Quick hop down under
It looked like a boring summer ahead until an opportunity to cross the world for a visit to the Australian Sunshine Coast unexpectedly came up. Having dear friends around the world is the best gift nomadic lifestyle has afforded me. There was no overthinking this, arrangements were made in no time. The 21 hour Etihad flight (quickest route available between Athens and Brisbane btw) was a breeze (by way of watching 5 movies between snoozing).
This wasn’t my Australian premiere. I first came in 2015, instantly falling in love with the place. I navigated through that visit in a state of perpetual amazement. The return was a treat; (sort of) knowing my way around and armed with a list of favourite places – from beaches to restaurants to shops – I was thrilled to be back for seconds.
From the word go the vibe is wonderful. An impressive feature of Australia: scale. More is more seems to be the order of the day. From the beaches that stretch to no end, to the ample roads, the vast expanses of nature and of course the infinite ocean views. Everything goes on and on and “space to breathe” takes on a new meaning.
My impression of Sunshine Coast: a giant resort city, where it is always summer and people are always smiling. Even though it was the dead of winter, the weather was mild and mostly sunny. In what was, allegedly, the coldest day of the season the hardcores would be around in shorts and flip-flops. We even went to the beach for a suntan session.
Australians are cool people. Beautiful inside and out, aside from being fit and sporty, they are friendly, relaxed and good-natured. “No dramas” is the motto and they are practising it. Everyone seems to be happy too. How good is this?
Predictably, life (and lifestyle) is easy in the Coast. That “just-in-case” pair of 5-inch heels stayed in the suitcase because there was no “case” whatsoever. We cruised the place in casual wear, canvassing beaches, climbing nano-mountains and visiting street markets. Frankly, I didn’t see a single woman in heels during the 2 week stay. Normally I would oppose this but since the place is a resort it plays in good taste.
In Sunshine Coast, rather than a trend, “clean” living is a state of mind. People are fussy about their organics, and I don’t just mean the groceries; it is organic all the way through to the shampoos and hand creams. There is a yoga studio every other corner and the entire state smells of rosehip (this body cream is a favourite find). We did a floating session at Float Noosa (I didn’t even know such a thing existed) and the relaxation was so intense I managed a nap while actually floating on water. It felt heavenly afterwards and was aptly followed by a yin & yang yoga class.
The beaches are spectacular. Being Greek, I am hard to impress on this front but Australia is a player; Sunshine Coast is a string of fabulous, back to back never-ending beaches. Speaking of, this time around I overcame my concerns ref. hostile marine entities and managed a proper swim in Coral Sea. My host nonchalantly cleared the air on sharks (“they are there but they will not eat you) – despite not being convinced, I ventured it and it was harmless and fun.
In the same spirit Australians swim in shark-infested waters (no dramas!), animals seem totally at ease mingling with humans in various settings. Wild geese are all over the place (e.g the parking lot of a liquor store), cuddly koalas inhabit the local eucalyptus trees and kangaroos may cross the street. Beautiful, exotic parrots were having daily get-togethers in our garden. Did we mention they have the cutest animals?
And now on to FOOD: The best of every culinary world, minus the pretence. Thriving on surf ‘n’ turf but crushing it in all other departments too, Australia is a gastronomic eden. Special mention to the various burger joints – apparently fast food has been elevated to an art form here. The seafood scene is BIG and full of delicacies that are hard to find (or non-existent) in Europe. Bonus luck: my host was an actual chef (read: mouth-watering feasts at home as well. That seafood platter, I will forever remember).
A highlight of the visit was a trip-within-the-trip to Fraser Island. A unique experience I was lucky to enjoy. But this is worth a chapter of its own – it is coming up soon.
The getaway concluded with a quick scan of Brisbane. While I didn’t have the opportunity to properly explore it, it oozes good-vibes. At the Southbank area bars, restaurants, a street market and the landmark Ferris wheel accommodate the buzzing crowds sashaying along an impressive urban scenery. Next to the river, an artificial beach casually sits against a backdrop of futuristic buildings.
One thing that put me off: how incredibly expensive most everything is (seriously now, $54 for a packet of cigarettes???). My host made it clear however that the cost of living is overall compatible with wages, so it is all nice and I guess affordable as long as you are not visiting from a bankrupt European country :p. Apparently the tax system is amazing too and dealing with the state is quick, efficient and hassle-free. They must have run out of red tape!
Australia, is hands down one of the most beautiful places I have visited (despite running against serious competition) and seems to be the modern day Land of Opportunity. I would happily choose it as a permanent basis except: it is so far away from EVERYTHING (I think it is faraway even from itself…).
I certainly hope to return soon.