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Travel Tips and Observations

The following items are things we noticed on our trip to Australia. They’re not presented in any particular order.

  • People who drive on the left side of the road walk on the left side of the sidewalk. It’s hard to get used to walking on that side for us Americans. Try walking on the left down a crowded city sidewalk in the US sometime. You’ll bump into people and get dirty looks. Same thing happens if you walk on the right in the UK or Australia.
  • Large suitcases are a good idea. We had only five bags: two main cases, two large carry-ons, and my camera bag. That made it easy to move all of our bags with just the two of us.
  • Be careful if you have large suitcases. Airlines limit any single bag to 70 lbs (32kg) to protect their baggage handlers. Very large bags like ours can easily hold more than 70 lbs of stuff. It’s also impossible to get a 29″ and a 26″ suitcase into the trunk (boot) of a mid-sized car like an Altima or Ford Falcon.
  • We didn’t carry any travelers checks or convert any US currency to Australian dollars. We simply withdrew cash from ATM’s that were plentiful. Our bank doesn’t charge a fee for ATM’s it doesn’t own, and no Australian ATM’s charge a fee, so we got excellent conversion rates from our bank and no commissions that are charged at foreign exchange booths.
  • When crossing the street or stopping at an intersection in Australia, look right first. It’s hard to get used to, but it’s very important!
  • Three days is not enough time to spend in one place, with the possible exception of Alice Springs. We wanted more time in Sydney, Melbourne, Uluru, Darwin, Cairns, and Heron Island. We’re glad we got a “taste” of these places, but next time we’ll stay put longer and travel less.
  • After nearly thirteen years of marriage, Chris and I can spend nearly every waking moment together for 25 days, and still love each other.
  • Use frequent flyer miles to upgrade from coach to business class. On United Airlines it costs 12,500 miles each way for the upgrade, and you get 8,000 miles for the trip. In business class you get better food, more room, and better entertainment. And free drinks.
  • Topless sunbathing is fairly common on Australian beaches. It’s not polite to stare.
  • Digital cameras are great! However, we wouldn’t have been able to use ours nearly as much if we hadn’t brought along a laptop computer. We have two memory cards, enough memory to hold 91 high-resolution, high-quality photos. We took over 700 digital photos. Without the ability to upload the pictures from the memory cards to the computer, we would have run out of memory after our second day in Sydney.
  • Since we returned, I have been given a tip on how to get free internet service: Australian ISP’s like Ozemail offer 30-day free trials. Just get a CD from one of them and you’re all set.
  • When snorkeling, wear a dark-colored tee shirt to avoid sunburn.
  • Calamine lotion is a good treatment for sunburned skin that is starting to itch. Soapy water is a very bad treatment.
  • Kangaroo meat should be cooked rare or medium rare.
  • We packed more clothes than we needed to. We could have done with fewer shirts and pairs of jeans. We ended up doing laundry every 8 days, so that’s all the clothes we needed to bring.
  • If you’re going to Kakadu or another area rich in Aboriginal culture, take some time before-hand to learn about the Aborigines. The museums and tours of that culture seem to assume a pretty high level of knowledge already.