A summary of our tour down under
09.12.2013 - 09.02.2014
So that's our Aussie adventure done, and what a fantastic experience it's been. Two months and six states later we've still barely scratched the surface of this enormous country. Even now, its vastness is hard to compute.
We broke our time in Australia into the following parts:
- Road trip 1 - Queensland: Cairns to Brisbane
- New South Wales: Sydney
- Road trip 2 - Western Australia: Perth to Perth south west loop
- Northern Territory: The red centre
- Road trip 3 - South Australia & Victoria: Adelaide to Melbourne
The standout highlights for us were Western Australia and Adelaide & South Australia. The beaches in WA were like nothing we've ever seen, and trounced over even Caribbean sands. It was also really great to reconnect with my cousin, Lynn, for the first time in two decades. Adelaide was our kind of place and we'd heartily recommend it to anyone. I hope we get to go back some day.
Queensland was perhaps our biggest disappointment. Other than our wonderful Christmas stay in Marcoola on the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Island, much of this section was quite average and we didn't really rate many of the towns along the way. And of course we had that very unpleasant experience in the Whitsundays... shudder!
Sydney was fun and the city's New Year's Eve firework display was nothing short of spectacular, but we were also ready to leave the city after our six nights there.
The red centre provided a totally unique landscape, and yes... the earth really is that red/orange. Uluru has a special quality but we won't be rushing back to Alice Springs - what a dump!
And finally Melbourne and visiting beautiful Burtie. A fabulous city to end our trip and we had a few leisurely days enjoying the city's highlights.
The best and worst of Australia? Here's a top 10 of the good and the bad in no particular order...
Urgh. A real pain and a big drawback when the summer heat blows in. A fly net is a must buy!
Aussies are an optimistic, friendly bunch who don't seem to take life too seriously. It feels like a land of hope and opportunities. I'll throw service in here too - noticeably friendlier and more helpful on average than in the UK. Their TV is hilarious, so un-PC it's hysterical.
When a heatwave hits, you know about it. Anything above about 37c and we faded fast. Brits might get rained/snowed in in the winter, but equally on the hottest days of summer Aussies are trapped inside too.
Oh my... we love a good Aussie red and boy were we in for a treat. South Australia's McLaren Vale was like we'd died and gone to heaven. In our opinion the best shiraz (our) money can buy. We also had fun in Margaret River's wineries.
Not so good for the flailing pound against a strong AU dollar. Right now it's not a cheap place to visit for Brits and we went £2k over budget. Ouch. Damn those expensive reds!
With thriving arts scenes, cafe cultures, shining skyscrapers and gorgeous parks, Australian cities are far from grim and dirty. This description could be applied to any of the cities we visited, with Adelaide and Melbourne our pick.
- Social problems
Unless you've been to Australia, it's hard to write this without sounding like a white supremecist... but Australia has a significant social issue with its indiginous population. Frankly, their culture and our western culture just don't mix. There are serious drug, health, alcohol and unemployment problems and you see a LOT of aboriginees just sat under trees and in parks drinking. It's a bit unsettling.
It's generally excellent, or at least the produce is - we did have a few duff meals along the way - but the quality of red meat and fruit and veggies is top notch.
The cities were ok, but we were amazed just how difficult it was to get decent connectivity. Asia was a breeze by comparison.
- Road trips
Without doubt the best way to see the country and be staggered at the 'nothingness' en route. We also had a bit of fun along the way 'collecting' the iconic animal road signs...
And a few others... mostly about not dying...
On the road we spotted a few 'lols' worthy of a snap...
Trying to 'do a Paul Hogan' on a cow. Little success.
And last but certainly not least, Australia's wildlife was an endless source of fascination.
In terms of deadly things, we didn't see one snake on our travels and only encountered a couple of red back spiders. We saw a couple of other crawlies such as a scorpion in camp and a centipede which gives a nasty bite. I spotted a shark whilst diving, but not one which was likely to bother a human.
We couldn't/didn't capture everything we saw and much of the time photo opportunities were fleeting or far away. But here's a selection of the weird and the mostly wonderful that we did see...
Wild horses in the outback
Here come the birds...