The story appears on

Page A8-9

June 19, 2019

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Falling under the spell of a journey Down Under

Travel is sometimes like life itself — you can never be quite sure what will happen next. That was the feeling of expectation when I embarked on a 19-day trip in Australia, from Sydney on the mid-coast to the southernmost state of Tasmania. I had hoped to cap the trip by viewing the southern lights, or aurora australis, in Tasmania but weather stymied my chance.

Even so, the trip was fascinating.

Australia has become a familiar country to Chinese people. Many students study there, and many families have emigrated. In fact, Mandarin is the most-spoken language in the nation after English.

Asian faces can be seen everywhere, and authentic Cantonese, Sichuan, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese restaurants abound.

The trip in Australia started with a pleasant weekend in the first stop, Sydney. Staying in a hotel just five minutes’ walk from Darling Harbour, I decided to first explore the famous Sydney Fish Market.

As the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, it sources seafood from both Australian and foreign waters, trading over 13,500 tons of 500 seafood species annually. It’s a place that will trigger hunger pangs for all seafood lovers.

In fact, a glass of cold beer with local seafood is available everywhere along Darling Harbour. Local residents walk there, children play in the park, and fireworks light the sky on Saturday night.

The first-day tour was filled with sites to visit: the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral, the Sunday Market at The Rocks and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, an exposed sandstone rock carved into the shape of a bench by convicts. It’s a reminder that Australia began as a prison colony for British convicts and society misfits.

The start of the trip was relaxing but expectations were high for the coming days of travel in this sunny land.

Instead of spending most of my time in popular tourist places like Sydney, Melbourne or the Gold Coast, my ultimate destination was Tasmania, an island about twice the size of China’s Taiwan.

From Sydney, driving in a camper van, I took the A1 coastal highway south. With mountains to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, the drive is beautiful and there are unforgettable memories forged from stopovers in caravan villages.

Heading toward Melbourne in Victoria state, I passed through Bateman Bay, Jervis Bay, Merimbula Beach, Narooma and Eden Town, all deserved a stop.

Montague Island Nature Reserve, just off the south coast near Narooma, offers the chance to experience a spectacular wildlife wonderland. It is home to hundreds of seals and more than 90 bird species.

Taking a cruise to the sea area, I was fortunate enough to see whales, seals and dolphins, and I was impressed by the protection afforded to the nature of the area.

Some 600 kilometers from Narooma, the caravan arrived at Phillip Island in the state of Victoria on an extremely rainy night. But that didn’t dim interest in seeing the local penguins. No wonder the island is also known as Penguin Island.

Besides seeing Little Penguins returning to the beach at sunset after a day of fishing and observing sleepy koalas in their natural gum tree habitat, other highlights of the island include the National Vietnam Veterans Museum, pelican feeding, the 19th-century-style working Churchill Farm and the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Center. This is your chance to experience the iconic venue up close.

Two days of the trip were devoted to the Great Ocean Road along the southern Victorian coastline. The 243-kilometer stretch of road offers breathtaking sea views and sites such as the Cape Otway Lighthouse, the Twelve Apostles rock formations and London Bridge.

Driving a camper van brought me in contact with Australian people at different caravan parks. Friendly, self-catering beach cabins were impressive, especially in Merimbula Beach and Apollo Bay. A barbecue party with a spectacular ocean view is hard to get in any downtown hotel.

The flight from Melbourne to Launceston, Australia’s third-oldest city located on the northern coast of Tasmania, took less than one hour. I rented an SUV at the airport of Launceston. Tasmania is a popular fly-and-drive destination.

Driving on the left side of the road was a challenge requiring concentration and strict adherence to local traffic rules.

The next legs of the trip were full of surprises. I drove along the Tamar River Valley, stopping to sample the famous wines of the region. Heading for the east coast, I stopped for a walk at the Bay of Fires in Bicheno, which is famous for crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches and orange lichen-covered granite boulders. It is one of Tasmania’s most popular conservation reserves.

Further down the east coast, I climbed to the top of Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park. The views are breathtaking. Oysters, when in season, are fresh and delectable.

Finally arriving in Hobart, capital of Tasmania, I enjoyed a sunset in the suburb of Sandy Bay. Mount Wellington, at 1,270 meters, towers over the city.

There’s a road going all the way to the top, with an observation deck to shield visitors from the extreme wind. I stopped in Richmond just east of Hobart. It’s Australia’s oldest town, which still retains an old English ambience. While there, I sampled the local delicacy, scallop pie.

Tasmania can feel like the edge of the world. Indeed, there’s only the wild Southern Ocean separating it from Antarctica. The island is full of untouched natural beauty, unique wildlife and the sense of a tranquil escape from frenetic urban life.

Those who find themselves in Hobart on a Saturday can enjoy the weekly Salamanca Market, an outdoor festival of booths selling everything from local honey and fresh farm produce to lavender sachets and soap, products made from polished native woods, secondhand books and locally made skin-care products. It’s a great place to stroll, mix with the locals and perhaps pick up some souvenirs.

Various food vans provide refreshments, from Western and Asian snacks to ice cream, handcrafted coffees and freshly roasted nuts.

May is late autumn in Tasmania, and 15 degrees Celsius, even under the sunshine, wasn’t as warm as I imagined.

Still, I enjoyed a fresh strawberry ice cream while listening to the music of a street busker. It was unexpectedly romantic.

I especially enjoyed watching the locals — buying a bouquet of flowers, hesitating over which ceramic vase to buy or sharing an ice-cream cone with a loved one.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend