2 Month Update

Been about two months from my last post.  Time to catch up; a log of what I’ve discovered about Ozzie so far.

I contacted the Australia forums on Trip Advisor about our plans.  To a person, they were negative about the train from Melbourne to Adelaide.  Boring.  Not much scenery.  Better to drive it.  Etc.

However, we’ve decided to buck the trend and do the train anyway.  There are several reasons.  In no particular order…

Most of the trip crosses areas heavy into agriculture.  Lost of farms devoted to hay and pasture type of crops.  We have no problem with this.  Praxy actually owns part of a wheat ranch and we are always interested in crops and farming.  This will give us a nice chance to see southern Australia farming.

Praxy has wanted to take a train ride for years.  I almost took her to Mexico for a trip through Copper Canyon two winters ago.  If she truly enjoys this trip, I’ll put Copper Canyon back on the to-do list.

Price is $79 AUD ($60 USD).  Cheapest way to go.

This next one surprised me.  Completely.  I was looking into renting a campervan (more on that later) and got to looking at prices.  Surprise!  Then moved on to an SUV.  Wow!  I found, per day, that it is the cheapest to rent in Adelaide and drop in Melbourne!  Unbelievable.  First time I’ve seen an “anti” drop fee for a car rental.  Most expensive-rent in Melbourne, drop in Adelaide.  Mid range-rent and drop in Melbourne.  Cheapest-as mentioned, rent in Adelaide and drop in Melbourne.  The difference amounts to about $450 USD between top and bottom.  My travel oriented mind knew why almost instantly.  Melbourne is an international airport.  Many, many foreign tourist will rent a car.  But, lots of them will drop it in Adelaide after visiting the Great Ocean Road.  It costs a lot of money to hire someone to deadhead a car one way.  I used to do it while I worked as an airline agent.  The rental companies paid me well.  So.  If we rent a vehicle, it will be in Adelaide and dropped in Melbourne.  Train ticket paid for plus some extra.

Our train ride will be two days after our arrival in Ozzie.  Jet lag.  More time to catch up to the time change with little risk to ourselves.

Flying is considered the best way, but I disagree.  The easiest way to miss out on a country is to fly over it.  Once you’ve been there, yes.  Fly over.  But until then, stay on the ground and learn.

Buses were mentioned too.  Hell with that.  I get all the bus trips I want in the Philippines.

Bonus-I don’t have to learn to drive on the left side of the road in crowded Melbourne.  Also gives me some time to learn the rules of the road in Australia.

We are almost certainly going to rent a vehicle.  Haven’t decided yet between a car or mini-camper.  I’m going to put that choice off until we get there.  The campervan sounds fun, but there are some serious drawbacks.  It will be summer in Ozzie and there is no air conditioning in the camper at night time.  RV parks are very expensive.  The period after Christmas is some of the busiest time of the year for vacationing.  Price of fuel.  Been hearing horror stories about poorly prepared campers.  No refund on deposit if you don’t like the camper.  So, I’m going to wait.  At least for now.

Our friends in Adelaide are talking about renting one anyway.  As they are already on the ground, that seems prudent to me.  I’m about ready to plan a car, with stays in motels as needed.  Our destinations will be restricted, though.

Rental cars are only allowed on paved or concrete roads.  The wisdom to this is obvious.  No way I’d want to turn a foreigner loose with my car in the mountains of Idaho.  Why would they want to turn me loose in the Australian outback?

Granted, I know I could handle the outback driving.  Few tourists could ever have the back country driving skills I’ve learned in 45 years of off-road racing and 4X4 driving.  But the Australians don’t know my bonafides and I can’t prove ’em.   Fair enough.  I’ll stay on pavement.  Besides, maybe I’ll meet someone that will take me somewhere cool.

One of the biggest posers; “Where to go and what to see?”  Australia is a black box to me.  So many things, so little time. Making a list here.

One of the first nearby attractions that REALLY caught my eye was Kangaroo Island.  It is a large wildlife preserve off the southern coast not far from Adelaide.  I think three nights there would be sweet.  Rent a car and drive around.

Murray river north of Adelaide.  This river tracks across some rather open looking terrain.  If the summertime weather isn’t too hot, this might make a nice two-three day loop.  Looking for birds and wildlife on this one as well.

Granpans mountains.  Odd looking features in a National Park setting.  I’m game.

The famous Great Ocean Road.  Fabulous scenery along the southern Australian coast.  Too bad we’ll be there around peak tourist season.

Perhaps some people oriented things as well.  Maybe a rugby or Australian Rules Football match.  Zoo or parks.

Lots of people want to visit Ayer’s Rock in the central outback.  Not me.  It will be far too hot out that way in December.  Besides, it’s just a sandstone monolith.  Seen things like that in Utah and Arizona.

There are two long train trips across Ozzie from Adelaide.  One goes east, the other north.  I was interested until I looked at prices.  Simply put, the cost is outrageous.  Not even close to what I could afford.  Darn.

We’re planning to be back in Melbourne 3-4 days before our departure to the USA.  There is a whole realm of places to visit there.  From what I understand, most vacationing Australians get out of the cities for recreation.  Melbourne shouldn’t be overly crowded according to what I’ve read.  I hope.

It’s so hard for me to sit here and imagine what it’s like there.  I’ve heard about…Good public transportation. Few if any malls or large stores.  High prices.  Great beer and wines.  Warm hospitality to foreigners.  Dangerous UV rays.  Hot weather.  Unusual dangerous animals.  Incomprehensible slang.

Well.  I had a first trip driving into Mexico.  And a first trip to the Philippines.  And a first trip into Guatemala and Honduras.  And Columbia.  You know what I’ve discovered?  People.

People have one thing in common throughout the world.  Socialization.  Very rarely have I been afraid or concerned.  Lost, confused, miserable, hungry.  But rarely concerned.  People are people everywhere.

We will have a good time!


About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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