10 things to do in Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral cluster at 350,000 square kilometers and over 2,500 kilometers long, consisting of 900 coral islands! The reef stretches along the east coast of Australia. The best way to explore the reef is by diving (there are plenty of tour operators on the coast who provide diving courses). You will see green turtles, dolphins, reef sharks, over one and a half thousand different species of fish and four thousand species of shellfish.
2. Go to the Opera in Sydney
The Opera House in Sydney is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. It is photographed as often as the pyramids in Egypt and the Colosseum in Italy. But how many people can boast of having been inside this famous structure? The building has four stages: a concert hall that seats up to 2,500 people, a drama theater, an opera house, and a studio theater. In addition, there is a cinema and two restaurants. During its existence the building has been visited by more than 40 million people from all over the world. The current schedule and other relevant information can be found on the website.
3. Conquer the Harbor Bridge
Harbor Bridge is the largest arched bridge in the world. It was opened in 1932. For those for whom simply admiring this architectural structure is not enough, you can climb it with a guide instructor. BridgeClimb organizes 3.5 hour climbs to the top of Harbor Bridge. From a height of 134 meters you can admire the Sydney Opera House and the panorama of the city. You can climb the bridge during the day and evening as well as at night. The cost of this pleasure – from $238. A bit pricey, but worth it to tell your friends later.
4. Ride over the mountain valley.
“Blue Mountains” is one of the largest national parks in Australia, located in the province of New South Wales, 100 kilometers from Sydney. Because of the large number of eucalyptus trees the mountains are shrouded in a blue haze, which is why the park got its name. The company “Scenic World Blue Mountains” offers an exciting opportunity to ride over the valley at an altitude of 270 meters in a special cabin, called “Skyway”. The total distance of the journey – 720 meters. The cabins have a transparent glass floor, which gives an extra feeling, and glass walls, thanks to which there is a stunning view of all four sides: the cliffs “Three Sisters”, the waterfall “Katumba”, the Jemison Valley, etc. There is a special pass for sale on the company’s website, which, in addition to the Skyway, includes unlimited rides on the Railway, Walkway hikes and a trip on the Cableway. The cost of the adult pass is $35.
5. Visit the Melbourne Cup races.
The Melbourne Cup has been called “the races that stop a nation.” Every year on the first Tuesday of November (November 6 in 2012), Victorians get a day off to go to the famous Flemington racetrack to see the race of the most famous horses from around the planet. And those who can’t attend the races “live” go to the pubs and watch them on TV. It is the duty of every Australian on this day to bet a few dollars on one of the horses.
6. Swim with dolphins
It’s not every day you get the chance to feed and swim with dolphins in the open sea, is it? In Australia, it’s available everywhere. The most famous places are the tourist resort of Manki Mia and Shark Bay. Munky Mia is located 800 km north of the city of Perth in Western Australia. Every day large flocks of dolphins come to the coast to play with humans. And those line up in huge lines to feed the animals.
7. Feed the kangaroos
Kangaroo Island is the third largest island in Australia, located 100 kilometers off the coast of Adelaide. The island’s main treasure is a huge number of animals, primarily kangaroos. You can see them at any time of the day. If you behave calmly, they will let you get very close to them. Usually newborn kangaroo cubs sit in the bags until ten months, and then they leave them.
8. See the Tasmanian Devil dance
The Tasmanian devil is the pride of Australia. Curiously enough, its population remains only on the island of Tasmania. These animals are famous for their ability to chew on almost any animal, even a predator, and at night they emit monstrous, ominous screams. To find out why this little animal is called the “devil”, you should visit one of the national parks: for example, the Tasmanian Devil Park, Naravntapu Park, etc.
9. See the rock art of the Australian Aborigines
Kakadu National Park has the most extensive “gallery” of ancient Aboriginal rock art. The age of the surviving drawings reaches 20,000 years! Aboriginal paintings are unique in that the drawings show internal organs in addition to the external appearance. The park is located 170 km away from the city of Darwin in the North of the continent.
10. Visit the southernmost part of Australia
1500 km southeast of the island of Tasmania is Macquarie, the southernmost part of Australia (equidistant from New Zealand and Antarctica). It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unusual location and unique plant and animal species. Sea elephants, penguins, albatrosses, harbor seals and other animals live on the island. Macquarie is more interesting to scientists, who often study the local flora and fauna. You can get here on a cruise ship, such as Orion Expedition, which takes tours to Antarctica through Macquarie. The cost is about $10,000 for a 12-day trip.
I moved to Perth.
Thanks to Zemfira for the exact lines – how much interest the country generates among compatriots was only revealed to me after I moved to this distant, and as one of my buddies called it for its shape, “drab” continent.
I always wanted to live in another country (I never thought about moving permanently). I loved and love to travel, learn the history of new places, get to know new people, their way of life – it has always been and still is the best way to emotionally “load”. But daring to assume that I would go so far away, I could not. It was, as they say, beyond my expectations. Clearly the idea of wanting to move for a while was formulated after a trip to London in 2012, where I went for the first time on my own, alone, for a month. London was my travel dream since the age of six, when my parents sent me to my English tutor and I first saw a picture of Big Ben in a textbook.
Since then the idea of moving has been ingrained in my mind, although at first I only considered Europe. I was lucky to move thanks to my employer. The international auditing company where I worked has a program where an employee can choose an office in another country for a two-year contract. When I received an offer from the Perth office, which was quite decent, I did not refuse. To be honest, when I left I was mentally sure I would be back in six months at the most.
By Australian standards, everything was arranged pretty quickly: in early 2015, I had interviews, and on April 1, 2015 I was sent an offer (the date seemed doubtful, I wondered if it was a prank). And already on June 6, 2015 I was merrily walking down the plane, shedding crocodile tears: on the one hand, the dream had come true, but on the other hand, it was very sad to leave the familiar life, even if, as it seemed to me at the time, not for long.
My employer collected all the documents for the visa and took care of all the arrangements. In less than a week I was issued work visa 457 “Temporary worked (Skilled) migration” for 4 years. All I had to do was to pass IELTS, fill the documents and pass X-Ray test.
Whether I will stay here forever, I haven’t decided yet. I live comfortably. Now I am independently seeking residence permit for 189 visa (Skilled Independent), then aiming to get citizenship. Australia is a unique country, sometimes I feel like in another planet, in a good sense.
The first thing I remember after arriving in town on Sunday night, Monday, were the deserted streets on the way from the airport (although it was only 1 am, there were no cars or people). And, as it turns out, this is one of the main differences between Perth, and Australia in general, and Moscow – the early pace of life. To paraphrase the Russian joke “He who wakes up early, lives beyond the Moscow Ring Road” into “He who wakes up early, lives in Australia”. Daylight hours start early, and at 5.30-6 pm (in summer) you can already see the first runners, and at 8 am a long line of office workers stretches for coffee. A 6:30 a.m. work email from a partner is not uncommon. Many companies have flexible schedules, and your workday can be arranged from 6-7 a.m. to 2-15 p.m. Standard office hours are from 8:45 / 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It closes pretty early, too. The first weekday attempts to have dinner at the oceanfront restaurant after 9pm on a weekday were unsuccessful. Australia is a great country to think about time management. Of course, compared to Moscow, where you can have dinner/buy groceries, and even drop in for a manicure literally around the clock, this rhythm of life seemed at first, to put it mildly, uncomfortable. I am a night owl, it was not easy to get used to the early regime. And then I appreciated the charms of morning runs and early breakfasts at the ocean with friends. And it’s not good to eat at night – it ruins your figure
Do I miss anything? I don’t think so. Maybe the snow, which I haven’t seen for 3.5 years. But it doesn’t stimulate me to come back to Moscow in winter – only in summer.
The language was at a good level at the time of the move, so I did not have much difficulty. There are no fundamental differences between classical Queens English and Australian English – it’s mostly a matter of habit and ear training. Australia is a kaleidoscope of cultures, so non-native speakers are tolerated. I had a harder time getting used to Asian and Hindu accents. The main thing is to respect the language and try to speak grammatically correct, and the accent is a gain. But you will have to learn some new words. Aussies’ bane is a desire to abbreviate everything: brekkie = breakfast, arvo = afternoon, cya=see you, etc., etc. My name with a light hand of Australians turned into Nat G or Gusi.
There are many Russian speakers here, I would say there is a whole Russian-speaking community. Perth has an Orthodox church, also celebrates May 9 in a friendly manner and brings flowers to the eternal flame. Most of my friends are also Russian, who worked in international companies and moved for work.
Pros and cons
Perth is small, about two million people, but organized very intelligently. Everything is at hand, the city is actively growing and developing, but so far in the golden mean, not overpopulated. It is very clean, there is not even dust on your shoes. The city has lovely parks with delightful lawns and equipped barbecues, bicycle and jogging paths. Perth is one of the most remote cities in the world. Australia is a country with infrequent cities, so most traffic is by air, and if you’re travelling by car, you’d better stock up on extra fuel cans.
Transportation. In the center there are free buses, very comfortable. It takes me 10-15 minutes to get from home to work, which is very convenient especially when you remember standing in traffic jams in Moscow for hours. There is no metro in the city, but instead there is a system of trains to the suburbs. A car here is not a luxury at all, but a means of transport. I bought a car used, most of them are in excellent condition because of the mild climate and excellent road quality. The question to the previous owner “where to pour the antifreeze” put him on the spot.
The penalties for breaking the rules are high. For example, you cannot even touch the phone screen while driving – the penalty is $400, for evacuation of a car the penalty is about $350. The minimum penalty for speeding – $100. But you may drive after a glass of wine. In addition to monetary fines, there is a system of demerit points: for a particularly “serious” offense scores. For example, using the phone while driving – 3 points, and when the amount of points reaches 12, you have to say goodbye to the driver’s license.
Climate. The sun shines almost 365 days a year and that says it all. It rains rarely, the precipitation is mostly in winter. The climate compared to the East Coast of Australia is more favorable and stable, there is less precipitation (it’s about Melbourne they say “four seasons in a day”). Summer temperatures can reach 35 degrees, but you won’t feel the heat because of the sea breeze. The swimming season is from about late November to late March (walruses start earlier). In winter the temperature can fall to 5-8 degrees at night, and 15-20 degrees during the day. Once I saw hail. There is no heating in houses, so Australians are saved by uggs, heaters or heated sheets. My standard winter kit is sheepskin slippers, warm pajamas, and air conditioning on “heat” mode.
Beaches. May my opinion be subjective, I think the beaches of Perth are the most beautiful in Australia (forgive me the East Coast residents, but after the local beaches Bondi beach was very disappointing). The main plus – an endless strip of white sand and not a lot of people.
Food. When I came to the grocery store for the first time I felt as after the Soviet Union (for some reason it seemed to me, that this is how a Soviet citizen should feel, having faced a bourgeois variety after many years of deficit). Vegetables and fruits are fresh and varied. After living here for three years, I still find new fruit at the market (ice-cream fruit – last week’s discovery).
Divine cheeses, fresh local seafood of all kinds. Australia takes great pride in its own produce, and you can often see the words “Australian grown” on the packages. As a consequence the Australians are on the look out for ecologically unique local flora and fauna – you’ll be asked to fill in a declaration form before you get on the plane, make sure you’re not bringing in any prohibited products (for example, Western Australia is the only state where it’s illegal to bring in honey).
As for the cuisines of other countries, there is also a huge variety of Indian, Asian, South African stores. There is no real Russian store in Perth, but there is a store of European foods, where you can buy sauerkraut, buckwheat, and real marshmallow “Charmelle”.
There’s no Australian cuisine as such, except for vegemite, Pavlov’s dessert (though there’s still a row with New Zealand over the primacy of the idea), lamington, and, of course, kangaroo. I myself converted to vegetarianism after a year of living here.
Australia is a country of coffee addicts, whose “cult” I joined immediately. It’s a country of coffee devotees, and I joined in right away. There are no Starbucks coffeehouses in Perth, and coffee in Perth is one of the most expensive in Australia.
Culture. What was greatly missed on arrival was the seeming lack of culture in the city. Of course, Australia is not a place where tourists go to learn history: the number of museums, galleries and monuments of architecture is not the same as in Europe. In Perth, maritime museums and the museum of shipwrecks, and there is a museum of Australia and the National Gallery.
Very interesting aboriginal paintings, for viewing it better go to Melbourne. In Australia there are some of the oldest samples of rock art – in the caves of Kakadu National Park, which already more than 50 thousand years. In the center of Australia is sacred to the aborigines of the year Uluru. Unfortunately, with the arrival of colonizers a large number of Aboriginal people were exterminated, and as a consequence – irrevocably lost their native languages.
The classical dramatic theater, opera, and ballet are, of course, inferior to the Russian and world ones in terms of training and skill. But modern ballet, a decent symphony orchestra, and good jazz clubs are good. Perth hosts an annual arts festival where you can see interesting contemporary productions. Once a year, the city parks show free opera and hold an open-air symphony orchestra concert. It’s unusual to sit on the grass with a picnic and enjoy classical music, but that’s Australia.
The holidays, of course, are not as numerous as in Russia, the main ones are: Australian day (Australian Independence Day, when everyone lounges on the beach during the day and enjoy the fireworks in the evening), ANZAC Day (a controversial holiday, originally introduced as a day of remembrance of Australians and New Zealanders who died during the Dardanelles in World War I), Easter (a classic, it is customary to eat cross-buns and bury chocolate rabbits in the garden to the delight of children), Queen’s Birthday (not the real birthday of the Queen, but it does not matter), Christmas and New Year Eve. But the atmosphere of the latter is hard to feel, lying on the beach under a palm tree in the 30-degree heat.
Sport. Excellent weather conditions have made Australia a paradise for leisure sports. Although the statistics are strange – 65% of Australians suffer from obesity, but along the waterfront and the ocean you can see runners from early morning until evening. Tennis, golf, of course, water sports – surfing, kite surfing, paddle-boarding, wake-boarding. I managed to try everything.
A very popular sport in Australia is Australian soccer (or footy – a simplified version of soccer, when the ball can be touched with the hands), cricket. In the winter in the city fill up a small skating rink.
Cost of living. I often hear that Australia is expensive, and at first I thought so too. But then you realize that for that price you get adequate quality products and services. What is really expensive compared to Moscow is medicine. The average apartment rental in the center of Perth, starting at 380-400 dollars a week (studio), one bedroom – c 450 dollars, cellular phones – from 40 dollars (depending on the amount of traffic included), electricity – about 50 dollars a month.
Australia is multicultural and multiethnic, and each culture has brought its own unique characteristics, but commonalities can be seen. People are very open, helpful and positive. Like to discuss plans for the weekend and impressions after. Inquisitive, not shy to ask personal questions. They take a keen interest in Russia, which really surprised me. A lot of people come to Australia, so making friends here is not a problem, there are a lot of thematic communities (internations.org).
You won’t find Russian hospitality here – it’s not customary to visit each other and bring presents, nor is it customary to host home parties. Instead everyone will go to a restaurant. Australians are unhurried, and I had to adapt to that, too. When asked “When is it needed?” my usual answer “Yesterday” had little effect.
Volunteering in different areas and charity (from collecting seaweed on the beach and walking dogs to cooking for the homeless) is widespread. I managed to take part in quite a few of these activities myself.
I work in an international company, doing external auditing. I changed employers this year, but stayed in the same field – I had a very good offer again. Due to the fact that a lot of guys come from different countries, there is no discrimination by nationality. If you are a good specialist, there is a place for you.
Australians are adept at maintaining a work-life balance. Family always comes first, and even if there is urgent work stuff on the horizon, colleagues can calmly say that they will not stay late, because there is a family dinner scheduled for tonight. At first this was at odds with my Stakhanovite rhythm of life in Moscow. Work is treated as work, taking a break for a few months or going on a trip after graduation is quite common practice. Office drinks every Friday are a sacred thing. As they say, a war is a war, but drinks are on schedule. It’s part of the culture.
Western Australia is heavily dependent on the extractive sector, in general due to unstable resource prices many real sector extractive companies are making or planning to make cuts. In auditing, the salary fork is about $70,000-$90,000 (Senior Accountant), $100,000 and up (Manager).
About the main point.
Australia is the land of opportunity. It is difficult to judge myself, but I think I became a more open and positive person, I revised my priorities, especially concerning work-life balance. The country has given the opportunity to get acquainted with people from absolutely different corners of the world, learn about their way of life, traditions and customs. Any emigration is a break in principles and way of life, but I have always believed that wherever you can live, you can live well.