Tweet down under: Microblogging comes to Australia

Once upon a time, Twitter‘s growth prospects outside the United States appeared to be limited, because of differences in text message pricing. Well, it looks like that won’t be a problem any more. On your next trip to Australia, you’ll be able to tweet like mad thanks to the social media platform’s new partnership with Telstra (@Telstra), the wireless carrier down there.

To get you started, here are five Australian users that Twitter suggests you follow. Of course, you should keep an eye on @Gadling, too.

(News from The Australian newspaper)
@delta_goodrem (Musician)
@kyleandjackieo (Australia’s #1 radio show)
@DanniiMinogue (Team Minogue judge for The X Factor)
@KevinRuddPM (Prime Minister)

There’s no question that Twitter can be incredibly helpful while you’re on the road. Be sure to hit up the locals for bar tips and under-the-radar attractions. This week, Twitter also announced its entry into Ireland and Indonesia.

Oktoberfest off to a bad start for Aussies

Just two days into Germany‘s Oktoberfest celebration, one Australian man is dead and another in jail. The man who died was running alongside a train close to his campsite outside of Munich after the festival, when he fell underneath the train’s wheels.

Another Aussie was arrested just a few hours into the festival, after he threw a beer stein into a crowd and injured two teenagers. Oktoberfest organizers say that beer consumptions is up so far this year. 5% more beer was consumed on the first day of the festival this year than in past years, a situation that may have contributed to the nearly 800 alcohol related injuries and illnesses that have already been treated by Red Cross workers. That’s nearly double last year’s figure at this time.

With nearly two weeks left of the Oktoberfest event (which runs 16 days in all) let’s hope revelers – both Australian and otherwise – can manage to stay safe and enjoy Europe’s largest beer festival responsibly.

Hotel guests in New Zealand wake up with drunk Aussie in their bed

In more naked news, a couple vacationing in a New Zealand resort town woke up to find an uninvited guest in their room. A 29-year old Australian had wandered in, climbed into their bed, and fallen asleep.

The Aussie had been out drinking with a woman and gone back with her to her hotel room. At some point in the night, he got out of bed – naked – and began wandering the halls until he found an unlocked room. When the couple woke up and discovered the unintentional threesome, the woman ran to the bathroom to hide while her husband called the hotel concierge.

By the time the police got involved, the hotel had given the man a robe and escorted him to the lobby. Since he couldn’t remember which room he’d originally been in and didn’t know the name of the woman he’d been with, the police kindly offered him a ride home. The couple who’d been disturbed opted not to press charges, and no doubt learned a valuable lesson about always locking their hotel room door.

[via Herald Sun]

San Diego homeless man gets 14 years for beating, burning Aussie tourist

Damian Maple, a homeless man in San Diego, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for beating an Australian tourist, Robert Schneider, with a skateboard and dragging him into a fire pit. Maple went down for attempted murder for attacking the 26-year-old Adelaide resident in 2008.

Maple’s accomplice, Francisco Montoya, was sentenced to two years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon. Montoya is also homeless.

According to a witness, Schneider threw sand in Montoya’s face, prompting the latter to attack the former. Maple encouraged Montoya and then dragged the unconscious Australian tourist into a smoldering fire pit. Schneider’s injuries – including burns and a skull fracture – put him in the hospital for several weeks.

Aussies beware: government won’t help you

“If you’re too dumb or idle to read the travel advisories … then you ought to take responsibility for your own behaviour,” says former Australian foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer.

And, he has a point. If you roll the dice, you have to be ready to lose … even if you get lucky sometimes.

Australian tourists outside their homeland have been getting into trouble lately – be it because of stolen bar mats or travel to war-torn countries. It’s hard not to respect any sense of adventure, but part of growing that testicular fortitude is knowing that you’re on your own. Downer was shocked to learn that he was “responsible” for every Australian abroad … not to mention being responsible for “their own stupidity.”

Downer says that Australians overseas are subject to special laws … and they are not laws from Australia. The lesson from down under applies anywhere. Leave your home turf, and you really should understand the laws of the land you’re about to explore.