This edition of Why Travel takes us to Australia. Nearly every person I know says, “Australia is definitely on my bucket list,” but so few people ever go there. Australia is an amazing country, similar to the United States, but also vastly different. If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to visit Australia, don’t wait any more!
English, sort of…
Australia makes a great country to visit to anyone who speaks English because it’s the predominant language of the country. That being said, Australian English is quite different from American English. Aussies use many different expressions and idioms, making conversing with an Aussie quite entertaining. Also, swearing is common in the land down under. Hope you’re not sensitive to colorful language!
Aussies are notoriously friendly people. Whether you need directions, a recommendation for food, or a drinking buddy at the bar, nearly everyone in Australia is your friend. When my parents and I first visited Australia in 2000, we arrived at our hotel in Sydney after midnight. As a locally owned hotel, the office closed at midnight and we were unable to check into our room. Literally standing on the sidewalk at 1:00 AM just after the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, we found ourselves in a city sold out of hotel rooms. An Olympic Games volunteer walked up to us from the metro stop and asked if we needed help. After my parents explained our predicament, he generously said, “My family of 5 just took the train back to Canberra and I have a massive room with plenty of beds if you’d like to bunk with me.”
And by the generosity of a complete stranger, we had somewhere to sleep that night. Since then, I hold a special place in my heart for Australians.
In addition to wonderful people, Australia has a diverse and unique landscape. Most of the country’s population lives near the coastline, with the major cities being Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. These lovely cities are different in their own way, with the northern cities being warmer year round and the southern cities, closer to Antarctica, having larger temperature swings. All that is great, but the best parts of Australia are the hardest ones to get to - and they’re worth the effort. The outback is a harsh and rugged landscape, but truly beautiful. We spent three days camping in the wilderness in November 2017. The beauty of the outback takes your breath away. We spent time at Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, Kings Canyon, Glen Helen, and stopped at several sites along the road to Alice Springs. We hope to go back in the future and visit Katherine and Darwin in the Northern Territory and go south to Coober Pedy and through the desolation all the way to Adelaide. But until then, the memory of our Outback trip is one of our favorites.
Even if you don’t make it to the Outback, nearly every city in Australia has an animal sanctuary for you to visit the native animals. I’ve seen amazing photos of sanctuaries from all over Australia and had the privilege of visiting The Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs as well as Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary wasn’t on our radar at all until a gentleman from New Zealand suggested it to us while we were climbing the Q1 Tower in Gold Coast. After looking into it, we knew we had to make every effort possible to see this place in our one evening in Alice Springs. A man named Brolga started the sanctuary in an effort to save joeys after their mums were hit by vehicles on the lonely roads of the outback. His inspiring spirit, gentle demeanor, and love of living creatures fills the air and you’ll live his sanctuary feeling uplifted and full of warmth.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is located just outside of Brisbane, Queensland. I first visited in 2000 at a ripe age of thirteen. There, I encountered kangaroos, wallabies, emus, wombats, platypuses, echidnas, and koalas. The best part about an animal sanctuary is your ability to interact with the animals.
We also had a wonderful experience at The Australia Zoo, home to the Irwin family. The animals here are lovingly taken care of and it’s quite clearly their home and the humans are just visiting. This is most prominent on Lemur Island, where they have about a dozen ring-tailed lemurs just hanging out and walking around casually.
Pro Tip: If you’re in Perth, there’s a place called Rottnest Island, which is home to the quokka. The quokka is called the world’s friendliest animal because it has no known predators on the island and they regularly interact with humans. Do yourself a favor and google Quokka selfie. You won’t be disappointed.
If you’re like so many people saying “Australia is on my bucket list,” stop making excuses and visit Australia! It’s worth the time and energy to go there and doesn’t have to break the bank. There are many good deals on flights to Australia from America, you just need to know where to look. Send me a message if you’d like some resources on flight options and make your dreams come true!