Australia, that enchanting land down under, where everyone has a great accent, looks like Hugh Jackman, and life is a beach. Or is it? I only recently realized in the 190-plus blogs I have posted on Next Big Adventure, only one has been about Australia, and that was simply a foto-Friday of Whitehaven Beach. Why, after spending over six weeks driving the East Coast of the country, did I feel compelled to write nothing???~
For the most part, Australia and the Delameter’s just did not click. I am certain it is a lovely place to call home with a high standard of living, extremely varied landscapes, and an interesting history. And hey, there must be something great about a country literally ringed with gorgeous beaches.
We couldn’t wait to leave. Believe me, we wanted so much to love it. For years we had heard travelers rave about the land known simply as Oz. We arrived in Sydney on a New Zealand high. We had just spent one month driving around one of most amazing places we had ever been. Sad to leave, we nonetheless were beyond excited to continue exploring this remote part of the world. Sydney did not disappoint. A gorgeous city, surrounded by water, Sydney offers up much for the traveler; entertainment, diversity, great restaurants, an amazing zoo, endless outdoor activities, and, of course, the amazing views all around the harbor.
But we also found extremely high prices (in fact, exorbitantly high for activities such as the much over-hyped bridge climb), a surprising anti-American vibe, and long, and to be frank, quite boring driving stretches.
POSITIVITY. Many bloggers have chosen their word of 2014. A word they hope to signify their year ahead. Jim and I chose positivity, consciously focusing on the good, whatever life throws our way. With that in mind, I am putting aside any negatives we experienced and focusing on the good, the pleasant, and the unexpected.
Sydney deserves, and will get, it’s very own post at a later time. The Cairns-Port Douglas area will also get it’s due attention, in part because in staying with friends there, we enjoyed our first sense of home after several months on the road. The Whitsundays’, home to that gorgeous dream Whitehaven Beach, also ranks as a highlight for the crystal clear snorkeling and small town charm at Airlie Bay, a town that also gave us the best pizza we have ever had outside of Italy.
The drive from Byron Bay to Port Douglas is long. 2000km long. A dark, straight ribbon of asphalt bordered by densely treed forests and punctuated with “Danger, Kangaroo Crossing” signs. Occasionally we would come upon one of those iconic “giant” advertising statues, curious to Australia. Byron Bay seemed to be working hard to retain it’s “hippie” vibe, Rockhampton is all cow country and Bundaberg stands for rum.
But our highlight, the place we most remember fondly about our time in Oz, was our trip 255km inland from Bundaberg to Cania Gorge National Park. The drive out was exactly what we were looking for, dirt roads, wild kangaroos, scrub brush and cattle guard crossings. The Big 4 Holiday park was a bit of an oasis in the middle of the brush, featuring a pool, hiking trails, mini-golf and in the evening the premier trio of bird feeding, wine tasting and an outdoor movie!
Our few days at Cania Gorge was a bit of a revival. The local camping families were friendly and welcoming and the camp hosts fantastic. One day we walked in the sweltering sun for 12km round-trip to the actual lake and gorge, drowning in our own sweat but unable to stop walking to rest or face the invasion of the black flies that swarmed every orifice of our face. Although reluctant to leave, we had miles to cover, and headed onward North, the memories of our little piece of wild Australia firmly entrenched in our minds.
We made it to Cairns, celebrated birthdays with friends, and a short time later our Australian overland was over, and Bali beckoned.
For a long time we declared no interest in returning to the land down under, but time adjusts perspectives and now I can see we will return someday. We covered a tiny speck of that immense island continent, and there is still much to be discovered. Perhaps next time we will have better luck finding “our” Australia.