OZ17: five takeaways

DSC09115We’ve just come back from Australia where we’ve enjoyed a three week vacation. It was our second and I’ve been there several times on business as well. But as always when you visit a place you still see something new or you see something in a different light or you’re just simply reminded of what you’d seen before but somehow forgotten.

Here’s a quick run through of five great memories of this year’s trip (and in no particular order).

Aussie cafes and the breakfasts which they provided. I don’t know what’s happened to the cafes which we used to have in this country but in Australia they are in robust health. They’re all over the place, they’ve all got proper coffee machines and they all serve splendid breakfasts. From the Bull Run in Melbourne through the Bay Leaf in Apollo Bay, Gino’s in Fremantle, Isabella’s in Lancelin and the Gorges in Kalbarri to the strangely named Cofe Pot in Mandura they set us up for the day.

The incredibly rugged Australian scenery and the wonderful display of spring wild flowers. The former is what you’d expect of course but as with lots in life you really have to experience it firsthand to truly appreciate it. We enjoyed a trip along the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide and then took a trip up to the Kalbarri National Park north of Perth. And in between we spent a day and a half on the Indian Pacific between Adelaide and Perth. If we’d needed any convincing that Australia is vast we don’t need it now

We were travelling in Australia’s spring of course and the display of spring flowers was super.

What’s good to see is the way that Australia is protecting its environment and making it available for people to enjoy. There’s easy and high quality access but the rules are strict. Witness the sign at the Kalbarri surfers’ beach telling you that the nearest toilet is 1.5km away and that you’re expected to use it!

The cultural and public learning stuff. It reflects on the vision of the settlers of the last century of course but all the cities are well served by museums, concert halls, art galleries and botanical gardens. We were impressed that the museums and galleries are free to enter and that photography is allowed. We specifically enjoyed a morning concert in Perth. The audience was of a demographic of course but why not? It’s a part of enjoying a healthy old age.

It’s not limited to the big cities either. We went to a superb new museum in Geraldton.

You can eat at some super restaurants. They operate with excellent raw materials of course but you can eat really well and, equally important, you get good service. I especially liked not just the generous range of wines by the glass but also a list of beers with equal prominence in the drinks menu. We were only disappointed once or twice and our dinners at  Petition and the Boatshed in Perth and at Taxi Station in Melbourne and our lunch at Sauma in Perth were exceptional experiences.

Australians are really nice people. I know that this is true about most people worldwide but in three weeks we only experienced the absolute minimum of unpleasantness. I guess this must have something to do with the space and the fact, of course, that we didn’t really go to places where you might be stressed. The only time when we encountered anything like a confrontation was when I walked down the wrong side of a staircase at the concert hall in Perth. A rather large and older Australian male made it clear to be that I should be on the other side.

There’s a bunch of my photos from our trip at https://flic.kr/s/aHsma53xXU

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