Heading’ Down-Under

AustraliaTonight we leave for Sydney, Australia, the start of two months of travel through Australia and New Zealand.

After three days in Sydney we will fly to Goldcoast, where we will visit with Sara. We look forward to spending time with her and her silly dog Pilot, seeing the sights, and enjoying the great surf and beaches. After that our plans take us west for the rest of December to visit with friends in Perth and tour Western Australia. January we will be in New Zealand.

We look forward to sharing our experiences with you and hope you’ll enjoy reading about our travels. Feel free to comment on our posts–it’s nice to hear from you and a great way to connect. So check back regularly, or better yet, subscribe to the blog, so you’ll automatically receive a message when we add information or photos.

We look forward to seeing you online.

Arrival in Sydney, Day 1

We are here and it feels good to be back. The flight went smoothly–I even managed to catch several hours of sleep (Roy wasn’t quite so lucky) and we got to Auckland ahead of schedule.
After an nice break with a strong ‘flat white’ at the airport, we were ready for the second leg of the trip, which again got us to our destination half an hour ahead of schedule. In Sydney the luggage was delivered promptly, customs a minor matter, the airport familiar, SIM cards easily arranged, and transit a breeze. An hour and a half after the plane had touched down we were at our hostel and ready to roll.

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Arriving early did mean we couldn’t check-in yet, but fortunately we could drop off our luggage. Then we went for walk, heading uptown through Hyde Park, the Botanic Gardens, to the Sydney Opera. The streets and sights felt familiar.

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What distinguishes places more than their sights and architecture, I think, are the feel and smell of the air. We stopped for lunch at a cafe near Hyde Park and sat outside. Being in the low/mid twenties, the air was comfortably warm, and the wind energized the air and stirred the scent of the gum trees. When I closed my eyes for a moment I thought: if I had been dropped here blindfolded, I would still recognize the place as Sydney, simply by the feel and smell of the air and the sound of the birds. Despite having having seen many exotic birds when here last year, I am still amazed to see cockatoos and parrots fly around like ‘normal’ birds and look forward to seeing more.

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The plan for tomorrow is to head to Manly–perhaps do the coastal walk, then a dip in the ocean and some beach time. In the evening dinner with friends is on the agenda.

Australia Days 2 and 3

Friday Dec 6

Killing time at the Sydney Airport. Up at 5:00 this morning to head here for our flight to the Gold Coast. Flight cancelled. Air travel in Australia can be like winter air travel in Canada–here it is thunderstorms rather than snow storms that disrupt air travel. Last night the storms grounded many flights. This morning Virgin Air had to cancel flights due to lack of aircraft in the right place at the right time. The next available flight is at 7:00 this evening. We opted for a noon flight to Brisbane instead and Sara will pick us up there.

Wednesday we did the Manly thing ;-), a trip to Manly, not far from Sydney. We took a bus to the Spit bridge and walked about 10 km along the coast to Manly, the same walk we did a year ago but this time in the opposite direction. Lots of Eastern Water Dragons (big grey or green lizards), bush and white sand beaches. Then a ferry back to Sydney.

Wednesday night we had a great Thai dinner with friends. Later that night it rained hard, although I slept soundly.

My jet lag was finally gone on Thursday. We set off for separate walks in warm sunny weather and met up at Bondi Beach in the afternoon, just in time for the weather to change to black clouds and strong winds that cleared the busy beach in a few minutes. The blowing sand stung and the temperature dropped 10 º. No rain and in a few hours it cleared again.

Here are some photos from Wednesday:

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Eastern Water Dragon

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Sydney from the ferry

Australia Day 5, Gold Coast

We arrived in Brisbane yesterday about 2:00 pm. Sara, my daughter, picked us up at the airport with Pilot, her goofy greyhound, in the back of the car. She made us a great dinner. Inge went off to bed at a reasonable hour and slept while Sara and I talked until 3 in the morning.

Today was warm and cloudless. We went to a dog-friendly beach on the spit north of town. Almost no one there, great surf, white sand and warm water. Paul, Sara’s friend, and his two boys joined us for a while. We swam, talked and Pilot tried to get every passing dog to race on the beach. This evening we’ll have the giant prawns we bought from a fish boat in the harbour.

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