At the end of six months in Australia there is a lot to look back on. Our experiences here have been excellent. We’ve met lovely people, had all kinds of adventures, and saw beautiful land and sea. I have such mixed feelings. There’s a pain in my heart for all that we are leaving behind, while I know that this isn’t a permanent place for me.
We did an excellent job of following the seasons in Australia. Starting in Tasmania in January and working our way north through the summer, we ended up in northern Australia in May and June as Darwin and Cairns started to cool down from the intense heat of northern summers. We’ve been rewarded with fine weather everywhere. It was hot in Melbourne, but we lived near the beach and I got to swim often–just what I like. Six months later, New Brighton has cooled off over the past two weeks and the solstice. We are leaving just before I run out of enough layers to keep warm.
Though we stayed six months and saw a lot, would I do anything differently if I were to visit again? Hmmm… I don’t think I’d do anything differently if I were making my first visit all over again, but if I were to return to Australia, here are a few things I would try and include in my further travels.
Our schedule kept us in good weather, but that doesn’t seem to match up with some of Australia’s best known festivals. I might try harder to catch at least one of these on another trip:
- Tasmania: MONA FOMA, Launceston, January; or Dark MOFO, Hobart June 14-23, 2019 These are two festivals put on by MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. Always controversial, each festival includes quirky and interesting displays.
- Brisbane Art and Design Festival, May 10-26, 2019
- Sydney Vivid Festival, May 24-June 15, 2019 Remarkable here is that images are projected on the “sails” that make up the roof of the Opera House, and on structures all over the city
- Opal festival in either Coober Pedy, June 21-22, 2019; or Lightning Ridge, July 24-27, 2019 There are so many quirks to the world of opal hunting that three days among the miners and purveyors should yield some crazy good people-watching.
- Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, July 10-14, 2019
- Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney (Bondi) Oct.24-Nov. 10, 2019; Perth (Cottesloe) Mar. 6-23, 2020
I’d also like to take about six months and drive the length of western Australia from Albany on the south to Arnhem Land on the north. Every inch of the coast has interesting rock formations, reefs, fish, towns, and wineries, too. I’d like to see more.
The far north would be on my list for another visit. I’d take a tour into Kakadu National Park and then on to Tiwi Island, and into Arnhem Land. There is aboriginal rock art from millennia past in some of these places alongside the homes of aboriginal people who still live in a unique way trying to maintain their culture in the face of the contemporary world.
The far north on the east end of Australia would also make my list. I’d visit the Cape York Peninsula and the islands of the Torres Strait that are in the process of being swamped by rising sea level. Near the tip of Cape York I’d like to see palm cockatoos before they die out like so many other exotic species.
My wish list includes extreme points of the Australian continent. Otherwise, there aren’t any must-see destinations left on my list. I enjoyed all the places we went, and I recognize there are many more places that we missed. We drove by only a few of Australia’s “Big Things,” and there are many, many more.
That pretty much sums up Australia. No matter where you’ve been, there’s more to see. You can stay in one place and find everything you want, or you can keep moving and see something new around every corner. Whether I return to Australia in the future or this is my one visit, it has been super fabulous wonderful and I will always be happy we were here.