Australia | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:01:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Australia | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Moving to Australia Checklist https://moon.com/2017/10/moving-to-australia-checklist/ https://moon.com/2017/10/moving-to-australia-checklist/#respond Fri, 27 Oct 2017 17:04:23 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=59577 To help you set out on your own adventure, we've put together a moving to Australia checklist spanning six months before the move to the week after you've arrived in your new home.

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When we finally got the call that our visa to Australia had come through, we cracked open a bottle of bubbly. After months of filling out forms, answering awkward questions, numerous health checks, and copying and scanning countless documents, we felt we had conquered the mountain and had reached the summit. We were finally legal and allowed to move on to the next step of our adventure: moving overseas.

To help you set out on your own adventure, we’ve put together a moving to Australia checklist spanning six months before the move to the week after you’ve arrived in your new home.

Boxes filled with household items for a move.

Start packing for your move to Australia at least four weeks in advance. Photo © Kurhan/123rf.

Six Months Before the Move

  • Check out schools in Australia.
  • Review your relocation package, if you have one, and determine what expenses will be paid by your company.
  • Start a log of moving expense receipts; some may be tax deductible.
  • Get written estimates from moving companies, including their written commitment of pickup and delivery dates. Get references. Check the limits of insurance they offer, and if it covers replacement costs.
  • Purchase additional insurance if necessary.
  • Arrange for a storage facility if you plan to store any of your belongings. Again, check on insurance.
  • Check that your pets’ vaccinations are up to date.
  • Arrange an export service for pets and automobiles, if needed.
  • Get your medical and dental records prepared for transfer.
  • Put your house on the market for sale or rent.

Two Months Before the Move

  • Secure temporary or permanent accommodations in Australia.
  • Enroll your children at your chosen school.
  • Contact your bank to arrange transfer of your accounts; order checks with your new address; clean out your safety deposit box.
  • Submit change-of-address forms to the post office; mail postcards to friends and creditors.
  • Give your day care center proper notice of withdrawal.
  • Contact schools and arrange for transfer of student records.
  • Contact your doctors to double-check that medical records are ready to go.
  • Change your insurance policies on property, cars, and health.
  • Organize all important documents in a fire-safe box. Include school records, home purchase and sale papers, wills, marriage and divorce papers, pet documents, financial records, stock certificates, Social Security cards, birth certificates, and passports.
  • Give notice of resignation to any clubs, organizations, or volunteer activities you belong to.
  • Cancel newspaper subscriptions, and change your address for any magazine subscriptions you intend to keep.
  • Arrange for hotels, rental cars, or temporary housing as needed.

Four Weeks Before the Move

  • Take a ruthless walk-through to determine what you really want to take with you.
  • Tag the rest of it and hold a garage sale, or call a charity to pick it up.
  • Clean out club, gym, and school lockers; pick up all dry cleaning.
  • Arrange for disconnection or changeover of utilities.
  • Have measurements taken of the rooms in your new residence and use floor plans to determine where everything will go.
  • Begin packing less-used items. Number and label each box, and keep an inventory.
  • Retrieve and return all borrowed items from neighbors and friends; return library books.
  • Clean out the cupboards and plan remaining meals so you can pack what you don’t need, and don’t buy any more perishables than you have to.

One Week Before the Move

  • Make an inventory list of all items going with you personally. Keep valuable and irreplaceable items such as jewelry and heirlooms with you, not movers.
  • Confirm arrangements and dates with moving and storage companies.
  • Confirm arrangements with auto and pet transportation companies.
  • Confirm hotel, rental car, or temporary housing accommodations.
  • Disassemble furniture or other items.
  • Sell your car.
  • Be sure to check yards and sheds for all items to pack.
  • Inform friends and relatives of your forwarding address.
  • Take pictures of furniture or get fabric samples for anything you will want to reference for color or decorating before your goods are delivered to your new home.
  • Set aside a box of cleaning supplies and the vacuum cleaner.
  • Have cards and gifts ready for the kids to give to their friends, complete with the new address and social media contacts.

One or Two Days Before the Move

  • Clean and defrost refrigerator and freezer.
  • Withdraw cash needed for the move, and convert currency.
  • Reconcile and close bank accounts, unless you will be using another branch of the same bank.
  • Conclude financial matters relating to the sale or rent of your home.
  • The movers or you should complete packing of all household goods for the move.

Moving Day

  • Confirm delivery address, directions, and delivery date with the movers.
  • Carefully supervise the move. Make sure boxes are clearly marked and your instructions are understood.
  • Clean the home and check the entire grounds before leaving.
  • Check the thermostat and make sure the temperature is set appropriately. Make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked, and all appliances are turned off. Leave your forwarding address, garage door openers, and any keys, if agreed to, for the new owners or renters.
  • If your home is going to be vacant when you leave, make sure a relative, neighbor, or real estate agent has the keys and can contact you. Also, notify your insurance agent and police department that the home will be empty.
  • Meet up with friends, relax, and look forward to your adventure. It’s really happening.

Arrival Day

  • Get a new SIM card at the airport or get a new cell phone, and let friends and family and your moving company know your new number.
  • Check to make sure all utilities are on and working properly.
  • Let family members or friends know you have arrived safely. Check in with your employer and real estate agent to confirm itineraries.
  • Check in with the moving company to confirm the exact date of arrival of your container.
  • For any airfreighted boxes, supervise the moving crew on the location of the furniture and boxes. Begin unpacking necessary basics first—kitchen utensils, bath toiletries, and so on.
  • Go over the bill of lading from the moving company very carefully before signing; check for damaged items first, as it is usually binding once signed.
  • Try to stay up until bedtime. It will help you cope with adjusting to the new time zone. Explore at least the block around your new place and point out exciting finds to the kids. You have arrived in Australia!

One Week after Arrival

  • Get a tax number in Australia and register with your local embassy.
  • Look into buying a car.
  • Organize school uniforms for the children.
  • If you have a pet in quarantine, go and visit so they know they’re not alone.
  • Meet the neighbors.
  • Check out some local sports clubs and log on to an expat forum or join the Australian American Association in your city. It’s time to make new friends.

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Living Abroad Australia.

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Where to Live in Australia https://moon.com/2017/09/where-to-live-in-australia/ https://moon.com/2017/09/where-to-live-in-australia/#respond Wed, 13 Sep 2017 15:05:14 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=59583 When tourists visit Australia, they head for Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef, maybe to the Outback. But choosing where to live in Australia is far different from where to visit. The most popular expat destinations in Australia are all among these six.

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When tourists visit Australia, they tend to head for Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef, maybe to the Outback for a taste of Australian country culture and the opal mines, Uluru (Ayers Rock), or even Kakadu. But visiting a country for leisure and moving to a country to lead your life are completely different. You can explore the continent as much as your free time allows once you’re living here, but first you need to figure out where to live in Australia.

There are six regions where expats and immigrants typically live: the main cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the political capital of Canberra, the leisure capital of Brisbane and the nearby Gold Coast, the southwestern cities of Adelaide and Perth, and Hobart, capital of Tasmania, which offers some of the best landscapes and outdoor pursuits and is the most atmospheric major city. Many expats choose to live in one of these six locations because of the employment opportunities as well as the amenities the cities offer. Also, more than 85 percent of Australians live within 50 kilometers of the coast, which is where all the major cities lie. There are expats who choose to make a living in the Outback, but the most popular expat destinations in Australia are all among these six.

view of the rooftops and apartment buildings in suburban Sydney

Sydney is popular with immigrants because it has the biggest economy, the most jobs, and the diversity of needs that often require foreign talent. Photo © vale_t/iStock.

Sydney

The vast majority of immigrants, especially from the United States, end up in Sydney, which has the biggest economy, the most jobs, and the diversity of needs that often require foreign talent. Sydney is the most international city in Australia and takes distinct pride in its diversity as well as in the energy and pace that ethnic diversity brings to city life. Many newcomers come to work in the finance industry and its many related businesses, such as law firms, many of which are based here.

Sydney is the New York of Australia in many respects. It is the financial capital, the population center, the oldest city, and like New York has a famous harbor and architectural landmarks like the Harbour Bridge and the famed opera house. It is the most cosmopolitan of Australian cities and sees itself as a “world city,” a status confirmed by the incredible economic and prestige-gaining success of the 2000 Olympic Games.

Sydney has its critics, especially in other Australian cities, though rarely for its splendid weather and never for its spectacular setting. Residents in other cities feel that their own regions are more typical or authentically Australian, and like New Yorkers, Sydneysiders are thought by people from other parts of Australia to be brash and domineering. It is the most Americanized of Australian cities, and perhaps the most Americanized city outside North America.

Earlier criticisms of Sydney living, which focused on its wretched traffic and the high cost of living, are typical of any bustling major city, but Sydney has gone to considerable lengths to improve its automobile traffic with extensive expressway building. Its public transportation system is also extensive, and many Sydneysiders live without cars, even though Australia has high per-capita car ownership.

Besides its idyllic setting and great weather, the fast-growing and dynamic economy and proximity to the U.S. West Coast are a recipe for strong immigrant interest. It’s overwhelmingly the top choice among immigrants, and roughly one-third of Sydney’s inhabitants were born overseas, far more than in other Australian cities. In fact, more overseas immigrants live in Sydney than the population of cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, and Hobart. No matter how popular Sydney is for tourists, for immigrants it is even more so.

view of the Melbourne skyline over suburban houses

Melbourne is widely considered to be the cultural capital of the country. Photo © Zarnell/iStock.

Melbourne

Second only to Sydney is the large metropolis of Melbourne, famously home to a vast population of southern Europeans. It attracts flocks of students and academics who attend some of the country’s most revered learning and research institutions, such as the University of Melbourne and Monash University.

While Melbourne might not quite rival Sydney for the pace of life or financial importance, it is widely considered to be the cultural capital of the country, and academics that can manage a posting to Melbourne University will be happy with the experience. The unique Australian sports culture has also found a home in Melbourne, which is the heartland of Australia’s own Australian Rules football, played in front of huge crowds at venues around the city. There is also the popular Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Formula 1 Grand Prix car race, horse racing, tennis, and more. The city is filled with galleries, museums, music-filled nightclubs, extensive Victorian parks, and well-protected Victorian architecture, especially in the
inner-city suburbs.

Interestingly, for all the attention that Sydney receives, Melbourne has been growing faster than Sydney in population and income since 2000, and Melbourne’s population is nearing that of its larger rival. While Sydney wows visitors with its stunning locale and setting, Melbourne is generally acknowledged to be a better place to live; people are generous, easygoing, and comfortable, drawing newcomers in more slowly but with a tighter grip.

modern apartment buildings along the river in Brisbane

Apartment buildings line the waterfront in Brisbane. Photo © ymgerman/iStock.

Brisbane and the Queensland Coast

Tourism professionals and retirees tend to focus their immigration search on the tiny strip of land comprising Brisbane and the Gold Coast of Queensland. Tropical weather and massive government investment have produced a swath of resorts, golf courses, and condo complexes that complement the extensive collection of white-sand tropical beaches. The city is also famed as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. It is absolutely the number-one destination for retirement relocations and by those seeking a warmer climate or a more laid-back culture.

The region comprises three areas. The attractive city of Brisbane itself has urban dwellers occupying towers along the Brisbane River. To the south is the Gold Coast, the more established beach center but far more commercial, with glistening beachside condo towers that would not be out of place in Florida or Hawaii. The weather is good year-round, and it has better affordability than established markets in the United States, making it a compelling alternative to similar locations in the Northern Hemisphere. To the north is the comparable but lesser known Sunshine Coast, which tends to attract price-takers plus those who want a quieter beachside lifestyle than the bustling Gold Coast provides.

bridge over a canal in Canberra

The Kingston Foreshore suburb along the canal to the lake in Canberra. Photo © Daniiielc/iStock.

Canberra

Next to Melbourne, the national capital, Canberra, is home base for many newcomers—typically expats more than permanent immigrants—serving in diplomatic posts, attending or teaching at the Australian National University, or working for nongovernmental organizations or lobbying firms based in the capital. Canberra has a population of only 386,000 and is by far the newest of the major Australian urban centers, dating to 1913 with most of its development since World War II.

An old Australian political cartoon features a stern judge pronouncing, “I sentence you to live in Canberra.” But times have changed. Its central planning, lakeside setting, and extensive preservation of bushland and greenbelts have made it one of the greenest and most pastoral of cities. It is the largest Australian city in the bush, rather than on the coast, which gives it distinctive scenery and weather. It also has the best traffic-congestion conditions of any city in Australia.

rooftops and view of the water in Hobart

Hobart is popular with visitors, but less popular with the permanent population. Photo © Redzaal/iStock.

Hobart

Tasmania is a bit like a forgotten cousin when it comes to Australia. Some think it is another country altogether; others just forget to mention that it is indeed an Australian state, and one of its prettiest. A mere one-hour flight or 14-hour overnight ferry ride from Melbourne, Tasmania is a wild isle full of stunning scenery and smaller towns and villages. The capital, Hobart, is the smallest Australian capital city, with a tiny population of just over 200,000. Atmospheric, bustling, and full of restaurants and arts venues, Hobart is popular with visitors, although it must be said, less popular with the permanent population. The island as a whole suffers from an exodus of young and middle-age career-minded residents, who leave to seek employment elsewhere in Australia due to the lack of local opportunities, only to return later to settle or retire.

For expats, unless you will be building your career around outdoor pursuits, relocation is likely to come through industry-specific jobs or academic and scientific work, as Hobart is the outpost for Antarctic research. It is a small island population-wise, and a fair percentage of the residents are either related to one another or at least know each other’s business. If you are accepted into the group, though, and you are not a dedicated city dweller, Hobart and its surroundings can offer some of the best Australian living.

aerial view of suburban Perth

More than 70 percent of the population of Western Australia lives in the Perth metropolitan area. Photo © opium_rabbit/iStock.

Southwestern Australia

Unlike the other prime living locations, which focus on small and distinct sections of the country, southwestern Australia refers to an enormous section of the country about the size of Texas. In a practical sense, it’s divided between the metropolitan areas of Adelaide and environs in South Australia and Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

As beautiful as the southwest is, and popular with tourists, relocations typically tend to these two cities because of industry-specific job hires or transfers; Adelaide is a major center for the auto industry and the primary center for Australia’s famed wine industry. Perth is home to the mining industry and is a major center for oil and gas exploration.

Adelaide is situated in the south-central region of the country, about 1,000 kilometers northwest of Melbourne, and it is the gateway to the famed Barossa Valley, Australia’s primary wine center. The parklike city has long ago outgrown its original greenbelts, which once served as the city border and now are an inner-city ring, but it remains one of the prettiest urban designs in the country.

Perth, which is popular with UK expats as well as the mining industry, is in the big leagues when it comes to iron, bauxite, and other primary mineral recovery companies. Oil and gas exploration continues to take place offshore, and overall Perth has ridden a resources boom that has made it Australia’s third largest and fastest-growing city, where execs can commute from beachside suburbs to jobs in buildings along the majestic Swan River without the commuting hassle that haunts those who choose Sydney and Melbourne.

Both Adelaide and Perth are highly urbanized cities. More than 70 percent of the population of Western Australia lives in the Perth metropolitan area, and the same ratio holds for Adelaide and the state of South Australia. By contrast, 60 percent of the population of New South Wales lives in Sydney.

Plan your move abroad with this essential information on the most popular destinations in Australia for expats to live.


Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Living Abroad Australia.

The post Where to Live in Australia appeared first on Moon Travel Guides.

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Comparing the Cost of Living in Australia vs US https://moon.com/2017/09/comparing-cost-living-australia-vs-us/ https://moon.com/2017/09/comparing-cost-living-australia-vs-us/#respond Thu, 07 Sep 2017 21:42:06 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=59593 Every few years, Mercer Consulting releases a study showing the comparative cost of living in various cities around the world. Here's how Australia's major expat destinations ranked, along with sample prices of everyday items.

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Living in Australia is not cheap, even if the high standard of living makes it very livable; the quality of life here comes at a price. The 2016 Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey rated Sydney and Melbourne as Australia’s most expensive cities, with Sydney 42nd and Melbourne 71st on the worldwide list, a dramatic drop in ranking due to the depreciation of the Australian dollar against the U.S. dollar.

Hands sorting through Australian currency

Living in Australia is not cheap, even if the high standard of living makes it very livable. Photo © David May/Dreamstime.com.

How much does it cost to live in Australia?

Minimum Standard of Living

In Australia, rent is quoted by the week, and the budgeting described here follows this pattern. Outside Sydney and Melbourne, life can be relatively affordable, but a good basic standard is to use $600 per week as a starting point for a minimal lifestyle for an individual, and add one-third for Sydney and Melbourne or about 10 percent for the other major cities. This would cover a modest shared flat in an accessible, relatively safe outlying suburb, basic utilities, a public transit card for commuting, and food and low-cost entertainment. This includes an allowance for a broadband Internet connection that will cost about $30 per month, but this will enable you to connect to Skype, often the expat’s best friend for international communication.

Average Standard of Living

The average weekly expenditure in Australia is around $2,200 per household. This estimate includes home loans or rent at an average $600 a week, followed by food and eating out at $400, and insurance and other financial services at $200. Utility bills have risen steadily since 2006. (For a small 85 square meter apartment the monthly utilities of water, electricity, and gas cost around $220 per month. For a telephone, TV, and Internet package allow around $70 per month.) These numbers mean it costs an average household around $100,000 per year to live in Australia.

Luxury Standard of Living

Where luxury standards are involved, the sky is the limit; you could easily spend the annual budget of a small country on a nice house by the beach. More realistically, $1,500 to $2,000 per week can get a very nice house or apartment within easy reach of the city or the beaches in any of the country’s major cities, including Sydney. Typical water, electricity, and gas bills for a house with four bedrooms would cost around $400-500 per month. TV, telephone, and Internet packages with extra TV channels included are available from around $100 per month. Add $500 per week on food and drink, plus around $400 on eating out; if you have kids going to private school, two cars, and hobbies such as tennis or golf, costs would be about $200,000 per year, or nearly $4,000 per week, not including vacations.

Cost of Living Rankings

Every few years, Mercer Consulting releases a study showing the comparative cost of living in various cities around the world. The factors that determine a city’s ranking are the relative strength of its currency against the U.S. dollar in the 12 months between ranking, and price movements over the 12 months as compared to those in New York City as the base. Ranks can also change based on the movement of other cities in the ranking list. The ranking of the previous year is given in brackets.

City Ranking as of 2016

  • Sydney 42 (21)
  • Melbourne 71 (47)
  • Perth 69 (48)
  • Canberra 98 (65)
  • Brisbane 96 (66)
  • Adelaide 102 (71)

Sample Prices for Everyday Items

  • 2 liters of orange juice: $4.80
  • 1 liter of full-fat milk: $1.46
  • 1 kilogram of carrots: $2.50
  • 1 kilogram of potatoes: $1.95
  • 500 grams of lean ground beef: $5
  • 1 loaf of white sandwich bread: $2.99
  • 8 rolls of 2-ply toilet paper: $6.60
  • 24 cans (375 ml) of Coca-Cola: $17
  • 6 free-range eggs: $3
  • 500 grams of aged cheddar cheese: $7.48
  • 1 725-gram box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes: $4
  • 1 Mars bar: $2.20
  • 1 can of dog food: $2.26
  • 200 milliliter bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo: $7.04
  • 500 grams of butter: $2.60

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Living Abroad Australia.

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Australian Phrases, Rhyming Slang, and Strine https://moon.com/2017/08/australian-phrases-rhyming-slang-and-strine/ https://moon.com/2017/08/australian-phrases-rhyming-slang-and-strine/#respond Thu, 17 Aug 2017 14:41:24 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=9592 Spend even a brief time on a bus, train, or tram and you’ll truly appreciate the variety in the Australian dialect. Read on for a quick but thorough introduction to Australian phrases, rhyming slang, and Strine, the “ocker” accent and vocabulary.

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A koala clings to a branch.

Koala Net is a good example of an online dictionary of Australian slang. Photo © Micki Takes Pictures, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

Spend even a brief time on a bus, train, or tram and you’ll truly appreciate the variety in the Australian dialect. Some Australian phrases are completely unique, others have common roots in British expressions, and still others that you think are stereotypical aren’t really used at all. You’ll barely understand some people, with the thick accent, distinctive drawl, and slight upward inflection at the end of sentences that sounds like they might be asking a question. Others have a barely noticeable accent, and most people are somewhere in between.

In general, the use of Australian slang words by new arrivals is a no-no; it’s just too difficult to understand the nuances, and a well-meant phrase can easily be offensive.Like anywhere, differences in language use are usually connected to education and social class, even though Australians will insist their society has no class differences. One thing most Australians have in common is the almost inevitable shortening of every expression. An avocado becomes an “avo,” a tradesperson becomes a “tradey,” a U-turn is a “youie,” and football is “footy,” and your cookie should normally be a biscuit, but is turned into a “bikkie.” Even your name is not safe and will inevitably be abbreviated.

Aside from the Australian dialect itself, which can vary among cities and states and by social class, Australia has three types of language differentiation: slang expressions that are common to nearly all Australians; rhyming slang, which crosses social and geographic boundaries and is virtually impossible to comprehend; and Strine, the “ocker” accent and vocabulary that at times feels like a whole new language, replete with unique expressions and words.

Australian Phrases, Expressions, and Slang

Not all Australians use Aussie slang extensively. You may have to wait to hear your first “g’day,” and like all slang, phrases common in one generation do not always carry over to the next. Aussies do not really call each other “cobber” except on rare and often ironic occasions, despite the universal presence of the word in dictionaries of common Aussie slang. Righto is also fading out, although it has been popular for several generations. Words like swagman and billabong that feature in popular songs like Waltzing Matilda are no longer in common usage.

But mastering slang—at least understanding it—is essential for following even average-length conversations of moderate complexity. Get a decent online or printed dictionary of slang and read it through once, have a giggle, and familiarize yourself with the sound of the phrases and words. A good example is Koala Net.

Next, keep an ear out for unusual words from Aussies you know, write them down if you like, and look them up—having a smartphone with an app or at least the Internet handy is very helpful at times. You’ll find, for example, that some cases of slang are impossible to figure out logically, and some seem to be real words in their own right. A news report might describe someone being “king hit”; no amount of rational analysis would tell you that it means being knocked out cold.

In general, the use of Australian slang words by new arrivals is a no-no; it’s just too difficult to understand the nuances, and a well-meant phrase can easily be offensive. Generally speaking, the use of diminutives and basic words like g’day are safe to use when around your “mates,” but any more than that is often misinterpreted as insulting.

Certain words in common usage elsewhere should not be used in Australia: fanny, root (as in “root for the home team”), and bung (as in “I bunged my car right into the wall”). These have vulgar meanings in the Australian idiom. Bastard can be a term of affection in Australia, but avoid trying to use it unless you really know the people well.

Rhyming Slang

The prevalent rhyming slang of Australia needs to be explained to be understood. For example, to “have a Captain Cook” is rhyming slang for “have a look.” Rhyming slang is often combined with the diminutive: Yank rhymes with septic tank, which becomes seppo, a derisive slang term for Americans. Trouble becomes rubble, then Barney Rubble, which becomes barney, so that a “friend in barney” needs your help. A bone, from dog and bone, is a phone; a Noah, from Noah’s Ark, is a shark; and so it goes in every increasing circles. It is colorful and is only learned by example.

Strine

Beyond Australian slang, which is common to most Australians, there is an extensive vocabulary and a strongly drawled accent known as Strine. Someone who speaks Strine is an “ocker” (OCK-ah). Strine is known as Broad Australian English and generally reflects the working class. The classic ocker says “yous” for the plural of you, “good on ya” for “well done,” and “me” instead of “my” as in “tie me kangaroo down, sport.”


Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Living Abroad Australia.

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Five Women Share Their Experiences Living Abroad https://moon.com/2015/11/five-women-share-their-experiences-living-abroad/ https://moon.com/2015/11/five-women-share-their-experiences-living-abroad/#respond Fri, 13 Nov 2015 17:43:54 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=33814 Making the move abroad is filled with practical hurdles, like finding a place to live and to work, but what about making friends, becoming part of the community, thriving in your new home? From Japan to Mexico, here are the thoughts and experiences of five women on making the cultural transition to living abroad.

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I never imagined myself living outside the United States until I took an extended trip to Mexico in 2001. After eight weeks exploring pre-Columbian ruins, ordering tacos at street stands, and strolling through bustling open-air markets, I’d fallen in love with Mexico’s warmth and color. Young and exhilarated, I blithely decided to extend my stay indefinitely.

But, as I soon learned, visiting a country and moving there are two very different propositions. Living in Mexico required far more elbow grease and patience than a vacation did, as I navigated both the complex and the mundane aspects of my new life, from immigration paperwork to Spanish-language job interviews. In the end, I loved the intermittent culture shock and ongoing challenges, and Mexico became my home.

Born in Germany, Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey, author of Moon Living Abroad in Australia, is a veteran expatriate who lived in both England and the Middle East before moving to Australia when her husband was transferred for work. Though she finds living overseas “positively addictive,” she agrees that it’s a challenge. “You need to be a quite adventurous and interested person,” says Lemmin-Woolfrey. “If you don’t like a challenge then it can be quite difficult. After all you have to start all over again each time: everything from finding a dentist, to not recognizing the money and brands in the stores, to settling your kids and finding new friends.”

Tackling the essentials—food, housing, work, visas—is a constant across the world. Making friends and building meaningful relationships is a more elusive part of the equation, but no less important. What does it take to feel at home in another culture, sometimes halfway across the world? The answer varies from person-to-person and country-to-country, but, many expats agree, assimilation isn’t necessarily the goal—nor is it often possible. I spoke with five women who lived in countries across the world, and asked them to share a few tips and insights about living as an expatriate in their adopted country.

Moving World Artwork, Heathrow Terminal in London.

Moving World Artwork, Heathrow Terminal in London. Photo © Jim Linwood, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Ruthy Kanagy, Japan: On Being a Good Neighbor

Ruthy Kanagy, author of Moon Living Abroad in Japan, was born in Tokyo and raised in Hokkaido, though today she makes her home in the Pacific Northwest. Kanagy tells me that foreigners are no longer seen as exotic in Japan, as they once were, and many Japanese “have experience living overseas and are well acquainted with foreign politics and cultures.” Nonetheless, Kagany recommends foreigners be proactive in connecting with locals in Japan. Rather than rent an apartment in the popular expatriate enclaves, Kagany suggests that a very simple way to “blend into Japanese society and become a neighbor, is to live in areas where Japanese do.”

Once there, she suggests you reach out to your neighbors by dropping by their home with a small gift, as is often done in Japan, or joining the neighborhood association to get involved in the local community. Good advice anywhere in the world, Kanagy says, “The easiest way to make friends is to have a common interest.” A good place to start is one of the many neighborhood community centers, where you might find “classes in Japanese arts like flower arranging or tea ceremony, sponsored hikes, or ballroom dancing.”

Learning to speak Japanese is also key. “The rewards of living in Japan and making friends is proportional to speaking the language,” Kagany says, noting that the Japanese study a foreign language in school and are very sympathetic to the challenges facing those learning a new language. “The more you make an effort to speak Japanese, the more people respond,” she adds, emphasizing that there are many phrases and expressions (like those used after a meal, for example) in spoken Japanese that are easy to learn.

Michelle Weiss, Mexico: On Sharing Studios and Speaking Spanish

Michelle Weiss, a native New Yorker, lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for over 15 years. Weiss notes that the large, long-standing American community in San Miguel can ease the transition for many expatriates. “For people moving to places that have significant long-term expat communities, it is not so much that they can successfully integrate but rather that they can live in a place that accommodates their foreignness into the weave of everyday living,” she explains.

However, Weiss was able to build relationships outside the expat community by connecting to people with common interests and learning to speak Spanish fluently. “I think I was able to integrate to a high degree. My friends were Mexican. I speak Spanish,” says Weiss. “We ate the same food, listened to the same music, shared studios and professional and creative endeavors.” Speaking the language, says Weiss, isn’t just about communication, but about truly understanding the nuance of Mexican culture. “To really integrate into the culture, it is essential to speak the language,” Weiss says. “Even though many Mexicans do speak English, you will not be privy to their true selves, to the depth and subtle nuances of their culture.”

At the same time, Weiss doesn’t believe the goal is assimilation. “It isn’t necessary to leave one’s cultural experience behind to live in another country,” she tells me. “You can deepen and broaden your experience by allowing your past experiences to color your present.” However, she adds, “It is necessary to bring a sensitive and open mind, a willingness to adapt. And most importantly to always have respect for that which is different or unknown.”

Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey, Australia: On Enthusiastic Expats

The mix of professional opportunities coupled with the warm, outdoorsy lifestyle are what bring a lot of newcomers to Australia, where the expatriate community is both large and well-integrated. In fact, Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey tells me, “The vast majority of Australians are immigrants, be it first or third generation, and the mix is fantastic here: People are either visiting, studying, or working here from all over the world, and a lot are here to stay.”

With previous experience living in Europe and the Middle East, Lemmin-Woolfrey has a strong frame of reference when she says it’s “relatively easy to integrate” into the local culture in Australia. In the Middle East, Lemmin-Woolfrey found the more tight-knit expatriate community provided a “support net of people who know what you are going through when you have just arrived and are struggling with the most basic of basics.” In Australia, there is a less structured expat community, though newcomers often make connections through international schools and activities. Lemmin-Woolfrey recommends sports as a way to inspire new friendships: “Pick a team, go out and play, and you make friends in moments.”

Margot Bigg, India: On Jus Sanguis

Margot Bigg moved to India from France, after falling in love with the country on an extended visit. She lined up a job in Gurgaon, near Delhi, at a time when most expatriates in India were “young single people looking for an overseas adventure, most of whom were willing to put in long hours for low wages in return for the experience of living in such an awe-inspiring country.” India’s expatriate community has only grown in the years since, though Bigg notes that Indian law has made it more difficult for foreigners to settle in India without a considerable salary.

Bigg says the environment in India is “usually pretty positive” for foreign residents, though she notes that “few foreigners become a part of society, especially if they don’t have ancestral ties to the subcontinent.” India’s nationality laws play a role in the separation of foreigners. Biggs explains, “India’s citizenship model is jus sanguinis, meaning that ancestry—rather than place of birth—is the decisive factor in determining what it is to ‘be Indian.’”

Shannon Aitken, China: On Waiguoren and Opportunities

For native Aussie and author of Moon Living Abroad in Beijing Shannon Aitken, making local friends was key to a positive transition in China. “Personally I found it really easy to adapt, but I have to say that a lot of that was because I got a job almost straightaway and immediately found friends who helped me,” she remembered. “If you have a patient Chinese friend or colleague who is willing to show you a few things when you get here, it’s much easier.”

Aitken paints an appealing portrait of life in Beijing, where expatriates are treated with kindness and respect. “On the whole, the Chinese are incredibly welcoming to foreigners. They love it when foreigners can speak Chinese and are interested in the Chinese culture,” Aitken explains. The professional opportunities have also drawn a “huge variety of expats” to Beijing, including “families, usually here because the father or mother work in an international or diplomatic organization that has brought them over; university students here to study either Chinese or an MBA, lots of entrepreneurial people; and then people like me who come over themselves seeking cultural experiences and who hunt out jobs and a lifestyles on their own bat.”

She notes, however, that few foreigners plan to stay on China long-term, telling me, “There is a point that most people never seem to cross, no matter how fluent your Chinese, how long you’ve been here, or even if you end up marrying a Chinese person. You’ll always be a waiguoren, a foreigner.”

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Explore Undara National Park’s Lava Tubes https://moon.com/2015/11/explore-undara-national-park-lava-tubes/ https://moon.com/2015/11/explore-undara-national-park-lava-tubes/#respond Fri, 06 Nov 2015 23:26:22 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=31914 Undara National Park boasts the world’s largest and best-preserved lava tube system. Only explorable by guided tour, here are your options for experiencing this part of Australia's Outback.

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Undara National Park is not simply a national park, but a volcanic national park. It boasts the world’s largest and best-preserved lava tube system, with a geological history dating back millennia.

The “Wildlife at Sunset” tour is the perfect tour to take on the day you arrive.Undara, an Aboriginal word meaning “long way,” is just that—a long way from Cairns. Some 275 kilometers southwest of Cairns, it is a four-hour drive through the Atherton Tablelands and then extending into the beginnings of the so-called Outback of Australia, where space and distance are changing all meaning, and you could easily keep on going on the same road for several days until you reach the west coast. Chances are, you’d meet only a few people along the way.

Visitors exiting a large lava tube at Undara National Park.

At Undara National Park, you’ll walk through a maze of enormously large tubes that were formed from lava flow some 190,000 years ago. Add to that a hike around a crater and toasting your morning bread at a bush breakfast, and you get an all-round Outback experience that is hard to beat. Photo © Phil Long, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

But, luckily, before the drive becomes too long, you’re there and can start enjoying the Outback, with its plenty of animals, such as the mob of kangaroos that comes every afternoon to feed on the grass by the pool, pretty-faced wallabies that sneak into the place at night and ogle you when you emerge in the morning, and kookaburras that steal your food if you don’t hold on to it. And those are only a few of the native residents. Then there is the distinctive bushland, scraggly trees, lots of grass, and undergrowth, all held together by a sky that simply seems larger out here, away from the cities. An amazing 164 extinct volcanic craters dot the landscape, adding something different to the walks you can take all around the national park.

Undara is not just a place where you can view some of nature’s quirky creations; it is an all-round experience that adds enormously to any visitor’s understanding and enjoyment of Australia. Don’t be put off by the distance and the fact that you should stay the night to really get the most out of the trip—it really is worth it.

The Undara Experience (tel. 07/4097-1900)—i.e., the entire operation, from access to lava tubes to accommodations, and the only way to explore this part of the country—is a family-run business, set up by the Collins family, who were the first white settlers in the region back in the 1860s, and who opened their amazing land to the public in the 1990s. Working closely with the national park authorities they work hard to make the entire operation have as little impact on the environment as possible, and they have won many awards indicating that they are doing well in their endeavors. You are most likely to meet Gerry Collins at the bush breakfast; he is a dab hand with the billy can.

Tours

The only way to see the lava tubes is with a trained guide. The Undara Experience offers many tours of varying lengths, such as the two-hour “Archway Explorer” tour (departs daily at 8am, 10:30am, 1pm, and 3:30pm, subject to numbers and availability, adult $52.50, child $26.25, family $157.50), which takes in three sections of lava tube—including the largest piece, the so-called archway, which stretches like a man-made bridge across some local plants found only in the fertile recesses of the lava tube—and the surrounding countryside. This tour is along good tracks, boardwalks, and steps, and requires only a low level of fitness. The “Active Explorer” tour (departs May-Sept. daily at 8am, 10:30am, 1pm, and 3:30pm, subject to availability, adult $52.50, child $26.25, family $157.50) also takes around two hours and involves some climbing over rocks and walking on uneven surfaces. You see three different sections of lava tube and the surrounding countryside and wildlife.

The “Wildlife at Sunset” tour (departs between 5pm and 6pm, depending on sunset, adult $60, child $30) is the perfect tour to take on the day you arrive, as it eases you into the surroundings, cheers you up after a long drive with some cheese and biscuits and sparkling wine, and allows you to appreciate the sun setting across the plains. You will see kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, birds, snakes, and, most importantly, at sunset, hundreds of thousands of tiny little microbats flying out of the lava tubes for their nightly feeding spree. Absolutely amazing.

The longest tour available is the “Volcano Valley” tour (departs at 8am, adult $95, child $47.50). This four-hour tour is longer, but of an easy-to-moderate fitness level, with mostly boardwalks but also a climb onto a rocky outcrop to appreciate what the lava fields and tunnels look like from above. Refreshments are included in this tour.

All tours set off from Undara Lodge by bus to cover the distance to the main tubes. Maximum capacity is 20 people, and early booking is essential to ensure you do not drive all this way and not see the lava tubes.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Sydney & the Great Barrier Reef.

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Sydney Day Trip Ideas: Manly and the Manly Ferry https://moon.com/2015/11/sydney-day-trip-manly-ferry/ https://moon.com/2015/11/sydney-day-trip-manly-ferry/#respond Tue, 03 Nov 2015 18:35:12 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=31249 The Manly Ferry is a perfect way to get out on the water, see the islands, appreciate the view across the opera house and the bridge from the water, take in the mind-blowingly beautiful real estate along the coast, and sit back and enjoy being out on the harbor for a fraction of the price of a harbor cruise. And as a bonus, you get to go to Manly.

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It is not often that a commuter service is listed as a must-do sight in a guidebook—it is, after all, just a water bus, departing every 30 minutes on a 40-minute one-way trip. Yet the Manly ferry (departs from Wharf 3 at Circular Quay, $14.40 round-trip, free with a MyMulti daily or weekly pass) is so much more.

Yes, in the morning and afternoon it carries workers between the northern beaches and the city, people who don’t necessarily appreciate the views from the ferry, but in between rush hours and on the weekend, this ferry is a perfect way to get out on the water, see the islands, appreciate the view across the opera house and the bridge from the water, take in the mind-blowingly beautiful real estate along the coast, and sit back and enjoy being out on the harbor for a fraction of the price of a harbor cruise.

The Manly ferry passes the Sydney Opera House on a bright, sunny day.

Manly Ferry: This commuter ferry goes past the opera house, all along the harbor, and past the islands to the entrance to the ocean at Manly. For a handful of dollars you get hundreds of dollars worth of views. Photo © Hannah Jessup/123rf.

And as a bonus, you get to go to Manly, with its bustling Corso, the partly pedestrianized shopping street connecting the ferry terminal with the beach, full of restaurants and shops, and its beach, which many say is a better surfing beach than the famous Bondi Beach. The jury is still out on that, but the beach is stunning and certainly should be on your list of day trips.

In between rush hours and on the weekend, this ferry is a perfect way to get out on the water.The ferry service runs roughly 6am-midnight. On weekdays, the first ferry leaves Circular Quay at 5:30am, leaves Manly at 6:10am; the last one leaves Circular Quay at 11:45pm, Manly at 12:20am. On weekends, the first ferry leaves Manly at 6:35am, Circular Quay at 6:20am; the last one leaves Manly at 11:40pm, Circular Quay at 11pm.

An alternative fast ferry ($9 each way, Wharf 6 at Circular Quay, Manly East Terminal, every 30 minutes) takes only half the time of the regular one but also has half as much character and enjoyment. It is, however, a great option if you need to rush back or the weather has turned.

For more information, check out the NSW Transport Info website, or call tel. 13/15-00.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Sydney & the Great Barrier Reef.

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The Architecture of the Sydney Opera House https://moon.com/2015/10/sydney-opera-house-architecture/ https://moon.com/2015/10/sydney-opera-house-architecture/#respond Thu, 29 Oct 2015 20:01:03 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=31252 The one building everybody associates with Australia, the Sydney Opera House is a glorious architectural marriage of form, function, and setting. Learn about its design from conception to execution.

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The Sydney Opera House, lit up for Vivid Sydney, 2014.

The Sydney Opera House, lit up for Vivid Sydney, 2014. Photo © chaiwat leelakajonkij/123rf.

The one building everybody associates with Australia, the Sydney Opera House (Bennelong Point, tel. 02/9250-7250, daily 9am-5pm, tours adult $35, child $24.50, family $90), was inscribed in the World Heritage List in June 2007 with the comments: “Sydney Opera House is a great architectural work of the 20th century. It represents multiple strands of creativity, both in architectural form and structural design, a great urban sculpture carefully set in a remarkable waterscape and a world-famous iconic building.”

Probably one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the opera house is made up of two sets of three sail-shaped roofs facing the harbor and smaller ones facing the city. White tiles give it an ability to shimmer in different colors according to the angle of the sunlight and time of day, and also make it a perfect canvas for the annual Festival of Lights, which projects shapes and colors onto the roof. Although mostly likened to white sailboats due to its location by the water, the roof shapes have also been likened to shells and opening lotus leaves.

White tiles give it an ability to shimmer in different colors according to the angle of the sunlight and time of day.It was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, whose design was nearly too ambitious for the times, with many redesigns necessary before the unique structure could be realized. Utzon resigned due to quarrels over design, schedules, and costs before he could see the entire project through. He was not in attendance for the grand opening in 1973, but he was rehired in 1999 to develop a set of design principles to act as a guide for all future changes to the building. The building is still a stunning example of the impossible possibilities of architecture, and it is a record-breaking accumulation of statistics: It cost $102 million to build (between 1957 and 1973), over one million tiles shimmer on the roof, some 1,000 rooms play host to 3,000 annual events watched by two million people, plus 200,000 tourists visit the opera house each year.

Several guided one-hour tours are offered daily 9am-5pm in various languages, and at noon there’s one for visitors with limited mobility.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Sydney & the Great Barrier Reef.

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Recreation on Australia’s Hamilton Island https://moon.com/2015/10/recreation-hamilton-island-australia/ https://moon.com/2015/10/recreation-hamilton-island-australia/#respond Sat, 24 Oct 2015 19:01:16 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=31892 Recreation on Hamilton Island is weighted heavily toward sailing and boating, since the area is so great for it, but you'll also find a plethora of other activities from the usual vacation pursuits such as walking tours or a round of golf, and some not-so-usual pursuits such as art classes, and Go-Kart racing.

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Recreation on Hamilton Island is weighted heavily toward sailing and boating, since the area is so great for it, but you’ll also find a plethora of other activities from the usual vacation pursuits such as walking tours or a round of golf, and some not-so-usual pursuits such as art classes, Go-Kart racing, and various events organized by resorts.

Cruise Indigo (tel. 07/4946-9664) offers cruises setting off from Hamilton Island Marina. Options include snorkeling trips, sunset tours, dining tours, and tailored private charters.

Sailing the Whitsundays is simply the best sailing experience you can get.Be your own captain and explore the island’s hidden coves and beaches in a motorized dinghy. Dinghy hire (tel. ext. 58305 or 07/4946-8305, from $139 per half day for up to six people, minimum age of driver 18) comes complete with fishing essentials and fuel.

Jet Ski tours (tel. ext. 58305 or 07/4946-8305, from $219 per ski, $39 for additional passenger, minimum age of driver 18, minimum age of passenger 10) give you a chance to see the island from a different perspective and have an adventure on the sea. Tours take you around the bays and beaches.

Sea kayaking tours (tel. ext. 58305 or 07/4946-8305, from $59) are a great way to experience the island. Go on an adventure paddle for a couple of hours, visiting nearby islands and stopping for a swim or snorkel along the way, or try the serene sunset paddle, kayaking while sipping a glass of sparkling wine.

Sailboats in the waters off Hamilton Island, Australia.

Hundreds of yachts, from 30-foot boats rented for the week to billion-dollar super yachts, compete in some serious racing during Hamilton Island Race Week. Photo © Andy Tyler, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

Sailing the Whitsundays is simply the best sailing experience you can get. With Adrenalin Rush Sailing (tel. 07/4946-9664, from $75 for 40 minutes), you can try a short trip on the catamaran to get a taste and maybe follow it up with a sailing lesson or two, or hire a sailboat for a group of experienced sailors. Alternatively, you can go with a skipper and explore the neighboring islands.

Become a spectator of stunning sailboats descending on the islands during August’s famous Hamilton Island Race Week, started by Keith Williams in the 1980s. Hundreds of yachts, from 30-foot boats rented for the week to billion-dollar super yachts, compete in some serious racing.

Walking trails (daily 6:30am-5:30pm, pick up map at your resort) cover some 20 kilometers of the island. Climb up to the Resort lookout, the second highest point on the island, with stunning views; head to Escape Beach at low tide with a picnic; or find Coral Cove Beach with views across to Lindeman Island. There are plenty of options. You can order picnic lunches at your resort 24 hours in advance.

Audio tours (free, ask at your resort desk) will teach you about the island’s history or about the nature you’ll encounter on the set bushwalk.

If you want to go exploring the resorts and activity centers, and want the freedom of driving yourself rather than waiting for the shuttle, look into buggy hire (tel. ext. 58263 or 07/4946-8263, from $45 per hour). Golf carts are the standard mode of transport on the island.

Quad bike tours (tel. ext. 58305 or 07/4946-8305, 15 minutes from $109 adult, $32 child 6-14) are available for kids and adults. Drivers must be 16 years old and hold at least a learner’s permit. With the quad bikes you can set off along the bushland trails across the island and enjoy otherwise inaccessible views and secluded nooks.

Have fun on the purpose-built track for Go-karts (tel. 07/4946-8305, from $47 for 10 minutes, minimum age 11 and minimum height 140 cm, duo karts minimum age 4 years with adult) at Hamilton Island’s Palm Valley. Take the wheel on the exhilarating outdoor track, reaching speeds of up to 45 kilometers per hour.

Playing golf (tel. ext. 59760 or 07/4948-9760, from $100 for 9 holes and $150 for 18 holes, $90 for professional lesson) in the Whitsundays includes a trip to the neighboring Dent Island, either by boat or helicopter. But once you’re there, it offers a championship course, par 71, measuring 6,120 meters. Private lessons, a driving range, club house, and pro shop are all available on the island, making for a great day out.

The purpose-built 9-pin (not 10-pin) bowling alley (tel. ext. 58440 or 07/4946-8440, 1 hour $59) offers a bit of a challenge, with seven lanes, an amusement arcade, a licensed bar, food and snacks, and glow-in-the-dark lanes at night.

Art classes (tel. ext. 59657 or 07/4948-9657, adult $69, child $39) can be arranged at the dedicated space, the Art Gallery. Learn how to capture the beauty of the islands and work on a special souvenir. Classes can be adult only, for children, or even for families. All materials are supplied.

There are also daily activities organized by the resorts, such as spin classes, mini-golf championships for kids, buggy rallies, trivia evenings, and countless others, some at extra cost, a lot of them free to resort guests. You can also hire snorkel equipment at Catseye Beach, get windsurf boards and paddle boards and much more, all free for guests.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Sydney & the Great Barrier Reef.

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Visit Australia’s Hamilton Island https://moon.com/2015/10/visit-australias-hamilton-island/ https://moon.com/2015/10/visit-australias-hamilton-island/#respond Thu, 22 Oct 2015 23:01:49 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=31891 Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island of the Whitsundays, and when you first arrive, you may feel like you're in a relatively large town. But, besides some rather gorgeous private holiday residences, this is pretty much a giant resort. Learn about the ins and outs of staying here, along with information a few key locations and getting around.

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Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island of the Whitsundays, and is on private long-term lease from the Australian government. Resorts and amenities for holiday-makers have existed on the island since 1984, and although tourism is the main attraction, increasingly, residents have been buying property there to enjoy the lifestyle, often for retirement.

Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island, Australia.

The most accessible of the Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island is also the one with the most accommodation options and activities. Photo © Gary Bembridge, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

When you arrive, be it by ferry or at the airport right next to the marina, you think you’re landing in a relatively large town. But, besides some rather gorgeous private holiday residences, this is pretty much a giant resort with numerous different accommodation options. Apart from one property (the Whitsunday Apartments), all the resorts, hotels, apartments, and attractions are owned and run by one company, Hamilton Island (tel. 13/73-33). That means, with a couple of exceptions (Beach Club and Qualia), you can be staying in one hotel but use the facilities of the resort down the road. You can also pop into any of the restaurants around the marina and charge your bill to your room. Equally, you can phone other hotels, restaurants, and shops through extensions from your room telephone, as it’s all interconnected. This creates a rather special resort atmosphere, where people walk around in their beachwear in the “high street” yet they are still in the resort, of sorts, and while most people stay within their chosen hotels, you can experience plenty of restaurant and pool hopping between options.

Beaches

Within the main development there is one gorgeous beach, Catseye Beach, right on the doorstep. Accessible through the main resort reception only, this beach offers all the activities, such as kayaking, sailing, and snorkeling, for the entire resort community, but it is large enough to handle the influx of people.

There are several other beaches around the island; for example, the private resort Qualia has a couple of secluded beaches, but these are only open to its guests. Other beaches are away from the main island center.

Wild Life Hamilton Island

Wild Life Hamilton Island (tel. 07/4946-9078, daily 8am-5pm, adult $20, child $12, or VIP entry adult $40, child $32, includes koala photo), right in the center of the main resorts, offers close encounters of the cuddly and creepy kind. Daily activities include breakfast with the koalas (7am-10am, $35) and cuddles with koalas (8:30am-9:30am, $30). Tours, such as the one-hour “Park Keeper” tour (daily at 10am and 4pm), get you close to the animals. The “BBQ and Sunset Spotlight Animal Feeding” tours (Thurs. and Fri. at 6pm, adult $35, child $20) include a barbecue and nighttime visits to the nocturnal animals. Crocodile feeding takes place at 4pm on Wednesday and Saturday. The zoo is small, and the especially fun activities are the organized events, such as the breakfast or the tours, rather than the zoo itself.

Getting to Hamilton Island

You can fly directly into Hamilton Island Airport (HTI, tel. 07/4946-9999) from Sydney with Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia (from around $129 one way, flight duration 2.5 hours). From the airport, there are free shuttles to all the resort accommodations.

Alternatively, Cruise Whitsundays (tel. 07/4946-4662) has at least one ferry per hour leaving both Abel Point Marina and Shute Harbour to Hamilton Island, with transfers taking 30-60 minutes, depending on which connection you take, as connections are available via Daydream and Long Islands. A one-way ticket from the mainland to Hamilton Marina is $48 per person. Ferry timetables are available online and at all visitor information stalls.

Once on the island, you can either hire a buggy (tel. ext. 58263 or 07/4946-8263, from $45 per hour) or use one of the three free shuttle buses that leave regularly and stop off at all points of interest and accommodation options. Some go clockwise and others counterclockwise, so it might be faster one way rather than the other, but the entire circle takes around 20 minutes, so it really is not that important which one you take.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Sydney & the Great Barrier Reef.

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