Nearly two weeks have passed here in Australia, and its been a whirlwind trip....I may need a vacation to recover from this vacation. I started in Melbourne, where I arrived off an 18-hour flight from LA to friends who swiftly took me on a 4-hour bike tour of the city. The pace of these travels hasn't slowed since. Three days in Melbourne was enough to see the spectacular Twelve Apostles by helicopter, drive the Great Ocean Road, hike through coastal rainforests, tour the harbour by yacht, swim in the bay, log some QT on the beach and taste a bit of the city's nightlife. On to Sydney, friends and I found ourselves house-sitting a beautiful apartment in Darling Point overlooking the opera house and harbor bridge. We hiked the Spit to Manly and dipped in the water at stunning secluded beaches along the way. We kayaked from Rose Bay to a national park on Sydney Harbor, and walked barefoot on dirt trails through rich tropical vegetation. On the way home, as winds picked up, we found ourselves competing with 50 ft sailboats and playing chicken with jet powered racing boats. From Sydney, we flew north to Hervey Bay and traveled by ferry to Fraser Island, a mostly uninhabited island where the only method of transport is 4x4 over sandy roads and beaches. I finished the trip in Byron Bay, a town on the northeastern coast that is the Australian version of Berkley (on the ocean), though with far more attractive people, most of whom are blonde and bronzed.
While the vegetation and wildlife in Australia are totally unique and awesome (I watched a rosella land on our balcony in Sydney, saw kangaroos, koalas, echidnas and dingos roam wild and anticipated the nightly arrival of flying foxes to Sydney at sunset), the most amazing part of Australia is the people. There is a certain friendliness and cordiality that you experience unlike other places in the world that I've visited. Australians have a positive outlook that trumps every other culture I know. They are so encouraging, supportive and respectful towards each other, I began to feel intimidated towards the end of the trip and ashamed of my relatively cynical ways. It's as though they see the world as one big happy family traveling on a voyage together, helping each other along the way. Australians are also extremely laid back, light and not at all dramatic. While the country certainly lacks the intensity of the USA and specifically, NYC, their unique outlook and perspective made me consider, on more than one occasion, what life there might be like. I couldn't help but wonder if life in Australia might be a happier, less stressful existence overall. Upon arriving back home though on Sunday, I quickly remembered what I liked so much about Brooklyn and designs on life in Australia were postponed for another day.