Australia Trip Report

Old Jun 28th, 2004, 02:57 PM
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Australia Trip Report

We recently returned from a 5 week trip in Australia. We started out with one overnight in Sydney at the Intercontinental Hotel ( very good ) before heading out the next day to the train station where we boarded the Indian Pacific for a cross country journey to Perth.

Initially I was rather apprehensive about spending 3 1/2 days on the train and the confined quarters but to my surprise it was a most enjoyable experience. We travelled in their gold kangaroo service with the sleeper compartments, which altho very small, was fine for a few days. Sleeping on the train took some getting used to with the constant movement but it was kind of fun. The service and staff onboard were terrific and the food was quite good, but the best part of the trip was meeting all the wonderful fellow passengers. We also found the scenery interesting and unique even though it didn't change a lot. Traveling across such vast, virtually barren areas held my attention. I had packed a number of books to read thinking it would be a rather boring journey but I barely spent anytime turning pages. We stopped in Broken HIll early one morning and went for a stroll to stretch our legs. Also an afternoon spent in Adelaide and another stop in Kalgoorlie in the middle of the Nullabar (sp)

After arriving in Perth we headed to the Hyatt Regency which overlooks the Swan River. It is in a nice area within walking distance to the city areas and the harbour cruise dock. My only complaint with the hotel was in the service area which really was quite poor. We spent 2 nights there before heading out on our driving trek from Perth to Darwin. The city is pleasant and very clean, nice to stroll around in. Also took a harbour cruise which was enjoyable.

The next 2 weeks were spent travelling up the west coast to Broome and then inland across the Kimberley and up into Kakadu and north to Darwin. We started out early every morning as we were generally up and on the road by 7:00. We had 3 one night stops in coastal towns before reaching Broome. Stayed in local motels (Best Western, Mercure Inns). I was somewhat surprised that this journey north was not directly along the coast as I had assumed it would be from looking on maps at home. Each stop we made was in a little town on the water but the day long driving was mainly through areas of very flat terrain a little inland.

One very interesting stop was not too far out of Perth, which is where the Pinnacles are located. The most unique rock formations I have seen and definitely worth a visit if in the region. I'm sure we missed other interesting places to see but our main goal was to reach Broome before heading inland. We had heard a lot about Cable Beach. Once arriving in Broome we headed to the Cable Beach Resort. Here we spent 2 nights in an oceanview room. You actually only have a very small section in which to see the water so I thought the room description was a little deceiving. The beach itself is nice but nothing spectacular. I had definitely been expecting more.

Our first stop after leaving Broome was Halls Creek. Here I got my first good look at the plight of the Aboriginal people in the north. There is obvious poverty compounded by alcohol and substance abuse issues. One scene that really struck me occurred one afternoon just outside our Motel. We had just arrived in the very small town and after finding the motel on a back street, I sat in the car while my spouse checked in. Just across the street from me was a large group of aboriginals, from the very young to the very old, all sitting in the dirt in one long straight line. They were in front of a telephone poll which was offering them some well needed shade from the intense heat of the sun. There heads hung down and they seemed like such lost souls. I saw similar such situations throughout the small towns in the north.

Our next stop was Kununurra for another overnight. Here we went to a local park area that offered some scenery similar to what would be seen in the bungle bungles. HIked around in the area for awhile and this was enjoyable.

Next stop was Katherine on route to our scheduled 3 nights in Kakadu. Not much to see in Katherine but the outskirts offer some interesting scenery. The drive from Katherine to Kakadu was relatively short in comparison to many of our previoius long days in the car. so that when we entered the park we were able to make a few stops at points of interest before heading to our accommodation which was the Holiday Inn ( the hotel shaped like a crocodile ). During our stay we enjoyed seeing the aboriginal rock art, a cruise on the yellow waters ( wetlands ) with lots of beautiful birds and interesting vegetation and a few croccodile sightings. We also did a 60 min. helicopter ride over a section of the park but was rather disappointed as we had expected to see much more rugged terrain than the few spots we did see. It did give one a good perspective of the vastness of the area but was not really worth the added cost for the extended tour. It was quite exciting however to be in a helicopter travelling with the doors off ( optional ) I have been on many helicopter rides on other trips but never without doors...

Throughout the entire northern region it was quite hot however not like the intensity we experienced in Darwin where the heat is combined with very high humidity. This was extremely hot for us at 35C but according to the locals was quite pleasant as they were heading into their winter months. We stayed at Mindel Beach at the MGM Grand. A nice hotel in a good location but I could do without the casino atmosphere of the one area of the hotel. Saw some spectacular sunsets from here. Had some wonderful dinners at local restaurants in the city and outskirts. Also did a day drive to Litchfield Nat. Park which is very picturesque. Viewed some beautiful waterfalls and interesting scenery including unusual termite mounds. Well worth a visit in this region of the country.

From Darwin we flew on Qantas down to Melbourne for a 3 night stay at the Westin Hotel. This was a terrific hotel with wonderful service from all the staff and very comfortable well appointed rooms. Also in a good location for exploring the city, close to the river and near museums, shops, theaters and restaurants. Enjoyed my time there. From Melbourne we headed west again by car to experience some of the Great Ocean Road region. Enjoyed seeing the 12 Apostles with are very unique rock formations off the coast. It's a lovely drive and we stopped in a coastal town overnight before heading back toward Melbourne which we bypassed and continued on to Lakes Entrance for another stop. This was our remaining driving portion from Melbourne east along the Coast back to Sydney. Enjoyed our night at Lakes Entrance. It's a nice coastal town and we enjoyed strolling along the harbour area.

The next day we headed toward Batemans Bay. This was a very scenic drive as well and we stopped in a few quaint little towns along the way. From Batemans Bay we headed inland to Canberra. We were scheduled for a 2 night stay but cut out a day early as the city didn't really hold much interest for us other than being the capital. We spent the extra time in the Hunter Valley wine region before our final time in Sydney. Really enjoyed the area and our accommodation ( Peppers Guest House ) A lovely country inn type of accommodation with an excellent restaurant. The entire region is fun with lots of great wineries, restaurants and shops and galleries to visit. After quite a hectic schedule it was nice to relax in such serene surroundings for a few days.

Our last 4 days was spent in Sydney and back at the Intercontinental. Wonderful service from attentive staff and we had a great room on the club floor with a view of the harbour bridge, opera house and some of the botanical gardens as well. Really enjoyed the new Club Floor lounge which was still under construction when we stayed there at the beginning of our trip, a month earlier. Enjoyed all the sight and sounds of the city including the harbour areas, Darling Harbour , the aquarium, the rocks, the downtown area. Also took the ferry over to Manly and enjoyed an afternoon strolling around among the shops and beach area, etc. Took the bus ride over to Bondi beach another afternoon but could have spent the time elsewhere as there's nothing really spectacular to see in my opinion. Really enjoy Sydney and think it is a lovely city to spend time in.

This was our second visit to Australia ( we had previously done a 6 week driving trek of the western half of the country ) and it is a great destination to visit. Besides many interesting sights and sounds, one of the best attributes of this wonderful country has to be the friendliness and hospitality of it's people. I hope to return again.

DJE is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2004, 03:15 PM
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Great report, DJE, and it's nice to know you had a pleasant time. Please come back for a third visit!
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 05:58 PM
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Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. You covered more of Australia in this trip than many Australians get round to doing in 20 years. I suppose it comes down to the idea that when you plan a trip overseas you do your best to fit in as much as possible, and with the destinations at home you think I can always go there later but often never get round to the "later". I fall into the latter category, have travelled extensively in Europe and been to America a couple of times but have never been north of Perth in Western Austrlia or to Darwin.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 07:49 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to respond. Good trip report. You sure covered a lot.
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Old Jun 30th, 2004, 10:23 PM
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DJE, good to hear that enjoyed your trip in Australia. After having covered so much territory, you can understand why so many Australians opt to fly the long distances between cities, especially, when they have visited the same places. I too felt the same about Cable Beach.
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Old Jul 1st, 2004, 05:04 PM
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Dear DJE, Thanks for the lovely trip report. If only you'd known about Neil Cammack, you would have added that day back in at Canberra and he probably would have bought you a beer.

Did you stop at Shark Bay, Monkey Mia, the Nigaloo Reef or the Bungle Bungles? They are on our list for our next visit down under.

Again thanks for the report.

AndrewDavid is offline  
Old Jul 1st, 2004, 08:16 PM
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A/D, I do appreciate these regular referrals. I'll buy almost anyone a beer, if they buy me one back. (If I ever do make it back to Santa Fe you'd better have the Sam Adams waiting!)
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Old Jul 1st, 2004, 10:03 PM
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No we didn't stop at those particular spots but did see an area outside of Kununurra that was described as the little bungle bungles. Our main priority of the trip was to see Kakadu but we were not as impressed with this area as we had anticipated. We did enjoy Litchfield Nat. Park a great deal as it was very picturesque and had some lovely waterfalls etc. Our time in Australia was wonderful overall as it is a country that has a lot to offer the tourist. DJE
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