BC: AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND FIJI June 3-23 2012
FC: AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND FIJI JUNE 2012
1: CAIRNS | AUSTRALIA | ARRIVED 21 DEC 2011 | The gateway to Queensland’s tropical north, Cairns is a stylish city, which is also renowned for its relaxed, tropical climate and laid back ambience. With islands, rainforests and reefs on its doorstep, from Cairns you can swim, snorkel, dive and sail the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. Immerse yourself in the World Heritage Wet Tropics Rainforest, or take the scenic railway to the tranquil, butterfly-fringed village of Kuranda and cruise amongst colourful parrots, platypus and fresh water crocodiles.
2: SYDNEY | AUSTRALIA | ARRIVED 21 DEC 2011 | New South Wales is in the south-east part of the Australian continent and is the most populous and heavily industrialized State in Australia, with a highly urbanized population. Its capital is Sydney, Australia's largest city and one of the world's great seaports. It is also an important international finance center.
3: QUEENSTOWN | AUSTRALIA | ARRIVED 21 DEC 2011 | New Zealand is a beautiful, temperate, peaceful and sunny land--or two lands in one, North Island and South Island. The North is generally warmer than the South, but there are no extremes of temperature. The total north to south span of 1,000 miles lies half-way between the South Pole and the Equator. Queenstown in on the South Island and is a small, compact alpine town situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Surrounded by The Remarkables Range and the Eyre Mountains it attracts thouosands of visitors each year.
4: ROTORUA | AUSTRALIA | ARRIVED 21 DEC 2011 | New Zealand begins with sea and ends with sea. Because of this fact and the vast distances from its nearest neighboring land masses, New Zealand was very late in falling into the possession of man.The original inhabitants of New Zealand were known until relatively recently as Moriori or "moa hunters". While in Rotorua we will visit the home of a Maori family for dinner, We will also explore the TePuia cultural center, see the national carving and weaving schools, tour natural geysers and thermal pools and be entertained with Maori storytelling and music.
5: AUCKLAND | AUSTRALIA | ARRIVED 21 DEC 2011 | Auckland is the biggest and brightest metropolis in New Zealand. With almost one-third of the nation's population, Auckland has more inhabitants than the whole of South Island. Auckland is referred to as "The City of Sails". While in Auckland we will have the opportunity to sail the Harbor on a 50-foot sailboat, Pride of Auckland.
6: FIJI | AUSTRALIA | ARRIVED 21 DEC 2011 | Fiji's beaches are lovely, but it is the culture here that truly intrigues. The Fijians have Melanesian origins, but have adapted to Polynesian traditions as well: manufacturing tapa cloth from paper mulberry, mat-weaving, and wood carving, as well as music, dance and ritual customs. In addition, part of the population is Indian, brought in to work the sugar plantations. The mix and mingle of peoples and cultures creates a fascinating fabric of life. The dense tropical nature of these islands adds depth-literally and figuratively.
7: AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND FIJI | AUSTRALIA | ARRIVED 21 DEC 2011 | Now let the adventure begin.
8: The views from our hotel room and around the grounds in Cairns, Australia
9: Our tour director was Maree Greenwood. We met her for the first time in Cairns on the morning of June 6th. Here she is explaining important information to the group.
10: HARTLEY'S CRPCPDO;E AND WILDLIFE PARK.. Our up-close visit with crocodiles, koalas and kangaroos. Hartley's is a working crocodile farm located in the Australian Bush. We hand fed kangaroos, petted a koala and watched crocs at feeding time while on a boat cruise on Hartley's Lagoon.
11: It was fun feeding the kangaroos. They took carrots right out of our hand. They even allowed us to get up-close and personal with a gentle touch. The Koala was so cute, and we all got to pet it while the attendant held on to it for us. It was a beautiful day at the park. June 6, 2012
12: Hartley's is a working crocodile farm located in the Australian Bush. The Park has both fresh water and salt water crocodiles. The salt water crocodiles are bigger and more aggressive than the fresh water crocs. They absorb heat from the sun and can go up to 12 months without being fed again by the park. They have a special gland that removes the salt from their system. They lay between 40 to 60 eggs and 1 to 2 out of every 1000 make it to adulthood. We found the park to be very interesting and we learned a lot about crocodiles.
13: tT | Black swans and black necked storks were also at the park. The storks can fly great distances and reach high altitudes | I was | Don't be afraid- he already had lunch.
14: Boating on Hartley's Lagoon we saw lots of crocodiles. They swam up to the boat to be fed chicken. | Pieces of chicken were tied to the end of a pole and hung out over the water for the crocodiles to feed on. They swam up to the boat and jumped for the food. It was amazing how high they got out of the water..
15: Hartley's Lagoon
16: Port Douglas June 6, 2012 | Originally established as a link to the gold fields, Port Douglas is now a favorite Aussie vacation spot. | We stopped at this pub for a refreshing drink. | Locals frequent this pub regularly,
17: Enjoying a Shandy Part beer, part lemonade. Aussies call Sprite lemonade. | Cheers | The year round tropical climate creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere. | Walter and Dorothy get ready for a cool drink.
18: Port Douglas is on the Coral Sea. Fun signs in the pub.
19: Termite hills in the fields. They looked like large rocks. | The termites have been busy. These hills were huge.
20: Wetherby Station is a working cattle ranch. Australia is world-famous for delicious beef and is one of the world's leading beef exporters. Wetherby Station is in northern Queensland about 13 miles south of Port Douglas.
21: The beautiful Weatherby Station house where dinner and entertainment were enjoyed by all. | We enjoyed a delicious dinner buffet including traditional Pavlova dessert. Singing and fun moving to the music ended the night.
22: The Great Barrier Reef June 7, 2012 Took high-speed catamaran to reef. Viewed coral from semi-submersible vessel, had a buffet lunch, saw marine life from lower deck.
24: Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park allowed us to try our skills at throwing spears and boomerangs. We were lucky the other members of our group were standing behind a protective screened areas so we did not put them in any danger. It was a fun experience, but our throwing skills need a lot of practice. It was not as easy as it looked.
25: Here we watched Aborigines perform traditional dances and learned about their controversial history in this region of Australia.
26: Rode up the beautiful Whitfield Range in the Skyrail gondola to see the rainforest from up above. What beautiful greenery and waterfalls were visible as we traveled just metres above the rainforest canopy in the Barron Gorge National Park.
27: Australia's World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests are one of the oldest continually surviving Tropical Rainforests on Earth. This was a beautiful experience.
28: BONDI BEACH is one of Australia's most famous beaches and among the world's most well-known beaches. The beach is roughly a kilometer long and is located on the east coast of Australia and is a suburb of the city of Sydney. | Kuranda was a quaint and picturesque village nestled in one of the Earth's oldest rain forests. This is where we had kangaroo meat pie for lunch, a favorite of the Aussies.
29: The Great Barrier Reef from the air.
30: This was an absolutely beautiful experience.
31: As part of a conservation program to protect rare and threatened plant species, the Cairns Botanic Gardens joined Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
32: We arrived in Sydney on June 9, 2012 and strolled along the waterfront of Australia's largest city. | The Opera House, the bridge and the skyline of Sydney are all landmarks for tourists to enjoy.
33: The Opera House opened in 1973 and is a classic example of the innovative Postmodern movement in architecture. Its design, engineering and scope are modern marvels. | The building contains 1,000 rooms and 5 theaters. More than 2 million visitors each year are entertained by more than 3,000 performances.
34: We took a seat in Mrs. Macquarie's Chair for a panoramic view of Sydney's picturesque harbor. | Australia's fleet of naval ships were docked here.
35: Bondi is an Aboriginal word that means "water breaking over rocks." | Bondi Beach
36: Dinner was at a local waterfront restaurant in the Rocks district. It was raining so hard we had a waterfall in the restaurant during dinner. The food was good and so was the company. | Sights from the Sydney Aquarium. | Interesting creatures. | Sharks, fish, jelly fish and more were all seen at the aquarium. | Coral too. Beautiful!
37: Trinity Garrison Church, Millers Point, Sydney. Founded in 1840. The church was a place of worship for early British and Colonial Regiments.
38: A cruise of the Sydney Harbor. June 11, 2012
39: It rained a lot while we were in Sydney so the pictures from the cruise on the harbor are a little hazy. Tea time while we were cruising was fun.
41: Queenstown, New Zealand June 14, 2012 We cruised across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Sheep Station for a guided farm tour. We saw a sheepdog run through his paces and watched a live sheep-shearing demonstration. We had tea in the beautiful house and had time for a sing-along after tea.
42: Queenstown, New Zealand June 13-15, 2012
43: Fergburgers in Queenstown. Yummy!!
44: On June 15th we took the coach to Milford Sound. These are some of the beautiful scenes we saw on the way.
45: The scenery was absolutely beautiful. The ride resulted in one breathtaking sight after another. New Zealand is an amazingly beautiful country.
46: Rudyard Kipling hailed Milford Sound as "The Eight Wonder of the World. Thundering waterfalls, impressive forests, porpoises, seals and God's beauty were all around on this wonderful day. June 15, 2012
48: Mirror Lakes on the way back from Milford Sound. | Another opportunity to enjoy God's hand at work. Absolutely beautiful!!
50: June 16, 2012 Our home-hosted dinner with our Maori hostess Baryl Harris. She made lamb chops, sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes and a wonderful fruit crumple for dessert. | We enjoyed learning about the Maori people and were thankful for the hospitality extended to us. With us were Emma and Rollie Aquino, Kate Dalmath, Stephanie Platero, and Walter and Dorothy Powers.
51: Our lunch in Rotorua. Lucky we only ordered one to share. Two burgers, egg, bacon, cheese, shredded beets, lettuce. Delicious.
52: Our visit to a local Ohinemutu community where we admired a hand-carved meetinghouse built on a marae (an ancient Maori ceremonial site). We learned to greet each other by touching noses.
53: The natural thermal valley heats the homes and cook food for the village. Their church with the etched window looking out over the water looks like God is walking on water. Their memorial cemetary for the Maori military. The fern leaf is the national symbol of NZ.
54: Te Puia Cultural Center included a visit to New Zealand's national carving & weaving school | Geysers and mudpools were interesting. Cultural dances and singing were presented. | The cultural center had a definite sulfur odor. | The carving school.
56: Auckland is the "City of Sails". Auckland Harbor hosted the 2000 America's Cup Challenge. We sailed on the Pride of Auckland 50-foot sailboat and each had a turn at the wheel.
57: We viewed the sails going up. The Sky Tower was seen from the boat. We wondered if we would fit under the bridge as the sail seem so tall. We saw the America's Cup Village. June 19, 2012
58: Lunch in a suburb of Auckland. We ate outside at a restaurant across the street from the beach.
59: We had a sing-a-long at our hotel in Auckland. Maree's parents joined us for the evening. Jim played the piano and Trudy led everyone in song. June 19, 2012
60: This was a mosque we passed when arriving in Fiji. The majority are Christians but there is also Hindu and Muslum in Fiji.
61: The "market" at our hotel. Simon told us about Fiji and taught us to say Bula and other phrases. These are scenes from our room balcony. | Bula !
62: We visited the market in Fiji. Lots of produce was for sale. Fish on the table, but no ice on it. Kava in root and powder form was also available.
64: We were greeted into the village. After a ceremony Walter and Ron drank the Kava that was offered to everyone. Ron said it smelled and tasted like dirt but made his tongue numb
65: After a little song and dance the women showed us how they made their pottery.
66: We had lunch in our guide's home. We sat on the floor and ate with our fingers. | We toured their church. This was a methodist church. Most Fiji people are Christian and are either Catholic or Methodist.
67: We visited a school. The principal talked to us. The children sang for us. | The crossing guard. | All the children had fun singing for us.
68: Getting up close and friendly with the animals at Kula Eco Park. Fiji boasts a dazzling variety of reptile, bird and insect species. Kula Eco Park is dedicated to the preservation of Fiji's wildlife which has been threatened by pollution, deforestation and the introduction of non-endemic species.
69: Ron and Walter have fun with a boa constrictor. Snakes are cool. What fun!
70: These are just a few of the amazing animal life we saw at Kula Eco Park. June 21, 2012
72: The Shangri-la Fijian Resort and Spa. June 20-23, 2012
74: More Shangri-La Resort pictures.
76: Our farewell dinner, June 22, 2012
77: All our traveling companions. It sure was great!! | G'day Kia ora Bula
78: Singing in the hotel lobby while waiting for the coach to take us to the airport.
79: Just for fun.