Before making flight reservations five months in advance we
requested quotations from several German travel agencies. We received a complete
quotation from Boomerang Reisen within one day. They were recommended to us by
other travellers. Kangaroo Tours replied after 2 weeks with an interesting offer,
but by then we had already booked. Only Qantas and Cathay Pacific offered the
connections we wanted with open jaw Sydney/Cairns and a domestic flight. To
compare prices for the open jaw flight we also send a request to Travel Overland.
Eventually we booked with Explorer Fernreisen who made the most interesting
offer including hotel accommodation in Sydney and a package tour to Kangaroo
We didn't make any hotel reservations in advance apart from
the three nights in Sydney, one night in the Blue Mountains, the hostel in
Adelaide and the final week
in Cairns. The last three we booked via the internet. We first tried to book a bed&breakfast
place in Cairns as it would have been more personal. Galvins
B&B seemed nice but they were already partly booked at the time of our
stay when we contacted them at the end of November.
Motels don't usually serve breakfast but the rooms are
almost always equipped with a fridge, toaster and coffee and tea making
facilities. For lunch we usually stopped at a café or small shop for some
sandwiches. In the evening we often went for so-called counter meals at a café
or (hotel) pub. Tips are not required, not even in regular restaurants.
Most motels were able to provide adaptors for European
plugs so we didn't have to buy any.
Public toilets can be found nearly everywhere and they are
free of charge.
Australia sometimes seems like a mixture of Britain and
America: American informality, architecture and roads, but British traditions
like drinking afternoon tea, shops closing early, driving on the left and
Small shops close as early as 5 p.m. but supermarkets are
open 7 days a week and until late in the evening, usually 8 or 9 p.m.
The people we met were always very open and enjoyed a
At the time of our visit the exchange rate was 1 Australian
Dollar to 0.62 Euro. Petrol was fairly cheap, ranging from $0.86 to $1.05 per
For a guide book we relied on "Reise Know-How
Australien" which is quite detailed. "Lonely Planet" was also
recommended to us.
As soon as you get off the beaten tourist paths, you can
enjoy lovely walks where you hardly meet a soul.
The sea was mostly too cold for a swim. It was lovely at
Hymans Beach in NSW. In Queensland it's dangerous to swim outside of the stinger
enclosures during the Australian summer months, unless you go snorkelling on the
The rainforest in Queensland was impressive. It was the
first time that I was in the tropics. But it didn't really feel like the real
Australia or what you usually imagine Australia to be, which would rather be
vast arid landscapes and Ayers Rock!
It seemed strange that we saw more exotic birds (galahs, kookaburras, lorikeets,
cockatoos, lyre birds) as well as pelicans and swans in the south compared to
just brush turkeys and scrub fowl in the north. In the north we saw more spiders
The most dangerous and venomous creatures in the world can be found in
Australia, on land or at sea: from sharks, crocodiles and snakes to redback and
funnelweb spiders, stone fish, blue-ringed octopus and the box jellyfish. So
it's good to be careful, but I believe most visitors have returned home safely
and the Australian civilization is not yet in danger of extinction!
Australians love to cut things short, here are a few
examples: brekki (breakfast), barbie (barbecue), saltie (saltwater crocodile),
freshie (freshwater crocodile), Aussie (Australia or Australian), bikkie (biscuit),
bushie (bush dweller), chewie (chewing gum), comfy
(comfortable) and so on. While there's a lot of Australian slang, it's not too
hard to get used to and once you know that the great Australian Salute doesn't
mean 'hello' (it's just a gesture of waving one's hand in front of one's face to
ward off overly persistent flies) things should be running smoothly. Luckily we
didn't see too many of those awful flies!
A good book to read is "Down Under" by Bill
Bryson, an often hilarious account of his travels on the red continent.