Yes, it’s not many people who are lucky enough to be able to take a ten week trip. And I’m also blessed by having a lovely circle of very hospitable family and friends in Australia, courtesy of my husband, who lived, worked and raised his family there. I managed to keep working just enough while I was away – I’m lucky again to work from home using the internet – but it’s hard to work as much as you want while not wanting to miss out on time with family and friends.
In a nutshell, it started with a beautiful family wedding in Thailand; moved on to a couple of days in Brisbane Central Business District and then to two weeks staying with daughter, son-in-law and three grand daughters in Fernvale, Queensland; incorporating a few days with friends in Brisbane and a trip up to the Sunshine coast hinterland and Maleny; then to friends in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria; a few days with friends in Sydney and then near Tumbulgum with views across country to Mount Warning; more days in Brisbane and a family holiday on the coast at Noosa.
You do much more in ten days than you can possibly tell people about, but these are my –
- Obviously getting to know the grand-children, and spending time with them in their normal lives. Skype is great, but time together is greater!
- Wandering round Brisbane, visiting the Roma Street Parkland, and the Botanical Gardens; mooching along beside the river, shopping, eating…
- Seeing bits of Australia we haven’t seen before – the beautiful hinterland of the Gold Coast and the Sunshine coast and inland from Melbourne. Mount Tambourine, the Glass House Mountains and the Dandenong range. Visiting the site of the Australian gold rush in Ballarat.
- Enjoying the wildlife – the parrots and cockatoos seen daily; waking up to the unmistakable sound of kookaburras and Australian magpies; seeing wild hawks, eagles, wallabies and kangaroos.
- Eating the food – lovely meals in so many places. Big shout out for the Three Little Pigs Bar and Bistro near Mount Tambourine though! Lovely wine and beer tastings – please take a bow Hargreaves Hill, Yarra Glen . Such nice fresh produce available in markets. Imaginative salads and delicious healthy food available almost everywhere.
- Feeling like a resident in different iconic places – hopping on and off ferries in Sydney, and having the privilege of staying in ‘proper’ Australian homes. Fabulous!
- Packing for a beach-side wedding, cold nights in a Queensland winter, and the decidedly cool, damp weather in Victoria in August. Next time, we won’t be going for a wedding, and will aim for the Australian Spring or Autumn, when temperatures are reliable ‘nice’. No jumpers or coats needed!
- The cost of flying. Of course, it’s very expensive to fly around the world – so it should be. The domestic flights were expensive too, so next time we’ll be checking out the cheapest time to fly, and not flying once we are there. Our budget only stretches so far, even when we don’t need to book hotels around the place. Of course, for those without family in Oz there is always the option of a house swap. And you can get great deals on camper vans if you can be flexible. Relocating a van between Brisbane and Sydney, say, for $5AUS a day. Can’t be bad. It just needs flexibility and some thought.
- The journey. The first time I flew to and back from Australia we flew mostly at night, and broke the journey with a 24 hour stop over in Singapore. This time, the stop in Thailand made the journey quite easy, but the return trip was horrible. We flew Malaysia Airlines and had booked out of Brisbane. They cancelled flights from Brisbane the day before we flew – so we had to fly to Sydney first. Of course, this didn’t cost us extra, but it added 6 hours to the journey. We then had a 5 hour stop-over in Kuala Lumpur – not my favourite airport – and the flight out from there to Heathrow was delayed. Of course, it was busy coming into Heathrow, so we had to circle London. When we landed Heathrow was very busy and it took ages to get our bags and get out. So – almost 36 hours in transit, and very little sleep. Not great, by any means!
In some ways ten weeks was perfect, as we really got into the life there. In some ways it was too long, and ‘real’ life was on hold for a large part of the year. I’ve also found that since we got back our calendar is getting complicated, and there are some people it looks as though we won’t see at all this year.
Even though it was winter in Australia, around Brisbane the weather was lovely during the day: just cold at night. Could be a great time of the year to visit further North in Queensland. As you can see from my photo, the water at Noosa was very inviting!
So the planning for the next trip starts here! Will we go round the world and meet friends and family in Florida and/or New Zealand? How long for? House swap? House sitters?
One thing is for sure, the more we think about the options, the more likely we are to arrange something that works!