In the beginning of 2001 the opportunity to move to Australia presented itself - and got taken, as I had been longing to at least visit this continent once for ages. The opportunity involved a job offer and nice benefits for the move itself.
Without too much fuss I god rid of some of my stuff (motorbike, flat etc.) and on August 10 2001 I reached downunder - for the first time: I hadn't been to Australia before, so it was a bit like navigating uncharted waters.
The following pictures show the differences in size between Austria and Australia quite nicely; Even Queensland is huge compared to all of Austria.
Europeans easily misjudge the scale of distances around here. While driving say, from Vienna to Feldkirch in a single day is not a big feat, having a weekend trip from the Gold Coast to Cairns is just impossible. Gold Coast - Brisbane is about 80km.
Now I'm living at the Gold Coast and working at (warning: really bad website) Bond University as Assistant Professor.
The next picture shows a bigger part of the southeast coast, and a track of the trip to Manilla, NSW, which I did for a paragliding competition. Again, for scaling purposes: Manilla is a quiet town with a population of around 2500. Yes, even in the "densely" populated southeast there are stretches of road without even a village for 100+km.
The following picture is from a map of the local area, between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, with some annotations added: It shows where I live and work, where I buy my furniture (thank the swedes for IKEA) and where the best SF bookshop is. Also shown are the main local flying locations. For you cartography geeks out there: the coordinates on the area map are UTM/UTS (WGS84) in zone 56J. The blue lines are 2km apart. warning: the map image is a good meg in size.
When I'm not busy herding students and computers, nowadays I'm mostly paragliding or trying to see more of this really big continent. My former non-computer interests in motorcycling and climbing have been drastically cut short for reasons that remain unclear even to me.
But so far OZ has been kind to me: I've not seen much of it yet, but what I've seen I do like more or less. Given the absurdity of everyday's austrian news I really think about staying here for good.