Two weeks in Australia

Trip Start Dec 31, 2005
Trip End Apr 01, 2006

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

3 March 2006: Adealide is lovely and very warm. Yesterday we took a tour through the Adelaide Hils and the Barossa Valley. T he temperature was about 38 degrees Celcius which is roughly 99 degrees fahrenheit. Delightful. Spent today at the South Australian Museum with its excellent aboriginal collection and the SA Art Gallery with both australian and European art. Buzz went off on his own!! Later this afternoon we begin our trip on the Legendary Ghan train from Adeliaide to Darwin.

7 March 2006: Katherine, Northern Territory. We left Adelaide heading north on the train. The train is interesting...faded grandeur mighe best describe it. In any case, the company and the food and wine were delightful. The next afternoon we arrived in Alice Springs after a very rough overnight trip. At Alice, we took a tour around the town stopping to visit the School of the Air, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, The Reptile Center and the old telegraph repeater station. The next morning we went out to Uluru (Ayers Rock) It is about a four hour drive by bus. The terrain is aptly described as the red centre of Australia. The ground is red sandy soil dotted with acacial and gums and all sorts of desert grasses. We went to the sunset viewing area to see the rock itself in the sunset. It is easy to understand why the aboriginal people view it as their ceremonial sacred place. Yesterday we rode back to Alice Springs to get the train to Darwin. The overnight was much smoother. We awoke to the tropical atmosphere and landscape just south of Katherine. The trees are more plentiful, the grass is long and green, the climate is hot and humid. It was 80 degrees F at 8am, and it will be close to 100F by noon. Buzz is in his element. I struggle a bit with the heat. We arrived in Katherine at about 8 this morning and after a look atround the town which took about 1/2 hour, we came into the library to check email and cool off. At noon we get back on the train to Darwin.

9 March 2006: Darwin, Norhtern Territory. We arrived in Darwin late in the afternoon on March 7. What a change from Alice Springs and Katherine. the terrain has turned sub tropical, the vegetation lush and rainforestlike, and the temperature/humidity very high. Late in the evening the temperature was still about 85F. Yesterday we took a morning walk along the main streets and Esplanade of Darwin. Darwin is very much a provincial city. Most of it is only about 30 years old. Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day 1974 effectively wiped out the city; so almost everything is new since then. Today wer visited the Northern Territory Museum. It has an excellent exhibit of Aboriginal art and culture as well as a great deal of information about the cyclone and its aftermath. While we were at the museum, the monsoon rain struck. It was swift, fierce, and the sound was deafening. This happens on average once a day in "the wet" that is from October to April. From there we went to the Military Museum. there we learned about onme of the best kept secrets of the second world war: the bombing of Darwin. The city was bombed over 62 times in 21 months. Did you ever read about it in a history book? Neither did we.

10 March 2006: Darwin. Today we drove about 2 hours south of Darwin to Litchfield National Park. This park is a 1500 sq km (about 900 sq mi) mix of open land, rain forest, and magnificent waterfalls. Unfortunately the swimming was closed in all but one area due to the presence of crocodiles!! Yes, there aren't many places to swim in the greater Darwin area - other than swimming pools- because of the crocodiles. The other very intresting feature of the area are giant termite mounds which can be as tall as 5 meters. The day was very hot almost 100F, but the trip was excellent.

13 March 2006: Brisbane, Queensland. We arrived in Brisbane on Saturday evening and settled into a wonderful hotel right in the middle of the city. We only had one and one half days; so we stayed in town. Monday we visited the museum and walked around town. In the afternoon, Buzz read his book, and I went shopping. On Sunday, we took a cruise on the Brisbane River and afterward, Buzz and I took a walk to find the Brisbane Synagogue. We did find it, and the custodian was kind enough to let us in and tell us a bit about it. We cought the shuttle to the airport, and at 5:30 were on our way back to New Zealand.
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