Monday, May 5, 2014

The Big Trip: Amazing Australia

We had a fantastic time in Australia!  On Tuesday we said farewell to Sue and her lovely family (Happy Birthday, Sue!), and set off for Canberra.
I have to say that one of the great things about staying with real people (instead of hotels) is getting to see more of normal life.  I grew up in a forested area, and I am always fascinated by the ways that forests are different  (even where I live now) from the one I grew up in.  Seeing the eucalyptus trees in Sue's forest (bush!) was amazing - it smelled so different!!  Very fun!

Canberra is a lovely "planned" city.  Washington DC was planned in a similar way, but 200 years earlier, before there were cars.   I much preferred driving in Canberra- they have better traffic circles!  Also, they designed their capitol with more of an eye towards green space, something that wasn't really an issue when they started building DC in a rugged swampy wilderness.

We weren't there long, though.  We hopped a plane and flew to the center of the continent to see Uluru (Ayer's Rock). We had tickets for the  Overnight Uluru Safari.  It was wonderful: we loved seeing  the differences in the rock at sunset and sunrise.

An unexpected bonus was that we were so far from light pollution that we really got to see the southern constellations: the Southern Cross, and the Magellanic Clouds!

I can't describe what it's like to see different stars in the sky.

We hiked around a bit there on Wednesday (although we decided not to climb on Uluru), then flew overnight to Cairns, in the far north east corner of Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef.

We spent a day, relaxing and recovering in Cairns, then took an overnight sailboat tour of the Great Barrier Reef.  This was amazing!

 We slept, rocked to sleep by the boat - just lovely. We all learned how to snorkel!  We loved seeing the fish up close.

And then it was time to move on - we could have stayed in Australia for month, rather than the week that we were there!  But we had a wonderful time, thanks so much Sue and Bill, we hope we get to come back some day!

Saturday evening we flew from Cairns to Osaka, Japan.

 Total so far: $32,606

If you've just joined us on this trip, here's what you need to know!

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