It might seem a little odd that an Australian living in Canada is writing a post entitled “Finding my Australia” but bear with me and let me explain!
Expedia Viewfinder™ is offering one travel blogger the chance to star in his or her own travel short film. This spring marked the second year they partnered with National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), the world’s largest youth film festival, and this year they determined five iconic cities often seen on the silver screen, including: Australia*, Paris, Morocco*, London, and Seattle. Expedia is asking travel bloggers to write a blog post about how they would “find theirs” in one of the locations above if they were chosen for the star of a 2-3 minute film then share it on Expedia Viewfinder ™. One blogger, along with a NFFTY representative and an assigned NFFTY filmmaker, will win an all-expense paid trip for up to four nights to the winning destination to create a “Find Yours” video.
*EDITED TO ADD: Yes I realise Australia and Morocco are not cities, this is the wording from the contest!
Those of you who know me might have imagined that I might write about Paris for this post but I already do that. I spend most summers in Paris, exploring and re-discovering the city where I spent over 5 years living. Cities don’t stay the same, they re-invent themselves, so every year I discover new favourite places, things to eat and drink and things to do and after a few years of this, I’m pretty adept at finding my happy place in the City of Light.
No, actually for this post, I thought I would challenge myself to get back and find my roots. My birthplace, Australia. Whilst I lived there for the better part of 24 years, there is a whole huge country out there that I barely know. My country. So often I get asked about what to do and see in Australia, but not having lived there since 1995, I admit that I am most definitely not “up to speed” with what to do and see (and eat and drink) as much as many people might think. That’s (kinda sorta) excusable, since it’s hard to keep tabs on a country that’s so far away when I only go back so rarely to visit (just 4 times in over 13 years!).
What really got me thinking about what I’d like to “find” for this post/ contest was this article on Australian Geographic listing 100 Aussie icons which caught my eye a while ago. I started thinking about how little of Australia I have actually visited (as a university student, I tended to head much further afield when I had holidays, very rarely holidaying in my own country) and looking at the article’s list of iconic places, I realised how few of them I had seen. I mean for an Aussie girl born and bred, it’s a little embarrassing…
My parents live in Sydney and I have spent a little time there so, of course, I have seen (and even attended performances in) the Sydney Opera House… You can’t visit Sydney without at some point seeing and/or crossing the Sydney Harbor Bridge… Though of course I have never done the bridge climb, which according to people I know who have done this is an iconic experience. A part of me thinks that I should attempt this. Just, you know, the once 😉
Further afield, I’ve never been to Kakadu National Park – containing over 280 bird species, roughly 60 mammal species, over 50 freshwater species, over 10,000 insects species, over 1,600 plant species and more than 5,000 recorded art sites illustrating Aboriginal culture over thousands of years – indeed it is thought that the Aboriginals have occupied the Kakadu area for over 40 000 years. (source). I mean, an Aussie girl should see that at least once in her life, right?
A classic Aussie icon also on my “must see” list is The Great Barrier Reef. I mean, who wouldn’t want to check out 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays, hundreds of picturesque tropical islands and some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches? It’s also one of the seven natural wonders of the world, larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space.(source). Again, it’s a little embarrassing that this born and bred Aussie hasn’t been there!
And last but certainly not least, who can talk about Australian icons without mentioning Uluru?
So many people are shocked that I haven’t been there – for many it’s like going to London and not seeing Big Ben. Or Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. Or New York and not seeing the Statue of Liberty. But hey, it’s not exactly in the centre of a city – it’s far! And of course, my dream lodging in Uluru would be at Longitude 131 – an eco-sensitive lodge “at the gateway of the dual World Heritage listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park”. Sounds amazing, right?
I had a hard time trying to choose just a few iconic places I’d really like to cross off my “bucket list” – there are so many more – The Daintree Rainforest, The Twelve Apostles and Great Ocean Road, Mt Kosciuszko – Australia’s highest peak or Cradle Mountain in Tasmania… and The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website lists more! In four days there wouldn’t be much time to cover multiple icons, either. So I was also thinking another great way to “find Australia” covering a lot of ground in one go would be to take one of the legendary Great Southern Rail trains – The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin (another city I have never been to!) or The Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth (also, unknown to me!).
So how about it Expedia Viewfinder™ – help me get back to explore my birth country and find my roots, won’t you? It would be so great to be able to offer tourism and travel advice about the country of my birth too!
Do you read my blog in your Google Reader? Did you know that Google Reader will be no longer as of July 1st? What to do? Well you can follow my blog with bloglovin! (and all your other favourites too!)
International book giveaway: Corey Mintz’ How to Host a Dinner Party. Ends today, Tuesday June 25th 6pm EST