Client Review: Honeymoon Adventures in the Land Down Under

The trip was fantastic.  Of the 4 places we went, I’d be pressed to pick a favorite because they were all such different experiences.  The location of all the hotels you found were perfect, we could just walk to do anything we wanted during our free time.  Each hotel had gotten your note that it was our honeymoon and had left out some wine or chocolates or both and a couple of them even gave us hand written congratulatory notes which was extremely touching.  The Hobbit tour driver Damion even had a printout of a very kind email you’d written to them and gave us a special memento to take back with us.  Chris from Quicksilver met us when we checked in, walked out to the boat with us, made us feel very welcome and mentioned your name and even gave us some drink tickets which was great!  All the tours went well, it often felt like they were really chaotic, but incredibly they all ended precisely as described.  The Sydney harbor bridge climb was amazing and its accessible to far more people than you’d think based on how they describe it.  To get a sample of the great barrier reef, both Tusa and Quicksilver are great options for a try scuba day trip.  If you have to pick, Cairns seems like a better place to stay than Port Douglas, there just seems to be more to do.  The service we encountered at all locations and tours was very welcoming and the amazing concierge in Auckland helped us find entertainment and a delicious Valentines Day dinner.

I’m really struggling to summarize the diving portion as Quicksilver and Tusa both really did a great job.  The staff at both outfitters were nice, competent, efficient, all good things.  I’m not sure which I’d recommend over the other as they were quite different.  Quicksilver was a longer day as they fetched us from our hotel (which was great), there were many times more people on that boat, but it was also bigger and faster so you were able to get to better places on the reef.  Quicksilver broke people out into groups of 4-6 and had a dive guide, Tusa gave you more autonomy unless you asked to have a guided tour.  The food on both was very good, though I did think Tusa’s was better.  I think we only paid for 2 dives on Tusa, but they gave us a 3rd for free which was really nice.

If I ever went there again, I would spend the money to do a live aboard and get better dive sites and a more intimate group of divers.  I would say for you, if someone asked about it I would find out how much diving they’ve done.  If it’s not much, then either of these outfits are perfect (or if they’re really set and cannot do more than 1 or 2 days).  If they’ve done a bit of diving (like more than 50 dives) then maybe steer them to a liveaboard.  Anyone can do either obviously, you’ll probably get a more experienced group doing a live aboard.  Or at least no college kids betting on who can hold their breath the best. haha

Overall it was definitely a success and we had a great time.  Thank you!!

Missy Skoog’s visit to Ayers Rock (Uluru), Australia

Ayers Rock is one of the most impressive landmarks in Australia. A huge chunk of sandstone and a ‘true’ monolith, it resides in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Ayers Rock is located down towards the southwest corner of the Northern Territory and close to the geographic centre of Australia.

The rock is huge, jutting up about 350m from its barren surrounds. And more interestingly, Ayers Rock extends even further than this amount below ground. Although there are other, similar entities to Ayers Rock – most notably the nearby Olgas and Mount Augustus in Western Australia – it is the only singular monolith with its composition.

A World Heritage site, Ayers Rock also goes by the Aboriginal name of Uluru. Aboriginal tribes were living in the area 10,000 years ago. White men did not come onto the scene until the 1870s, when William Gosse named it for Henry Ayers, the then-South Australia Chief Secretary. Ayers Rock is sometimes incorrectly written as Ayres Rock, Ayes Rock, Ares Rock, Eyers Rock, Eyres Rock, Aires Rock and Airs Rock. The Pitjantjatjara Aboriginals own the land around and about Ayers Rock today

Cheers to Uluru!

Cheers to Uluru!

Beautiful aboriginal woman showing us symbols in the sand drawing

Beautiful aboriginal woman showing us symbols in the sand drawing

"on" Uluru

“on” Uluru

"the bush"

“the bush”

Punu – trees Puti – shrubs Tjulpun-tjulpunpa – flowers Ukiri – grasses

Punu – trees
Puti – shrubs
Tjulpun-tjulpunpa – flowers
Ukiri – grasses

Close up of one section of Uluru

Close up of one section of Uluru

Morning sunrise tour to Uluru. Rose on the opposite side of the rock. Amazing!

Morning sunrise tour to Uluru. Rose on the opposite side of the rock. Amazing!

My favorite sales rep from Travel2 Ward!

My favorite sales rep from Travel2 Ward!

Entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame, Sounds of Silence offers the best of the Red Centre distilled into four magical hours. An evening of dining under the sparkling outback sky

Entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame, Sounds of Silence offers the best of the Red Centre distilled into four magical hours. An evening of dining under the sparkling outback sky

Sounds of Silence

Sounds of Silence

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Me with the president of Travel2

Me with the president of Travel2

I told them they were all hunks. As I was walking away the one man said I should be careful what I say or I would have to stay in the bush with him. RUN!

I told them they were all hunks. As I was walking away the one man said I should be careful what I say or I would have to stay in the bush with him. RUN!

Australia & New Zealand Sep 2015 245

Traditional dance

Traditional dance

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Little friend

Little friend

Camel riding at sunrise is very popular. Although this was at night..just thought you might like to no that.

Camel riding at sunrise is very popular. Although this was at night..just thought you might like to no that.

Cutest cowboy on the ranch

Cutest cowboy on the ranch

sunset at Camel farm

sunset at Camel farm

Yee-haw! Having a great time at the Camel farm!

Yee-haw! Having a great time at the Camel farm!

We are defiantly not bush woman!

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Rocking the outback hat!

Rocking the outback hat!

Missy Skoog’s 2nd visit for Sydney Australia

It’s not to often a girl from the Midwest can say she has been to Sydney twice in her lifetime! Such a far distance and seems to exotic. Let me say it’s one of my top 10 favorite cities I have visited. Sydney is a cosmopolitan city surrounded by iconic beaches, world heritage sites, and acclaimed wine regions. Besides being Australia’s largest city, Sydney is also its most visited. (And, contrary to popular belief, not the country’s capital!) With an incredible variety of attractions and sights to see, including the very famous Bondi Beach.

Crocodile pizza and some alternative delicacy's.

Crocodile pizza and some alternative delicacy’s.

 

Situated in one of Sydney's important thoroughfares in the heart of the city, the foundation stone was laid by Sir Henry Parkes in 1889, and the opening of the new establishment was performed two years later by Sarah Bernhardt, whose name was first in the new hotel's register, subsequently displayed in a glass showcase in the main foyer.

Situated in one of Sydney’s important thoroughfares in the heart of the city, the foundation stone was laid by Sir Henry Parkes in 1889, and the opening of the new establishment was performed two years later by Sarah Bernhardt, whose name was first in the new hotel’s register, subsequently displayed in a glass showcase in the main foyer.

 

Sydney harbor bridge

Sydney harbor bridge

Sydney opera house

Sydney opera house

Close look at Sydney opera house

Close look at Sydney opera house

Under the Sydney harbor bridge

Under the Sydney harbor bridge

Sailing on Sydney harbor

Sailing on Sydney harbor

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If all else fails, hit the beach! Bondi Beach!

If all else fails, hit the beach! Bondi Beach!

Bondi beach waiting to "catch a wave"

Bondi beach waiting to “catch a wave”

Gap Park Sydney, Australia

Gap Park Sydney, Australia

What a view!

What a view!

Mrs Macquaries Chair, the place where the wife of Governor Lachlan Macquarie used to sit and watch the boats sailing into the harbour, is the prime attraction. The chair is a piece of sandstone in the shape of a bench and hand carved by convicts in the good old days when Sydney was pretty much a desolate island prison.

Mrs Macquaries Chair, the place where the wife of Governor Lachlan Macquarie used to sit and watch the boats sailing into the harbour, is the prime attraction. The chair is a piece of sandstone in the shape of a bench and hand carved by convicts in the good old days when Sydney was pretty much a desolate island prison.

Put your camera down, take a breath and just enjoy! What a beautiful city Sydney is!

Put your camera down, take a breath and just enjoy! What a beautiful city Sydney is!

The two most iconic symbols of Sydney, Australia. The Harbor bridge and the opera house.

The two most iconic symbols of Sydney, Australia. The Harbor bridge and the opera house.

Northern Territory – Australia

I spent three nights in Sydney at the Four Seasons Hotel. This was a beautiful hotel in a great location to walk to the Rocks, the Quay, restaurants and activities. I had a spectacular view of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House from my room. A harbor cruise during the day is a great way to see the different areas of Sydney and to get around. There are lunch cruises, afternoon cruises and evening cruises. The harbor bridge climb is great to do either for the sunrise or sunset. You cannot take anything with you on the climb, but they do take pictures. Luna Park, across the Bridge, is a carnival area with rides and places to eat. This is a fun place to spend time and relax, especially for a family. I ate at Deedees on Pier 2-3, as well as at Morrisson’s down the street from the Four Seasons. They were both very good.

Darwin is a four hour flight from Sydney on the Top End. We stayed at the Skycity Hotel and Casino. This is a beach front property, but you cannot swim in the ocean because of the crocs, but they do have two pool areas. The downtown area is very compact and easy to get around. If you take the hop on/hop off bus, the ticket is good for all day. I recommend that you ride one full loop and see where everything is, then on the second time around, you can hop off and see sites and then hop on to the next. The Museum and Art Gallery of the NT is a free museum with many examples of Top End Aboriginal Art. It is on the bus line, so a great place to spend some time. There is also The Cornucopia Café which offers very good food at the Museum.

From Darwin we flew on an eight seat airplane to Davidson’s Arnhemland Safari Camp on the east side of Kakadu National Park, about a one hour flight. We were met and taken to the camp and shown our cabins. There are twenty cabins, but they feel that 40 people are too many, so they are restricting the number of guests that they have for a better experience, unless it is a family gathering. There is no air conditioning, but there are ceiling fans with screens on three sides of the cabin except for the bathroom/shower area. The nights cooled down, so it was beautiful sleeping with wonderful sunrises. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, and the food was excellent. We ate in the lodge for all of our meals. Coffee, tea, juice and water come with the meals, but all other drinks are purchased. They have a very nice selection of sodas, beer and wines.

Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris at Mt Borradaile is a registered aboriginal sacred site in a remote 700 sq-km, exclusively leased area nestled against the Arnhem Land escarpment. This is a landscape of rugged ranges fringed by idyllic billabongs, flood plains, paper bark swamps and monsoonal rainforests, an amazingly beautiful wilderness. Mt Borradaile is still owned and managed by its traditional custodians the Amurdak people whose inhabitation of the area dates back for 50,000 years. Visitors of all ages have the opportunity to access this very special, protected and highly restricted region via the honorary custodian status conferred on Max Davidson and his staff by the traditional landowners. Today the story of their ancestry is evident in the many tools, ceremonial grounds and rock art paintings – still being uncovered today.

During the day, our guide, Locky, took us out to see the Aboriginal Rock Art which is thousands of years old. Locky told us about the Dream Time and the stories that they have been told by the only man left alive who lived on this land. The rock art was unbelievable! We also saw areas where the Aboriginals used to live. In one cave area, there was a cache of some of the tools that they had used which were found there.

We saw wallabies, wild boars, saltwater and fresh water crocs and lots of bird life. The fresh water crocs are smaller than the saltwater crocs. We took a sunset cruise on Cooper Creek, a part of the East Alligator River where they served wine and hors devours. It used to be thought that these were alligators in this area, but then they discovered that they were really crocodiles. We ate with the other guests at the Camp, some nights at separate tables and other nights all together. It was very pleasant. There was a wide variety of foods from fish, steak, lamb, salads, potatoes and desserts.

Following our stay, we took two four seat airplanes to Bamarru Plains on the west side of Kakadu National Park which was a 20 minute flight. I flew in the co-pilots seats, which was very exciting. However, I made sure that I kept my feet away from the pedals and my hands away from the controls. We landed on a short dirt airstrip, where we were met by the staff of the lodge. Bamarru Plains (Bamarru means Magpie Geese) is a water buffalo station (ranch) of 76,000 acres where they raise water buffalo and ship them to Asia.

We drove to the lodge and were shown our cabins. There are nine cabins at this all-inclusive property, with two cabins having air conditioning. With the screens on the three sides, there really was no need for air conditioning. From the cabin, you can hear and see the wallabies, all the birds, geese and water buffalo. It is unnerving at first, but it is so-o-o-o cool. In the cabin there are a few chairs to sit and view the animals. At this property, the screens on the cabins and the lodge you can see out, but no one can see in. The bathroom is very large, with a huge open shower with a tree in it. The lighting is very subdued, so as not to attract bugs. You cannot use hair dryers at this property as they are very eco-friendly.

The manager of the property, John Cooper, took us out on air boats on the flood plains to see the water buffalo, geese, 260 species of birds and saltwater crocs. It was amazing. I am not a fan of boats that bounce on the water, but these air boats just glide across the water. When the motor is shut off, it is perfectly quiet except for the natural sounds of the flood plains. It is so hard to explain. One morning we went to the other side of the flood plains into a grove area and when the motor was shut off, we just drifted for about twenty minutes and no one said a word. It was so beautiful as we listened to the natural sounds and watched the changing of light as the sun came up. This lodge offers fishing, photography, and pure relaxation.

The meals here were prepared by Chef Lee and the evening meal included wine pairings. We had fish, duck, lamb, kangaroo, croc, veggies, salads, desserts and wines. You could help yourself anytime at the beverage area for sodas, waters, beer, wine and snacks. The staff was extremely friendly and engaging.

Two of the staff was caring for an orphaned wallaby and they brought him over for us to see and hold. He was very cute and they were taking extremely good care of him. The wallaby was 12 months old and they would be releasing him back to the wild at eighteen months, which is the normal time they leave the mother’s pouch.

One evening we took a drive around the station to an area to watch the sunset, where they served hors devours, wine, beer and water. We also took a cruise on the Mary River where we saw many types of birds and saltwater crocs, again they served hors devours and beverages. These were great experiences.

It was hard to leave Bamarru Plains, but we took the two four seat airplanes back to Darwin, a 20 minute flight. We stayed this time at the Mantra Pandanas Hotel, in a good area to be able to walk to everything. We had time to do a little shopping and then we took a catamaran out in the harbor area for a tour and a four course dinner on board of prosciutto, oysters, Territory caught fish, scotch fillet steak, salad, potato salad, rolls, dessert and wine. It was a very smooth ride and we were able to watch the sun set from the catamaran. The next day we ate at the II Lido Waterfront Kitchen and Tapas Lounge for lunch. I had fish (ocean salmon) and chips and finished the meal with an Affogatto for dessert. This is a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso and a shot of liquor, I had Bailey’s. You pour both over the ice cream and enjoy!

It was time to leave Darwin and fly back to Sydney. We stayed at Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel. The next morning we were able to walk over to the terminal and catch our flight back to the states.

What an unbelievable adventure! We saw so many fascinating sites and met many wonderful people. This is definitely a great trip for anyone looking for something different. There are many areas throughout Australia that offer these types of adventures – these were just a few.

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Missy Skoog visits Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island Australia

Twenty-one luxe suites commanding mesmerizing views of the Southern Ocean cantilever along the coast, creating the ultimate fusion between a breathtaking wilderness setting and unbridled creature comforts.

Interiors feature lavish king beds, sunken lounge, dramatic glass walled bathroom featuring Southern Spa amenities and outdoor terrace with occasional seating and daybed. Other features include; walk-in robe, complimentary room bar, twice daily housekeeping, optional climate control

Heated floors,internet, music system (with MP3 input), safe and telephone. Televisions are in selected suites only.

Signature design elements such as sandblasted limestone floors and recycled spotted gum feature walls, as well as contemporary bespoke furnishings and artworks commissioned from local Kangaroo Island artisans harness the natural theater of this dramatic landscape.

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Missy’s Skoog visit to Adelaide, Australia!!

This elegant city is known for its colonial stone architecture, expansive parklands, lively festivals and incredible sense of space. Explore the museums and libraries of North Terrace, dine on dedicated ‘eat streets’ or picnic in gardens that sprawl over almost half the city.  Go bike riding in Botanic Park or row past rose gardens in Rymill Park. Swim with dolphins or learn to sail in Glenelg or fish from the jetty in Henley. Just beyond the city centre you’ll find the picturesque Adelaide Hills and the world-class wineries of the Barossa Valley.

Kangaroo Island is a jewel and the best place in Australia to see native animals in the wild. It also has pristine beaches, dramatic coastal scenery,  awesome sunsets, quality fresh seafood and a “drop” of wine. Don’t miss this iconic destination, just a 30 minute flight or two hours’ drive and a short ferry ride south of Adelaide.

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Missy’s Skoog visits the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles in Southern Australia

The Great Ocean Road is one of the most spectacular scenic ocean drives in the world, with impressive natural formations such as the Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, and the famous Twelve Apostles taking the spotlight.  The Great Ocean Road is second only to the City of Melbourne for being the most visited region in Victoria.
In 1864 the State of Victoria identified the need for a road along the south-west coastline, however, the idea was not to be initiated until 1914, with the creation of The Great Ocean Road Corridor Strategy.  The planning process lasted from 1914 until 1918.   In 1918 surveys of the area were completed, and construction began in 1919 employing returned servicemen from the First World War.

The official Great Ocean Road was opened in Lorne on November 26, 1932 by Lt. Governor Sir William Hill Irvine.  From 1932 to 1936, the Great Ocean Road was a toll road, with vehicles stopping at the Fairhaven toll gate.  Fares were 2 shillings and 6 pence per car and driver, and 1 shilling and 6 pence for each additional passenger.

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Missy Skoog trip to Melbourne Australia!

Melbourne is a maze of hidden laneways, opulent bars, exclusive restaurants and off-the-beaten-track boutiques. Here you can soak up culture, hit the sporting grounds, taste the dynamic food and wine AND AMAZING COFFEE, dance til dawn or wander the parks and leafy boulevards.  Visit Federation Square, the city’s landmark cultural space, and enjoy a sunset beer on the St Kilda promenade. Shop till you drop on funky Brunswick Street or upmarket Chapel Street. Wander Southbank’s cafes, bistros and bars and get a world tour of cuisines in Carlton, Richmond and Fitzroy. Take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens and cheer with a capacity crowd at the Melbourne cricket ground.  I loved my visit here to Melbourne!!!

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Missy’s visit to Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Lizard Island is truly secluded from the rest of the world. Our Great Barrier Reef resort is the northern most resort located directly on the Barrier Reef, with 24 powdery-white beaches and 40 luxurious suites. Enjoy secluded picnics on private beaches, five star cuisine and indulging spa treatments. Little wonder your island consistently makes the Top 10 Hotels of the World list. This will be a Great Barrier Reef holiday unlike any other.

Lizard Island is a National Park covering 1,013 hectares with 24 sandy beaches and a lagoon. Lizard Island is accessed by air from Cairns Airport in northern Queensland, Australia. Cairns Airport is accessible from all major Australian airports and directly from some cities in Asia.

Lizard Island presents elegant, yet understated Barrier Reef accommodation.
Choose from a range of rooms and suites offering relaxed luxury.

With 24 powdery white private beaches to explore, and access only by private plane, there are no day trippers here – the island is reserved for a fortunate few experiencing an unforgettable holiday on the Great Barrier Reef. Relax in style in premium accommodation, or take in the wonders of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – right on your doorstep.

Enjoy 5 star dining from dawn to dusk at Ospreys Restaurant – the idyllic setting to take full advantage of the views along the seascape for a special dining experience on Lizard Island. You may also choose to enjoy private beach picnics and sunset beachside degustations – with an exclusive menu created by our Executive Chef.

At Lizard Island we take pride in helping our Great Barrier Reef resort guests to have an experience of a lifetime. So, we are proud to be consistently ranked as one of the world’s best resorts. In the 2010 US Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards (Category ‘Top 20 Resorts Oceania’) Lizard Island ranks 8th. Lizard Island was voted second in the category ‘Best Australian Resort’ in the 2009 Gold List Awards. In 2008 Lizard Island was voted as the top hotel in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific and one of the top 100 hotels and resorts in the world at the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. Read more in the Awards section.

Azure Spa offers a range of treatments inspired by nature to nurture the mind, body and spirit using LI’TYA products a high performance range of natural Australian spa care products that integrate the potent qualities of the Australian earth and spirit

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Missy Travels to Port Douglas north of Cairns Australia!

Port Douglas Australia is just an hour’s drive north from Cairns via a spectacular coastal road that is surrounded by forest and the Coral Sea.

It is the only place on Earth where two World Heritage listed jewels exist; the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest of Daintree and Cape Tribulation.

We all need time out now and again, enter a laid back tropical oasis with sophisticated worldly comforts offering a small friendly village atmosphere. Go from business suit to barefoot and frantic to free. Refresh, restore and revitalise, in the aquamarine reef waters of the Coral Sea, the crystal creeks of Mossman Gorge, and the palm fringed golden sands of Port Douglas Four Mile Beach.

Discover the breathtaking northern tropics of Australia through pristine Daintree Rainforest walks and safaris, diving and snorkeling the reef and sailing the waterways. Be inspired by the amazing array of nature and wildlife and glorious simplicity.

The climate is seductive. Balmy days dissolve into tropical evenings with velvet starry skies. The tropics are a feast for the senses; the sights, sounds and tastes; you will never want to leave!

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Missy’s stay in Sydney Australia!

Home to the largest population in Australia – called “Sydneysiders” – the capital of the state of New South Wales has come a long way since its 18th-century days as a British penal colony. Sparkling clean and beautifully manicured, the modern-day city takes pride in its lush parks and botanic gardens, wide beaches and 1800s architecture. And with the distinctive Opera House as its icon, Sydney serves as the cultural center of the entire continent.

There’s rarely a weekend in town without a splashy sporting, cultural or dining event, sometimes accompanied by fireworks over Sydney Harbour and its eponymous bridge. The coastal allure of Bondi and Manly beaches may be strong, but don’t miss out on the fascinating natural history of Down Under displayed at the Australia Museum, or the multi-media works at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, highlighting artists who are rarely seen outside the Antipodes.

British influence lingers in Sydney’s traditional pubs, and Asian cuisines compete with espresso drinks for popularity, but for a simple, tasty lesson about Aussie produce and Sydney’s exciting organic food scene, just wander through the stalls at Eveleigh Market. Sydney’s pleasures are colorful, leafy, windswept and simple, with a cosmopolitan flair.

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Missy’s Aussie adventure Brisbane Australia!

Brisbane is a city for the senses; walking under impossibly blue skies around this foot-friendly city opens up a world of experiences. A well planned series of paths and bridges connect the city center to South Bank, as well as many of our urban villages that tease the river’s edge as it bends the city, its parks and gentle skyscrapers.

Our adventure took us to the Australia Zoo, located an hour north of Brisbane on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is a team of passionate conservationists working around-the-clock to deliver an animal experience like no other. Cuddle a koala, hand-feed our kangaroos, walk with a Sumatran tiger and watch a crocodile launch from the water’s edge. Australia Zoo is the ultimate wildlife adventure delivering conservation through exciting education.

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Flight to Australia and the Australia Zoo

Our Amazing Aussie Adventure! The adventure began in Minneapolis, where we flew to Los Angeles to catch our flight on Air New Zealand. We did have a 5 hour layover in LA. It’s true that is a very long time but with the flight times, it is what worked best. We made the best of it, but it was a long 5 hours!! We flew on Air New Zealand via Auckland to Brisbane. So, technically I will be able to say I have been to New Zealand but not really! J I was worried about the 12 hours from LA to Auckland, worried about being on a plane that long; how my legs will do (I have restless leg syndrome) and being over the water. Just ask my traveling companion Missy, I was a mess J.  But, the flight went great! Air New Zealand does a great job! The flight attendants were very nice, serve all passengers full meals (2 on the way over), plenty of movies,  and a variety of TV shows and games to choose from to keep yourself occupied! Our stop-over in Auckland was only 3 hours, so just enough time to do some souvenir shopping and stretch the legs! I even was able to sleep for a little bit which was nice considering when we arrived in Australia it was be about 11am!

Finally we have arrived in Brisbane! My dreams have come true and I was finally in Australia! Our first stop was the Australian Zoo (insert link); Home of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. His wife and children still love on the property and are very active within the zoo. We met up with our tour guide, Wayne, and went on a private tour of the zoo. Our first stop was to see the Tiger Exhibit – such an amazing animal.

The next stop was a little meet and greet with some locals… How about 2 dingo’s, a wombat, a koala bear, a boa constrictor and a bird? We were able to hold the koala, the bird and the snake…. Yes, I held a snake and I wasn’t scared at all which is very surprising! It was a weird feeling though! The dingo’s acted like puppies even though the ones out in the wild do not. The wombat… well, she just kept eating her carrot!

I know what you are thinking.. what about the kangaroo’s? Well this zoo has a place called Roo Heaven. Here, the kangaroos roam free.  You can feed them, pet them and even lay down by them. It was so cool! After realizing your dream of seeing a kanga and now to actually pet one… very amazing!

Our last stop on the tour was the Australian Zoo Wildlife Hospital. They do such great things here and will continue to help injured animals!

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Fraser Island in Queensland Australia

I was able to visit this amazing place in September 2013. It is the largest sand island in the world; however most of it is under water! We stayed overnight at the Outrigger Little Hastings in Noosa which is very close to Fraser Island.  We were picked up from our hotel in a 4WD called “Warrior” and we were told that it would be more bouncy in the back of the truck… So I thought ‘when in Rome,’ or when in Australia…!  So to the back of the truck I went! There were seat belts, so at first I thought “oh ok,” but I didn’t really understand why we would need them. Well I found out!

It was a very foggy morning so it was a very cool drive up the coast to Inskip Point. That is where we would board a ferry for a 10 minute ride to Fraser Island. Once we arrived at Inskip Point, we all realized that we were going to be riding on sand, not roads! We had to get through a huge sand dune to get to the ferry. Around us, there were other vehicles that were stuck, so the nerves start kicking in! But we made it, after a few tries! We get off on Fraser Island and we drove on the beach. They don’t have actual roads on the beach; they drive on the beach, road signs and all!   As we were drove along, we saw some debris from the Tsunami in 2007… Really eerie to see!

We then headed into the rainforest part of the island. Remember that I was questioning the seat-belts?? We were on the biggest sand island and not in a rain forest with tree roots! This was not really a great combination! J The trip from the beach to the rainforest was a little adventurous, but totally worth it! There are over 200 dingo’s living on the island. They ask that you please don’t approach them as they are not as friendly as they look! We walked around and through the rain forest; the different colored tree bark was really cool! All the tree trunks are straight up and down, they grow that way when the roots are in sand! Who knew?

Next up we headed to Lake McKenzie for our Australian BBQ and a swim in the lake; one of the many fresh water lakes on Fraser island. It is such a beautiful lake and the sand is really great for your skin!

After the stop at Lake McKenzie we headed back down the beach ‘Sandy Highway” toward the ferry. Our day on Fraser island was almost over. We made one last stop at Rainbow Beach for some tea and pastries!

What an amazing day! It is one of the world’s natural wonders and a must see when visiting Queensland!

 

June 21 Watson’s Bay

Another one of Sydney’s great beaches is Watson’s Bay.  We arrived via ferry in Watson’ Bay with a small group of senior citizens who headed straight for the infamous Doyles Restaurant.  Dave and I chose to take a hike that included some spectacular coastline views of both the harbor and the Pacific Ocean.

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