12 apostles

Travel Tales from the Land Down Unda’ – Part 1

The following are three different short stories, from three different friends, from three different parts of the world. Each have incredibly fond memories of their experience in Australia and I found it amazing that they wanted to share this before I take the plunge myself and head Down Unda’.

There has been an outstanding amount of support for my Wildlife Caretaker campaign and it is humbling to know how many internationals have had such an incredible experience working and travelling in Australia. Truly, there is nothing like Australia and these three are here to prove it. So with no further ado…

Dave Mondoux, Canada

“I went to Australia in May 2008, and it was first time going on a trip by myself, and to a nation I was pretty unfamiliar with. I had gone to France and The Netherlands with my mom previously, but those were the only place I had been, and it had been about 4 years since I had done any kind real travelling abroad. I landed in Sydney, and was immediately both amazed and relaxed at the same time. It had a similar kind of feeling to Toronto, in terms of the people and culture, just having a little more British influence than Canada.

From there, I started a 2.5 week journey up the east coast to Cairns, and fell in love with the natural beauty of coastal Australia. There were stunning vistas everywhere, flora and fauna previously unknown to me, fantastic beaches to soak up the beautiful Australian sun. As I did a two day sailing trip around the Whitsundays, I was in absolute awe of their beauty and unspoiled wilderness, thinking that there was no way it could get any better than that.

However, the biggest effect Australia had on me was yet to come, and happened when I got to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. I had done some snorkelling before and found it enjoyable, but I decided to take the plunge (literally and figuratively) and try Scuba diving for the first time, doing a Discover Scuba course. I had always been comfortable in the water, so I thought I’d give it a shot. What I saw that day, in some ways, has changed my life in a fairly dramatic way ever since.”

“It was a feeling unlike anything I had ever experienced, feeling more at one with my natural surrounding than ever before. In scuba diving, you never lose sight that you are a visitor, completely out of your element, and yet somehow immersed in this foreign world. I saw colours I didn’t know existed, fish and sea life unlike anything I thing I had seen before; it was amazing. As soon as I finished, I knew I had to obtain my Open Water certification so I could come back one day and really explore this majestic underwater paradise.”

“I haven’t been back to Australia yet, but with your help as my instructor, I did get my Open Water (and Advanced Open Water since) and have been diving in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ontario, and Korea, with Japan soon to follow. I should of course point out that the things you (Greg Snell) taught me in the course about respecting the environment you’re diving in and minimizing your impact on the ocean life you’re observing have resonated with me through all my dives. Almost all of my divemasters have noted and been impressed by my respect for the diving environment, and you (Greg Snell) certainly deserve part of the credit for that.

I also find myself more involved in debates on things we can do to protect our oceans, making sure people in future generations can see the same beauty that got my absolutely hooked on scuba diving yet. And though I haven’t been back yet, I can’t wait to go back to probably the most beautiful and famous diving spot on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef, and revisit more in-depth the place that started my love affair with diving.



Cathál O’Connor – England (Aussie Working Holiday Visa hopeful for 2014)

“Of my short 12 day work visit to Australia I was lucky enough to help with some conservation work down at Phillip Island south of Melbourne. We got to watch the penguin parade that shows penguins religiously waddling up the island shores back to their homes at the same time every evening (give or take a minute or two, which is incredible for birds with no alarm clocks!).”

“Many houses were built on Phillip Island in the 1980’s to take advantage of the breathtaking views that the island has to offer. This led to the destruction of the penguin’s natural habitat and caused major concerns threatening the existence of these wonderful creatures. The government recognized this and demanded for the people to move out their homes and give the birds back their land (incredible right?!).

Work is seen on the island to try and put things back to the way they were. I managed to build a penguin house from wood that would house four penguins that very evening. There are conservationists there growing vegetation to surround the penguin houses providing food and warmth, medical assistance for the penguins and monitoring them to make their lives a little smoother.”

“I only got to spend 2 days on Phillip Island and building that house for them was a very rewarding experience. I’d love to one day go back and check up on how they are getting on.”



Ivonne Lienau – Germany – Currently Living in Sydney

“I’ve travelled a tiny bit through SA in April 2009, visiting the caves in Naracoorte (the only place in Australia so far where I encountered a poisonous spider, a Redback) and spending a few days in Adelaide. Adelaide is very quiet and called the city of churches.  There is plenty to do and discover in and around Adelaide, with the Barossa Valley (wine region) being one of the highlights. There is also Hahndorf near Adelaide, Australia’s oldest German settlement which comes with a lot of Tourism kitsch but reminded me a bit of little towns and villages in the south of Germany! The food was ‘almost’ authentic .” 🙂

“I’ve had a few people tell me that the Eyre Peninsula is a great area to visit too. We wanted to visit Kangaroo Island but it was too expensive to get the campervan over to the island however it is still high on my To Do List and I hope to visit one day. My sister spent a few days on Kangaroo Island a few years ago and she absolutely loved it! Have fun!!”



Thank you so much for sharing these awesome stories!  I hope you (the reader) have enjoyed them! Question: Have you been to Australia, maybe South Australia specifically…Kangaroo Island, the Eyre Peninsula? I would love to share your story with the world. If you have something you would like to share please email me at gregorsnell@gmail.com or send your story through the ‘contact’ tab on this blog.

Cheers and safe travels!