If you’ve ever wondered where kangaroos, koalas, wallabies and the pesky platypus came from, it might be time to plan your next vacation to the land! Australia is a huge country or continent, if you will, that encompasses a lot of personalities and differences among its inhabitants. Most people today live in coastal areas, as the interior or “inland” can be a rather dry and inhospitable area. There are some small towns inland, like Alice Springs, where trains do run back and forth, but most people tend to congregate in the larger cities along the coast.
Northern Queensland is often the starting point for tourists interested in the Great Barrier Reef and some scuba diving, and is also known for its many crocodiles of all shapes and sizes, including the infamous “crocodile hunter” saltwater crocodile. Remember to stay away from the rivers and streams in this province because you don’t want to be face to face with these big boys!
The southern part of the country can be milder and cooler, and most people like it very much. From Sydney to Melbourne, across the bottom to Hamilton, is a vast expanse of very beautiful countryside, with the Grampians adding some scenery. These mountains are a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts, and there are great views from the top! I personally climbed one of these on a cold winter day and there was absolutely no one else coming or going that day…it was a lot of work and the wind was really blistering at the top but the views were amazing, I can see the surrounding area for miles! It’s well worth it, if you get a chance there, give it a try. There are often clearly marked trails, so be sure to stay on one and don’t wander off the beaten track! You may even see emus or kangaroos in the wild, and if you go in summer, watch out for the dreaded brown snake! If you get bitten, they will definitely ruin your day!
There is a very interesting “town” at the foot of the Grampians, called Dunkeld, and there is a place called “Royal Mail” at the remaining stop… This is actually a very fine restaurant, just famous in me Before you get there, because Travel Channel’s food guru Anthony Bourdain just did an episode at that out-of-the-way restaurant! The chef is amazing, he has developed an incredible menu, he uses vegetables and herbs freshly grown in the garden, and tries to incorporate as much local ingredients from the region as possible in his selection. Anthony Bourdain loves the food, calling it “the best restaurant in Australia”. This is a compliment from him!
In the same restaurant at the bar outside, I met a man with an orphaned wallaby in his backpack, he put down the bag and opened it to show me. He said he held him that way because he wasn’t weaned and he had to grow enough hair to keep himself warm before leaving the pouch. That’s what he did in his mother’s pouch anyway, so it came naturally to him. It’s great though, because the people in this town (the people in the bar know so well) just took this baby kangaroo out and put it in the bar and no one blinked! The sound comes directly from the movie “Crocodile Dundee!”
If you plan to drive on the roads below, be aware of the remaining British habits of driving on the wrong roads! It can be a little dangerous if you are not used to it, but also watch out for kangaroos crossing the road, especially at night! They say it’s not the first you see you’ll hit, but the second or third because they travel in groups. I personally have less than a second after hitting a kangaroo at night so I know what I’m talking about! Follow my advice, stay safe, take a taxi…
So plan your next Australian holiday, there’s bound to be something for you out there! The country is huge and you’ll need multiple visits to get close to seeing the whole thing, don’t forget Tasmania! That’s part of Australia too, just across the strait…have fun!