Travel Tales: Down Under In Australia
by Teacher Traveler Dude
A couple of years ago I had the chance to make a trip that I had always dreamed of making: a visit to Australia. I have been fascinated with Australia since I was young. With wild environments like the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback, I was fascinated by the landscape, the wildlife, and the people. I’ve always been an outdoorsman, and I have a love for nature. Nothing holds my fascination like seeing the beauty of animals in their natural environment. The idea that Australia is nearly the size of the U.S. with only 10% of the people still seems amazing to me. So many wide-open spaces and opportunities to see what our world has to offer.
I began my journey from the United States’ east coast, so it was quite a trip to get there. After a few long flights, I landed in Brisbane. By the way my Qantas Flight was the best-long haul flight I’ve ever done. Brisbane is located on the east coast of Australia, on the Australian Gold Coast. It is a beautiful and unbelievably clean city centered around the Brisbane River. I have never been in such a clean city in any country that I’ve ever been in. The weather reminded me of southern California or Spain; in my mind it was perfect. Warm, clear skies and on the water.
Off To Toowoomba
After my time in Brisbane, I made a trip out to Toowoomba. This was a few hours outside of Brisbane and was the edge of the interior part of Australia: a frontier town. I wouldn’t call it the Outback just yet, but it gave me a glimpse of what the Outback had to offer. Toowoomba is situated on high ground that that allows you to see for miles and miles.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
On my way back to Brisbane I stopped at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. I am fascinated by animals, especially the natives of the Outback. Seeing kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus and Tasmanian devils up close was too great of a chance to pass up. I was able to hold a Koala and feed a Kangaroo. I also got to see the two most venomous snakes in the world: the death adder (the name says it all) and the eastern brown snake. I passed on holding or feeding those two! The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is an amazing wildlife refuge that is a must-see for any visitor to Brisbane.
After a great day of seeing these animals up close, my time in Brisbane had come to a close. I headed to the airport with a couple hours to spare (I’ve been brainwashed by the TSA’s security theater). So, after getting through security in fifteen minutes, I had a few hours to kill. I cracked open a book and started to read to pass the time. As soon as I opened my book, a guy sitting a few seats down started a conversation with me. I thought this was a bit funny but thought, hey, let’s hear what he has to say. Well, he had a lot to say! This guy turned out to be a rancher and was making his first trip to the Big Smoke (aka Melbourne) in two years.
What I didn’t realize was that he worked this farm (40,000 acres) by himself, herding sheep. He hadn’t talked to a real person in so long, he was going to talk to me whether I wanted to or not! Frankly, I was fascinated by what he had to say, so I let him talk away. It was one of those conversations where you only had to ask a question every 10 minutes. I learned about his farm, which was a slice of his parent’s farm that he worked for them. He saw them only every three weeks or so. In between, he tended his herd of sheep on his own. He talked about dealing with the dingo and drought, and how to make a living in the Outback. He had met a girl online from Brisbane, and he was there to meet her. I hope it went well for him.
Melbourne AKA Big Smoke
After they called for us to board, I was off to Melbourne. Like my friend had said, Melbourne was known by locals as the Big Smoke: it was a big, modern, international city. The weather reminded me again of San Francisco or San Sebastian, Spain. While I was there, I checked out the eucalyptus forests, called the Dandenong Ranges, outside of the city. I also made a trip to the Seven Apostles and Bell’s Beach. These eucalyptus forests were incredible. The trees were over 100-feet-tall and there were 20-feet-tall ferns. It was like going to the land before time and walking with the dinosaurs – absolutely amazing.
The drive down to the southern coast was equally incredible. The view over the ocean was like looking at the edge of the world. There was literally nothing south from here except the ocean and Antarctica. Humanity stopped right there. More amazing!
Homage to Point Break
At Bells Beach I paid homage to one of the greatest movies of all time – Point Break. I rented a board and surfed the afternoon away. It had been awhile since I’d been out, and it certainly wasn’t the 50-year storm, but it was a great afternoon and a memory that will last a life time.
I will share my travels and pictures to the Northern part of Australia in my next post!