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Trip Report: Sydney, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Palm Cove

Trip Report: Sydney, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Palm Cove

Oct 1st, 2004, 01:55 PM
  #1  
dkw
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Trip Report: Sydney, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Palm Cove

Hi All,

Many thanks to all the Fodorites who helped with the planning of our fabulous trip to Australia. We had the BEST time ever!!!

I will post this in several sections under this heading as I get the reports together. I also welcome any questions anyone may have!!

We (my Husband and I) left Detroit on Aug 31 (early evening)- flew to LAX and overnighted at the airport there.

We left LAX in the morning for our Continental Air flight to Honolulu. We arrived in Honolulu at about noon. We had a jeep reserved for our time there. We checked into our hotel, the Doubletree Alana Moa, then got in our jeep and drove the circumfrance of the Oahu.

We left honolulu on Hawaiian Air the next afternoon at 1:00. The flight was very empty. This allowed everyone in coach to spread out and each have their own row. Hawaiian Air also rents small video player for $10 to whoever wants them. They are similar to a portable DVD players except they are pre-loaded with about a dozen or so movies and TV shows. They really helped pass the time.

We arrived in Sydney at about 7:30 PM, easily obtained a taxi, and went to our hotel, The Shangri-La. I booked a package at the Shangri-La for 5 nights thru LuxuryLink.Com. We booked an Opera House View on the Horizon Club floor. We felt this was a good value as the room was on the 32 floor (fantastic view!!!) and included breafast, afternoon tea an evening cocktail hour and free internet access, all in a very nice cozy club lounge. It was nice to be able to get a little bite, or cup of tea when we returned from a day of sightseeing. The only downside to the hotel was that there are alot of steps to climb when returning from the Circular Quay, or the Rocks area. I used the many steps as a free pass to have dessert every night while we were in Sydney!

I woke up the next day with no real remnants of jet lag at all. We started the day of with some exploring! We walked from our hotel, thru the Rocks, around the Circular Quay, to the Opera House, over to Mrs Macquaries chair and back thru the Botanical Gardens. We were in awe of the birds and flying foxes in the Botanical Gardens. The birds are so unlike anything we have in the midwest of the USA, and the flying foxes....there were thousands, and thousands of them. Quite a sight...right there in the midst of a huge city!!
We then walked back to the Rocks. It was Saturday, so we wandered thru the market and did a little shopping, had an early dinner/late lunch at Doyle's on the Quay. After a long day of walking....that was it for us (I think some jet lag caught up with us!!)

to be continued.....
dkw is offline  
Oct 1st, 2004, 02:19 PM
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dkw

I live here and am in awe of the birds I see on a regular basis. You never get tired of seeing pretty birds.

Great to hear you had a great time.
Jane_47 is offline  
Oct 1st, 2004, 02:42 PM
  #3  
dkw
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Sydney Continued

The next day we decided to take a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour in order to get a feel for the other neighborhoods. We took a the red double decker bus, learned a good deal about the history of Sydney and also get a good "lay-of-the-land". We also went to the top of the AMP tower, went shopping in the Queen Victoria building. The weather was changeable that day, a couple of sprinkles, then it HAILED!! We must be the cause, as we were in Milan last June during a freak hailstorm also. During the hailstorm in Sydney, there was the most beautiful rainbow right over the Opera House. We were able to get several good pictures of it right from our hotel room.

That evening we went to Darling Harbor and wandered around. Later that evening we had dinner at a nice Japanese restaurant in the Clocktower Building in the Rocks (I can't remember the name).

The next day was clear and crisp, which was great as we were booked for the Bridge Climb at 9:15 am. I can't say enough about the Bridge Climb!! It was a tiny bit scary ( I don't like heights) but worth every penny!! The views were as you can imagine....spectacular!!! One of the highlights of our trip! We took it easy in the afternoon.

In the evening we took a Pub Walking Tour. We met our tour leader in front of Cadman's Cottage. We went to 3 different Pubs in the Rocks, The Fortunes of War, The Australian and The Orient. This was a great way to learn of the secrets and sometimes sordid histories of the Pubs and other buildings in the Rocks. A drink at each establishment is included in the price. We especially liked "Beez Neez" Our guide was Sara, she is a classically trained actor from Perth, and did a great job. We had a group of 6. Us, a couple from the Gold Coast and another couple from England. Our group was great fun and we ended up staying and having a few more "Beez Neez"...we had a good time.

The next day we took the ferry to Manly and spent the day there. We had a nice lunch at a restaurant there. Once again I can't remember the name (note to self: write these things down!!)
We had dinner at Darling Harbor and took a Water Taxi to the Opera House and then walked back to our hotel.

The next day we named "animal day". In the morning we took the ferry to Taronga Zoo. We spent a lot of time in the Australian Animal section. What a spectacular zoo!! We also saw the Wild Bird show.

Later that day we went to the Aquarium. It was by far the nicest, best organized Aquarium I have ever been to.

Both the Zoo and Aquarium are "must-see's" in my book.

Next...Adelaide
dkw is offline  
Oct 1st, 2004, 04:14 PM
  #4  
dkw
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Now Adelaide

We flew from Sydney to Adeliade via Qantas on Wednesday, September 8th. We arrived in Adelaide, and took a taxi to our hotel, The Pacific International Suites on Hindmarsh Sq. Our room was booked at $91 UDS per night thru AsiaHotels.Com. The room was good sized and well appointed, with a kitchenette as well. The laundry facilities were especially appreciated.

Upon arrival we asked at the front desk for suggestions for a wine tour. We were referred to a company called "Life is a Cabernet". We arranged a tour for the next day and then went out to find dinner. We ended up having dinner at The Austral Hotel. This was one of the best meals on our trip. I highly recommend the Austral!!

The next day, Ralf, the owner of "life is a Cabernet" picked us up at 9:00am for our tour of Barossa Valley. We visited 6 wineries, Grant Burge, Rockford, Kabminye, Elderton, Cockatoo Ridge Winery and Peter Lehman Wines. We had the opportunity to sample about 40 differnt wines thru the day. Our favorite variety Sparkling Shiraz. Unfortunately, its very difficult to find in the US. Ralf also introduced us to something which is now a new addiction...TimTams. They are also unavailable in the US We had a great day with Ralf, he's a facinating guy...has had alot of interesting experiences which he was kind enough to share with us. He used to be "Fat Cat" on a children's T.V. show in Australia. We really lucked out, as we were the only ones on our particular tour. This normally would have cost $55AUD per person more to guarantee a private tour. We learned so much about wine, Ralf was so knowledgable, and knew everyone at the places we visited. By being on his tour we felt as if we were receiving special treatment at each of the wineries. We were able to taste wines not available to the general public at several places. We stopped for coffe and cake at a beautiful restaurant abot 11:00AM. Our lunch that day was at Vintners at about 2:00. It was fantastic! We also stopped for pictures at the top of Menglers Hill, where we were swooped by magpies(more crazy birds in Australia!!)
Ralf was great company, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend his service. It was first class all the way!

We had dinner at the hotel, we weren't very hungry so we ordered a tapas. It was excellent, and all we really needed because we had had quite a fancy lunch at the Vintners

The next morning we split up, I went shopping at the Rundle Mall. My husband walked around the city. He happened upon a parade for the returning South Austrlaian Olympians. (I was sorry I missed that, but I found a few bargains)

Later that day we took a cab to the train station to pick up the Ghan Train to Alice Springs.

Next...The Ghan
dkw is offline  
Oct 1st, 2004, 06:50 PM
  #5  
 
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Dear Dkw,

I am so sorry that once again, an unwary tourist has succumbed to the Tim Tam addiction. This is an evil problem that no one seems to address. Shocking!

However, help is on the way! Yes, you CAN get Tim Tams in the good 'ole US of A... go to www.AussieProducts.com and feed your addiction. In fact, I suggest that you have a "Tim Tam Slam" party, invite your friends, and show them the joy of Tim Tams with coffee (hence, the Slam portion of this ritual). Trust me, they will gladly sit there while you go through endless pictures of your Aussie adventure!

I await your next installment with bated breath (or even Tim Tam breath)!

Regards,

Melodie
Certifed Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2004, 06:56 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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dkw,

Thanks for the interesting report. We didn't get to Adelaide, so are interested to hear about it. I'll bite. No one offered us tim tams. What are they?

AndrewDavid
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Oct 2nd, 2004, 09:22 AM
  #7  
dkw
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Melodie, you have made my day!!!! I will be ordering TimTams ASAP!!!!

Andrew David,

Tim Tams are the most delectable chocolate lady finger like cookie sanwiches with chocolate creme in between all covered with....chocolate fudge!!!!!! We had them first with a nice sparkling shiraz. Perfect combo!!
Our guide Ralf said the best way to eat them is by biting the ends off and sucking the shiraz through the center....mmmmmm
dkw is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2004, 03:41 PM
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dkw, chocolate w/ chocolate and chocolate- my kind of food.
Thanks,
AD
AndrewDavid is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2004, 12:47 AM
  #9  
 
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AD

I just can't believe no one introduced you to TimTams - what was your host thinking???

Send me your address - I regularly post them to Sweden!

dkw - good report - waiting for the next bit!
margo_oz is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2004, 08:05 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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But darling,why didn't you bring them to dinner?

Andrew Beckerman
1001 Camino Rancheros
Santa Fe, NM
87505 USA

salivatingly yours,
A/D
AndrewDavid is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2004, 08:32 PM
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Oh Andrew

Had I read this a few hours ago would have sent you some Tim Tams with departing guests, who coincidentally, live at 525 Camino Rancheros, Santa Fe.
pat_woolford is offline  
Oct 4th, 2004, 12:18 PM
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AD, I'd think some gourmet shop around Santa Fe or Albuquerque would carry TimTams. Have you checked Kaune's? I'm going to look around town for these things - they sure sound good!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Oct 4th, 2004, 02:31 PM
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So Lee Ann, Are you our neighbor at 525 or another Santa Fean? Have you been down under? When? How was your trip? Isn't this site great?

AndrewDavid
AndrewDavid is offline  
Oct 4th, 2004, 07:39 PM
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AD

Detail noted - will shop on the way home tonight!

In the interim:
http://www.arnotts.com/Biscuits/OurBiscuitsP.asp?BID=79
margo_oz is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 09:56 AM
  #15  
dkw
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The Ghan...


We boarded the Ghan train at about 5:00pm on Friday, September 10th. We booked the Gold Kangaroo Service. That has a sleeping compartment with bathroom facilities and includes both dinner and breakfast.

We enjoyed our time on the train, but didn't get an awful lot of sleep because of the noise and motion of the train. Dinner was your choice of fish or steak and was good (not great). Coffee was served at 7:00am in your room, and breakfast was shortly thereafter in the dining car. The breakfast was very good.

The highlight of the train journey was at breakfast. We had a wild camel running alongside the train tracks for about 2-3 minutes. Seeing that the symbol of the Ghan is a camel, we thought that was pretty cool!!

Overall, we were glad we chose the train. It was a fun way to travel and a great way to meet some very interesting people.

We arrived in Alice Springs around noon the next day. We took a shuttle bus to our hotel, The Alice Springs Resort. After checking in we walked to town to pick up our rental car at Thrifty. We returned to our hotel safely (first time driving on the left) and felt good about advancing past that hurdle!!

At 2:00 we were picked up by Jason of Desert Quads for our 4WD Quad adventure. I had booked this before we left by e-mail. Jason drove us to a cattle ranch out near the airport for this tour. We each had our own machines and again were the only people on the tour. We had a great time in the rugged outback for about three hours. We saw a huge lizard, kangaroos and cattle (of course). It was very dusty, but fun!!! We felt is was a good way to get into the outback away from civilization. It sure seemed that we were in the middle of nowhere. Jason was a great guide, and we found that he is also a balloon pilot as well.

We returned to our hotel showered and knocked all the dust we could off our clothes. We then walked into town for dinner at the Overlanders Steak House. When you are seated there, they ask your nationality, then promptly set the flag of your nation on your table. Makes you wonder, do they have every flag possible????? How many of each????It was a great restaurant with lots of local choices like kangaroo, emu, croc and camel. We opted to try the smoked kangaroo and emu appetiser. It tasted to me like smoked venison, or maybe a very dark game bird. We each had a good beef steak and I finished off with a yummy pavlova.

Next....our drive yo Ayers Rock
dkw is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 10:43 AM
  #16  
dkw
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Driving to Ayers Rock....

We left to drive to Ayers Rock at about 9:00 am. It took getting used to driving on the left....but that was the place to learn. We rarely encountered traffic, and actually stopped right in the middle of the Lasseter Highway several times to get a better view of something. We were surprised at the number of dead cattle and kangaroos along the side of the road. At one point along the trip there were 4 of the scariest looking vultures?? in the middle of the road scavenging a carcass. We were struck by how cartoon-like the vultures looked with the scruff of white around their long scrawny necks.

We passed Stuart's Well...we figured that Dinky, the world famous dingo was still sleeping at 10:00am, but we did stop at Erlunda (I think that's where we were) and saw the BIG echinida (sp?).

We saw wild camels just before the Mt Conner scenic viewpoint.

We arrived in Yulara about 2:00PM and checked right into Sails in the Desert. We were very happy with our room, as we had a view of Ayers Rock from our balcony.

We had pre-booked the Sounds of Silence dinner for that evening, and enjoyed it immensely. The food was better than I had expected, we had a table of fun people, the sunset was fantastic, and the stars.....WOW!! We had never seen the Milky Way with such visibility before.

The next day we drove off to The Olgas to walk the Valley of the Winds. The total walk took us about 2-1/4 hours and is not for the faint of heart. It was quite difficult and vvveeerry steep in a couple of points. It is most assuredly worth it though. The sights and views along the walk are nothing like you can see elsewhere.

We purchased picnic provisions in town for our dinner. We went to the sunset viewing, had our picnic and took about a zillion sunset photos of Ayer's Rock. We also saw a spider (on an ashtray at the viewing area) that was as THREE INCHES across!!!! Huge!!! We were told by an Aussie standing nearby that it was a Huntsman. The Aussie told us that they are good spiders. If you had one in your home you would leave it because it eats flies. C'mon, can that be true??? Was he pulling my leg? It was huge!!

The next day we walked the perimiter of Ayer's Rock. We found that having a car served us well. We were not tied to any tour schedules, and could come and go a we pleased!!

We left on the afternoon flight to Cairns.

Next Palm Cove.......
dkw is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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AndrewDavid, we live a little south of you in New Mexico.

I haven't been to Australia; honestly, I never wanted to visit because my mental image of the country was all outback and rocks, and I can see that here.

However, we won a trip to New Zealand, which we took in April, and as a result I've been reading this folder quite a bit. My trip report, which I think I called "10 Days on the North Island April 2004," is here somewhere.

Anyway, reading all the other trip reports makes me realize there's quite a bit more to Australia than my puny mental image had to offer. Now I'm interested in visiting sometime!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 06:08 PM
  #18  
dkw
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On to Palm Cove...

We arrived in Cairns in the late afternoon and were greeted by our driver who took us th the Sebel Reef House in Palm Cove. As I mentioned in the now infamous Reef House post of 2 weeks ago, everything there was wonderful. Our room was spacious, clean, in good condition and had a great verandah overlooking the lush grounds and pool. We were made to feel welcome from our first step in the grounds.

We had a so-so dinner that night at the Far Horizons Restaurant at the Ansanga Resort. The food was fine, the service however was very slow. It was over an hour between our starter course and our main course.

The next day we got up early, had a great breakfast at the hotel and then were picked up by Daintree Air for our day at Lizard Island. What a day it was!! Thre were 6 of us traveling with Greg that day. Another American couple and 2 gentlemen from New Zeland. I got to ride in the co-pilot seat on the trip over, because according to Greg, "You look just so darn happy to be here." Believe me, I was!! We flew over the shoreline on the way up to Lizard Island. Our landing was smooth, which I understand was no small feat due to the windy conditions. We hiked to the blue lagoon area and snorkeled in the mangroves. We saw a black tip shark, rays, and octopi and several sea turtles. We had a great lunch then hiked back to Watson's Bay to snorkel over the reef. On the hike we saw several of the lizards from which the island gets it's name. I had no idea that they were so huge!! They had to be 3ft long! At the reef we saw color, color, color!!!!! We were able to see many huge giant clams, starfish, vibrant coral, clownfish (I swear I saw Nemo!!) and about a zillion other fish all colors you can't even imagine. Greg is a fantastic guide. He knows the reef like no one else. He guided me to a particular sea anemone, swished the water around it a bit and about 6 clownfish swam right out of the anemone. Amazing!!! On the way back we flew over the reef and were able to get a birds eye view. Our day at Lizard was THE highlight of a highlight filled trip!!

We ate a the Busy Beach Bar in Palm Cove. Our meals were excellent. My husband had Morton Bay Bugs for the first time. He loved them.

The next day we took a taxi to Kuranda Skyrail. We took the skyrail both up and down. That afternoon we finally took time to kick back and relax by the pool.

That night we had dinner at the Reef House. Another fabulous meal.

The next day we left Palm Cove and flew to Sydney.

Our connecting flight in Sydney on Hawaiian Air was delayed for mechanical reasons til the next day. Hawaiian Air had to find accomodations for all 300 people on our flight. We were shuttled by bus and housed at the Four Seasons in Sydney. The funny thing about our room at the Four Seasons was that our view out the window was of our former room at the Shangri-La. We were able to fly out the next day to Honolulu, but we missed our connecting flight to LAX. Hawaiian Air once again made arrangements for our accomodations. We were able to fly back to Detroit, via Seattle the next day. We arrived home a day late(better to be late coming home from than going to a vacation), and exhausted.

Our favorite thing about Australia were the people we met. Everyone we met has had such interesting and varied experiences. We were very surprised that almost all the Aussies we met were anxious to hear about the area of the U.S. we were from, and also that they were so eager to discuss our political views and U.S. politics in general.

We realize we have so much more to see in Australia. We are already planning on coming back. We would like to spend more time in Far North Queensland, get up to the Top End, go to Tasmania...the list goes on!! We will be visiting Iceland next summer, then back to Australia in 2006!!!!!
dkw is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 07:18 PM
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Dear dkw,

Thanks for another excellent report. Ironically the highlight of your trip, your day w/ Greg was our biggest disappointment as Greg had to cancel due to bad weather.

Now we'll need to go back to Cairns to meet Greg, see Pat and Mike at wonderful Lilybank and try to lure Phoebe of the fabulous Garden Room to Santa Fe.

Dinky is also know as the dingo who never sleeps. I'm sorry you missed him as he was one of the highlights of our trip. Perhaps when Neil Cammack returns from China he can repost the link to the ABC clip w/ audio of Dinky for you!

Dear Lee Ann, I don't know why we chose Australia over NZ. We did n't know anyone who had been to Oz, although many folks we knew had been to NZ.

As we were planning our almost 5 week trip people kept asking if we were going to NZ as well. Getting away for 5 weeks was pretty hard and NZ seemed to require another 3.

We were so enamored of Australia and Australians that we will be going back there before we get to NZ.

How about last night's storm? I heard that there are 5 inches of snow at the ski basin!

cheers, AndrewDavid
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Oct 6th, 2004, 03:09 PM
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We just got lots of marble-sized hail here; my tomatoes are ruined but they were about done anyway.

Lee Ann
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