Australia. You know the stereotypes. Tall, beautiful people with tans and long hair, on beaches, surfing, and saying G’day. It’s all true. All we need is a kangaroo and a koala and I think that’s about as Australian as you can get (and we’ve been promised that we will see some at some point on our trip).
Ah, what a refreshing change from Asia. It almost feels like we’re at home, just in another province. We have a car. There are traffic lights. Things work. You can communicate easily. We have a soft bed. It’s CLEAN. We love it. Maybe it is because we’re coming from Asia, and we wouldn’t be so mesmerized if we were coming from a Western country, but who cares? It is a work of beauty. Clean beaches that stretch for miles, dotted with happy families and surfer dudes catching waves. Friendly people with Aussie slang (“Macca’s” for McDonald’s, “Sammy” for sandwich, “Heaps” for many, etc.) that although can be confusing, is still way easier than talking to a Vietnamese person.
The one negative we have found so far is of course, the cost. We are in Australia during summer “high season” so costs which are already high, go even higher. We’re trying to offset this by using some airmile points, doing some workaways, and staying on couches of friends (and friends of friends). We buy all our food at the grocery store and make our own meals. This too is a refreshing change, though I am sure the novelty will wear off quickly. Most of our meals have been eaten outside, as picnics or barbeques. Australia has free for use (or coin operated) hot plate BBQs in public areas and parks. It’s refreshing and really nice to cook and eat outside, surrounded by families enjoying themselves by the water.
We spent our second day in Australia learning how to surf on the Gold Coast. Our very authentic Aussie surf instructors got us up on our boards, riding the waves. We have both surfed before, so it was slightly easier this time and we had success getting up about 50% of the time. It’s very difficult, but we are hoping to rent boards and improve our skills in different areas along the coast. It’s fun just to “body surf” the waves, by jumping and swimming to catch the wave.
The beach is so beautiful and clean, the sand squeaks. It’s a rare phenomenon when the sand is fine, not polluted, and has the right humidity. As you walk a squeaking noise is created.
The east coast of Australia also has a “hinterland” (an area away from the coast) which is comprised of dense rainforests, waterfalls, many national parks, rolling hills and even mountains protruding out of the earth. The people in the hinterland are not quite as fit and beautiful as the beach bums, but they are still pretty friendly.
While in the hinterland rainforest, we spotted a Pademelon. What is this, you ask? Why it is a miniature kangaroo! We didn’t know they existed either. This 10 lb marsupial is the smallest of the macropods, and they bounce around the forest scavenging for food. We had given up finding one on our walk and Mark said “I guess if you were really lucky, one would just bounce across the path in front of you” low and behold as soon as he said that, a little ‘roo was 50m in front of us on the path.
As you can tell, we are really enjoying Australia so far. Stay tuned for posts on the ancient Godwana rainforests (and our rock slide adventure) and our workaway experience with an Aussie couple in the Hinterlands!