White beaches, red desserts, and Crocodile Dundee. Australia is a treasure trove of natural marvels and indescribable beauty, as well as an eccentric crocodile poacher, making it one of the top travel destinations in the world. The breath-taking variety of wildlife and plants and the intriguing history of the ecology of the country is so mesmerising it draws people from all over the planet to marvel at the iconic wonders of the spectacular land. Personally, I was drawn to the east coast, embarking on a road trip from Sydney, up the coastline to Cairns. Boasting some of finest spectacles of the country, and indeed the world, there is so much to explore up the fascinating coastline and as my flight cruised into Sydney, the excitement rapidly grew as I gazed over the coastline of New South Wales.
Waiting for me at the airport wasn’t some bloke from the outback with a knife, but my three wonderfully competent yet simultaneously woefully incapable mates, in our rental van, ready to take me to the beach. Destined to be excellent travel partners as they came with a recklessly exciting sense of adventure as well as provocative yet entertaining obliviousness, we were bound to spend the next month creating extraordinarily ridiculous recollections.
Taking me straight to Manly Beach, a coastal jewel of Australia’s most famous city, we all learnt quickly that Australia is everything as advertised with its golden beaches being crashed onto by surfers on barrel waves, but instantaneously being nothing like we imagined as it dawned on us that winter does in fact exist there. To us four British brits the low twenty degrees temperatures seemed ideal, to the concerned observers of our single layered attire, this weather seemed to strike the fear of some Antarctic apocalypse which would bring penguins, icebergs and white-walkers to their shores. The sporting stereotype of the land down under blossomed as surfers filled the sea, runners in thermals passed and groups of long blonde-haired guitarists stretched beside the sand in their yoga class. The public barbeques were in full swing, accompanied by pints of beer and it seemed picture perfect, just with more layers of clothing and a potential threat of rain.
As we idled along the shore line we were quickly remined of another Australian stereotype- everything there wants to kill you. Signposts lining the beach entrances were stark reminders of the perils of the sea. Man eating sharks circle the deep, box jellyfish aren’t too far away and deadly octopi near them. Closer to shore there are fatal fish that look like rocks and murderous rocks that look like fish, and even a harpoon wielding snail that will end your life. Australia has the deadliest, shark, jellyfish, stonefish and normal fish in the world, the most lethal octopi, stingrays and cones. And that is just in the water. Treading carefully, we decided against jumping in at Manly beach fearing imminent death by some violent form of seaweed.
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