Donnerstag, 5. März 2015

The Travelogue, Part XLII - Australia: Conclusion

I didn’t originally come to evaluate Australia for its tourism value, but since I kind of got sucked into it, so I guess I might as well. As usual don't take anything too seriously. All pictures are mine this time round.




Australians will tell you that Melbourne is Australia’s most European city. I think what they mean to say is: it’s the least like a Queensland bush town. Because a suburban sprawl with little to no centre is probably as un-European as it gets. They might also allude to the fact that it has something akin to good public transport, which is apparently quite European. It is also called it the cultural capital of Australia, when truth be told it doesn’t have much more (public) culture going on than Sydney.
If I was to label Melbourne I’d call it the big hipster country town. It’s sort of a mixture of Portland and Berlin, designed by a 90s architect who wanted to raise kids. If you ever wanted to live in a pretty city that always felt smaller than it was, Melbourne is the spot.

Favourite thing: chill in the Royal Botanical Gardens
How to fit in: grow a beard and have a very very strong opinion on coffee.


Run, Sydney, run!


If Canberra wasn’t around, Sydney would probably be Australia’s capital, and is the only place on the continent that feels like an actual Metropolis. There is more life in the streets, people are busier and there’s a higher ethnic diversity. 

Nowhere Australia’s obsession with fitness is more evident than here. Sydney people don’t understand the concept of going to a park to find peace and tranquility in nature. A park is for exercising! Like herds of stressed cattle they are driven across the hills of the Botanical Gardens by neon-clad personal shepherds in pursuit of that elusive beach body.
In terms of style, Sydney is Melbourne’s ditzy teenage sister, and whoever sells peroxide, little dogs and aviator sunglasses in this town must be the richest man in Australia.

Pick a card

Favourite thing: ferry ride around town
How to fit in: post selfies of your abs and your puppy on Tinder.


Byron Bay

Described to me as a “chilled out hippie town”, Byron Bay is Australia’s backpacker tourism personified. If even Thailand sounds like a place too daring to go and you cannot cope with even the slightest immersion into a foreign culture, this is the destination for you. It’s got all the cheap drinks and bikini contests your easily entertained heart could want, and if that’s not your thing you can still buy a few crystals, dreamcatchers or natural fiber beachwear to take home to your parents’ house. I have no doubt that this was once a cool place, but the reality is that you could have all of what it has to offer elsewhere better and cheaper.

I call them "Goblin Flamingoes", they're everywhere.

Favourite thing
: Watch teenage Europeans trying to learn surfing while they get drunk on Goon
How to fit in: Try hard to look like an Aussie beach bum while spending as much money as you can afford.



The city of Brisbane woos you with free library Wi-Fi and cat-sized lizards in your backyard. Will it succeed?

Another testament to the Australian fitness obsession

Favourite thing: Going for Japanese barbecue with Mister D. and hanging out with Miss L. (Thanks to you guys!)
How to fit in: Found a family


Cairns (pronounced “Kee-airns”)

Being the gateway to the Daintree Rain Forest and the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a pretty faceless tourist town. It’s not a bad place, but it’s not exciting either. I recommend to skip it entirely though for one single reason:
Wildlife likes tourists as much as hungover retirees like screaming children, and will avoid any of the popular routes like the plague.

Diving from Cairns will take you to the most over dived spots on the reef without exception. If you want to dive the reef, DO NOT GO from Cairns. Instead pick smaller towns along the coast which will offer a better experience. Secondly, since the vast majority of Queensland tourists make Cairns their center you won’t get a singular experience even for a visit to the Daintree forest. I would here too recommend going up to Daintree and finding your own bearing there and not book a tourist tour. 

Favourite thing: Hiking the Daintree Forest by myself
How to fit in: Buy a package tour or run one


Aussie Slang

Australia has quite a few unique slang words. I’ve listed just a few in case you get lost.

Sanga: not a relative of Laksa or a Buddhist school, short for Sandwich
A(r)vo: short for afternoon, not avocado
Doona: could be sand-boarding equipment, is actually a blanket
Nature Reserve: Australian for park, often the ‘reserve’ is the size of a vegetable patch
Tucker: food
Occa: anything “very Australian”
Bogan: Hillbilly, Idiot
Pots and Schooners: beer measures, a Schooner is bigger than a pot. Probably because it’s actually a type of sailboat.



The Good:

- Beautiful nature
- Good weather
- Abundant and ubiquitous Wildlife (this might be a negative for some) even in cities
- Friendly residents
- Excellent food in the big cities
- Lots of quality local produce

Australia's government hates nightlife almost as much as refugees

The Bad:

- Nice but uninspiring cities
- Food outside the big cities can really hit rock bottom
- Often socially backwards and bro-sy
- Australia’s law system is positively fun-inhibiting (especially in central Sydney)

All in all I love Australia. However, I love it mostly from a prospective resident perspective than that of a tourist. Not that it wouldn’t be worth visiting. It’s got plenty of beautiful nature to offer, and both residents and weather are friendly and welcoming. On the cultural end, however, there isn’t too much to see and Australia’s grid-cities, despite fantastic architecture, are only occasionally charming.
With it’s great food, easy lifestyle and open people I’d move here in a heartbeat, but for a more well-traveled person it’s just slightly short of being a great tourist destination. This is probably proven by the abundance of teenage gap yearers and package tourists, with a distinct lack of more intrepid traveller types. If you are one of these I would recommend doing Australia as part of a bigger trip in the region to make it worth the journey.

Oh, and I haven’t even seen one deadly dangerous animal. Just saying.

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