Among the first international tourists to enter the Australian coast in two years, this is my first impressions.
As a semi-annual traveler to Australia, in normal times, it was quite refreshing to once again arrive on the Australian coast after more than two years of closed borders due to the pandemic. Australia adopted a ferocious policy of isolation and excluded tourists for a long time, long after many other tourist countries had opened up to the world. Be that as it may, as soon as the country announced the reopening of its borders and a no-quarantine tourist arrival policy. Here are five impressions I had as one of the first international tourists to enter Australia.
A world without masks
For me, after being in destinations where masks are constantly taught, it was almost liberating to come to a country where masks are no longer mandatory. Of course, masks are still mandatory on public transport and on airplanes, which doesn’t ask for much. Otherwise yes, it makes a huge difference to be able to walk around and explore your destination without having to wear a mask. Compared to previous international destinations, where the entry process was tedious and lengthy, with a large number of forms, I arrived in Sydney after a very simple online form, minus the delays in the procedures at the airport.
Less tourists – more locals
This basically means that you have most of the seats to yourself, minus the hordes of tourists who will inevitably return. That said, it is understandable that Australians make the most of their tourist offerings and leave in large numbers. Therefore, it has a more “local” feel to some hotspots, restaurants, cafes or neighborhoods, which would otherwise have been very touristy. I spent, for example, a couple of days on the Gold Coast, and the city was full of more “local” events, such as beach volleyball and surf awards. A couple of days ago, I had sunsets and a three-course dinner cruising Sydney Harbor on an old-fashioned Sydney Showboat, complete with a cabaret show on board. The Sydney Showboat is very popular with international tourists, but this time it felt like we were the only foreign tourists on board. It was great to see so many locals enjoying a different perspective of their harbor.
If you like to be completely immersed in the local flavor of a destination, this is probably a good time to visit.
Cairns: the next big thing?
I took a five day vacation to the northern city of Cairns. It turns out that this city turned out to be the biggest surprise for me. Given its relative proximity to India in my opinion Cairns could very well become the next big thing for Indian travelers. This is the ideal destination for the whole family, with LOTS of things to do with the kids, great weather and multiple dining options. Public spaces lend themselves very well to children, as well as elderly parents, who may not be particularly adventurous. Be warned though, I found Cairns a little more expensive for F&B than Sydney or Melbourne. The city boasts an incredible waterfront, is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, has a large public lagoon pool free for all citizens, an aquarium and scenic coastal walks on the outskirts of the city to Port Douglas or Cape Tribulation.
Much less cash transactions
While it is true that most of us are moving towards cashless payment methods, nowhere has this been more evident to me than in Australia. I can see few or no cash transactions here. And the new ultra-fast touch format offered by most credit / debit cards today can complete a transaction in under 3 seconds. I actually found it quite useful on Sydney’s public transit system, where instead of buying physical tickets, you can tap your credit / debit cards at the entry and exit points and the fare is immediately deducted.
As a frequent traveler to Australia, I try to discover new places every time I come as I have visited the main tourist centers many times. This was a good way to explore the new places in the country which, in turn, will attract tourists in the coming months. The Gold Coast HOTA (Home of the Arts), for example, is an art complex that opened during the pandemic and has yet to accommodate hordes of tourists. It houses gourmet restaurants, rooftop bars, galleries and theaters. Likewise, I took the opportunity to explore newer places in Cairns, such as the Curtain of Figs (a famous natural phenomenon featuring a very large tree) on the outskirts of Cairns and the 5km walk through the Daintree Rainforest. . Another intensive fitness experience that I really enjoyed discovering this time was the iconic 6km coastal walk between Bondi and Coogee. Tourists usually go halfway and hang out in Bronte Beach, but I went all the way, hanging out in Coogee, and spent a day exploring this hipster-chic neighborhood of Coogee. The cafe scene in this neighborhood is definitely worth a look.