Trip Report #1 Hollywood to Gundagai!

Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 10:04 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Trip Report #1 Hollywood to Gundagai!

Hello All, just returned from two glorious weeks in Australia, planned with much help from this board. (If trip minutia isn't your bag, then perhaps you should give this posting a miss):
Sydney: Nice Quantas flight to Sydney where we took a taxi to our hotel , Old Sydney Holiday Inn the Rocks. This is a wonderfully located hotel with an exceptional staff and nice amenities. I had paid extra for the view room and was not disspointed as we had a lovely picture view of the Opera House and bridge, which I could have just stared at all day. We found out the first night however that there is a little trade off for the stunning view, street noise! Holy goodness, even on the 6th floor it was like a street level room in New Orleans during mardi gras. Fortunately, I had my trusty ear plugs and had no problems, but if you are a light sleeper, I would suggest requesting a room at the back. For us the free internet, nice staff, roof top jacuzzi and location made up for having to wear ear plugs.
We pretty much were on the go every day in Sydney:
Hyde Park Barracks Museum, a must if you are interested in Australias convict past.
Sydney Aquarium: Undoubtedly the finest aquarium in the world IMHO.
Manly to Spit Walk (Thanks to Alan for the recommendation it is truly spectacular we did the full 10 K in little under 3 hours).
Darling Harbor: Went to the HMS Vampire and submarine, which was most interesting if you are interested in naval history. Also went to Northern Territory Intereractive center for a free concert and lecture on the didjeridoo (spelling?). Took a speed boat ride that was definately fun and constituted our one "extreme" activitiy as my gripping fear of heights made the bridge climb out of the question .
Botanical Gardens, ("batanical gardens" as my husband called them after viewing the flying fox bats that have moved in and take up residence.

Those were the definate "hits" of Sydney, we had a few minor "misses" that were kind of funny after a fashion,
miss #1, the Matilda Dinner Cruise.. ok I know I know, everyone and their brother has said don't waste you money... But we were too late to book a show at the Opera House and my husband a musician, wanted to see some "jazz" luckily the jazz was pretty decent, but the food.. oh my GOD the food.. I finally found out where they recycle the airline food left on plates after the end of a flight... J/K..sort of, definatly the "fish bisque" was WAY off, even the crew commented on how rank it was. I would really suggest giving this a miss, you could have taken a ferry at a tenth of the price and none of the indigestion and seen the same view.
Taronga Zoo... now I may get flack for this, and it is just my utterly subjective opinion, but I found Taronga kind of depressing, first of all the sky safari was not operating that day, then they were ripping half of the place up for renovations, and by the looks of things, at some point in future this may be a better zoo, but truly the enclosures that had not been updated looked like they were from the 1960's. though it is worth noting that the revamped enclosures seemed to offer more animal enrichment, and had better looking (happier) animals inside of them. Still, with all of the great animal parks in Australia, I think unless SYD is you only destination you could give Taronga a miss. Just my opinion.
Thyra is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 10:22 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Part #2 SYD to Blue Mountains: We drove to blue mountains and had absolutely NO problems stopped at Featherdale on the way, and again, IMHO this was a much better animal park. The animals seemed much more contented and the enclosures more natural.. also managed to miss the tourist busses that Alan often warns of, we spent a great deal of time, petting Koalas and feeding drowsy Kangaroos. Also got the presumably unique "show" of two albino wallaroos, doing the nasty, which had us in stitches. Something not seen usually on the discovery channel, perhaps this is why I liked Feather dale so much more and why the animals seemed just so darned happy. After that we had a nice drive up to our hotel the Carrington, in Katoomba. If you are interested in Victorian style hotels this is a keeper, large, and a bit scary, (not unlike the hotel in the Shining), I was convinced there would be a ghost, but sadly, only nice staff and a good little hotel bar called Champagne Charlies. They also, to my husbands chagrin, had a day spa, and I was able to book a facial on short notice. Very relaxing and nice use of products for a very reasonable price $85 AUD for an hour facial. The rooms were around $100. per night and we had a shared bathroom, which was really a piece of cake as there were a million showers and many stalls. so different from the old shared baths in B & B's back in England also must commend the Australians on their fantastic water pressure... lovely to stay in an old Victorian hotel with nice, hearty Australian water pressure!! (my pet peeve is a limp shower with all respect to wonderful countries that produce them).
Next day was hiking day, we were able to walk easily to the 3 sisters view point from our hotel, though sadly the Giant Stairs were closed due to a land slide (what can you do?) we ended up on a 6 K Prince Henry (I think it was Henry) cliff side trek which was pretty spectacular. Saw many cukaberras (spelling?) my favorite of all Australian creatures for the exotic sounds they produce. After our hike we went to the scenic railway which I had been on during my first trip in 1994, it has changed quite a lot since then, more parking, more expensive but just was impressive and beautiful. After two nights in Katoomba it was time to head out to ........ GUNDAGAI and, more importantly, the Dog on the Tuckerbox.
Thyra is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 10:39 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Part #3:Road to Gundagai: After a nice stop at the Jenolan Caves for the Imperial (happened to have a tour starting right when we got there). Wonderful guide and a trip to the underwater river, which I dont' think we did last time I did the Imperial. We took a kind of alarming half unpaved road from Oberon to Goulbourn it was mostly alarming for the spectaular numbers of departed Kangaroos and wombats along the roadside scores of them... it got to be so bad that I stopped looking to the side of the road.. Finally we were able to get on proper motorway and saw noticably less wildlife on the roadside..... our spirits were fully recovered when we pulled into DOG ON THE TUCKERBOX at twilight... It was a highlight of my husbands life.. better the the BUNBOY IN Baker.. Better then the THING in Arizona... better then the Loch Ness Monster Museum.. it is a lovely little roadstop that is an important part of Australian bush lore from the drover days every one in Australia knows a poem that starts out "the dog "sat" on the tuckerbox (in some versions he does something a little more nasty) 9 or 5 depending on which you read , miles from Gundagai..." .. it is really just a rest stop with lots of kitchy souveniers, of which we bought several. Threw a few coins in the fountain, that benefit the Gundagai hospital. And headed to our B & B.
We stayed at Gundagai Farmstay, run by Carol and Des Manton... this was a true honest to goodness highlight of the trip. These people are so amazingly nice, we had a little cabin all to ourselves and ended up arriving quite late having to stop in to a local pub to even find the place. What a charming place, in the middle of NOTHING!! Sheer glorious nothing, nada, zipp... just acres of sheep and trees, and cockatoos. This area has been in severe drought for about 4 years until, luckily for us, it's been raining just this year, and all of the hills were green as far as the eye could see, with the first wildflowers just popping up. We went to see the flowers because our host, Des, bless his heart, spent the entire morning chauffering us around his extensive property in his truck, we could even have panned for gold had we but known. He was the most amiable host, a true, unaffected Australian, the kind you think only lives in books... we fed fish in his pond and could have stayed talking to him for days.. he had fresh fruit trees,, and echidnas on his property.. this was an amazing highlight and something that not many American's tourists get a chance to see. I would highly recommend this for any stressed out city rats, (such as we are) who really want to see something different and relaxing. It was about $100 AUD per night, and you make your own breakfast in a kitchen, for which all the fixin's are provided by your kind hosts. I will post thewebsite at the end of my larger posting.
Thyra is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2004, 01:29 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,155
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thyra

?There?s a track winding back,
to an old-fashioned shack,
along the road to Gundagai?.

I guess you found it!

Thanks for your trip report - good reading and somethign different!
margo_oz is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2004, 04:01 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 801
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thyra,
I am so glad your trip turned out so well for you - I remember the discussions when you were planning it -and what seemed very complicated directions to get you to Gundagai from the Mountains - which obviously were ignored or conquered!!
It is so nice to hear of a trip such as yours which has taken you well off the 'beaten track' to see some of the real Australia.
prue is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2004, 06:51 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,430
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report, Thyra, I enjoyed every word. I do hope all our "intending" Sydney visitors read your evaluation of the harbour cruise.... it has been my own experience in Sydney that the WORST food is served in places which are (a)high up, especially if they rotate (b)on the water, especially if the cruise is directed at "one-time" passengers (c) sold mainly on the view from the restaurant window. I guess you helped prove that theory.

Sorry about the necessity for those ear plugs! I guess it's the narrowness of the streets in that old part of town... but, gee, the location makes up for it. doesn't it?

Do come back again, won't you?
Alan is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2004, 01:35 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 151
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts

I actually remember on hols in the US being in a bar in San Antonio once and the jazz band played "On the Road to Gundagai" just for me. I was pretty taken back that they knew the words and I didn't.

Now I wonder what is the fascination with the dog on the tucker box with American jazz muso's?

Anyway a mission to see something is a great way to see other things though my particular memory of the dog (been a while mind you) was pretty ordinary.

Great report, next chapter please !
Jane_47 is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2004, 12:00 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Part #4: Kiama (But wait there is more!) After our farmstay we headed up to a magnificent area south of Sydney and north from Gundagai called Kiama, famous for their Blow Hole, the town is a nice little beach town but for my money the real glory is in the adjoining Jambaroo valley.. one of the earth's prettiest places. The place that we were lucky enough to stay at was called the Kiama B & B, situated on a hillside overlooking the valley and the Mirramurra rainforest. This B & B was extraordinary, run by Tony and Marian van Zanen, who it should be noted, built this amazing house with their own hands! These people really know how to host, home made b-fests well beyond the ordinary B & B fare, a ride in Tony's vintage car, champagne on arrival, and Marian even baked me some cakes for my birthday. This is truly a special place to send a few nights. But the real fun of the valley is hiking, and of course, Tony our host wsa kind enough to give us a map of local trails.. but not before giving us a caveat to watch out for brown snakes. I expressed to him that I wasn't at all afraid of snakes because I see rattlers while hiking in the hills nearly every week during summer in So. Cal, but he explained that brown snakes in Australia are extremely agressive and will actually chase after you. Well, my husband and I said "yeah yeah" and didn't pay it too much mind, feeling quite comfortable, having grown up around poisonous snakes. Little did we know!! We had gone about 2.5 km of an 8 km loop in the park area called Barren Grounds, when a brown snake literally attacked my husband! He was a few steps ahead of me and had turned around to speak when I saw this snake lunge up at his kneecap, luckily husband jumped back just in time, but the darned thing struck a second time... by this point, poor spouse is running backwards and I am screaming like an insane person.. The snake slithered off, needless to say I was done with that trail.. we turned tail and decided to hike the Mirramurra rainforest trail in stead (fully boardwalked). Though it was a close call, it was certainly an adventure and we were the hit of the breakfast table with our gripping tale of the snake attack.. Tony suggested that we had obviously paid extra for the Australian "Adventure" tour.. well if that is the case, we certainly did get our money's worth.. and all's well that ends well... the snake, after all, missed!
Thyra is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2004, 05:28 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Part #5 Cairns: We rushed back to Syd and deposited our Budget rental car at the airport so that we could wait forever for the Virgin Blue flight that was delayed 2 hours. We ended up getting into Cairns quite late at night, luckily our host was expecting us, and we were able to get out to our next fantastic B & B, Lilybanks. This was another wonderful place with lush grounds and large rooms. Next day up at 6 Am for our pick up shuttle for our day at the reef with Ocean Spirit cruises to Michaelmas Cay (Kudos to our own Pat Woolford for the suggestion). What a wonderful DAY!!! To our minds Ocean spirit ran a very nice program, food far better then expected (perhaps the Sydney Harbour cruise had lowered our expectations). We felt that besides the AMAZING snorkeling location the best thing about Ocean Spirit was the way they ran things, with a variety of activies so that you don't ever feel bored. With the marine biologist slide show, submarine tour, wonderful lunch, champagne on the return voyage, live music and multiple opportunities to snorkle or dive the reef , we felt it was very good value for our money. I also liked their emphasis on conservation and really were insistant about not touching the coral, upsetting the birds etc. We also opted to take a snorkling lession (free) since last time I tried it I nearly drowned, and a guided tour by the biologist. I would have dearly loved to try diving by spouse has perforated ear drums, so we had to be contented with wax earplugs and snorkling.. I had not been snorkling for many years. All I can say is, everyone should do this at least once in their lives and the Great Barrier Reef is truly a global treasure.
Thyra is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2004, 08:26 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,649
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dear Thyra, Thanks for an excellent report so far . We also enjoyed our 3 nights w/ Pat and Mike at Lilybank very much. Lovely room and enormous breakfast and wonderful hosts. Did you have a chance to dine at The Garden Room down the road, One of our trip favorites?

A/D
AndrewDavid is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2004, 09:42 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 555
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Part #6: Silky Oaks/Syd. What can I say about Silky Oaks that hasn't been mentioned?? For two die hard budget class traveller's it was pretty upscale, but heck it was my birthday.It far exceeded my expectations, and the staff, without exception was top notch!
We also decided to do the David Armbrust Wild Life full day safari and must admit, it was another trip highlight. When a wild bird literally flew out of the sky to feed from his hand I nearly cried. He also managed to cook us the finest lunch of the trip, grilled barramundi in the rainforest.. unforgettable. We would both HIGHLY recommend this experience as it is like no other.
On my birthday I opted for the "Dreaming" spa package, which only was an additional $100.00 AUD since I had purchased a 3 night spa package that had two vouchers included. I am not lying when I state that this was the best spa experience I've had (so far ! Wonderful aboriginal products that didn't smell flowery or perfume like, fantastic therapist and 3.5 hours of heaven in an unbeatable location (floor to ceiling rainforest windows, simply can't beat that). I really didn't want to leave even after 3 nights but of course, we had to rush to the Cairns airport to wait for yet another Virgin Blue flight delayed 2.5 hours. Arrived back in SYD quite late and took a train back to Circular Quay to spend one last night in SYD at the Russell Hotel. Though we were only there one night we really enjoyed this place, (less noise then the Holiday Inn, but no view) wonderful decor and tons of atmosphere. We would recommend it highly.
Thyra is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
FromDC
Australia & the Pacific
82
Dec 23rd, 2015 01:50 AM
mnag
Europe
18
Sep 10th, 2012 11:25 AM
ShellCat
Australia & the Pacific
4
Sep 26th, 2010 10:33 PM
maxwell
Africa & the Middle East
46
Mar 10th, 2006 09:24 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:19 AM.