First, my apologies for a whole month without a post. Wow, things have been busy…In my defense, for two weeks we were in Australia (new tourist motto: great beaches, but not a lot of hotel internet) and then after our return to Nz, we are busy getting ready….to….leave…Please, say it isn’t so.
One of the great things about Nz (and this is NO secret to anyone who lives in Nz, and especially those who spend the winter here) is it’s just a 3 1/2 hour flight to Australia. There is even a direct flight from Dunedin to Brisbane! So, here’s a little bit of our two weeks in Australia. Enjoy being a tourist!
I guess it’s human nature to compare and contrast, but the city reminded us a lot of San Francisco (in a good way). We loved the vibe of the city, right there on the ocean, the hip back street markets, the great seafood. We could have spend many days there.
The iconic Sydney opera house! How could we live in Nz and not go to Australia? How could we visit Australia and not see the opera house? Being right there, touching the tiled roof of that so photographed landmark gave me pause. It had always been something I had wondered if I would ever see…..and then here I was. Was this part of my bucket list? Did I even have a bucket list? I’ll get to that at the end of the post… We had so much fun exploring the city (there was a lot of walking!, just ask the boys….) Our second evening in the city was just spectacular. wandering around Darling Harbor.
From Sydney we flew North, to the Whitsunday Islands (to Hamilton Island in particular). There we met my sister Karen, her two daughters (Michelle and Christine) and their spouses (Dave and Sam, respectively). So, nine of us in total. We spent a week on Hamilton Island, and I’ll just say it was too short a time. First of all, who wouldn’t want to stay longer on an island where everyone drives a golf cart? We had rented apartments…and each apartment came with its own golf cart….sweet. Then, there was the view. Our west facing (meaning, we could watch the sunset every night) apartment was amazing. Here’s our first night’s view.
On Hamilton Island there are hundred of rainbow lorakeets (a beautiful bird!) and also wild sulfur cockatiels. Those cockatiels are cheekly birds, very smart (said to have the intelligence of a three year old), and not at all intimidated by anyone. They will get into your house and rummage through your belonging….and they love jewelery. Fortunately, we kept our doors closed.
They are always hungry, and were serious considering stealing Deb’s beer.
We also saw a cute little wallaby!
We went to probably the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to… (7 kilometers of the finest sand you’ve ever seen.) The sand was so fine, when you picked it up and let it fall on your hand, you couldn’t even feel it. I’m talking, of course, about Whitehaven Beach, which is frequently mentioned as one of the best beaches in the world. There we playing cricket and beach volleyball and managed to get a group photoshot (from left to right…Dave-or Skip as we call him, Michelle, Karen, Sam, and Christine)
We also visited a zoo, and those who wanted got to hold a koala (yes, they are as cute as they look).
From Hamilton Island we flew to Cairns, and the drove up to Port Douglas (way North) to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Lots of adventure here. One day we went on a boat up a river to see those wild saltwater crocs we see so often on Animal Planet (and, When Animals Attack!).
Crickey! That’s a big croc, Mate! About 12-13 feet long.
But here we were on the coast, both in Port Douglas and also in Hamilton Island, and so we had to dive the Great Barrier Reef…
Matt and I wanted to our hand as fishing one day, so we fished a reef about 10 miles offshore. The bright orange fish is a coral trout, and we were told it was the tastiest fish around…and they were right. It fed all nine of us!
When we left Port Douglas, we sadly had to say goodbye to my family (I guess they all have jobs and stuff like that), but we continued on with our vacation and flew South to Brisbane and then drove to Mooloolaba (it’s pronounced just like it’s spelled, Mo Lou La Ba). Boy, did we have fun there! Just a half hour away is Steven Irwin’s Australia Zoo, and that was a destination for all of us. It was really, really cool. Lots of kangaroo’s, just hopping around and you could even feed them!
We also went to a very hip little town called Noosa, where the surfing was outstanding.
And I will never, ever forget the sunset that night as we walked along the beach, savoring every last moment of the warm (remember we were coming back to Dunedin in the winter) sun.
So, that’s a very quick synopsis of 14 days in Australia. And now back to bucket list idea. I’ve had only two things that I absolutely wanted in my life. One was to become a doctor, and the other was to take my family aboard for a year. (check, check). But, I’ve never really made up a bucket list on paper. Instead, I try to live each day fully, have no regrets, and seize the opportunities which present themselves. That being said, in the back of my mind I think there are things I want to do before I surf my last wave (so, maybe I do have a secret bucket list after all). And as my time in Nz comes to and end, I thought it would be a good time for reflection, so I will do my best over the next 7 days to reflect my experience here, and what’s it meant to me and my family and we’ll see just how well I did on my list. Stay tuned, I will try to post again tomorrow…..