G’Day! What an amazing month it’s been in Australia. In about five weeks, we’ve traveled the entire east coast of the country–roughly the distance from Florida to Wisconsin–and flown to the boiling-hot top end. We’ve gone from cool and windy weather to intensely hot and humid. Along the way, we’ve come face-to-face with enough exotic wildlife to fill a small zoo: from commonplace kangaroos and cockatoos to koalas, emus, and crocodiles. We’ve spotted sea turtles, dolphins, whales, clownfish, stingrays, and many varieties of fish. We saw world famous icons that define Australia–the Sydney Opera House, Twelve Apostles, Great Barrier Reef, and Whitehaven Beach–and relaxed on some beautiful beaches. We scuba dove, hiked up a mountain, floated down a crocodile-infested river, and held on for dear life on the side of a speeding ocean raft crashing against big waves.
With our flight to Indonesia, a big phase of our trip has come to an end. In the coming months, we’ll be in places that don’t speak English, where bartering for everything is the norm, and where Western standards of punctuality, transportation, and hygiene don’t always apply. The days of relatively easy travel are over for a while, but we’re also excited to experience different, vibrant cultures, landscapes, attractions, and people. It’s been a great couple months in New Zealand and Oz, and we’re excited for what’s to come!
In the meantime, let’s look back at Australia….
Top three experiences?
Nikki: We’ve had such an awesome time here, it’s really hard to narrow it down to just three. I guess I’ll say:
- Diving the Great Barrier Reef. Sure, we’ll probably dive in places with better visibility or whatever, but there’s something incredible about being in the GBR. It feels like you’re visiting the biggest underwater metropolis in the world.
- The Great Ocean Road. Spectacular scenery with koalas and kangaroos!
- Walking through Sydney, especially when we went around taking pictures at night.
- Diving the Great Barrier Reef. Absolutely stunning!
- Whitsunday Islands. Whitehaven Beach and a fast cruise over some big waves made it a great day.
- Great Ocean Road. We saw a lot of wildlife (koalas, kangaroos, emus, and colorful birds) without even trying very hard.
Bottom three experiences?
- Very long Greyhound bus rides.
- All the icky bugs, especially the huge spiders.
- The hostels. I don’t know if New Zealand has the world’s best hostels or what, but they’re much nicer than the ones in Australia.
- Noosa. It poured on our day there, so we didn’t get to see much of the beach or area, though I heard it’s a great place. I just wish the weather would have cooperated with us better.
- Darwin. It’s extremely hot, wet, and there really isn’t much to see in the city itself.
- Australian hostels in general. Compared to their New Zealand counterparts, they’re more run down and dirty (seriously, nobody cleans their dishes in Australian hostels!). Plus many people stay in them for extended periods of time here, usually for work, and they sprawl their possessions all over the share rooms.
Nikki: The Thai noodle and seafood dish I had in Melbourne. It had shrimp, mussels, fish, scallops and crab along with the noodles and veggies.
Brad: The chicken curry dinner at Carrie’s house while we stayed with them in Brisbane. Absolutely delicious!
Nikki: Our attempt at chicken and rice in Airlie Beach. To be fair, it’s hard to cook when you don’t have adequate kitchen supplies.
Brad: A lunch break on the Greyhound somewhere between Melbourne and Sydney. It was a tiny rest stop that had no good food, no selection, and was really slow. Overall disappointing.
Favorite person we met?
Nikki: I would have to say Ben, our GBR dive master. Really, really funny guy.
Brad: Julien in Sydney. He joined us on a day trip to Manley so he could practice his English. We ended up having a great day!
Nikki: Losing one of my contacts at the beginning of our Whitsunday Island tour. I didn’t have my glasses with me, so we fashioned an eye patch with my sunglasses and black electrical tape. Really bad time to not see out of one eye!
Brad: Free wine Friday night at our hostel in Sydney. That night definitely didn’t end well….
Favorite place we stayed?
Nikki: With Carrie and her family in Brisbane. Great people, conversation and food in an actual house: what more could you want?
Brad: Carrie’s house in Brisbane. Staying in a house is far more comfortable than hostel life, and they were incredibly wonderful hosts.
Worst place we stayed?
Nikki: The YHA in Darwin. Kind of a sketchy, run-down place. Although the whole city seems sketchy and run-down, so maybe that’s normal?
Brad: The two overnight Greyhound bus rides. I only got a few hours of sleep on them, and on one overnight our stop was at 4:00 in the morning, which meant we had to wander around an empty town and hang out in the hostel’s common room until a room became available.
Best thing we didn’t blog about?
Nikki: Going out to eat in the yummy Thai restaurant in Melbourne. When we were in a pharmacy, I asked the lady working there if there were any good restaurants around. She recommended one down the street and when we saw the line nearly coming out the door, we knew it was going to be a good meal.
Brad: The rainforest around Mission Beach. We hiked up a hill overlooking the beaches and Great Barrier Reef. Along the way, we saw the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen in my life. Back at our “treehouse” hostel, we were surrounded by tree frogs, colorful birds, and gigantic bugs.
Nikki: A guy from Finland telling us about how they eat reindeer heart in his homeland. I think you had to be there, but it was a very bizarre conversation and instantly became one of our running jokes.
Brad: The two guys dancing by themselves right in front of the blues band at the bar in Byron Bay. They didn’t seem to even notice everyone looking at them!
Statistics for Australia
Statistics for the Trip
* Melbourne’s Carlton Gardens, Sydney Opera House, Blue Mountains, Wet Tropics of Queensland, Great Barrier Reef