Gay Globe Trekker

Destination: Down Under—Aussie (IN)Hospitality

Follow my Priscilla-esque journey Down Under as I reveal each week one of 21 reasons for wearing my love for Australia on my sleeve (literally, tattooed there).

#11 Because Red Kangaroo Books in Alice Springs proves the exception to the rule that all Aussies are friendly, which just made me love it even more.

After awhile, the infamous Aussie hospitality gets a little boring and cliché.  Every so often, a hardened New Yorker just wants someone to be snide and unhelpful, just so we can stay on our toes.  What a pleasant surprise then to happen upon an oasis of indifference at the little Red Kangaroo Books in Alice Springs.

Mile marker outside Red Kangaroo

Sure, in this day and age, you’d think indie bookstores, battling for the lives, would go out of their way to lure customers.  Even more so when it’s a niche operation like Kangaroo specializing in books about Australia history and nature.  But I knew this place beat to its own drum when a fellow tourist begged the attendant to hold at the front desk a book about Australian outback wildflowers while she ran to the ATM for cash.  Considering there wasn’t another soul in the store—nor any indication of an oncoming run on said book—one would think this was an easy request to fulfill.  Boy how I smiled when the shopworker turned up his nose and flatly refused, sending the women into panic and tears.

As I stood flipping through books looking for an entry-level tome on the historical treatment of Aborigines  in Australia, the surly man chastised me for putting the books back sloppily and then forced into my hands an edition of “Black Politics.”  He insisted it was exactly what I was looking for.  To me, it seemed a little too university Poly-Sci class, but I was taken with his abrupt and gruff nature.  Charmed really.

At checkout, I asked if he might gift wrap the item for me.  His frown kept me smiling the rest of my Aussie day.

photo by Tourism NT

Like one of my all-time favorite films Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the ultimate destination on my last trip Down Under was Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the country’s “Red Centre.” Granted, I didn’t take a bus or wear a silver lamé dress (damn), but I did sing lots of disco songs and chose a circuitous route. I found the majesty of Uluru spellbinding—one of those places that more than lives up to expectations. No wonder it’s a finalist to be one of the New7Wonders of Nature, an online poll that will announce winners on 11.11.11. Join me in voting for Uluru/Ayers Rock, by visiting Who knows, maybe I’ll end up adding Uluru to my sleeve.

photo by Jamie Beck; tattoo by Friday Jones

Jon Paul Buchmeyer for

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