photos not just of the landscape, but of the boisterous Texans, too.

Speak Like an Aussie (or a Kiwi)

Australians have a dialect all their own. The Alcalde thanks expats Brenton Riley, BS ’08, and Melanie Hughes, BS ’98, Life Member, who helped translate.

Jug A pitcher. “If you ask for a pitcher of beer at a bar in Oz or New Zealand, most bartenders will ask for your camera and where to press the button,” Riley warns.

Stickybeak A nosy person, or to be nosy. “Have a bit of a stickybeak.”

Bathers, cossies, or togs A swimsuit

Kia Ora Hi! Literally, “Be well.” A Maori greeting common in New Zealand English.

L&P Lemon & Paeroa, the beloved national soda of New Zealand.

Whinger A grouchy person.

Up a gumtree In a difficult position.

Good on ya! Way to go!

Uluru Rock photo by Bernie Grushkin; bungee-jumping photo by Jenifer Sarver.


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