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Published: December 14th 2011
As we mentioned in the last post, our last days in Australia were spent in the South and Victoria. Port Campbell was a really small village with a nice beach and lots of motels and restaurants. It’s clearly designed for tourists who come to visit the nearby 12 Apostles park. The day we visited the 12 Apostles (impressive rock formations which seem to emerge from the sea, close to the coast) was cloudy but we enjoyed a nice walk, not just in the Apostles site, but in a spot called Loch Ard Gorge. A famous ship was wrecked not far from here around 1878. Apparently there were only 2 survivors: a young crew member and an Irish girl. The young man rescued the lady and they became famous (so much so, that people at the time wanted them to marry, but it was not to be!). Whilst watching from above, the strength with which the waves smash onto the rocks (particularly at the ‘Thunder Cave’) one can certainly imagine how scary it must have been! At this point, annoying flies are killing us, so we move on!
Melbourne is like any other modern European city. It is multi-cultural, which we love; there are many Chinese, Italians and Greeks among other cultures, all living together. We were surprised to find that people are generally unfriendly, you can walk into a cafe, smile, be polite and their attitude is indifferent and cold. Of course, there are exceptions! Such as our friends Maddie and Ryan back in Sydney!! There are trams and wide roads, traffic like anywhere else and lots of people going about their business. Xmas preparations are evident but somehow it doesn’t feel like Xmas; it is so strange to listen to Xmas songs whilst people are shopping around for bikinis!!. There are some interesting buildings and churches and it feels like a nicer city than Sydney. Luckily a friend of ours, Portuguese chef Nuno, who lives in Melbourne, invited us round for dinner. Nuno is a Michelin star chef in one of the top 50 restaurants in Oz and a great host. He put his extraordinary cooking skills to use and cooked us the best meal we have had in Australia. We met his wife Jo and their two lovely kids. Thank you guys for such a lovely evening!
Facts we’ve found surprising about Australia:
• <span><span>- The amount of Chinese people working and living here, as well as visiting! At times I truly forgot I was in Australia and had flashbacks from our time in China!!
• <span><span>- I have never seen so many 70’s-80’s shows as in Australian channels. I scarcely see any modern US shows, as in Europe; only Australian soap operas and old series such as Cheers, The Brady Bunch and The Love Boat which is quite funny!
• <span><span>- Australia’s capital is CANBERRA, not Sydney or Melbourne! (We did not know, OMG!)
• <span><span>- This is easily the most expensive country we’ve ever come across! Apparently the taxes are to blame. An Australian friend tells us there are 2 forms of taxes; Government said they would take one off but never did! Example: a semi-decent bottle of Australian wine would cost you about £20 (this same wine in UK: £7). A packet of cigarettes is about £16 – more than double the UK price.
• <span><span>- The driving speed limits are really strict and painfully slow; in some parts we had to drive for at 40 km per hour in large open roads, almost falling asleep at the wheel because it was dreadfully monotonous!!! Truth must be said; drivers are respectful even if over cautious. Ironically, they have lots of road accidents. I’m not sure what the statistics are, but everyday we were there, there was news of road deaths and/or serious accidents.
• <span><span>- We have seen several kangaroos – unfortunately, all but one were dead by the side of the road, quite sad!
• <span><span>- There are a lot of rip-off charges that you face when e.g. renting a car; they charge you over £2000 in excess in case of an accident, regardless of whether you’re to blame or not. As well, the insurance can easily be more expensive than the rental itself – crazy.
• <span><span>- All hotels and car rentals charge you a minimum of 1.5%!f(MISSING)or credit card use.
• <span><span>- The food here is generally really bad and very expensive. Only exception was the meat which was really good!! Ironically, they have these master chef programmes and give the illusion that Australia is a gastronomic country, far from the truth, I can tell you. There is very little variety and healthy options; also most of their diet is carbohydrate based. This means Australia is the only place where we have actually put weight on in our travels. We’re going to have to hit the gym when we get back!!!
• <span><span>- UGG controversy; in Cairns we walked into a shop selling the famous UGG boots and had an interesting chat with the owner, whose information we later confirmed on the internet. Apparently the famous ‘UGG AUSTRALIA’ boots whom everyone knows about (and everyone thinks are the ‘real’ ones) are a make/product owned by a US company, which bought the right to use the word ‘UGG’. However, these boots are actually not the quality, MADE IN Australian sheep-skin ones, but just the ones with the best marketing. The US ones are also made in China. The word UGG was used by many boots’ manufacturers (but not registered by anyone in particular) to refer to these boots before the US company came along. Small shop sellers like our friend in Cairns have fantastic quality boots to offer (next to the American ones, to attract people!) but no one buys them because they are not the ones people know. But in fact, these are the authentic ‘UGG’ Boots. Google UGG controversy if you want to know more....
Just to finish, a quick mention of the Petronas Towers, which we managed to visit on our transit stopover in Kuala Lumpur. The towers are the tallest in the world, standing at over 450 metres (that’s almost half a KM). The lift that took us to the 88th
floor moves at an incredible 6 metres per second. The 88th
floor views are awesome. The view over the city and mountains located far, far away, one feels dizzy and bit nauseous (B had to sit down as it was a bit too much for her). You look down at the skyscrapers that surround the towers and they look tiny in comparison. If you’re ever in KL, don’t miss this feature.
<span>It's been an amazing journey that we will never forget and we hope that our experiences will inspire other future travellers.
<span>Thanks to everyone that's been reading us these last 3 months!
<span>Goodbye and see you all real soon,
<span>B & M xxx
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