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Published: October 27th 2018
I’ve gotten some requests to give an update on my post ride sightseeing with Karen and to share some of our photos.
The pictures will be in a similar chronology that Karen and I visited the cities and sights: We started in Sydney, then flew to Alice Springs, then drove to Uluru (Ayers Rock), then drove back to Alice Springs, flew to Darwin, flew to Cairns, flew to Lizard Island, flew back to Cairns and on to Melbourne, then flew to Sydney, and then back to the states.
Karen is a much better tourism director then I am so we did a lot more sightseeing together than I did on my ride. We did the obligatory visit to the Sydney opera house and the full hop on hop off bus tour of Sydney. The bus tour worked well because it rained that entire day in Sydney. Don that drove me back to the hotel said that he and his wife were going to see "The Book of Mormon" in Sydney. I mentioned this to Karen and we decided to go to the play on our second night- I thought it was Pretty funny
and actually enjoyed it. She decided to save Bondi Beach (Pronounced Bond Eye) for our last full day at the end of the trip back in Sydney.
Our first stop after Sydney was to Alice Springs in the center of the country. Here I traded in my two wheels for four wheels. After seeing the desert gardens park and driving inland for a bit, we drove the 277 miles to Ayers Rock (Uluru) pronounced ooh lu roo. We stayed at the Ayers Resort (desert gardens hotel). We did a sunset dinner and star gazing but the clouds interrupted the star gazing. We tried again the next night but had the same problem. It's easy to understand why nearly everyone visiting Australia includes The Rock as a stop. If you have it on your bucket list to climb to the top - you will need to schedule a visit before next September. Per agreement with the Aboriginal tribes in the area they will be discontinuing allowing people to climb to the top. The Aboriginal people consider it their sacred place, although I've had some Aussies point out that Aboriginal guides used to lead people up the rock. I sense their
is a little disagreement as to whether climbing should be allowed or not. Note: Three weeks earlier when I was there on my bike I was taking pictures of lone clouds because it was so rare to see a cloud. What a difference a few weeks means for the weather.
The rock was still amazing as were the Olga’s (Kata-tuj). After two days at the Rock we drove the 277 miles back to Alice Springs to catch a flight to my first virgin territory on the trip- Darwin.
We stayed at the Hilton in Darwin and at the last minute rented a car. Our tourism director (Karen ) booked us on a Croc tour an hour and a half from Darwin- so we needed wheels to get out there. It was very remote but I had a 4 wheel monster equipped with a snorkel for running through flooded roads. We made it to the boat on the Adelaide river where the famous jumping Crocs hangout. Harry- the proprietor and Karen assistant gave us a great Croc education and some awesome close encounters (See the pictures). The big croc in the pictures was Brutus - he
is 90 years old and is approximately 18.5 ft long. Aussies like to point out the difference between a big Croc and a big Alligator, that being it's like comparing a large Cattle and a large sheep- Croc's are much bigger both in length and girth.
Harry explained that smaller crocs are game for both the larger crocs and the 9’ ft long bull sharks that also come into the Adelaide river. Bull sharks are known for being able to handle salt water, brackish (combo of fresh and salt), and freshwater.
We spent sometime on the Darwin docks and did an awesome sunset dinner cruise in Darwin bay. While small, Darwin was uniquely interesting and the most important tidbit we picked up was “Pay attention when you are around the water in Darwin” the crocs who were once a endangered species are Back!!! A young male croc may travel as much as 600 Km’s or more to find his own territory. This means they will go anywhere by sea, river, or land.
We headed to Cairns to start our GBR experience (Great Barrier Reef). A couple of friends who lived in Australia had warned us that the
inner GBR was not in very good shape. For good diving you’d have to take a boat out 3 or more hours. One of the friends suggested Lizard Island which is a Resort in the middle of the Northwest GBR. We took a 1 hour private plane out to Lizard Island. Then an hour on the dive boat to the outer reef. I did a two tank dive and Karen did two Snorkeling stops. Both dives were awesome but I think Karen’s snorkel adventure might have been even better than my dives. She had her buddy Cam (the snorkel master) as her guide. We got to know a lot of the staff at Liz isle because we went to the Marlin Sports bar where the staff hangs out on Friday night and closed the place. Lizard Island Resort made it to Karen and my top 3 Resort list. The setting, the staff, and the accommodations are all top notch (it is also the most expensive hotel I’ve ever stayed in). It is pretty much All inclusive which helped defer the steep costs a little. Karen and I were given our own little skiff with an outboard and did lunch on
one of Lizard Islands beaches then snorkeled on our own at two spots on the Island. Our room was overlooking Sunset beach (see sunset pictures). Can't say enough about the Lizard Island hotel or its staff - First rate and beautiful. When leaving Liz Isle we took the charter plane back to Cairns then caught a regular flight down to Melbourne. (In Aussie speak that would be “Cain’s “ and Melbin”).
It was a 3 1/2 hour flight down to Melbourne so we didn’t get in until after 7:00 in the evening. Karen and I walked down to an English pub near the hotel “The Elephant & Wheelbarrow” we had some snacks and a beer and called it a day. The 2nd day we walked down to the “South Bank” area and found a casino with a sports book that had the Brewers - Dodgers 7th game on live. With a Brewers loss the highlight of the day was that I took the casino for $ 175 playing Black Jack.
The next morning we completed our last domestic flight from Melbourne back up to Sydney in preparation for our ride back to the states in two days. We
both agreed we wanted to spend our last day checking out Bondi (pronounced BOND EYE) Beach. Bondi beach was beautiful, we caught some rays on the beach next to a young couple and their 13 month old son from Sweden. They were in the middle of a 90 day tour of the south pacific, New Zealand, and Oz. Very nice couple - we chatted for over an hour about travel and politics in the states, Europe, and Sweden. We had lunch over looking Bondi and then headed back to our hotel and starting preparing for the long ride back to the states. 13.5 hours to LA, then 4 hour layover, then 3 1/2 back to Chicago followed by a 1 1/2 ride from Chicago back to Oak Creek. In all over 22 hours from the Hotel in Sydney to our home in the OC.
Be sure to check out all the photos that will follow the text (approximately 35). When I get back I’ll send out a note with the final tally from the donations to Cure Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. -if you would still like to make a donation it is not to late ( www.cureduchenne.org/Jimsride
As always there are so many people to thank for their help and for making it possible to help the Duchenne boys. MOST NOTABLY:
*The teams at AIS and MSC back home holding down the fort so I could make this incredible ride.
*My wife Karen -who I know worries about me on these long rides. As well as our children- Jennifer and Jason for their support.
*The team at CureDuchenne for their help coordinating the Duchenne Rideabout Oz donation sight.
*The sponsors: Matt and the AMPG team, Crane Worldwide Systems, MSC, and AIS.
*And of coarse all of you who donated, followed along on the blogs, and sent all the encouraging comments-Thanks for your support.
I handed out approximately 65 “JIm’s Rideabout Oz cards”. If you were one of the card recipients please send me an Email.
I Hope you enjoyed the 27 Blog entries - I'm always looking for suggestions to improve them so don't be shy about sending me suggestions. One I've heard in the past was MORE PICTURES hopefully I've done a better job in that category on this trip.
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