Micha and Dana's Aussie Adventure 2006
It's that time of year again that we have a computer game conference in Australia and once again I was able to convince work that I should go Down Under. Not wasting any chances I got Dana to come down as well for a holiday.
So after work wraps up on the 4th of December we're going to start a whirlwind tour of some of the biggest sights of Australia: Ayers Rock and Tropical Queensland. Following will be a bit of a diary, updated as and when I can get access to internet cafe's.
The associated picture-album can be found here.
Day 1 - Monday 2006.12.04
Got up at 2:30 to catch my 5:00 flight to Sydney and meet up with Dana at our hotel. From there we wandered to Darling Harbour for breakfast and then walked to Circular Quay to catch a harbour cruise. This was very nice and took in the inner harbour as well which I hadn't seen before.
In the afternoon Dana checked out the Aquarium while I popped in to work, after which we met up for an ice-cream enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and scenery of Darling Harbour. Then it was time to head back to the hotel to repack for our adventure safari and an early night.
Day 2 - Tuesday 2006.12.05
Up early again although not quite as bad as yesterday. We caught a cab to the airport where we had plenty of time to enjoy breakfast before our flight up to Alice Springs. We found my mum already waiting for us at the gate and boarded together. A few hours later found us in the heat of a typical Alice Springs summer afternoon.
After check-in we wandered around town getting some last minute bits and pieces for our trip such as a hat for Dana and some torches and then climbed Anzac Hill for a nice lookout over Alice Springs. In the evening we found a nice restaurant where we tried kangaroo, camel, crocodile, and emu - the best of which was the kangaroo, very nice.
Day 3 - Wednesday 2006.12.06
Day 1 of Safari - lot of time spent in bus driving to Ayers Rock. Enroute stopped at Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and went for a short walk - Valley of the Winds walk was closed due to excessive heat (over 38C but in the Valley the temperature could get over 60C apparently!). After checking in to resort enjoyed sunset over Uluru and slept in swags under the bright stars.
Day 4 - Thursday 2006.12.07
Day 2 of Safari - sunrise walk around Uluru (climb was closed due to excessive winds at summit). After lunch (and another swim) at the resort drove on to Kings Canyon where we arrived in the early evening. Another night spent sleeping under the stars in a swag.
Day 5 - Friday 2006.12.08
Day 3 of Safari - the latest start yet at around 6:00 to get to the Kings Canyon walk before it got too hot. We did the long circle (about 6km) Canyon Rim walk along the top of the spur. Very surreal landscape, part of which was used in the filming of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert".
Lunch was a quick one back at the resort and another dip in the pool before the long drive back to Alice Springs. Enroute the aircon broke down so the last part of the drive was pretty warm. Evening meal and a few drinks with the tour group. Thanks a bunch to "Scooter", our driver and guide - fantastic trip!
Day 6 - Saturday 2006.12.09
Late start (8:00) to have breakfast with my mum before her flight back to Brisbane. Bumming around Alice Springs for a bit waiting for our flight to Cairns this afternoon.
Arrived well in Cairns and got a lift to our apartment. Rebooked our itinerary to give us a day off tomorrow as we're pretty tired from the last few days - excellent though they were. After doing a spot of shopping we crashed despite our good intentions of an evening stroll along the waterfront.
Day 7 - Sunday 2006.12.10
A nice long sleep-in (8:00) and a leisurely breakfast before we wandered along the waterfront to the center of Cairns. Enroute it started raining, which I found nice and refreshing but which Dana found a bit cool, so we stopped off for a coffee before continuing on. Now just wandering around the almost deserted Cairns CBD taking it easy.
Day 8 - Monday 2006.12.11
Up early for the first of our tours which went up to the Daintree. Rainy day which made the rainforest true to its name! Started off with a river cruise during which we saw a couple of crocodiles and a snake.
In the afternoon we went to a crocodile farm with a live demonstration as well as a cruise around a large artifical lagoon inhabited by many crocs. Was pretty nifty.
Day 9 - Tuesday 2006.12.12
Today was our Great Barrier Reef tour out to Green Island, about 15 nautical miles off the coast of Cairns. Again the day was intermittent showers which is a bit disappointing for a beach-day but it was still plenty warm enough to go swimming. Went snorkelling and saw lots of coral, tropical fish, and, as a highlight, I briefly glimpsed a large black-tip reef shark! Great stuff. Went in again after lunch and found a large turtle which I followed for a while.
Day 10 - Wednesday 2006.12.13
Today we went to Kuranda via the Skyrail, which provides a unique vantage of the rainforest and I would highly recommend. Kuranda itself could do with a few more maps - even though it's small it's difficult to follow the various walking tracks which we attempted after a nice lunch. Things like crossing railway tracks with signs of "Trespassing Prohibited" tend to put you off a touch! Still found some nice tracks along the river and through the rainforest.
The return journey was via the Kuranda Scenic Railway - awesome! I'm pretty keen on railjourneys and this one was definitely one of the best I've been on, both scenery-wise as well as train-wise. They kept all the old colonial-style wagons although they've upgraded the engines to diesel-electric.
Day 11 - Thursday 2006.12.14
Today is our last day in Cairns - well, tomorrow is but all we're going to be doing is heading to the airport in the morning. So our last sight-seeing tour, which is onto the Atherton tablelands and surrounds.
The first stop of the day is Lake Barine, a crater lake. It was very beautiful especially since there were hardly any tourists there! We started off with a very nice Devonshire Tea on a verandah overlooking the lake and then had a boat-tour around the lake. During the tour we saw turtles, lizards, and even a red-jeweled python curled up on a branch!
Next were three waterfalls in rapid succession, the Milla Milla (at which I had a very quick swim in the refreshing waters), Zillie, and Ellinjaa falls. A bit more time to take in the atmosphere of the falls would have been nice but still an enjoyable morning.
For lunch we headed to yet another set of falls which are privately owned. Nothing too special here but next on our busy itinerary was Paronella Park. This was simply awesome! This guy had bought a gorgeous parcel of land and proceeded to build a castle on it complete with plenty of entertainment areas which he then opened to the public. Bad luck (floods, illness, fires) hit the estate and the castle is in ruins now, but the gardens have been rebuilt now. Together with the ruins and a waterfall it is a truly magical place to wander around in.
Day 12 - Friday 2006.12.15
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Last updated: 2006.12.14