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Adventures for All

Category Archives: Adventures

Getting off the beaten path – do-it-yourself and organized adventures welcome!

What’s Australia Like?

what's Australia like?

Brisbane – a great city that answers the question “what’s Australia like?” (via wikipedia, photo by Baycha Byrne.)

I mark 2005 as the true beginning of my international travel experience. Since then, the way I view travel has changed as I’ve seen and done more. This post marks the first in a series that collects and compares what I’ve learned. Let’s get it started with “What’s Australia Like?”, a look at what you can expect from a visit Down Undah. Watch for more “What’s It Like?” posts in the future.

Australia in a Word: Balanced

What do I mean by that? Australia struck me as a place that strikes a near-perfect balance of everything that I like in life. I saw a lot of hard-driven, Type A people on the move in Sydney. But they also had the sense to know when it’s time to relax. People love watching their Aussie rules football, rugby union and cricket matches – but I got the sense that many people love actually playing as well as watching. People talk to each other easily, even to strangers.

What's Australia like?

Black sapote fruit – one of the many exotic tastes you’ll find in Australia.

And here’s something else: I only had one person display any air of snobbery … and he was being more than a little ironic and smirky about it. There a no-nonsense, non-douchey, unpretentious air to Australians that I really like. And it’s one of the first things I mention when people ask “What’s Australia like?”

Dining in Australia

What's Australia like?

That’s me havin’ a blow on the didge.

I also love Australia’s adventurous food options. It’s close to Southeast Asia, so you have some of that influence seeping into all sorts of great regional ingredients. Kangaroo is a fixture on a lot of menus, as is the mild fish called baramundi (takes very well to a good curry). To this day, I’ve not had a better cheesecake than the outrageous example I had at the Mungali Creek Dairy just outside Cairns. The beer scene lagged at the time, but my bet is that it’s improved (if the delicious Galaxy hops I had in a craft beer is any indicator). This might surprise you, but Australia also grows great coffee beans, and skilled baristas turn those beans into great espresso drinks (they’re not as into the brewed coffees).

What's Australia like?

Up in the Kakadu … the mythical Australia of the big screen.

Outdoors in Australia

It’s everything you’d expect. Termite mounds, snakes, huge bats, salt-water crocs, wallabies, kangaroos, water fowl … it’s all here and abundant and impressive and potentially deadly.

And that scenery! You have everything from desert to thick tropical rain forests. The coasts are scenic beyond belief.

When I went: 2009

What's Australia like?

Awwwwww, Skip!

Duration: 16 days

Areas Visited: Sydney, Katoomba, Kurada, Kakadu National Park, Darwin, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation, Atherton Table Lands, Brisbane (such an underrated city)

Things to Remember

I realize it’s impossible to get the essence of a country in just one two-week visit … especially one as large as Australia. Still, I think my observations have some value for anyone considering a visit. People from around the world laugh at Americans who show up with just two weeks to spend – until our country catches up with the rest of the First World when it comes to vacation time, that’s pretty much what most of us can afford. Any less is barely worthwhile. Whether you spend your entire time on the beach or head into the Kakadu for an expedition, you will have an unbelievable time.

The Internet Isn’t the Problem

Some article with the clickbait headline of Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads (And Why You Shouldn’t Either) is making the rounds on Facebook. As you can guess, people are sharing it and crowing about their Internet-free childhood and all the fun they used to have sans computer. Or with slow Internet.Continue Reading

Great Backpacking Destination: Iceland

Iceland is made for backpacking. It has a wealth of trails that are supported by smart amenities and relatively easy to access. The country has embraced the backpacker, with plenty of touring groups, sports shops and hostels. Here are some other reasons why it’s a great backpacking destination. Incredible Scenery Icelanders realize what makes the countryContinue Reading

Visiting Filming Locations Around the World

Years ago, I got hooked on A Game of Thrones. I was surprised to see HBO take the ambitious step of turning A Game of Thrones into a series – and doing a pretty good job of it too. Sure, some of my favorite background characters didn’t make the cut; a few situations changed too.Continue Reading

Things I Learned at Primitive Living Skills Class

This weekend, I took a primitive living skills course at the Aboriginal Living Skills School. The class, called “The Provident Primitive,” started at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. We returned to the school in Prescott at about 6 p.m. the next day. Cody Lundin, who you may have heard of from the television show “Dual Survival,”Continue Reading

My Experience at the 2014 World Cup

This afternoon, Germany just gave Brazil a 7-1 hiding in the 2014 World Cup semifinal. I can only imagine the anguish in Brazil right now – especially since I just had the chance to visit Brazil during the Group Stages. So it’s a great moment to share a few of the great things I sawContinue Reading

New Estrella Trails a Bit of a Mystery

The people who built the FINS trails in the Estrella community of Southwest Phoenix are up to their old tricks again – but this time, they seem to be building new Estrella trails with the blessing of landowners. I went out to FINS in late April for one of my rare West Valley forays; it’s aContinue Reading

Titan Missile Museum Tour Taps Cold War Memories

The Titan Missile Museum tour is perfect those of us who have forgotten – and for those of us who never knew – the Cold War. Some of us (not me!) will recall the “is this the end?” tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis. People my age will think back to Regan-era rhetoric, the StarContinue Reading

McDowell Sonoran Preserve Mountain Biking

A year has made a big difference for Scottsdale, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and its mountain bike trails. Back then, I took my first ride on its new trails near Brown’s Ranch Trailhead. And I had some harsh words. Since then, the trailhead has opened. Most of the trails have some sort of signage. MoreContinue Reading

All Nippon Airways Asks “Is Japan Cool?”

Really, All Nippon Airways doesn’t need a website to answer the question “Is Japan Cool?”. The company knows the answer: yes to the fourth power, Japan is cool. So what’s the deal here? Well, it’s to find out what’s absolutely the coolest of the cool about Japan. It asks readers “Is Japan Cool?” by ratingContinue Reading