Calling all Australians

Regular reader, Danica, just wrote to ask me a series of excellent Oz related questions. Unfortunately I’m running around like a chook with its head cut off so I turn to youse lot, my Australian readers, to help her out. Here’s what she has to say:

So for my Comparitive Civilizations class, we need to plan a minimum three week trip to another country. Well guess what? My friend and I chose Australia. We figured the best way to get information on Australia would be to talk to a true Australian. So now here I am, using my spare block to sit in the library and write you an email. Should I be working on that Chem homework I haven’t done for the past two days? Probably. But this is more important.

Basically, I was just hoping you could tell me a few things. First off I wonder if you could suggest which part of the country we should travel in? Three weeks isn’t a lot of time and sadly we can’t see it all. Next, what are your favourite things about Australia? And no, you can’t say everything. Well you could, but I’d prefer a couple specifics. In the project, we have to include some historical and cultural facts. For example, I know voting is mandatory. Anything else particularly interesting we should know?

Finally, is there anything that we absolutely have to see or do, for our trip will suffer without these experiences?

If you love cities you can’t miss Sydney or Melbourne.

Now I must get back to work. Help her out, oh good and wise compatriots!


  1. Stephen on #

    Great Barrier Reef
    Sydney (do a Harbour Bridge climb)
    Kakadu National Park
    Great Ocean Road (Victoria)
    Pinnacles National Park (Western Australia)

    If you have three days spare, catch the Indian-Pacific train from Sydney to Perth – gives you a fabulous sense of just how bloody big the Nullabor is. Also has the longest section of straight track in the world.

    If you have another three-four days do the Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair bushwalk in Tasmania – absolutely spectacular scenery and an excellent chance of meeting real marsupials in the wild.

  2. lili on #

    I second the Great Barrier Reef – it’s seriously the most amazing thing i’ve ever seen. Also there’s the amazing Daintree rainforest there, so you get two things for the price of one. But that’s all you need to do in Queensland – skip Brisbane.

    Melbourne (my home) is a great living city, and also a great shopping city, and a great finding-amazing-new-bars-in-alleys city, but it’s not a great tourist city. Sydney is much more ‘flash’, and visually spectacular. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

    The Blue Mountains are only a 2 hour train trip from Sydney, and they are just stunning.

  3. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    Firstly, the “me too” bit: when I read the post without the comments, my first thoughts included the Daintree rainforest, Great Barrier Reef — at least a couple of days snorkelling somewhere around there, and a trip along the Great Ocean Road with plenty of time to stop and get out and look at things.

    I’m also a fan of Canberra as a place to be a tourist, although it seems a bit polarising: people seem to either love or hate it. I’m a fan, though; I like architecture, city design and history and Canberra and the surrounding area has all of those things.

    If you like outback country, either the Indian Pacific train or the Ghan (Adelaide -> Alice Springs -> Darwin) are worthwhile. Gives you a real sense of the inner part of the country.

    Favourite thing about Australia? It’s history shows what happens if you take western-European society (and other cultures over the last 30 years, particularly) and take away the trappings. Ship attitudes and thinking, but make them start on the material bits from scratch and see what happens (of course, there’s also a downside to that and it’s not a completely rosy history). The place very mixed, in that respect, so would presumably seem both familiar and slightly unusual to many western-European/American visitors.

  4. emmaco on #

    Eek, am running late for my train but have to disagree with Lili, even in a 3 week trip there is another sight in Queensland worth visiting, one of the sand islands off south east Queensland. eg Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and is simply beautiful. There are clear freshwater lakes and creeks all over the place as well as beautfiul beaches, and unique plants and animals. It was World Heritage Listed for both cultural and natural reasons (Aboriginal groups had lived here for thousands of years I think).

    Wish I could write about other places but hopefully other Aussies can come talk about more!

  5. Herenya on #

    Oh, yes, definitely Fraser Island, it’s amazing – stunningly beautiful and really interesting. (It made a bigger impression on me than the Great Barrier Reef.) It’s 4-wheel drive only territory but there are lots of bus tours and places you can hire vehicles from. (I’m not sure what age you would have to be to hire a 4-wheel-drive, 21 at a guess. That seems to be the option university students take).
    Another national park in Queensland really worth visiting is Lawn Hill (Boodjamulla), in north-west QLD, which is a beautiful gorge/river oasis in what appears to be the middle of nowhere. For the purposes of a project, its location might mean it is too complicated but I loved it and felt it should be mentioned.

    Uluru in Central Australia is spectacular and in the words-cannot-describe category. The Aboriginal people request people don’t climb it but there are other walks and Kata-Tjuta in the same NP are likewise worth getting up ridiculously early to see at sunrise.

    I’d second Kakadu, too. And Melbourne has some interesting historical buildings and decent shops and public transport (admittedly it’s the only city I’ve really wandered about)…

  6. Mike on #

    Skip the Pinnacles. As a lapsed West Australian who drove past the turn-off many times, well, I don’t feel guilty. I do highly recommend our cities. Well, Melbourne, anyway. Culturally diverse, creative, not very spectacular views, but beautiful people full of ideas and keen to express them in architecture, art, design, writing, style, food and living. I’m not sure that for time-poor travellers Western Australia will fit with your schedule. It’s a world apart in some ways and plays by its own rules. If you want beaches, they got beaches. Oh, and loadsa money. Rolling in it. But a bit (I’ll say this very quietly) boring. If you think I’m just dumping I’m my home state, I’m not. I notice for instance that nobody has mentioned Adelaide. Depends a bit what time of the year you travel of course. Your seasons are upside down to ours.

  7. trudi on #

    Aha, I see the Blue Mountains and Great Ocean Road have already been mentioned. Both can be done as day trips or overnight stays from Sydney and Melbourne.

    Also, go to a good wildlife sanctuary and oogle at our amazing critters up close. My favourite – that I take all visitors to – is the excellent Healesville Sanctuary. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a bus tour out to it. If you’re lucky you’ll hear and see the lyrebird in full song.

  8. Sash on #

    I love the Blue Mountains (Three Sisters, Jenolan Caves, and the freaky vertical cable car ride). All of our cities have something to offer (even Brisbane if you look), but I don’t think any of them offer a uniquely Australian experience. With only three days I’d do either Sydney/Blue Mountains or Fraser Island/Noosa.

  9. Danica on #

    Wow. Thanks, you guys. You’re amazing. I hope I actually get the chance to make this trip one day.

    Also, WOOT. CAPS.

  10. Perry Middlemiss on #

    Justine, are you going to tell her about the drop-bears or leave that up to us?

  11. Stephen on #

    Danica, be careful with people telling you stories about drop bears. Don’t believe them. They are not bears, they are marsupials. In fact, they are one of only two carnivorous marsupials in Australia (the other one being the Tasmanian Devil).

  12. Elmo on #

    Don’t forget the boxing kangaroos…they actually can kill you- there have been honest-to-god recorded cases…
    If you want history (and I know I’m late and you probably won’t look again, but anyway) go on a tour of the Rocks, in Sydney, which is where the first Europeans lived in Australia. Also, the beaches around Western Austrlalia are the most beautiful in Australia…and many consider Australian beaches to be among the most beautiful in the world, so, I reccomend them.
    And Brisbane seriously isn’t that bad…but of course all of you Sydney and Melbournites think that everywhere else except your respective cities can only be termed “the bush”. 😛
    And eat some Moreton Bay Bug and some Bush Tukka.

  13. Danica on #

    Ha ha, guys. Very funny about the drop bears. I know they’re not real.

  14. penni on #

    Wombats can break your legs though. (for serious).

    No one’s mentioned Tasmania. It’s amazing, because it gives you an opportunity to see a lot of diversity in a small area. Plus the food is to die for. Hobart is a beautiful small city, as picturesque as Sydney, with a great art scene. Not as flashy and exciting as Sydney of course so you’d still want to go there, but Hobart is well worth checking out – it’s got the beauty of Sydney and the culture and hipness of Melbourne, especially in summer.

Comments are closed.