Rick has said I am the only person he knows who takes longer to summarize a movie than it takes to watch it. I could blog for the next year on what we saw and learned on this trip. Someone asked me if I’ve ever thought of writing a travel book. Nope. I get too excited about tidbits, like the giant grasshopper I had to get down on all fours to shoot (a picture), or the flowers with a bee or bug in them or an interesting doorknob or crack in the side walk, or dripping bark from an eucalpt. Rick just rolls his eyes and keeps walking, knowing he can’t shake me. I run and catch up eventually.
However, since I am facing revisions and Tyndaleans may wonder if I might miss my deadline, I’ll put things on fast forward.
We cruised the rough Tasmanian Sea, landed in Hobart, visited Bonorong where I scratched a kangaroo’s chest (soft fur!) and watched Tasmanian devils run circles around their enclosure. We fed emus and cooked in the sun; pant, pant, tongue hanging out. We toured Melbourne, cruised to and disembarked in Sydney, boarded a Qantas plane and started our “Ultimate” extended tour of Australia – starting with Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Talk about HOT! It was 113 and a dust storm brewing! I was melting like the witch in Wizard of Oz. No need to pour water on me, I was turning into water! Ayers Rock (Uluru) didn’t turn red in the sunset, but looked like a ghost rock with the winds blowing. I walked up to the roof look-out at the hotel, but couldn’t see the Southern Cross. Oh, well. Just another reason to go back someday.
We flew north to see Kakadu National Park and the Aboriginal rock paintings, which made me think of Mesa Verde, though they aren’t much alike. Why is it everything I see begins to remind me of someplace else? We were in France and I kept saying, “This looks like Sonoma County!” Okay, okay. California doesn’t have the castles and cathedrals that go back hundreds of years, but we do have Half Dome, the redwoods, Hollywood!
I was watching for crocs when we got to Darwin, especially when we had a ride in a boat on the Yellow Water where they lurk. Birds were everywhere, but it was the pair of multi-colored bee-eaters that gave me heart palpitations. If only I had a telephoto lens. (I bought a postcard.) We rode the Skyrail over the Daintree Rainforest. I was keeping an eye on Rick who is claustrophobic. I didn’t want him diving out of the gondola and making Tarzan calls as he nose-dived into the vines climbing the trees. I wanted to take his picture, but deleted several. I didn’t want the children thinking I’d propped him up with that rigimortis smile. He does NOT like posing for pictures.
We rode a catamaran to a pontoon boat anchored on the Great Barrier Reef. Okay, I admit it. I’m afraid of sharks. I’m afraid of jellyfish that sting you to death. I didn’t want to swim in water where people were upchucking because they were seasick. Shoot me. Since the entire trip is really an overview, we decided to do it right and take a helicopter ride. We got a bird’s eye view of the reef. Glorious!!
On to Sydney, beautiful Sydney. After a lengthy and information-packed tour of the city (including an hour-long stroll on Bondi Beach), we managed to squeeze in a guided tour inside the Sydney Opera House designed by a 38-year old Dane, Jorn Utzon. He was fired when the project was taking longer and costing more than he projected: 3 years and $7 million turned into 16 years and $102 million. Others made changes which had lingering consequences. The larger hall is for concerts and had acoustic problems (solved ingeniously) and the smaller hall (because the new director preferred symphony performances to opera or ballet) isn’t large enough. There are no wings. Hence ballet dancers can bound into a wall. Costume changes are on racks and lifts. Jorn Utzon was later rehired, but never came back to Australia or saw the Opera House completed. His son and daughter are now involved in improvements. The Opera House is a masterpiece. My only regret is we didn’t have time to attend a performance – any performance.