The Land Of Oz

Carla Nelson of Maritime Travel tells why now is a great time for travel to the Antipodes

  • Nov. 5, 2015 6:00 a.m.
View of Ayers Rock

View of Ayers Rock

As winter approaches in Canada, it is getting warmer in Australia!  Now is a great time to look at this destination for travel.  Whether it is a backpacking trip, self-drive vacation, a cruise, snowbird long stay, or a classic tour, Australia has something for everyone.

No one really knew about Oz until 1770 when Captain Cook made landfall and claimed it under the British Crown.  Australia and its colonies became a state under British rule in 1901, with New Zealand opting out.  In 1986, the Australia Act ended the official powers of the British Parliament.

Yes, it’s a long flight, 16 hours from Vancouver to Sydney, so make sure you stay long enough to make it worthwhile!  You will cross the International Date Line, which means you lose a day going there, but gain one on the way back.  It is cool to actually live the same day twice!  A visa is required for Canadians to visit up to three months. It is electronic, and the fee is waived if you book with a travel agent. Our currency is at par with the Australian dollar and cost of living about the same, so it’s affordable.  English is the official language (some may debate that!), and there are over 100 indigenous languages.

Australia is vast, the sixth largest country by land mass, comparable to the size of Canada, with five time zones.  So, as with Canada, you are not likely seeing the whole country in one trip.  There are seven territories. Sydney and the capital, Canberra (which reminds me of Ottawa), are found in New South Wales.  Sydney is a hub of arts & culture and home of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. You will find beaches, Brisbane, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, as well as many islands, some still uninhabited.

The ‘bush’ is West Australia from Perth to Broome.  Perth is known for pearls, gems and precious metals.  The ‘outback’ in the Northern Territory includes Darwin, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Uluru.  Wine country and Adelaide are found in South Australia. Melbourne and the famous Great Ocean Road are found in Victoria.  The 7th territory is Tasmania, the island that was once a British penal colony.  The population of Australia is 22 million, including 1/2 million aboriginal people.

Australia has many unique experiences to offer!  The wildlife – kangaroo, wallaby, wombat, koala, emu, platypus, crocodile, box jellyfish, shark, plus six of the deadliest snakes in the world and the Sydney Funnel Web Spider (also deadly);  the sports – Aussie Rules Football, cricket, tennis, rugby and the Australian Grand Prix;  the food and drink – they are BBQ crazy! – whether kangaroo, emu or crocodile, vegemite spread, pavlova cake, schooner beer and Hunter Valley wine.   And let’s not forget the humour of listening to the interesting phrases – ‘G’day mate’ (man) or ‘love’ (woman), ‘Cheers’ (not thanks), ‘Oooroo’ (not goodbye), ‘no wuckers’ (no problem), and I’ll have ‘chips to take away’, not ‘fries to go’!  Go there – it’s fun!

For more information on Australian vacations, contact Carla Nelson, Branch Manager, Maritime Travel Cranbrook 250.489.4788.