Thursday, March 31, 2005

See Ya Cobbers!

In the end I decided not to head down to Alice and Uluru as I found the idea of driving 2500km one way just to see a big rock (albeit a very impressive one) unappetising. Anyway, it's not like it's going anywhere fast so there are plenty of opportunities for a next time.

So this is it: after 50 days in Australia I'm heading off to a new continent and hopefully some new adventures as well. Which just leaves me the task of summarising my experiences and impressions of Australia for you.

I must say, and I'm sure I'll get some hate-mail for this, that overall I am slightly underwhelmed. Now before the inevitable cries of "how dare you!" ring throughout the land I feel I should justify my previous statement. It's probably because we (Brits especially) are deluged with images and stories of Oz that we perhaps tend to place it on a pedestal and give it Nirvana-like qualities in our minds. It's the cities (especially Sydney and Melbourne) that are particularly elevated; and they are pleasant, cosmopolitan and vibrant places, but no more so than many European cities, though without the history. For me, the reason to visit Australia, unless seeing friends or relatives, should really be the natural wonders on display. For that reason I am glad that I chose to explore the less travelled west coast as opposed to the east coast which, I am reliably told, is swarming with pommie backpackers (by the way, for all you Aussies that insist that pom stands for Prisoner Of Mother england, it is in fact an abbreviation of pomegranate, which is what Aussies used to call newly arrived Brits because they would almost immediately turn red in the sun). Instead the west is wonderfully remote and wild, with breathtaking landscapes and some stupendous national parks. or me this was the true Australia, and certainly worth a visit, despite it being difficult to get to many of the more inaccessible places without my own means of transport. Another thing definitely going for Australia are the spectacular sunsets and clear night skies where one feels like it's possible to reach out and touch them.

Another thing that makes Australia unique is the people. They are undoubtedly more open than Europeans and are quite likely to come up to you and start a conversation even though you are a total stranger. On the other hand they do tend to be quite racist, something that saddened me somewhat especially as the people themselves are immigrants to the country, few of them being there for more than three generations. However I think it is best I leave this land before it is too late for me and I won't be able to stop saying "aaww yee-eh" and "nah worries" (already I can feel the phrases' corrupting influence upon my brain!).

So, I'll see you all in Singapore.

P.S. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everybody that took me in, gave me a lift, and generally showed a lot of kindness without me being able to give nearly as much in return. To all of you I owe a debt of gratitude and remember you fondly.

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