Read About Australia

I have tried, and failed, to like Australia.

When we first arrived in Perth to get ready for hiking the Bibbulman Track, I experienced some serious sticker shock on costs. Nine bucks for a lousy pint of beer is always going to taint my impression. So, my view on Australia started in the red.

Then we spent twelve days hiking the Bibbulman Track. It was cold, but it was hiking and camping, which is goodness. It was also an insulated view on Australia, as all we saw was the trail.

After twelve days, Jen’s ankle was doing poorly, and we had to stop the hike. Three nights in the small town of Williams, paying $50 to live in a shared trailer, with a shared bathroom, in a room the size of a closet, with holes in the wall…Well, it didn’t improve my opinion of Australia.

Nonetheless, we decided not to buy a ticket for the first plane off the continent, instead opting to rent a campervan and see more of the country, hoping that Perth and Williams were just two samples with no statistical significance.

For four weeks, we traveled over 3500 miles – from Perth to Darwin, through the Kakadu National Park, to Dundee Beach, to the coastal towns along the way, like Broome and Dampier. None of this improved the initial impression. To me, Australia remains a place that offers little of interest, spread over great distance, and endured at great expense in time and money.

That you can travel 3500 miles – about a third of this continent’s perimeter – and find just more of the same is amazing to me. Perhaps it’s the most remarkable thing about Australia. Travel that distance, or a proportional distance, in any other country or on an other continent, and you encounter significant variance in terrain, environment, and people. It would be like traveling across the United States – coast to coast – and everything being California’s Inland Empire.

Perhaps illustrative, the nicest place we found in all our travels was a public access to a remote beach in a rural area west of Darwin. The characteristics that earned it this rating were no flies, no mosquitos, and reasonable temperatures – all thanks to the breeze from the ocean. When a breeze that clears the bugs is the best thing going, you know the bar is not set very high.

I have never paid so much for so little as I did in Australia.

But there are a couple of things that are good about Australia: kangaroos and birds. They are everywhere, and the birds in particular are very entertaining. That’s right…crows are the highlight of two months Down Under.

Crows notwithstanding, I would advise any and all to NOT go to Australia. Sure, we only saw a fraction of the country (albeit a significant fraction), but anything good they might have elsewhere can be had in many another place, at significantly less cost. Want diving? How about Thailand or Hawaii or the US Virgin Islands? Want beach? Well, that can be had on the cheap all over the globe. Want good food? Australia ain’t got it. Want to experience a new culture? Again, Australia ain’t got it. Want to head to the great outdoors? Try the Sierra Nevadas, the Rocky Mountains, or the Smokies.

We are now leaving Australia and returning to Cambodia, where we can be immersed in a new culture, learn a new language, eat great food, stay in a superb accommodation, have our own wheels, visit interesting sights…and do it all for less than the cost of a crappy dinner in Perth. We’ll even have change left over.

But there are things about Australia that are nice...

But there are things about Australia that are nice…

Jen here.  I just thought I should add my two-cents about Australia. Dan hated Australia.  OK, I share most of his angst about the place, BUT there are things about Australia that are nice, like being awakened every morning by this (push the play button):     Overall, the places we visited in Australia weren’t so great; but I think […]

Into the Northern Territory: Broome to Kakadu National Park, Darwin, and Dundee Beach

Into the Northern Territory: Broome to Kakadu National Park, Darwin, and Dundee Beach

From Broome, we headed east and then north, leaving Western Australia and heading to the Kakadu National Park of the Northern Territory. A day or so east of Broome, the terrain became less monotonous than it had been during the previous section of Western Australia. There was some relief to the terrain, and the trees became more interesting. There was […]

Campervan Travel from Perth to Broome, Australia

Campervan Travel from Perth to Broome, Australia

In Perth, we rented a campervan, which is a van that has been modified with a sink, stovetop, small refrigerator, and seating that converts to a bed in the back. It costs us $75 AUD a day for this thing. We initially booked a less expenses campervan at $60 AUD a day, but it was so run down that we […]

Western Australia: Perth, Money, and the Bibbulmun Track

Western Australia: Perth, Money, and the Bibbulmun Track

Jen and I have now been in Western Australia for three weeks. During that time, we have stayed in Perth, hiked for twelve days on the Bibbulmun Track, and spent three nights in the rural town of Williams a couple hours south of Perth. Our plan to hike the entire length of the Bibbulmun Track had to be scrapped. Jen […]

Australia: Hiking the Bibbulmun Trail

Australia: Hiking the Bibbulmun Trail

We are starting the Bibbulmun Trail tomorrow. It’s 600 miles of hiking, and will take just under two months to complete. The trail starts near Perth, Australia, and ends near Albany. The first leg to get to a resupply town is 11 days away. Our packs are a bit on the weighty side. Internet access is going to be a […]