I’ve been to the Australian continent a few times, and this is what I’ve done in various trips during the last eight years:
- northeast coast: Cairns down to Townsville; Brisbane; 3-day Great Barrier Reef dive live aboard <– it was ok, but the GBR is empty compared to the thriving and busy dive spots of eastern Indonesia. If I could do it again, I’d forgo it for diving giant kelp forests of Tasmania, now fast disappearing 🙁
- southeast coast: Sydney and surrounding; Sydney down the coastal roads up to Merimbula (including a night dive in Merimbula during late a late autumn night, COLD!; Tasmania (Hobart to Launceston during a long weekend); Canberra and surroundings
- Snowy mountains: the whole perimeter of the Kosciuszko National Park, plus skiing. Skiing is expensive. The trails are nice though for a beginner or intermediate skier – lots of long trails to try. I can only compare to the northeast US though, and for me the snow is a bit lacking (they’re man-made) and the trails can be confusing as they’re not well-marked.
- Alice Springs (Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon); Alice Springs to Darwin, which was the last trip. I don’t usually do multi-day tours, but for this trip, I went with Mulga’s Tour, and I can’t recommend it enough. I’m glad I did not decide to drive myself across a quarter of a continent.
From where I’ve gone, my favorite so far has got to be the Kosciuszko National Park and surrounding area during the winter. It was so peaceful and green, not that cold and almost like spring to me (even though it was the depths of winter). The drive around the Park was amazing: quiet roads, lots of wildlife, very small towns with very small cafes, the most magnificent cattles I’ve ever seen, some very nice overlooks, a hot spring, and one very exciting driving in the fog with barely one meter visibility. The Snowy Hydro scheme (the dam, the museum, etc) lent this geek a technical wonder to ponder.
I didn’t do any hikes at all at the Kosciuszko National Park as all the trails seem to be too quiet – no one is ever around and my imagination got carried away with vampires and zombies lol. Actually it was quiet strange, as I’ve never been really SCARED inside a car before in my life as I recall, and I’m one who regularly stops and visits cemeteries found along back roads. But there were times the hair on my back definitely stood up as I traversed the pitch dark roads of the Park. Unfortunately no photos as I lost my cell at the end of that trip. 🙁
Below are photos from my most recent trips. As in previous trips, I forgo any visits to the malls except for grocery shopping. Almost everything is so damn expensive in Australia, it’s better to buy outside Australia and have it sent there, actually. What’s not too expensive are groceries; Australian produce is top quality with reasonable prices. I always eat like a king when I’m there: Angus and Wagyu steaks, Tasmanian salmon, fresh strawberries/cherries/peaches/pears whatever in season, cheeses, ice creams and chocolates galore. In fact, that’s your best bet for souvenirs to bring back home, especially if you’re going back to an Asian city: artisanal cheeses/feta, awesome dark chocolates and a cart of wines (even with the import tax, it’s still probably worth your while as good ones can be had at only $10 a bottle).
Ah yes, you live dangerously in the Australian continent, ’tis true.