Sitting in our hotel room in Canberra, planning our time in Australia, seems a long time ago. Since then we’ve enjoyed ourselves so much and lived a perfect lifestyle. And on balance we were right to limit our travels to five main locations (Sydney, Canberra, Cairns, Darwin and the Red Centre).
We’ve stayed in campervans, a friend’s place, Airbnb’s, and backpackers hostels. Swam amongst coral, explored gorges and watched open air cinema. It’s been easy travelling, with everyone speaking English, plenty of rests and many staggering sights.
But you come away, appreciating you have only scratched the surface of this massive, wild and sparsely populated country. Flying back to Sydney, we travelled over nothing, and we mean nothing, for at least one hour.
Reading papers, watching the equivalent of question time on tv, talking to people, we got a sense of the wide diversity across this great country. The liberal cities compared with the agricultural stations, renewable energy verses a return to coal, a welcoming hug to the world verses a nostalgia for the 5Os.
Bill Bryson has described Australians as a cross between the British and Americans. Despite living in a harsh environment, they have the positivity and entrepreneurship of Americans, rewarding hard work without any hint of class divide. But they also have customs carried over from Britain, such as a speaker in their Parliament, and a peculiar affection for the Queen, beer and cricket.
To us, based on numerous short interactions, Aussies are direct and straightforward in their conversation, with a dry sense of humour which can be very disparaging about themselves. We imagined they could become great mates, but maybe it would be harder to make deep friends here.
To sum up, Australia is a nation on the up, still young and aware that they are building one of the safest and attractive societies. We are so pleased we had the opportunity to visit a bit of it and to spend time with so many welcoming “mates”.
But it’s time to move on, especially as Australia is so far the most expensive country we have been to on this gap year.