Tag Archives: australia

The Last Day: The Great Barrier Reef

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I don’t know how or why I planned it this way, but on our last day in Australia, we snorkeled The Great Barrier Reef. It was absolutely spectacular and the perfect ending to our vacation Down Under.

I would highly recommend you do the same on your last day in Australia. Unless, of course, you plan to scuba dive. You can’t fly within 24 hours {perhaps more?} of diving. All of the divers on our ship were asked if they were flying the next day. And when we checked in at the airport the following morning, we were also asked the question.

I took very few photos during our trip out to the reef, if only for fear of dropping my iPhone into the ocean. Sorry! So those that I do have and a few borrowed photos will just have to do!

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Our Aussie friends recommended Quicksilver Great Barrier Reef Cruises. And while they do operate out of Cairns, where we were staying, we opted for the Silversonic out of Port Douglas so that we could visit an outer reef. The Agincourt Reef rests right along the Continental Shelf!

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Did you know that you don’t have to be a certified diver to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef!? All of the divers got a lesson and briefing during the ride out to the reef. (It takes about an hour and a half or so.)

We had choppy waves on our ride out. Upon boarding, motion sickness medication was offered for purchase. Natural ginger tablets were complimentary. I asked a staff member if I should purchase the motion sickness medication. I rarely get seasick, but had felt a bit woozy on the couple of bus rides along the winding Australian coastlines the last two days. She recommended it and said that all the staff was taking the medication that day.

That sold me.

Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to take it. It would be much better on ruining my whole day at the reef by being sick when it was something completely avoidable. I felt like it was the right move when a few passengers made a run for the door during the ride!

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On the ride out, all of the snorkelers were briefed, too, so we would know what to expect. It was a much smaller group than I had thought. There were maybe a dozen or so of us. Our lifeguard/snorkel guide was who I would picture as a typical Aussie surfer dude. Think Heath Ledger, but with blonde hair.

Snorkeling is considered an adventure sport.

I found that interesting. I don’t think of myself as adventurous by any means! And when I think of adventure sports, I picture rock climbing and bungee jumping – definitely not me! Still, Heath* told us that we’d be visiting three reefs and most people aren’t used to working out at least three hours each day. Good point.

I love to swim, but I wouldn’t consider myself a strong one. And the few times I’ve snorkeled, I’ve had a mini panic attack when getting in the water. It takes me a bit to get my bearings, to ensure my mask isn’t leaking and I’m breathing normally through my tube. This was a bit more challenging with the choppy waves on that windy day!

But once that’s over, the magic begins…

I could have rented an underwater camera for something like $60 – $70. It would hold up to 700 photos or so. I was really on the fence about doing it. In the end, I didn’t.

Do I regret it?

Yes and No.

It would be so wonderful to have beautiful photos of everything I saw beneath the surface. However, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do in these depths or if carrying something else would be bulky and weigh me down. Instead, I just swam about at my leisure, not worrying about getting a good shot and just enjoying every moment. It was the most incredible snorkeling experience I’ve ever had! The colors and inconceivable number and variety of marine life were extraordinary.

As I’ve mentioned before

It was otherworldly.

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A Few Highlights:

  • Swimming so close and through schools of fish that I thought I would hit them!
  • Seeing all the way to the bottom. What was it? 50′ deep maybe? It was so clear!
  • Trying to keep up with the snorkel “tour” on our 3rd reef when Heath* said, “There’s a shark sleeping down there. I’m going to go down and wake him up!” (Reef shark that is. They are harmless.)
  • Heath* was also our marine biologist. Between our reef visits, he gave us a lesson on the marine life we were seeing. Did you know that all clownfish are born male? They got Finding Nemo all wrong!
  • The Giant Clams! They were the size of a suitcase or two. Just tell me that this isn’t captivating!

Now if male clownfish becoming female clownfish and giant clams aren’t enough to convince you that The Great Barrier Reef is otherworldly, let me introduce you to one of the favorite fish I saw:

The Parrot Fish

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Those are some beautiful colors, no?

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But it’s not just the colors that gave the parrot fish its name; it’s the beak-like mouth!

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...and wing-like fins!

Coral reef fish Scarus, Red Sea, Egypt

The one thing I didn’t see that I wanted to and that I know others did was a sea turtle. I guess that’ll remain on my bucket list. 🙂

Speaking of sea turtles, it’s time for another lesson in our world’s conservation efforts. Heath* told us how sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. What a horrible thing to ingest. I can’t even fathom what that would be like for a turtle.

One thing that he said resonated:

“Think globally, act locally.”

Keep our natural surroundings natural. Don’t litter. And if you find someone else has or see a water bottle wash up to shore, pick it up. That all sounds obvious, but if everyone did these things, our world would be an even more clean and beautiful place.

What’s more is that there are many controversial threats to the Great Barrier Reef, making it endangered as well. Some estimate most of the reef to be gone as early 2050.

Have you been snorkeling?

If so, where and what was your favorite part?

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*Named changed… because it’s fun!

That sums up our Australian vacation we took in September of 2014. You can check out my other posts on the trip here:

Cheers~
Carrie

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Look What I Found!

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While packing for our trip to New Orleans, I was searching another piece of our luggage for something.

In it, I found this:

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This was the piece of Aboriginal art that we bought in Melbourne and that I thought we lost! It was rolled up and wrapped in black tissue paper. I stuffed it into Rob’s luggage, which has a black interior. So we totally missed it when unpacking.

All is not lost! I still highly recommend packing anything of value to you from your trip in your carry-on if at all possible, even if it didn’t cost very much.

Now, to decide where we want to hang it…

Have you ever lost something that you were delighted to find much later after you had made peace with the fact that it was gone?

Posts about our trip to Australia:

Cheers~
Carrie

Uluru at Sunrise

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Australia – Uluru… Continued…

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While the sunset over Uluru was beautiful, I preferred the sunrise. 

The funny thing is… I’m not a morning person. It is a difficult thing to get me out of a bed. I’m a wake-up-slowly kind of gal. But knowing that this was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, I set the alarm for something insane like 4:30 in the morning to meet up with our tour group for the sunrise.

We arrived in those nearly pitch-black conditions I spoke about when the sun sets.

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As the sun began to rise, the entire landscape was lovely.

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Can you spot Kata-Tjuta in the distance?

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Upon arrival to our designated viewing area, Rob and I decided to take the path less traveled. Most of the people went toward a small hill for, perhaps, a better vantage point. But that was appeared crowded and loud. The area we chose had fewer people. In the morning, especially an early morning where I haven’t had my coffee yet, that was a better option.

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What a beautiful sight…

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Except for a few people talking, everything was relatively quiet and still. Serenity.

And there you are…

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The sun had risen and it was time to start the day! We were off to breakfast at the Cultural Center followed by a guided tour of the base of Uluru.

Are you a morning person or an evening person?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Other posts on the on Uluru:

Other posts about our trip to Australia:

 

 

Uluru at Sunset

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Australia – Uluru… Continued…

After our afternoon walk through the Walpa Gorge our group was driven to one of the Uluru sunset viewing areas.

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Upon arrival, locals were selling some art, which I had intended to take a look at, but totally missed.

I will be kicking myself for that later…

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There were also tables set up with wine, bubbly, juice and snacks.

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I grabbed a glass of bubbly and found a spot where I could snap as many photos as possible of Uluru.

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Sock Monkey may have also made an appearance.

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Wait, I may not have explained #SockMonkeyTour on the blog yet. That’ll have to be for another post.

Then, we waited… Did I mention that the wine was flowing freely?

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I will warn you that I took these photos with my old iPhone 4, so no way do these pictures do our views and experience any justice. {The iPhone 6 was released upon our return from Australia, when we promptly made the upgrade!}

I did bring my old digital camera with me to Australia. It actually used to take stellar photos. {That is, until I got an iPhone, became lazy and stopped carrying around the digital camera.} However, I didn’t get it to work properly, despite the new battery I put in it before we left. Sigh… So iPhone 4 photos it is…

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Our guide recommended that we take several photos, every couple of minutes because the changes are subtle as the sun slowly sets. Once you go back and take a look at the photos, you are more apt to notice the beautiful changes in the sky and the color of the rock!

 

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Once the sun goes down completely, it becomes pitch black. It’s like someone turned out the lights! Our group left before that was about to happen to make our way toward dinner, which was also part of our tour.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos at dinner, but behold our experience:

{You may find it funny.}

We arrived quite near The Rock where tables were set up. As we walked to our seats, I saw the chefs grilling some steaks on the barbie and then eyed the buffet feast laid out before us. There was Uluru, in all its glory just as the sun finished setting. There were a few different tour groups and we were instructed to sit with our own.

Let’s remind you that we each had a few glasses of wine at sunset. And do you think I can even remember what we did for lunch that day? So when I ate last, I can’t even remember.

Lights were positioned so that our dining and buffet area was lit. But that was it. It truly was pitch black, otherwise. There were some basic announcements before dinner, like where to find the toilets. We were warned to follow the {very} dim lights on the not-so-even path because there have been people became lost coming back before…

We sat down and our wine glasses were filled. And throughout dinner, the wine kept flowing. Before I’d finish a glass, it would somehow get filled right up again. It was decent wine, too… not anything sweet or generic like you’d find with every House Cab you’ll order in the U.S.

One reason why I have no photos is that we began to get very chatty with all of the people at our table. Wine will help with that! The couples next to us were Brits. I loved hearing all of their travel stories. We started talking about how Australians seemed to so well-traveled. Most of us agreed that it is really just apart of their culture. Australia is set apart from so much else that if they want to travel anywhere {other than New Zealand}, they’d have to take a long haul flight.

The buffet included all kinds of salads and sides as well as steak and kangaroo meat. You guys, I just couldn’t do it. I usually will try anything once. But, hey, I was just wowed by these animals a few days prior! Kangaroo isn’t eaten all that often in Australia. I mean, people do it. You’ll find it in grocery stores and restaurants; but we are told that most Australians don’t really eat it.

After dinner, and all of that wine, I excused myself to the restroom. I finally found my way back. {I really did have a bit of a difficult time! Those lights were so dim and the pathway wasn’t very clear!} At this point, people were getting up from the table, but my husband was no where to be seen. Maybe he went to the restroom himself?

It was announced that it was a beautifully clear night and that we would do some stargazing with our guide pointing out constellations and telling stories with a laser pointer.

Where was my husband?!

This was one of the things I knew he was going to love and one of the reasons I booked this specific tour. I knew that stargazing in such a remote and beautiful place would make another reason why he would be grateful we didn’t skip Uluru.

Then the presentation started. I stood around the periphery. But I couldn’t concentrate on her presentation. I was too worried.

Why isn’t he back?!

{Remind you, I couldn’t call/text because we didn’t have service in Australia. Our phones were in Airplane mode, so we could use wi-fi only.}

So I started my way back to the restrooms and didn’t find him there either. Then, I asked the first worker I saw for help. {It was the chef!}

“I can’t find my husband!” I exclaimed.

I apologized about a gazillion times and began to tell him (and now others) how stupid I felt. They were going to try to look in the vicinity for him, while they were cleaning up.

At this point, the stargazing presentation was almost over and I missed most of it.

All of a sudden, someone came up behind me.

“Hey! Wasn’t that awesome!?”

It. Was. Rob.

“What? I thought you missed it!!! I was worried about you! I couldn’t find you!”

“Oh. I was lying on the concrete over there, looking up at the stars. I was next to some Asian group. He was using a laser pointer, but I couldn’t understand a word he said. It was so beautiful though!”

Huh.

“I found him!” I yelled to the staff.

Then I felt stupid all over again. I was the half-drunken tourist who couldn’t find her husband who was there the whole time.

At least he enjoyed the stars… 

We brought back a souvenir:

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I have no idea what time it was that we got back to our hotel room. All I knew is that the alarm clock had to be set early for tomorrow’s sunrise viewing of Uluru…

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Other posts on the Red Centre:

Other posts about our trip to Australia:

Have you ever been worried about someone because they hadn’t returned and later felt silly? What happened?

Cheers~
Carrie

There’s More to Travel Than What You See

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After I return from a trip, I kind of laugh at what things I decide to photograph and what moments I do not. I look back at my pictures only to find that some fond memories haven’t been captured on film.

Like our visit to the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, for example, which is probably the biggest market I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ve read that it is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere.

I could have roamed around the stalls of organic produce, fresh meats, honeys and cheeses for days! A photograph could never have captured the smells and sounds of the busy market filled with such shoppers from diverse backgrounds. If I lived here, this is where I would pick up my groceries.

But the foodstuffs only represent part of the market. There are also eateries and shops with crafts. You’ll find clothing and touristy souvenirs, as well. We stopped in one shop filled with Aboriginal Art {which I love!} and spent time talking with the owner. We bought an inexpensive piece of artwork that I regret we packed in our luggage {what was I thinking!?} because it didn’t make it home with us.

We wandered for a few hours through that market and still didn’t cover the entire thing. It was a perfect day for a walk and for browsing.

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We also had to be sure to walk the St. Kilda pier since we were staying so close to that beach. We read that Little Penguins may show up here at night and that there are volunteers who point them out. We walked along the pier one sunny afternoon. This is one place were we did get photos:

But we photographed nothing of the comings and goings of all of the people along the shore. It was a beautiful day, so the beach was hopping.

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Still one of the most moving things we did in Melbourne was completely free:

Visiting the Shrine of Remembrance.

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The Shrine of Remembrance was originally built for the Australian soldiers of World War I.

 

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It was a place for where grievers could visit to honor their loved ones who perished in combat and whose bodies were not returned home.

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It’s appropriately located on a hill. It just feels right to be walking up to building like this.

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We walked the steps up to the entrance.

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Then we looked out from the top of the steps toward the city of Melbourne.

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I have no photos of the interior. I’m not sure if photography was allowed; but it just didn’t feel appropriate when we went inside. Instead, a guide immediately stopped us because a short ceremony was taking place in the Sanctuary.

When it was finished, he proceeded to give us a free tour of the Sanctuary, explaining the history and what everything symbolized or represented on the walls. I found it all absolutely fascinating.

There is a Stone of Remembrance in the center that is sunk lower than the floor so that all who visit must naturally bow their heads in respect. It was designed so that light shines through at 11am every Remembrance Day.

As Americans, we learn a bit about our own military history; but we don’t often learn about the military histories of other nations.

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You see, Australia was a rather new nation when they participated in WWI. Australians were searching for their own identity, as a people. We were explained that equality was a huge part of this identity. For this reason, you can find books throughout the Shrine of all 89,000+ Victorians who served in the war, listed alphabetical, without rank.

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Some things you can photograph while on vacation. Others you experience by smelling, hearing and tasting. Some things you learn about and expand your knowledge of the world. But some things you can just feel.

What have you found moving in your travels?

Other posts on our trip to Australia:

Cheers~
Carrie

Along the Great Ocean Road

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If you are ever in the Melbourne area of Australia,

a trip along The Great Ocean Road cannot be missed.

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There are several ways that you can explore The Great Ocean Road. There are one-day {quick!} tours, three-day {more relaxed, covering more ground} tours or you can do it yourself. Because we were not renting a car on our own, hadn’t stopped to research what to see and why and only had two weeks in Australia, we opted for a one-day tour (approximately 13 hours including pick-ups and drop-offs).

There are so many tours to choose from and they all run around the same price. So I went to my trusty TripAdvisor for some, well, Trip Advice.

The most highly rated tour was by Outback Billy. What seemed to set him apart was not only his personality, but also the fact that he is a zoologist. He could point out everything along the way. {Did you know that 80% of all of the plant and wildlife in Australia can’t be found in any other country?!} But alas, after emailing him, we learned that he was not available the dates we’d be in Melbourne. {For the record, and your own planning purposes, I emailed him on July 22nd and the our trip was in the beginning of September.}

However, he did recommend that I try Escape Discovery Tours. And I did book with them that same day. They were a little bit more expensive than the other tours; but what I liked about Escape Discovery is that they only do small groups – allowing only up to ten people. They also stopped for a nice dinner (included). All of the other tours I read about made a quick McDonald’s stop on the way back (not included) – NOT what I’m in Australia for!

On August 7th, I checked the status of my confirmation {a minimum of six passengers is required for the tour to take place} and saw that my booking had been canceled. I emailed to inquire about this and was told that they were switching systems and it should have be fixed by the end of the day, that they did indeed have my reservation. We never heard anything again. I did know that most tour bookings are booked at the last minute. So, while in Melbourne, the day before our tour was to take place, I wanted to confirm the reservation was still a go. I opened up my email to find an apology email from Escape Discovery. There was a mechanical issue with the vehicle and they would have to cancel. They recommended another tour company.

That is how we ended up with Go West! We called immediately and luckily, they had just two seats left. The benefits of this company: a small group size {not as small as ten, but not as big as a large coach!} and free Wi-Fi on the bus! At the time of our tour, no other Great Ocean Road tour company offered this. Here is what we could expect:

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Like most of the other companies, Go West picked us up at our hotel. I can’t imagine getting back after such a long day and then having to try to find public transportation back to our home base. I was grateful for the pick-up and drop-off!

This is the “Awesome Bus” that carried us along The Great Ocean Road. Well, that is what our knowledgeable guide, Travis, called it. So who could argue if it wasnt?!

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We had another beautiful day in Victoria! We had been told many times how lucky we were because the weather around Melbourne can be cold and windy or even hot and windy and unpredictable! But because of the mild weather, there were no surfers to watch (very little wind at Bells Beach). Nor did we see any fur seals nor whales which can sometimes come into view. But despite all of that, the views were beautiful!

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WARNING: I took a ton of pictures of Rob on this tour. So be prepared. This is going to be fun! Haha!

 He, on the other hand took photos of Asian tourists taking pictures of other Asian tourists. I will NOT be posting those!

Travis let us know when it would be a while until our next restroom toilet stop. No, Rob did not pop into these trees to relieve himself!

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But… he must have forgotten that Australia Has More Things That Can Kill You Than Anywhere Else. His curiosity got the best of him. He did come out alive!

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We both did opt to use the actual rest stop next to where the Awesome Bus was parked.

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Look at this perched house along our route. I bet there are some pretty great views from there!

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Yes, as shown below, Rob does like long walks on the beach. Or, short ones. Hands off, ladies! He’s mine! 😉 {Notice how he is the only one wearing shorts?! He didn’t bring any pants for the entire trip. That would have made a cold night watching the penguins if they  wouldn’t have given us gear to wear!}

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And this might be one of my favorite photos from Australia. It just happened to be parked at one of our stops.

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There was a lot of hopping on and off the bus, which was good because sitting on a bus all day would have been miserable. Travis had a fun soundtrack playing in our Awesome Bus that went along with our tour. Like playing Please Don’t Call Me a Koala Bear when we were off to see some koalas and then when we got…. On the Road Again…

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We stopped for some morning tea and cake. Rob and I walked along the rocky shore. We found the shapes on the rocks quite interesting:

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On one of ours stops, another American on our tour said, “I can’t believe the color of this water. It’s not what I expected. It reminds me of the Caribbean!”

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We stopped for lunch in Apollo Bay. A menu was passed around before arrival so that Travis could call our orders in to be ready when we arrived. I wasn’t sure what to order but decided to go with the Pad Thai. I hadn’t yet had any Asian food in Australia. And I saw that Travis had written his name next to it, so it had to be good, right?

Nope. Probably the worst Pad Thai I’ve ever had. Rob didn’t really like his sandwich either. The bread was okay, but he found the beef in it to be pretty gross. Oh well, can’t win ’em all. I bet it’s difficult to service all the crowds that stop through on the Great Ocean Road tours. But we did see this cute little dog on the sidewalk. His one black eye and two black ears reminded me of Sophie Jean!

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There was also some koala spotting there. Later, I heard someone say, “Did you see the koala run across the road?!” What?! Apparently, another tourist had scared the koala down out of his gum tree and he ran across the road to a pine tree. I felt so bad for the poor koala. Everyone was looking at him in that tree now and he was stuck there. How would he get to his eucalyptus? I was angry. Why can’t we see wild life – in the wild – from a distance and give them their space?!!

Then it was on to the Twelve Apostles. But there is a controversy of how many there actually are.

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Nonetheless, the rocky shores and formations were beautiful!

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We also enjoyed a guided walk through a beautiful Temperate Rain Forest.

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And viewed the ocean from stunning cliffs.

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At one point, we could take these stairs down to Loch Ard Gorge, where an old shipwreck took place. But with my fear of heights, there was no way that was happening.

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Maybe it doesn’t look like a big deal, to you, but do you see how tiny those people are on the ground?

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Instead, we walked some trails in the area…

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And enjoyed the views from above…

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Travis is a great story-teller. He told us shipwreck tales as well as how this “London Bridge” fell down! (The two pieces used to be connected.)
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In fact, I could tell that Travis had been doing this for a while. It turns out, he has been a guide for every one of Go West’s Tours.

When we got out as far west as we could for the day, we made our way back on an inland road in the dark. Some people slept, others uploaded their photos from the day over the free Wi-Fi. And we did make that McDonald’s stop on the way back. There were other fast food and take-out restaurant options, too. I opted for Red Rooster. If I was going to have fast food, it was going to have to be from some Aussie fast food chain. I got it to go so that Rob could try a McMate at McDonald’s. Jealous of Aussies, I am, though because their McCafe has an actual espresso machine! Silly, I know, but I just can’t do coffee at McDo.

It was another grand day by the sea. Upon arriving back to our hotel, our heads hit our pillows pretty quickly. The next day would be our last in Melbourne and it was time to say good-bye to Barb and Tony. 😦

Other posts on our trip to Australia:

Cheers~
Carrie

Australia Has More Things That Can Kill You Than Anywhere Else

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I once read that Australia has more things that can kill you than anywhere else.

For starters, the ten most poisonous snakes are found there.

In April, when I realized that we would have enough miles for two free flights to Australia, I figured my most difficult obstacle would be to convince Rob to go. He’s afraid of spiders and had told me a 1000 times that he wouldn’t go to Australia because he had heard how big and deadly his eight-legged friends are there.

Despite my constant, “Well, we wouldn’t be camping in the Outback!” rebuttal, he countered with the long-ass plane ride.

Imagine my surprise when I finally suggested it that his only concern was getting enough time off from work.

Truth be told, he wanted to see the native Australian wildlife as much as I did!

We got a taste wandering through the Royal Botantical Gardens in Sydney. Then, we watched a wallaby hop across the road in front of our van before a penguin parade. And feeding the kangaroos at the Ballarat Wildlife Park certainly was a highlight.

But the Wildlife Park had so much more! Some of these animals might even be dangerous in the wild…

So let’s begin.

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This flightless bird {which is part of the Australian Coat of Arms, along with the kangaroo} can be dangerous if he feels threatened in the wild. They have strong legs {that can run up to 35 miles per hour} and sharp claws on their feet. But, at the Wildlife Park, they were just hanging around like the kangaroos, so we offered to feed them, too.

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The huge beak freaked me out because when I held out my hand with food, she came down with a swift, deliberate peck that looked like she would take my hand off. Fortunately, the beak was not sharp and I survived; but this is definitely not something I would do in the wild!

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Crocodile

Barb and Tony warned us how much bigger the crocs were in Australia as opposed to the alligators in the the American South. At first glance, I thought we had stepped back in time. I remember asking, “Are you sure that these aren’t dinosaurs? They look prehistoric!” Rob and I were in awe.

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These crocs were in the water in another room behind the glass. I found it strange that a tourist tugged on the door to this croc’s room. When he found it was locked, he said, “I wish we could go in there!”

Are you crazy!?

This female croc, Bella, was the smaller of the two.

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From the Ballarat Wildlife Park website:

FACT:  Did you know saltwater crocs have a jaw pressure of about 3500 pounds per square info for an average male? This is compared to 335 pounds per square inch for a Rottweiler and 400 pounds per inch for a great white shark.

Here’s a{n amateur} video of Bella, the smaller female croc. The first couple seconds of the video where her eyes and head slowly, stealthily rise from the water are frightful!

Then there’s the big boy. This is the one the crazy tourist wanted to get near…

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Echidna

I wasn’t familiar with the echinda until going to Australia. They are small egg-laying mammals with strong claws and hollow spines, sort of like a porcupine.

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Chances are that they won’t hurt you, as long as you leave them alone. We took a tour of the Great Ocean Road along the Southern Australian Coast later that week. The photographer on our tour spotted an echidna from the bus. Our driver slowly drove by so we could see it, but would not let us stop to get off. I think that was a smart move.

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Tasmanian Devil

My generation grew up with the crazy cartoon version of a Tasmanian Devil. The real thing looks nothing like it.

Aussies {pronounced ozzies} call them Tassie {pronounced tazzie} Devils. You know how they like to make everything sound cuter by adding an “ie,” right?! Do a Google Image search of Tasmanian Devils and you’ll see that they really are kind of cute. Well, until they show their teeth!

Per the Ballarat Wildlife Park website:

There is terrible facial disease that has whiped out 80-90% of Tasmanian devils. This is a facial cancer that can be passed from devil to devil through biting.

They are now endangered because of this. If I remember correctly the guide told us that there were something like only 1000 remaining? Don’t quote me on that. I couldn’t find anything to back that up. While the Tassie Devil isn’t exactly like it is portrayed in the cartoon version, they do display a similar temperament when they feel threatened, making a lot of noise and baring teeth.

But to me, this one just looked like he was wandering around aimlessly and nervously!

The guide in the photo below was feeding this little devil some mice while telling us all about them. See that bird in the photo? That’s a magpie. That was the bird with the unique sound Rob and I stopped to observe in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney. Yeah, the ones that were swooping down on us. We learned later that these can be nasty, ruthless little birds sometimes. Byclcists wear spikes on their helmets to keep the magpies away! During this presentation, the magpie took one of the mice right out the tongs as the guide was feeding the devil and flew off with it!

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The wildlife park also included exhibits with deadly snakes, none of which I cared to photograph. However, I think Rob was grossed out, but pleased that the spider below was not alive, but only a specimen. My hand is in the photo for size comparison!IMG_0918

While not all of these animals would necessarily attack you, they could still be dangerous in the wild. But it is all fascinating, no? And we won’t even get started on the sharks, box jellyfish and extreme desert heat that can also kill you in Australia.

Come back Monday to hear about the more cuddly-looking animals we saw at the wildlife park: the Koala and the Wombat!

Other posts on our Australia trip:

 

Cheers~
Carrie