Terra Australis Incognita

Time flies, especially with a fun job in an awesome city on the other end of the globe. So the expiry of my Work&Travel visa advanced quickly, and the inevitable flight back to Germany proved a good opportunity for a holiday. I always wondered why people would live in such a crazy continent as Australia, so the goal was obvious – three weeks of sun, beaches and dangerous animals on the east coast. I left Wellington on a sunny winter day, still a bit hung-over from my farewell-party, trying to decide if I’m sad about leaving or looking forward to the way ahead. My first impression of Sydney was their massive two-level subways – with hinged backseats that can change orientation to form group seating. Inventive bunch, those Australians! For its stretch of over 1500 square kilometers including suburbs, the inner city is quite walkable – I love to explore cities on foot, and find all those random places that you would miss on a subway- or bustour. For example, I wouldn’t have ended up in the viewing-booth backyard of an “adult shop” while looking for a second-hand bookshop (which closed down in the meantime, but still had its advertisement up…). I had my “Wow, I’m actually in Sydney!”-moment when arriving at the harbourfront with the gravity-defying Sydney Opera House. My trusty “Lonely Planet”-guide informed me that it was built back in the 60s, for ten times the original estimate – glad this doesn’t just happen to software projects hehe. Next stop for the hungry traveller was Chinatown – if you like asian food, thats the place to be (a third of Sydneysiders are born overseas, lots of asian influences). Sydney was surprisingly cold and rainy (so much about sunny Australia and windy Wellington! *g*), so I started figuring out my further trip and booking stuff (very “un-german” not to have this sorted already, as my kiwi-mates would say). I “fast-forwarded” the route between Sydney and Brisbane to flee from the cold south. Traveling in Australia usually means crossing the equivalent of a medium-sized european country towards the next city – while the east-coast looks quite compact on a map, I actually did over 3000km of bus-travel – so going to Brisbane meant a 15h tour. On the way I’ve seen a couple dozen “roadkills” – actually I’ve seen more dead than live kangaroos here (an inevitable thing with roughly 60 million of them throughout the continent). From Brisbane onwards I enjoyed the usual mix of beaches and island-trips (with way too little time for beach bumming!). I’ve had a look where my former flatmates Sepp and Eva did their study abroad near Surfers Paradise (lucky bastards! *g), in the aptly dubbed “Miami of Australia”. East-coast Australia feels a lot more american than british, with climatized shopping-malls, oversized roads and highrise beach-resorts. To sample a bit less “califoria-style” Australia, we deviated into the outback and stayed a night on the Krombit Cattle Farm, complete with whip-cracking, lasso-throwing and riding the electric bull (a mere 12 seconds before my nuts where crushed and I fell off) – fun times! I was pretty occupied searching the dust for anything dangerous, of which the Australians have quite an assortment – any living thing here seems set to shorten your life in a grueling and painful way. I mean heck, even birds try to kill you here by slashing open your chest. Teacup-sized jellyfish have enough poison to kill a roomful of people, and spiders get big enough to catch small birds. Ah, and the usual sharks and crocodiles, which kinda take the fun out of swimming and living near water. Having said that, Australians are pretty relaxed about any immanent death-threats – and I’ve seen very few dangerous animals that weren’t caged. Even when doing my diving certificate on the Great Barrier Reef, the only thing remotely concerning was a small stingray. Before I really knew it, I found myself on a plane to Singapore, contemplating about this strange continent. Australians are a fascinating bunch with a great attitude, and manage to squeeze out a lot of lifestyle from this barren land. Definetly going back there, mate! :) Some Photos on flickr