Australia is now the second country I have visited more than once (excluding Canada and Mexico). After my first visit to Australia, I didn’t think I would come back. If you read my post from 9 years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long), it wasn’t that I hated Australia, more so the fact that it is not different enough from the United States, not a big enough cultural shock. It seemed very much like home except everyone talks funny and drives on the wrong side of the road.
I wanted to come back this time because I wasn’t gonna be a tourist, I’m hanging with the locals. I have a friend in CO that is from Australia and this time I would be hanging with him, his Australian mates (that’s Australian for friends), some I’ve previously met in the US, and another friend from CO. Basically, hanging with friends in another country.
Well, I certainly was still a tourist, and still feel the countries are very similar (and I did drive on the wrong side of the road this time). But, by hanging with the natives, I gained the appreciation and fondness for Australia that I expected but didn’t get my first trip.
My mate Kris was born and raised around Melbourne but has lived in the States for 20 years. Our home base was his house in a town south of Melbourne. Previously, the area was dominated by cattle farms and evidently the smell from them attracted sharks to the cove, which is why the town was named Sharks Cove. As homes and people moved in and replaced the farms, tourists were for some reason, not eager to visit or swim in Sharks Cove. For this reason, the town’s name was changed to Safety Beach. Amity Island (the town from Jaws) could have used this sharks be gone kind of marketing.
We arrived at a perfect time. It had rained constantly around Melbourne for a long, long time. The day we arrived was the first sunny day anyone could recall for months. That was perfect because we went with friends to an outdoor Kings of Leon concert in Melbourne the first night. The next few days were spent fishing, a family meal, and visiting with his friends. See what I mean, no different from the States.
A week later Kris and I flew to Brisbane where our other friend from Colorado, Ben, was arriving the next day. Brisbane was my favorite city the last time I was here and I feel the same way now, it did not disappoint. Great food, great bars and a beach built in the center of the city, what’s not to like.
After a couple nights there, we started a road trip heading south to Sydney. First stop was Surfers Paradise where we took Fliteboard lessons (google it, it’s cool). Some of us took to it better than others (i.e. not me-I evidently need two sticks on my feet) and then stayed a couple nights in Byron Bay (which unfortunately seems to have befallen the same fate as Boulder) As we continued south, we stayed in a couple smaller beach towns and stopped at Kris’s friend’s brewery in Woolgoolga (try saying that 3 times fast, actually try saying that 1 time fast) for a tour and some beer tasting. We rounded out the road trip with a couple days in Sydney gawking at the Opera house, riding ferry’s between beaches, and enjoying the food and drink.
We flew back to Safety Beach and the trip definitely shifted to hanging with the locals. First night back was a poker and steak night with Kris’s buddies. Well, evidently they don’t play poker much so it turned out well for me and Kris. The next day was spent at a friend’s apple orchard drinking cider and we saw the kangaroos that like to hop around the orchard.
After a couple off days, we headed out for another road trip. We did a quick overnighter with one of Kris’s friends, a day out and back to the beach town Lorne, on the Great Ocean road. Since then, I’ve been in Safety Beach where unfortunately the rains have returned. Per the locals, this is the coldest and wettest it’s ever been this time of year. But at least it’s not snow.
One final note, I feel like during this trip I also got a better feel for Australian food. For the most part it can be summed up in one word, chips (as in french fries). It seems you get it with everything; steak, kabobs, sandwiches, I think even salads. The only thing that didn’t seem to come with chips was fish served at fish and chip shops (which are all over). I mean come on, it’s in the name. I suggested they change the name to fish and/or chips. Actually, the food was pretty good throughout the trip although a lot of it was fried. We ate at several Asian restaurants that were fantastic, some steak places, and I had a lot of calamari. Kabob places were frequent, and I ate lamb in some fashion probably half the days I was here. Even the vegemite wasn’t that bad this trip.
Later this week I head out to Bali, where I feel my adventure really begins.
Life is good.