When it comes to Australasia, we are really taking about Australia. However, the kiwis do stand up to this sometimes. Geographically, the 10+ million km² of Australia clearly dwarves the little specks of land that the islands in the south and west pacific combined. So, we define Oceania to include all the islands in the Pacific ocean – except Hawaii and Easter Island. Here in this map you can see the political divisions.
Despite what you may think, we had been to Australia only on five separate journeys each*. Remember this country is the same size as Europe, though it may not have as colorful diversity. Well, we might have to take that back… Again another continent of contrasts, Australia has tropical north and a very temperate south. All the while the country’s weather is influenced by the great southern ocean. Our journeys had experience each of these extremes.
*Why five trips? While Suan had been to Brisbane and the gold coast without Mel, similarly Mel had been to Rockhampton without Suan.. huh?
Yes there was a time when Mel could not afford to travel as often as Suan. So she had set off with some colleagues to the gold coast where they also met with a high flying corporate lawyer who brought them to the glitzy casinos.
Mel on the other hand had the privilege of serving in the army (the Singapore one). And military exercises in Australia are commonplace with the inter-nation agreements.
He actually spent 3 weeks in the outback with only 3 days in civilization. So, it’s not really a holiday.
Btw, it is a great thing to be in the outdoors looking at the stars at night. You can really see the milky way on a clear night!
But where we were the dynamic duo, we
– swam/snorkeled in the great barrier reef using Cairns as a base.
– hiked to the 3 sisters in the blue mountains and trekked Kalbarri national park.
– drove along the great ocean road and flew around to see the apostles.
– pounded the streets of Sydney and shopped till we dropped.
Lots of fun with outdoor activities and also good food, wine and beautiful landscapes. Now some folks like to retire in Australia (don’t ask why), but it ain’t affordable to really do so. We are so fortunate for Singapore has so many direct flights both full service and budget to all of the major gateways of the island continent.
Of course we also visited friends in Australia that we met while journeying in Europe, both before we moved there and after. Many were older couples who were doing the trip of their lives. It is great to keep in touch with them even till today.
Very distinctly, we journeyed to twice to this southernmost English speaking country. First to the north island and the second to the south.
Our first journey to New Zealand was born out of sheer luck. Melvin had a lunch with some colleagues back in early 1995. There was a lucky draw for which the first prize was a pair of tickets. Short story : Mel won the top prize and tried to exchange it for a pair of Singapore-Sydney tickets. We had even planned down to the details of how we will explore Sydney.
No deal, the sponsor was the New Zealand tourism board…so we got a pair of tickets via MAS to fly into Auckland. It was also the first time that Mel and Suan traveled together…
And since we are there, we determined that we should touch the sights that were all around Auckland and Lake Taupo. Aside from cave tubing that we did not do (sigh), we’ve seen the caves at Waitomo and the geysers at Waimangu. It was actually winter when we went, so it was also our first real experience of the season.
The second journey was an 10-day trip in the late summer of 2002, just before our move to Holland. Actually it was another promotional trip with really cheap prices that induced (influenced) us to fly to New Zealand again.
This time we had a lot more adventures : helicopter to the top of Fox glacier with Mount Tasman in the back, flew down and trekked halfway up, saw penguins and went whale spotting via a plane! Penguins, Seals and Albatrosses were some of the fauna we said hello to.
The only place we want to revisit is probably Queenstown. We did not get to do all of the activities that the town is famed for. Except for bungee jumping, we probably like to be back try a couple other adventures. Definite a recommended stop for a few days.
We certainly also want to be back in the north island some day. Bays of islands seem to call out to us…
Now we have quite a few places in Oceania that is in our bucket list. But there being such an expanse of water between these places, means we need to make separate journeys. Unless we go YOLO and quit our jobs. Hmm…