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Published: October 9th 2006
So two weeks, a few thousand miles, lots of pies, one casserole and a million pictures of Ayers Rock later, my Aussie odyssey has come to an end. Unsurprisingly I had rather a good time. Australia is a great country, not too much history or culture to contend with so you can spend you time in the great outdoors.
And there's rather a lot of that.
Our route took us to Sydney, the Red Centre and Ayers rock and then north to tropical Queensland, staying in Port Douglas which is a rather fun hours drive north of Cairns (there appears to be lots of different ways to pronounce this name, all of which resemble a giraffe in pain) and finally back to Sydney for the end of the trip.
So after a delightfully long flight we landed in Sydney, jet lag wasn't too bad so after a quick rest we headed on off in to town on the double decker trains, very cool. The first sight of the harbour bridge and opera house didn't disappoint, it was spectacular. We walked around the Rocks, the older part of town and had a go on the monorail to Darling harbour. The
Call me Uluru
Ayers Rock by another name.
next morning it was back to the airport for our flight to Ayers rock.
Flying out of Sydney we passed over the Blue Mountains and then hit the outback, it was very red. A few hours later, it was still very red and we caught sight of Ayers rock from the plane and the Ayers rock photo extravaganza began.
We transferred to the resort, the only place to stay if you visit and went out for a stroll. We caught our first sunset and marvelled at the change in colour. Well, it kind of went from red to dark red and then black. But it was still amazing. Then the dark landed, and boy it was dark, we attempted to spot the Southern Cross but realised after about an hour of staring (literally) in to space we were no Patrick Moores and couldn't work out a thing.
Next day we went on a camel ride near the rock, they run wild in Australia, brought over when people were exploring the outback a long time ago and then were set free to make they own way. Luckily ours were rather well trained and didn't give is too much trouble. However,
It's big and red!
And that's not just my hair in humidity.
the selection of Harajuku girls on our trip kind of spoilt my ‘Florence of Australia’ moment with their continual squealing, but it was still fun,
Next up was the sunset helicopter trip over the rock and the Olgas (some more big rocks nearby), photo count reaching 50 by this point. I’d never been in a helicopter before, so I was rather excited. I got to sit in the front (it was a fair decision Julian!!) and can only liken it to sitting in a very comfy chair and being raised above the ground slowly. A very strange experience but very cool.
Day 2 in the outback and we hired a car to make the trip 300k north to Kings Canyon, the drive was amazing, no traffic, no kangaroos either though which was a pity. At Kings Canyon you can take a 3 hour walk of the rim, the beginning is rather steep and in the 32C heat, was quite a struggle but well worth the effort especially when you reach The Garden of Eden (they are really not very original with names). It was nice and empty (probably due to the heat, mad dogs etc) and so quiet, only the
sounds of the birds singing in the trees, ah, so relaxing…
Luckily we didn’t have a Wolf’s creek experience and made it back to the resort in one piece. Day 3, time to climb, easy peasy I thought, no worries. 5 minutes in to the climb I re-evaluated, had a skiing black-run panic and decided I didn’t fancy being number 36 in the list of those who left the rock in a box. Trust me, it’s not that easy. I’m suitably annoyed with myself for not trying harder. However, I was taken aback by hearing some people speak Welsh on the rock, bore da. Oh well, time for one more sunset and off we went to Queensland, final count for Ayers rock photos must be over 100, want to see them?
Landing at Cairns, we picked up our car and made the drive to Port Douglas on the Captain Cook highway, this was the most exciting road I’ve driven on, it resembles a roller coaster ride and was the first time I’ve ever felt car sick while driving, great fun.
On arrival, we planned our activities for the next few days, we’re getting rather adventurous by now. First up,
The route up the rock part II
It's bloody steep when you get to this bit.
white water rafting on the Barron river. Not being a great swimmer, I was a bit apprehensive, but it was fantastic, the views were wonderful and I didn’t fall in, phew. Next up was a visit Mossman gorge in the rainforest. I was a bit scared about going to a rainforest, visions of spiders dropping on my head from all angles filled me with fear, I thought a radiation suit might be the answer. However, I was wrong (well, there is a first time for everything) and the forest seemed practically spider free. But then it seemed practically wildlife free. It was a bit thin on the ground and we didn’t spot anything apart from the odd butterfly and bush turkey. Queensland’s most famous wild life is the Cassowary (hard name to say, so I preferred to call them casseroles), a 2 metre high emu like bird with a funny head. These are some of the most deadly birds in the world, but did we see one, did we hell. We concluded that it was a clever marketing ploy by the Queensland tourist board along the lines of the Loch Ness monster. Time for more activities, so we headed back
Don't look down
This is as far as I got. I should have perservered but as it got very slippy and steep, I chickened out. I'm so ashamed.
to Cape Tribulation in the Daintree. Next up, horse riding on the beach and rainforest, a croc spotting river cruise (can you guess, we didn’t spot any decent ones, only babies) and finally canopy surfing. We were strung up on wires and thrown between trees in the rainforest, excellent fun. By this point we’ve learnt so much about rainforests, I think I’m back in ‘A’ level biology. The Daintree is well worth a visit and really beautiful, if anyone wins the lottery and wants to buy me a house there, just let me know.
So, ticked off the list was Sydney, the outback, rainforest and now it was time for the Reef. Luckily on our last night in Port Douglas Finding Nemo was on, so we swotted up on our aquatic knowledge and headed off to Green Island off the coast of Cairns. On the way they stopped the boat for a bit of Whale spotting and we arrived at the Island in time for a bit of snorkelling, parasailing, sea kayaking and a champagne reception on the beach at sunset. Paradise found.
The reef was amazing, so many fish, just like in the film, I even got to swim
you know it makes me want to shout!
with a sea turtle, awesome dude. And once we’d finished swimming with the fishes, it was time to eat them, mmm, Morton bay bugs, lovely.
The time on the island was far too short and we had to go back to Sydney, time for one last activity, climbing the bridge. This gave excellent views over the bay and the Opera house, and so, lots of photos of them too.
It does make you wonder why London is so full of Aussies, but it is a long way from anywhere and there is a lot of world to see. But hats off to them, they make excellent pies, are very friendly, the country is spectacular and the toilets are really clean.
Oh, and we finally saw some wildlife, in a zoo in Sydney, not quite where I expected to, and we found the elusive Casserole, well, it might have been a puppet…
I liked Australia and the Australians, I will like them even more when we beat them again in the Ashes, nice one Shane!
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