Trip Report / Long

Old May 12th, 2007, 04:15 AM
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Trip Report / Long

Australia Journal 2007

Tuesday, April 17 10:30am Depart Raleigh

Thursday, April 19 8:20 am Arrive Melbourne

Saville at Russel $210 a night
Address: 222 Russell Street, Melbourne
Phone: 61 3 9915 2500
Fax: 61 3 9915 2599
Hotel Email: [email protected]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Well we arrived on time after over 30 hours of flying. Amazing. We flew Qantas from LAX to Melbourne, business class, gotta love those frequent flyer miles. The flight between LA and Auckland was very bumpy so we didn’t get as much sleep as we would have liked. But the service on Qantas was fantastic. The seats were the best I have ever flown in. Very state of the art. We had a few scares along the way. When we checked in at RDU they couldn’t find our electronic Australian visas. Not good. Then after waiting for a while they said everything was ok. Then in LA they couldn’t find them again. Ai yi yi. Then Mark lost his boarding pass on the long flight and we had to get a new one issued in Auckland. Luckily one of the ground crew escorted us to the right place to do that.

We took a taxi into the city and the driver took us the scenic route, $70 I realized when we took the city link back to the airport we had been taken. We were too exhausted to deal with citylink skybus on arrival.

We were exhausted when we arrived at 8:30am but we made a day of it to quickly get on local time. We couldn’t check into the hotel so we got a map and started to explore the city of Melbourne (pronounced “Melbin”). It is an interesting city. Kind of laid back and casual but with fun sites. There are many old and interesting buildings. Like the Arcade on Little Collins Street that was built in the 1880’s. Very cool.

When Mark pulled out his camera to take a picture up the street, a fire truck stopped and turned on his flashing lights just for us and our picture.

Then we bought train tickets and hopped on a train to South Yarra to the Chapel Street district. It was an upscale young urban kind of area with fun shops and restaurants. We ate outdoors at a café where the food portions were huge. I don’t remember so much food being served before. Anyway we did some more exploring and then got on a tram back to the city center. Lots of college students on the tram as we were very close to Melbourne University.

We checked into the Hotel Saville and were very pleased with the room. It is a suite with a fully equipped kitchen, living room, bedroom and huge bathroom. And a washer and dryer. Whoo hooo. Not that we had a lot of dirty clothes at this point. The only thing missing was hot water as they were doing maintenance on the pipes. But who needs a shower after 36 hours J.
Luckily they have an indoor pool with a big Jacuzzi. Now that was nice.

Then we went shopping at a local grocery store that was underground and huge and bought some provisions for our kitchen. We worked on trying to find a place to eat for dinner, as we wanted to make it an early night. Our hotel was on the edge of China Town so we tried to find a good place to eat. When the travel books state ‘reservations essential’ they mean it. We wanted to go to the “Flower Drum” but it was booked for both nights we would be in Melbourne, and also 2 other places. The concierge got us a reservation at Fortuna Gardens, which was just ok. We brought our own wine at a nice wine shop on the way. When we sat down a woman from another table came over to talk to us. They are very friendly here. Now if she would have only turned off her cell phone that kept ringing all through dinner. The tune was something you’d here at a horse race.

Went back to the hotel and finally got to sleep. Wonderful.

Friday, April 20 Melbourne, Saville at Russel

After sleeping 10 hours we awoke at 5:30am. We’re officially on Australia time. Hurray. We did our power walk through some of the city parks here. First Treasury Park, then Fitzroy Gardens, then we went across the river to Queen Victoria Park. The parks are beautiful. Like an oasis in the middle of all the buildings and streets.

Next we jumped on the tram and headed for St Kilda, a small town just outside of Melbourne on the water. We walked along the water and out onto a long pier that attaches to a rock breakwater where penguins live. Unfortunately the tour to see them is at night so they must be sleeping away during the day. We did see a bunch of old fisherman on the pier using gigantic poles with no reels to catch fish. They spoke English but you could hardly understand what they were saying because their accent was so thick. Not sure what kind of fish they were catching but I suspect it is quite a spectacle to see them haul them in.

Next we walked Acland Street, which is filled with small cafes and bakeries, and the specialty of that area is cakes and more cakes. Unbelieveable. Not the place you want to be when you’re trying to eat healthy. We found a fun deli and ate lunch at a sidewalk table. No cake for us. L

We jumped on another tram and went back into the city center where we visited the national art gallery. Lots of great art: Egyptian, Rembrandt, Ruebens, and Toscani to name a few. The highlight was the giant mosaic ceiling and then the white legos artwork that was being erected by schoolchildren. Check these pictures out.

After all of that we decided to get back to the hotel and chill out on the balcony. We made reservations at a little French restaurant nearby. When we got to the address there was no French restaurant. He was now an Italian restaurant called Ceconni’s.
Well it was delicious and the service was superb. We were supposed to do this trip last year but Marks Dad became ill, so we were working with a 2005 Fodor’s book, they suggested Langdon’s (French) which is now Ceconni’s.

Tomorrow very early in the morning we fly to Adelaide.

Took Skybus for $15 pp to airport, vs $70 roundabout taxi to city central.
Skybus was easy, clean and quick, 20 minutes from Southern Cross Station. We had to take cab to Southern Cross as there is no hotel pickup prior to 8am on weekends, 7am weekdays. No extra cost for hotel pickup.

Saturday, April 21 8:10 am Depart Melbourn Quantas QF675
9:00 am Arrive Adelaide

Majestic Roof Garden Hotel #62996 55 Frome St Adelaide SA 5000
PH 08 8100 4400
$194 a night included breakfast

Today we flew to Adelaide. We had an early flight but no problems. Qantas is the best airline to travel. No hassles and superior service. What was quite strange is there is a 30-minute time difference between Adelaide and Melbourne. So we had to adjust our watches by 30 minutes. Interesting. Qantas still serves meals, imagine that, they may not be gourmet but they aren’t bad and some of the flights served frozen orange / vanilla ice cream bars. US airlines could / should take a lesson from these guys.

Adelaide is a very quaint town. It is home to the University of Adelaide and the campus is a big part of the town. Kind of reminded us of Chapel Hill NC. The town is surrounded by the Adelaide Hills, which is a beautiful view from every direction. We walked through the botanical gardens and Victoria Circle. We visited the wine museum which was a huge building filled with everything about growing and making wine. We walked through Rindle Mall which is a street that no traffic is allowed on for at least 5 blocks and is lined with all different shops.

We walked along the River Torrens and enjoyed all the sights there.
We had lunch in a Greek outdoor café. And for dessert we sampled Haigh chocolates, which are supposed to be the best in Southern Australia. Delicious!

Our hotel is very nice. On the top floor is a roof garden with fun sculptures and fountains. Great place to see the sunset.

We had dinner at a little restaurant right on the River Torrens, Jolley’s boathouse. Very nice.

Tomorrow we pick up a rental car and we’re off to Clare Valley.

Sunday, April 22 Drive to Clare Valley
Morella House Bed and Breakfast.
15 Vanga Ave, Clare. 5453 phone 0431836793
I don’t recall what we paid, approx $200

Today we drove from Adelaide to Clare Valley. We picked up the rental car a block from the hotel, which was just dumb luck on our part. We rented from Budget and asked for City Pickup and the city pickup was right on Frome St. We had no idea it would be so convenient. We got a gray Toyota Corolla. Driving on the left side of the road is a little frightening, but Mark did great. The funny thing was every time he went to use the directional signal; he would put the windshield wipers on. Everything is backwards in the car. And we are always getting in on the wrong side. The Australians must have a name for the dumb American drivers. But we don’t know what it is yet.

The ride took almost 2 hours and was beautiful with lots of rolling hills with many sheep and cattle farms. One of the little towns on the way was called Tarlee. It had one church, one general store, a town hall and a library. All in about ¼ mile. As you left the town there was a sign that said in big letters “THAT WAS TARLEE”. Yes it was.

Clare Valley reminded us very much of Napa/Sonoma Valley but on a much smaller scale. Everywhere you looked were rolling hills of vineyards. There are small little villages along the way with funky restaurants and shops. And the vineyards are all small boutique vineyards. We stopped at Annie’s Lane Vineyards for our first tasting. Delicious Shiraz! They suggest we have lunch at the Citadel, which was delicious. Then made our way to the B&B. It is on 16 private acres. The owners live upstairs and there are 2 apts. on the first floor. Our apartment is huge with 2 bedrooms, and a large living room and kitchen. There is a beautiful garden and we enjoyed sitting on the patio taking in all the wildlife. The pink and gray birds are called Gallahs and they are everywhere along with the black and white magpies.

We decided to get some more wine tasting in so we went to Seven Hills where there was a fun underground cellar. This is where the Jesuits have been making wine since the 1800’s. Then we drove to Mintaro, which is a remote village with a great vineyard. Loved the Fish drinking wine logo. The wine was delicious but most of these small vineyards don’t ship to the US. That’s a bummer because the wines are yummy and we can only enjoy them here. Luckily some of the vineyards have US distributors so we hope to be able to buy some back home.

Today is our 7th wedding anniversary so we celebrated that with a lovely dinner at Salt n’ Vines restaurant. We were sporting our new gifts, shark teeth that Mark had set in silver necklaces. He just found these 2 teeth when we were at the beach last month. Very cool!

Monday, April 23 Clare Valley Day 2

Well the weather continues to be beautiful. We made breakfast at the B&B and then headed out to find an internet café to get some info for our next adventure in Tasmania. As luck would have it the internet café, called Cogwebs, also rented bikes. They’ve been in business 2 weeks and are from South London. Very nice people.

The bikes were brand new. We hit the Riesling Bike Trail, which used to be a railroad path. Now it is a dirt path that runs about 25 kilometers in Clare Valley from Clare to Auburn through the different vineyards. What a great way to go wine tasting. Our first stop was Skilogalee, which a lot of people had recommended. They were the first vineyard in the area to have a restaurant. The wine is delicious and lunch was fabulous. We ate outdoors surrounded by grapes, olive trees and roses. Then we went to Mitchell’s Vineyard where we met Louie the Brittany Spaniel. Oh and the wine was good too. Then we went to Kirrihill for our final tasting. All of that took about 5 hours. We certainly got a good workout on those bikes.

The biking is fairly easy if you stay on the trail, but once you get off the trial it’s a little tough. We had to walk here and there.

We decided to cook dinner at the B&B so we went to the local butcher shop and fruit and vegetable stand to buy ingredients for dinner. Then we went Kangaroo hunting as the woman at Kirrihill said Kangaroos are everywhere. Well we didn’t see them everywhere, but we did see 3 of them in a field on our hunt. I love to watch them hop.

We cooked dinner (beef filet on the grill, roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta and lemon, mushrooms in a wine and butter sauce, baked potato and salad. And we enjoyed a bottle of Annie’s Lane Shiraz. Yum.

Some local definitions:
Entrée means Appetizer
Main means Entrée
Half 2 means 2:30
If you don’t ask for your check at the restaurant, they never bring it. Ai yi yi

Tuesday, April 24 5:20 pm Depart Adelaide
9:05 pm Arrive Hobart
Matilda's of Ranelagh, 2 Louisa Street Ranelagh
Tasmania 7109
Contact: Tel: (03) 626 43493
Fax: (03) 626 43491
Int Tel: 613 626 43493

Barossa Valley and on to Tasmania Day 1

Mark got up early to take some beautiful sunrise pictures and go kangaroo hunting. He did see about 8 wild kangaroo but they are too skiddish to get pictures of. We made breakfast at the B&B and then drove to Barossa Valley. It took a little over an hour and we were in Tanunda, which is the central village of the Valley. It is very upscale here and a much bigger village than Clare Valley. We stopped for our first wine tasting at Rockford Winery that was recommended to us by Mic from Skillogalee. Rockford was very small and the tasting room was filled with cobwebs on the ceiling. The wine was delicious and the guy pouring the wine was from Tasmania which is where we’re going next. And we met a nice couple with a Scottish terrier named Sophie. We then went to Charles Melton’s winery, another recommendation from Mic. One of the wines was called Nine Popes and has received many accolades. It was very good. And again we met more dogs, 2 Dalmatians rule the tasting room at Melton’s. One brown and one black.

We decided to go to a winery we were familiar with so we chose Peter Lehman’s. Very beautiful gardens. We tasted wines not available in the US and really liked the 1885 Shiraz 2005. We met a German couple that has lived in Adelaide for over 40 years.

We had lunch at the Monkey Nut Café which was recommended by the guy at Rockford. Crazy name but very good lunch. Then we headed back to Adelaide to catch our flight to Tasmania. We were able to get some free internet time at the airport, as we probably will be out of touch for the next week in the wilderness of Tasmania.

Our flights to Melbourne and then on to Hobart, Tasmania were uneventful. We picked up the car at the airport and then drove 45 minutes in the dark to our B&B. I can’t wait until its daylight so we can really appreciate where we are. Pam is the owner of the B&B and she and her 2 golden retrievers showed us around. Our room is gorgeous and we have a private sun porch in the garden. We had the Matilda Room. The B&B is very comfortable.

April 25th Huonville, Tasmania, Day 2

Well this is the coldest weather we’ve encountered. We woke up to a cloudy day, probably in the 50’s. We had breakfast at the B&B and then got in the car for a day of exploring Southern Tasmania. We drove to the Tahune Forest Reserve and went on the Tahune Air Walk. It is a narrow metal walkway that runs along the tops of the trees. At the end of the walk is a cantilever walkway over the River Huon that kind of sways back and forth when you walk on it. Very, very cool. And the views are spectacular. We then did the Pine forest walk which is a raised wooden walkway through the forest. You’re surrounded by giant ferns, Dogwood, Huon Pines, Native Laurel, Celery Top Trees, Stringy Bark Trees, and Sassafras Trees. A nature wonderland. On the drive back down the mountain we stopped at a sign that said “Big Tree”. So we parked on the side of the road and walked down a short path. Oh my nerves, it was the biggest tree I’ve ever seen. They call it the Queen of all trees. Unbelieveable.

We continued further south and stopped in Dover for lunch at a little roadside café.
The clouds disappeared and the sun came up so it warmed up into the 60’s and turned into another beautiful day. Next, we headed to the east side of the river towards the Northwest Bay. We went through Sandfly, Margate, Oyster Cove and stopped at Kettering which was a pretty port village with lots of sailboats. Then on to Woodbridge and over to Cygnet, a little village on Port Cygnet. We had a drink at a little café and watched the sunset behind the mountains. Then we headed up the west side of Huon River back to the B&B and Huonville. Lots of beautiful sights along the way.

For dinner we went to the Boat House, which was a tiny building that was docked on the river. It was very small with only 6 tables that were warmed by a hanging heater. We had a delicious Thai Shrimp and Rice dish while watching ducks swim by us. Great way to end the day. Tomorrow we’re off to Cole’s Bay. We would have eaten someplace nicer but it was Anzac Day and a lot of places were closed. We were very grateful for that the Boat House was open.

Thursday, April 26 Freycinet on the Bay
1 Garnet Avenue, Coles Bay, Tasmania 7215
'03 6257 0109 703 6257 0063 :[email protected]

April 26 Freycinet on the Bay, Tasmania Day 3

We had a nice breakfast at Matilda’s and then headed off to Freycinet. It was a 3 hour drive and we decided to go up the coast and enjoy the little coastal towns and the ocean views. The road was quite narrow so it was interesting when cars came the other way. We passed many rivers, cliffs, fishing villages, and lots of cattle and sheep farms. We also saw the occasional vineyard. The landscape on this part of the trip was so different. We thought we were in Ireland with many sheep farms, rolling hills and cliffs. We met 2 sheep who we named Laverne and Shirley who would not stop talking to us. Quite the pair.

We stopped in Swansea for lunch which was a little town on Oyster Bay. We ate at a little café and Mark had delicious fresh oysters. Like they had just been picked out of the water.

We finally made it to Freycinet and it is a beautiful national park on the water with huge cliffs called the Hazzards. We stopped in Coles Bay to check into the house we had rented for 3 days. Well one of the slogans of Tasmania is “Expect the Unexpected”. Well that happened to us as the house was a dump. No other way to describe it. So we definitely needed a plan B. We decided to try to get a room at the Freycinet Lodge in the park. Luckily they had a cabin for us which was much nicer than the ‘dump’ house. Mark negotiated to get our money back from the dump and we ended up only paying a small cancellation fee. Thank goodness. Since the weather was still nice we decided to do the Wineglass Bay overlook walk which is a 30 minute walk up an incline of stairs and rocks. But it was definitely worth it as the view of Wine Glass Bay was spectacular. Then we did laundry which was wonderful as it is so nice to have clean clothes.

We had drinks at the bar at the lodge in front of a roaring fire. Then we had
dinner at the Bistro at the lodge which was delicious. I had the mussels and they were the gigantic! On the way back to the room a wombat passed right in front of us. Very peculiar little creature.

April 27 Freycinet to Hobart, Tasmania Day 4

Mark got up early and took sunrise pictures and saw many wild kangaroos.
After breakfast we did two more of the walks in the park. The first was the Cape Tour Lighthouse walk. Beautiful views of the cliffs and the beaches. Then we did the Swampy Beach walk, which was a 30-minute walk down the cliffs to a granite pebble beach. Very cool. This is really a beautiful park with well-maintained trails.

As the weather was overcast and rain was on the way, we decided to change our plans again and checked out of the lodge and headed for Hobart. We took an inland road this time and stopped at 2 fun towns, Ross and Oatlands. These towns were so different from the coastal towns. In Ross we ate at a little café where the people working there were dressed in colonial garb. The town was very colonial with old stone houses and churches with beautiful gardens. They had a bridge that was built by prisoners, and a big wool museum. We now know how to shear sheep. Maybe that will come in handy one day. And we saw beautiful black swans, which are abundant in this region.

We made it to Hobart by late afternoon and found a hotel to stay in. It is called Somerset on the Pier and is right on the water in the heart of downtown Hobart. Our room is an apartment with an upstairs bedroom and downstairs living room and kitchen with laundry facilities. Very nice. Word or warning about Somerset though, we were put in room 2 which is near the road and has a very noisy restaurant and bar right underneath it. Mark couldn’t sleep due to the noise so we asked to be moved at midnight, so be careful what room they give you. I think the furher out on the pier the better.

We had dinner at Mures Seafood Restaurant that was recommended to us and had a delicious meal.

We have changed our flight plans so we can get to Lizard Island more easily and will spend a night in Cairns instead of spending the night in Richmond. So, we’ll spend tomorrow afternoon in Richmond, and then head to Cairns the next day. We’re really looking forward to getting to Lizard Island where the weather will be very warm and sunny.

Saturday, April 28th Hobart, Tasmania Day 5

Today is overcast and in the 60’s. We made breakfast and then headed out to Salamanca Place to enjoy the Salamanca Market that happens every Saturday.
Local craft, jewelry, wood, and leather artists setup their wares along with fresh fruit, flowers, vegetables and lots of hot cooked food like you’d find at the fair. They also had music by local musicians, which was very fun.

Then we got in the car and drove to Richmond which is a historic town about 20 minutes west of Hobart. We had lunch at a little café and then headed to another famous bridge that was built by prisoners in the 1800’s. There was a nice park by the bridge that was filled with large geese and ducks. They were quite friendly and very noisy. They were the highlight of the town. There were several nice art galleries that we spent time in, also.

Then we headed further south and went through some coastal towns on the Frederick Henry Bay. Occasionally there would be a shower and we saw some nice rainbows. We actually saw the beginning of one of the rainbows. It was so bright, like you could almost touch it.

When we got back to Hobart we drove through Battery Point which is the high rent district of the city. Beautiful houses and parks. We found a little seafood restaurant that we had dinner at. It was the first restaurant we’ve ever been to where you had to knock on the door to get in. It literally had no outside door handle. Interesting.
Well the meal was delicious and it was a great way to end our night.

Tomorrow we head to Cairns and then on to Lizard Island where the weather will be sunny and in the 80’s. We probably won’t have access to the internet there so we’ll post again when we can.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 04:16 AM
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Sunday, April 29

10:30 am Depart Hobart
4:25 pm Arrive Cairns

Hotel in Cairns

Il Palazzo Boutique $165 a night
62 Abbott St
07 4041 2155
April 29th Hobart to Cairns

I had booked the Il Palazzo along the way on Orbitz and was only able to get one night, but once in Australia I called and was able to get the other night I needed. Orbitz and all the other online travel folks must only get x amount of rooms. So give em a call if you can’t get your dates online.

We are so glad we changed our plans to get into Cairns a day early so we can get to Lizard Island earlier tomorrow. We headed to the Hobart Airport, dropped off the rental car and caught a 10:30am flight through Sydney to Cairns. We arrived in Cairns at 4:30pm so it was a big travel day for us. The weather in Cairns is absolutely wonderful, sunny in the mid 80’s. We checked into our hotel which is another apartment style room with a kitchen, living room, bedroom and laundry. Very nice. It is right in the center of town so we walked along the Esplanade to see the sights.

Cairns reminds us of Myrtle Beach, NC. Very touristy with lots of souvenir shops, bars and more bars and souvenir shops. There is a very nice boardwalk that runs for several kilometers along the water’s edge. However the beach is not very nice and there are signs warning of crocodiles. Ai yi yi. It is very family oriented on the boardwalk with parks, playgrounds, skateboard and bike tracks, picnic areas and grills. The view of the water is beautiful with large hills and cliffs on either side of the beach.

We would have loved to do Daintree etc but we just didn’t have the time on this trip.

We wandered through the city center and found a great wine store, (“bottle shop” in Australian) and bought a bottle of 1999 Clare Valley Mitchell Shiraz. Yum! We didn’t see any restaurants that were interesting so we ended up buying take out Japanese at a little restaurant right near the hotel that Fodor’s recommended. It was delicious!

Right now we are doing laundry, one of our favorite things to do, as many of you know we only packed one carry on suitcase each. It is great to travel light but you really enjoy getting clean clothes. The crazy thing is the wash cycle on these Australian machines is 65 minutes. So I think we have the cleanest clothes you can possibly have. And carry on in the US and carry on in Australia are very different. You have to check in Australia as they have a weight limit and there size limit is much smaller. So keep in mind when you’re worried about your 3 oz. Limit along the way you’ll be checking your bags anyhow so just put your sunscreen etc in the bags.

Tomorrow we’re off to the Great Barrier Reef!

Monday April 30
11:00 am Depart Cairns
12? pm Arrive Lizard Island

Phone T: 1300 134 044 or +612 8296 8010

April 30th Cairns to Lizard Island Day 1

Mark went for a morning jog on the Esplanade, picked up some breakfast and then we were off to the airport. Our flight was run by Hinterland Air a small service in general aviation. We were the only people on the plane so it was like a private charter. It was a very small plane which Mark enjoys but I don’t like. There were 6 seats, and 1 of them was occupied by the pilot. I just don’t like being that close to the pilot. Especially when he’s reading and filling in his log book while he’s flying. Ai yi yi.
The flight was an hour and we flew right over parts of the Great Barrier Reef. I didn’t realize how huge it is. Amazing.

We landed on Lizard Island and we were greeted by Ruth who took us to the resort where we were served pink champagne and then we had lunch. Then we got the tour of the resort and our room. This is by far the nicest and most beautiful place we have ever stayed in. It defines luxury. Our room is magnificent. It overlooks the ocean and has a big comfortable deck. There are only 20 of the 40 rooms occupied so there is hardly anyone around. The service is superb.

In the afternoon we went for a dip in the pool and then sat out on the beach. On the way to the beach there was a giant lizard, about 2 ½ feet long. It is a reminder of why they named the island. We watched a beautiful sunset and then got ready for dinner. Our dinner was delicious. Mark got adventurous and had the kangaroo filet. Yikes.

Tomorrow Mark is going on an all day dive and I am going to lounge on the beach.

Tuesday, May 1 Lizard Island

May 1st Lizard Island, Day 2

After a wonderful nights sleep on the best bed we’ve ever slept on, we had an early breakfast and then Mark went off for a day’s worth of diving. I worked out at the gym, did some shopping and bought a new bathing suit, swam in the pool and hung out at the beach. Very busy day.

Mark’s dive was fantastic. He saw huge Potato Cod that he went up to and pet. Yikes. He said the colors of the reefs and the thousands of fish are overwhelming. When they got back from their 2 dives the boat captain lured some big nurse sharks with fish. And then this big black groper came and snatched the fish away. I’m glad I missed that.

We hung out on our deck for some pre-dinner drinks and watched the sunset and all the wildlife. Big brown lizards, something that looked like a pheasant, white doves with black tails, and of course lots of sea gulls. The view of the ocean through the palm trees is so beautiful.

We went to the DVD viewing of Mark’s dive which was very fun. I got to meet a bunch of the people he dove with. One couple was from New Hampshire. They are the first people we have met from the US. Then we had another delicious dinner and marveled at the full moon. Well almost full. Tomorrow will be officially the full moon. We never want to leave here, it is paradise.

Wednesday, May 2 Lizard Island Day 3 / Full Moon

Another glorious day in paradise. We had an early breakfast and then headed to the boat house. We went out for a day of boating on a 14-foot metal dinghy with a nice canopy. The resort packed us a gourmet picnic lunch and we headed for Secret Beach on Parlfreys Island in the Blue Lagoon. We had the beach to ourselves and we enjoyed the solitude and the beautiful views. As lunch time approached we noticed that we had no corkscrew to open our wine. We looked in the emergency kit but all they had in there was things for first aid and rescue. Ai yi yi. Well this was an emergency.

But we had to leave the Blue Lagoon anyway as low tide was approaching and there are tidal restrictions in that lagoon. So we headed back to the resort to get our corkscrew and get our ice refreshed, then we headed off to Mermaid Beach. We had lunch there and then did some snorkeling. I was amazed by what we saw. Big deep blue starfish, GIANT clams that were fluorescent purple and blue, multi colored fish everywhere. I’ve never seen such big clams. The most amazing snorkeling I have ever done.

When we were at Mermaid Beach a sea gull befriended us. I fed her bread and she adopted us as family hanging out with us the whole time. Very fun.

I can’t believe how quickly time passed. We got back to the resort at about 4pm. We went swimming in the pool and then watched the sunset and then the full moon rise. What an amazing day.

We had a delicious dinner then hung out on our deck. Right now Mark is taking pictures of me working on the blog.

Some crazy stuff happened today. There was a small cruise ship in the bay. But the staff told us they are not allowed to come to the resort. That is a good thing. Then there was a big barge that docked in the bay. It comes every 2 weeks to bring fresh supplies and take away refuse. The only problem was the tide was so low that it had to stay an extra 4 hours as it couldn’t get out of the bay. Not a pretty site but of course it’s a good thing that supplies were brought in. And as we sit here tonight, 2 more small cruise ships are moored in the bay. There is a beach Watson’s Beach that is famous for it’s Clam Gardens where there are more giant clams that the cruise ships like to frequent. We are going to snorkel there on Friday when hopefully the cruise ships are gone.

Oh and one more thing. There is a big group (80 people) from Toyota coming for the weekend, right after we leave. The good thing is that in preparation for that, there is hardly anyone here. Tonight there are 16 people in the resort and tomorrow, our last night here, there will only be 12 guests. Very very nice.

Thursday, May 3 Lizard Island Day 4

After a wonderful breakfast Mark went for another all day dive. He said it was amazing. There were only 3 people on the dive so it was very fun for him. He dove the cod hole again with the 5 foot Potato Cod named Cuddles. The 2nd dive was Stepping Stones Reef and it was his best dive ever. The reef colors and fish are incredible. Mark also enjoyed getting to know the staff on the boat. A couple of them have a band called the Reptiles and they jam at night. They are big Dave Matthews fans and he is coming to Sydney Saturday night. It is a sold out venue with only 5,000 tickets but we’ll keep trying to get in.

I had a wonderful spa day and received wonderful service. I felt very pampered.

There was a cocktail reception that evening where we met the assistant general manager and 2 people from Ohio that were on Mark’s dive. They served Henske Shiraz from Barrossa Valley, delicious. We also enjoyed spending time with Simon who helped us book our visit and takes care of every detail.

We had another delicious dinner then called it a day. Another day in paradise.

Friday, May 4 3:25 pm Depart Lizard Island Hinterland Air
4:15 pm Arrive Cairns

Friday, May 4 Lizard Island to Cairns

After breakfast we decided to go out on one of the dinghys as there was a big group from Toyota arriving that day. The resort packed a cheese, cracker and wine basket for us and we headed for Watson’s Bay that is home to the famous Clam Garden. It was an unbelievably fun snorkeling trip. The clams are giant and there are so many bright fluorescent colors. We saw some big fish which always spooks me. Then we hung out on the beach.

We headed back to the resort to enjoy lunch. Then we hung out at the pool until it was time to board the plane to leave. As we were checking our email, Mark tried to get tickets online to the Dave Matthews concert tomorrow night, and he did! I can’t believe we’re going to see Dave Matthews in Sydney tomorrow night.

There is so much we loved about Lizard Island. The superb service, the incredible views, the gorgeous suite, the serenity of the resort, and the food and activities. They make everything so easy. You don’t need reservations for any meal. The rooms have no keys so you don’t need to worry about that, there is no need for money as everything is included or charged to your room, the staff makes it a point to know who you are and what your preferences are. We definitely want to return.

We boarded a small plane with 4 other people and headed back to Cairns. As we left, 2 of the staff that escorted us to the plane waited and waved to us as the plane was taking off.

We again stayed at the same hotel in Cairns and have done 3 loads of laundry. Whoo hooo. We had dinner at a little Italian restaurant and will make it an early night, as we will have a late night tomorrow in Sydney at the concert.

Saturday, May 5 1:10 pm Depart Cairns
4:10 pm Arrive Sydney

Bed & Breakfast Sydney Harbour, 142 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, NSW, 2000
Phone: +61 2 92471130 Fax: +61 2 92471148

May 5th Cairns to Sidney Day 1

We had a good breakfast on the esplanade, did some blogging and then headed for the airport to fly to Sydney. Funny thing about flying domestic in Australia. When you check in, no one asks to see your id. You just give your name and they give you boarding passes. When you go through security, no one asks to see a boarding pass. Kind of like the old days of flying.

Anyway, the flight was uneventful and 3 hours later we were in Sydney. We decided to take the train to the hotel and got to the Circular Quay station with no problems. We weren’t quite sure where the B&B was in The Rocks so we wandered around a bit and then ended up taking a cab the short distance to the B&B.

The B&B is very cool. It is in an old 3-story building so it is a mixture of the old style with a flair. The innkeeper’s name is Jeff and he is very laid back. Our room is on the top floor and we have a view of the Sydney Opera House. Jeff recommended a Thai restaurant just a few blocks away and it was delicious. Sailors Thai.

After dinner we took a cab to Moore Park and entered the Hordern Pavilion to see the concert. The Pavilion only holds 5,000 people and we were able to get killer seats in the 2nd row on the side, but right near the stage. The opening act was a local Australian. Then Dave Matthews and his band came out and they rocked the place.
It was amazing. We still can’t believe we were there.

After the concert we went to one of the local pubs and had a drink, as we knew it would be hard to get a cab and the line for the taxi was very long. Well the line for the cab was still too long so we ventured out of the complex and tried to get to the main drag to hail a cab or take a bus. Unfortunately we missed the bus and they next one wasn’t for an hour. So we headed back to that crazy taxi line and waited for almost an hour. It shouldn’t be this hard to get a cab in the biggest city in Australia. So we ventured back to the main drag and finally were able to flag down a cab. So basically it took 2 hours to get a cab home. It is now after 1 in the morning. Ai yi yi. The cab driver said it is very hard to get a cab on the weekends after midnight. No kidding.

Sunday, May 6 Sydney

May 6th, Sydney Day 2

We had a delicious breakfast on the outside patio at the B&B and then headed to Circular Quay. We went on the Harbor Cruise and it was a perfect day for a boat ride. High seventies and very sunny. We first stopped at the Taronga Zoo and enjoyed seeing the koalas, kangaroos and giraffes. Very fun. Then we got back on the boat and went to Watson’s Bay for lunch. We ate at the famous Doyles and had a wonderful lunch. Then we went for a walk up to the bluffs and the gap. You can really appreciate how protected the harbor is from those views of the Pacific.
Then we walked to the Hornby lighthouse which is the farthest point south of Watson’s Bay. Beautiful views.

We got back on the boat and cruised under the bridge and over to Darling Harbor. It was a little too commercialized for us so we just enjoyed the sites and stayed on the boat. We got back to Circular Quay and went to a little wine bar on Georges St. for a drink. Then we went for a walk to enjoy the sunset. We ended up at the Sydney Observatory Park and saw a beautiful sunset. The views are just spectacular in this city.

We had dinner at Pony’s, another recommendation from Jeff and had a delicious dinner. We ordered a bottle of Skillogalee wine from Clare Valley that was delightful. Then we called it a night. We may go to the Blue Mountains tomorrow but we’ll see what the weather is like and then decide.

Monday, May 7 Sydney

May 7th, Sidney Day 3

The morning started off warm and sunny. We had breakfast outside on their brick patio and we met Mate, the B&B dog. He’s a little black, brown and white mutt and is adorable.

We decided to rent a car and check out the Blue Mountains. We made our way to Katoomba where we saw the famous ‘3 Sisters’ and beautiful landscapes at Echo Point. We bought a picnic lunch and headed to Grove Falls Lookout. Then we did some hiking that involved way too many stairs but was very fun. We hiked Grove Falls, then we went back to Echo Point and hiked down the ‘giant steps’ to the 3 sisters. We actually stood in the middle of one of the three sisters. Then we went toWentworth Falls and walked to the lookout.

Then we headed back to Sydney enjoying the little mountain towns along the way. When we got into Sydney we decided to take a drive to Bondi Beach which is one of the famous Sidney surfer beaches on the ocean. The beach was beautiful and lots of surfers were doing their thing. There were homes built into the cliffs on each side of the beach that reminded us of Cinque Terra in Italy. The town was a little dumpy but parts of it were nice. It was not what we expected at all.

Then we headed back to the B&B. I must say, Sydney drivers are very aggressive and a little crazy. If you can believe it, the lanes are narrower than those on 6 forks road in Raleigh. And the buses do not stay in the lane, and neither does anyone else. Ai yi yi.

But along the way, we caught a picture of one of our favorite signs with the dancing people. We think it means “caution, dancing people”. Hah!

We dropped off the rental car and walked back to the B&B. We bought a bottle of Annie’s Lane Shiraz and sat on the brick patio enjoying some delicious wine. We went to a little Italian restaurant for dinner and then had ice cream on George St.
A great way to end the day.

Tuesday, May 8 Sydney

May 8th Sydney Day 4

Well today is our last full day in Australia. We decided to do a little shopping as we haven’t done much of that. So after breakfast at the B&B, we walked to the Queen Victoria Building that is a very impressive structure built in the 1800’s. It has 4 floors, domed roofs, beautiful stained glass, tiled floors and an animated clock that hangs from the center of the building. The bathrooms were all marble including the floors, walls, and sinks. We bought a few items and then headed to Hyde Park, the oldest public park in Australia.

Hyde Park has beautiful gardens and is lined with huge fig trees. St. Mary’s Church is across the street and it is massive. We then walked to Domain Park and then to the Royal Botanical Gardens. The gardens were beautiful and there was a big palm tree section with exotic cactus and palms. We saw many birds by the water and there were loud screeching noises coming from the trees which we thought were more birds. They were bats, hundreds of them hanging in the trees upside down with their wings around them. They were the biggest, ugliest bats I had ever seen. And they were everywhere. Really creeped me out. Yikes.

Then we walked to the Sydney Opera House and along the harbor. Just beautiful. We had been walking for about 3 hours, so we decided to have lunch at Café Sydney which is a posh Café on the 5th floor of the Customs House overlooking the harbor and of course the Sydney Opera House. We weren’t really dressed appropriately as most of the people there were in business suits, but ‘no worries’ we had a delicious lunch.

Our next adventure was to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It is quite the trip. They are very serious about safety as you climb to 440 feet. You spend an hour going through orientation with 11 other people. They provide jump suits. You take a breathalizer test. You go through a metal detector. If you have glasses they must be hooked to your suit. They provide hats that are hooked to your suit. You can’t wear jewelry or have cameras or carry anything. You have a radio transmitter and headphones so you can hear the guide at all times. You are hooked to a cable for the entire climb. You climb steep steel ladders and at one point you are climbing up between 6 lanes of traffic. Another time you are climbing down between 2 lines of speeding trains. But the best part is climbing on top of the span to 440 feet high. The view is spectacular and it is worth everything you have to go through to get there. We definitely want to do it again.

We got back to the room and got ready for dinner. We decided to go to the restaurant that my Food and Wine Magazine had given a top rating to. It was right on the harbor overlooking the bridge and the opera house. We sat in a glass- enclosed circle which was so cool. The service was superb and the food was fabulous. A wonderful way to end the trip.

So to recap a couple of things are trip was from 19 April – 9 May and the weather was wonderful. I’m not sure it’s always this wonderful as Adelaide was overdue for rain and they got it once we left. They were in level 3 draught restrictions and about to go to level 5. They’re really in trouble. There was also lots of rain in Sydney while we were in Adelaide but when we got to Sydney it was beautiful. It was shorts and sandals, tshirt beautiful our whole trip except Tasmania. Tasmania was a little cooler mid 50’s and damp but other places 70’s.

We are so happy we packed light, doing laundry was not a problem as almost all accommodations have washer and dryers. And it forces you to chill out some, you can’t be on the go every minute but we tried.

I was also worried about flies, as a friend of mine visited Australia years ago in December and he was somewhere inland and said there were thousands of flies. He said they didn’t bite but they just hitchhiked on your back. Well we only saw about 20 flies in 3 weeks. So that was something I didn’t need to worry about.

You just can’t do everything in 3 weeks. Next time we’d like to do the Great Ocean Road, Kangaroo Island, Perth, Ayers Rock.

The 30 hour flight over and back is killer. I think you need to layover in Hawaii for a week to break it up.

I know this was long but I hope it helps some folks along the way. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions along the way on this site.

Mark & Lynn
phishears is offline  
Old May 12th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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What a wonderful, detailed report! It sounds like you had a nice time. I have only been to Sydney twice (nowhere else in Oz yet) but cannot wait to go back. Lizard Island was always on "my list" and I appreciated your comments on that segment of your trip.

Thanks again for posting. Reading trip reports is my favorite thing about this site.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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Thanks, Lynn, for a fantastic trip report. It sounds like you had a wonderful, special trip. Lucky weather and spent your money on the things that were important to you. Thanks for all the details.
Sally in Seattle
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Old May 12th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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Loved you report - especially the info on diving and Lizard Island. We're taking a three day diving trip in November. It sounds amazing!
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Old May 12th, 2007, 06:28 PM
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Thanks for the great trip report. My brother just moved to Australia so I'm planning on visiting him in Oct/Nov. Your report will help me plan my trip.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 08:50 PM
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Thanks for a great trip report Lynn.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 05:17 AM
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Hi phishears,
I enjoyed reading your report,especially Sydney and Adelaide. We can't decide weather to spend 3 nights in Adelaide or Flinders Range. You certainly had a great time in Adelaide.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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Thanks everyone for your kind words. Yes it was the trip of a life time.


We enjoyed Adelaide but Adelaide being the gateway to Clare Valley, as that's where we spent most of our time. We really enjoy wine tasting, and biking the Riesling trail was a blast. The Morella B&B was fun too as it had a very nice gas grill, so we cooked in one night.
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Old Oct 30th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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