Verfasst von: rbontour | November 8, 2010

What’s Really Cool In ‘Down Under’?

We’ve made it!! We survived 4 weeks of camper-vanning along Aussie’s east coast and with everyday passing by we got more and more excited about our trip. Due to Robert’s top-notch van driving skills, we managed to cover over 3,000km driving from Cairns to Brisbane – absolutely safe and without any major breakdowns.

The distances in Australia are massive. Of course, it’s a huge continent! So we could only focus on Queensland, one state out of six, which is the most populous in the country and where you can find all the ‘golden beaches’ and numerous attractions. The size of the country is mind blowing; you don’t really comprehend that until you start driving! Especially when you come from a “tiny” country, like Germany, it appears powerful. Aussie is over 20 times larger than Germany and has around 22 million people. In Germany we have 82 million people… this is quite striking, if you think about it.

Sightseeing : Around every corner a surprise awaits
Covering over 3,000km we could sample the best our route had to offer. Natural beauty and many sights are just off the Bruce Highway. Around every corner is another beach or another tempting detour you can take. We could write forever about all the attractions, but our fingers would get numb from typing! Here just some excerpts of our journey:  we had brekky (= breakfast in Aussie English) with dolphins at Tin Can Bay; stopped at one of the many viewpoints to catch a stunning sunset over the Glass House Mountains; hopped on a ferry to spend a day on magnificent Magnetic Island; went sailing in the Whitsundays; finally scuba dived to explore one little spot of the 2,000km long Great Barrier Reef; jumped in our sexy ‘stinger-suits’ several times for a refreshing swim / snorkel; and went hiking in the rainforest to experience the richness of the environment .

The variety of bush walks in every length, standard and difficulty is amazing and for sure, it’s an excellent way to discover Australia’s nature. As the continent has been isolated from the rest of the world for a very long time, its animal and plant life is distinct to the rest of the world. Fantastic wildlife was all around us. We saw kangaroos, various reptiles, colorful birds, dolphins, koalas, wallabies, wild horses… and obviously also spiders and snakes, but fortunately “wildlife and we coexisted peacefully”:-).

A two-day sailboat cruise through the 74 breathtaking Whitsunday islands and a full day diving at the Great Barrier Reef belong to our ultimate Aussie highlights. Special thanks to our long-time pal (Andi W.), who convinced us that an extended sailboat tour is a ‘must do’. Spending two days / two nights on a sailboat is an extraordinary adventure and it was terrific to meet other young travelers from all over the world.

All together we helped the crew and learned a lot about sailing and we spent one full afternoon relaxing on Whitehaven Beach – an amazing pure-white silicon sandy beach, which is now on the list of “our” World’s Top 10 Beaches (right next to the incredible lagoon on Aitutaki). The Great Barrier Reef was also on top of our wish list of places to go. Diving at one of the outer reefs was all in one: fascinating, exciting and unforgettable.

What else is cool?
We didn’t put together our final thoughts about the country and its culture, yet, as we will come back to Australia in December. However, we were brainstorming over a cup of hot chocolate to create our personal “What’s Cool in Down Under”- list:

  • Free Parking: In every small or medium-sized town (besides Brisbane , Sidney, etc.) we parked at no cost.
  • Promoting National Health & Fitness: In several places along the east coast we came across outdoor gyms for public use, situated in a top location, e.g. oceanfront. No need to pay fees for the gym, you just jump on a public treadmill and start your work-out!
  • Mobile Alcohol Purchases: We were flabbergasted and we never get over the wonder of Aussie’s “Drive Thru Bottle Shops” (= liquor / alcohol stores). Obviously, we know drive thru pharmacies or drive thru banks from the USA, but a drive thru for buying liquor… how funny!
  • World News: Despite its isolation, Aussies are deeply interested in world news. When we lived in the US, we were sometimes stunned by the lack of the world news coverage. This is different in Australia, TV news channels and radio stations are full of news about what’s happening all over the planet.
  • Outdoor Cooking Facilities: There are public BBQ grills in Australia, which make cooking entertaining and cheaper. The state government in Queensland provides these picnic areas with benches and tables literally everywhere (and we suppose this is the same all over the country). And what was even more astonishing: the grills are clean! Rangers clean up the BBQ’s on a regular basis. (BTW: We met travelers, who even cooked can food on these grills [interesting!]. On our part, we mostly focused on grilling chicken or fish.)
  • Morning Surfs: Whereas some of us go to the gym or for a run before work, Aussie’s rock some waves in the morning. We did the same for one day! We took our first surf lesson (the cheapest along the east coast; $17 for 3 hrs.) in Agnes Water. It was a lot of fun…Robert – an athletic talent by nature – definitely rocked the waves. Brigitte sucked and swallowed more salt water than is healthy.
  • Camper-vanning Infrastructure: The whole nation seems to be set up for camping life. We never had trouble finding campsites, Laundromats, rest areas, campervan parking, camping gear and much more. The country is customized for enthusiastic campers – and we learned that Australians themselves love camping. Some of our campsite neighbors were Aussies, but most of them were Germans. It’s abnormal how many Germans we saw, met and heard – they are like ants invading Australia!
  • Safety: Although we sometimes camped in the middle of freaking nowhere to save some dollars, we always felt secure and safe.
  • Bikinis & Surf Shops: In the tiniest coastal town you may not find a pharmacy or a grocery store, BUT a surf shop. And they have an enormous and absolutely gorgeous selection of Bikinis. Brigitte felt like in heaven.
  • Brisbane Atmosphere & Services: Brisbane was our last stop. Although we are true nature lovers, we actually enjoyed being in a city again. It was a welcome change after all the hikes, climbs and walks in the rainforest.  Brisbane is not too busy and not too quiet. It’s a friendly place and, of course, there are many great restaurants, chilled-out coffee places, lots of entertainment, museums and good shopping. We found the city extremely “green” and loved all the parks and the tropical flora. We biked through Brisbane and were surprised how everything is set up for bicycles – there are tons of bike tracks through downtown and along the river. Moreover, there are 3 free bus services (“The Loop”) that circle the city. What a great service for locals and tourists… and something unthinkable in Germany, where public transportation costs a fortune (especially in Munich and vicinity).

Can sightseeing be overwhelming?
All in all, we very much enjoyed our time here, although the love/hate relationship towards camping (or our campervan) did not completely crystallize until we left Australia. There are so many things to do and see that, after a while, it becomes difficult to process everything in your mind. We want to be honest, but after the previous 4 weeks we are a bit exhausted, although it may sound silly (we are traveling and it’s not supposed to be ‘work’). Thus far, we discovered so many wonderful places (the Cooks, Fiji, Belize, etc.) and you simply start getting overwhelmed. Let’s explain it like this: Our body, mind and soul were used to sit on a desk for the purpose of work and study.  Suddenly, there is all this fresh air, all the beautiful places and every minute of your day is spent so differently compared to your life before.

Anyhow, we started to take our journey a bit slower – we don’t have to and we can’t see everything. You have to skip some attractions, otherwise you will become saturated with experiences and adventures (and we do not want this to happen). We realized that it is better for us to see a little less and engage in fewer activities, but enjoy every bit of what we do much more. In this manner, it’s just easier to feel fully conscious of everything on our trip.

Finally, we are already looking forward to come back early in December to travel from Sidney to Melbourne (that’s the plan, but plans may change). But first we are heading to visit New Zealand, which has always been our big dream. We can’t wait to explore the stunning „Lord of the Rings“ landscape and to count some sheep whenever we get too exhausted from sightseeing :-).


  1. wieder mal super schön geschrieben, aber ehrlich gesagt, der Fisch hinter Robert sieht ganz schön groß aus 😉

  2. Hi Brigitte and Robert, just great to read and 4 weeks camper honestly would be nothing for me, but I assume you learned your experience :-), 3000km driving the huge size slightly bigger like Germany 🙂 the pics are great and this morning we went through all 147 its juts amazing and some of it are really speechless nice, the Glass House Mountain have been something so special beautiful reminded me to my favorite movie Avatar. The what’s cool list is something you should share with other and it looks like Australia looks around the world in terms of news reporting, just like America :-), wish you all the best and stay healthy and not too much salt water for Brigitte,
    Love Dad

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