Reflections on AustraliaMay 9, 2017 in Australia
As we approach our final week, both in Australia and of our Big Adventure, here are a few reflections on Australia. Although Laura had visited Australia twice before this trip, I never had. Honestly, I have to say that I am enjoying it here more than I expected to. The country is vast, and very varied - even in the relatively small proportion of the country that we are managing to explore on this trip. There are some similarities to its nearest neighbour, New Zealand, but also many differences. Overall I would say that whilst NZ has more similarities with UK, Australia seems to have more similarities with USA. The landscapes and wildlife in the 2 countries are very different. There are very few animals that live in both Aus and NZ - the only ones we've come across are possums (which were introduced to NZ from Aus, with subsequent regret!), pukeko (which are called swamp hens in Aus) and some of the seabirds (including little blue penguins). Australia has a lot of parrots - both many different types and high numbers of them - I wasn't expecting that and it is lovely to see such colourful birds almost everywhere you go. There are also an awful lot more mammals in Australia than those that are commonly associated with the country - i.e. not just kangaroos and koalas (although we haven't yet seen any of the less obvious ones) Both Auz and NZ have great animal road signs, warning you of the menagerie that you might encounter as you drive around! Aus has the same "space invader" sounding road crossing as in NZ; petrol is much cheaper in Australia. In fact, Australia seems to be cheaper in general than NZ was (although it helps that the exchange rates are getting better - trust that to happen now, as we near the end of our time away - I think we picked the most expensive time of the past 10+ years to travel, exchange rate wise!). Beer is more expensive in Aus than you might expect though (especially given the volume consumed!). The houses here are mostly single-storey - I guess because there is plenty of space. Traffic jams are more common here than in NZ but still much less common than in Britain. There seems to be less recycling done in Aus compared to NZ or UK and they don't appear to make the most of their natural resources; particularly sunshine and wind - we haven't seen many solar panels or wind farms and there is certainly no lack of either sun or wind here... However, toilets with a "half-flush" option (to save water) are the norm here (they were common in NZ too). NZ had a lot of beaches, as does UK, but Australia has thousands - many coastal towns have several beaches just in the one town. There are also water fountains (known here as "bubblers") everywhere except the most remote places - which is handy because you need them in a country as hot as this. There are also public BBQs aplenty, including at many beaches, on campsites and in some National Parks - it is a cliché but the Aussies really do love a barbie! Both Aus and NZ still use the plastic bread clips that we had in Britain in the 70s - remember those?, a real blast from the past! Sunscreen is also everywhere (necessarily so), including often free in cafes, outside bars, etc.
Before we arrived, I thought this would be my first and last visit to Australia - but now I'm not so sure...Read more