16 January 2017 - Brisbane Australia
We’ve now been in Australia, and mostly Brisbane - for 7 weeks. Its time to make a few observations and report on what we’ve seen and learned, and not in any particular order.
The minimum wage in Australia is $18 per hour, based on a 38 hour week. Casual employees are paid an additional 25% lifting their wage to $ 22.5 per hour. This is all good, because it provides most people with what is described as a “living wage”. The cost of living is a bit higher than we’re accustomed to in Canada, but there are lots of differences. On the one hand, you can get a decent bottle of wine for only $ 5, but yet we couldn't get the oil changed in our car for under $ 159, at the cheapest. It seems that only mechanics are permitted to work on cars (unless you do it yourself), maybe there are legal liability issues? When you buy something in a shop or take a meal at a restaurant, the taxes are always included in the bill, unlike the Canada/US model where the establishment posts one price and then tacks on all the taxes at the point of sale. Also, since the restaurant staff are paid a decent wage, they don’t expect an additional tip of 15-20%. These two items make the initial assessment of a restaurant meal seem more expensive in Australia but its likely cheaper in the end. Cheese and other dairy products are noticeably cheaper, certainly as good as NZ, maybe even cheaper - probably due to success with exports.
Many years ago, my son Raoul gave us a Christmas gift of a “Dutch bottle scraper”. For years we had referred to this device as the “Raoul scraper”. It was so handy to remove the last of the jam, honey, yoghurt etc from a container. It wasn’t until we needed to replace it that we figured out what it is called and how difficult it is to get one. Unable to find one in the stores, Diane ordered a replacement from eBay Australia - for delivery to the marina. Its called a Dutch Bottle Scraper.
A few weeks ago, we made a day trip South to the Gold Coast, to Surfers Paradise. Yes, it is called Surfers Paradise, and it is only about 1.5 hours drive South.
This was our first opportunity to actually get to the ocean, and an Australian beach since arrival. The views were breath-taking, and the surf pounding. Although I didn’t take this photo, it is a true rendition of what we saw.
Diane and I were both keen to feel the saltwater on our body, and check out the beach. You could wade in to about hip depth and then it was time to dive in and get wet. The waves and rip current were quite strong.
Swimming areas were well marked by the lifeguard patrols, and they use jet-skis and 4X4 vehicles as assets. There were several people surfing with small boards, but none that I could see that had serious boards for riding long waves. Apparently the sharks are a bit of a deterrent. Once you’re deeper than your shoulders, there is the risk that a shark could take a nip out of you or your board. Although sharks don’t often eat people, a quick bite is often enough to kill someone from the rapid loss of blood. Maybe the serious surfers are on another beach?
After rinsing off at the fresh water showers …….
We then drove over to the Pacific Fair Shopping mall. This area of the Gold Coast has a lot of inland (probably man-made) canals and waterways, similar to what you’d see in Venice Italy, Fort Lauderdale Florida or Puerta La Cruz Venezuela.
The Pacific Fair Mall was a glitzy affair, with lots of high end boutique shops. We had lunch at the food court, and picked up a great deal, two pineapples for $ 3. Who would have thought that we could find a deal here?
This past weekend, we took another trip, this time to Coffs Harbour (in the state of New South Wales) about 5 hours South of Brisbane. Coffs Harbour, we learned, is the furthest South on the East coast that bananas grow. The climate is just right. Our primary purpose in going to Coffs Harbour was to visit Jeff, Tracey and Dallas, Australian cruisers that we first met in Bermuda in July 2009 - in the early days of our cruising lifestyle. This family had a cruising lifestyle for 4 years aboard a Fontaine Pijot catamaran, buying it in the BVIs, sailing the Caribbean and then heading across to the Azores and Europe. They sold their boat several years ago after their 4 year adventure and then returned to a shore-side existence in Coffs Harbour. Now, in catching up to them, we learned that Dallas will be heading off for post-secondary education this year, while Jeff and Tracey are keen to buy a catamaran and return to the cruising lifestyle.
When we told Jeff that we still hadn’t seen any kangaroos in the wild, he rectified that about 30 minutes later with a visit to a nearby school soccer pitch, just on the outskirts of town. There, we saw our first “mob” of kangaroos, eastern grey’s munching away at the green grass - near dusk, that’s why the photos are in low light. We learned that they find shade and rest during the hottest time of the day, and are a bit shy of humans. Its best not to approach them on a direct line so they don’t get scared off.
This photo shows a little “joey” (the young ones are called joeys) and they’ve stopped eating for a moment to study our intentions.
Having finally seen kangaroos in the wild, I thought I’d do a little research into the animal. The term kangaroo is used to describe the largest marsupial, with variants living almost exclusively in Australia (Papua New Guinea apparently has a tree kangaroo). The types of kangaroo are the red kangaroo, antilopine kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, and western grey kangaroo. The Australian government estimated that 34.3 million kangaroos lived in Australia in 2011, up from 25.1 million just one year earlier. Kangaroos have large, powerful hind legs, hop a lot like a bunny rabbit (and are capable of hopping 30 feet or 10m at a time). They have large feet adapted for leaping, a long muscular tail for balance, and a small head. Their comfortable hopping speed is a leisurely 20-25 km/hr, but they can hit speeds of up to 70 km/hr when they need to. Kangaroos normally live in social groups called mobs, comprising 10 or more kangaroos. Their only natural predators are dingos, but even dingos can’t chase and take down a fit kangaroo. Dingos mostly attack and kill injured and lame kangaroos. Like most marsupials, female kangaroos have a pouch called a marsupium in which joeys complete postnatal development. When a new-born joey is born, it is only about as big as a jelly bean and crawls up and over the lip of the pouch and then inside where it will nurse on a nipple to complete its development.
Wild kangaroos are shot for meat, leather hides, and to protect grazing land. Although sometimes controversial, kangaroo meat has perceived health benefits for human consumption compared with traditional meats due to the low level of fat. We’ve seen several packages of kangaroo meat for sale at the local Coles supermarket, although we haven’t tried it yet.
To see previous log entries, just use the tabs at the top of this page.
Countries Visited So Far with our boat, and detailed on these pages:
(Departed Canada: May 2009) (31 countries by boat so far)
Antigua: May 2011
Australia: just arrived, 27 November 2016
Bermuda: June - August 2009
Bonaire: February - April 2014
Bahamas: December 2009 - March 2010, December 2010 - February 2011
Barbados: March 2012
British Virgin Islands: May 2011
Colombia: October 2014 - December 2014
Cuba: March - May 2010
Curaçao: May 2014 - September 2014
Dominica: May 2011, April 2013
Dominican Republic: March - April 2011
Fiji: September/October 2015
French Polynesia (Marquesas, Tuamotos, Tahiti and the Society Islands): April-July 2015
Galapagos: March 2015
Grenada: June-November 2011
Guadeloupe: March 2013
Martinique: March 2012, March 2013
New Zealand: November 2015 - November 2016
Niue: July/August 2015
Panama: December 2014 (San Blas Islands), (Portobello and Canal) January/February 2015
Puerto Rico: April 2011
St Lucia: May-June 2011, December 2011 - February 2012, December 2012 - February 2013
St Martin /Netherlands Antilles: May 2011
St Vincent and the Grenadines: June 2011, February 2012, December 2012, April-May 2013
Tobago: March-May 2012
Tonga: August 2015
Trinidad: May - December 2012, June - November 2013
USA: August - November 2009, June - November 2010
US Virgin Islands: May 2011
Venezuela: November 2013 - February 2014
Before we went cruising, we also "had a life" and did our fair share of visiting (or living in) other countries.
We've also been to a few other countries, but just not with our boat. (36 countries so far)
Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzogevinia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Gibraltar,
Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway,
Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland), Vatican City.