After exploring Australia for 2 months – and this not being the first time – I wanted to share here some of the things I wish to remember and what, as a European, surprised me the most.
It was a wonderful experience on the discovery side but also the human exchange and personal development, not to forget the parental side: how I saw my children grow while traveling around.
Wildlife is amazing. You might say it is not a big surprise, figuring kangaroos and koalas, but I am thinking of other animals, some species we rarely hear about in Europe. From bin chicken to golden org spiders or tree snakes (not deadly but scary!). Even though I am not particularly into birds, I had to admit that their colors were mind-blowing, among many the cockatoos and kookaburra. Google them and listen to their sound, I promise a good laugh.
By learning more about wildlife, I understood better the challenges linked to the introduction of species that are not native from here, such as rabbits or foxes.
People recognize you as a foreigner from miles away and are always interested in knowing where you come from. Most of them have been in Europe at least once in their life, traveling around Europe for weeks – more than we sometimes do ourselves! With everyone I met, it was easy to connect, open discussions, and get genuine help. A lot could be written on this topic of course, but what I want to emphasize is the generosity of the people here and their willingness for you to have the best experience in their country.
Cities & Way of living: Walking around Sydney, Brisbane, or Perth I couldn’t but notice the cleanliness of these cities, how recent and well-maintained buildings are, and the neatness of the streets. That comes at a considerable expense, with high costs of living and energy consumption. The level of awareness certainly differs from one family to another.
Also, there are many rules and restrictions. As a joke, an Australian once said to me: “There is a rule for everything here”, and it’s pretty much so. Not only rules and laws cannot be missed as they are usually shown very explicitly, but I also realized how strictly they were followed by the people. This made me reflect on some European countries I know well, where regulations leave room for interpretation. Nothing like this here, and trust Australia to have two different laws about the same issue.
One more thing that may seem obvious but has to be taken seriously: The power of the sun is much stronger than in Europe. Many people we met told us they felt the effects of the sun got even stronger lately. While in Europe many people still do not use sun protection every day, here it is widely used, and children have their rashie at all times. In Australia, you can get a sunburn in 1 hour! So, if you want to enjoy the amazing huge beaches (avoid the ones with stingers!), you’d better protect yourself.
As this is a family trip, I asked my pre-teens what they would most remember about this part of the world before we head to a new destination. This is what they said:
- In Aussi, they have huge houses and cars
- The amount of food is bigger, and they can have pies at any time of the day!
- The change of vast sceneries depending on the region
- Surf is so much fun!
- There are a lot of schools only for girls or for boys.
- The names of the cities are impossible to pronounce: Coolangatta, Mullumbimby, Wollongong, and Boomanoomana
- Seeing and touching iconic animals will always be remembered (Koalas are heavy and have big nails!)