After spending five weeks in this great country,
we've decided that Australia is just like Canada, but with better
weather! The similarities are actually quite striking, from
the good roads to the social systems to the food to the friendly
people. As a result, it is an extremely easy place to travel
through. The only downside of this are the massive amounts
of tourists, especially on the east coast but I suppose that is to
be expected in a country with so many things to see and do.
We were a little different from most first-time visitors to
Australia as we have lots of Aussie friends who have told us all
about their country over the years so we didn't have too many
surprises while traveling.
The Aussies are a
great bunch - friendly, party hardy, down to earth. And
they speak a great language featuring such memorable slangs as
"beer-o'clock", "arvo" (afternoon), "tucker" (food), and the
best of all "fair dinkum" (???). Anyone who knows Aussies
knows that once you've made friends, you have a friend for life.
Things to Know
The currency is the
Australian dollar and the bank notes are made of an unusual
plasticy paper that is very durable and waterproof so you can
take it with you surfing. One thing you need to know is
that the country is HUGE and distances between cities can be
great. Again, much like Canada! There are plenty of
options for public transportation but can be a little pricy if
you do not book in advance.
One more important
thing is that tourists now need to get a visa before arriving in
the country. It's called an ETA and can be purchased over
the internet or through a travel agent
Where to Stay
As ever, the best
place to stay is with friends so you can drink their beer
and eat their food. If you don't know anybody then you'll
have to go for any of the other hundreds of "paying" options!
We stayed almost exclusively in backpackers hostels and found
that quality ranged from disgusting (bed bugs, lots of grime) to
superb. It was usually better to choose a place that was a
bit more expensive than the others to get a much better quality
stay. In particular we found there to be a lot of bad
hostels in Cairns. It's always best to ask fellow
travelers where they have stayed and what the recommend.
Where to Eat
Due to the huge population of immigrants you can find pretty
much any kind of food you like. We found restaurants to be
more expensive than we were expecting, especially the alcohol.
The bright side of this is that many of the restaurants are BYO
(bring your own) so you can cut down the bill by picking up a
bottle of wine or beers at a liquor store beforehand.
The only Australian cuisine we tried was kangaroos steks
(delicious!!) and marron, which were a fresh water lobster found
only in Western Australia and extremely tasty, especially on the
Things to See and Do
The only limit to the things to see and do is the amount of time
you have. In five weeks we saw some of the south part of
Western Australia then flew to Cairns and went from there by bus
to Sydney, stopping at various places along the way. So
overall, we barely scratched the surface and yet spend five
weeks doing it! So in planning a trip you need to realise
that unless you have a year you will need to be selective in the
places you visit. Here's a list of some of the things we
Squid Fishing Off Busselton Pier
Buy a squid jig, find a rod or just use fishing line, head down to
the pier and go for it! Our friend Jamie took us squidding
a few times and we caught enough for a big feed of barbequed
squid appetizers! If you haven't caught squid before, it
really is an experience, especially when one of the little
buggers blasts a load of seawater into your face.
Wine Tasting in Western Australia
There are many, many wineries in WA and many of these produce
the highest quality wines in Australia. The best part is
that all the ones we visited offered free tastings, often eight
or ten varieties of wine. We usually bought bottles of the
wines we liked the best, which the winery obviously appreciated,
but it was not compulsory. We did not visit any other wine
regions in Australia but I think that most of the other offer
free tastings as well.
This is an interesting area south west of Cairns in Queensland.
We did a two day trip from
Dreamtime hostel in
Cairns and in this short time saw waterfalls, hiked through
rainforest, went mountain biking to a lovely inland lake then
for a hike and a swim, and canoed on a reservoir lake and saw
several platypus. The hostel we stayed at was called On
The Wallaby and was in a town called Yungaburra.
Lots of fun!
Sailing in the Whitsunday Islands
The time we spent sailing was the highlight of our trip to the
east coast of Australia. We went sailing for a total of
six days on a tallship called the Solway Lass and we will never
forget it. The sailing charters leave from a town called
Airlie Beach which is about halfway between Cairns and Brisbane.
There are many, many boats you can choose from for a sailing
tour ranging from a hundred year old tallship to the maxi racing
yachts to speedy pontoon boats. The majority of the trips
are three days though you can also do day trips. I think
pretty much all of the boats offer snorkeling and many will also
rendezvous with a dive boat sometime during the trip in case you
want to go diving. If you want to see more about our
amazing trip on the Solway Lass, click
This is one of the must-do's in Queensland. Have a look at
our Fraser Island