Jul 19, 2017
Australia is one of those countries I had heard lots about but never actually visited until relatively recently, when a conference presentation in Brisbane took me there. I returned not long afterwards with my family having been taken with what I had seen, but ultimately with few expectations. We did travel however with a reasonable amount of knowledge about the place, and a very well planned and tightly managed itinerary.
Starting off in Sydney after a reasonable length flight from Shanghai, the city was really impressive. Staying close to the beach and being able to walk or bus to the city centre helped, but the landmarks, weather and scenery all stood out. The Blue Mountains, a short train journey away, were particularly impressive. So too was the general level of health and fitness that seemed to be in daily evidence.
After Sydney our next stop was Adelaide. Staying only a night after a morning flight meant there was little time for the city to leave a distinct impression, but it seemed very pleasant, even if driving a car rental threw me slightly, with the junctions having an almost North American feel to them if I recall correctly, but the actual driving rules and expectations being more British in design. The drive along the Great Ocean road was certainly worthwhile, even if the days were quite long, as the scenery was stunning.
Arriving into Melbourne after a long drive was nice. The city itself has something of an arty, youthful feel to it. The street art was memorable and so too some of the street performances. The zoo was also a plus. I’ve had a general dislike of animals being kept in captivity for a while, but this was a lot more spacious and tasteful than many places I’ve seen around the world.
From Melbourne it was a flight to Brisbane, a city I was at least slightly familiar with. This is an easy city to navigate and in some respects, akin to many British cities in terms of size, accessibility, design and layout. It also provided us with a base from which to travel up to the Whitsundays, a location which has some incredible sights. Flying over heart shaped reefs in a helicopter lives long in the memory, so too landing on white sands with the sea alive with all kinds of ocean life of varying sizes.
Returning to Brisbane afterwards meant we also had easy access to Fraser Island, although we did relocate here. Again the scenery here was spectacular, and travelling over the sand in a monster bus that wouldn’t have been amiss as a military transport, given the ease it traversed over bumpy sandy steep roads, still lives long in the memory. The other places we travelled to from Brisbane included Surfers Paradise and Byron Bay, both nice, if somewhat touristy, places to visit.
The only potential regret from this trip was not having quite enough time to squeeze in Uluru, but it’s probably a good thing we didn’t try as timings only just held in the three weeks we had and it was by no means an inexpensive trip given local prices and the amount of travelling which was required. Still, Australia is an incredible place to visit and well worth doing so. Maybe a return trip will beckon!
About the Column
Gareth Morris is a university language teacher. He is also a part-time doctoral student. Gareth first moved to China in 2005 and, after spending a couple of years back in the UK studying for his PGCE and Masters, has now returned to the city he calls home. During his time in China Gareth has travelled extensively. His travels have taken him from Beijing and Xian to Kunming and Haikou. He has also spent time in Hong Kong and Macao. In addition to this, Gareth has lived in a number of countries across Europe, North and Central America and Asia. Closer to home, Gareth has enjoyed visiting numerous localities within Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. His Livingsu column will explore local places of interest found within walking distance of Metro line 1.