Sunday, August 7, 2011

Guest Blogger-Nicole in Australia

One of the places high on my list to visit has always been Australia.  Now that we are a little closer I think I may have to finally make the trip down there.  Hopefully this blog of Nicole's travels to Australia will inspire you to plan a trip as well!  Enjoy!

Hello all! Since Jenny is on the theme of world-traveling guest bloggers, I asked her if I could blog about my experience in Australia. My boyfriend Chris and I travelled around Australia for almost two weeks and had a great time. Our first stop, after a long flight was to Sydney. In order to catch our flight from Brisbane to Sydney we had about an hour and a half to clear customs, pick up checked luggage, go through the baggage check part of customs, drop off the checked luggage, and take a bus from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. We made it with about five minutes to spare. It was very stressful. While in Sydney, we took a boat tour of the harbour which included views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. We also saw some very large houses that were pretty amazing. The next two days that we were in Sydney were extremely rainy, not just a drizzle, but a downpour. We heard later that this was the most rainfall in 60 years. We tried our best to find indoor activities. We went to Wildlife World and the Sydney Aquarium where we saw a 5-meter saltwater crocodile, the world’s most poisonous snake and spider, koalas, kangaroos, and a bunch of other cool animals. We also went to two breweries and a bar that is said to be the oldest in Sydney (The Hero of Waterloo has tunnels that connect to the wharf area. When sailors didn't want to return home, the captains would get them drunk and drag them back to the ship.) At one of the breweries, we got to see some teams doing a scavenger hunt with a pirate as the director of the scavenger hunt. Watching people dance and sing around a bar at 11 am is pretty entertaining, especially when they bribe you with chocolate to give them a high score on their dance. We wanted to see as much of the city as possible, despite the rain. We walked through the botanic gardens, the area by the government house, and along Mrs. Macquarie's Road. She was the wife of the first governor and she would walk around this area everyday. This walk went out between two bays. Thankfully there were some sandstone "cliffs" that we could hide under. From there we walked to Woolloomooloo to get meat pies at a place called Harry's Cafe de Wheels. I guess it is a pretty famous place because they pictures of celebrities eating there, including KFC’s Colonel Sanders.
Our next stop was Melbourne (Pronounced Melbin as they don’t prounoune their r’s in the middle of words, but add them to words that end with ‘a’. For example, if you name is Fiona, you would say Fioner). We found a brewery that was suggested to us by a local and learned a lot about the breweries and taphouses in the area. The bartender gave us a book that he had on hand about beer in Australia. The other bartender was from Albuquerque. We used the book for the rest of the trip to help us find breweries and taphouses. As we walked around the city we found the football stadium. They had merchandise for the North Melbourne Kangaroos for sale so we bought a hoodie and a t-shirt. The lady told us to enjoy the game, which we had no idea was going on. We decided to experience the Australian-rules football game for ourselves. We found a place to sit and then asked the people sitting by us the explain the rules. It is kind of like our football with elements of soccer and volleyball thrown in. Without asking about the rules, the game really made no sense. The North Melbourne Kangaroos beat the Brisbane Lions with a score like 122 to 73, or something like that. It was actually very fun to watch. The buildings here are a mix of new modern skyscrapers and buildings that look like they belong in Venice or Rome. We did a side trip to Phillip Island to visit a Koala conservation center and watch the Penguin Parade. Little Penguins go out to fish in the ocean and then return after sunset to find their homes. After sunset, they start waddling up the beach and then calling for their mates. It is very cute. But, they don’t allow pictures or video.
Our next stop was Ayer's Rock, in the Northern Territory or the Outback.  Ayer's Rock is a small resort village with about five hotels, a shopping center with a grocery store and a few restaurants and restaurants at each of the hotels. We saw some local wildlife...with eight legs. I took a picture of one, but we found another that was bigger. We watched the sunrise at Ayer’s rock (or Uluru, which is its Aboriginal name). The rock looks different colors at different times of the day or after it rains, ranging from oranges and reds, to purples, and even black). We went to another area of rocks called the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) and did a short hike. It is an absolutely beautiful area.
Our last stop was Cairns (pronounced Cannes). We found the local brewery (so that Chris could material for his beer blog, and it was their trivia night. We came in second, which is good because the sports round was mostly about rugby and Aussie rules football and we had no clue what any of the answers were. We did win a bonus question and got a six pack of their pilsner. We took a side trip to Kuranda, an area that is mostly rainforest so we walked along the short jungle walk trail. They also had a lot of tourist shopping stuff and market area. We did get to enjoy meat pies for lunch, which reminds Chris of his semester he spent in New Zealand. They have a bat rehab center for bats that have been injured or abandoned. They had huge fruit bats and some very tiny bats as well. They lady gave us a lot of info about the bats and it was a cool experience. We took the scenic railway back, but the moving train just made me sleepy and I took a nap.
We were able to snorkel twice in the Great Barrier Reef. Our first snorkel trip was to Green Island. The boat ride going there was miserable and so many people were getting sick. Luckily Chris and I did not get sick, just a little uncomfortable. When we got there we tried one side of the island to snorkel, but the water was too shallow. So we went to the other side which was better, but we didn't get to see a whole lot. We did a glass bottom boat tour and again didn't see much. The boat ride back was better and we briefly saw a humpback whale. Our second reef trip was to the outer reefs and you snorkel off the boat instead of the beach. It was amazing. We saw so many fish, a couple sea turtles, a white-tipped reef shark and a nice display by a humpback whale on the trip back. I am sure that I missed a lot of the details of our trip. It was great to experience the culture in Australia. 
Sydney Opera House 
Harry's Cafe De Wheels - Meat Pies

Ayer's Rock

Port Douglas -Near Cairns

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