10/06/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
was only five hours off the plane in Sydney when he faced his first prickly situation: a close encounter with Australian fauna. "It's pretty feisty," said the royal rebel as he grappled with a porcupine-like critter called an echidna.
On Sept. 23 Harry, 19, marked the start of his "gap year"—a British tradition of time off after high school—by posing for press at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Despite graduating from Eton with less-than-stellar results (a D in geography!), Harry passed his first army test and will likely attend a military college next year. Meanwhile he'll spend three months as a "jackaroo" (Australian for cowboy), mustering cattle for less than $165 a week before returning to the U.K. for Christmas.
The weekend before his trip he hit the London clubs with brother Will, 21, and was seen chain-smoking and chatting with girls. In Sydney the prince kept his cheekiness in check, even rebuffing two blonde fans who asked for a kiss. "I can't really," he said. Can't blame a girl for asking.