Posts Tagged ‘Australia’


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I’ve had a number of smiles that I’ve wanted to share recently but time hasn’t allowed. Then this morning, I was wakened by a sound…a wonderful sound…rain. Heavy, fast, loud rain. It had to be pretty loud because I didn’t have my hearing aids on and I heard it loud and clear. Yes, that was cause for smiling but that’s not the smile I wanted to share with you today. The rain woke me a little after 5 this morning and I’ve been wide awake since then. I’ve read my recent feed from Facebook; I played a few games of Words With Friends; I played Candy Crush. I watched the morning news. I’m having coffee. I’m dressed. And it’s still raining so I’m indoors even though I have things I need to get done later on. Is that the smile? Nope. It’s still early and there is lots of day left. It’s not quite 8 am. Is that the smile? Nope.

So while looking through my Facebook feed, I found the On This Day feed and it showed a picture of our first day in Australia! That’s the smile. I can’t believe that I took that trip with my son. For the newer readers, my son gifted me with a trip to Australia in October of 2009. It was a Mother’s Day gift. He took me with him on the trip he was planning! The thought of him wanting to take me on such a trip was enough of a gift even if it had not happened. But he followed through. And we had a wonderful two week trip visiting Melbourne, Cairns (the Great Barrier Reef), and Sydney. We only saw a tiny bit of the huge country-continent but it was an amazing trip! That’s the smile. The memories of my trip down under and of traveling with my son!

I know I posted a lot of pictures and posts after I got back but I know I didn’t share all of them. I took over 1500 pictures on that trip. Here are a few.


The #WeeklySmile is a linkup hosted by Trent. What have you smiled about this week? Come share with us!

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In honor of Australia Day (celebrated on January 26, which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788), I am posting a few of my Sydney pictures that I don’t believe I posted previously.  These are from my October 2009 trip to Sydney.  Please bear with me, I’m having a bit of a problem formatting the text and the pictures and editing this post.

On the first night we were in Sydney, we took a walk to find some dinner.  We didn’t know where we were going but needed to eat soon so we decided to take a short walk.  We found a small Italian restaurant and ate outside, although it was very, very windy.  After dinner, we decided to continue the walk a bit and see where it would take us.  We walked right around a bit of a curve in the path and saw colorful flags and a lot more light than where we were so we headed that way.  Literally one block from where we had eaten dinner, we found the Sydney Bridge!  We had no idea we were staying less than a mile away from this historic area!  In Sydney Harbor, right across from the bridge, is the Sydney Opera House.  The photos are a bit fuzzy because it was so incredibly windy!

The next day, we took a much longer walk and accidentally stumbled upon the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, which in some accounts is named as the first pub in Sydney. We had read about it prior to our trip but we didn't realize we were going to be so close to it so we didn't think we would get to go, especially by foot! Had we known we were so close the previous night, we would have held out for this place to have dinner. We ended up have a bowl of chowder and a couple of beers each. The food was delicious and the beer, well that goes without saying! If I ever go back to Sydney, I will book one of the hotel rooms that are a part of this brewery/pub. The fourth shot down was taken after our overnight stay at the Taronga Zoo. You get to spend the night and early the next morning you get a behind the scenes tour. We got to pet and feed the giraffes! And the last shot was taken from the waiting area at our Qantas gate as we waited for our flight back home. Although we were ready to come home after two weeks in Australia, we weren't ready to say goodbye to our wonderful host country!

Waiting for our plane to come home

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Taronga Zoo 2–Australia

After breakfast at the zoo, we were taken on a behind the scenes tour of many of the exhibits where we were able to listen to the caretakers for each area.  One of the most interesting was visiting the place where they prepare all of the food that is given to the pets throughout the zoo.  One of the zoo keepers was chopping up mixtures of fruits and vegetables and it was very interesting to see the variety of sizes into which the fruits and veggies were chopped.  They ranged from almost whole to the tiniest of diced cubes, all depending on which animal was going to eat it!  We were also shown the food for reptiles, like snakes and lizards, that eat rats and other rodents.  We were shown everything from frozen pinky mice (really, really tiny) to frozen huge mice.

We also went behind the scenes into the giraffe enclosure where we were able to line up to feed them carrots!  Giraffes are my all time favorite animals so this was a really big deal for me!  I couldn’t believe that we were so close to them and could touch them and feed them!  I did get a picture of Tony as he turned from feeding them but unfortunately, he wasn’t fast enough to get my picture as I fed the giraffes.  I really would have loved to have that but it all happens very quickly and he was working with a digital SLR and had to focus and just didn’t get it in time!

They also held back the monkeys (chimpanzees) in the primate enclosure until we were there because that’s when they are most active so they didn’t release them until we were there.  Then after all that, we got to go back into the education area where we were shown some other animals, up close and personal.

Below you’ll find some pictures.  I will also be making a few more Australia posts with pictures that didn’t make it into these posts the first time around.

Emu and kangaroo

Tony and giraffes

Fruit bat



Old elephant house

Above is the old elephant house.  We were told that when the new elephant house was built, all the elephants were moved down to that enclosure, which is huge!  However, the one male elephant was soon removed and taken back up the hill to the old elephant house because he “bothered” the female elephants too much!

Tents at Taronga Zoo

I found a picture of the tents we slept in at the Taronga Zoo for our sleepover (from yesterday’s post).  This is our neighboring tent taken from the “porch” of our tent.  Each tent has a queen sized bed and two nightstands in it, as well as a chair and lamps.

The Taronga Zoo is one of the nicest zoos I have visited.  It’s huge, too!  I’ve gone to many zoos but this one will remain a favorite.

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Our second day in Sydney was spent touring the city by double decker bus until the afternoon when we boarded a ferry to take us across Sydney Harbor to the Taronga Zoo.  We had reserved a slot at the Zoo’s program where you can spend the night at the zoo, in tents.  We were excited to be doing that.  The itinerary for the evening was to meet and greet the evening’s staff and then we were shown to our tents.  The zoo is situated in a very scenic spot, overlooking Sydney Harbor and downtown Sydney.  The setting for the overnight program was the most beautiful one can imagine.  In fact, when they designed the area, they built the bathrooms with windows in the showers so that you can look out at the view as you shower.  (There are also other showers with no peek-a-boo view!)  Then we had a delicious dinner and then headed for an afterhours tour of the zoo.  We were able to see tigers, zebras, giraffes, mountain goats, and other animals that were out and about at night time.

On the ferry to the Taronga Zoo.

This is the view from the back of the ferry that took us across the harbor to the Taronga Zoo.

View from tent area at Taronga Zoo.

When we were shown to our tents, this was where everyone stopped before even going in to their tent.  From here, the tents are immediately behind.  Ours was to the right and behind this overlook.

View from our tent!

This is the view we had from our tent.  It was such a gorgeous view that Tony didn’t want to close the tent.  We ended up sleeping with the screen closed and zipped (we were warned not to leave it unzipped because critters would definitely find their way into the tent) so we could see this view all night long.

Dawn over Sydney

This was the view when the sun began to come up the next morning.  I did take night time pictures but because I had only a point and shoot and it was extremely windy (and freezing cold), they are too blurry to share.  But the view from our tent was absolutely gorgeous!

This overnight at the zoo thing was something my kids and I, especially Tony, had wanted to do at other zoos over the years but we weren’t ever able to do it.  On this trip, Tony made sure we got to do all the things on our list.  This one was a big hit, even with a sleepless night and the heavy winds that night.

Interestingly enough, when 6 AM arrived, the kids on the overnight at the zoo were up and ready to go to our private tour before the zoo opened.  All the grown up were exhausted.  It turns out that we were not the only ones that couldn’t sleep the night before.  None of the adults got any sleep!  The zoo staff member that was our leader, Todd, said when he leads the group he is never able to sleep and he does it several times a month!  I figured in the end that it may have something to do with the adults being fully aware that we are in a vulnerable spot and if any animals were to escape their enclosure (think lions and tigers and bears) it could be catastrophic.

It was a wonderful activity!  Tomorrow daytime pictures of the zoo and our behind the scenes adventure!

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One of the places we had considered staying at when we were planning the Sydney part of the trip is the Lord Nelson Brewery and Hotel.  The Lord Nelson is one of a handful of pubs that claim to be the oldest pub in Sydney.  It is located in The Rocks, which as mentioned previously, is the original site of the British penal colony and the birthplace of Sydney.  It was interesting to read that in the 1800’s pubs were required to offer rooms to their customers.  This, according to what I have read, was to protect pub customers from leaving the pub late at night and being robbed or worse.  It also provided a place for those who imbibed too much.  We ended up not staying there because it was pricey and because, as the rooms are above the bar, which has live music in the evenings, it was said to be a noisy place to stay.

However, we did want to go there to have a beer.  Tony is quite the beer aficionado.  We did a lot of beer tasting while in Australia.  So on one of our three days, we walked to The Rocks and then tried to find the Lord Nelson.  It was quite a walk with a lot of hills but we finally found it!  By then we were not only thirsty but very hungry.  We ate delicious bar food (I think mine was seafood chowder) and enjoyed a couple of their beers.

The Lord Nelson is a wonderful place to go for a brew and a bite!  If you go, make sure you go upstairs as you will find a lot of memorabilia on display.  It’s quite the mini-museum!  It’s near the observatory so you might want to take the walk up the hill to check that out, too.

Lord Nelson Brewery & Hotel, Sydney, AUS

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The second day in Sydney, we checked out of our hotel but left our luggage stored there because that was the night we were staying at the zoo.  That gave us from ten in the morning until seven to keep busy.  We ended up walking a very few blocks from our hotel to Darling Harbour.  Darling Harbour is home to the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Sydney Aquarium, Harbourside Shopping Center, the Star Casino, and a plethora of entertainment opportunities.  After walking around a bit, we hopped on a double decker bus for a Sydney tour.  It was one of those deals where you pay one price and you can hop on and off at any time.  We were on the top deck which was wonderful for getting an unobstructed view of Sydney, however, it was bad for getting off!  Several times we tried to get down to the first floor to get off of the bus at a stop (you aren’t supposed to be standing or walking while it is in motion) but we wouldn’t make it to the stairs, let alone down the stairs, before the bus started moving and we’d have to get to our seats!  Not good.

Finally, we got off at the Sydney Opera House.  There were lots of people getting off and more getting on so we made it off in time!  Whew!  From the Opera House we walked to Sydney Harbour where we got some lunch and did some shopping before getting on the ferry that took us across the harbour to the Taronga Zoo.

Some photos of the buildings in Sydney and of the Sydney Bridge…

Bus stop at The Rocks.

Darling Harbor, King Street Pier

Darling Harbour, shopping center in background

Downtown Sydney

Approaching Sydney Bridge by double decker bus

Underneath the Sydney Bridge

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Our last stop on our Australian vacation was Sydney.  When we planned the trip, there really was nothing in particular that we had on our list to do when we got to Sydney.  Shortly before we left for the trip, Tony did find an overnight stay at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney.  He booked that but there was not much else we had on our list.  I had read about Sydney and had wanted to visit The Rocks but was okay if we didn’t do that.

The Rocks is the area where Sydney was founded.  It is the oldest section of Sydney.  For those of you who don’t know about Australian history (and why should you?) the British government sent ships full of British and Irish prisoners to penal colonies in Australia in 1788.  These prisoners built the penal colony which they would inhabit.  Why did Britain send their prisoners to Australia?  At the time Britain’s corrections system was over burdened because of the harsh economic times which caused many to steal food to survive.  Thus they became prisoners and criminals and when the prisons were overcrowded, they were shipped off to Australia.

The Rocks is the gateway to/from Sydney Harbor where you will find the Sydney Bridge and the Opera House.  What I hoped we’d be able to do was at least take a bus tour of the area so I could say I had see the Bridge and the Opera House.  Tony wanted to see these too and he wanted to see Darling Harbor and some of the other landmarks.

We arrived in Sydney mid-afternoon and rested for a little bit.  When it was time for dinner, we headed out of our hotel and stood right in front with no idea of where to go.  Tony asked if I wanted to go right where it was obviously the downtown area, or did I want to go left which appeared to be a little less busy but we couldn’t see too much because it was a little hilly and the road we were on curved.  I chose left, not wanting to get into the hustle and bustle of the downtown area.  We walked about a block and a half before we realized we were in The Rocks!  Being the oldest part of Sydney, the buildings were made of stones and bricks and the streets were very narrow.  We found a small Italian restaurant where we ate and after dinner, although the winds were howling and blowing very mightily, we decided to keep going in the direction we had been heading to see what was out there, figuring that if we got too far, we could hail a taxi to get back to the hotel.

Well!  We walked around the corner where the street dead-ended and got a glimpse of the Sydney Bridge!  We walked across the street and down a very narrow stone staircase and we found the harbor with the Sydney Bridge to our left and the Sydney Opera House to our right and the harbor all around us!  Without knowing, we had found what we had wanted to see, all within a few hours of landing in Sydney!

A few pictures below:

The Rocks

The Rocks

Sydney Harbor, Sydney Bridge on left

Tony with Sydney Harbor and Opera House behind.

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A few random shots of Kuranda before we move on to Sidney:

White bird

The white bird you see above was only one of many birds that live in this area (rain forest in Australia).  He was not restrained  in any way.  He was free to come and go as he wished although there were food and water dishes available for him to come enjoy.

Color in the middle of the jungle.

This tree is supposed to be 75 years old!

Rough Road Ahead!

One of the things Tony had planned was for us to go on a tour of the rainforest on one of those amphibious vehicles which this place called “Army Ducks”.  It goes on both land and sea.  We climbed all over the hills then went down to the river and into to it.  The photo above shows the road we were about to go on from the water.  It was, needless to say, a bumpy ride!

Lush Land

As you can see in the photo immediately above, the land is very lush and colorful.  The skies are bluest blue.  The sounds are those of birds calling out to each other, the jumping of kangaroos, splashing of crocodiles in to the water, and because there was an indigenous interpretive center adjacent to this area, there were also sounds of didjeridu and drums.  It was more than enough to make us want to stay a lot longer!

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Some more pictures of our visit to Kuranda.



This crocodile was nicknamed Jack the Ripper!

Jack the Ripper, shown above, was taken out of the group crocodile enclosure and quarantined after killing four of the crocodiles he mated with.  He was promptly taken out of circulation (not prompt enough for the last three!) and nicknamed Jack the Ripper.  He is about 18 feet long.

Bearded dragon...these little guys were all over the place!

Once finished in Kuranda (all the attractions shut down by 4:30 in the afternoon) we headed to the train station to board the train.  Tony noticed in the brochure that we could upgrade our pre-paid tickets to ride in the Deluxe cars of the train.  After a very long day, Tony thought it was worth the additiona $24 each so he upgraded us.  It turned out to be a really great deal because the regular seats are bench seats and the train ride was two hours.  Our upgraded seats were single swivel upholstered chairs that were one per each side of the train and the upgrade included unlimited beverages and finger foods all the way back to Cairns.  So we sat back and enjoyed the scenery, our champagne, and lots of gourmet snacks!  The gentleman that took care of us didn’t let our glasses get even half empty before filling it!  We really felt pampered!

Scenic train from Kuranda to Cairns

On train going toward Cairns from Kuranda.

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