A Travellerspoint blog

Australia - 8/19-8/30 - 2005

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View Steve & Dana's Map on stevedana's travel map.

FRIDAY 8/19
HAPPY 33rd BIRTHDAY, STEVE!

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Today, we headed out early to the Australia Zoo. This was so much fun! We saw so many exotic animals, wandered around, ate lunch, had ice cream & just enjoyed the day. When we first arrived, they were feeding elephants. I got to feed an elephant a pear. That was a trip highlight! We checked out Harriet, a 175-year-old tortoise, who has since passed away. Forget all the koalas we saw, & dingoes, wombats, & snakes!

Here is Steve petting a koala!
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We even got to feed ‘roos! Steve’s parents called to wish him a happy birthday while we checked out the elephants.
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Here I am with a 'roo

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After the zoo, we drove to Toowoomba, where we’d finally meet Becky & Steve. We were in the middle of nowhere & at the top of this hill, we saw all these lights glistening (it was twilight). I couldn’t believe how big Toowoomba was! I didn’t realize it was a city. We stayed in a cottage for the 1st night since it was Steve’s birthday. I found it on the internet; “Damia Cottage (13 Buckland Street) is a comfortable suburban hideaway for couples, nestled in the shadows of a magnificent Macadamia tree, close to all major facilities, but seeming a mile away from the hustle & bustle”. It was a little cottage behind these people’s house. We said hello to the owners & their family & checked it out. It was so cute! She even had macadamia nuts in a bowl with a nutcracker. There were citrus trees all around the place. Every room in the place was adorable & had cute little touches, and it was CHEAP!

After we cleaned up, we decided to go to the Thai Cottage Restaurant (on Margaret St.) as recommended by our Lonely Planet guide. They said that is where the locals go. We had a fabulous meal there for Steve’s birthday. A table near us looked at us after we started talking, presumably because we had American accents. They were probably wondering what in the world we were doing in Toowoomba!

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After dinner we were to go to Becky & Steve’s for a nightcap (it was about 9pm). I had directions to their house, but was unable to reach them by cell phone. So we pulled into their driveway & knocked on the door. This is someone I’ve heard about my whole life! I’ve been told we girls would get along so well, & that we had so much in common, except she’s older than me by one month! These are the most free-spirited people I’ve ever met. We had a lively night with them & their cat, Haplo. Becky’s boys were at their father’s house, so we could be loud. They play guitar, & jammed for us. It was fun.

Lonely Planet describes: “On the edge of the Great Dividing Range & the Darling Downs & 138km inland from Brisbane, Toowoomba is the largest town in the region. It has a commanding location, perched 700m above sea level on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, & there are great views from the parks & gardens that fringe the eastern side of town, earning Toowoomba the nickname, ‘Garden City’.

SATURDAY 8/20
In the morning, we picked up Becky & she took us over to her school (Southern Queensland Univ) & walked around the Japanese Gardens there & drove around. We showed her the cottage we had rented the night before. The next 2 nights, we’d be staying at Becky & Steve’s, but we loved the cottage so much that we booked it for one last night (since we were getting up so early & heading out anyway)

Becky & Steve showed us around Toowoomba. We went to their mall, & this cool fairy store, where I bought some butterflies for the girls in the family. We really enjoyed the downtime just hanging out & getting to know them better. Plus, everyone seemed to know Becky & Steve. They are both so friendly & personable, so it’s easy to see why everyone would know them. Later, we took Becky & Steve out to dinner at Weis, & had a fabulous buffet.

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When we returned from dinner we sent emails to family & Becky & Steve were playing guitar for us.

SUNDAY 8/21
Today we met up with Karen & Roel, Becky & Steve. We all went to lunch and wine tasting at Wedgetail Ridge Estate, described as “a winery, just a short drive west of Toowoomba, where visitors can relax & enjoy wine tastings at the cellar door & experience a distinctly different luncheon experience.” We had a really fun time there.

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I drove everyone back to Karen & Roel’s house from the winery, which was a funny experience, because they were all busting my chops about driving on the wrong side of the road. Back at the house, we were introduced to their pet turkey, George, & their birds. Steve hillariously told us what the Aussies thought about Fosters beer, which we recorded. Back at Becky & Steve’s, in the evening, the boys played “floor avoiding”, which was a hoot to watch (they are working on a website called www.flooravoiders.com). They basically attempt to get from room to room without touching the floor, stepping on anything & every thing. I swear, there are the most free-spirited people we’ve ever met. Cameron & Brendan were such a treat!

Here is the view from Karen and Roel's house at sunset.
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MONDAY 8/22
Today, Karen, Roel, Becky, Cameron, Brendan, Steve & me (Becky’s Steve was at work) went to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. LP describes it: “Just a short bus ride from the [Brisbane] city center, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is set in attractive parklands beside the river & is home to a variety of Australia’s wildlife, including kangaroos, possums, wombats, emus & lyrebirds. The star attractions are the 130 or so koalas. They’re undeniably cute & most visitors readily cough up the $13 to have their picture taken hugging one. Hand feeding the tame kangaroos is cheaper - $.50 for a bag of pellets.” Of course we coughed up the $13! We held a sleepy koala named Fabio! I was in total heaven with him in my arms & Steve got to hold him too! He was as stinky & sleepy as he was cute.

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We also watched a sheepdog show & fed roos & wallabies with everyone. A peacock even fanned out for us! It was animal-central at that place. Becky’s boys really took to Steve. They were the most well-behaved boys we’ve ever met!
That evening we went back to Becky & Steve’s with Karen & Roel & had dinner. Sara (my other cousin) stopped by later. We hung out & said our goodbyes. Cameron wanted Steve & me to tuck him in. How sweet! We feel like we’ve known Becky & Steve our whole lives & the boys are such dolls! It was different to spend time with them after traveling just the 2 of us for so long, but the two of us needed to get back on the road again. We returned to Damia Cottage this night, so we could get up 1st thing without disturbing anyone & head out. They remembered that I pulled a blanket out of the closet when we stayed on the 19th, & the blanket was already on the bed when we returned. Little touches like that made our stay there so pleasant!

TUESDAY 8/23
In the morning we headed out early to run errands & drive the 7 hours to Tamworth. On our way out there was a small sign for a 360-degree lookout, which we checked out. There were a lot of roadside oddities on the way. At one point, we were really lost & stopped in a small town in the middle of nowhere for help. We also grabbed some lunch – nothing fancy there, a personal frozen pizza & an ice cream bar from the freezer case. It was in this town that we stopped in the food store & picked up a small container of vegemite.

We finally got to Tamworth around dinnertime. LP says it, “ is not so much a town as an institution, not so much a regional center, as a holy land. The religion is country music”. We checked into the YHA Tamworth, which occupies a 100-year-old boarding house. There were unisex bathrooms at this hostel & it was so quiet, I only encountered one person in there. It was a nice cheap place to spend the night. Our room was reminiscent of a college dorm. I would recommend it.

We did laundry at the hostel after walking around town looking for a place that was open for dinner. We had great pub food at the St George on the main drag for dinner. We also stopped in the local mini-mall where there was a Coles (like our Shop Rite), picked up some supplies & hit the cookie stand.

WEDNESDAY 8/24
In the morning we headed out on the road again heading toward the Jenolan Caves & enjoyed a beautiful drive through the Blue Mountains, stopping a bunch of times to enjoy amazing views.
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We rolled past our B&B on Jenolan Caves Road at about 5pm. They took cash only, so we headed out to Oberon (about 25K away) the closest town with an ATM & gas station & it was pretty deserted.

It is described on their website: “Set on 30 acres of land with a spring fed dam, Hampton Homestead also provides a ‘farmstay’ experience. It occupies the site of an earlier weatherboard inn called the Imperial Halfway House, which was a coach stop & popular resting place for travelers & their horses.
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Since it was so quiet, we decided to dine in at the Hampton Homestead & enjoyed the quiet & the fireplace in the lounge. The proprietors run a restaurant in there as well, but it only operates on weekends. There just aren’t enough people out there to have a restaurant open all week & be profitable. They call it “Phuell Phine Dining”. We had the whole place to ourselves & we hadn’t eaten this well since Heron Island! After dinner, we shot the breeze with the proprietors (Carolyn & Mr. Reid), a semi-retired couple, doing this for fun. (We've met so many interesting people on this trip!) We then headed off to our room. We were the only guests on this night, (well, except a resident cat, named Cog). A resident cat is always a good sign! There seem to be a lot of them in the B&B business! We could see the blue mountains from the claw foot bathtub.

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THURSDAY 8/25
We had a fabulous fresh breakfast. It was about 50-60 degrees, as it was their winter, & there was a fire going. This was a memorable stay, one of the best we’ve ever had, in all our travels! Off to the Jenolan Caves . . .
From LP: “30km from Oberon, has the most spectacular & best-known Limestone caves in Australia. They are a world-renowned example of caves of this type & have been open to the public for over 150 years. These caves are believed to have been first explored by European settlers in 1838. On the western fringe of the Kanangra Boyd Nat’l Park, the awesome Jenolan Caves are one of the most extensive & complex cave systems in the world. Named “Binoomea” or “Dark Places” by the Aboriginals, the caves were formed over 400 million years ago. General tours traverse the warren of vivid & surreal stalactites & stalagmites in 9 of the caves”.

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This place was rustic. When we got there, it looked like a little German town or something, lots of people stay on site at one of the lodges. Our stay in Hampton was cheaper & more idyllic (if that was possible!) We headed into the Temple of Baal cave at about 9am & explored the Lucas cave after that. It was pretty cool & the acoustics were amazing in the Lucas. Afterward we had lunch there since there was nothing anywhere around, plus it just kept reminding us of a little European mountain village! These brazen & beautiful birds wanted our food & one of them successfully lifted a french-fry from Steve’s plate as we were looking for a place to sit down. This was an excellent stop.

We were driving in the Blue Mountains toward Bundanoon & got a flat tire!
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Luckily we were on a good road to pull over & change it. All we had was a doughnut in the trunk, so we’d need to replace the tire. Still, the tire fee was significantly less than it would have cost to insure the car for 2 weeks. Anyway, we expected about a 3 + hour drive to Bundanoon, where we were staying while visiting my grandparents in Exeter. It took us much longer, since we took Wombeyan Caves Road! Nothing on the map indicated that it was a bad road. Actually we got the map from the Reids at the B&B since our map didn’t even have that road on it. We followed the road for its entire length. It is described as follows: “Although this is a road that requires extreme care it remains one of the most spectacular drives in Australia, with stunning scenery”.

A assemblyman in the area also said of the road, “ I say to anyone that ventures on the road…drive slowly & steadily. Wombeyan Caves Road is not to be trifled with. Recently I had similar comments from members of the Volunteer Rescue Association of New South Wales who held their annual conference at Wombeyan Caves. Those people are used to fairly rough terrain but even they commented on the challenge they had in getting to Wombeyan Caves that day. On behalf of all residents who live along the road, the workers at Wombeyan Caves, the businesses that rely on safe & available access, & the tourists & families who have to think twice about making the trip because of the condition of the road, I urge the Government to get behind & help the council upgrade Wombeyan Caves Road

Finally after about 2 hours of sheer adrenaline; dodging wallabies, mountain goats, tight turns with huge drop-offs, dirt road with washouts everywhere, twisty, curvy 2 “lanes”, we were relieved to be on normal terrain. We couldn’t believe we were in the right place. All that was around us was sheep. No sign of human existence. We determined that if we weren’t in the right place, we’d wait until daylight to venture back on that road again. I was the navigator during this whole trip & according to the map, we were going in the right direction. We were in really rural areas & saw wild roos everywhere! I did navigate well; we were in the right place. We got to the hostel in Bundanoon shortly after dark.

From Lonely Planet : “This spectacular area of mountainous countryside was well known to the original aboriginal inhabitants as 'a place of deep gullies'. Their name for it, as interpreted by the Europeans, was Bundanoon.”

The owner was so impressed by our drive down Wombeyan Caves Road to get there that she gave us free towels (usually you have to pay for them). After settling in we went to my grandparents house in Exeter to do some visiting. I have heard about this place my whole life & finally we were here! It was surreal tooling around, looking for their house. Everyone was thrilled to see us!

FRIDAY 8/26
This morning, Chrissy threw some bread out for the birds, & all these brilliant tropical birds flocked to it: galahs, parrots, & cockatoos, a ritual their cats, Uli & Daisy Blossom, relished. We spent the morning running errands. We had to get our tire replaced in Moss Vale, & Chrissy knew the guys at the garage. We stopped in at the Library with Chrissy & sent emails. We also got the car washed to cover the fact that we were on Wombeyan Caves Road (since we hadn’t gotten insurance & weren’t supposed to take it on “unsealed” roads). For lunch we went to this trendy & delicious little café down the road from my grandparents’ house. It is attached to the post office, so we packed a box to send home to lighten our loads a little.

In the evening, we checked into Yallambee B&B (the hostel was fully booked with a school group). There were 3 rooms in the house, each with a huge bathtub & double headed showers. The 30something couple was really nice. Their B&B is actually a part of their house. The wife even offered to do our laundry.
From their website: “ ...set in a very quiet location adjacent to the Morton National Park. The house… overlooks the treetops of the national Park. Many of the parks features- lookouts, stunning walks & the Glow Worm Glen are accessible from the doorstep. Large cedar windows let in a flood of natural light in the mornings while you enjoy a fully cooked country breakfast of your choice.”

After acquainting ourselves with our B&B, we planned to check out Glow Worm Glen before heading back to for dinner with the family. “Glow Worm Glen, best visited at night, is a half hour walk from the end of William St in Bundanoon. It has been one of the most famous attractions of Bundanoon for over a century. A rocky rift with overhanging caves, it is home to an insect which emits a fluorescent glow in the dark. An easy walk to the Glen through the bush, best taken in the day only for the sake of the walk (glow worms are only seen at night). Park at the top end of William Street. From here a steep track descends towards the glen. It will be pitch dark. In the rocks around you are small insects which give off a fluorescent glow, providing a magical experience. But you must be quiet, & show no lights so as not to upset them, or they might turn their 'lights' off.”

At dusk, we ventured out to Glow Worm Glen, entering the park from the dead end of a residential street (William St). We could smell fragrant flowers & hear children playing in their yards as we walked toward the Glen, as it was still residential. This 30 minute walk was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It seemed as though we were just taking an ordinary walk, but we were one the other side of the world, plus we were anxious to see what awaited us at the Glen! Eventually, it was pitch black & tiny little lights started to reveal themselves after a long & very quiet wait. There weren’t many of them, since it was wintertime & they were tiny, so they were impossible to catch on film, but it was a very cool experience. We headed back to William St, where we had the car parked. At gma & gpa’s house, we ordered Chinese food, which was a little different than Chinese food here. What DO they eat in China? Afterward, we played a lively game of Trivial Pursuit!

SATURDAY 8/27
In the morning, we had a fantastic breakfast at Yallambee (the husband, incidentally, is a very talented cook). There was another young couple weekending there with us. They were from Canberra. They had been to the US. They seemed really nice. After breakfast, we headed over to Exeter, to gma & gpa’s house, but first we stopped in Bundanoon because we noticed a cute potter’s shop. He made beautiful artwork & we bought a gorgeous sushi plate there (that I planned to put candles on). He chatted us up forever, it seemed. Incidentally, he had an interest in spiders & other creepy crawlies & insisted on showing us his collection. We had to eventually slip out of there because we were now running late to get to my grandparents.

Steve, me, Gpa, Chrissy & Uncle Alan headed out to the Dingo Sanctuary in Bargo, NSW, described as “a public education facility for Dingoes & their preservation, run by the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society Limited.” We were lead by a girl who volunteered there with a passion for dingoes. She told us about each of their resident dogs & some background info on dingoes. We even got to hold 2 new puppies which was a highlight for all of us!
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Next, we headed over to Morton National Park, which in the Budawang Range covering 162K hectares, with “magnificent sandstone cliffs & waterfalls that fall to the forests deep in the valleys below.
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In the evening, we planned on going to The Briars Inn (in Bowral). Per their website, famous for their “cook your own” entrees. This was fun. Chrissy & Steve BBQed everyone’s selections. My family even ran into people they knew there!
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After a filling dinner we headed over to the RSL Club for cheap drinks & karaoke. RSL is like the VFW here, except the RSL clubs are major social centers. There are slot machines, a bar (with discounted drinks), dancing & a DJ there & you must be a guest of an RSL member to get in. So we all got in since Gpa was an RSL member (even though he served in the US military in WW2, he was stationed in Australia to protect them from Japan, so he has a membership!) We signed in & watched these really drunk people karaoke to “Love Shack” which was hilarious!
On our way back to the B&B we saw a big wombat ambling across the road. We stopped to let her cross & filmed her with the camcorder. Hey, it is not everyday we see a wombat! This was a long day, so it was nice to return to Yallambee.

SUNDAY 8/28
Today, we returned to Morton National Park, to the Jersey Lookout & Fitzroy Falls, among other highlights. The spectacular Fitzroy Falls have an 82m drop.

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Later, we checked out a dam with a huge goanna; bigger than the Lace Monitor at Hook Island! We also checked out Kangaroo Valley. We lunched at the “Source at Kangaroo” which is located right beside Hampden Bridge on Kangaroo. It was sort of an artsy café where we had really nice lunches & I ordered a “lemonade” which is like lemon soda to us. It was nice not to have to drive for awhile. Everyone was so accommodating & hospitable toward us.

After a fun & long day of sightseeing, we decided to call it an early night & headed back to Yallambee. We had the place to ourselves now, since it was a Sunday evening. So we looked through their small DVD collection in the lounge & watched this offbeat film called “A Life Less Ordinary”. The husband who enjoys cooking prepared a delicious dinner for us, & they gave us a bottle of wine & a plate of cheese, just for the heck of it! B&Bs are definitely our favorite places to stay, & are the best value.

MONDAY 8/29
It was morning and the B&B owners had left for work, so they asked us to lock the door & leave the keys behind on our way out. Since we weren’t planning on having breakfast there, they discounted the rate significantly! These people were so nice. We had toast & jam at the little cafe down the road from my grandparents’ house where we said our goodbyes & packed up the car for the 1-1/2 hours drive back to the center of Sydney to drop off the rental car (which went smoothly!)

Back to the Lord Nelson. It was nice to return. We did return to the fabulous shop in the Rocks, by the way, although our pockets were pretty empty & we were hoping to have a nice dinner on our last night. After settling in we went back down to Circular Quay & hopped on a ferry to Darling Habour to check out the Chinese Gardens & get film developed.

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We returned, got cleaned up, & took another ferry out to Manly Bay for dinner. We walked around a bit & decided on a place called Out of Africa for the last real meal of our adventure. We were also starving, so much so, that the waitress even joked about the amount of food we ordered! It is described as “The atmosphere is raucous & fun & the spicy, inventive meals show you why this is a favorite with the locals. The African fare is authentic & dishes such as the couscous with orange, saffron, dates & white berries is a singular treat.” We took the ferry back to Sydney & enjoyed the view from the boat. We walked around & took in the city at night before heading back to the inn.

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TUESDAY 8/30
All good things must come to an end. Our flight wasn’t until 1:25 pm, so we were able to stow our bags at the Lord Nelson & do a little more exploring before heading out the airport. We stopped into the pharmacy to get me more Telfast since the rash was returning on my hands. That was kind of scary! We noticed that there was a huge international economic summit going on at the opera house, & there was security & K9 units & SWAT everywhere, since there were a bunch of planned protests organized & much of the area was cordoned off. We were glad to have checked it out before! Anyway, it was time to go home, & it would be a long journey, between missing a flight, waiting on line for new tickets, & having a mix-up with our ride from the Newark airport. Thankfully, Steve’s folks stepped in & gave us a lift. Experiences like this really change your perspective on things. We saw so many different kinds of things during this journey. What a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Posted by stevedana 00:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia - 8/8-8/18 - 2005

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View Steve & Dana's Map on stevedana's travel map.

MONDAY, 8/8
It was a rough 5-hour flight. When the children behind us weren’t kicking our seats, a little baby would start shrieking, seemingly on cue! We arrived in Sydney, which was a whole different world from where we came from. We took the Airport Link underground assuming it was the cheapest mode of transport. We trekked from the subway stop to our hotel in the Rocks. It was a seemingly endless upward climb!

So we arrived at the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel in The Rocks area of the city, described as “A swish boutique pub has its own brewery & is a historic sandstone building in the less-obviously touristy part of the Rocks. Est. in 1841, it is Sydney's oldest. ”.

It was lunchtime & the woman who checked us in suggested we call a cab for our early flight the next morning which she arranged for us. We wandered downstairs & ordered lunch in the bar. I don’t even remember what I ordered, because Steve got a home brew & PIE, which looked & smelled divine. Their pie is kind of like our pot pies, but it is all meat & potato on this pastry with gravy. Who needs shrimp on the barbie!? We decided to spend the afternoon wandering & taking in the city. We were still in island mode, so we were wandering aimlessly. I saw a cool shop which had funky accessories like I have never seen, but it was pricey. We decided to revisit that place when we returned to Sydney at month’s end, depending on how much $ we had left - we had to stretch it!

We wandered over to the Sydney Observatory & then to Circular Quay (pronounced "key") & checked out the famous Opera House & the tourists, who were almost all Asians. We got some ice cream & tried Tim Tam flavor, which we had never heard of, but it was good.

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TUESDAY, 8/9
The cab picked us up for our 7:25 am flight. Incidentally, it is the same price as the subway, minus the hike! Our driver was a middle-aged man who lived in the suburbs. He was pretty lively considering it was still dark out & ours was the only vehicle on the road. He talked to us about race relations in Sydney, & his kids in school, & general cultural stuff.

We took Jetstar fight # 774 to Proserpine Airport. I had only seen the name “Proserpine” on the map, so we really didn’t know what to expect. We were headed off to the Whitsunday Islands, which I’ve been told is like our Florida Keys, but they're on the fringes of the Great Barrier Reef. From The Lonely Planet: “The 74 Whitsunday Islands ….[were] named by Captain Cook, who sailed through here [in] 1770. The islands & the passages between them are simply beautiful.” It was about an hour flight. We arrived in Proserpine – the middle of nowhere!

We huddled onto a bus for a 1-hour ride leading to Airlie Beach (or nearby Shute Harbor). From The Lonely Planet: “Airlie is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. The whole town revolved around tourism & pleasure boating, & it attracts a diverse bunch of boaties, backpackers, tourists, & divers, all here for a good time. Apart from being the main access to the Whitsundays, Airlie has a wide range of accommodation, some good faces, a lively nightlife, & a lovely lagoon.”

Airlie looked great! Like LP said, it revolved around underwater activities & partying. Since it catered to backpackers, it had all the conveniences we were looking for: a bank, laundry, post office, & pharmacy. At this point the rash on my hands was getting really bad. We were nervous because we didn’t know what it was! We walked into a pharmacy & the woman, old enough to be our moms, behind the counter took a look & sold us Telfast to bring down the swelling. It is like prescription strength non-drowsy Benadryl. They don’t require expensive Dr. visits for simple prescriptions.

We checked into the huge Airlie Beach Hotel. We got a motel-style room, saving a few $$, & it was nice, clean & a great place to relax & get our bearings. For lunch we found an inexpensive fish & chips place & picnicked outside. Later we grabbed ice cream at their version of the Cold Stone Creamery, called Cold Rock Creamery & I bought a cute zip-up sweatshirt, since it was chillier that we thought.

Later at night, we ventured out to take in some Airlie’s nightlife. First, we grabbed a bite at the McDonald’s. I know……, but it had an Aussie-style hamburger, which I’ll admit, we both tried. It had beets & caramelized onion on it. Next, we went to a hostel where there was an outdoor bar & just chilled out with the other travelers.

WEDNESDAY 8/10
The next morning, we headed out to Shute Harbor to get our “ride” out to Hook Island. We were surprised to discover that our mode of transport would be The Flying Cloud, a 1938 fully refurbished 72ft, topsail schooner. It was about a 2-hour sail to Hook among all the islands of the Whitsundays. It was a memorable experience, as we were all called on to help raise the sails & even saw 2 dolphins jump out of the water en route.

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Not our pic, but that is exactly what it looked like.

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From www.escapewithet.com, “…The Flying Cloud was first launched in 1934 as a trading ship…but during the Second World war, she joined the US Marines. At the outbreak of war, the marines took her over & used her throughout the south pacific, delivering mail, water – carrying marines, some alive, some not. In 1988, this grand old lady was totally refitted with beautiful Tasmanian pine for the Tall Ships race….most of the fittings are authentic.”

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Here is a photo of one of the old cool fixtures on the boat.
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We approached the Hook Island Wilderness Resort Lodge. From Lonely Planet, “It is set on the edge of 58 square kilometers of Australian national park. Spectacular fringe reef diving & snorkeling is available immediately offshore, & this, combined with a forest setting onshore, makes Hook a special place for those looking for a unique, close-up encounter with the Australian wilderness & the Whitsunday islands.”

Here's a photo of the wilderness resort from the boat on the way there.
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Our first stop was the Underwater Observatory, 6 meters below water level & watched the guide who helped sail the Flying Cloud with us, feed fish. He also took us out to go snorkeling. He was throwing fish food in the water, so all the fish were swimming around us like crazy, almost like they weren’t concerned that we were right there. Steve did another snorkel trip out at the “coral garden” & saw brilliant corals.

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Look at this cool fish!
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It was a quiet & rustic island, reminding me of what a scout camp would be like. We explored the island saw some cool lizards & birds. We saw fresh tracks of an elusive lace monitor walking around. It was thrilling to finally spot her. One little girl asked me if I was afraid as I tried to get a closer picture of the 4-foot reptile, but I think the monitor was the scared one. Of course, at dawn we were on the beach enjoying the sunrise with the sand flies.
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We chilled out with the other beach-goers, ate, & played cards while classic rock played from the kitchen. We chatted up a woman & her nephew who were visiting. They raved about Fraser Island, so we began to rethink our stop in Noosa.

We learned only 1 transport leaves the island each day to the mainland, so you’ve got to hop on whenever they are ready. Island time! We needed to get out of there the next day in order to get to the car rental early the next morning. So we hopped on a fast moving boat with a bunch of surfers & divers & were back at Airlie Beach around 4 PM.

THURSDAY 8/11
The Airlie Beach hotel was fully booked when we left Hook Island and now it was 4:30 pm & we were wandering the streets of Airlie Beach with our stuff, looking for a place to rest our heads, boy were we glad we packed light! We tried the YHA hostel & that was even booked. We finally found Magnum’s Hostel for $38, which was a dive, but beggars can’t be choosers! There was a communal unisex bathroom, & when we went in to shower, we noticed tremendous red ants all over the ceiling! I’d shower, dry off, look quickly at the ceiling & run out of there!

Magnum’s has rebuilt itself as a mini-city within the heart of Airlie Beach. Purpose-built, double-story blocks of double & twin rooms are surrounded by gardens; everything’s got the modern corrugated iron/plywood look, & it’s clean & airy. The pub at the front of the complex is very popular & there’s live music there most evenings.

Once we checked in & dropped off our bags at our hostel, we grabbed dinner at a café. Steve ordered for us, while I started a load of laundry across the street at the laundromat. There were some backpackers in there chatting it up while doing their laundry also. We popped into Magnum’s internet access area & checked emails. I even emailed a student who had a pre-semester question for me. It was nice to recharge our batteries, which it seemed like we needed to do every couple days!

FRIDAY 8/12
We got up early, & the car rental place was right downstairs from the hostel, so it was real convenient & easy to pick our first rental car. We had a 7-hour drive to Gladstone ahead of us. It rained & it was the only day of rain on the trip & we were in a car anyway! We saw strange highway signs discouraging tired driving. We saw a kangaroo & her baby on the way down. We rolled into Gladstone, a cool seaport town, but it appeared dreary in the rain. It’s amazing that paradise was a mere 2-hour boat ride away.

We stayed at the Auckland Hill B&B; a cozy, old guesthouse in town with a resident cat named Blue Boy. Our hostess couldn’t have been nicer. She even gave us a lift to the marina after we checked out. We met a couple there named Paul & Lorraine, from ACT who work in Canberra. We shared a cab, & had dinner & good conversation with them at the Yacht Club, which isn’t a Yacht Club as we might think of it. More like a fire hall, with food. You need to know about it. I don’t remember how they did.

Afterward, we 4 went on a wild goose hunt for an Internet café to make hotel reservations. Paul & Lorraine just returned from whale-watching in Hervey Bay, & since this was the second suggestion to go there & to Fraser Island, we decided to make the change in plans. They suggested the Outrigger in Urangan, a short stroll from the marina where they just stayed. So all four of us hopped onto the computers in an ice cream shop & made our travel plans (I forget where they were going next-they were on a 3-month adventure). We went to wotif.com & clinched a cheap last-minute tariff for one night at the Outrigger later in the week after we were to return from Heron Island

SATURDAY 8/13
We were off to Heron Island for the next 4 days & awoke to a sunny morning! We hung out at the marina after getting our boat tickets & some motion sickness pills, as they were expecting a choppy ride out there. The whole operation was pretty slick, so needless to say, we were very excited about the whole venture, since I kept gravitating to Heron Island when we researched the trip! We got on the boat & it was rough! One poor guy got sick & I was struggling. However, when we saw the island it was like a mirage.
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Several cays in this part of the reef are excellent for snorkeling, diving, & jut getting back to nature. Heron Island is one of the first tropical coral cays at the southern end of the majestic Great Barrier Reef chain. Located 72 kms North East of Gladstone on Queensland's central coast, it has a historic & unique reputation for both its leisure activities & scientific research. The island, nearly bisected by the Tropic of Capricorn, is surrounded by a huge turquoise lagoon, perfect for exploring at low tide.

Here is a photo of the quiet and serene Heron Island
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“The reef surrounding Heron Island is home to about 900 of the 1,500 species of fish & more than 70% of the coral species found on the Great Barrier Reef. The abundance of specimens attracts scientists from the University of Queensland, which has operated a research station here for 50 years.

Heron Island is well worth the effort to get there. Sitting at the southern end of Australia's 1,250-mile long Great Barrier Reef, it is rated as one of the best diving locations on earth. It is a sanctuary for thirty species of birds, rainbows of spectacular reef fish, majestic humpback whales, green & loggerhead turtles & a veritable universe of coral reefs...This combination of national park & resort is a great resource & a magnet for visitors interested in participating in responsible & sustainable ecotourism.

We got off the boat & excitedly assembled for a rudimentary orientation of the place. Afterward, we checked out our room & were surprised to discover we got a free upgrade to a suite, as we booked the cheapest room in the place! Of course, our next stop, was the lunch buffet at Shearwater Restaurant on the island. This is where we’d have all our meals, & Steve was especially happy about this. The lunch & breakfast buffets were fabulous. All food was included in the tariff. We were psyched about eating like kings here, since we hadn’t eaten that well yet & probably wouldn’t again.
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We explored the sunny island a bit & saw manta rays & sharks & cool marine life swimming around in the glistening water. The water was so clear you could see all these things from the bright, windy beach, (which we had the ocean to ourselves)!

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We also saw a ton of egrets, not Herons, actually, & we heard Black Noddies all the time, crowing. In the Information center was a fish tank full of brilliant fish. I fell in love with one of them in particular. The people who come to Heron are interested in learning about marine life, as are the people who work there. One of our guides was Kate, a grad student in marine biology on a work visa at the island – there were a lot of people like her there. In the evening we watched the sun set with drinks, while Jack Johnson played from the lounge.

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There was absolutely no pretension here, which was nice. At night, we enjoyed a beautiful sit-down dinner at Shearwater. They present you with a small menu of different things every night, all of which were delicious! After dinner, we assembled with a small group & stargazed. Kate explained all the constellations we were looking at in the sky. We saw the Southern Cross, among other things. That was cool, since we’re in “Northern Star” territory at home in the northwestern hemisphere. We were so excited to be here & just couldn’t believe where we were the whole time we were at Heron. ++This was one of our best memories together.++

I was actually cold this morning, hence the fleece!
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SUNDAY 8/14
We had our own little patio, that I sat at while Steve went on his morning dive lesson in the resort pool, which incidentally looks out onto the ocean. So if you’re in the pool, it looks like an extension of the ocean. There were 2 other classmates & the instructor was very nice. Steve learned quickly since he was used to wearing firefighter gear. Meantime, I had paperwork to go through and a few things to reshuffle that were weighing us down. It was actually nice to wander around solo for awhile. I walked around and than went to a talk about sea turtles, given by Kate, who was our guide to the night sky. I felt like an expert on sea turtles by the time I left. It was really cool to learn about the animals.

When Steve returned, he said his dive was exhilarating. He saw sharks, turtles, coral, fish, & he even chased after a barracuda to get her picture, & swam with a sea turtle.
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He was down there for about 45 minutes this time. He said it was one of the best experiences of his life & wants to get his dive certification.
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We ate lunch & then bought a $10 Telstra phone card & took turns using the pay phone to check in at home. Next, we went snorkeling. We hired a couple of wet suits, as it was a bit chilly. By the time we got over to the shore, my legs were tired from walking in the wet suit. It was windy & the tide was coming in as it was the afternoon, but we snorkeled in Shark Bay among manta rays & sand sharks & other little creatures & corals. I was nervous by all the rays nestled under the sand about 4 feet under us!

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(not our pic, but this is exactly what it was like)
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At one point, there were a whole bunch of them & I tried to go in another direction, but the tide pushed me right over them. It was very tiring fighting the tide. When we finally got out, I needed a breather on the beach, as I was very lightheaded - was it fighting the tide or the Lyme Disease, I wondered? We literally had the place to ourselves & were the only people out there. When we returned to the dive shop to return the wetsuits, they told us the conditions were rough out there, for advanced swimmers!

MONDAY 8/15
In the morning, we took a semi-submersible boat which gives you a fabulous view of the underwater world there. Incidentally, we went to the dive site that Steve would be returning to later that day! After Steve’s dive, we hit the dive shop, to get Steve a shirt. We wanted to remember the incredible experience at the Great Barrier Reef. Afterward, we enjoyed the quiet, the ocean, & the sun on the beach. Steve rested, while I took pictures & played in the sand.

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The moon was starting to reveal itself, too. After another brilliant dinner, we watched a documentary called Underwater Kingdom (or something like that), & again had the place to ourselves. Traveling in the low season does have its perks.

TUESDAY 8/16
As all good things come to an end, we had our last breakfast & packed our bags for a noonish departure. We walked around the island & even popped in on the research station run by the University of Queensland. We also took some video of the resort, so we’d always remember this special secluded place in the world. We learned about so many amazing creatures here. We went to one last talk on mollusks where we learned all about snails, & clams, anything with a shell, basically. That is where we learned that the cone shell Steve picked up in Fiji is deadly, as it has a poisonous tail that it snaps out & stings you with.

Heron was all we hoped it would be. The water & beach were surreal. We boarded the boat back to Gladstone marina. A nice guy from Avis picked us up & brought us over to the Gladstone-Clinton Airport where the rental counter was. We picked up our Toyota Corolla & headed down to the Fraser Coast.

We got to Urangan at night, checking into the Outrigger, which was perfect in location. Afterward, we cruised around looking for a place to eat. It was about 9:30 pm at this point & we were starved. There were a ton of backpacker accommodations, but it was a quiet town & we settled on a Subway, as it was about the only thing open at that hour.

WEDNESDAY 8/17
From Lonely Planet: “The main attraction of the Fraser Coast is the majestic Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. Essentially one long, forest-backed beach, Fraser Island offers stunning scenery, excellent bushwalking, & thrilling 4WD driving along its broad beaches at low tide. It is said that all sand from the eastern coast of Australia eventually ends up at Fraser Island, created by thousands of years of longshore drift. Although it’s made almost entirely of sand, Fraser Island preserves a remarkable variety of landscapes, from vast, rolling sand dunes, to dense tropical rainforests & deep mysterious freshwater lakes. Fraser was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993 & since 1990, the island has been protected as the Great Sandy National Park.”

We’d arranged a day tour & lunch through the Kingfisher Bay Resort. Our ranger was a guy named Ian & we were in a group of about 30 people. We rode in this ridiculously huge 4-wheel drive bus. 4WD is essential on Fraser. Although we don't usually do tours, it was nice to not have to do any driving or navigating. An older couple we had lunch with at the buffet lunch included in the tour, thought we were such a cute pair, they took our picture & our email address (we’ve yet to get their photo of us). They were a sweet couple, though. We walked around the rainforest with the ranger. He was pointing out the freshwater in the forest. We couldn’t even see where the water was it was so clear. We even went to a freshwater lake.

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After that, our first stop was Eli Creek & Steve was one of the few tour-goers to go into the cold stream. Next, we checked out the Maheno wreck, a former passenger liner that was blown ashore by a typhoon in 1935 as it was being towed to a Japanese scrap-yard.

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Next, we checked out at The Coloured Sands – an eroded section of colored sand cliffs. Natural erosion have formed cliffs into a series of pinnacles. That was definitely a cool excursion. We waited for the boat back to the marina with everyone else leaving the island.

THURSDAY 8/18
Before checking out at the Outrigger, we checked the internet to check on the status of our Noosa hostel stay, & they never heard of us! We checked out anyway, put our bags in the trunk & headed out to the marina to go whale watching. “It’s not uncommon for inquisitive whales to come right up to the boats, surfacing just a few feet from startled onlookers. It’s an awe-inspiring experience”. Lonely Planet

We were on the boat for the better part of the day & lunch was included. We had so many encounters with the humpbacks. They can see & hear us & are just as interested & curious by us as we with them.

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They are very intelligent animals. They swam right under the boat & everyone would run over to that side of the boat to get a better view. I don’t know how the captain kept that thing afloat! Everyone shared in the excitement of each sighting, & they were so close! That was an awesome experience for us. I don’t know how you could not respect those animals.

When we returned from the whale-watching cruise at 2:30 pm, we hopped in the car & started the 3 ½ hour journey down toward Australia Zoo. When we got out of town, we pulled over, opened our Lonely Planet guide & looked at the map to figure out where we were going to stay that night. We decided on Caloundra on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast & for $60 we found the Caloundra Hotel. On the way down we saw fire burning on the side of the road! That was crazy. The place is so dry.

We hit the Golden Beach tavern for dinner & checked into the cheap roadside hotel. The Lonely Planet guide said it was cheap & clean & it was, but that was it. The drunken owner lived there & made an inappropriate comment to me. We made sure the door was dead bolted, paid cash & left early in the morning.

Posted by stevedana 00:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fiji - 8/2 - 8/8 - 2005

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View Steve & Dana's Map on stevedana's travel map.

TUESDAY, 8/2/05

This was a 27-hour day of traveling, beginning in Newark at 5:10 pm where we met a Fijian-Canadian family (ex-pats originally from Suva) at LAX. They gave us some tips about Fiji. At 11:30 pm, we hopped on Air Pacific Flight 811 from LAX to Nadi. When we boarded the plane we could hear island music playing & both the male & female flight attendants had flowers in their hair! We felt like we already arrived. On both flights, the seats next to us were vacant so Steve had me stretch out on the Air Pacific flight. We were all the way in the back, which was freaky since the plane was huge (holding 450 people) - there was an upstairs, for the love of pete! In a futile attempt to figure out how a machine this big could stay airborne, I was uneasy.

Two guys were having a spirited conversation in Fijian between naps for the 11-hour flight. I confidently decided to take my Doxycyclin (for Lyme Disease) without my packed applesauce cup (& against Steve’s advice), & did I pay for it! I’ve got a whole new understanding of the “Mile High Club” hugging an aircraft toilet on an 11-hour flight! Once that was out of my system, we both slept as we flew in the night, crossing a number of time zones.

THURSDAY, 8/4
It was 5:15 a.m. Like zombies, all 450 passengers stumbled out of the plane toward immigration/customs. We heard island music & it seemed so real. We came to discover a trio playing in the airport! Welcome to Fiji! Bula!

We envisioned our 4-1/2 days in Fiji being a very relaxing and LOW KEY prelude to our journey in Australia.

We happened to be the last couple (along with another) on that huge airplane, to go through customs. Good thing we didn’t have to worry about baggage. We must have been on line for an hour, but we didn’t notice. We were just amped about being in Fiji. The other “last couple” was a pair of 20something Brits, who just quit their jobs & sold their homes to travel around the world for a year. Talking with them was refreshing……..& we thought we were adventurous road-tripping and spending a month down under!

Our ride was a local guy named Basil who picked us up in his broken down Subaru with Playboy-symbolled seat covers. He was intrigued by the US, explaining that it seems so BIG to him: the cars, the buildings & everything he sees in US films. It is always cool to talk to people with completely different world views about our country. Basil chatted us up during the 90-minute drive to The Hideaway as we looked at sugar cane fields & villages on Queens Road. We arrived at The Hideaway pretty early in the am, but everyone seemed so lively. The woman behind the counter seemed to know Basil & thought he was funny. We chose the Hideaway, because it was a small and low key resort that also won accolades for supporting the local environment. Anyway, we arrived tired & dirty, but pretty amped.

After overpaying for a continental breakfast at the Hideaway, we walked along the beach (looking into the Pacific Ocean from the other side by the way!) while our room was getting ready, since we got there so early. We looked at seashells & wandered around getting to know the small resort. We excitedly spotted a brilliant blue starfish, which was a novelty at first. Steve would later save a beached one by placing it back into the ocean. These blue starfish were the most extraordinary things to Steve.

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At about 9 am, we checked into our home for the next 4-1/2 days. It was a ”bure” which is like a little cottage. It is its own little place in which we shared a wall with another couple our from San Francisco there for 9 days. (Lucky them!). It was like a Fijian townhouse; but only one floor & when you opened the door, you are literally looking at & listening to the Pacific Ocean, with no TV, radio, or telephone.

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There was a small glass table at the picture window looking into the ocean that we would have breakfast on every morning consisting of yogurt bars & wacky-flavored potato chips in an effort to escape the pricey continental breakfast. There was a small brilliantly colored floral arrangement on the table. It took me a few days to realize the flowers were real! I know, it was very Jessica Simpson of me to think that, but I am used to plastic carnations at the diner! I realized it when the next morning when I saw the woman who cleaned our room, singing & kneeling on our porch after picking the flowers from our “yard” & arranging them in the little holder. Steve got a good laugh when he realized I didn’t know they were real!

We walked around in the coral reef being careful to stay on the “path” & not to touch the brightly-colored coral, since it is so delicate and will die on contact. Steve had good sandals on & I was wearing my $7 flip-flops from Chinatown, which incidentally survived the abuse of ocean walking (I would eventually break down and get a pair of Tevas).

After showering, we literally fell onto the bed & slept for 4 hours to the sounds of the ocean until I instinctively awoke at about 20 minutes before a fire walking & kava ceremony we were hoping to go to! We groggily hopped up & headed out. It was a bit campy & touristy, but it was fun & exciting to be there with all these other travelers. There were lots of Aussies & Kiwis there. Local villagers sang songs & revealed some of their customs to us. They invited us to try their kava, which evidently makes your mouth & lips numb (they haven’t discovered this in the US black market?). Later at night, we walked around the quiet resort. It was windy & clear. We had never seen so many stars in the sky! They don’t have streetlights in Fiji, nor much light pollution. One of the reasons we chose the Hideaway, was its commitment to the local ecology. The sky was brilliant & the air cool (but not cold). We slept to the sounds of the ocean.

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FRIDAY, 8/5
We got up at pre-dawn – damn that time difference! It was peaceful & quiet. We took in the changeover from night to day on the ocean. Enormous bats flew around among the palms. When the sun came up, it was still very quiet. We heard this faint & peculiar noise only to discover that is was the sound of tiny hermit crabs climbing the resort’s 4-foot retaining wall (presumably to protect the bures from high tides) & then jumping off. How bizarre.

We went shelling & trekked out far down the beach & found some amazing marine life that we returned to that Sunday. A guy walked by with a big machete & an even bigger smile. “Bula!” (Hello!) He cried out. He was presumably on his way to work at sugar cane field.

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Being spastic in water deeper than 4 feet, Steve was patient & excited for me to go snorkeling with him. We paddled lightly together with borrowed fins & snorkel gear to go exploring. We were alone, which was nice. As soon as I ducked my head underwater, I saw this whole world teeming with life which appears non-existent if I lift my head just a few inches higher. It was dreamlike to float around in this brilliant underwater world together. You literally feel like you’re IN an aquarium. Can you imagine that? The creatures in there don’t seem to notice you, unless you flip your fins hard. We floated by brilliant colors, corals, & creatures. The water was the clearest I have ever seen. Afterward, we felt like that was one of the coolest experiences of our lives.

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After lunch, we gathered with a small group to walk the ½ mile down the hot road to the nearest school & village. Being a junkie for cross-cultural exploration, this was very exciting! We arrived at school & it was a Friday afternoon, so the kids were pretty amped. They were all in uniform (white shirts, with navy blue skirts, & battered sandals or barefoot). Both the boys & the girls (& men & women) have short & tightly curled hair. At least the Fijians from Samoa did. The Fijians from India had silkier hair, but it was also short. The children sang songs (some of which we were familiar with) in English & in Fijian. The made leis out of fresh flowers & one child put the lei around Steve's neck.

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Our group was about 7 people, & Steve being the eldest male, was our representative to the village chief. He was to enter the chief’s (ocean view) home first, after we removed our shoes of course. We engaged in another kava ceremony. It wasn’t for the feint-hearted. There was a village elder, repeatedly plunging his hands & a gray rag in the liquid, wringing it out over & over again & then pouring the (wrung-out) elixir into a cup that we all drank from. By the time it was my turn, a dozen people drank out of the cup. After that, the village chief talked to us about his culture. He fielded questions from the group. He seemed particularly interested in Steve & me, perhaps since we were the only Americans there? Or maybe because he was a police officer until his older brother died & he was compelled to become the village chief? He seemed respectful of Steve’s job as a policeman. He talked to another village elder in Fijian & said “university professor” in English in talking about me, I presume (even though I am just an adjunct.......!). He was very prideful of his trip to the University of Rhode Island, explaining he was surprised by how fast everything is here & if the train leaves at 5pm, the train leaves at 5pm. No island time. We walked quietly through their village as roosters crowed, people smiled & waved, & dogs stretched & rolled in the sun. What an eye-opening experience.

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SATURDAY 8/6
We picked up our rental car & started to make our way out of the resort at which point, we heard a spirited & accented “Hey Steve!” It was Basil! This place was so friendly. We bought some souvenirs for friends & family, went to the post office & then visited the Sigatoka Sand Dunes. We hiked up this one dune & the sun was just beating down on us. You could see the ocean on the other side of it. A local tried unsuccessfully to solicit us to hire him for a tour, otherwise, it was quiet & peaceful there. We rested after hiking in the hot sand (I was on meds for Lyme Disease, & needed a breather), & an old pickup truck full of Fijian men ambled by.

Here is Steve at the Sigatoka Sand Dunes
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Next, we went to Kula Eco Park where they have caged exotic birds, bats, & reptiles. Is this place kosher I thought? We shared the whole place with an Asian family who had the same reactions we just had at holding iguanas & seeing exotic birds. We lunched looking at the lagoon at the Shangri la, where my parents stayed a year prior. It was huge. Our resort was very tiny, by contrast. A happily drunk guy walked by & cheerfully cried, “Bula” to us.

It was getting late, but we decided to check out Sigatoka town. We didn’t have money for the meter, so Steve went into a local shop to break a dollar whilst I hung out by the car. We wandered around & obviously, we stood out as foreigners. One guy tried to latch onto us to bring us to his stall full of bric-a-brac, but we lost him. We had about US $2 on us & were simply there to take in the place & weren’t looking to shop. Besides after a long hot day of exploring, we were pretty bedraggled. I can't imagine we looked like we had any money to spend anyway! People (mostly women) were packing up their produce stands for the day.

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We saw a lot of people sitting in the back of covered pickup truck beds as their mode of transport. When I took a photo of one such truck, the occupants waved & said “Bula!” After our stroll, we hopped in the car & tried to head out of town, but not before some guy stuck a broomstick out of his truck & struck our vehicle! Trying to save a few bucks, we opted out of the insurance coverage. Luckily it left no visible mark. Whew!

We stopped at a gas station to fill the tank before returning the car. Two little Fijian girls walked by and were staring at my hair (we noticed a few Fijians looking at my hair). I was wearing a ball cap with long braids on either side of my face. I think they were intrigued by my silky, long braids. Well, the two little girls pointed at my hair and giggled. I think they were making fun of my hair. It was actually pretty funny!

SUNDAY, 8/7
Our last full day in paradise was another early morning. We toured the place with the recording the exotic flora on the resort. At this point a strange rash had begun on my hands. Steve thought it was b/c I had my hands in everything... & I did have my hands in everything. We were a little nervous about it, since we didn't know what it was and there were no doctors or hospitals around. I came to find out months later that it was probably the doxycycline making my skin photosensitive. It got so bad in Australia that we had to get ice from gas stations for my hands because they were so painful. Steve even had to brush and pull back my hair for me each day, since my hands blew up. I even needed help in the shower, since the hot water hurt my swollen, painful, itchy hands. How weird is that?

Anyway, we did our laundry (since we only brought carry-on) & we were in there with the women who worked there, who were also doing resort laundry. We took it easy on this day. The resort was so quiet & small that it was easy to be low key. Most travelers were at the pool & the bar, which left the things we like to do all to ourselves....although we did enjoy the pool for a bit! Our American neighbors were chill too. We hung with them & took pictures of one another in front of the ocean. We also took advantage of the beach chairs in front of our bure overlooking the ocean and read for a while.

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We explored the tidal pools, and the ocean at low tide & saw sea cucumbers, crabs, fish, & other cool stuff. Steve even held a live cone shell! How were we to know that they are deadly & poisonous? There were two local crafters selling wares we bought Sarah & Ria some stuff.

On our last night at our bure, a 3-man island ensemble played romantic island songs for us as we relaxed on our porch looking at the ocean after the sun set. We had a brilliant last dinner here. People ate the dinner at the expensive restaurant every night here, but we still had weeks of travel & needed to stretch our money. We filled up on cheap lunches & had snacks for dinner. On this, our last night, we splurged & had The Dinner. It was worth every penny!

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MONDAY, 8/8
Basil picked us up & drove us to the airport at dawn. I was admiring the colors of the sky. He hastily pulled over to give me the chance to take a few photos & joked that I was like the paparazzi, since he’s not used to hearing so many clicks of the camera. He pointed out the “man in the mountain” view. Goodbye Fiji! It is a place we'll always cherish.
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Posted by stevedana 00:00 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

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