Archives for posts with tag: australia

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Mom, Dad and I finished packing, then spent the morning across the street from our hotel, at the Royal Botanic Gardens. It rained a bit, but we found some trees to stand under and it passed by in a few minutes. We saw lots of pretty sub-tropical plants and flowers. Then we noticed – that racket? It was hundreds of fruit bats in the trees. EVERYWHERE. It was CRAZY. We also saw an eel following a duck around a pond (sorry, that duck won’t fit in your mouth) and found out that they drain the pond every once in awhile but the eels repopulate themselves—rangers have seen baby eels crawling over the lawn from Sydney Harbour!

Dad went back to the hotel and Mom and I went across the other street and looked around the Museum of Sydney’s forecourt. There is an archaeological site under the flagstones, and metal markers in the stones showed the boundaries of several buildings that used to stand in that spot. There was even a little window down to the dig so one could glimpse the old walls and foundations.

We watched a little of the Olympics, then went to the airport. We said our goodbyes to Aunt Pat and Uncle Denny, then promptly found out our flight had been pushed back seven hours. We hung out in the airport and used our meal vouchers. Finally our plane came, and we settled in for our 13 hour flight. I slept a little, but not well; I watched a couple movies to pass the time. We got popsicles as treats! More airlines should do this; it was completely delightful.

Once we got into LAX, Mom and Dad got standby for the next morning’s flights to Chicago, and when I left them they were heading back to the Qantas desk to get a hotel. I couldn’t believe I was back in LA—it didn’t feel quite real and I kept expecting to blink and find myself back down under.

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After breakfast, Mom and I went up to the pool on the 31st floor and checked out the view of the Opera House, bridge and rest of the harbor. We met a nice English lady up there who had a lot of historical info and a very plummy accent.

We went on a city tour and saw Mrs. Mcquarie’s chair, King’s Cross, Woolloomooloo, Nicole Kidman’s former home in Darling Point, and Bondi Beach. We had a little time to buy souvenirs (I got a SLSC hoodie, one for Clayton for his birthday, and a great t-shirt for Maria) and Mom took a stroll down to the water’s edge. We saw a lot of examples of Pennington lace – a style of iron work – on Oxford Street and saw the Queen Victoria Building on George Street.

Mom, Dad and I did a tour of the Opera House which was very cool. The engineering and design was impressive and the lines and angles of the interior were beautiful. We met up with Aunt Pat and Uncle Denny and took the ferry to Manly. Mom, Dad and I walked to the Oval, saw giant spiders and a nice lawn bowling green. Then we relaxed with a beer (Fat Yak) and chips and watched the boats go in and out of the harbor.

That night we had dinner at Caminetto, an amazing Italian place nestled against the stone wall of the Rocks, where I had probably the best pasta of my life.

leaning in for a kiss

Sydney Opera House, February 2010

roof

Sydney Opera House, February 2010

lobby skylights

Concert Hall lobby, Sydney Opera House, February 2010

up and forward

stairs to the welcome desk, Sydney Opera House, February 2010

sydney harbour bridge

from the Sydney Opera House, February 2010

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We flew to Sydney and checked into the InterContinental, which was extremely nice. We had a view of the Museum of Sydney and the Royal Botanic Gardens. At dinner time we ran into Hector and Heidi and we all walked through Circular Quay to the German restaurant at the Rocks. We had a great time drinking and singing and Heidi said the apfelstrudel was some of the best she’d ever had. After dinner we walked back at a leisurely pace and took photos of the bridge, Opera House and big Chinese New Year tigers. Then Mom and I wandered across towards the Gardens and I got a few photos of the Conservatorium of Music.

opera house at night
year of the tiger
circular quay

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Got up earlier than necessary so I could go across the street to the Wildlife Dome and have my photo taken holding a koala! She was so little (but heavier than she looked) and soft and sleepy. And her claws were very sharp too! she really latched on when the keeper put her on me.

We met up with the group and went to Kuranda. We drove through the rainforest and our guide, Roderic, pointed out a lot of plants and animals. In Kuranda, Mom, Dad and I went to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and saw all kinds of gorgeous and huge butterflies and moths. One butterfly wouldn’t stop landing on me – Mom had to pry it off of me and then I ran out so it couldn’t follow me again.

We went to the market area and to the honey shop then grabbed delicious German sausages for our walk to the Skyway terminal. The Skyway Rainforest Cableway is a giant gondola over the rainforest and you can see all kinds of plants and birds up there. We stopped partway down and saw Barron Falls, which was huge due to all of the recent rain. It was mostly shrouded in the huge amounts of mist it was spraying up.

At the bottom of the Skyway we went to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and saw dances and explanations about food and hunting.

Dinner that night at Rattle & Hum, gelato (of course!), then retired for the night and watched the Olympics and some ‘Bones’.

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Woke up to rain (tropics!) on Great Barrier Reef day. It took over an hour to motor out to the floating platform but once we were there, Mom, Dad, Uncle Denny and I had the first scheduled marine biologist-guided snorkel.

Eric was a great guide and eased us into snorkeling and pointed out a lot of cool things. A humphead Maori wrasse named Roxie follows Eric around whenever he’s on the reef and will actually seek him out (the other guides say she’s in love with him. Later we found out she’s going through a lot of hormonal changes due to changing sexes, so I guess we can forgive her for being a little obsessive). We saw a lot of Roxie, and got to pet her and give her mouth a rub, which is her favorite. She was very smooth and soft and her mouth was sort of squashy. Roxie was probably the best part of the Reef; I wish I’d had an underwater housing for my camera so I could’ve taking a photo of her.

I didn’t take this, and this isn’t Roxie, but you can see the size of these fish!

We got to hold a sea cucumber and a free-living coral as well. Once the guided part of our snorkel was over, I stayed out and watched the fish and listened to the parrotfish eating (scrape scrape scrape!). It was fantastic and I wouldve been out all day, but I got stung by a jellyfish on my hand, ankle, and face (my lip and cheek), and more started drifting into our area so I didn’t go back in. The sting hurt a lot and took a few hours to go away, despite getting sprayed down with vinegar relatively soon after it happened (I was pretty far away from the base when I got stung).

We had a buffet lunch and went on a little trip in a semi-submersible so we could see more of the reef. We had a nice talk with Ken and Shirley, a couple we’d first met on our Taieri Gorge Railway trip and got some ice cream.

Back ashore, we cleaned up and relaxed then went to dinner on the Esplanade. My dinner at Barnacle Bill’s was so good i’m still fantasizing about it. We watched the fruit bats migrate out of town and got gelato.

my stalker

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Kuranda

This butterfly wouldn’t stop landing on me! Eventually my mom had to shoo it away as I ran out the door.

I held a koala!!

Her name was Pelita, she was 4.5 years old, and she was surprisingly heavy. Her info card listed her characteristics as “curious, independent, restless”. She latched on and slowly squeezed tighter and tighter with her very long and sharp claws. It was painful, but worth it to cuddle a little fuzzy koala, even if it was just for a few minutes.

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We ported in Hobart, Tasmania and enjoyed a room service breakfast. The particular brand of Australian yogurt the ship stocked was the best yogurt I’ve ever tasted.

We took a bus tour from Hobart out to the countryside, where we saw acres and acres of hops fields. Tasmania is the largest hop-growing area in the Southern hemisphere! We saw gorgeous sweeping plains and rolling hills – beautiful even though the state was in the grip of a serious drought.

We visited Mt. Field National Park, the smallest national park in Tasmania, and home to Russell Falls. We walked through the forest, under giant tree ferns and over creeks. We saw cute little rufus wallabies everywhere! Russell Falls was secluded and magical-feeling, even though the drought left it at a mere trickle. I hiked a side path to Horseshoe Falls (I think), and heard white cockatoos in the trees.

We went on to Meadowbank, where we were treated to a private tour of the sheep farm and winery – something they only do for Princess Cruises. The owner, Gerald Ellis, demonstrated a sheep muster with his dogs, old Cooter and young, eager Ruby. He directed them, all the way up in the hills, using only whistles!

After the muster, Andrew demonstrated shearing a Merino sheep. Our model was a sheep they call a ‘criminal’ – a Merino that managed to avoid the yearly shear and now carried far too much wool.

We were served a homemade BBQ dinner outdoors, by Gerald and his family and staff. We were able to taste and purchase their delicious wines. The cruise videographer sat at our table and we got to hear a lot of anecdotes about life aboard ship, and the cruise industry in general.

On to Bonorong Wildlife Park, and if we were worried we wouldn’t get to see a kangaroo…there were kangaroos everywhere! Not the giant red kangaroos, but smaller (still imposing) kangaroos, which hopped about freely in a giant enclosure. There was feed, and they eagerly ate from our hands! We could rub their necks (a place that’s hard for them to get to) and feel their soft, coarse fur and sharp-clawed, clever hands. We saw emus too, and Tasmanian devils, running around in circles and growling!

At the end, we got to see the main attraction – the koalas! The keeper brought out Banjo – a 30-35 lb. koala who was about 17 years old (koalas usually only live to 12!). He was sleepy and patient, and calmly clung to his branch while we all clambered to get our photos taken and pet his soft little back.

We were running really short of time, but on our way out I was able to pet a wombat! Wombats are my favorite – cute little faces, look like squares from above, and fur that feels sort of like a kangaroo (coarse like a little brush!).

Back on the ship we went to Aunt Linnea’s for snacks, then had dinner at Santa Fe. Afterwards, we caught the stage show ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’

one reason, anyway. after i looked at our australia/new zealand trip itinerary:

me: wow this is so expensive

me: i owe you forever

mom: naw

mom: you’re worth it

mom: :)

mom: you might go back there some day – but i doubt if we will

me: i don’t know if i will – it’s so far away!

mom: i’m sure nathan (your future husband) will want to go there

mom: fillion