Saturday, October 23, 2010

My life as a tourist: Part 1

For 3 weeks I will lead the life of a normal tourist: No hiking (well, almost no hiking), no cycling, no paddling. Why is that? My friend Maik from Berlin has come all the way from Germany to visit me and now we are on a camper van road trip through East Coast Australia.

Inside an art object
Maik flew into Sydney and was rather jet lagged after 31 hours of flight - no surprise! For the first time in ages I stayed in a youth hostel again, and quite a posh one right smack bang in the centre of Sydney. We visited a lot of museums and even more food courts where I tried to recover from dehydrated hiker food by eating myself through the menus of Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese food stalls.

After 3 days of big cities life Maik picked up our rental camper van which is total luxury compared to an ultralight tarptent. It has a sink, watertank, gas stove and all sorts of kitchen equipment you can possibly think of plus a foldable bed. The kitchen entices me to all sorts of cooking adventures as you might have guessed. The only down side is the huge petrol consumption of our vehicle: 15 liters per 100 km. Although petrol is not as expensive here as it is in Europe, it still hurts me to see the gas guzzling....

I have planned our itinerary and my goal was to show Maik a lot of diverse Australian landscapes and cultures. So far we have seen:

Waterfall Way
Cities: Sydney, of course. But also Surfers Paradise, which makes Miami look like a little village and boasts the highest skyscraper in the Southern hemisphere, a fantastic beach and so much urban sprawl that it almost made me puke.

Beaches: Driving up the East Coast we have seen plenty of beaches and even for me it is still amazing to see how deserted they are. A beach here is crowded if there are more than 2 people on it.... A special highlight was an Aussie barbecue right on the beach.

Alternative Australia: A surprise discovery was the small village of Nimbin - apparently alternative life style capital of Australia. It is located in the Gold Coast Hinterland and boasts a hemp embassy, alternative eco cafes and unfortunately, a lot of drug dealers.

Rainforest: For me this has been the most amazing part of this trip as I have not hiked in rainforest before. We followed the "Waterfall Way" which showcases one waterfall in lush rain forest after another. Maik does not believe that Australia is a dry continent anymore - neither do I. We hiked several little rainforest walks including skywalks. In one National Park they apparently did not believe in trail maintenance as we ended up following pink ribbons through thick dark rain forest - a real jungle adventure that resulted in leech and tick bites for Maik and a very bumpy dirt road ride plus river crossing for our camper van. I got so enthusiastic about the rainforest walks that I even did a small (and very well maintained one) at night with a full moon. A bit creepy, but extremely interesting. I did not realize that Queensland has several so called "Great Walks", a series of multi-day walks in Queensland's National Parks: www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks_and_forests/great_walks/. That could be an idea for another hiking trip.

Maik testing water depth
Life with the camper van is pure luxury: Tea and toast for breakfast, 2 course dinners with wine every night. I have even found several Aldi stores here on the East Coast! I love shopping Aldi's and even found Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Christmas Stollen! I think you can only understand how that feels if you have hiked for a year and only eaten crappy food.

2 comments:

Colin Ibbotson said...

You’re not going soft on us are you??? Get back in the tent and on the trail!

womacht said...

Viele Grüße an Berlin. Wünsch euch einen super Luxustrip. Kiss Wolfgang