Our family has thoroughly enjoyed our month in Australia. Having so many similarities to home, it has been a pretty easy country as we transition into our year traveling abroad. Aside from a few words and picking up the accent, there isn’t a language barrier. Standard of living is almost identical to what we have in the states.
The biggest challenge for us has been trying to conquer the time difference. After crossing the international dateline, we are day ahead from everyone in the states. It isn’t too hard to figure out what time of day it is at home, when it’s day here, it’s night there and vice versa. It is a little difficult to schedule a phone call or outlook appointment when 9:00 AM Friday here is 5 pm Thursday at home. With time, we’ll get used to the proper way to send invites and get things on the calendar. For now, a text or email with “is now a good time?” has worked best.
It has taken a a couple of weeks to get accustom to driving on the left side of the road. After a month though, the times where we go to the wrong car door are getting far less frequent, and the windshield wipers are turned on instead of the turn signal every third or fourth turn rather than every turn (the wipers and turn signals are on opposite sides of the steering wheel from what we are used to at home).
The country is a big one, very close in size to the Continental United States. With the large land mass, there are several fun regions to explore offering varied climates and landscapes. As many of the the main attractions spread out around the perimeter of the country, air travel is the most efficient way to cover the long distances quickly. As we flew between cities, we experienced three of the bigger airlines in Australia – Qantas, Virgin Air, and Jetstar. Qantas was by far our favorite with the nicest planes and best on-board service. Jetstar, the budget carrier, was at the bottom of our list. Virgin was somewhere in the middle of the two.
A month into our adventure, we are all adjusting to our new traveling way of life quite well
Everyone we’ve encountered whether in cities or in small towns has been very warm and welcoming. People we’ve only known through travel connections have taken us into their homes and shared much of their time with us being our personal guides.
Australia is a big country, roughly the same size as the Continental United States. With the large land mass, there are several fun regions to explore offering varied climates and landscapes.
Our time on the Cattle Station
When it comes to travel, our family enjoys seeing the sites in a city for a day or two and then getting away from the hustle and bustle to experience real life. Our time on the Cattle Station, enjoying the outdoors, meeting other local families and visiting with friends was definitely the highlight of our time spent in the Country
Restaurant service in general is a bit slower than what we are used to in the US. It could be that we always seem to be in a hurry and just need to slow down and enjoy ourselves a bit more, but it was rare we were ever offered a second cup of coffee or second drink with dinner without having to search for our waitperson regardless on if we were in a sidewalk cafe, a pub or in a nice restaurant of a fancier hotel. Tipping in Australia is optional and not expected which could be part of the explanation.
The Price of Beer
Beer prices in Australia surprised me. A 6-pack of domestic Australian beer at the beer store is around $20 AUD, a case was around $54 AUD, a little over $35 USD. Craft beers were started out around $25/ 6-pack. When I questioned why, I was informed that there was beer tax implemented a few years ago in hopes to reduce the country’s beer consumption. On the other side of the equation, wine prices were very reasonable, and we found some great bottles of wine in price ranges lower than we typically buy at home.
We arranged for most of our family touring in Australia through Southern World. We enjoy exploring new destinations by all methods of travel – cruising, touring, or on our own. The thing we like best about private custom tours is that we can collaborate with and design our experience exactly the way we want, under the expert guidance of a trusted local operator.
With mom in meetings for our time in Melbourne, we don’t have any scheduled tours planned until we arrive in Uluru. Even though we didn’t have anything organized for a few weeks after we arrived, Southern World was kind enough to send an abundance of local touring options we could explore on our own during our first couple of weeks in Australia. The information was all waiting for us when we arrived in Melbourne, especially nice that we didn’t receive it at home and have one more thing to pack.
There are several options for cruising around the perimeter of Australia – Large ship, small ship, expedition. The cruises are a great way to see the sections of the country you may like to return to at a later date. With as long as it takes to get to Australia from the States, we recommend also organizing some pre-or post touring to explore some of the interior of the country as well.
Taking a tour with a small group provides the opportunity to experience the sites of Australia with other like-minded travelers on popular pre-designed itineraries.