Adventures, Travel

What’s Australia Like?

what's Australia like?
Brisbane – a great city that answers the question “what’s Australia like?” (via wikipedia, photo by Baycha Byrne.)
I mark 2005 as the true beginning of my international travel experience. Since then, the way I view travel has changed as I’ve seen and done more. This post marks the first in a series that collects and compares what I’ve learned. Let’s get it started with “What’s Australia Like?”, a look at what you can expect from a visit Down Undah. Watch for more “What’s It Like?” posts in the future.

Australia in a Word: Balanced

What do I mean by that? Australia struck me as a place that strikes a near-perfect balance of everything that I like in life. I saw a lot of hard-driven, Type A people on the move in Sydney. But they also had the sense to know when it’s time to relax. People love watching their Aussie rules football, rugby union and cricket matches – but I got the sense that many people love actually playing as well as watching. People talk to each other easily, even to strangers.

What's Australia like?
Black sapote fruit – one of the many exotic tastes you’ll find in Australia.

And here’s something else: I only had one person display any air of snobbery … and he was being more than a little ironic and smirky about it. There a no-nonsense, non-douchey, unpretentious air to Australians that I really like. And it’s one of the first things I mention when people ask “What’s Australia like?”

Dining in Australia

What's Australia like?
That’s me havin’ a blow on the didge.

I also love Australia’s adventurous food options. It’s close to Southeast Asia, so you have some of that influence seeping into all sorts of great regional ingredients. Kangaroo is a fixture on a lot of menus, as is the mild fish called baramundi (takes very well to a good curry). To this day, I’ve not had a better cheesecake than the outrageous example I had at the Mungalli Creek Dairy just outside Cairns. The beer scene lagged at the time, but my bet is that it’s improved (if the delicious Galaxy hops I had in a craft beer is any indicator). This might surprise you, but Australia also grows great coffee beans, and skilled baristas turn those beans into great espresso drinks (they’re not as into the brewed coffees).

What's Australia like?
Up in the Kakadu … the mythical Australia of the big screen.

Outdoors in Australia

It’s everything you’d expect. Termite mounds, snakes, huge bats, salt-water crocs, wallabies, kangaroos, water fowl … it’s all here and abundant and impressive and potentially deadly. Start off in Darwin and get a tour to Kakadu National Park (don’t try to do this on your own … crocs and crazy roads can make your trip turn pear-shaped),

And that scenery! You have everything from desert in places like Coober Pedy to thick tropical rain forests near Cape Tribulation. The coasts are scenic beyond belief.

When I went: 2009

What's Australia like?
Awwwwww, Skip!

Duration: 16 days

Areas Visited: Sydney, Katoomba, Kurada, Kakadu National Park, Darwin, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation, Atherton Table Lands, Brisbane (such an underrated city)

Things to Remember

I realize it’s impossible to get the essence of a country in just one two-week visit … especially one as large as Australia. Still, I think my observations have some value for anyone considering a visit. People from around the world laugh at Americans who show up with just two weeks to spend – until our country catches up with the rest of the First World when it comes to vacation time, that’s pretty much what most of us can afford. Any less is barely worthwhile. Whether you spend your entire time on the beach or head into the Kakadu for an expedition, you will have an unbelievable time.

Mentioned in this post
  1. Australia

  2. Sydney
    City in Australia

    Sydney Australia
  3. Mungalli Creek Dairy
    Restaurant in Mungalli Australia

    251 Brooks Road
    Mungalli Australia
    (07) 4097 2232
  4. Darwin
    Darwin Australia

    Darwin Australia
  5. Kakadu National Park
    Amusement Park in Jabiru Australia

    Kakadu Hwy
    Jabiru Australia
    (08) 8938 1120
  6. Coober Pedy
    Attraction in Coober Pedy Australia

    Hutchinson St
    Coober Pedy Australia
    (08) 8678 9000
  7. Cape Tribulation
    Attraction in Queensland Australia

    Queensland Australia


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