I have been to Australia before for business but only to Perth and so we were all super excited to go to Oz as a family for the Christmas Holidays. Here is a quick summary of our highlights (and lowlights) of the trip should you be planning or thinking of going to Australia too.
1 The food – Besides getting to try all the Aussie favourites like lamingtons and pavlovas, I can confidently say we didn’t have one bad meal the full two weeks! Many of the menu choices were similar to South African style cooking, but even better as you had the Asian influence and a huge “healthy” movement too: every menu had Vegan this and Vegan that, so much so that I even chose these options over the other dishes. Plus, the breakfast bread rolls were so soft, I had the best burger I have ever eaten in my life at Ribs & Burgers and every Eatery offers free tap water as you sit down – I wish all places would do this!
2 The language – it was great to travel in a new country where you instantly could understand everything. We could easily read all the signs, advertisements, information pamphlets and then quite simple strike up a conversation with anyone, share a joke or two or even have long deep discussions. Naturally, it also helps that everyone is super friendly and easy going!
3 – The natural surroundings – Australia is a beautfiul country and each place so diverse from the other one. We loved the Blue Mountains, I never knew such a place existed in Australia and would highly recommend it to travellers to the East Coast. The Great Barrier Reef was a true wonder of the world and the beaches in Australia are beautiful (my favourite kind: wide with soft sand) and Liam and the girls learnt to surf for the first time. And even though the heat was insane, to be in the Outback is something completely different and a must see (fortunately everywhere has air con!).
4 – The culture – whilst the British culture and language are familar to me, I enjoyed the very unique “Australianisms” and the Asian influence too. I was fascinated by the Aboriginal history, beliefs, stories and art. It was a pity we weren’t able to do a course in the latter, I would loved to create my own mini artwork. (Back home, Bailey is working on a boomerang!).
5 – The fauna and flora – another “must-reason-to-go” are the animals. To see these unique specimens up close and personal is a something special. And we learnt so many facts we didn’t know, as well as were introduced to some animals and plants we had never heard of!
1. The weather – we had been warned that the weather is not that great in December. We travelled every few days so were fortunate that we weren’t stuck in one place with bad weather but it did work out that for every three days we would have one great day and about two bad days. In Sydney, we had the best weather, but on Hamilton Island it was mostly overcast, in Queensland there was flooding and in Uluru it was extremely hot. You just don’t know what you are going to get; as even now if I check out the weather in Sydney they are having an awful heatwave. So my advice is to try and book the best time but be prepared to have a few “off” days.
2. The distance – we hoped to avoid this problem by picking the quickest and most comfortable flight. But even then it took us 25 hours to fly via Dubai to Sydney. Fortunately, the flights were not delayed and we gifted Business Class tickets to ourselves for Christmas. But still… it was two full days of “holiday” in an aeroplane. I am not sure I will do such a trip in a hurry again.
3. The jetlag – this was brutal on our arrival. Luckily, we first stayed in the Blue Mountains, so we could hike in the morning, chill by the pool in the afternoon and do a bit of low key sight seeing in the afternoon. I am glad we planned our Sydney touring for the end as we would never have been able to do all we did there if we started with Sydney.
4. The time difference – even after settling in to the new time zone, it was strange to be ending off our day and our family in South Africa and our friends in Europe were just starting theirs. For Liam it meant he was doing a bit of work in odd hours and I don’t think I could get my head around it for a long time!