Pick up the travel section of any daily newspaper or glossy magazine and you’ll see a burst of optimism for international travel in 2022. Cruise companies are already accepting bookings for their former floating petri dishes and travel writers are enthusing about all variety of exotic destinations that beckon the vaccinated tourist next year.
It’s all very speculative of course and nobody can accurately predict when international travel, in particular tourist travel, will return to anything resembling pre-Covid conditions. In the meantime Australians are being encouraged to enjoy our numerous homegrown holiday opportunities although topsy turvy border closures have so far hindered the process.
There’s definitely lots to see and explore downunder, however in previous years many Australians have chosen to holiday abroad, for a whole variety of reasons. Destinations like Bali have long attracted the budget tourist looking for cheap accommodation and the opportunity to drink copious amounts of alcohol. Adventurous backpackers have been drawn to the dizzy altitude of Machu Picchu or trekking in the Himalayas. And the high end snobs have enjoyed escorted cruises down the Danube and skiing trips to Aspen.
Our geographic isolation is often given as the motivation for many Australians wanting to escape the tyranny of distance and journey overseas. Obviously this is not possible in 2020 but there is a solution – recreating the global experience right here at home.
No need for a visa or a tiring long haul flight as you forgo your usual expensive jaunt to the snow fields of Colorado or Switzerland and enjoy the grassy summer slopes of Long Reef, NSW. Grass skiing was all the go here back in the late 30s and there is no reason why it could not be revived. For that rainy day we could also bring back the legendary ‘Ski Studio’, located in an old factory in Rushcutters Bay around the same time. Featuring a miniature jump hill and a slope covered with coconut fibre matting, the interior walls were decorated with vibrant Australian snow scenes.
In recent years a number of nostalgia seeking Australians have travelled to the US to drive the old Route 66 road from LA to Chicago. Let’s rename the Princes Highway between Sydney and Melbourne, our own Route 66, and pepper it with all manner of roadside attractions and greasy spoon diners. The Federal Government could chip in with a grant to anybody wanting to open a snake farm or build a giant blue whale along the way. Tourist towns along the way would reap the benefits as traffic increases twofold and the Big Merino is relocated from nearby the boring old Hume.
We already have a faithful replica of the UK’s Stonehenge, located in the Western Australian town of Esperance for the past 20 years. The great news is that it’s now up for sale for a bargain $2.1 million. What an opportunity to put the whole goddam thing on wheels and travel it around the country. There’s a tiny town of Stonehenge in outback Queensland and what a journey it would be if it crossed the country to its spiritual namesake, chaperoned by a convoy of motor homes and grey nomads.
Australians love cruising on the open seas and there’s no reason why some of the big ships couldn’t start plying a series of restricted coastal routes such as Sydney to Wollongong and back again – on a kind of permanent 24/7 rotation. Even the notorious Ruby Princess, if it hasn’t joined the Achille Lauro at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, could be brought back into service. A port like Eden on the South Coast could be turned into a kind of mock Fiji, with the locals donning islander costumes and greeting cruise goers with paper leis and jugs of kava.
Finally, here’s the chance to really make the best of Cockatoo Island and turn it into a unique budget Bali, right in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Out with the glamping and the historical crap and in with 5000 tonnes of sand to recreate a stunning Kuta Beach, complete with wave machines to simulate a gentle rolling surf. Bars and cheap booze everywhere with plenty of motor scooters to roar around the island. Hoons and schoolies would flock there and hey, you could bring anything you like stashed in your boogie board.