November is my least favorite month in Poland. It is about the ugly weather. In contrast that same month in Australia is just beautiful. It is spring here now and everything is in full bloom. The water in the Tasman and Coral Sea is still pretty cold.
While swimming in Australia one has to be quite careful because of strong rip currents. Besides the local waters are infested with sharks and a few other creatures which can be quite hazardous like box jellyfish aka as “sea wasps”.
Despite that the beaches are full of surfers and highly respected here life savers. I do not know how many people drown in Australia every year, but the number must be quite high. In 1967 the then Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt, died in such a way himself. One day he was just strolling along a beach near Melbourne and decided to take a plunge in the sea … and disappeared. To my knowledge his body has never been found. Incredible! That story is strange indeed like many other things in OZ. After Antarctica and Arctica this is the most unhospitable continent in the world. It is very dry, flat and covered mostly with vast deserts. Over 80% of Australian population lives on the boomerang coast from Adelaide to Brisbane where we have just arrived. This is barely 5% of the whole territory. Australia features a lot of peculiarities that we will write more about in our future posts.
The story of its discovery is quite mysterious. A Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, sailed the southern seas in mid XVII in search of the mythical land passing it from the south side. Sailing east he found a relatively small island of Tasmania (eventually named after him) and New Zealand much further east. As part of the expedition he also discovered the islands of Fiji. On the way back home he again missed Australia passing it this time on the north side.
Abel Tasman route
The official discovery of Australia was delayed by another 100 years. In April of 1770 another famous explorer, James Cook, entered with his crew a bay named soon Botany Bay. Interestingly, today Botany Bay (I like that rhyme ) is the home of Sydney International Airport as well as the Sydney port. Due to such a location millions of first-time travelleres to Australia arriving in Botany Bay can discover this interesting continent right at the same spot as James Cook.
We began our Australian journey from its very bottom, i.e. Melbourne, followed by Sydney. We must admit that both cities have a lot of charm to them despite being big metropolis. Ania even said she could live in either one, a statement rarely heard from her about other places. After all, there are not many cities in the world where you can commute to work by ferry or go sailing during a lunch break or in the afternoon.
During my lonely travels around Australia 6 years ago I decided to bring my family here one day. Though it is such an accessible place to live there is something magnetic about OZ. Maybe it is the eternal sunshine? Maybe it is about laid back Aussies?
Speaking about inaccessibility of Australia, 10 most poisonous snakes in the world live just here. Same with spiders. The locals are not so worried about it, yet you need to be careful and keep your eyes wide open. Even lazily grazing kangaroos, when feeling threatened, can hurt a man seriously with their sharp claws.
We still have thousands of kilometers ahead of us including the famous outback between Alice Springs and Darwin, where we expect to be around New Year’s Eve.