Myndi’s Wisdom: Your trip begins even before you embark. Let’s start with a few simple tips about packing and wardrobe.
∞∞ You may skip this section if you are fortunate enough to have a
TARDES available for your use ∞∞
Because your travels will take you through numerous cities, catching flights, renting cars and checking into 8 different hotels/resorts in five different climates, pack light. Remember, your itinerary runs from Sydney to Uluru to Alice Springs to Adelaide to the Clare Valley to the Barossa Valley to Adelaide to Kangaroo Island to Adelaide to Melbourne to Hobart to the Freycinet Peninsula to Scottsdale to Launceston and finally back to Sydney. Naturally I’ve left out the flight from wherever to Sydney and back, but you will need to plan for them as well.
Even though you can check more than one suitcase, PACK ONLY ONE SUITCASE! (Stow a foldable carry-on for impulse souvenir purchases along the way, if you must.) And, PACK LIGHT. Your traveling companion cannot conveniently be exchanged for a pack mule, so you will probably be lugging your luggage yourself.
Myndi’s Wisdom: You are what you wear.
Your wardrobe choices need to be sensible and cover a variety of situations, both weather and whether. Flexibility is the key. You can always get things laundered (though you may need to arrange a second mortgage in advance of your departure to cover the costs). Do it yourself laundry is a great choice, but only if you will be in one place long enough for your clothes to dry – packing damp clothing isn’t bad, but unpacking it is.
Here’s my recommendation for the female traveler:
4 pair cotton pants – 2 Capri and 2 full length
1 pair dress black pants
4 long sleeved cotton tee shirts
2 linen or cotton gauze dress shirts – these can be worn as overshirts for a different look
1 pair pj’s (none if you fly Qantas Business or First Class, they give them to you to keep)
7 pair washable quick drying Ex Officio undies
Light weight sneakers
Ballet slipper shoes
Quick drying bathing suit
Socks and stockings are optional
LEAVE YOUR MANOLO BLAHNIKS HOME! (First, no one will notice; second, no one will notice; third, they are probably really uncomfortable for extended walks.)
Recommendations for the male traveler:
2 pair washable cotton pants
2 pair Ex Officio convertible cargo parts (the ones that unzip at the knees and become shorts)
4 linen shirts – 2 long sleeve, 2 short sleeve
4 Ex Officio “bush” shirts – quick drying, cargo pockets
2 permanent press Oxford shirts – probably best as 1 long sleeve and 1 short sleeve
2 cotton tee shirts
7 pair washable quick drying Ex Officio undies
1 washable quick drying Ex Officio undershirt (wear it outbound, wash and wear home)
1 sweater (I STRONGLY recommend cashmere because it’s light, warm, and classy)
1 pair pj’s (none if you fly Qantas)
Light weight sneakers
Sturdy Mephisto loafers with rubber soles (these are for slipping off during flights but wearing to dinner because light weight sneakers are sometimes garishly trimmed and make it hard for maitre d’s to take the wearer seriously)
Socks are optional (wear a pair on your outbound flight, wash them, wear them on your flight home – between times they really aren’t necessary, even with the Mephisto loafers)
For travelers of any sex:
DO BRING AND USE SPF 100 SUNSCREEN (the maximum locally available is SPF 50, the sun is so strong it will completely cook you in a fraction of the time you are accustomed to)
DO NOT BRING COSMETICS (they will melt off you and, no one will notice)
DO NOT BRING SHAMPOO (all the luxury resorts/hotels have amazing toiletries)
∞∞ TARDES USERS RESUME HERE ∞∞
Myndi’s Wisdom: You are what you eat – if you’re lucky.
The food and food fetishes are different. Do not worry about gaining weight. Australians eat mostly things that are healthy and you will be so active you will actually burn the calories you consume. Because you are busy, there is no time to snack, and the hidden home hazards have no horrible hold on you. Aussies are big on really tucking in to a serious meal with serious spirits as integral parts of the repast – enjoy along with them. If you are a gluten-free vegan and shun alcohol as promoting unhealthy desires – the gluten-free part is OK, vegan is achievable though scarcely desirable, but temperance is NOT an Australian virtue. If you are a really serious TGV (temperate, gluten-free vegan) STAY HOME. Australia boasts great food and wine (well, it would be a boast if it weren’t true, but it really isn’t because it is).
While no one would seriously advocate abandoning French Bordeaux or Scotch Whiskey, the Australians make delicious wines and Tasmanians in particular, distill world-class spirits. Not drinking the Reislings and GSM’s (Grenache, Sauvignon, Mourvedre) of the Clare Valley, the Shiraz’s of the Barossa Valley and the Pinot Noirs ofTasmania is missing an opportunity to enjoy the very best – most of these creations are consumed locally and, like platypuses and echidnas, are never seen anywhere else. Seafood, lamb and beef are flavorful, plentiful and well prepared. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound, and are incredibly delicious. Great cheeses will surprise and delight your palate, and will seriously threaten your long held prejudice that a cheese platter isn’t dessert.
Note: Moreton Bay Bugs need the attention of a serious marketing department to rebrand their unfortunate name, they are really like eating the best lobster tails you have ever enjoyed – only better.
Myndi’s Wisdom: Go Native – when you travel you leave home and enter another world
Do not tip under any circumstances, unless there is a line for it on the charge slip. Australians take it as an insult, even the hourly workers are paid well. (How does $25/hour minimum wage sound?) Truly extraordinary services (your guide dealing with a mob of crazed “bargain” tourists on the “queue” for an exhibition or table service above the standard established by Czarist nobles waiting tables in Parisian restaurants circa 1922) should be recognized. Ten percent makes everyone your BFF, and guarantees your future “bookings” will be treated as sacred obligations. Do say, “Thank you.” It’s actually heard, and truly appreciated. Do tell your host/server/guide how much you enjoyed whatever. Again, it’s actually heard, and truly appreciated.
This leads to my final set of recommendations.
Mydni’s Wisdom: Walk a kilometer or two in Aussie shoes (preferably UGGs)
To walk a kilometer in Aussie shoes you will need to ask directions (a kilometer is just about 5/8ths of a mile). TALK TO THE LOCALS! They are are justifiably proud of their incredible country, anxious to share it with you and value your opinion. If you show a sincere interest, they willingly share everything – one of our very best experiences was an invitation to a BBQ from one of our guides. He invited us because he was concerned we had been eating too much hotel food. Australia is huge, diverse, sparsely populated and surprisingly sophisticated. Enjoy every moment you spend here; enjoy the beauty of this vast unspoiled friendly country. To do this, DO NOT RUSH! Slow down; even Toto will know instinctively you’re not in Kansas anymore. Smile! Aussies smile more than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Australia is not just a country, it’s a continent and a consciously chosen lifestyle.
Myndi’s Wisdom: Stuff (this is, after all, suitable for children – incidentally, the Australian word is “poo”) happens. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
It is inevitable that you will feel stressed (you are, after all, half a world away from home); you will make a wrong turn (they drive on the wrong side of the road); you will arrive late (wallabies, wombats and kangaroos have no respect for the rules of the road). DON’T PANIC. Everything will turn out all right because as this is Australia. Locals even have an oft repeated phrase encapsulating the quintessential Aussie truth, “No worries mate.”
Myndi’s Final Bit of Wisdom: PLAN TO RETURN! Of course having a great travel coordinator makes all the difference between struggling to get it all arranged correctly and just needing to pack your bag (REMEMBER – ONE SUITCASE!)
CRITICAL FINAL NOTE: Bring along a stuffed dragon (or, if such a thing exists, equivalent totem) with ATTITUDE to make notes. (I am available for private bookings – I’ve had all my shots and my passport is up to date.)