Saturday, 29 August 2015

Home Again (photo heavy)

What a wonderful three and a half weeks we've just had touring around Australia!  We're absolutely pooped now so I hope most of this will make sense.

We arrived in Sydney rather early but luckily the hotel was ready to serve breakfast while we waited a bit for our room. We had a wonderful sunrise to greet us over coffee and croissants with unmistakable landmarks below.  

We did a fabulous tour of the city.

We were both surprised at how small Bondi Beach is!

Eventually we picked up a car and drove to Hunter Valley for a couple of days.  Local lawn mowers in action.

And some of the cute kind though we were warned not to do the petting thing as they can 'anoint' you, as it were.

After dropping the car off back in Sydney we flew over to Adelaide and a trip around the Barossa Valley too.  (Ok so wine has been a bit of a theme so far but they do it so well).  This is the actual Jacobs Creek that runs through the area.

In Adelaide we picked up the local train for the next stage of our journey. Isn't it beautiful and shiny?  We had a fairly short one of only 24 carriages which was nearly 700 metres long, it's often longer.

After just over 24 hours and 1500 or so miles we arrived in Alice Springs.  It was mid afternoon and we still had a 400 km drive ahead of us to our stop that night in Kings Canyon.  The hire company tried to give us a Yarris.  We explained we would be taking it the short way (yes 400kms is the short way) and needed something with a bit more gravitas for the unsealed road ahead.  A lot of verbal wrangling and we eventually drove to the airport to pick up this instead.

Much more suitable!  As you can imagine the day was drifting on and we finally set out about 4pm.  After 100km of sealed (tarmaced) road it turns into this.

Another 200km of corrugated gravel!  And the sun was setting directly in front of us.

Guess who was grinning the whole way.

We were back on sealed road for the last 100km which was good as it was pitch black by then and we had no idea where we were going.  Eventually we passed a resort in Kings Canyon and knew we were on the right road so kept going to find our stop.  After another hour or so we were just about to turn around when we saw the sign to the glamping lodges and arrived at 9pm.  We were fed and watered by a constantly smiling Graham and gladly went to bed.

The following morning we were on the way down to Uluru and the trusty steed was still raring to go. John is still grinning.

Thankfully were we back on tarmac for the rest of the trip.

And still on the stuff an hour later.

Oh look, a car in the distance!! The scale of this place is phenomenal and we are convinced an Australian kilometre is actually 2 miles long.

Much later that day we eventually reached our destination.

We had some fabulous events arranged for us here and we even treated ourselves to a helicopter ride over the area. This is our hotel and Uluru in the garden just after take off. Our extremely glam tent is the third from the left.

The Kata Tjuta are the often forgotten sisters of Uluru and a part of the same park.  The pilot pointed out the similarity to broaching whales which is ironic since I don't think there is anywhere further from the sea!

After three days exploring we flew back to Alice Springs and boarded the Ghan again for the second half of our journey.  Somebody also had a celebration and our fellow carriage companions sang him Happy Birthday.

We did stop for a tour of Katherine Gorge which was rather beautiful and calm with the low river.

Eventually, after another 24 hours and another 1500 or so miles, we arrived in Darwin.  We had a wonderful trip into Kakadu from here and found some of the residents interesting.  Never smile at a crocodile.....

Still prowling.  They can move surprisingly fast for their size!

The guide said the pelicans were the most confident birds out there!!!! I guess they would make a tasty meal.

Another couple of nights later we flew over to Broome.  We had four nights of total relaxation here and we treated it as our holiday to recover from the holiday! On the Friday we took a yacht Karma IV out to do some whale watching with a group of about 30 others.  There was plenty of wildlife out there including jellyfish, turtles and sea snakes.

And as if they weren't a deterrent enough they then put out a dragnet so people could swim!! No thank you!! Those that did had a great time though and it was certainly cooling.

But then we did see what we had gone out there for.  In total I think we must have seen about 15 whales.

This was a mother and calf playing together.  She was trying to teach him broaching and he wasn't doing to bad!
In the end just as we were having the sail put up to turn back home they waved goodbye. It was all pretty fantastic!

There was plenty of sitting by the pool and trying more wine before we flew back to Perth, on to Sydney and back home again.  Considering I managed to leave my camera charger at home so I took most of the photos on my phone I don't think I did too bad!  There are another few hundred to go through but I won't bore you with those.

We're almost back on UK time now and I hope to be back in the studio very soon!