Archive for December, 2014

Australia – The Land Down Under

Posted in My-Travel on December 23, 2014 by prajwalpai

AUS1

I had never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be choosing to visit Australia for a vacation. The seeds of this getaway was planted in Deepti’s mind when she joined ANZ. The constant ‘visit Australia’ ad during Masterchef Australia just watered and nurtured them. Her official reason was for me to cover yet another Continent. I need to give Deepti complete credit for flawlessly planning our itinerary patiently for several weeks. She decided which states to cover, in which order and how much days we spend in each city. I hardly got involved with any of the planning till the tickets were booked. She had done such thorough research that I would believe that she has actually lived in Australia for some time.

This will be bit of a Travel Blog but more of a memory log. I have come to realise that a blog accompanying some snaps are a wonderful way to refresh memories. I stumble into some of my old travel blogs and it’s a nice feeling to relive those wonderful trips after many years.

I didn’t wanna write one big blog covering everything and hence this generic blog on Australia. The later instalments with specifics on each city of visit will follow.  I have to make it clear that my idea of Australia comprises of just Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Coast. It may be like just visiting Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai might not give us authority to make generic statements about India, but take all of this with a pinch of salt.

Australia – Flora and Fauna:

The land down under was isolated from rest of world for a very very very long time. This is very much evident in the Flora and Fauna of this region. The nature’s self-healing is at its best display. All trees are evergreen and shed leaves across the year. The thick layer of leaves just piles on and on and the seeds from trees never make it to soil. The natures answer to decomposition is ‘Bush fire’. The bush fires create the mineral rich ash and allow the sun rays and seeds reach the soil. Most trees now do not have fruit but dry seeds and they have a trigger mechanism to drop the seeds ONLY after a bush fire. Isn’t that amazing!! They actually have controlled bush fires now. The animal kingdom isn’t far behind either – Australia has most of Marsupials and most of the species found in Australia doesn’t exist in other parts of the world. The Marsupials ( animals with pouch) have adapted to the most extreme survival conditions. The most shocking fact is their adaptability for reproduction. The gestation period for a  kangaroo is just a month but they have a ‘special power’ to pause their pregnancy! A kangaroo can pause its pregnancy midway during the gestation period if the conditions around gets too hard to survive. It can pause the pregnancy for as long as 5 years!! How adaptive is that!

Australia – The People!

Our visit just covered 3 places and we were pleasantly surprised to see how friendly the people were. Most people we met were all very welcoming. I wasn’t expecting to see a huge Chinese population and the presence of China-town in both Melbourne and Sydney. The local’s were extremely friendly and I mistook this over-friendliness for sarcasm, initially. The country has immense Brit influence and sometimes I felt I was back in London whilst talking to people. The driver greeting us, strangers saying ‘Hi’ on eye contact did add to the good experience.

Australia – The Transport :

The one thing without which I cannot imagine this vacation is Google Maps! We didn’t opt for a package tour and so had to plan each of the smallest detail ourself. The free-wifi helped us at most places but my new Optus sim with an unlimited internet (well, almost), was at our rescue at every step. The google map giving directions in ‘Bus’ mode was the best. The maps even predict accurately, at which time the bus will arrive at our stop! Melbourne has a free tram to get around CBD and we got a one day pass in Hop-on-hop-off tourist bus. Our hotel location in Sydney couldn’t have been better. All the attractions in Sydney were within walking distance from our hotel! Gold Coast was the place where we used the bus/tram transport to the fullest. In about less than 2 days, we were comfortable in even giving directions(and bus numbers) to the others tourists!

Australia – Our Timing!

The delays in passport and Visa would have forced us to push this vacation next year but somehow we managed to squeeze it. Australia, apparently gets very hot in December , Schoolies everywhere and not to forget- expensive! A couple of weddings too, made us postpone the travel dates. In retrospect, our timing couldn’t have been better. Melbourne is supposed to have a fickle weather but it was ‘well-behaved’ during our 2 day stay. However, the day after we left, earthquakes were reported in Melbourne. Sydney too, had severe storms the weekend after we left. The Lindt Cafe was hardly a minute walk from our stay. We did get drenched in GoldCoast once, but we could hardly complain. We stayed in Goldcoast for 5 days and it was a nice experience to get drenched. Our snorkelling wasn’t interrupted by the weather conditions. The Sky Dive for my next batch might have cancelled due to rain and dense clouds but the weather Gods made sure I had clear blue sky during my dive.

 12 days, 3 states, 7 flights , 1000+ photos and innumerable memories! Each penny we spent was worth it. All in all, I believe Australia tourism has the most appropriate tag line – “There’s nothing like Australia.”