There’s no way I’m organizing this.

Go:

Sand: Superior quantity of this substance is present in Australia.  Quality varies.  High points overall for having some that you can brush your teeth with.  Negative points for ruining digital cameras.  Positive points for being sneaky enough to accompany tourists back home with then whether they like it or not.

Final score: 4.8/5.0

People: Australia is a very white country by my inaccurate sampling.  Its really only Whitefellas (Crackers) and Blackfellas (Aboriginies).  Oh and throw in some fistfuls of Asian tourists.  Positive points for being a gigantic country yet still somehow retaining a small town feel, even across cities far away.  Its really a common thing to meet someone you know by chance even if you’re not from the city you’re currently in.  I’ve never seen this happen as much anywhere else.  Negative points for Sydneysiders at Kings Cross because they’re so seedy.  Positive points for the accent, which I still haven’t got down and don’t think I ever will.  But I did practice…

Something very endearing Australians do is say “You’re allright” when they mean “No problem” or “You’re welcome”.  Its not much but it feels much more personal than the latter.  That’s going on the plus side.  I haven’t yet met an Australian that I didn’t like… just wanted to run away from.

Final score: 4.8/5.0

Internet Access:  Seriously.  Get with the program.  At the very least get the stupid coffee shops to offer it.  And give it for free to the people in the stupid airport where its really important! Stop gouging for an essential service!  Only positive is that it is fast when you pay for it…

Final score: 1.0/5.0

Water: I’m convinced water at Yulara near Uluru which was supposed to be safe to drink poisoned half the bus.  For a country with as much desert as Australia I’m willing to be lenient, but there are many places where you need to wash up with undrinkable stuff.  Its tough not to swallow any.

As far as natural water goes, its quite beautiful to see billabongs where the land supports it.  And there’s no beating lake Mackenzie, ever.  What it does have, it does it well.

Final score (Desert Adjusted Score): 4.0/5.0

Beer: They like their light beer in Australia.  But its not what they call light, which they think means low carb.  To me it just means a colour that’s not dark.  Most of the beers here taste pretty much the same, which was very disappointing… and some of it just tastes absolutely terrible.  Think Labatt 50.  That’s better than VB, which is present in almost every bar or pub that you go to.  Its tolerable enough when first served because the cold numbs the taste, but its downhill from there.  You have about 2 minutes to finish your drink or it becomes terrible while it warms.  Maybe that’s why Aussies get drunk so fast..

Another beer: XXXX Gold.  I had trouble with this one at first because I thought people were saying “Forett’s” when they were really saying “Four X”.  Damn accents.  Many confused bartenders thought I had a speech impediment.  Anyways, this one tastes pretty good!  However there’s a catch! One day to my dismay I read the back and found that the alcohol content is a staggering 3.5%!  So really, when you dink four x you’re really just drinking funny tasting water….

Best beer in Australia: Toohey’s Old, a dark amber ale that no one seems to have on tap.

Final Score: 3.8/5.0 only because of the Old.

Food: Meat country likes meat.  Vegetarians need not apply, because a veggy meal to most Australians is lettuce, tomato and beets.  I’m fairly sure I might have had a mild case of malnutrition in the first two weeks before I caved.

Breakfasts seem to exist only in tasteless, cookie cutter form across the entire continent.  Toast, eggs, sausages, beans, bacon.  And that’s only if you’re allowed the hot breakfast option.  All this accompanied by canned melons and honeydew that have rubber texture and nothing else.  Oh yeah, hash browns too (sometimes).  I never thought cereal would look so good to me – I couldn’t have any because there was never any soy milk.

Lunches were generally self-bought, so you got what you paid for where you paid for it.  Best lunch I had was at a famous stop called Daly Waters where I had the local Barramundi.  That shit just melted in my mouth.

Dinners…honestly nothing particular comes to mind save my last one, but that’s probably because it was yesterday.  What does that say about dining in Australia? :(

Final Score: 2.5/5.0

S*** to see: Ok, there’s a lot of stuff here.  And most of it is pretty astounding.  The coastal cities are predictable but it doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful, because they really are.  The Northern Territories are a lot more fun to travel around and look at, but its not easy going.  The coast has some really great stuff up north, and most cities have a good nightlife.  Pick your poison.

Final Score: 5.0/5.0

TimTams:  Truly excellent.

Final Score: 5.0/5.0

Bugs: They are persnickety, just like my Tilley hat.  They are also the most annoying things invented on the planet.  Blow flies can blow me.  I was debating how to score these, but I think I’ll just grade them on their annoyance effort.

Final Score: 10.0/5.0

The Sea: Lots of things can kill you in the water.  I was fortunate not to encounter any of them, although the surfboard almost did me in.  There are islands with the name “Shark Island” and lets just say Australians aren’t the most imaginative bunch.  Snorkling the reef was a life experience I won’t forget.  But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not really a water sports kind of guy.  But I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t tried all these things!  So good on ya!

Final Score: 4.0/5.0

The Flight Over: Easy one – it sucks ass. 22 hours going, 18 return.  World is too damn big.

Final score: 0.0/5.0

Lamp: I love lamp.

Final Score: 5.0/5.0

AFL: I also call it “Easy Rugby”.  But the pitch is completely round, therefore an appropriate score…

Final Score: 3.1415/5.0

Money: Australians like to say that they’ve got rid of the useless penny, so their change system is superior.  However, they fail to mention the monster 50 cent coins that feel like they’re made of lead.  And the two-dollar coin is almost the smallest coin they have, so you’re always fishing for it amongst the change.  My original wallet broke and I had to buy a new one because of that damn change. When you walk you feel like you’re always veering towards the right due to the weight.

The only redeeming feature of this mass of metal in your pocket is the incredibly satisfying feeling you get when you pay for a $9 drink using a fistful of metal and dump it all in the barkeep’s hands.

Final Score: 1.0/5.0

Weather:  Barring one of the most miserable days of my life, and one night where the humidity was very close to if not actually 100%, the weather while I was there was some of the best I’ve ever seen on a vacation.  And this was a month’s worth of weather across many different climate zones.  Maybe I just got lucky, but places like the Gold Coast aren’t named that because of their mining deposits.  Three cheers for Australian weather!  Although the sun is pretty brutal if you’re not prepared for it.  Just buy yourself a Tilley hat and you’ll be fine…

Final Score: 5.0/5.0

Conclusion: 59.0415/75 = 64%

What the hell.. this review sucks.  Disregard.

THE REAL CONCLUSION:

Australia was a trip of a lifetime where I was constantly surprised at the diversity and excitement every day brought.  But that also has a lot to do with the tour group’s credit as well.  But with a country as vast and diverse as Australia its just a manner of logistics and personality that they need to bring to the table, which was done well enough in the end, especially the Northern Territory part (which was my favorite).

If you want to go I highly suggest the NT portion above the other if you need to choose.  The east coast tour is nice but there aren’t many surprises really and the partying part can really be done in any other metropolitan city, save for the location near the coast.

The tour’s highlights almost exclusively include the optional activities that are offered along the way.  The bus is there to take you from place to place but its the optionals that make the memories.  Plan to spend extra cash (upwards of $1500 or more just for about 10 of them) after you get there in your budget.

I also recommend going alone.  You’ll just be much more open to meeting new people, which is important on a bus full of people.  Or if you do go with a friend make sure you don’t bubble yourselves off.  You meet tons of interesting people on a trip like this and it would be a shame to miss out on it.  You’re spending a significant amount of time with them anyways, might as well be friendly.

Go to Australia.  The sand there is breathtaking.