I was thinking forth and back if I should write this blog as we spent so little time in such a huge country but on the other hand I thought it might be still interesting and relevant to our readers how we experienced Australia. And in the end it is very personal anyway so it doesn’t really matter as we can never be really objective. So there we go: we spent a little more than two months on this continent, about 3.5 weeks in Tasmania and the rest in Victoria. We cycled 2,432 km and spent a few weeks with dear hosts to rest.
1 – Food
Difficult to judge as we mainly cooked ourselves. We discovered Tim Tam, a chocolate biscuit, yum. What we also discovered is that there is a lot of junk food (fish & chips, KFC, McDonalds and what-have-you) and shockingly many people in the countryside are obese – no surprise! Staying with locals we usually got excellent and healthy food, but then we most likely didn’t stay with the average Australian. Oh, and most of the people we stayed with baked their own bread, made their own yoghurt and had vegetable gardens of all sizes.
2 – People
Oh what a disappointment. Nobody was welcoming us anymore, let alone saw us. Having spent a year in Asia we really got used to the fact that everybody was greeting us, wanted to talk to us or took our picture. Now not even other cyclists would bother to acknowledge our presence. Welcome back to the western world! At the beginning we still greeted every cyclist and even stopped when we saw other tourers. But as nobody would return our attempts of getting in touch and just continued pedalling without even looking up we felt quite embarrassed and just did the same. This doesn’t mean that we don’t attract interest at all. On the contrary. The older generation, and I mean the 80+’ers are very interested in what we are doing and the way we are travelling. We also met a lot of very nice people helping us with directions but on the other hand people who would refuse refilling our water bottles even though we bought food and drinks at their place. Oh and then all the tattoos! We almost felt naked not having a single tattoo somewhere. And long hair and as Johan nicely said all these CC Top looks and toothless smiles from people our age and younger.
3 – Landscapes
We chose the right states to travel through, despite the weather ups and downs, the landscapes were stunning and often breathtaking. We got a feel for the hugeness of Australia but also know that we are not too keen to return. Somehow we feel we’ve seen the best already.
4 – Architecture
Beautiful old timber houses with ironworks, verandahs and lovely gardens around the houses. We really liked them. Melbourne is a great city not only from an architectural point of view, showcasing a nice combination of old and modern buildings. A lot of towns in the country looked as if they were from another century, forgotten with just a few people trying to survive there.
5 – Environment
After Asia we were thrilled about the cleanliness and the recycling efforts in place. And everybody seemed to really stick to the rules. However, Australia is a car-country with a not so good public transportation system, cheap petrol and roads made for cars. Outside the bigger cities you hardly see any cyclists or pedestrians, people drive everywhere.
6 – Coffee culture
Delicious coffee almost everywhere. We were back to coffee heaven, cappuccinos the Italian way and the choice of skim milk, full cream milk, cream or soy milk, single shot or double shot, flavoured or non-flavoured, small regular or large sized coffee while all we wanted was a cappuccino the Italian way ;-).
7 – Infrastructure
Roads are made for cars and only sometimes to be shared with cyclists. Drivers go fast, all the time, as the streets are very long and straight. If there is a cyclists on the road they move a little to the right, but not too much, if at all. Sometimes we thought it was a sport to get as close as possible to us. Not much fun for us though. And Aussies love their cars, they really do. Cars need to be tuned, with huge spoilers, painted like an artwork and have to have at least two huge exhaust pipes. Cars like little Hondas or Vauxhaulls.
WiFi availability wasn’t great and best at local libraries. McDonald’s free WiFi never worked and if it did, it took ages to just download a few emails. Very annoying.