Salzburg: Hop to it
There are no kangaroos in Austria.
You see the signs everywhere – on t-shirts, badges, in shop windows.
You see it in Vienna, you see it in Salzburg.
And that’s where we meet Regina, who is taking us on a walking tour of this beautiful city between river and mountains.
It is part of a concert tour of Central Europe by the Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir from Queensland, Australia.
The walking tour of Salzburg this morning will be followed by a performance later in the day by the full choir at the Salzburg Dom, the main cathedral in this historic and picturesque city.
And Australia is the home of kangaroos, not Austria. As well as such other exotic animals as koalas, emus, wombats, echidnas and the platypus.
Kangaroos and Austria started many years ago, Regina tells us as we gather just outside the Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Yes, that palace and gardens. The ones that were in the Hollywood movie The Sound of Music.
The palace was built in the 18th century and the park is centred by a big fountain. In the film, Maria and the von Trapp children danced around the fountain singing Do-Re-Mi.
But back to kangaroos and Austria.
Regina said when she was at university and staying at a student house in summer, there were always American groups asking if they had kangaroos in Austria.
“It was un-nerving,’’ Regina continued. “Everyone was asking where they could see the kangaroos.
“Yet while we were sitting in the gardens, with glasses of wine, and we asked if someone could come up with a design saying ‘no kangaroos’.
“In two weeks time we had the first t-shirt.
“And so many students asked if they could buy one.
“The design has changed a little bit but now, 30 years later, you see it all over Austria.’’
Salzburg is dominated by churches, castles and palaces.
It seems that everywhere you turn there is a scene from “that’’ movie and you can watch it any hour of the day or night at your hotel room.
Salzburg is a very easy city to get around in.
It is at the foot of the Untersburg, a spectacular mountain half in Bavaria and half in Austria. But as Regina reminds, the more beautiful side is in Austria
Legend has it that Charlemagne, the first German emperor from around 800AD, is not dead, he is just sleeping inside the mountain … at a marble table.
The Salzach River, it is said, that with five days of swimming you would reach Vienna.
Salt mined in the mountains used to be transported down the river by ship.
Salzburg did not always belong to Austria, it was an independent state for 2500 years and the Celts produced copper, iron and salt
Then the Romans arrived but left in 500AD and since then it has been the time of the big Germanic migration.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756AD, was christened at the Salzburg Dom and died while it was still independent Salzburg.
Baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty.
Salzburg was still a free state when Columbus sailed to America but lost its independence in the 19th century when Napoleon arrived.
The Little Corporal took it, gave it to Bavaria, to Vienna, then to Tuscany. It was as if the people of Salzburg didn’t know who they belonged to.
Now, for more than 200 years, they have been Austrians.
This beautiful autumn day we wander among the thousands of flowers in Mirabell Gardens.
Quite spontaneously a small group from the choir perform an acapella rendition of The Blessing to a wedding party in the gardens.
There were tears in the eyes of not just the wedding party but the choir members on such a beautiful, heartfelt moment.
The hills certainly were alive with the sound of music.