Monday 22 March 2021



“Tasmania. Isn’t it quite cold there?”

I was cheerfully polite in my answer, but inside I was spitting. That is exactly the sort of question that lazy, unimaginative, boring people ask about Australia. These people think they know Aussie, because they’ve been there quite a lot — but always to the same few places. They go to the Gold Coast for the sun, to Sydney for the shopping, and, if they’re feeling briefly cultural, to Melbourne for a show. And that’s it.

The rest of the country? The rest of the actual continent? It’s a blank, to them. I would be annoyed at their ignorance, if I weren’t more sorry for their missing out on so much stunning scenery, unique experiences, personable people and, well, wombats. The glorious Outback culminating at the one and only Uluru, swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo, cruising the Kimberley’s colours, walking the length of Busselton Jetty, sleeping in an underground hotel at Coober Pedy, swimming with sea lions — or sharks — at Port Lincoln, exploring the marvellous national museum in Canberra — that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the bragging rights you can earn by getting off the well-beaten tourist track in Australia...

That started out as a travel story intended to encourage people to go to Tasmania, which will soon be accessible by a direct flight to Hobart from Auckland - but it very quickly deteriorated into an unpublishable rant. Which means it's ideal blog material, of course. I really do get frustrated by people saying there's nothing to see in the Outback, who go always to the same places along that south-eastern corner of Australia (though I do enjoy the joke about that being the most populated part of the country because it's the closest they can get to New Zealand without getting their feet wet).

Anyway, the connection is that, having abandoned the story, I later sat to watch 'Coast' on TV and it was about the Kimberley - where I've done a short but vivid cruise with a company I'd seen an ad about just yesterday. Kimberley Quest is a boat that can go up rivers and across the amazing Montgomery Reef, but is big enough to fit a helicopter on its roof. It really was a terrific trip, with nice other passengers, excellent crew, delicious food, all sorts of activities, and stunning scenery. Loved it. And love the Kimberley, too - it's colourful, ancient, interesting, beautiful... A memorable must-see that those narrow-minded Gold Coast fans are stupidly missing out on. Their loss.

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