I am kinda proud that I recognise at least some of the names on the full list. When I first arrived in Australia, when I’d mention coming from Europe, everyone’d comment how great it must be to live there.
The problem is, wherever you live becomes dull and mundane.
I have the same problem in Australia now; unless I make a specific effort, it’s easy to just get stuck in Sydney all the time. A few family visits have given me great excuses to travel about a bit, but I could probably do more.
For one thing, Yamba is completely unfamiliar, but after just glancing on the map I am already contemplating whether the next QLD trip should stop off along the way to see why it might have ranked first. It’s so close along the way, yet far enough that I never knew it was right there as I zoomed past.
I saw a few odd places when my dad came over to Australia for the first time. My mother I had no doubt would be back many times, but it wasn’t clear that my dad would brave the long-distance flight a second time, so I had planned to do a big tour of a chunk of Australia so he could get a broad sampling and context for anything I might talk about after that.
I think it was a two-week-and-change trip with few stop-overs of more than a single night along the way. We went south from Sydney, through Canberra along the back-roads to Melbourne. From there we took the ferry to Tasmania, and did a full loop around the island. Then along the coast to Adelaide and Clare Valley, and straight across the desert through White Cliffs and back over the mountains to Sydney.
I think it firmly impressed how large Australia actually is.
Strahan in Tasmania (#9) was one of our stops along the way. It’s a charming little town on a bay in the south-west of the island. It was icy cold in the middle of winter. Tasmania feels much more like the Netherlands than any other part of Australia. We had an overnight in a large old house with a wood-fire, and we only narrowly missed getting snowed in. The day after we crossed the mountains over to Hobart there was a news report indicating the passes were impassable.
Clare in South Australia (#58) was another stop along the way. Again a little cabin with a wood stove to heat the place. Bron-the-dog kept close to the warm. He’s not a dog made for winter. He looked very put-out along the entirety of the trip, as if the weather itself was offending him in some way. It’s incredible to see how small whippets can get when they curl in on themselves to keep warm. It reminds me of a fold-up caravan.
There are some more questionable entries on this list. I’ve been to Lightning Ridge. It is a very nothing-kinda-place and picking something up from the wrong piece of land can get you shot. Also, I caught a bird with the Rav4 leaving Lightning Ridge, which didn’t improve the overall impression either. Maybe the entry is just a cruel little joke for the unsuspecting reader?
There are some places I’d like to see more of though. I’ve been almost-to-Hahndorf (#16) two times now, and I never quite make it. It sounds picturesque and relaxing, but there is just never quite enough time when visiting Adelaide.
And I’ve driven through Kangaroo Valley (#24) several times on my way to other places, and one of these days I’d really like to stop. Perhaps even overnight.
That leaves only 80-odd places that I have no clue about whatsoever, so I have a bit of research to do.