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Posted by on March 20, 2024

After returning to San Antonio from Brisbane following my last walking day on 15 March, I’ve had a few days to collect my thoughts on the 76 days I spent in Australia; the culture I experienced, the scenery I observed, and all those beautiful and welcoming people I met that made this such a memorable trip. 

I’ll start first by saying I’ve now walked through three continents, made up of 9 countries, covering over 6100 miles, and I am yet to experience one single situation where I felt threatened or uncomfortable in anyway with the people or the environment I found myself in. There is a lot of bad news on TV and social media, but for this traveler, no one was ever rude or threatening to me in any way. There is a world full of nice people out there and I’ve met thousands of them first hand. 

On this walk in Australia, unlike my walk coast-to-coast across America, and my walk from Greece to Norway across Europe, I cannot take credit for walking “across Australia”.  I only went for a walk “in” Australia. I think most of us have no idea how big Australia really is. For example, I walked from Melbourne in the far south to Brisbane on Australia’s east coast.  That’s basically half way across Australia from south to north; about 1200 miles. However, that is approximately the same distance as from Seattle, Wa to San Diego, Ca. So Australia is almost twice as big as the U.S. going north to south. So basically I walked about halfway across Australia. 

Some observations I found interesting, and refreshing, as I walked. First, Aussies follow their rules and laws. I rarely saw someone who was clearly speeding based on the other traffic around them. Also, pedestrians almost never jaywalk. Locals will stand at a street corner and wait until the signal says they can cross the street no matter how obvious it is that there are no cars coming. Also, in 1200+ miles, I never once saw a driver using their cell phone. I saw plenty of cars stopped on the shoulder of the road with the driver talking, but never while driving. This is probably partly due to the $1500 first offense/no questions asked fine you get if you’re caught driving and using your cell phone. 

One thing that affected me everyday that was hard to adjust to, and honestly was quite annoying, was the fact that Aussie drivers have little regard for pedestrians. For example, if I were crossing a street at an intersection that had a stop sign for vehicles, in the U.S., most pedestrians would feel they had the right of way to safely cross the street because the car had a stop sign. Not in Australia. Pedestrians have no right of way. You’ll get run right over, honked at, or asked to “watch out mate” if you try to cross in front of a car that’s stopped at a stop sign. I learned this on about day two. 

Another situation I experienced almost daily; most Australians have a high interest in American politics. Anytime I spent more than a few minutes with a group of locals, the political situation and upcoming election in the U.S. would be a topic of discussion, and not because I brought the subject up. It usually revolved around something like “can’t you Americans find two people out of 300+ million that are more qualified than the two you’ve got running?”  Now what do you say to that without it turning into an all night discussion?  

I found it very easy to get from place to place even though I had no vehicle. Australia has a good train system near the major cities, and a bus network that covers the entire country. No matter where I found myself needing a ride at the end of my walking day, transportation was available. And as a last resort, hitching a ride is alive and well too. I used this option several times and never waited long for a ride. 

Things are expensive in Australia.  I generally paid about 25-30% more for a meal in Australia than I would have in the U.S.  My walking shoes that I pay $80 for in the U.S. were $160 in Sydney.  Two exceptions for the high cost was lodging and transportation. A standard motel room was about the same price in Australia as in the U.S and the train and bus system is subsidized by the government so the fares for riding them were cheap. 

Australians love their tattoos. A much larger percentage of the population has one or more tattoos than in the U.S.  And this is true no matter what group you might look at. Young, old, male, female, rich, poor; it doesn’t seem to matter. There are tattoos everywhere you look in Australia. 

There must be more recreational vehicles in Australia than anywhere else on earth. Aussies call their campers “caravans” and they dominate the roads, especially on weekends. Most are campers pulled behind cars or trucks.  Rarely, if ever, did I see a Class A motor coach going down the road. But on Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings it seemed like every other vehicle was pulling a camper. 

Aussies don’t seem to be nearly as enamored with their national flag as Americans. In the U.S. the American flag is displayed everywhere you look. You can’t drive a city block without seeing a flag flying in front of a business or home. Not true in Australia. I went days without noticing the Southern Cross flying on a flag pole. 

Like in America, I noticed big differences in the “strength” of the Aussie accent. Some people I could understand very easily, while others I could hardly make out anything they were saying. And it didn’t seem to matter if they were old or young, male or female, or what area of the country they were in. 

As a country, it seemed like Australia and its people were trying very hard to make amends between their Aboriginal people and the rest of its population. I could see this in TV programming, advertising, and just an overall inclusion of the aboriginal culture into everyday life in Australia. It was really nice to see. 

So I think I’ll wrap it up with one final thought. I had a great time experiencing the Australian culture during their summer of ‘24. It was all I hoped for and much more. These long walks are never easy, but the positive always outweighs the negative; thus I keep going back for more. However, I’m confident this will be my last long walk. I’ll keep walking, but I’ll start and finish in my own driveway from here on out. Once again, thank you all for being loyal followers; some of you since my first walk in 2015. I’ve cherished your comments and encouragement. JB. 

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