The land of Oz

Trip Start Apr 21, 2013
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121
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Trip End Aug 28, 2013


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I am back in Australia. Over the last few months I have "reported “from many different countries, all in all 21 of them . Starting in Singapore travelling across South East Asia, China, Mongolia and via Russia to the Baltic States and Western Europe to former Yugoslavia and a few places in between. My  blog readers are from a wide variety of countries so I thought to be appropriate to finish by a “show and tell" of the area I live in.

Everyone knows that I was born in Holland and live in Australia. Australia is a vast country, the picture shows how vast, in relation to Europe. I live in the city of Brisbane in the state of Queensland. To make matters easy to follow I will tell you a few item and facts about various subjects to do with life in Australia. While telling you about Australia I will try to illustrate it by means of pictures I have taken over the years.

First  for those living in The Netherlands. When you look at the map of Australia you will notice an island just below the continent which is the island of Tasmania. The land area of the Netherlands  will fit twice  into the area of Tasmania. This will give you an idea how large Australia is.  

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_area

Australia is very large, you can fit the Netherlands 225 times in it; France 11 times and Turkey 10 times. Per km2 there are less than 2 persons.

The state of Queensland (Qld) is as large as The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal combined. Qld  is positioned in the north east of Australia and has 4.6 million inhabitants.  It measures about  2230 km north to south and 1500km east west (in a straight line- not via roads) And here lies a problem. Qld has only one time zone across this 1500 km while at the same distance in Europe there is not one but two hours difference. (more below)

Brisbane.

Brisbane and its suburbs is rather  large and measures around 70km north-south by 45 km east-west @ 5950km2 (Amsterdam and it suburbs 801 km2)   The overall population is only about 2.1 million (about the same as greater Amsterdam ) which is not much for such a large city. This is due to the fact that nearly all houses are separate from each other. Houses in a row do not exist. The standard housing /land blocks are about 800 to 1000 m2.  The inner city of Brisbane of large high rise office blocks and expensive apartments overlooking the Brisbane river.

The living areas around the city are called suburbs. These suburbs have many parks and gardens and plus there are often large open areas between the suburbs.  Perhaps 90% of the parks have free electric Barbecue's  which you can use by just pressing a button. In busy area’s  the council will check and clean the BBQ almost daily. Most parks also have free toilets which are also maintained by the council also on a daily basis. Vandalism and graffiti is rare to find in these places. People appreciate what they have and look after it including cleaning up after themselves. And by the way- toilets are always free, every shopping centre has them and you never have to look far to find one. Anyone can use a toilet in any public building which is owned by the council, local, state or federal government, after all they are paid for using tax payers money. And another bonus; most museum owned by the state are free of charge as well.

Climate- position  and weather.

The state of Queensland covers two climates. Sub- tropics in the south (Brisbane) and Tropics in the north. Our winters are similar or warmer than summers in Western Europe with exception of night temperatures. When it is winter in Europe it is summer here so at present it is still winter. Brisbane is located about 25 degrees south of the equator which is the same distance as Dubai from the equator but then on the other side.(but is never as hot in Brisbane)

Brisbane lies on the east coast at the start of the time zone which means that even in the middle of summer (Dec 21) the sun sets at 7 pm which is something I never liked. (It is light at 4.30 am) But at least we have 13 hours of sunshine that day and nearly every day as Brisbane has an average of 300 sunny days a year and that is something I really enjoy.  And now… wait for this… at present it is winter in Brisbane, today it is the 28th of aug which can be compared with the 28th of February in Europe. Hmmm today it is 27 degrees and the rest of the week will be about 29 degrees with about 13 degrees at night- humidity is only 40 % so it is very livable even if the temp goes over 30 degrees.

Cost of living dollar to euro

Prices are about the same as in Western Europe Australian income taxes are far lower as the country enjoys a high income from mining Gold. Silver and Iron and Coal. People have more to spend than in say in Holland. Some examples: Petrol sells for around $1.35   (about .091 euro cent)  A new BMW motorcycle is cheaper here than in Holland.  For example a new BMW R1200 GS cost in Holland A$25.245 the same bike cost S A$21.250 here. The reason is that Australia has only a 10% GST  ( VAT or BTW), however BMW cars cost more here than in Europe as they are subject to a luxury tax  to protect to local car industry. Clothing is a lot cheaper in Australia as by law every imported article must have an “Imported from” sticker sewn into the article. These days,nearly all clothing comes from China. I have seen many articles which are exactly the same here as in Europe. These articles sell often for a third of the price here. (Especially well know brands of jeans , shirts and shoes) Food items are about the same price as in Europe.

Brisbane Fauna

My house is located in Wellington Point, which has other streets at both sides. I used to live about 800 meters from here in house with some bush-parkland behind the back garden. The photo’s I have included are taken over a period of 2 years which shows wildlife which entered or visited our garden.

Deadly wildlife.

Not so much in the city area but more further north you have to be careful when walking through the bush. Depending where you are you can encounter many different types of snakes, spiders and other biting insects and along the coast, even around the larger towns you can’t just go swimming in a river or the sea without asking the locals what the situation is with the crocodiles or the deadly box jellyfish. Kangaroos and especially the smaller Wallaby are everywhere even in the suburbs, both have to potential to be deadly as well, that is if you get them in front of your car or motorcycle at 100km/hour

Brisbane Flora

Qld has more than 2000 local species of flowering flora. If I had more knowledge about them I could tell you a few things but… I haven’t . When I buy a plant it needs to be nice and in no need of much water that is all I look at.

Shops and stuff

Like most countries, Australia has two types of shopping areas; so-called “strip” shopping centers (long rows of shops along a street like they have in Melbourne and Europe) or shopping centers. In Brisbane it is mainly shopping centers,  often that large that you can get lost inside of them. Many have several levels and I know of a few who are more than 1 km long. There are more shops per inhabitant than in Europe so you hardly ever have to wait in a queue. Supermarkets are very large and have more on display than I have ever seen in any other country. Why you need 20 different brands and types of butter or margarine or even milk is something never understood. It all has to do that rent/cost per m2 is far lower than the cost of space in other countries, after all we have a lot of space.

Distances between cities

There are relative few large cities in Australia and they are far apart. Brisbane is about 1000 km from Sydney which is about another 1000km from Melbourne. So when you meet someone and see – ok when I am in Australia I will look you up! Think about this first. Even with the Brisbane area this could be a 150 km return trip. My brother lives in Cairns which is still in this state, however to visit him I have to cover 3600km return trip house to house. As I mentioned before – Australia is a big place.  Also when you are for example in Sydney and someone ask you where you are from I would answer with “Brisbane” . When meeting someone on the other side of Brisbane I would say Wellington Point- Quickly followed by: near Capalaba and Cleveland because many people do not know where all the suburbs are. As I mentioned before Brisbane is also a big place.

I have come to the end of my blog. Most readers have mailed me from time to time. Unfortunately the blog is tied to Gmail which I hardly ever use. The best is to contact me via ricwolt@yahoo.com.au  I would like to invite you to drop me a line at that address and tell me what you thought of the blog and if you want to be put on the list when I am off on another ( shorter) trip; any comment is welcome to improve the presentation. The main reason for the blog was twofold; First of all I always keep a diary of my travels and secondly as I have many people who have asked me to keep in touch I found this the best way as I aim this to be a personal letter to each and everyone. The blog also made me sit down and write as it was becoming kind of expected. Often at the end of the day I would sit down and put my thoughts on paper (keyboard in this case) often finishing at 2 am. I enjoyed doing it otherwise I would have stopped somewhere when time was getting in my way. Often the only way to keep going was to write in “Word” as internet was not always available or extremely slow. A quick and short connection in a station hall, coffee shop, Mac Donald’s would give me an opportunity to quickly transfer and update. Often at hostels it was difficult due to congestion which caused the line connection to drop out half way.

I had a few emails requesting an overview / summery of the countries I have been to incl recommendations. I will work on that so in the near future you will see the vey last page of the blog, meanwhile I would like to hear from you

Cheers Richard Wolters

ricwolt@yahoo.com.au
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