S: Australia November 2008
BC: ONLY IN Australia! Recent News Item: 9-17-2009, The Cairns Post, 2 Police officers at Mission Beach, south of Cairns, were standing on the side of a road trying to clock speeding drivers when a grumpy Cassowary bird emerged from the rainforest. "He was taller than me...and he wasn't happy," said Sgt. Dan Gallagher, "You could see he didn't want us around...we packed up and got out of there!" Cassowarys: Saving Speeders everywhere!
FC: 'Roo Boxing Downunder... November 2008 | Me & My Mates vs. Australia
1: Australia with Me & My Mates! 16 Nov08-30 Nov08 This trip started in June 08 when Noopur contacted Kris and said "I'm coming in November!". In August, Andrea added..."I'm coming to Australia!" Kris suggested November! In September, (ish) Kristi got a letter from Shilpa, "how are these dates for an Aussie Holiday?" Kristi was thrilled! Arranging all 3 girls to visit at the same time! Thanks-giving break was a masterful feat of planning. To top all this off, we got Andrea flying to meet Noopur at the airport in LA and arriving in Sydney on the same flight. During a conversation with Hakan (see 2005 Turkey trip) Andrea announced "I'm going to Australia, Nov 17th!". Hakan replied with "So am I!". Andrea: "I land at 8.00am!"...Hakan: " I land at 8.05am!" So our first day plan MUST include Hakan and Richard! Kris made plans to take the Sydney Tallship for our first "Welcome to Sydney Harbor Cruise". What timing!? The itinerary had been set by Noopur in June, as Kris had started to make reservations with ferries, hotels, planes, rental cars, etc. The trip turned out to be: 3 days in and around Sydney, 1 day transit in Adelaide, South Australia, 3 days on Kangaroo Island, 1 day transit back in Adelaide to Cairns, landing in Port Douglas, Queensland 5 nights in Port Douglas, for the Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest adventures. Landing back in Sydney on 30 November, we would say "See ya Sheila" to Noopur who flew back to California. While Andrea and Shilpa and I would continue to New Zealand! (See the next book, New Zealand December 2008!) ENJOY! KLW | This is Syd the spider, He lives in the spare room. He does share his Aussie bed...And is the only hairy spider in Australia that is not poisonous! Thump your shoes before you put them on! | 16 Nov 2008, Sydney Australia
2: What do you want to do? | Hang-out, Fly-Foxing, Box Kangaroos, Cuddle Koalas... Andrea Murphy, Texas USA | EVERYTHING! Sydney, Kangaroo Island, Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane... Noopur Bakshi, California USA | Anything! See my friends, anything Aussie! Kristi Wheeler, Sydney AU | Hang-out with friends, fancy drinks with umbrellas, beaches, maybe even touch a Koala! Shilpa Vyas, London UK
3: On the way, I thought I'd be thoughtful to put the sunroof open for some Sydney sun/fresh air. Every time I open that roof, I always wonder..."Will anything ever come through there that is 'Yucky'?" Well, Andrea was the brave one that found out for me. The roof was open about 6" and a bird flew over the car, nice flying city rat. As he did so, he "wished Andrea good luck" by poo'ing on her nice turqiose bag! Of course, she was the only one not laughing hysterically. Nor was this the last time she would experience Bird Poo on this trip....oddly enough. She must really be lucky! AJM- We headed down to Sydney Harbor and went to a little market to shop along a covered street full of booths. The items were mostly Aussie-centric trinkets and lots of art. Kris bought us wooden Kangaroos that will hop down a slope. Very cute. We made some purchases and then headed for the Tall Ship at Campbell's Cove. Kristi had provided us a stash of pirate-gear and these cute fisherman hats that said "Australia" across them. We became pirates for the cruise! The ride sailed us past the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We had a BBQ on board. Although it was overcast all day, but a lovely cruise, nonetheless. | 16 Nov 08 8:00am pick-up! KLW- Picking up Noopur & Andrea & Hakan at the airport sounded easy enough. It's a fairly empty airport. EXCEPT FOR THIS SATURDAY. All of Sydney was there. I thought about wandering up and down yelling "ANDREA NOOPUR HAKAN" But alas, Noops found me! The luggage barely fit into my car, and the Nav system was down so Hakan had to navigate to Erskineville where we had planned to meet Richard for brekie at Cafe Sofia.
4: The 1st Mate on our cruise was so impressed with our Pirate gear, he coaxed Hakan to give up some booty. Which must have endeared him to us to be able to stay longer and take lots more pictures. We spent the cruise picking out our houses on the waterfront...Catching up, and of course eating! The jet lag did not seem to be hitting anyone....till we got off the boat! | 16 Nov 08, Sydney Tallship Cruise
5: Friday 14 Nov, 2008 AJM: I hitched a ride with Dena to the airport at 3pm. She was eating trail mix with all sorts of dried fruit in it when she picked me up. As I left her she handed me the mix and said, "Here, I don't want anymore, you can have it on the plane." That was good because I hadn't thought of any snacks at that point, having just finished packing with minutes to spare. Procrastination is my new favorite thing. I breezed right through check-in and the security check-point to the gate. Got some water and had bought a banana and a sandwich in the airport. The sandwich sucked. The flight was uneventful to San Francisco and when I got there I checked into my Sydney flight. I breezed through that check-i,n, too! Hmmm...Let's hope it is like this for the entire trip!. I was cruising to the gate in SFO airport and also keeping an eye out for Noopur. She had sent me a photo of her, and informed me she would be wearing striped pajama pants and an Aeropostale jacket. I spied someone browsing for books in the book store and called out, "Noopur!?" It was her! Yay! I was no longer alone. We looked at books and I decided my brain needed an easier read so Magazines were in order.....
6: AJM - Our flight was bumpy as hell! Noopur stuck with her plan of sleeping as much as she could and Andrea had eaten that banana and all of a sudden did not feel so well. Andrea got about 4 hours sleep and just felt nauseous and gassy for the remainder of the flight (continuing for the next 40 hours or so!) BLUG. The flight was long and turbulent and we were so thankful when we landed. We headed for baggage claim and had to go through immigration first.. Andrea used a green pen to fill out the immigration/visa form and they sent her to the back of the line for "not reading the instructions and violating the pen color requirement". It said very clearly, "BLUE or BLACK". Oops. At the baggage claim, Noopur's luggage did not come out so had a little panic. Andrea at this point remembered her trail mix. It had dried fruit in it. So because of this, she was singled out of the Agriculture Inspection line and told she would have to go though the "Special food stuffs VIOLATOR" line and surrender her bananas. :D It all played out and spent the next 20 minutes not finding each other. Noopur found Kris and Andrea found Hakan. We all converged and many HOORAYS were heard in the land! | 16 Nov 08 - Sydney Tall Ship Cruise
8: NARGH!! Give us'n Yer Aussie Booty... | AJM - Erskineville had many streets lined with shops and brownstone styled homes with little wrought iron gates in the front of tiny courtyards. Lots of green trees and foliage, flowering shrubs and plants everywhere. It was definitely SSpring in Australia! From the look of it, we could have been anywhere in the modern world except for the driving on the left side of the road and the distinction of the types of unfamiliar looking trees. But the little townships | in Australia have a very unique charm all their own. it really is its very own place. Right before breakfast, Kristi opened up the sunroof and a bird pooped while flying overhead. It landed on Andrea's purse. Nice. Thankfully, Kristi had wet-wipes, which saved the day!
9: 16 Nov 08 - Sydney and landing back at HOME! AJM- After the Tall Ship Cruise, we parted with Hakan and Richard to head back to the house. Kristi's house is overlooking a very green valley with Eucalyptus trees, gigantic ferns and lots of wildlife. She has Cockatoos and Lorikeets that Skreech while perching on her veranda and eat seed. Very Beautiful birds. We are waiting for a possum sighting and perhaps a kangaroo sighting, as well! Andrea crashed on the couch and woke up to relocate to the bedroom for another nap. Noopur and Kris greeted Khizer who had been sent up to Kristi's house with the food that Sameena had made for us. (Farah their daughter was sick so Sameena could not come!) She had made Indian food with chickpeas and a shrimp dish. Andrea woke up, ate some food, and hibernated until the next day. The other three stayed up and played a naughty little game (Dirty Minds) as there was much laughter heard from the other room! :O | There once was a possum called Jerry, Who fell out of an overgrown cherry. And though he was fat, He didn't go splat, Instead he went 'BOING' on his belly. | Poncho
10: Shilpa Arrives! | 17 Nov 08 - Shilpa!!!! Newtown, Featherdale, Blue Mtns AJM- We got ready after some toast and tea, headed to the airport to pick-up Shilpa. Kristi had a gigantic inflatable #1 hand for Shilpa's arrival. We met her and loaded her into the car and headed for breakfast in Newtown. Took a little walk and picked up Kristi's framed Basset Hound art that was quite cute, with the words "basset Hound" written into the drawing and created the image of the doggie. Very Creative! Breakfast was good at Grub'n Tucker. We were surrounded with Polynesian styled art everywhere. After brekie we headed for Featherdale wild animal park, and it was FANTASTIC! We fed kangaroos, petted a koala, saw gorgeous birds, flying foxes (really large bats!) and dingos. What a fantastic experience! Shilpa was a little frightened of the kangaroos but she got in there for some great photo opportunities. There will be many more Kangaroos, we are being told. :D Off to the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. | Brekky at Grub'n'Tucker
11: NEWTOWN 17 Nov | Who Choked the Chicken??? | AJM- It was a bit of a drive, a pretty one. The town of Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains was incredibly picturesque. Boutique styled shops on steep and curvy streets, roundabouts everywhere, and it was a lovely little garden area. We got to the park and purchased our tickets for the cable car and vertical train ride. We went down the cable car first. It was a glass capsule cable car with only 1 carriage that moves slowly up and down the steep embankment. At a much too slow speed for Andrea's taste. Quite a breathtaking view, and at the bottom of the valley was a rainforest walk that took about 10min. It was damp and cool, the trail was on top of wooden decking through tree cover. Beautiful. Andrea and Noopur ran to the train that was leaving, fearing that it was the LAST train. And thus, leaving Shilpa and Kristi to fend for themselves. (Kristi had no fear, I had the car keys!) *evil grin* | Newtown was cared for by the Cadigal band of the Eora people. Through the land management methods of the aboriginal people, extensive grasslands of predominantly Kangaroo Grass were maintained as ideal breeding grounds for Kangaroos. Today, Newtown is known for ti's creative arts citizens and is seen in the graffiti and "street art".
12: KLW- As you enter the park, the bathrooms are always the first stop. I was talking to Shilpa as I wanted her to be prepared for the loose wildlife on the other side of the fence. I knew she'd have fun! Noopur was the first one through the gate into the 'loose animal' grounds. She was surrounded by Wallabys. Big ones, little ones, and babies. Noopur stood pointing and gesturing at them all and said, "They're LOOSE, they are all LOOSE! We can get them..." and I think she then proceeded to chase them around the enclosure. *laugh* I think i was too busy giggling and taking pics at her reaction! Andrea and Shilpa were much the same. It was great! I had intended to spend about an hour here with them. But it turned out to be about 3 hours before we left. Hence, we had a rushed time at the Blue mountains! We paid our gold coin donation and purchased 2 ice cream cones filled with sweet feed (each). Then proceeded into the Kangaroo area with the Emu's and Roo's to make some friends. Andrea took advantage and had a couple bouts of Kangaroo Boxing *ding*. I'm not sure who won. Shilpa really seemed to like touching the backs of the Roo's and feeding them. Although I must admit, it is scary when those little buggers take a big fast chomp out of the food and grab the ice cream cone out of your hands. | 17 Nov 08 - Featherdale at Doonside, NSW
13: KLWs Useless Facts- What are Kangaroo's like? The resemble a tall rabbit with front chompers and the girls have pouches in the front. Often there is an arm, 2 feet or a nose and ear sticking out of the pouch. :) The babies hop in head first and then round themselves over as their hind quarters come in. I've learned over my time here--don't try to touch the babies in the pouch. Roo-Mom's swat your hand away and then act like they will bite. OUCH. Their fur is really soft, sort of a cross between rabbit and cat fur. They are not much for having their ears rubbed. But if you want to make friends fast, reach below their chin and scratch their chest. They immediately flip their heads back like a bottle top and let you scratch there all day. If you are not in the right position, they will hug your arm or hand and move it around where they want it! These guys are Macropods = Big Feet. And as I measured my Size 7 foot against a smaller Roo, well they do have really BIG FEET! Koalas--well they should be really soft. They aren't. They are very oily feeling and smell like Eucalyptus Oil. Water repellent and very densely furred, they don't get ticks or lice and the water from a storm never gets to their skin. They sleep 20 hours a day and change trees by getting on the ground. The babies can't eat Eucalyptus until they gain the enzymes from their mothers milk to be immune to the poisonous leaves. And if you want to HOLD a Koala, you cannot do so in the state of New South Wales (so we'll just do it somewhere else!)
14: There once was a very cool Roo, Who lived in quite a small zoo, He loved to read books, But only about Chooks, I wish he would read something new!
16: Don't Assume All Koalas are Cute & Cuddly!
17: A Koala's life is a breeze, besides they reside in the trees. So peaceful and quiet they stick to their diet and eat eucalyptus leaves! | KLWs Useless facts: The Koala lives almost entirely on eucalypt leaves. The Koala has a very low metabolic rate for a mammal and rests motionless for about 16 to 18 hours a day, sleeping most of that time. (Kristi is the other known species...) Koalas that are disturbed are known to be violent, their teeth and claws capable of causing considerable injury to humans. (Of course, disturbed humans are described the same way....surprise surprise!)
18: KLW- My favorite Aussie animal is the Echidna (top). Their tongues are 17cm long! The Kookaburra is a meat eating bird (left) and literally wakes you up laughing while sitting in his gum tree! A confused Peacock at Featherdale. Kristi the WheeleRoo, they need to change the sign! And lastly, the BEST photo of a Little Blue Penguin from our entire trip!---Just wait for the Penguin tour in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island! | A penguin, resplendent in tux, Has homing skills just like a duck's. To achieve the South Pole, He just heads for his goal: The Southern Cross tail, Acrux.
19: The End of Featherdale | A NOT confused Peacock. Shilpa and the Wombat. The End of a Wombat. Some colorful native parrots! See, all babies suck their thumbs when they sleep!
20: They don't look so blue... | The Three Sisters: The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that 3 sisters: Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. | The brothers were not happy to accept this law and decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle. As the lives of the 3 sisters were in danger, a witchdoctor from Katoomba took it upon himself to turn the the 3 sisters into stone to protect them. While he intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor was killed. The sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle. | These beautiful young ladies fell in love with 3 brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.
21: Blue Mountains in Katoomba, NSW Scenic World, Echo Point, The Three Sisters The Greater Blue Mountains area is a World Heritage Site containing 7 national parks and a conservation reserve. The Blue Mountains were inhabited for mellenia prior to pioneer settlement in 1788. European settlers initially considered the mountains impassable. This idea was convenient for local authorities, who believed the "insurmountable" barrier ranges would deter convicts from trying to escape. The higher ridges are eucalyptus forest. heath-like vegetation is present on plateau edges above cliffs. The sheltered gorges often have a temperate rainforest . There are also many hanging swamps with button grass reeds and thick, deep black soil. The "Wollemi Pine", a relic of earlier vegetation of Gondwana is found in remote and isolated valleys of the Wollemi National Park. | The Scenic Flyway is the steepest aerial cable car in Australia. Built in 2000, it is a unique cable attraction which lowers riders straight off a cliff into the Jamison Valley 200m below.
22: Blue Mountains Scenic World - AJM- The Vertical Train seemed a bit odd at first. The seats on the train were reclined almost so that you are laying down when you get in. And you are surrounded by chain link fence, like being in a little train cage. You sit facing the valley below with your back reclined but facing the direction you are going. The hill is so steep--Vertical--that as you start to go up the hill backwards...your seat straightens out and you are sitting up normally. Thank GOD for the chain link fence! A more forward tilting seat would have left us all in peril moving up the hill! *hehe* It went really fast up the hill and was our fun little amusement park ride for the day. Afterwards, we were shoo'd out of the giftshop as they were closing. So we headed to Echo Point to see the Three Sisters close-up.
23: Daniela 1 month later!
24: 17 Nov 08 - Blue Mountains Echo Point AJM- We had an ice cream for some energy and walked over to the scenic outlook to snap several pictures of ourselves and the Three Sisters in the background. Andrea showed us how to "Self Photo" using your own camera/arm. Then we took the hike down to the Three Sisters and into the gorge. The oil from the Eucalypt trees causes a blue hue to the air in the mountains. This air lies around the mountains and casts a blue hue across the entire region, hence the Blue Mountains. Noopur was the skeptic and since the mountains are not ACTUALLY blue, we were thinking of suggesting a name change.
26: 17 Nov 08 - Blue Mountains Vertical Railway at Scenic World: Scenic World houses 2 famous attractions: the Katoomba Scenic Railway and the Katoomba Scenic sSkyway. The Railway is the steepest cable-driven funicular railway in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, and originally part of the mining tramways constructed between 1878 and 1900. The cable railway line descends 415 m through sandstone cliffs, via a rock tunnel with a max gradient of 52 deg. It was converted for tourists prior to WWII.
27: 17 Nov 08 - Parklea, NSW Jacaranda trees & Outback Steakhouse! AJM- Back to the car after climbing down the steep staircases to the Three Sisters and calling for dinner reservations using a mobile phone at a sacred Aboriginal site. We also had to investigate trees with some very odd pine cone things on them. We headed for the Outback Steakhouse. Kristi is very excited as it's a chain in America and it fakes the Aussie feel. (KLW: and i can get them to make me a pot of real iced tea!) How odd. The food is the same, and the waiter we had was American. Somehow it feels like the Twilight Zone. I think it would be like eating Panda Express in China, *hehe*. The service sucked, and of course that makes for a good story. Kristi was charged 4x the price of one glass of iced tea because she had requested a pitcher. She argued and won. We headed for home and got our sleep on. KLW: This must have been ONE LONG Day for Shilpa!!! She had just flown in from Dubai. She must travel well, as you could hardy tell she was jet-lagged!
28: 18 Nov 08 - KrisTiki Sydney Tour: Manly, Sydney, Bondi Beach, ends in Dinner at Radio Cairo in Cremorne
29: AJM- We are starting to notice that the weather is not going to cooperate. (This turned out to be the worst weather day for our trip!) After a slow start, we headed for Manly to park the car and introduce Shilpa to Sydney via the Ferry system. We found a bistro across from the beach called Blue Water and the breeze was cool. Andrea is noticing all the girls are having hot chocolate and shakes with breakfast. She was thinking she might start doing that, too. :D After breakfast, Andrea went 2 doors down to a bakery and got a brownie. We crossed the street and Andrea fed one of the seagulls on the beach. Its' friends came over and one of them was flying over our heads and decided to PEE. Andrea is now officially a bird target and NO ONE wants to stand near her! SV: The weather is not great! but everyone still seems to have the Ozzie uniform: flip-flops, Tshirt, and shorts! I on the other hand have my jumper (sweater) and scarf on! Didn't sleep well. Generally scared of a spider creeping in!
30: 18 Nov 08 - Sydney Australia | Anyone Notice that Platypus Taunting Shilpa? A warning of 'ripples' to come, perhaps? | KLW: From Manly, we hopped a ferry and cruised into Circular Quay, downtown Sydney. We went to get Kristi's work visa changed from Vodafone to Telstra and went shopping. Noopur was harassing Kristi because the Visa stamp only took about 10 minutes, and most of that was the waiting in line. Ahhh..US Visa regs. Our plan was to go tourist shopping at Paddy's Market downtown. Unfortunately, it was closed. We will miss the open hours as we will leave Sydney before Thurs-Sunday. Drat. So we went to the nearby mall and found souvenirs and Andrea found some really great green sweat pants. From there we walked and rode on the red double-decker tour bus. We took the Sydney tour and learned that the currency used to be RUM (yippee) and how buildings were subject to a completion tax, so no one ever finished building them. The city is clean and very green, but I must say, there's an awful lot of car exhaust on those buses! After the tour we went to Bondi, but sadly...it was raining. We didn't stay very long. A long travel back to the car, and then met Khizer for dinner at Radio Cairo in Cremorne. Radio Cairo is an African fusion menu where we had onion bread, bongo bread, afro fries and many other great dishes.
31: KLWs Useless Facts: Sydney is the largest city in Australia, pop. 4.34M. It is the capital city of New South Wales and the site of the first colony, est. 1788. A resident is called a Sydneysider. The city is built around Port Jackson on AU's SE coast. Sydney is AU's most expensive city and the 15th most expensive in the world!
32: 18 Nov 09 - Bondi Beach | KLWs Useless Facts: Manly: was named by Capt. Phillip for the indigenous people living there, "their confidence and manly behavior made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place". The aboriginal group living here were the Kay-ye-my of the Gur-in-gai. The Captain was speared while looking for fresh water..he must not have been manly enough! In 1903, Manly allowed all-day bathing. 17 people drowned on Manly Beach, so 1 year later the Manly Life Saving Club was formed. One of the first surf life saving clubs in the world! Bondi: is the Aboriginal word meaning "water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks". Bondi Beach became public in 1882. The Decency of Swimming Costumes ordnance was in force between 1935-61. Public controversy became high when the 2-piece Bikini became popular after WWII. Council beach inspectors were responsible for enforcing the law and were required to measure the dims of swimwear and order offenders off the beach.
33: SV: Today we are touring Sydney. Had a ferry journey and also a citybus tour. The Opera house looks just as we see it on TV! KLW: It is such a shame it is cold! I've added Daniela pics here, as THIS is what it's SUPPOSED to look like!
34: 19 Nov 08 - Robertson, Illawarra, Kiama, Stanwell Park | d | Driving with Right Hand Drive...YIKES! | NO DOGS! | Hershey at the Cat Spa! | So humid it's foggy!
35: 19 Nov 08 - Illawarra Fly Day! KLW: Today I have a packed itinerary. (Yeah, the best laid plans of Mice and Women?) We hoped for SUN. MAYBE....Leaving pretty early, we took Hershey to his first "Cat Spa". In retrospect, I think his accommodation was better than some of ours! We drove from Arcadia South of Sydney via the back roads towards Robertson. WHY? you ask? Well, I have an address for a Lavender farm (Shilpa is excited about that), and I can introduce the girls to the most boring of the "Aussie Big Things" -The Robertson Potato, and lastly I found the Illawarra Fly experience, a cantilever walkway suspended in the rainforest with a really tall tower in the middle. Stopped at Rosie's cafe for a giant order of fries...and a cute dog laying in the back of an open hatchback. ahhhhh.... So reality: It turns out to be a sucky rainy HOT day. We missed the Robertson Potato, The Lavender farm was closed forever (UGH), and on the good side.... I found a really great CHEESE shop! YUM! The Illawarra Fly was fun and a nice walk through the trees. I'm terrified of the heights and the gently swaying walkway! All our pictures have a weird haze in them, that's because of the humidity. It was like walking through an eerie fog. So much for picturesque views to the sea. Instead we just drove there! We went down as far as Kiama to see the Big Blow hole. ( I think it looks like a Butt farting water. *giggle*) Had some passable Chinese food and then moved ourselves to Stanwell Park for a romp on the wet cold sand! Ah well...we still had some fun!
36: 19 Nov 08 - Illawarra Fly Cantilever tree walk KLWs Useless Facts: Illawarra is a region in New South Wales located immediately south of Sydney. The word Illawarra means "High place near the sea" in local language (not English!). The Fly is a Treetop Walk 500m long with an average height of 25m. In the middle is the Knights towner at 45m high (YIKES!). Supposedly, the cantilevers can hold a max weight of 28 ton...which is 800 wombats! Now how did they figure that out? I never even saw 1 Wombat on that walk! How did they get 800 to parade across!?!? Kiama is a town 120km south of Sydney and has the main tourist attraction of the Kiama Blowhole. Kiama means "where the sea makes noise" and the Aboriginal people call the blowhole "Khanterinteree". I surmise that big long word means: "The big rock butt that blows water out for a loud fart". Which would also correspond to the meaning of Kiama..right? George Bass has a quote describing the blowhole..I dare you to think "Butt" when you read it: "The earth for a considerable distance round in the form approaching a circle seemed to have given way; it was now a green slope. Towards the center was a deep ragged hole of about 25-30 ft. in diameter and on one side of it the sea washed in through a subterranean passage with a most tremendous noise." *giggle* I really wonder if he did not see the resemblance to a big farting butt!?!? His description is similar!
37: KLW: Kiama Continued: Of course when we arrived at the blowhole, there were tons of 17ish year olds dressed for prom and their parents and grandparents were all up at the light house getting their photos taken. There was one kid who was wearing a bright orange suit that matched my bright orange shirt. His family would not allow him to wear his complementing Leopard skin hat. But i of course made friends and asked for my photo with the hat. After they snapped the photo (of course all my 3 friends had VANISHED!) his girlfriend in a bright red dress came to grab his arm. I guess she was jealous and thought I'd steal him off her. Maybe I would...He did like orange! Earlier, we struck out to find some food. Which proved a bit scary in Kiama! We settled on a Chinese shop with only a couple tables. We ordered and tried to walk to the table. The floor was SO slick (I don't want to think of why!) it turned out we had to SKATE to our table. I must say, Andrea gets the prize for artistic floor skating style...a 10 for sure!
38: KLWs Useless Facts: Stanwell park is worth a stop to have a walk and a stretch on the beach. On clear days there are hang gliders cruising off the cliffs above and surfers under the Sea Cliff Bridge. The Sea Cliff Bridge is a piece of road built on the side of a cliff. It's famous in some Aussie adverts. The best story I could find about Stanwell park: A convict was 'installed' to manage the Stanwelll Park farm. He instead used the out-of-the-way location as a hideout for a gang of bushrangers. He adopted the name of Wolloo Jack and his gang terrorized the entire area until he and his gang were sent to the gallows in 1829. | *Due to lack of writing space, I'm skipping ahead in our stories! pics start in 3 pgs. 20 Nov08-Adelaide, South Australia AJM: 7am car pick-up for flight to Adelaide. We went to Rundle Mall. We wanted desperately to see an opal mine, except for Kristi who knew something we didn't. We went to an opal mine in the center of town, and we slaved away with a pick-axe to no avail...Everything was away too expensive! :D It was a basement decorated to LOOK like an opal mine. No one will be able to tell from the photos though, hehe. We are wearing hard hats! We shopped a bit. Enjoyed the busy streets, had a quick bite to eat, and then headed to the platypus eco-tour. It was on private property owned by a retired high school principal, who was very pleasant. On the way down to the sanctuary, he asked if we had jumpers to put on? To me, it meant overalls...fresh out of those, dude! Jumpers = sweaters...hey-we do have those, and we needed them! We went into what looked like a round well house with a spiral staircase. It had a few little placards with info all platypus-esque. There were glass windows with a view inthe nearby murky pond was all we could see was muck. We went to a few different areas to spot the Platypus. Some of us saw spalshes, or imagined them, and then after a long while we went to a deck overlooking the larger main pond where our lovely host had hot drinks waiting with cookies. It was the highlight of the evening! We saw all sorts of other creatures along the way...pooteroos, beatongs, and other words I cannot spell. KLW: An early am flight to Adelaide which found Kristi in need of a DR prescription and the girls in need of some spa treatments. After the mall stop, we all went down to Rundle Mall, the center of town. As we approached the girls decided they needed to visit the "Opal Mine -in the center of Adelaide". Funny, they don't look too disappointed with the concrete "Opal" walls in the basement. At least the jewelry shop owner let us borrow his mining equipment! I had been so excited about our evening Eco tour to find the elusive Platypus! We arrived out in the boondocks (pictured above right) and met Steve (I think). We took flashlights at dusk down a big hill and saw Keith the Koala up in a tree. He had just fed the Roos and Wallaroos and we saw TONS of little night creatures. Our next goal was the Platypus....
39: Kiama, NSW lighthouse & blowholes | Andrea-- #1 Floor skating Champion!!
42: KLW: I do believe they are there! 'Steve' describes how we should look for the little buggers. Look for ripples in the ponds, silently, don't even breathe...The ripples mean the Platypus is on the bottom of the pond. | Then he will surface. You will see his nose and his eyes and maybe a piece of his tail. It's getting dark. We're all straining our eyes to try to look for Ripples ripples ripples. We see ripples. *cough* and he is gone. The noise startled the bugger. So we search for ripples ripples ripples. Kristi did see his nose, and it was fantastic...but the ducks were more entertaining to watch! We need to catch them! We had some tea on a deck over the ponds, and it got quite cold in the dark...watching for ripples ripples ripples. And never seeing anything but duck ripples. | 20 Nov 08 - Adelaide : The Platypus Files | SV: In the evening we went to a platypus eco-trail, saw no platypus! And if I EVER hear "look at the bubbles-watch for the ripples" ...I will not be responsible for my actions! ;-) | The Platypus lives in the creek, Sometimes he stays there all week, He never wears slippers, Because he has flippers, That have taken the place of his feet. | Keith the Koala | AJM: Afterwards, Principal Steve let us use his port-a-pottie facilities in the shed. This was an adventure in itself, as teh light kept going off and there you were with your pants down in the dark. Not a normal Wed. night activity! We thanked our host and headed to our holiday house for the night. We ordered pizza and the delivery guy said there were robberies in the past. And here I was alone in the dark! YIKES!
43: 21 Nov 08 - Kangaroo Island SV: So the day started manically, Dave (the tomtom) setting us off in the wrong direction! And then discovering the road we needed to be on became a one-way in the am(INTO Adelaide) when we needed to take it OUT of Adelaide! We just made it to the ferry! (KLW: and it cost me 3 points off my drivers license and a $400AUD speeding ticket!) SV: After a 45 min journey we arrived at KI. On arrival we had lunch (best cheese and tomato sandwich with a slice of fruit bread, simply hit the spot!) We then toured a honey factory, and ate the lovely fresh honey ice cream.
44: 21 Nov 08 - Kangaroo Island Emu Bay Lavender Farm | KLW: That morning I think we were all a little grumpy and tired. The 45 min ferry ride was a nice naptime. Of course, I am thrilled to report. That Ferry has the BEST chocolate iced donuts in ALL of AU! I can't wait to get another! :) We ate and stopped at the tourist bureau in Penneshaw, a bit of a 1 horse town. Then drove over to Kingscote, the largest town (2 horse) and bought our GNOMES, kissed a brass seal, and toured the honey factory. The ice cream was so good we would spend the rest of the 3 days looking for more and trying to get back during open hours! Noopur had selected this destination early on. I had my doubts, but I do LOVE this place! The island is 7x bigger than Singapore, with a population of 4k. On the way over to our house, we stopped at the OPEN Lavender farm. The girls ordered a spot of tea and some lavender cookies (YUM). While I scouted out the wild ....EMU? in the back. Turns out they were wild N.American Turkeys. I got to about 6 ' from them. Yes i tried to catch one for Thanksgiving, it's next Thursday! Then I happened upon it. This 10 acres of land growing lavender in pretty rows was surrounded by bleached dead skeletons of Kangaroos and sheep. It was creepy! I asked the owners why there were carcases all over, by the reaction of the man and the woman in the kitchen...I'd say someone is now in trouble. ;) I just suggested if they were going to kill off the "Lavender eating" critters that they at least haul off the dead corpses as it puts a downer on the entire experience. YUCK...Zombies of the Lavender farm! I think I could write a screen play! :) But the tea and cookies were fantastic!
46: 21 Nov 08 - Kangaroo Island, Stoke's Bay KLW: We drove the long way around on washboard gravel roads to our house. The gate was locked so we visited the next neighbor a mile down the road to call (as none of our mobile phones got any reception!). The neighbor was a little reserved then very friendly, although her little friendly looking dog bit me when I tried to pick it up! It does not like heights! Our house, Kangaview, was set about 500m from the road surrounded by eucalypt trees and far off in the distance you could see the ocean. It had 2 full bedrooms, a bunk room and futon in the living room. Resident was also a fairly small huntsman spider. (Yes i did an inspection!) Andrea was the very brave soul that climbed up to the ceiling to kill it. *shudder* I was looking for a flame thrower. We made the exec decision to eat locally (the bar/grill 5k down the road) rather than drive 45km in the dark to the nearest large town, thereby missing the sheepherder and shedhand ball! OH MY! We all ordered something different at Stokes Bay Bar & Grill. Then decided that my fish dinner was by far the best looking one. And mmm..it was good! We were 1 of 2 groups in the entire place...but wait, I've missed the best part! On our drive down at dusk we saw them...EVERYWHERE!!! (No, not ripples ripples ripples) but KANGAROOS! They are FANTASTIC! And they jumped right across the road in front of us. No wonder the rental company does not cover us driving at night!
47: KLW: As it turns out, we most likely made a really good decision to stay in the Stoke's Bay region and not attempt the Sheepherders and Shedhands ball in Penneshaw. As our viewing at the actual sheep shearing competition the next day proved. They are all a bunch of toothless rednecks! (not surprised...but Yick) We attempted dinner in Penneshaw at the Pub on Saturday night. It was interesting...all those rednecks just staring at us. As we were the only 4 women at 1 table! Surprisingly, none of them spoke to us....and the girls really were not desiring to start up a conversation! There were many toothless redneck jokes that night! | AJM: This morning we were at the mercy of TomTom Dave. He kept leading us to a very strange intersection over and over, it would not let us on the freeway! The freeway ran North in the mornings and south in the evenings...we wanted south in the morning! So, we made our own way and it was tense because we werent' sure we'd make the ferry!. Noopur slipped on the stairs before boarding the ferry and hurt her ankle. It was going to be a series o finjuries for everyone from there on out, Kristi is already nursing her knee. We docked iPenneshaw and we had lunch. Then the post office, tourist center and the grocery store. We stopped in Kingscote for a tour of the honey factory and had some lovely Honey ice cream. Noopur was concerned about bees, but no one was stung. We found a lavender farm and stopped for tea. Lots of lavender products to shop for: soaps, candles, etc. The tea was different and the cookies were marvelous. Kristi made a grusome discovery and we were all creeped out. We reached our abode in the middle of nowhere and the dirt roads were so bumpy to get there, we all thought our innards had broken loose from theeir attach oints! It was very uncomfortable. There were little critters darting all around . They could call this place Kritter Island! There were spiders all over the bathroom and a huge one int he living room. Someone realy really brave and cool removed them all! :D
48: KLW: After the second night at our house in the bush, Noopur said she had the weirdest dream. She had gotten into a Ric-Shaw and was being pulled around KI on horrible bumpy dirt roads. All the while there were snakes all over in the Ric-Shaw and I think maybe her Gnome was with her. The next morning as i was loading the car...I turned to go back into the house and saw the rusty old metal sculpture of a Ric-Shaw. I posed my Gnome in it ...I don't think any of us saw that rick-shaw till after her dream! Hope there were no snakes around! | 22 Nov 08 - Kangaroo Island Kangaview & Parndana | Wheeler's CAN Whine, did they need a sign? | The Big Boot | At Sheep shearing. The Needle Man | AJM: This competition promises to be 'wild and wooly'...*snicker* | Unique Mailboxes
49: KLW: In the morning, we went to Parndana for fuel, brekie, and to see the Sheep-Shearing events. It was fun for Kristi to see Rednecks everywhere..I think the other girls were scared. Very Very scared. And very happy they did not go to the Dance the night before! Kristi talked to "the most important man there"...The Needle Man. (!?) His job is to sew up the sheep if they get a cut because the shearers are going so fast. The fastest that day was 18sec by a guy from NZ. The prize was around $10K AUD! As there is no tour highlights for the idle, we moved on to Flinders Chase National Park to see Cape Coedic Lighthouse and Admirals Arch. This is the only colony of New Zealand Fur Seals in Australia. Cute they are...but really darn Stinky! We had fun on the bright blue windy day shooting photos of each other and trying to stay warm...Isn't it supposed to be SUMMER HERE!? The Gnomes enjoyed it and they too got into the photo fun. Heck, Andrea and Kristi even did a Photo shoot ala Austin Powers with a German tourist! SV: In the morning, we went to the sheep shearing contest-the locals seem to love this! I'm not over enamored by the toothless yokels :O. We then headed onto the Admirals Arch to spot a local seal conlony- cute, but stinky! | 22 Nov 08 - KI, Flinder's Chase NP, Coedic Lighthouse
50: 22 Nov 08 - KI, Flinder's Chase NP Remarkable Rocks | That's it Babeee, Raarr! | SV: Having 'ooohed' and 'ahhhed' at the seals, we made our way to the Remarkable Rocks - with low expectations for all...But WOW they rocks were truly REMARKABLE! It looked like we had stepped into a Dali painting-really surreal shapes!
51: KLW: We had lunch at the Park Center. Places to eat out here are few and far between...so we had to plan well! After a nice lunch, we went out to take a look at Remarkable Rocks..Only to find that they had REMARKABLE TOILETS! (self proclaimed, i must add!) Andrea and Noopur led us in our Yoga poses all over the rocks. Interesting thing was the weird burnt out acacia , sandalwood, and eucalypt trees everywhere. A remnant from a huge bush fire, no doubt!
52: But Why are there no Koalas on the GROUND? SV: The day ended with a walk along Koala Ave. starring up at the cute koalas--In Case you've missed this: I LOVE KOALAS! Noopur decided she was on the hunt for a "Koala On-The-Ground". So when we drove by Hanson's Koala Park, Kristi decided...closed or not..we owe our selves a Koala Walk! We paid our $2 AUD gold coin and started looking up. Andrea proved to be the master of Koala (In-A-Tree) sighting. And after a few minutes of finding about 7 Koalas, We started to hear them bark at each other! And that is when the Koala on the ground started to Howl! (Mind you , she had on a blue rain jacket and was named Noopur!) But she produces a PERFECT Koala Roar! And the Koala's wake up and look around. Which is great for those of us trying to take photos! Kristi went into the field and found some Aussie Geese, And stopped to watch some Rainbow Lorikeets feeding their babies high up in a tree trunk. Then we found the first of the "Rent Me" camper vans. All have individual gross paintings on them. This one looked like a Dental advert with ORAL-ME on it. Of course, being Silly Kristi jumped over to have a photo taken. I hope I do not have to explain this to my Granny! :) Before we left, we got to see several little wallabys and a kangaroo. The hunt continues...for a Koala-On-The- Ground! | 22 Nov 08 - KI, Hansen's Koala Park | Lorikeet nest | Grey Goose | SHILPA | 's
53: Noopur making the most realistic "Koala Call".. | KI facts: Kangaroo Island is famous for its honey and for being the oldest bee sanctuary in the world. Ligurian bees were imported from the Italian province of LIguria in 1881, and Kangaroo Island now has the only pure strain in the world. The importation to KI of bees or any honey products is prohibited. To order Honey products and Eucalyptus products try: www.emuridge.com.au | Koalas: The Koala is one of the few mammals that has fingerprints. Their fingerprints are so similar to humans that even with an electron microscope it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Meaning: THE KOALA DID IT! It is generally silent animal, but males have a very loud call that can be heard for almost a km away during breeding season....WATCH OUT NOOPUR! | Penneshaw: the 2nd largest town on KI has a population of around 300. It is located on the Eastern edge of the island and home to the ferry terminal. Kingscote: is the biggest town on KI and South Australia's first official European settlement. Parndana is the third largest (pop. 150) and the home to the central most fuel station, the pub, and the closest grocery to our house (45km).
54: 23 Nov 08 - Seal Bay | AJM: Seal tour on the beach. Andrea parked the car by the only other car when there were plenty of spots everywhere, much to the chagrin of Shilpa. Habit! Stick near signs of civilization when in the wilderness! They had a lovely gift shop with platypus figurines for some photo ops with our gnomes. On the beach were lots of seals with their babies. One had some netting wrapped around its neck that the seal squadron was eager to fix. A plan was in place and the only thing missing was the heroic background music!
55: 23 Nov 08 - KI, Seal Bay & Quad Bike Tour KLW: This is our last full day at KI! So, naturally, Noopur the Travel Devil Driver takes over!!! Up and out relatively early, especially for vacation! The girls let Kristi have a couple hours at Seal Bay. Andrea joined Kristi on the Seal Bay tour, which took them down to the smelly beach where the Australian Sea Lions were lazing in the sun. So much fun to watch these critters! At the gift shop, we found a Platypus puppet, so we would have a Platypus that we could SEE for the rest of the trip! And the funniest thing we saw on this tour were the two little boys, bored of seeing seals...deciding to load up little brothers pants and stomach with sand. Yuck! I bet that felt bad later on! Shilpa had made the best suggestion for the day! Let's go Quad Biking! So we drove down to meet the man with the 4-Wheeler's. (No, not 3 other relatives of Kristi's...just 4 bikes!) After the tour leader (anyone remember his name? We'll just refer to him as "Pete") :D --ANyHoo...After Pete got us suited up with Helmets, goggles, gloves, and full body armor...MY MOM will be proud! He taught us how to drive and then sent us around the "Test Track"! Heck, I thought the Test track was fun! Then he lined us up...Pete #1, Shilpa #2, Noopur #3, Andrea #4, Kristi #5! And off we went! Shilpa scared us at the start... From what Kristi Could see in position 5, Shilpa was driving along, cautiously and safely...When much to all of our surprise, this Scrub brush tree JUMPED in front of her bike! Damn bush! After this...we knew to watch out for the bushes and the trees, it is a wild country! Driving along on the open field we did get into trouble for "Not following Pete". So I think Shilpa and Noopur were having fun with Andrea and me in the back...they split up, neither were following Pete...and Andrea and i just had to pick a person to follow...Or more likely...make our own track as it was much more fun! *Evil grin* The Funnest moment #1: was when Pete and Shilpa pulled off because there was a Kangaroo in front of them. I could see it in the distance, and thought I would stop early , break out the camera and take a photo of everyone seeing the Kangaroo! Meanwhile, Andrea had rolled up next to Noopur and was telling "Kristi'...who was about 100' behind her what was going on. I could see Andrea in a moment of panic as she must have realized they were all driving happily along and Kristi had Disappeared! *Tee hee* I rejoined the group as the roo ran into the scrub. I never go t a good pic, but got a good story...this is not the best story though........
56: KLW: Favorite Fun Moment #2: A few meters on, around a corner Pete stopped again. Shilpa pulled up right behind him and stopped. Now from the #5 Position, I saw Noopur race up next to Shilpa, and Jump off her bike before it even came to a stop. I could hear her ecstatically exclaim "blah blah blah" And by this time, Andrea had driven up to park directly behind Noopur's still slowing bike. Noopur had by this time run into the bush under the scrub trees and tall grass with camera in hand. I had NO idea what was going on. But as I rolled up and parked beside Andrea...I heard and saw a big Goanna...a big lizard, get startled by Noopur. As soon as Noopur saw the movement she jumped about 3 feet into the air and yelled, "That is not a Koala-On-The-Ground!!!!" Then she stopped dead in her tracks. Of course Pete, Shilpa, Andrea and I were laughing hysterically trying to stay on our quad bikes. And Noopur, now about 15 feet into the bush...realized that she was surrounded potentially by spiders, snakes, big lizards..and all of them are poisonous! Gee, she can move really fast!! To my disappointment, she did not get a photo of the Goanna! | I was 5th in line! | 23 Nov 08 - KI, Flinder's Chase NP, Quad Bike Tour
58: 23 Nov 08 - KI, Flinder's Chase NP, Quad Bike Tour & Kingscote Pelican Feed KLW: As we circled back around to the start point, we were trucking through some low dense scrub. SInce all the bikes before me are loud and vibrate, by the time I bike through all the biting ants are swarming out of the ground. So I stopped frequently to watch them. At one point, i slowed down to put some space between Andrea and myself. And i felt something staring at me. It was a Red Kangaroo, really big, standing stone still and watching me...watch him...watching me. I stared back at him. Thinking of the Velociraptors in Jurassic park, hoping these were NOT relatives. And reaching for a camera, and Staring at him....Think Paul Hogan in Croc Dundee...And I won! I won a staring contest with a wild Kangaroo..he got spooked with my never-ending gaze and bolted! (yes! Before the photo!)
59: KLW:After Quad Bike tour we beat it over to Kingscote for the Pelican Feeding with "Pete" the Pelican Man! He was very entertaining! And so were the Pelicans. I think we were lucky none of us got Pooped on...then again, maybe we should check with Andrea!? SV: In Kingscote, we went to see the Pelicans feed- Really fun to watch- and the feeder was fun and informative! We sat on rocks along the sea to watch and I was SOOO close! The Pelican feathers hit me fairly frequently--YES I was scared ;-) KLW: After the Pelican feed, we had dinner and waited for our Penguin tour. It was very disappointing as our tour guide was not really finding penguins. Andrea found more than he did! It seemed like he was just going through the motions. The penguins were very cute...but hard to see in the dark! Hence, no good photos! See the Little Blue Penguin from the Featherdale Page! | 23 Nov 08 - Kangaroo Island Kingsote Pelican Feed & Penguin Tour | The bill of the pelican releican Hold more than his pelican belican. People still see how welican But not how the helican Stock more than a pelican delican.
60: KLW: After the Penguin tour, we piled back into the car for the long 1.5 hour drive home to Kangaview. Andrea was riding Shot-gun and in charge of Long range "Critter" detection. Kristi was driving slow, and trying not to hit the plethora of Bandicoots, possums, and any other potential critter out in the night! Andrea found something rather large as we were driving along, the girls and Kristi peered into the darkness to try to figure out what the lump on the road ahead was. Kristi slowed down to about 20mph, to creep up on it. You won't believe this! All four of us Yelled at the top of our Lungs at each other "KOALA IN-THE-GROUND!!! GET THE CAMERA!" For all 4 of us, we had at least 5-6 cameras. And NONE of them were out and ready. Of course....The Kristi "Steve Irwin" Wheeler was hoping to get to relocate the Koala from the middle of the road by hand to a tree...No dice. We had stopped the car in the middle of the road with the headlights on the Koala.. | Unfortunately, he had wandered into the bush on the side of the road to our left. The girls tried to get some last fleeting photos of our prize as he shook his head obviously thinking "Gee, Those tourists are crazy...can't a Koala just cross the road?" And that is how Noopur found her Koala On-The-Ground.! The next am was an early one! We loaded/cleaned and headed back to Penneshaw for the Ferry. We made it in plenty of time. Kristi took photos around the boat, and enjoyed Australia's Best and most USA like Chocolate donuts (YUM!). Andrea and Noopur took naps and Shilpa kept our journal up and helped with a donut! Off to Adelaide till we fly tonight to Cairns! | 24 Nov 08 - Kangaroo Island
61: 24 Nov 08 - Adelaide, South AU KLW: Adelaide advertised a $120AUD walking tour. *LAUGH* Adelaide is Tiny and for a capital city it all can be seen without paying a tour guide! Shilpa was the smart one and read the points we were supposed to see. Having already checked off the "Opal Mine" on the previous Adelaide day, Kristi suggested to take in some of the "BIG Things" in Australia. So, off to find The BIg Scotsman...Check, done, saw what color his underwear is.... Haigh's chocolates are now mandatory. An Adelaide grown business, they are the home of the Easter Bilby. | The Easter Bilby took over for Australia Easter because the Rabbit is known to be a nuisance animal across Australia. It destroys habitat and drives out AU natives. So long ago, Aussies adopted the Easter Bilby. The Bilby is a big eared Marsupial that eats plants at night. They are shy so very hard to see...but very tasty in Chocolate form! | AJM: ...There were samples and a very amorous fellow working in the factory showing off for the girls..and did I mention there was chocolate? We bought some and we ate some and it pleased us all!
62: 25 Nov 08 - Welcome to Port Douglas, Queensland! AJM: We woke up in Port Douglas, went for lunch on the beach where they had a lovely deck and a bit of shade, with big fans that blew hot moist air on us, to cool us from the hot moist still air...heehee. I needed a 'license' to drink alcohol that Kristi filled out the forms for me--then she had to correct their horrible Pina Colada--I think she told them to throw away their recipe! Port Douglas is very green, tropical, and quite the other end of the spectrum from the dreary blustery styling of the south. Andrea went home for a nap, Noopur & Shilpa went for a leisurely bike ride, and Kristi went for some shopping and groceries. Dinner at the Mexican place on the main street. We got "Take Away" as it was too hot in the open air shop to eat. We went back to the hotel to watch "What Happens in Vegas..". It was clearly hotter weather than they'd had in awhile, and it was insufferable, honestly! Our sunglasses were steaming up and we really enjoyed the car's a/c. The photos turned out steamy, as well!
63: SV: We had a 2 hour stopover in Melbourne, which gave us time to get dinner. Then back on a plane for Cairns in 3 hours! We picked up a hire car at 1am and drove to Port Douglas on the dark windy curvy narrow road next to the ocean...we think. It is really warm and humid here- since it's very early, it's hard to tell if this is accompanied by SUNSHINE! 25Nov08- Finally, a quieter day! We went out into Port Douglas for breakfast Noopur and I hired bikes and cycled around the town and beach. Came back to our apt-then we all went out. We found some take-away Mexican and ate whilst watching dvd's. KLW: The beaches in Cairns/Pt Douglas are not open for swimming...they tend to not like to loose tourists to the Salties (Saltwater Crocodiles). So with pristine white smooth sandy beaches stretching all over, it's hard not to want to go wade into the water. Till you see the signs with Vinegar bottles distributed near the beach access--that's for the jellyfish. And lots of warning signs for the crocodiles! Of course, in reality, we could not find but one tiny croc on our second day here! We were lucky and found a fantastic Mexican place! I found some great summer clothes that fit, and we all took the day pretty easy. We found that they have MEGA sized rainforest bugs here, a HUGE need for more powerful a/c, and all the shops keep their doors open with the a/c blasting...so customers know they are open. Apparently no one can be bothered to touch a door??? Weird!
64: KLW's USeless facts: Port Douglas: A town in far North Queensland is 70km (40m) north of Cairns. It's permanent population is about 1000, however, the towns pop. quadruples during tourism season from May-September. The town is adjacent to 2 World Heritage areas: The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and the Daintree Rainforest. The Daintree: a settlement 56k north of Port Douglas is the town named for Richard Daintree, a British geologist. The McDowell Ranges are near the town while the Daintree River flows nearby. The town has a surrounding population of 78. At around 1200square km the Daintree is the largest continuous area of rainforest on the Australian mainland. Part of this forest is protected by the Daintree National Park. The rainforest contains 30% of frog, marsupial and reptile species in AU; 65% of the bat and butterfly species and 20% of bird species in the country can be found in this area. All the diversity is contained within an area that takes up 0.2% of the landmass of Australia. The Daintree Rainforest is over 135million years old--oldest in the world.
65: 26 Nov 08 - The Daintree, Queensland SV: We headed out to The Daintree (where the oldest rainforest can be found). We went on a croc viewing riverboat amoungst the mangroves. It was good to get some breeze as teh boat moved! We spotted 1 teeny, tiny croc--not very Crocodile Dundee, in the slightest! Highlight of the day must be Jungle Surfing in the rainforest canopy. They harnessed us to ropes and we swung out across the tops of trees--really pretty but scary for me! KLW: At the beginning of the day, I knew 1 thing--I was not going to swing amongst tree-tops! As we left Port Douglas, I stopped the car on the side of the road and yelled--BATS! There were HUNDREDS of bats roosting in the tree-tops above us. Shilpa and I got out to take some photos. I just LOVE to see these buggers! They are really Flying foxes, with a wing-span of about 24-36 inches! After driving awhile through sugar cane fields, we stopped for a Croc Cruise on the Daintree River! And so Kristi could take her picture at the BIG CROCODILE! | The bat's half a rat, with veined wings, So it flaps and it craps and it clings, But, ashamed of half-sparrow Ancestral bone marrow, It won't let us hear when it sings.
66: KLW: Of course, as Noopur and Kristi were playing "OMG! A Giant Crocodile!"...Andrea jumped in and said "Hey, you're not doing it right!" I love it when she says this, as she has stood back and come up with something we had not thought of yet, and it always proves to be hilarious posing! I try to learn from the master! We went on the requisite Croc cruise, enjoying the smooth muddy river in the hot/humid weather. OF course, the crocs were all hiding and I'm sure watching us and saying to each other: "What a bunch of idiots that prey is! Don't they know it's HOT out there?" We did see a tiny one at the end, but none of us are sure it' s not a plastic one that was set up so the tourists could 100% see a croc in the wild! Much loved car A/C and up the McDonnell ranges for some scenic outlook and some Bush Ice Cream! Flavors such as: Soursop, Wattleseed, Mango, and Black Sapote were on the menu. we all opted for the 'Variety' scoops. It was all good. Not at all the regular flavors, but NOT as good as that HONEY ice cream from Kangaroo Island! We took some fun pics of the flowers--notice above Noopur making funny faces behind Shlpa! :D Along the way all we saw were mystery Cassowary signs--don't hit them, they are endangered...and "Before" and "After" ...so trying to learn from the master of funny pics; when we found a good sign display I hopped out into the 98% humidity and took a 'before/after' picture of myself! All of us have been giggling at that! --of course, practice does make for better funny shots!
67: KLW: At some point during our road-trips, Andrea introduced us to a childhood game she used to play with her brothers. If you saw a horse, and yelled "HORSE!" before anyone else, you own those horses. The point of the game is to get more horses than anyone else. The horses could "Die" if you pass a cemetary on your side of the car (and someone notices). The funny thing was, by this part of our trip....Shilpa and Noopur and I had noticed that the rules kept subtly changing throughout our game of "HORSE". And funny enough, they always seemed to favor ANDREA! :D We had seen real horses, signs for horses (left), and big fiberglass horses. When we were wasting a day in Adelaide, we almost went to see the BIG Rocking Horse, but it was a bit too far from the airport to risk. At this point of the trip, there was 1 road into and out of POrt Douglas. And there was a cemetary on it. So we all knew that one way or the other....our horses would DIE! and we'd have to start all over again! Driving towards Cape Tribulation for Jungle Surfing, we stopped and had lunch at a cafe. They had a HUGE spider in a web, food was ok, and we pushed on...Passing a spa along the way...
68: The Girls go Jungle Surfing! Joker - Andrea Skippy - Shilpa King Kong - Noopur | Cassowary Nest- In a tree!
69: KLW: We arrived just in time for the girls to catch the bus into the Jungle. I turned back down the road to the Ocean Spa. The place was set back in the jungle, and the bar maade me a PITCHER of iced tea. Just what I needed! The spa took me in and a nice German girl who lived at the spa did a nice massage and left Gnomey and me to a hot milk bath. We were a little late getting back up to Cape T grocery store to pick up the girls. I found Shilpa first and it looked like she had had a good time! The other 2 had wandered off down the boardwalk to the beach to see the ocean. While they were there (so the story goes) they looked about 10' out into the water and a black tipped reef shark was "RIGHT THERE!" Of course, there is no picture...so the question is...IF a reef shark swims by, and no one gets bit, was it really there????? *evil grin* | $2 kokonuts | And Kristi ventures into the Jungle Spa!
70: KLW: There were many fast and furious stories about the Jungle Surfing day...The girls got their safety gear, and were named from their helmets. The instructors could NOT have gotten it better! Andrea was the Joker--"No, No, No You're not doing it right" for photos is coming to mind. So does that rule-changing HORSE game! Shilpa was donned SKIPPY...And Skippy is the much beloved Australian icon 'Skippy the roo' who was a tv star long ago. And Shilpa does love some Roo's and Koalas., (and she also does a mean "Skip" when she needs to!) Noopur became KING KONG! Hmmm...She is secretly a supreme trouble maker. I've known that for YEARS! So climbing tall trees and knocking down planes...sure I can see that! During the slide from tree to tree, they came across what looked like a large nest built in the top. The leaders said it was a "Cassowary nest" . So , when the girls showed me the pictures they showed me the nest...and Factoid me (catching the look in Andrea's Joker Eyes!) realized too quickly that Csssowary's nest ON THE GROUND. Must have been a Koala Nest! *Evil Grin*
71: KLW: On the long drive back, Shilpa and I were chattering away when we passed a large concrete Cassowary. You know we had to stop! Andrea and Noopur stayed in the car while Shilpa and I started playing with the Cassowaries. OF course, you know what happened...OUt comes Joker (Andrea)..."No no no, you're not doing it right!" So she directed us to the photo above. And by far, it's a favorite for all of us. I'm not sure, but I think that possibly Noopur slept through it all Wonga: Shilpa started laughing when we drove by Wonga...*giggle* she had to explain it to the rest of us! | Wonga is from the Romany word wanger (coal). "Coal" was used as a slang term for money in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Hence Wonga = Money!
72: 27 Nov 08 - The Great Barrier Reef | SV: Today we left Koalas, Roos , and Land in exchange for Sea, to find Nemo! After sailing out of PDouglas for an hour, the ship docked on an anchored pontoon. There was only about 100 of us (25% capacity). We all signed up for a guided snorkel with a marine biologist, being just the 4 of us, it was great fun! We saw zebra fish, clown fish, a sea cucumber, barracudas, tuna , damselfish - that attacked the biologist when he duck-dived down to her nest! | Happy Thanksgiving!
73: "I am the fishy!" | The Ocean is blue The Ocean is deep The Ocean is where I want to be To swim with the fish in the deep blue sea! | SV: We saw lots of other fish, but we did not know the names! We were swimming amongst millions of jellyfish. At first I tried to dodge around them, but discovered it was futile as I would miss one and right into 500 others! After snorkeling for about an hour, we rushed back on board for the buffet lunch. The food was good with lots of fresh fruit! After this, Noopur went on a trial dive and the rest of us tried the Submarine ride. KLW: I had turned up late for the Submarine...so I set in back with some old guy that spoke no english. We saw Sea Turtles and a giant Grouper. (Which the Ozzie's pronounce "Grope Her".)
74: AJM: We went on the snorkel boat today! There were shops on the dock and the boat was HUGE! We went out to the GBR and we got a guided tour right away with a real life marine biologist. He was cute and very informative. He brought us a sea cucumber and when it is stressed it poops out sticky white spaghetti strings that can blind you if it gets in your eyes. Nice. It pooped and we were wearing goggles, Hooray! We rushed to get lunch and meet the submarine. I fell down the steps of the boat and was skinned on my elbow. It bruised in the likeness of a smiley face. We saw a gigantic Grouper (like a giant trout that would not fit into our car) it was soo massive! Back to the dock and very silly pictures of our day flashed on the tv monitor for the boat ride home. Dinner was take away mexican and a SURPRISE! UYM....Happy Thanksgiving to ALL! | KLW's Useless Facts- The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. It is composed of 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 2600km. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia. The GBR can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. The reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. The GBR supports a wide diversity of life, and was selected as a World Heritage site in 1981.
76: 27 Nov - Happy Thanksgiving from Port Douglas!
77: GOBBLE TILL YOU WOBBLE! | SV: When we got back to Port Douglas, we pottered around the shops for an hour before picking up take-away. KW and AM went for Mexican while NB and I bravely tried the town Indian joint. We rested at home, watched a couple movies and the Indian turned out surpriisingly good! The girls had been a little sad they would not have traditional Thanksgiving meal o fTurkey, etc. So I arranged a cake with a turkey on! (They Loved it!) :D We all said what we were thankful for...and it made me happy that the cake was in that list, too! KLW: We have now had THANKSGIVING on teh GREAT BARRIER REEF! Doesn't that just sound Exciting?? Shilpa had been very sneaky and ordered us a chocolate cherry cake, WITH a Turkey on top o fit! It was so sweet...and Andrea and I have NEVER seen a Thanksgiving Cake before! It tasted really good! :D And none of us had time to cook so we just were very very happy to have a themed Turkey Cake! The bakery had never made one before, and they did a very good job making an icing turkey! Thank you, SHILPA! (and yes, we all Gobbled and then Wobbled!)
78: 28 Nov 08 - The day Andrea licked an ant's butt. | AJM: We went in the rain to the cultural center where we learned we could lick the ass of a green ant to get much needed vitamin C. We watched a little play, learned how to throw a boomerang, | learned some dances, some chants, and had a great time (even though it was overcast and rainy. Shilpa and Noopur got their faces painted. Then we rode the Skyrail up to Kuranda Village through the rainforest. At Kuranda we held a Koala for photo ops at the little zoo, fed more kangaroos, shopped just a bit on the way down to the very last train out. There was a fun gift shop at the base of the Skyrail and Andrea got a koala umbrella that everyone in Texas wants!
79: 28 Nov 08 - Tjapukai Aboriginal Park, Cairns Queensland | SV: Today we had an early start out by 8.15a to get to Kuranda from Port Douglas. There we went to an aboriginal cultural center where we learned how to throw boomerangs, spears and learned more about the aboriginal culture. Very pretty aboriginal place. | KLW's Useless Facts: Tjapukai is a group of Australian Aborigines who are the original custodians of the mountains, gorges, lands and waters of this area. KLW: We saw the art center, watched a play about dreamtime, and moved over a bridge to learn how to dance/didggeridoo/boomerang and throw spears. On this bridge were big inch long green ants. The guide told us to pick one up and lick its butt. Well...long story short, Andrea was the first! She licked an ant's butt! *giggle* I did so later-had to work up the courage. Butt (pun intended) the ants release a potent vitamin C when picked up and 'licked'. Doesn't that make you wonder, "How many other tourists have licked that particular ant's butt?"
81: KLW's Useless Facts: 'BULURRU is the source of life, the Storywaters, the Storytime . In other parts of Australia this time is known as the Dreamtime or the Dreaming. All things come from BULURRU - the sun, the moon and stars, the food we eat, the creatures of the world, the plants and trees, the rain, the very land itself. We ourselves come from BULURRU. The greatest ancestor of all is Gudju Gudju, the Rainbow. Gudju Gudju could transform into ancestors such as BUdaadji, the carpet snake, who created all rivers and creeks of Barron Gorge National Park. During the wet season, Gudju Gudju presence is most profound in his rainbow form. The voice of Bulurru, the creation spirit, can be heard through Gudju Gudju in the sound of thunder. The Traditional Owners ask that you take care and respect their country during your visit...." Cassowary: is the 3rd largest flightless bird native to tropical north Queensland. They feed mainly on fruits, but are omnivorous and eat small prey. They are very shy, but when disturbed they are capable of inflicting fatal injuries to dogs and children. The Guinness World Records lists the Cassowary as the world's most dangerous bird. During WWII, US and Australian troops stationed in New Guinea were warned to steer clear of them. | SV: We then got on the Skyrail - like a ski gondola which took us across 7.5km of rainforest and waterfalls to Kuranda Village.
82: KLW's Useless Facts: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is a scenic cableway running above the Barron Gorge National Park from Caravonica to Kuranda, Queensland. Spanning 7.5km, the SKyrail experience includes a scenic cableway ride and stops at two rainforest mid-stations. Here, guests alight from the cableway onto rainforest boardwalks, where interpretive info is provided thru signage and an interpretive center. A 1-way experience takes about 1.5 hours. Skyrail offered us a package to tour Tjapukai park, ride 1-way on the Scenic Cableway to Kuranda, then return from Kuranda via the Scenic Railway. The stations for Sky rail: Caravonica Terminal: is located in the suburb of Caravonica, 15min north of Cairns, and 50 min south of Port Douglas. Red Peak Station: is the highest point of the cableway, at 545m (1788ft) above sea level. Barron Falls Station: is situated adjacent to the falls. The boardwalks lead out to 3 lookouts of the Falls. This station also features a rainforest interpretation center. Kuranda Terminal is located in the rainforest village of Kuranda and adjacent to Kuranda Scenic Railway Station. the town is a tourist mecca for markets, shops, and also has a butterfly Koala, and reptile center.
83: 28 Nov 08 - Kuranda, Queensland- Koala Park, Hogan and the girls KLW: After a really short and not so good lunch, we ran over to the Koala park (the train took off soon!)THe ladies there introduced us to Hogan, our Koala for the afternoon. We took turns and took TONS of photos of each other getting our Koala love. The only way to describe holding these sweet creatures is to imagine a furry, eucalyptus smelling baby with sharp toenails. IF that baby were draped across your body and sound asleep, that would be a Koala hugging you! This is an adventure we could ALL do again! (less heat & humidity could be beneficial!)
84: 28 Nov 08 - Hogan & Andrea Kuranda Koala Park
85: 28 Nov 08 - Hogan & Shilpa Kuranda Koala Park | SV: After a quick lunch in Kuranda we went to hug a Koala (Hogan) -- and I managed to hug one, too!! It did lightly scratch me (he could tell I was scared). But I still did it, It was tough, he weighted 8kg!
86: 28 Nov 08 - Hogan & Kris @ Kuranda Koala Park
87: 28 Nov 08 - Hogan & Noopur @ Kuranda Koala Park
88: 28 Nov 08 - Kuranda, Queensland Koala Park | SV: Then on the way out we saw some crocs and roos. I finally got a pic of Skippy with a Joey in the Pouch! We then took a steam train back down the tablelands. For dinner, we stopped in Cairns-had a terrible meal (how can you go wrong with garlic bread!!!) Tomorrow we will head back from Port Douglas to Cairns and grab a flight to Sydney where Noopur ends her adventure with us.
89: 28 Nov 08 - Kuranda Scenic Railway KLW: After all the Koala and Roo love, we all started looking around the marketplace. Andrea and Noopur, this should sound familiar --remember the Blue Mountains vertical rail!?--they abandoned Shilpa and me. As the time was quickly approaching for the train to take off. Shilpa and I cut it close enough to have a leisurely walk down to the train, take a few pics, buy some jewelry and a t-shirt, and got us all bottles of water for the trip down the mountains. Ahhh..some much needed relaxation on the train! It was almost more beautiful than the Gondola ride, Most likely because it was also more comfortable temp-wise! Great old train, was used as the only way to access Kuranda 70 years ago! | SV: We then took a steam train back down the tablelands.
90: 28 Nov 08 - Cairns, Queensland | KLW: With a little time to burn, we found the BIG Captain Cook and took some fun pictures (we did it right this time, eh Andrea?!) :D We went downtown to see the Cairns city wading pool and pool it was a beautiful park going down to the sea. With flowering cherry trees all over carpeting the ground with spent pink fragrant blossoms. We stopped in a strip of shops looking for some inexpensive food for dinner. It was horrid. The only way that place will stay in business would be TOURISTS! Even Shilpa's Garlic bread was yucky! In my opinion, there is not much in Cairns to do. A westfield, a few beaches...the real adventure we have already done--Port Douglas and the GBR! | SV: For dinner, we stopped in Cairns-had a terrible meal (how can you go wrong with garlic bread!!!) Tomorrow we will head back from Port Douglas to Cairns and grab a flight to Sydney where Noopur ends her adventure with us. | The BIG CAPTAIN COOK
91: 29 Nov 08 - Port Douglas, Queensland | KLW: Our last day before flying home to Sydney. We really have done a ton here! We'll need a vacation from our vacation..Noopur will be flying home tomorrow night. I've arranged for Sameena and Khizer to pick her up from my house and take her shopping before dropping her off at the airport. THANK YOU! And thank you Noopur for letting me arrange this! But we have 1 more day...Hmmm...what kind of trouble can we make??? Maybe we have not seen enough Crocodiles yet? A stop at Hartley's seems to be a recipe for success in this area! We got up, packed the car FULL, finished the underwater camera film and drove south for the last time. (WE have seen plenty enough of these narrow twisty ocean roads!0 And also very happy we have a good and powerful a/c in the car! It's a sauna out there!--notice the steam my camera picked up when I shot the Frangipani's (Plumeria) above?!
92: SV: On the way to Cairns for our flight to Sydney, we stopped to see some Crocodiles--I did attempt to wrestle them like Croc Dundee! ---NOT!
93: 29 Nov 08 - Cairns, Queensland Hartley's Croc Farm KLW: Andrea and I have been looking forward to this. Something about seeing real Aussie Crocs jumping up for dead chickens...ooOOOOOooooo....There is also a BIG CROC here from my book of BIG THINGS. Not sure if you've picked it up yet..but it's HOT up here. I really tend to melt in humidity and heat. BY this day, I've really had my fill. Shilpa and I lost Andrea and Noopur as we had borrowed a hat from the gift shop and were over wrestling the BIG CROC (the big fiberglass croc). :D Turns out Andrea and Noopur had dared the heat and gone on the boardwalk nature trail. Sounds like it was fun, they saw all sorts of things we did not. Shilpa and I set in front of a fan..or 2 ...sipping water and juice and watching the croc feeding show across the lagoon. I think all of us had fun. But the heat does really make you tired after awhile! AJM: We went to the chemist in the am where we picked up some film and bought flower hair barrettes. Then down to Harley's Croc Adventures. They had baby Padymelons in a pouch a lady was walking around with, big crocs in a pond that leapt several feet out of the water to eat a whole chicken. Noopur and I did a walk-about where we saw a gigantic croc that liked to have water sprayed on its head. It's head was bigger than our carry-on luggage!
94: WARNING! I once knew a Crocky named Rocky He didn't eat Cockies or Jockeys, For he didn't like meat -It wasn't a treat He only liked chocky and gnocchi!
95: 29 Nov 08 - Hartley's Croc Farm KLWs Useless facts: Saltwater Crocodile is the largest of all living crocodilians and reptiles. It is found in suitable habitats throughout SE Asia, N. Australia, and surrounding waters. They inhabit fresh, brackish, and saltwater environments.
97: 29 Nov 08 - Cairns to Sydney | "I thought he said 'Koala'", when in fact it was a goanna, as Noopur stood in the field while we stared at her. | "crispsp?" as said on the airplane by an attendant. | "Something's in the road! GET YOU RCAMERAS!!!" Andrea "KOALA IN-THE-ROAD!" All of us on Kangaroo Island | "That is a cassowary nest." Guide says pointing high up in a tree. | "We want to go to an opal mine!!!" and then when there..."Oooooh!" He hee... | "I do not know who this 'Pete' is you speak of. But he does not love you!" Noopur to Andrea | "Shit on a Stick...", "Shit, Shit, shit, crap on a stick...", "for the Love of Pete!" various moments with Andrea | "X...Y...ZED..." Shilpa | "We need to be at () by () o'clock." Noopur | "Good onya!" "G'day" '"How ya goin'? | "No No NO...You're not doing it right..." Andrea, when Shilpa and I would play funny things in pictures | "HORSE" | "Thanks, Dave!" "Shut-up, Dave!" | "Yanni is ?extremely talented? .." I forgot what we were talking about!
98: This page is for Noopur.... we missed you in New Zealand! | On-the-Ground | AJM: ...And frankly, we travel unlike anyone else, except my family. :D Most people go to one city and inhabit it. That's why they call it a 'holiday'. We attack our trips like warriors...head on, slaying multiple cities and points of interest per day, the carnage, the miles that fly past beneath our feet, the sights, sounds, smells become a blur as we approach warp speed. In the end, we stand on the highest ridge in our travel hats (loaded with commemorative pins), we raise our swords to the sky and make jubilant barbaric sounds from our bellies...and that melody in the background, that "hushed" crowd sound mixed with triumphant victorious trumpeting and bass drums can be heard for miles. Then we power nap. I fly home and call in sick. And Kristi makes a lovely book about it. KLW: There's another way to travel?????????? Wonder if Shilpa and Noopur know that we travel this way?
99: The follow up story: When Dani visited, we actually found the town of Gnomesville, Western Australia! There were hundreds of gnomes of all types hiding out in the woods near a round about. The story from the locals went like this: Years ago, a family moved. When they moved they "Set their gnomes free" in the round-about. Thinking all the while that their Gnomes would be stolen by someone wearing an "I Steal Lawn Gnomes" shirt, no doubt. But that is not what happened. More & more people brought their | For the next installments, see Dec2008 NEW ZEALND and Dec 2008 WESTERN AUSTRALIA! The location of Gnomesville is outside Bunbury, Western Australia. | Gnomes to set them free. So much so, that they created a road hazaard from folks leaving and visitng Gnomesville. So the city nearby had to "Relocate" Gnomesville from the round-about to the woods off to the side. There is a Gnome Shire Council, rescue gnomes, gnomes of the night, bungee gnomes, gnomes from aroudn the world...and my Daredevil Gnome. He is leading a 3rd grade class of gnomes all with names.