Australia, the Land Down Under, the Sunburnt Country. A place that sees more than its fair share of tourists and travellers, for more than enough reasons. It is a great place to get caught up with a bunch of teenagers (from around the world on a gap year after high school) getting drunk on buses , hopping on and off the buses like wallabies, collecting snaps and selfies up the east coast from Melbourne to Cairns.
It’s a great place to blow a shit-ton of cash in Sydney with the pretentious in mediocre clubs, or hang out at Bondi with the thousands of hipsters, in over-priced bars of watered down piss. And struggle to find work with all the other ‘backpackers’ looking to make a quick buck by working for a month before fucking off. Yea, the locals certainly haven’t caught on to that one.
It’s a great place to meet at picnic tables, in hostels big enough to sleep small football stadiums, and talk about the Ol’ “Where have you been, and where are you going?” This is the saddest portion of what is known as the Oz-experience to me -in a place with so much potential for outback adventure (real adventure to call your own).
But for us who thought of Australia as something more than that, who ventured out over oceans for more than a few drinking games like ‘Goon of Fortune’ or ‘Ring of Fire’, I have a few suggestions!
1. Avoid the East Coast for a while There are a heap of wonderful places up the east coast, but if you’re looking to get into some camping and something a little more ‘authentic’, miss the crowds and grommets, and just avoid.
3. Forget public transport If there’s cash get a 4-wheel drive -you’ll appreciate it in the Kimberleys. Or a caravan to live in for the long haul. You certainly won’t be the first and its a brilliant freedom. If you are thinking about budget, especially, find an LPG equipped vehicle. If you’re like me, and don’t have a license -or the scratch- then hopefully you can find someone with the wheels already -at Gumtree
4. Hitch Now. Hitching means it will be very hard to get to the hard-to-reach corners. And in the centre, where it’s bloody hot, and the north-west coast, where its quite desolate as well… it might not be best. But other than the long stretch up north from Perth or Adelaide, I would highly recommend meeting the local community this way. Twice I managed to cross the Nullabor plains on the Erye Highway. In fact, from Cooktown (north of Cairns) to Esperance (south of Perth) I managed to hitch the whole of about 7 000 km in a period of about two month (while working in three carnivals along the way)
The drinking games are great craic, don’t get me wrong, but this country has SO MUCH MORE to it than the wild, door shaking top forty of backpacker bars. It’s good for a laugh, for a minute, but don’t get caught up in any of it and believe you are experiencing anything. These are mere hurdles to a lifestyle worth living. Australia is a damn fine place to get your feet wet in ‘Backpacking’ or for whatever this word may entail.
There is a huge amount of open space, a huge amount of deserted, rugged, wild coastline. There are gorges everywhere. There are forests and National Parks still primed with big bush and hopping roo’s. There are islands in all directions and there are so many things living under water as well. And the best place to start, for me… Perth.
If I’m going to Australia, the first thing I’m doin is spending a bit of time kicking up sand in the S.E.A (South-East Asia). And more than likely there is a nice and affordable flight to Perth. And at Perth a lot of greatness can be found.
If arrival time is in October or shortly before you are in perfect time to get a quick, little job at the local royal show.
Get over there before the big carnival starts and ask everyone if they need an extra hand. Make yourself useful and you’ll make some quick cash. After that’s all over with its a thumb and some signage to …
It is no short distance at about 800 km away and it gets hella windy down this end of Oz, but the pay-off is still uncanny. In the south-west its not always the perfect weather of the Sunshine Coast (Mid-East) of Noosa Heads and Mooloolaba or Byron Bay and Coolie further south headed towards Sydney, but man is it baron of tourists and buildings and hostels and kebab shops. This place is incredible gorgeous and pristine for sand beaches. It’s too easy to spot a couple whales playing around off shore, as they are just about everywhere west of ‘The Bight’.
You’ll have to be prepared though. No one is going to bring you breakfast in bed or cook you a rump steak. If you want it, it’s up to you. Get that fire goin and ‘Barbie!’
It’ll get cold down in these parts at night, but don’t sweat it, you’re prepared -you got the list all checked off from Packing for your Worldly Excursion and you are ready for it, no worries. When you wake up on that empty, coast of sheer solitude for a morning jog, to suck up fresh, oceanic air, you won’t be fretting much about missing the lads over in Cairns pickin bananas and getting pissed on weekends.
From here you’ve got a whole lot of beautiful spots up the coast to Perth again. From Albany and the best, and worthwhile little township is Margret River. Great wine tours, great wine full-stop and if you time it right, around mid-October, you might just land yourself a job picking grapes to cash up for the north.
If you find yourself on the beach at Dunsborough, on the point -around the Margret region- you might get lucky to sneak in for a shower to wash off all the salt in the little backpackers. Play it cool like ya live there
Back around Margret some of the best waves in Australia can be found. It’s not exactly beginner swell, like at Byron and Noosa; its not a perfect line twenty feet off the beach; you’ll have to mission out pretty hard, but if you’ve gone out there for the experience you’ll appreciate it, surely.
Perth – The ‘Most Isolated City in the World’ they say
The city is not famous for its huge party scene, but the Sunday Sessions on Cottsloe Beach are nails. Its a great sunset all the way up the coast and it certainly starts here.
Further up from ‘The Cott’, you have Freo (Fremantle) where it’s just as expensive as everywhere else in the city -and a little bit more- but good craic around the Firehouse Hostel (where I crashed on the couch more than once -through a second story window). At Scarborough Beach, the setting is unreal. The beach is blindingly white and the swell is so surreal. Good days break unbelievable for a body board. And hella wind surfing at the right time as well.
After October, the weather gets that much better for the far north, as the higher you go, the hotter its gonna get -and the less clothes ya gonna need!