April update: highlights from my Australia trip

by Sonja Faul

As I’m finishing up this article, I’m in my hostel dormitory room in Brisbane. It’s the end of April and my Australia trip has almost come to an end. ALMOST. I still have three whole days left. These last five weeks in Australia has been a blast. I’ve seen and done so much, but above all, I’ve enjoyed spending quality time with my family. Here are a couple of highlights from my trip.

A double rainbow over the ocean.

Beaches and then some more beaches

Life on the Gold Coast is very much centered around the beaches. And the beaches are pretty spectacular! I’ve seen them all from Surfers Paradise down to Coolangatta. I’ve watched the surfers catch the first early morning waves at Burleigh Heads, ate breakie on the beach, went for long walks along the shore, took a dip in the ocean, and watched the sunset at Snapper Rocks. Life really is a beach here!

Where does the sky end and the water begin?

Birdwatching from my sister’s porch

My sister has a lovely house with a huge porch and a bird feeder. Almost every morning I’d fill the feeder with seeds and then watch and wait with my camera in hand. Which birds will come? The cockatoos came every day without fail. I also saw flaming galahs, lorikeets and king parrots (only once).

A pair of flaming galahs.
The cockatoos dropped by every morning.

On my second day, I also saw a kookaburra in the backyard, only a couple of meters away from me. They are my favourite Australian bird species! Kookaburras just look like their smiling all the time, which makes me smile in turn.

A friendly kookaburra in the backyard.

Visiting wildlife parks and sanctuaries with my father

One of the reasons I was so excited to travel to Australia was the native animals. As a zoologist, I’m always interested in the wildlife of the country I’m visiting, particularly mammals. Australia has no shortage of weird and wacky animals! My father took me to no less than three wildlife parks and sanctuaries where I had the opportunity to see kangaroos, wallabies, crocodiles, bilbies, possums, koalas, Tasmanian devils, and a platypus. I saw some beautiful birds too, from cassowaries to lorikeets.

I saw so many koalas!

The outings with my father weren’t limited to animals parks. We also rode the Aquaduck in Surfers Paradise and visited a tropical fruit farm in New South Wales. But my favourite part will always be the animals we saw.

Riding the Aquaduck with my father.

Insane shopping sprees with my sister

Okay, so you don’t really get malls in Amsterdam. Not in the same way as you would in South Africa, the USA or here in Australia. My sister and I had this insane shopping day where we were supposed to hike, but due to rainy weather, we opt to hit the malls instead. We went to four different malls and I got some crazy deals because it was the end of season sales in EVERY store. I bought heaps of clothing and Moomin (Yes Moomin!) glass mugs. We ended this legendary shopping day with the best vegan food I’ve had during my trip at Chi Ran in the Pacific Fair mall. And when I got home, my new camera lens was waiting there for me.

My sister also took me to the factory outlet stores. This is the place to go if you want to stock up on your surf brand clothing. The Billabong shop has these sample boxes and every item in them is only $15! From jeans to jackets to bikinis and wallets, you’ll find a little bit of everything in these boxes. The only catch is you have to be a size 8 or 10. But the shop is full of other bargains too.

Mall fun with my sister.

I’ve enjoyed every single second of my trip. From the unique animals to the colourful birds, the unspoiled beaches to the lush forests, and the fantastic food. In fact, I’ve been eating way too much food so I’ve gained a couple of kilos…but it’s all good! My family truly spoiled me. When I write my next monthly update, I’ll be back in Amsterdam…

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