An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Oh, Australia Day we’ve missed you!

So this might not come as much of a shock to you all, but it’s snowing in Whistler... a lot! There’s now nearly a 250cm base and there’s been just short of another 100cm fall within the last week.

No-one is complaining, but that’s a lot... especially when the other major resorts in North America are practically all ‘snow-danced’ out as they pray for more of the white stuff. The only dancing done around here is ‘dans’ le ski-boot during après – as it should be!

Now this said, as I’m sitting here writing this article, there are literally hundreds of slightly inebriated Aussies ‘dancing it up’ around Whistler as part of their elongated ‘Australia day’ celebrations. Of course, their ability to celebrate is in no way harmed by the fact that January 26th hits their homeland many hours before they wake up on that date in Canada, or most other places for that matter. So here’s a brief picture for many an Aussie here (not every Aussie though as I’ve been asked to point out):

It’s a given around these parts that many Australians out here working will want to go and party on this day and where possible, many a local employer will try to be ‘sympathetic’ to their ‘needs’ and schedule them off – perhaps also mindful of the impending hangover as well! Many will commence their celebrations before they even make it to the ski hill and a good number will adorn some national flag, either wrapped around them or stencilled on their face. Then, as they proceed to knock back the odd drink or two on the hill (probably not utilising the ‘traditional’ stubby holder), occasionally some of their clothing comes off (always funny to watch the semi-naked guy or gal as they wipe out on the snow) – ouch, that’s gotta be cold! Actually it’s always mildly entertaining to see the skiing kangaroo suit – there’s always one!

From the skill hill they move to the bars. Most of the local clubs arrange to open early to accommodate the belligerent hordes, sometimes even late afternoon and in time to allow the line-ups to form. So, by this time in late afternoon, we will already have seen one, two or a few alcoholically challenged individuals running up and down the village stroll letting out a few ‘whoops’ or proclaiming to be an Aussie – like you couldn’t tell! Back in the day a few years back, you could often find a game of Aussie Rules football going off in the snow somewhere – haven’t seen this for a while. What’s going on guys?

Given the beauty of the international datelines, this little ‘quirk’ allows someone to legitimately start their celebrations off some 16 odd hours earlier in keeping with everyone back home on their island. Somehow, some of the extremely well practised individuals manage to party the whole way through – that’s one hell of a lot of partying! There did seem to be less Antipodeans around the streets and bars this year when walking around, but I’m sure they were all there somewhere just ready to get their ‘funk’ on.

So tomorrow, I’ll look forward to working an early morning shift, just so my colleagues from ‘down under’ have a few hours longer to recover (doesn’t seem quite fair that the English never really have any dates to seriously party, just for the sake of partying!). No doubt only to see them still looking a little green around the gills as they arise for their afternoon / evening shifts. Nothing like making life harder for ourselves!

Now, as much of Whistler (or ‘little Australia’ as it has been referred to at times) is still sleeping, or even still making their way home, I shall trundle off to work, wading through boot high snowfalls, in between some of the highest snow banks I’ve seen in the village for quite some time and wish that I’d allowed myself a little longer to walk in as the ‘quicksand effect’ of the white stuff prolongs my excursion.

Will there be more snowfall records broken here this year – possibly? We’ll certainly maintain our usual higher than average snow levels compared to most other North American resorts and indeed, probably already have! It’s certainly not doing our economy in town any harm as the trend these days is for certain demographics to pick late or last minute trips based on snow falls. Thankfully we’ve got this one in the bag so far! Even the Aussie rolling down the street in their token kangaroo suit can’t harm this effect …and yes, that did happen!

Belated happy Australia day everyone!