“No worries, mate.” This classic Australian phrase not only evokes scenes from old teen films – these are words that Australians truly live by. Putting worries aside and taking life as it comes: Could this laid-back attitude be the magic ingredient, making Australians one of the happiest people in the world?
Oh beautiful Australia, teeming with backpackers and expats. You have breathtaking nature, great weather and a relaxed lifestyle – in short, everything that oh-so-intellectual Europeans secretly long for. Anyone who decides to make the long trip to Australia is in for a challenge. Where to go? What to do? The fact is that Australia has something for everyone. Although Australia is all about being laid back, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s about doing nothing. Quite the opposite. Aussies know just how to make the most of the huge variety of activities that their country has to offer.
For café enthusiasts and lovers of good design
We kick off in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. It is also known among fans of the city as Australia’s “cultural capital” – a title it certainly deserves. Melbourne is so hip and colourful that it can hold its own against London, Paris or New York. But unlike some of these megacities, Melbourne has successfully preserved its laid-back feel. Street art adorns the streetscape everywhere you look, and in the city centre you can find design shops right next to snug cafés.
Jet-lagged tourists arrive and are spoilt for choice in terms of places to visit. But despite the wide array of choices available, they think in superlatives. Of course, it would be unthinkable to have a coffee anywhere but at the coolest café, or to eat anywhere but at the hottest new restaurant. The Lanes and Arcades tour provides the perfect solution for this. It leads through the city’s lesser-known streets and lanes, taking you to amazing cafés that you would otherwise only find by chance – if at all. During the tour, the guide also provides information about the architecture and history of the city. It is highly recommended for anyone who would prefer not to spend their trip rushing from one tourist trap to another. The tour might then end with a return visit to your favourite café to enjoy just one more flat white – after all, the Australians invented it.
Because we love great design, we have selected the centrally located QT Melbourne hotel as our accommodation. And here’s the best part: In the evening, we don’t even need to leave the hotel. We can while away the hours relaxing in the hotel’s very own rooftop bar. This bar is all about seeing and being seen. Enjoy a cocktail and take in the great view of Melbourne. It’s the epitome of laid-back.
Take us higher, Harbour Bridge
“Melbourne or Sydney?” – a thorny question, which we have decided to gracefully skirt around. For us, both cities have their place. The big difference is that one is simply more well known. After all, would you be able to name Melbourne’s most famous landmark off the top of your head? Didn’t think so. But “Sister Sydney” is another matter. When you think of Sydney, you immediately think of the famous Opera House or Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is also very well known. We love the bridge, so we are going to take a closer look at it. And where better to start than at the top? The BridgeClimb tour is a tour with a difference. After climbing about 130 metres (while properly secured, of course), we enjoy the view of the city. The minimum age for participants is eight years. There is no upper limit: you just need to be healthy – and ideally not susceptible to vertigo.
But that’s enough about urban life. We yearn for open space, untouched landscapes and tranquillity. The outback is quite far away from Sydney, but there is an alternative that hits the spot for all nature-lovers. The Blue Mountains, which are located about two hours away, can be recognised by the blue haze that hovers above them. The coloured mist is caused by the essential oils released from the eucalyptus trees, making the mountain range seem almost mystical. Wherever there is eucalyptus, koalas are not far away. You will encounter them when you visit the nearby wildlife parks.
The Blue Mountains are a hiker’s dream. But they are a dream for everyone else, too. Thanks to a very special transportation system, you can get just as great a view of the Blue Mountains without a walking stick. The Scenic Skyway is an exciting way to travel provided by Scenic World – namely in a cable car with a glass floor! The other means of exploring the Blue Mountains is called the Scenic Railway and looks just like a roller coaster set in the middle of the mountains. It may not be as fast as the roller coasters you would find at a theme park, but it is the steepest passenger railway in the world. Once again: not for the faint of heart.
Into the jungle
We want to discover even more of this fascinating continent, so for the next part of our journey, we fly to Cairns in the north of the East Coast. Or rather, into the rainforest. There are countless adventures you can embark on from here. For instance, why not try Jungle Surfing? Jungle Surfing is a zipline tour straight through the Daintree Rainforest. The tour is action-packed, but of course there is plenty of time to catch your breath on one of the platforms provided for breaks – and we highly recommend doing so. The view of the ocean is just as breathtaking as the zipline adventure itself. And if that is not enough for you, why not try swinging through the jungle as well as zipping through it? “Swinging through the jungle” might not sound that exciting, but with a Jungle Swing moving at a speed of about 75 mph with a 45-metre drop, you might find that you get more excitement than you bargained for.
After all that excitement, you will definitely have earned some time to relax. Luckily, by Australian standards, the Great Barrier Reef is just around the corner. Starting at Port Douglas, we set off on a catamaran and sail to what is likely the world’s best-known underwater landscape. Obviously, a snorkelling trip is an experience that you won’t want to miss out on here – and rightly so, because the combination of gigantic coral fields and the explosion of colour created by countless species of fish and plants is one of the great natural wonders of the world. We end the day with some relaxation, but not in a hammock between a couple of trees. We have something far more luxurious in mind: the Silky Oaks Lodge nestled in the middle of the rainforest. It has elegant bungalows, a wide range of spa services and a gorgeous view. Even the most seasoned bloggers and the most fervent Instagrammers will be green with envy when they see you in this astonishing little treasure of a place. If you can’t relax here, you can’t relax anywhere.