Regional Studies

As I travelled with Australians before and came to their country to see what they told me, I thought I was well prepared. I had read a major travel guide before. I am interested in any kind of biology, I knew more about marsupials than many other Europeans. The travel guide said anyway one wouldn't see one in the wild. I had decided to buy a book about Australian birds in a shop there - no way to get it in Europe. Also in my bag there was a book about common tropical plants in general and about tropical sea life. Together with books for the long flight and a dictionary I thought it should be fine.

And then I came to Australia and realized the very first evening I knew nothing about marsupials. For Europe it is alright to talk of all the bouncing species as 'kangaroos', but in Australia it's definitely not. They all have different names (probably of Aboriginal origin) one never ever heard before and cannot instantly remember. And: maybe not everyone ends up helping to raise a possum baby, but seeing them in the wild is no big deal. All it takes is going where the animals live - they won't come to the Sydney Opera house by themselves. So if interested in them, do make your homework, you'll need it.

The other preparations were alright, only the book about the birds was bought late. One could buy booklets and books about several more topics (butterflies, flowers...) in any tourist place, but I was already busy enough. I'd like to have better informations about the trees, but couldn't find that one for a reasonable price, so I have to rely on you guys and your insider informations (Thanks for the great support on birds!). But the tropical plants book did fine here as it did in several other places of the world and the new Tropical seelife was good, too. I found a match for anything I met under water, so if you dive, I could recommend to do the same.

Sure I learned a big deal more about the country when travelling it, but after all the tales I heard before nothing really came unexpected. Maybe only the colors of the desert: I never ever would have guessed it can be really exciting to watch the continous changes of 600 km along the road. There are definitely rather boring, rather lonely places than the Lassiter Highway between the boiling points of tourism. But yes: if having a reliable car, it's just GREAT!

Regarding the language I was on the safe side: I went through the worst Australian accent amongst friends, so nobody there could shock me anymore. But if you learned your Oxford English at school, be prepared for a culture shock or try listening to some tapes before.

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by IKO