It’s a somewhat bemusing fact of the travel game that very few of us self professed travel bloggers ever get to really see our own back yard. I’ve seen more of South Korea, China, and the United States than I have of my own country (although given South Korea’s tiny size, that’s not a particularly telling statistic).
While I’m in no hurry to return to Australia for anything more than a visit with friends and family (I’ll be back home in August, guys!), that doesn’t mean I have no desire to one day explore more of the land that raised me. My bucket list contains more than one Aussie ambition, and someday I’d like to take the time to see all that the great southern land has to offer.
Whether it’s in the family’s beat up 20+ year old land cruiser, renting a caravan, or taking out one of the luxury SUVs that are available these days, some day I’d love to hit the road and see some of what my own country has to offer.
Obviously, I’d someday like to see it all, but that would make for one hell of a long entry. Instead, as is usual in Travel Daydreams, I’ll focus on five specific things I’d like my Australian road trip to include.
The Great Ocean Road
Arguably Australia’s most famous stretch of road, this 243 kilometre road between Torquay and Allansford is actually the world’s largest war memorial; commemorating the soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War.
Winding its way through rainforests, along stark cliffs overlooking the churning Southern Ocean, and past idyllic beaches – the Great Ocean Road is a truly remarkable drive that I need to make before I shuffle off this mortal coil. The opportunity to see the Twelve Apostles, themselves unlikely to last past the next few generations, would be amazing as well.
I may not look it with my love handles and beer belly, but I also love to hike. The more recently opened Great Ocean Walk stretches for 104km and is dotted with campsites, eco resorts, and hotels to break up the hike. Definitely something I’d be keen to do, and might even be a way for me to achieve a couple of my more manly bucket list items.
I’ve spoken on Tasmania’s many charms before in my Ten of Australia’s Best Kept Secrets post, but it really does feel like my greatest oversight as an Australian that I haven’t been there yet.
Actually, perhaps it’s that I haven’t been to Melbourne yet. That’s probably a bigger Aussie travel faux pas.
Either way, Tasmania is an island laden with natural beauty just begging to be explored and experienced. Fully 40% of the island is National Parks and reserves, meaning sites such as Cradle Mountain, Wineglass Bay, and the Franklin River can be seen largely unspoiled by development.
Beyond that, Hobart’s a city straddling country town and citydom that I’d love to visit, and the opportunity to visit Port Arthur – a site so tragic in its role in Australian history – would also be amazing.
The Northern Territory
I’ve yet to make a foray into Australia’s ‘wild west’ that is the Northern Territory. That means I haven’t seen Australia’s second most iconic sight (Uluru), ventured into the steamy depths of the world renowned Kakadu National Park, or visited one of Australia’s most fascinating cities, Darwin.
It’s true that no real road trip through Australia would be complete without a dusty, bumpy ride through the red centre, and driving from Alice Springs up to Darwin would certainly afford plenty of stunning ochre sunsets, bush adventures, and moments of true serenity.
I was lucky enough to live a few of my formative years in the New South Wales Outback (Menindee and Tibooburra, for those playing at home), but if anything, my brief time there only fueled my fascination with the big empty that occupies much of central Australia.
It’s hard to express to somebody just how a desert night sky looks or what it’s like when the heavens open up and water floods the formerly parched earth for the briefest of moments. Far from the cities and beaches of Australia as the world knows it, the Outback’s small towns and great, isolated areas cry out to the writer in me. There’s silences there that I’d love to break with only the scratch of my pen on paper.
Sure, you’re far from creature comforts and it’s not a Sunday picnic. Australia is a first world country, but it’s still very easy for somebody to die in its scorching heart. The opportunity to tread on soil that might not ever have been stepped on by another person is pretty tempting though, don’t you think?
I spent most of my young life growing up in small, country towns across NSW. You’d think I’d have had my fill of their quaint cafes and tea rooms, their quiet nights and sleepy boutiques, and their lack of WiFi, 3G coverage, or cinemas.
To me, though, visiting a rural town is something akin to time travel. That’s not to say these small towns are backwards or primitive, just that they exemplify a simpler lifestyle than I’ve become used to in my years living in crowded Asian cities.
Rural Australia is hardly dotted with thrilling night life or must see landmarks, but I’d love the opportunity to just hook up my caravan and spend a few months taking my time and really soaking in some of Australia’s rural towns and villages.
The New England – the area I call home – is full of little hamlets and country towns full of interesting characters and local colour, and I’d like to capture some of that in my writing someday.
Have you ever been on a road trip around Australia? What were your favourite spots?
If you haven’t been on one, where would you like to go?
And, lastly, have you ever done much exploration of your own back yard?