Checking off “Australia Travel” from my bucket list is a Top 10 career highlight. What made it even better was the lavish cruise from Singapore to Sydney, Australia. Thinking about a trip to Down Under? Read on for some fun facts and recommendations.
Australia’s biggest claim to fame may be that it is the world’s smallest continent and largest island. Smaller than the United States in land mass, Australia measures 7.7 million square kilometers against the U.S.’s 10 million square kilometers, which includes Hawaii and Alaska. Australia is the driest of any continent on earth other than Antarctica. More fun facts here.
Here’s where Aussies live
Most of the Australian population, 90% or so, live along the coast. The coastal climate is temperate and there is adequate rainfall for farming as opposed to the interior, or Outback, which is a desert. There are varied landscapes along the coast, as well, such as forests. Additionally, the coast provides bays and inlets for easy fishing. By the way, most of the population speaks English, and other languages include Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Greek, Cantonese, and Vietnamese.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest living organism on the planet. Made up of 2,900 individual reefs, the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space. It is a true wonder of the world. Whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea turtles, birds, sea snakes, fish, and coral, among so many other animals, call the Reef home. The color spectrum of all these creatures is unbelievable.
My day at the Reef
The Reef was quite the unique experience. It is paradise for scuba divers. (I don’t scuba dive, but it was such a different activity for me.) A catamaran docked beside our ship ferried us to the Reef for snorkeling. I enjoyed chilling on the double decker pontoon and watching cruise-mates snorkeling. Many of the fluorescent fish are visible from above the water.
Koalas are marsupials, like kangaroos. Did you know that a baby koala is called a joey?
They are born undeveloped, then carried and suckled in a pouch on the mother’s stomach. FYI, they are not bears, though they do look bear-ish. Plus, they sleep a lot. The dwindling koala population is believed to be at less than 80,000. Local governments list the marsupial’s status as vulnerable or rare. The koala’s loss of habitat and mail food source (eucalyptus) is the main reason for the disappearing koala.
Kangaroo, it’s what for dinner!
Australians eat a western diet, though there are plenty of ethnic options. Yes, Australians eat crocodile and kangaroo meat. I didn’t partake so I can’t tell you if they taste like chicken or not. Croc and ’roo aren’t standard dishes and you may have to hunt hard for a restaurant that serves them.
Other Uniquely Australian Food
Some uniquely Australian dishes include Vegemite, a spread made from vegetables, yeast, and spices; Fairy Bread, buttered white bread with sprinkles on top; and Meat Pies, pie crust enveloping savory ingredients. Witchetty Grub (you read that correctly) dates back eons to early Aboriginal dining. Yes, the grub is gypsy moth larvae. Apparently, there’s more protein in a Witchetty Grub than a piece of steak.
Foster’s Lager is the usual guess for “What’s the national drink of Australia?” It’s kind of a trick question, really. According to tour guides, several Google searches, and travel partners, there is no national drink. Sure, beer is a favorite, as is tea. Well, guess what? Australia has more than 60 separate wine regions. I think that qualifies wine to be in the running for title of National Drink.
The Great Language Barrier — Australian or English?
Australians might be the friendliest people on the planet. Very charming, indeed. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to keep up with the conversation. Check out this handy phrasebook on Australian slang. It’s a fun read. Learn what “like a shag on a rock” and “flat out like a lizard drinking” mean, along with lots of other colorful phrases.
Bucket List Travel Tips
Which continent or country would you like to check off your bucket list? Please share. I think all of us could use the inspiration. Here’s a sprinkling of inspiration Pack these tips for your Bucket List destination. Let me know if you have a special tip to share.
Here’s the government sponsored Australia travel site. It is a treasure trove of information. Let us know where you go and what you see. We’d love to know.