Thursday, August 31, 2017

5 - Australia

Jet lag is still a problem!!!  We were up at 2AM again....I managed to get back to sleep for a few more hours, don't think Duane really did.

Up for good at 7AM - had an interesting breakfast....Vegemite!   Of course, you've heard of it on the Men at Work song - "Land Down Under".....

So, I had to try it!  Picked it up at the grocery store yesterday (Woolworths)....toasted whole grain bread and smeared the Vegemite on like peanut butter.  There was no internet available for me to Google how to use it!!  The horror!!



It's apparently made from yeast/barley/malt - purportedly the left-overs from the brewing process.

You probably know I like lots of different flavors.  Well, this one - not so much!!

I put WAY too much on the toast!  It's extremely salty - I scraped this off until the bread was almost clean.  Then, it was OK.  Just OK.  Duane actually tried it too - we decided that we'd leave the $4 jar in the fridge in case some Aussie that rents the cabin next really likes the stuff.



Next stop will be Edith Falls near Katherine, Northern Territory.

After a quick stop for some expensive gas, we were on our way down the Stuart Highway.  Travel today will be about 160 miles.


You've heard about the "road trains" - tractor-trailers with several trailers in tow.  Really pretty scary when traveling on a two lane road at 81 mph!



It's real!  Almost all the trucks we pass are towing at least 3 trailers.  Many towing 4!



Amazing but apparently very efficient to do it that way.



I just thought I'd share a few photos of the roadside terrain.  It's certainly parched and fireswept here.




We did see several more kangaroos on the road side again today - but I never had my camera ready....and at 81MPH, you need to be ready to snap a photo or it's too late!





Almost all the scrubby trees had evidence of fire.



On our way to Katherine, we stopped at Edith Falls for a few hours.  We took a 2.6KM loop hike to the upper falls.  Here's the view from the top.  Again, an oasis of green in the otherwise parched environment.




This is the "Upper falls" - actually the prettiest spot.




Duane and I, once again, braved the chilly spring-fed water to swim to the falls.  It's about 95 degrees - so the water felt wonderful once we were submerged.



We spied a large lizard basking in the sun on the rocks - he was about as long as your leg!



View leaving the upper pool.



On the walk back, we spotted a  Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo.  You'll have to trust me.  I didn't get a photo with his tail feathers exposed.....it is quite dramatic when he flies.



But this is a photo from the internet showing what he really looks like - it's pretty cool!



That's it for today.....stay tuned for Katherine Gorge touring tomorrow.


4 - Australia

I'd like to say we didn't experience jet-lag, but I'd be lying!!  We both woke up at about 2AM Darwin time.  That's 12:30PM at home!  (We're 13.5 hours difference from east coast US - weird that they do the extra 1/2 hour!)

Managed to snooze a bit and we were off into downtown Darwin early to pick up some groceries and to get  SIM cards for our phones.  The provider here is Telstra (the best coverage).   That was simple - we'll see how far 6GB goes for us!

Had breakfast at a nice little diner - they are proud of their coffee!  It's good and they make it so artsy.

We were on the road to our next stop by 11AM - Litchfield National Park.   I purposely planned a short day since I assumed we'd be "slow" getting started.   Just 70 miles driving today.  (116KM).

Interesting - the speed limit on the two lane roads is 130 KPH - or 81MPH!!!  Really strange to  be going that fast on the "wrong" side of the road!!







We checked in at our "hotel" - Litchfield Tourist Park on our way.   I had reserved the "Stockman's Cabin".   Neat and clean - very basic.  Not much choice here anyway!



It's all metal - you'll see later that is a good thing since the landscape apparently burns often!


Basic but fine!  Dropped off our supplies since the car get's extremely hot once the a/c is turned off!   Would hate for those bottles of Australian Cabernet to get too warm!



Back on the road by 2PM for some exploring in the park.  It's a fairly small park, so we'll try to hit the high spots today.  We have to be off the roads by 6-6:30PM according to our rental car contract since the chance of an "animal encounter" after dusk is extremely high!

First stop in the park was a quick one - the "Magnetic Termite Mounds" -  there is a variety of termite that builds their mounds in alignment with magnetic north.  It helps them with cooling the mounds in the tremendous heat.  A little hard to see since it was a bit hazy - but it looks eerily like a graveyard!






Up close - the mound is active (and over 50 yrs old) - you could see termites crawlig in the small holes.




Next up, we went to a couple of popular spots - Florence Falls - amazing oasis in the middle of parched dry land.



Beautiful spring fed creek -



Duane and I took a dip in the pool just blow the falls - amazing clear water.  A bit "brisk"!!!!



I couldn't believe how clear the water was!!    Hmmm - think that foot hasn't seen the sun lately!



Stopped at several other spots along the way -  nice pathways and easy walks on the trails.  Again - it feels like a jungle within the area close to the creeks.


This is a "plunge pool" at Buley Rockholes.  The pool is very deep and crystal clear.




The "rockholes" are just a series of deep pools, each with a little waterfall.  Lovely!



And we saw our first kangaroos!!  (they may be wallabees, not really sure).  Not great photos - but I was lucky that I had my camera close since they are quick!




Stopped by Tolmer falls for a quick walk.  Very peaceful.



And our last stop was Wangi Falls.



We did at couple of mile loop to the top of  the falls and back.  Spotted neat wildlife along the way - several cool birds - but my camera just doesn't cooperate with long shots of birds!

Right along the pathway were some feral pigs.  We heard their "grunts" before we saw them.  Stayed well clear in case the Momma pig decided we were a threat.



That's about it for the day....an early night in the cabin since we're still not 100% acclimated to the new time zone!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

3 - Australia

We made it to Darwin - uneventful flight....just a little delayed.  

Picked up our "wrong side" rental car and arrived at our hotel in downtown Darwin also uneventfully!

Got a quick shower - boy that felt good!  Nothing like a good hot shower after you've been in the same clothes for 2+ days!

At that point, it was about 4pm Darwin time.....we went for a short walk a couple of blocks from the hotel to the waterfront park.




Neat trees and tropical vegitation.



And that's about it for now....we had a nice bite to eat and a couple of Australian beers.  I think the travel has caught up to us - time for some serious napping!   Much more interesting "stuff" is in store for the coming days!

Monday, August 28, 2017

2-3 Australia

I'm titling this post 2-3 because it's already Tuesday morning here in Australia.  We sort of "lost" a day with the westward travel and the 14 hour time difference.  Not to worry - we'll get it back on the way home!!


Great flight from Los Angeles to Sydney - here's a photo of my "pod" for the almost 15 hour flight.  The captain says that we made excellent time an arrived a little early.

I got a good amount of sleep - maybe 6-7 hours.  The fluffy down comforter was a nice touch.
The usual "comfort items" were provided - Bose headsets, footies, eye mask, and pajamas!



And the food....my goodness they fee you good!  This was breakfast - served about 4AM Sydney time.  (Of course I set the ham aside).  I think they just try to keep you busy bringing you food/snacks/drinks!   I read reviews of American Airlines food service and hear folks complaining....not me!  I'm actually amazed at the quality.  (note the little bottle is Baily's Irish Cr√®me.  Good fun in the middle of the night!)





Not much to report yet - we're sitting in the Quantas lounge in Sydney waiting our final flight to Darwin in an hour.  Here's the first sight of Sydney - it was just sunrise when we arrived.  Maybe more later if I get a chance when we arrive Darwin.  We'll just have to see if jet-lag catches up with us!



Sunday, August 27, 2017

1 - Australia

We had a lot of time to kill waiting on our long-haul flight to Sydney...so we decided to take an Uber car over to the closest beach - Manhattan beach - for some sightseeing.   I had read it was only 5 miles away....well, it is only 5 miles away but it took about 20 minutes to get there!   Not complaining as we were definitely not in a hurry.  But I'm not sure I'd recommend the trip for folks who have limited time.

 It was a beautiful but cloudy day.  Temps were in the low 70's.  Beautiful, clean beach and lovely little downtown area.  We were surprised that it wasn't more crowded on a Sunday afternoon.




Nice public pier.



Pretty aqua colored water -  jam packed housing on the hills above the beach though.  Bet it's pretty pricy!



I had to take off my shoes and take a dip in the Pacific  (note that I had put on a sweater at this point since it was breezy and a bit chilly)





We wandered around - had a bite to eat - and watched a pretty sunset across the ocean.



Luckily, we were both "TSA Pre-Check" for this flight....so we breezed back thru security screening. That's particularly lucky since Sunday evening is apparently a very busy time at the airport.


On the walk back thru the airport, I saw this lovely mural on the wall.  I coerced Duane to snap my photo in front of it - looks like I was up on the Hollywood hill, doesn't it?



We'll be boarding the plane at about 2AM east coast time - it will probably be a day or so before I'm next online!

1 - Australia!

We're on our way!!!  Three cheers to American Airlines for changing our flights to keep us away from the hurricane mess.  Our original flights connected in New Orleans.  American changed them to a non-stop Charlotte to Los Angeles.

Left home at 3AM this morning for Charlotte.  Turned in the cheap ($25) Dollar Rent-a-car at the Charlotte airport at 5:30AM.  Easy-peasy.  Nice set-up, you just walk to the terminal building after turning in your rental car.   (we'd never used a rental car at CLT).

Checked in at the American desk - the kind counter person got our bags checked all the way to Darwin.  This is nice since the last flight is on Quantas Airlines.


Since we're first class - we get to use the Admirals club lounge.....

So we headed there for coffee and a little snack since we'd been up since 2AM!  Nice coffee bar and continental breakfast items.  Cool espresso machine that ground the coffee beans and made your coffee automatically while you waited.  All free of charge, of course!



We had a little nibble - but we knew that we'd ordered omelettes with brie on our flight, so didn't over-do.  Before we knew it, the 7AM boarding time was called -  off to Los Angeles!!




I will pause here and vent a little. First "Fail" of the trip!   I bought a brand new 64GB Scandisk brand-name memory card for my camera.  Just for this trip.  I wanted to be able to take and save lots and lots of photos, of course.

The photos you're seeing here are from my cell phone.....I took several in-flight photos with my camera.  When I tried to upload them, I got an error message.   Nothing I could do would make it work.  Now it's asking me if I want to "format" the disk.  Bummer!!!  Not cool!  I specifically bought the brand-name one just to be sure it would be good.

So, I'm pretty disappointed, but will buy a new card when we get to Australia.  Meanwhile, you'll just have to suffer with cell phone quality photos!


Uneventful flight non-stop to LA -  landed around 10AM PDT....we're at the Admirals Club there - very nice but crowded.

Teresa would LOVE the food - vegan and really wonderful!





So, we're just hanging at the Admirals Club - we may take an Uber ride out to the beach after while since we have a very long layover (over 12 hours!!)   Our flight to Sydney leaves at 11PM PDT - or 2AM east coast time!