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The Land of Oz (Australia)

Author: Roy
Date of Trip: August 2006

We arrived in Darwin late morning, parked the truck at the foreshore and walked half a dozen blocks to book a hostel. We were located in the center of town and amenities included a swimming pool (common in the warm climes). Once booked, we scoped out a route so we could drive to the hostel and drop off our gear. Left side driving and one-way streets requires some forethought. Unloading done, we dropped off the camper. We could have continued immediately with a delivery to Brisbane via Cairnes at the same deal but one of the six allotted days had already passed and we would have had no time in Darwin. Tried to get the time extended but no go.

We explored Darwin center and hiked to the waterfront area and some of the sites that were bombed by the Japanese during WWII. On the way into Darwin we passed many WWII airfields. Darwin, weather wise, was like being back in Florida. Our timing was good in that October is the onset of the "wet" with 90" of rain over the next four months.

Sept. 15 - 18

Left Darwin in the middle of the night for the night flight to Melbourne. Free pickup to Allnations Hostel. Free beer for every day you book! Took the free tourist trolley which loops through the central city. Went to Chinatown for a good, cheap Chinese meal. The next day we toured the Farley Mowat the Greenpace anti-whaling ship which was moored in the harbor awaiting the coming whaling season. We walked the restored dockside warehouse area which sported several murals of events past. One spelled out that England legislated against asbestos in the 30's!!!

We lunched at the Victoria Market which is a combination farmers, flea, clothing, food court emporium. A city landmark. We spent more time than planned at the Melbourne Museum - that much to see. Enjoyed a replica of the city sewer system. Really did. On Sunday we got an all day bus/train pass for $2.50. We went to the St. Kilda Flea Market located at a seaside area near Melbourne. We then took a ferry to Williamstown, an old port city, then returned to the city via bus and train. Then back to the Victoria Market for lunch. Bought some Blood Oranges. Have tried several times to grow this tree at home but have lost all but the last planted. We did the botanical gardens which is one of the best we've seen. We then walked the river esplanade and watched the moving statuary. Several pieces of metal sculpture cross a bridge on a conveyor arrangement. when they reach the other side, they rotate and nest accordion-like. At first, I thought I was seeing things. Had an Indonesian meal at the food court in the Crown Casino topped off with durian ice cream. Strange, sweet, taste with a garlic aftertaste.

Photo Credit: Photo taken by Cody Pope

Sept. 19

Took the 0730 Firefly Bus to Sydney. Comfortable ride and interesting scenery. Mostly rolling hills 'til we came to a perfectly flat valley as we entered New South Wales. Booked at the Pink House Hostel again. Found a place serving bacon, eggs and fries for $4. Good supper! We missed eggs but were loath paying $4/doz. Most places were charging that for toast and coffee. An American breakfast would run from $8-12 in most places.

Sept. 20

Mary Lou explored more of Sydney and I shopped camper vans. We had decided to do the Blue Mountains and Brisbane - the last major city unvisited.

Sept. 21

Made the deal for a camper van. Went to Paddy's Market for lunch. This is a large, multistory market with a large food court. Bought longans - like a grape with a brittle shell - saved seeds to plant at home.

Sept. 22 - 25

Picked up van and headed for the Blue Mtns. These are part of the Great Dividing Range which separates coastal Aust. from the interior. It took many years for a route to be discovered through them. Finding same lead to the development of the interior.

We never made it to Brisbane. We found the Blue Mtns. and surrounding areas more than enough to captivate us. We camped along side a running brook; alongside a reservoir (where we saw roos across the road in the morning), and a couple of commercial campgrounds. We visited an olive orchard and a semi-abandoned gold town. We hiked in the mountains in the area of the "discovery road". The route finally determined followed the mesa like tops of the deeply eroded ravines. The topography in this area is like the Grand Canyon with tree cover.

On our last full day in the mtns. we took the zig zag railway. Instead of looping around the mountain, the train descends to a certain point, a switch is thrown, the back of the train becomes the front, and the descent continues in this manner. We finished the day with a visit to Tomah Botanical Gardens - especially profuse with rhododendrons. Great colors - especially the reds. Bought some great flower seeds but they were either stolen from my luggage or the customs got them.

Sept. 26 - 27

Did final tour of the Blue then back to Sydney. Booked at Traveller's Rest, best place of the trip. On the last day I bought another day pass and rode the ferries that I hadn't yet been on. Met Mary Lou for Chinese then to Pyrmont by ferry to the Maritime Museum which included a self tour of a cruiser and a sub. Bought some boomerangs and had a long talk with the dealer.

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