This is my first WGC, and my first time Down Under, so here are some early impressions after a few days in country.

Arriving in Sydney and spending a day at Bondi Beach was like being in an inverted, alternate southern California, with beautiful people parading along a picturesque east-facing coast and cool breezes blowing from the south.

Narromine, in the outback six hours drive west of Sydney, was more like an English country town transplanted into West Texas. White Toyota Hilux trucks with snorkels and flatbeds are ubiquitous on the local roads, and I spied one with a license plate with the logo “Victoria, Sunshine State.” Also there is the matter of the trousers crossing the road.

At the local grocery store, I struggled understanding the stock clerk’s instructions; he asked, “Do you think Australians have an accent?” No, yeah, I thought, in another case of two countries divided by a common language.

Taking an evening walk around our residential neighborhood, I was startled by enormous leathery bats winging around my head, and in the morning by the loud cries of what may have been a kookaburra bird. No kangaroo sightings yet, other than as roadkill.

Narromine Aerodrome felt more familiar, other than the flight of white and pink cockatoos beating over the tie down area. And don’t call the runways asphalt, as the local word is bitumen. Contest staff have clearly been through this drill before, and everything from registration to ground guiding to rope management to the daily briefing is highly professional. The local glider club and commercial op are posh by U.S. standards, with a large newish building, full bar, restaurant, and aviation museum.

Opening ceremonies are tomorrow, and given the prominent coverage in local media, are the biggest thing to hit Narromine since the WGC was last held here. I haven’t yet had the chance to meet teams from other nations as everyone is heads down getting their equipment and procedures ready during the practice period, but I hope to make international contacts as the contest progresses.

Team U.S.A. Club Class (pilots Tony Condon and my guy Mike Westbrook, along with us four hangers-on) is staying at a large, rented house. Last night, Tony explained cricket to us as we watched a match on the telly. Wicket!

See the US Team on Instagram.

~David Hart (FY – Crew)