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The Land of Oz (Australia)

Author: Roy
Date of Trip: August 2006

Aug. 26

lv Jax, change in Cinci, then Chicago to Korean Air. This is the best booking we could do in the time frame we wanted (spring in Aust.) using our Delta Sky Miles. The price was right at $117 roundtrip. With a short layover in Inchon we continued to Sydney, arriving at 0430 Mon., 28 Aug. The flight wasn't quite as long as indicated as we crossed the Int'l Date Line whence Sunday became Monday.

After clearing customs, we (I) loaded up on the copious rack travel and lodging literature, then had a cup of coffee while waiting for the shuttle to our hostel. Surprise! Coffee was $2.80 (2.50 US)/cup. This was pretty much true throughout our travels. The Aussies have two kinds of coffee - that brewed in an expresso type machine - and instant. This means no coffee pot or urn as we know it, so there can be a long line at times. As we both like strong coffee, we had no problem with this. We DID miss free seconds though.

We arrived at our hostel named the Pink House (it was), signed in, then took a hostel recommended walking tour which included scoping out part of Sydney harbor. This area of town is pretty hilly so by the time we returned to the hostel in the afternoon we were ready for a real bed. We slept the night through. The following morning we had our included "breakfast" of coffee (instant), toast and jam. Cereal was also available. This was the typical hostel breakfast throughout our trip, and proved quite adequate.

Aug. 29 - 30

After checking out buying a car, which we decided against as it didn't seem worth the hassle for a short term, we took a local bus to Circular Quay which is the departure point for many bus routes as well the many ferry routes. We bought an unlimited train/bus/ferry day pass for $15.40 which was a terrific bargain considering just the ferry trips alone.

About midday I used one of the many internet cafes to access my e-mail where I was saddened to learn that my sister Sherry had lost the battle to cancer. I had hoped to share my trip with her but it was not to be. The positive was that she no longer had to endure the excruciating suffering. I spent the next few hours doing the paperwork to transfer space in the family plot to Sherry and her husband Don. The American Embassy was reluctant to verify my signature but I finally got a supervisor to agree that I was me! Bureaucrats just love to say NO.

Aug. 31

Spent part of the day visiting museums/galleries and more ferry rides. Tried to find a vehicle repositioning trip to /Melbourne or Adelaide, none available. The best deal turned out to be a flight to Adelaide, over flying Melbourne.

Sept. 1 - 2

Arrived in Adelaide after a 2 1/2 hour flight. Shuttled into town to a centrally located hostel near the bus station and market. Adelaide has a free tourist bus that loops around town to the major tourist sites. A nice touch. We visited the local market, ate Chinese at one of the many food courts, toured the Migrant Museum, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens.

Sept. 3 - 7

Flew Quantas to Perth. The train across the Nullabor plain takes two plus days, costs more and is often booked. The scenery missed was no loss as it is pretty desolate. We shuttled from the airport to our hostel named the Witch's Hat which was one of the nicer hostels we stayed at. We went to the Visitor's Center then checked out the three free bus routes to get the feel of the city. We made two train trips to Freemantle which is the port for Perth and has a great Maritime Museum. The second trip was expressly to see the movie Ten Canoes which had an aboriginal coming of age plot. Great scenery. We also visited an old Greek seafood restaurant located in the fishing boat harbor. I tried the barramundi which is an Australian favorite. It reminded me of catfish. One of our meals in Perth was at the Hare Krishna cafeteria. All you can eat for $5/senior. Good deal.

Sept. 8 - 12

After searching the various travel options towards Darwin, finally locked on to a relocation deal. The outfit we used is called "Standby Cars". They act as the clearing house for dealers needing to relocate rental cars and campers. If one matches your itinerary, it can be a good deal. We got a 4wd camper for 6 days at $1/day and $500 gas allowance. It was about 2500 miles from Perth to Darwin. We made it with about 6 hours to spare and a total diesel bill of $1100+. The highest we paid was about $5/US gal. Had we needed water, it would have cost us $4/gal ! All told, the fuel cost to us was a bit over $600 or $300 each. The bus fare would have been higher, we would have traveled at night missing scenery, we could not have prepared our own food and we wouldn't have been able to make some of the stops we did. The negative is that the tight time frame doesn't leave much time for exploring.

Our route from Perth was the inland route rather than the coastal one. We traveled the Western Australia Outback which, tho scant of trees, has plenty of ground cover- not nearly as arid as is the center of the country. We passed gold mining operations and iron ore mining operations. As fast as the iron ore is dug, its loaded on ship and sent to China. As a result of this mineral wealth, Western Australia is booming. We saw many kangaroos - some live - and many road kill. I bought kangaroo steaks in the store and fried them. Tasty, lean and rich.

We made side trips to Port Hedland where the ore ships are loaded and to Broome which is a resort town for those escaping the winter down south - remember, Australia is "upside down". Broome is reported to have the world's third highest tidal range - over nine meters, nearly 30 ft. The tide was out and, unfortunately, time constraints did not permit us to wait for the incoming rush.

Sept. 13 - 14

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