Sunday, February 21, 2010

An unapologetic apology for a boring tourist destination: Australia

Folks, have you ever had a time in your life when you were little and had a monthly pocket money allocation from your parents. You decided to spend it wisely and saved it. Then one day an ice cream truck arrived at your doorstep and you went and bought a flavor that was colorful and new in his collection not minding the fact that it was expensive? only to find out that it tasted like nothing and you'd to throw it down the crap-bin? That was my Australia experience in a nutshell.

Before you read on you must be aware that I am particularly critical of holiday destinations that don't provide value for money or uniqueness or misrepresent what they actually are. I have also lived for six years in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, San Francisco and spent an awfully long time vacationing in the islands of Hawaii and in great city of Vancouver.

Start of Trip:


Perhaps the most boring city of the developed world. This city has nothing to offer. The city tour takes you though a concrete jungle with nothing in it. Then they take you to the place where 'Vegemite' was made. Vegemite, as ive mentioned earlier is the only Australian produce of any significance. Some mad scientist with the objective of creating the 'food pill' (as seen in sci-fi movies where food is compressed into a tablet and consumed) for children. The result a horrible tasting bread-spread that could have been used in Guantanamo bay for torture. Besides this, the tour drops you off for long halts at the unimpressive botanical garden which has limited species of flora. So, at this time you are just killing time.

The next part of the trip is to get to the Philip Island to watch the Penguins. The trip begins at 7:00 AM because the drive is long. The bus driver is extremely enthusiastic about telling the passengers the nitty gritty details on these penguins. After about four hours of knowing where the penguins get their pedicures and massages to how much they charge for Lamaze classes you are bored out of your wits end and want to get the hell out of the bus. The end is not near though. You are escorted through a couple of pit stops for no explained reason before you hit the penguin beach. The phenomenon of penguins taking the cover of dark to quietly move back into their holes (homes) is unique. It occurs just at night fall and takes about 15 min to watch. Then reality sorta slaps you in the face. You just spent hundreds of dollars to ride a bus about 4 hours to see some penguins for 15 min. Then there's a penguin store, a penguin food court, a penguin gallery, a penguin blah blah blah before you are escorted to the bus and shown another Penguin movie on the way back to your hotel (another 3-4 hours).

If this wasnt bad enough we booked a tour to visit the 12 apostles. The natural rock/ limestone formations in the sea. Another day when your day starts off at 7: 00 AM and you spend infinite time in a bus. After a bunch of senseless pit stops called nature points you finally arrive at the 12 apostles only to find out that the best view is from a helicopter ride that is not covered in the tour. The helicopter ride is about 10 min and costs $ 100 (aussie money). I remember paying $ 150 for a 1 hour ride over the grand canyon. You realize that this is daylight robbery, but, have no choice. You have come this far, so, might as well go all the way. The helicopter ride shows you in 10 minutes something that's half as impressive at the grand canyon not to mention broken. I should have asked for some money back when I heard only 10 apostles are now standing :-)). That's it its all over. Then you're back on the bus traveling another 5 hours on the great ocean road to the hotel.


Perhaps the only place worth visiting in Australia. A very picturesque city with the great barrier reef that has a unique display of aquatic life that's worth seeing. Even if you are not a water person, there's lot to do in Cairns and surroundings. I would suggest the Kuranda village outing and the glider ride over Jacques coffee plantation.

Gold Coast:

Another scam of a city. Gold Coast is located south of Cairns and has an airport having very few flights in and out. Therefore your choice is to fly into Brisbane and take a train or bus or taxi to GC. Gold Coast is a theme park town. The main attractions are the Sea World, Dream World and Wet and Wild. As compared to the Sea World USA, this one is a joke, so, I wont even bother going there. The Dream World is a very very small version of Nickelodeon park, San Jose. We didn't bother going to wet and wild. Bottom line is that if you are going to Gold Coast for anything other than to tell friends you have visited another Aussie city, dont. There is nothing here. It just has a few very beautiful and very unsafe beaches.


This was perhaps the most disappointing of all cities in Australia. I thought it would be vibrant and lively, but, the city lacks character and is boring at best. Besides an opera house that looks like a practical joke and a bridge that is least bit impressive this city has nothing else to sport. I dont know why anyone would want to visit Sydney..... seriously.


Shopping stores close at 5:00 PM or 5:30 pm depending on town. A very very retarded concept for a country that manufactures nothing and exports coal & uranium and whose major industry is tourism. Tourists like to shop in the evening.... I think so, but, that's just me.

Bottom line is that during our journey we found that there were racial overtures everywhere we went. People were rude and unfriendly in general (There were some very very friendly people as well). We had one incident with 20-somethings uttering racial slur at us thinking that this Indian family wont understand what they were referring to. Everywhere we went, a sense of discomfort was lurking in the air. Its a feeling Ive never felt in the USA or even in xenophobic European nations and one that made my entire family uncomfortable through the trip. Its something that is very unique to Australia. So, if you want to experience Racism in its true sense and you are not Caucasian then please visist this beautiful Island nation.

Bear in mind that a taste of Racism is also very expensive. A roadside square meal for four (2 adults + 2 kids) runs in three digit dollars and what's more its bad in taste.

If you still feel like visiting Australia, book an open ticket and take the extra flight to San Francisco. The USA is as boring, but, much much better than dark OZ land.

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