Last stop in the continent list, it’s the countries down under. Hello Australia and the rest of the countries!
Fly to Australia, and starting my road trip of the last continent in Tasmania. Australia is huge. Most interesting places are along the coast and the island of Tasmania.
Tasmania has an incredible Aboriginal history stretching back millennia, followed by a comprehensive genocide, yet I’ll be damned if I’ve ever seen so much as a museum exhibit about this part of Australian history. Even the largest single collection of Indigenous artifacts and information in the country is basically closed-off to interested visitors. Almost everywhere has a local Aboriginal Land Council, where they can give you information about the local history.
Hike up Mount Field in Tasmania. Russell and Horseshoe Falls is a nice 45 minute return stroll to two waterfalls, can be extended to a 2 hour circuit to Lady Barron Falls, walking amongst some of the world’s tallest trees. Check Unzoo after Port Arthur for good native wildlife park. As a wine lover, Devil’s Corner vineyard for good wine and food too!
An unworldly landscape between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair – when covered in snow – is the closest thing you will experience to a real-life version of Narnia (with wombats of course). It is a truly magical, peaceful place filled with unique flora and fauna. Be warned though, depending on the weather it can get really wet and really cold.
After chasing the Southern lights, proceed up north to Melbourne and drive all along the coast of Australia. The classic one is Great Ocean Road for a road trip. The locals clearly adore their city, and this enthusiasm is infectious. Melbourne is hard to fault. It is almost overwheming in its busyness, it must surely be one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Having Australia’s two largest stadia, plus the Rod Laver Arena, within the inner city area makes attending major events a breeze, unlike in some other cities. And of course the icing on the cake is the trams, which weave among pedestrians and traffic like benign sea creatures; they really are a magnificent part of the city.
The other alternative scenic route is from Melbourne to Sydney.
Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Literally one of the most beautiful spots on planet earth. The vibrancy of the coral reef; the clear, warm water; and the plethora of marine life (including anemones, groupers, reefies and manta rays) makes visiting here an unforgettable experience.
The reef itself hits the coast, so you can roll out of bed and be swimming with clownfish within 30 seconds. The big ticket item here is to swim with whale sharks. Although it feels a bit touristy, it is genuinely one of those experiences you will remember on your deathbed. The isolation here is also invigorating. Sitting on the beach at night, drinking a beer and looking up at the stars, you feel a nuclear war could break out somewhere and you wouldn’t even know.
The downside is that it’s in an incredibly remote corner of the country, and difficult/expensive to get to. The flipside to this is that you almost have the place to yourself. The main spots to stay are in Coral Bay, or further north in Exmouth (which is a small military town, so not too attractive). Oddly there seem to be a lot of Germans hanging out here – it must be on their beaten track for some reason.
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
It combines the features of a glamorous ecotourism destination with that of a rural, workaday municipality. The island is famous for three things – it’s a plethora of wildlife, wine, and lighthouses. It also appears to be something of a mecca for honey-lovers. The capital Kingscote is the oldest permanent settlement in South Australia.
Some fun facts of Australia
- Food is always of high quality everywhere, even in rural places. That’s also because agriculture is a huge industry in Australia
- Coffee is something Australians pride themselves very much about. You can always get good coffee, especially in Melbourne
- Summer in terrible. It’s crazy hot and humid and just terrible. Don’t plan Australia during Dec to Feb.
- Invest in a wet suit. You can swim to more places and protect against jellyfish stings.
Take a flight to New Zealand and do a road trip starting in Auckland and going down to the south of New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries with volcanoes, glaciers, geothermal activity, luscious bush, awe-inspiring mountains, endless stretches of beaches and abundant wildlife. Film makers from all over the world travel here for the stunning backdrops you just can’t find anywhere else.
Christchurch – Dunedin – Milford Sound – Queenstown – Mount Cook – Christchurch
- Kaikoura – South Island. Possible to swim with dolphins in the sea and some companies do various refunds for people who don’t get to swim with the dolphins
- Rangitoto island (Volcano) – day trekking around this volcano, through lava caves etc. Get a full day as it is totally worth it. But there are no amenities so take a pack lunch. Black sands beaches can also be visited from Auckland
- Milford sound on Milford track
- Tongariro crossing
- Rent a caravan and go camping
- Aoraki MacKenzie Dark Sky Reserve in Mt Cook for star gazing.
- If no driving license, trains in NZ are wonderful and scenic, every one, and they usually have a glass dome car in the very back to enjoy the view
- Climb avalanche peak in Arthur’s Pass
- Head to Cathedral Cove in the morning (stay nearby) to have the entire place for our own
New Zealand is the best place in the world to walk. Seriously, my kiwi friend would walk barefoot everywhere, even when he’s not in New Zealand!
Lastly, proceed to Fiji island, where it is sinking. It is the first country in the world to experience day light.
- Go to a local rugby game. Fijians take their rugby very seriously, and if they see you are interested they will welcome you with open arms. Pick up a Fiji rugby jersey to wear and people will be friendlier and you’ll get better service at places.
- Do a day trip to Denarau island. Most of the ‘tours’ you can find are just the boat ride to and from wherever you want to go, and if there is a tour component it is easily skippable once you get to your destination. Mana island is particularly beautiful – you won’t find or see anything like those beaches or snorkelling on the actual mainland.
- Unless you are in the resort area, the other islands are of very low quality
Papua New Guinea
Then head to Papua New Guinea to hike mountains and learn about the tribes. Kokopo/Rabaul have fascinating WWII history as well as trekking and diving options, including a volcano. Or bicycling the Trobriand Islands. Contact one of the lodges and make arrangements (like village stays) to learn more about the local tribes.
Lastly, it is time to return home, to the place where I started all the trips, Singapore. After all the time, perhaps the best thing to do is to be back at home and collect all my learning points.
Ps: Traveling is not about taking selfies with landmarks, but to learn, appreciate and understand differences.
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.