It’s almost my two-year anniversary of leaving Australia and I still often reminisce while wondering if there’s any way I could convince immigration to let me back in. Whether you apply for a working holiday visa, drive a camper van along the coast, or book a tailored package holiday to Australia, you’re guaranteed to find stunning scenery, a decent amount of sunshine, friendly locals, good food and wine, and a wide variety of adventure activities. Here’s a rundown of the things I miss most about Australia.
ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance when Australians and Kiwis commemorate those who fought and died in past wars. Dawn services are held throughout both countries, involving marches, memorial services, speeches, music performances and wreath laying. Later in the day, many Australians get quite drunk and play a gambling game called two-up, presumably to mark a shared experience with soldiers throughout the ages. It’s a day of national pride and it’s one hell of a lot more fun and interesting than the equivalent remembrance day in the UK.
FOOD AND DRINK
While not the healthiest list of foods, I have fond, and sadly distant, memories of Tim Tams, vegemite, Smiths crinkle cut crisps, and meat pies from Pie Face. I also miss the wine, whether that be the delicious high-quality products from the Hunter Valley, or the ridiculously cheap boxes of goon we used to drink in the back yard as the sun set on a Saturday night.
They say that if you visited a different Australian beach every day of your life it would take you around 30 years to see them all. That’s an insane number of beaches. I must have only scratched the surface of what’s there, but I didn’t find a beach I didn’t like. I used to run frequently along the coastline of the Northern Beaches in Sydney, between the Spit and Curly and I never tired of those views. Some of the best in the country were Whitehaven, Byron, Fraser Island, those in the Royal National Park, and a tiny hidden cove near where I lived in Manly that could only be visited by boat.
Australia is a massive country with hugely variable climates. There were times when it was far too hot and humid (Darwin at Christmas especially) and times when I was shivering in five layers of clothing (Canberra in May), but for the most part – and especially in Sydney – it was comfortably warm. What’s more, when you do get a hot day, everything doesn’t just break down like in the UK. The buses and offices have effective air con and you just head to the beach straight after work. Not a bad life!
One of the biggest factors influencing my decision to move to Australia for a year was the Australian friends I’d already made on previous travels around the world. When I first arrived, they were hugely welcoming as I found my feet. Their families offered me accommodation, I was invited to multiple ‘barbies’, and I’d soon built up a big, strong friendship group. With such gorgeous summer evenings and so many beachside bars and restaurants to hang out in, I also found that my social life was a lot more active and enjoyable than it had been in London.
EXPLORE AUSTRALIA WITH CONTIKI…
…AND HAVE NO REGRETS
I also had the best send off I could have possibly hoped for while travelling with an awesome bunch of almost 50 other backpackers from Sydney to Cairns on Contiki’s BEACHES AND REEFS tour.
Contrary to popular belief (albeit tongue in cheek), not all Australian wildlife will kill you. There’s a spectacular array of weird and wonderful creatures. Parks and sanctuaries often have places where you can feed kangaroos and hold koalas and you’re really missing out if you don’t make time to do this during your visit. Some of the cutest animals on the planet are endemic to Australia, such as the wombat and quokka, and if you brave the ocean, you’re far more likely to see friendly sharks, such as the leopard, grey nurse or wobbegong, than the infamous great white.
ACCENTS AND SLANG
I remember my first visit to a bar in Australia. A friend of mine asked if I’d get them a schooner of beer and I asked the barman defiantly for a pint instead. Little did I know that a schooner has its own unique measurement so there is no British alternative. During my year down under, I picked up some of the slang, such as ‘Maccas’ and ‘sunnies’, but I vow never to refer to flip flops as thongs. As for the accent, I still find it to be one of the sexiest on the planet.
On my way to Australia, I did a six-week adventure-packed tour of New Zealand, where I fought all my fears. After sky diving, caving and flying a stunt plane, I wasn’t sure Australia would be able to offer me enough to satisfy my adrenaline cravings. I needn’t have worried. Travelling up the east coast with Contiki was especially fun. We did surf lessons, sea kayaking, sailing, rafting and bungy jumping, and I even had the chance to try out jetpacking and flyboarding for the first time!
This post was written in collaboration with expedia.co.uk. Have you spent any time in Australia? What is it you miss the most? Comment below!