There's plenty to love about travelling in Australia, plenty that you can and should appreciate. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, a place most people have to pay a lot of money for the privilege of coming to visit, and we get to experience it every day.
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Travel in Australia can be amazing. To visit your own country is to discover ancient cultures, beautiful landscapes, some of the world's best beaches, cosmopolitan cities and friendly people. It's something everyone should do.
However, it's not perfect. In some areas Australia lets itself down. Some of those factors are cultural, while others are just an unavoidable part of life here. If you're going to travel in Australia and you're going to enjoy yourself, these are the things that, right now, you just have to accept.
The prices are high
This is the most common complaint from overseas visitors as well as domestic travellers: everything in Australia costs too much. The hotels, the tours, the attractions, the food, the experiences. Super pricey. Go to Spain and you can get a glass of wine for a few Euros. Go to Thailand and you can live like a king for a couple of bucks. But in Australia? You'd better get saving. We can't match the prices of overseas destinations for a variety of reasons, and we probably never will.
You have to fly
Plenty of travellers love to use trains when they're travelling, whether it's for short intercity hops in Europe, or longer multi-night adventures in Russia or Asia. In Australia, however, you wouldn't travel by train. Unless you're prepared to spend up big on a luxury adventure, there's very little romance in train travel here. It's just not a system of transport we really use to cover the huge distances you find in Australia. Travellers are far better off using the budget airline network and just getting to their destinations fast.
See also: Stop whingeing about budget airlines
You have to give up somewhere else
This is another difficulty of travelling in Australia: to commit to a domestic holiday, you also have to effectively give up on an overseas journey. You're making a choice here. If you elect to see Uluru, or Tasmania, or the Great Barrier Reef, or the Barossa, you have to accept that on this holiday you won't be going to Vietnam, or Japan, or France, or India. For some people that's a big thing to dismiss.
The thrill isn't the same
There's no language barrier when you travel in Australia, unless you count the accents in country Queensland. There's no challenge to navigating a restaurant menu here, or to ordering a drink, or to getting from one place to another. Everything in Australia is predictable, safe, and easy. And in some ways that's great. For those who thrive on the dizzying confusion of foreign travel, however, that can be disappointing.
Our history is intangible
Circular Quay and The Rocks, Sydney Photo: Alamy
Australia's tangible history, its centuries-old buildings in places like the Rocks and Hobart, are fairly impressive - however, our past has a lot more to it than that. There have been human inhabitants in this country for possibly up to 80,000 years. The only thing is, however, that their history can't be seen or touched. Ancient Aboriginal culture is not represented by churches or old monuments. It's represented by stories and knowledge. That's exciting and fascinating, but it does require viewing cultural tourism in a different way.
Our snow is unpredictable
The Australian ski resorts are now coming to the end of what has been a cracker of a season; however, that's not always that case. If you're going to commit to a skiing or snowboarding holiday in Australia, you also have to accept that maybe the snow won't be so good this time. Maybe it'll be icy, maybe it'll be slushy. Or, maybe it will be a powdery wonderland. You just never know.
The service isn't always great
Travel in the US, and you get great service. Every time. Same in Canada. Travel in Southeast Asia and you'll probably be pretty well looked after too. Same goes for a lot of Europe. Australia, however, isn't quite so reliable. We don't have an ingrained service culture here, and travellers have to get used to the idea that they won't always be cared for in the same way as they would in a foreign country.
Longitude 131, Uluru.
I wrote a story a few weeks ago about Australian alternatives to popular overseas destinations, about the places you can go right here if you don't want to travel overseas. And we do have some truly great alternatives to the world's most famous attractions. However, they're not quite the same, and in some areas we'll never be able to compete. We'll never have the wildlife of southern and east Africa, or the art galleries of the European capitals, or the cultural exoticism of Asia or the Middle East. Sometimes it's best to just accept that, and concentrate on the attractions that make Australia unique.
Are there certain aspects of travel in Australia that we just have to accept? Or should things be different here?
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