We met so many nice people along the way, on the ship, in the bus, on land. I filled a notebook, took hundreds of pictures and bought a shoebox full of postcards which are now in a memory box.
Tidbits I learned along the way:
“The wet” is a season of cyclonic storms and monsoon winds. Thankfully, the wet started two days after our visit to Darwin. We had sunny skies with light breezes. Our guides kept telling us we were very, very fortunate with the weather.
The national bird is an emu and the symbol of Australia is the kangaroo. Neither can move backwards, but only forwards – which is the reason they were chosen. Australia is a forward-looking country.
“Advance Australia Fair” is Australia’s nation anthem – not “Waltzing Matilda”!
Aussies eat both emu and kangaroo. I think they’re the only nation that eats their national symbols. (We tasted both, and both were tasty – though I preferred croc. Rather eat one than be eaten by one! Also tasted barramundi.)
When croc counting, men wearing all black, and blackening their faces, climb in a small, shallow boat armed with little more than miners’ helmets with mounted flashlight. They count the pairs of red eyes watching them. Wouldn’t want that job!
“Gray Nomads” travel Australia in trailers, spending a few months here and there and moving on, following good weather. Sounds like a great life – and similar to some of our home-grown American “snow birds”.
The man on the Australian $20 bill was a forger.
Every province in Australia has a train, and they all have different gages. Hence, you can’t travel across the country on the same train.
Australia can boast the most deadly snakes, spiders, and sea life (sea snails, jellyfish, sea snakes and sharks) in the world. They also have some “stinging” trees (with heart shaped leaves)! We never had a close call (that we knew about). Our guide did tell us NOT to walk on one beach or go anywhere near the water. Saltwater crocodiles! We did wonder why such a beautiful beach was deserted. Saltwater crocs are the most dangerous predator in the world. We saw one that was twenty-five feet long! (stuffed – in a museum) We did see three live and loose crocs eyeing us. They weren’t big enough to turn over our boat, though they looked like they were thinking about it. “Hey, Joe, look at those yummy blokes and sheilas. Maybe if we work together.” “Oh, yeah, wouldn’t it be nice to tuck ‘em under a log and let ‘em marinate a while before we have a bite of lunch.”
Despite the reputed dangers, we never got a scratch. Not even a mosquito bite. No snakes in sight, though we saw plenty of spiders. (Smile! Click. Click.) Bugs. (One gorgeous, HUGE, praying mantis and a few interesting beetles.) Lots of wallabies watching us drive by.
New Zealand and Australia are completely different countries with different geography and culture. We waited years to make the trip, and both countries surpassed our dreams and expectations.
So little time, still so much more to see.