No visit to the South Pacific would be complete without a stop in Australia. We planned to spend just under three weeks exploring the Oz, which resulted in a considerable amount of criticism from every Aussie we’ve met along the way. How could we possibly get to know a country nearly as big as the continental US in a few short weeks? We do realize we can’t, but recognize our budget would take a serious beating if we decided otherwise.
Our hope was to get to know a small part of the country well, spending our time taking in the beauty of the eastern coastline and exploring the cosmopolitan cities of Melbourne and Sydney. Thus our Aussie journey began, but not without a few bumps along the way.
A Tizzy in Brizzy
Our first stop on our visit to Australia brought us to the city of Brisbane. We really didn’t know much about the city of Brizzy, as the locals call it, when we planned to arrive there, but geographically we thought it made the most sense as a jumping off point for exploring the coast. This was our first of many mistakes we would make during our time in Oz.
Trying as hard as I can not to knock any Brisbaners or Brisbane-lovers out there, but Brisbane for us was a bust. First off, it was ungodly hot (I know what can we expect in the peak of summer and why complain when most of you are freezing your buns off in the dead of winter?!), but the weather was pretty rotten. We were pummeled with rain and humidity so intense I was crowned with a permanent afro. Secondly, we couldn’t find a decent place to stay for the life of us. Everywhere we looked was seedy and filthy. We know we were spoiled when it came to accommodation in New Zealand, but were having a hard time accepting the state of our Aussie lodging options. Thirdly, with its bright lights, trashy souvenir shops and plethora of adult entertainment venues, the city seemed to live up to its ‘Bris-Vegas’ reputation. Lastly (and I promise I’ll stop complaining!), it’s here we were faced with the reality that in Australia, we can’t afford a darn thing!
We spent two days sweating our way through the city, taking in the sights. To Brisbane’s credit, it has some beautiful parks we enjoyed exploring and a nice riverside walkway lining the city. Soon realizing, however, it was a place we weren’t keen on planting our feet, we began to plot our next step.
We had our eyes set on heading up north to experience the crown-jewels of Australia’s east coast: snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, sailing the WhitSunday Islands and taking a 4WD expedition across Fraser Island. These were what we had come all this way for and who knows when we’d be back, right?
We did our homework, however, spending lots of time poking into travel agencies, chatting with tour operators and surfing the Web, and came to the sad reality that these were exactly the experiences that would put our budget on the line. Transportation alone to these locales would cost a pretty penny and the costs of the excursions would seriously set us back. With our tails between our legs, we knew we had no choice but to opt out of some of these “must-see” activities if we’re really going to make this year of travel a reality.