Our Trip to Australia

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
1
6
9
Trip End Jun 30, 2008


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 14-21--Australia!
Happy Valentine's Day was almost not so happy.
While in Shanghai, I very efficiently booked two tickets to Australia for Travis and me.  I thought I was efficient-got them from Qantas and at a pretty good price.  Travis then booked tickets from Shanghai to HongKong and we left on Feb. 13 to go to HongKong.  As we left, I really felt badly leaving Melissa because she was just getting the flu that I'd had and had to go back to work! 
We got to HongKong about 6 that evening and went to the transfer area to see if we could just have them move our luggage over-a very nice young lady named Yammie at the Qantas desk assured us that they could and then asked where our visas were! OMG!  I hadn't even checked into visas-we thought we knew Americans didn't need visas for Australia-in reality everyone does but the process is SO easy, we could've saved ourselves lots of anxiety by inquiring earlier. No one mentioned it in the ticket buying process-I never even thought of it.  Yammie said she'd try to get some-we both sat, sunk in gloom, wondering how anyone could get visas on the phone in the evening.  You couldn't get Chinese visas like that!  We were both so depressed.  About 15 minutes later, lovely Yammie came and said she had them for us and they were good for a year! YAY!  How that works, I had no idea until I checked online later-the visas are available online and issued online and then the information is given to the airlines.  But we were back on track. 
We spent the night in the HK airport which wasn't too bad-it was heated after all.  And had beer and other amenities.  And couches to sleep on.  The next morning, we got on the plane ( no one stopped us and said-go home!) and off we went!  We weren't really secure til we finished going through customs where they did question us a bit about the whole thing but they let us in, suspicious though we seemed.  Then we met Lizzie and Shelly who were waving an bag with an eclectus on it to identify themselves as fellow eclectus worshipers (I am-not Travis necessarily though since he got to stay in a lovely resort for free because of my ekkie friends, he's probably pretty friendly towards eclectus).  YAY again! We were really in Australia and it was really nice and warm and summery!
We stayed the first night in Sydney at Lizzie's really nice house from the 1920s-her son, Andrew,  lives there and is great fun. We sat up almost all night talking.  The next morning, we left for Narooma.  We stopped at some lovely places along the way to see the coast. The neatest was when we drove down a dirt road to Pebbly Beach (the Australians like simple, descriptive names sometimes).  It was lovely-when we got out of the car, there were parrots all around-King Parrots, some Crimson Rosellas, some lorikeets. A King Parrot promptly landed on my head!  We walked down to the beach looking for kangaroos and sure enough there one was! He totally ignored us snapping picture after picture of him.  There are apparently often lots of 'roos near this beach and some are tame enough to pet according to one website I found.  However, this was the only 'roo we saw the whole trip so at least we saw one! We also saw a rock wallaby in the woods though our attempts to get a picture were less than successful.
We spent the rest of the week in Narooma.  Lizzie wanted to be sure that we had time to relax and recover from the long trip home-especially since I'd just been in China a little over 2 weeks when I had to fly home and back. It was great-we had no schedule and didn't race all around trying to see all of Australia in a few days. We concentrated on the area around Narooma and that was plenty!  It is just spectacular around there and there are many small, charming towns to see as well as wonderful scenery.  The Australians were unfailingly polite and friendly plus they are have REALLY good beer.  I was taken with Carlton Draught and had several bottles of it while there.  Bob, Lizzie's partner, is a very good host who made sure there was plenty around.  Victoria Bitters is also very good.  It was a wonderful time.  Every evening, we sat on the balcony of Lizzie and Bob's place, drank some beer, talked , fed hamburger meat to the wild birds and enjoyed watching the sulphur crested cockatoos wheel around the sky screaming at the sundown.  We kept looking for rosie breasted cockatoos to take pictures of for our friend, Susie Christian, who raises them in the States but I only saw one the whole time for more than an instant.  But we saw LOTS of the sulphur crested ones!  And heard them too. If you want to know more about Australian Birds a good site is  http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au/    One of the fun things on the site is that you can listen to the bird calls-you can hear a kookaburra, a magpie and a butcher bird and I have pictures of all of those-the page for the bird calls is  http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au/birds/australian-bird-calls .html
When we got to Narooma, it was late afternoon and the rainbow lorikeets were all over the backyard-we put food out and there were more!  There was one young one very interested in actually getting close and he would jump on my hand to see if I had something better than the others were getting.  The lories were so beautiful and bright-of course I wanted one.  I wanted one of all the parrots I saw except the cockatoos who were really loud! 
The next day, Lizzie, Shelly and I visited Mogo which is a very neat tourist town near Narooma.  Really neat little town with old small buildings made into shops with a neat selection of things.  I got lots of stuff in Mogo!  Mogo is set in some lovely countryside too.  And it had a fabulous scrapbooking store! I found some stuff for Australia and I can't wait to use the paper that Shelly gave me to do the pages on.  All I have to do is get some pictures printed up.  Shelly has a wonderful collection of card making supplies and we planned to do lots more than look through it but Shelly got sick so our crafts time was sadly curtailed.  Travis was also sick the first two days there but luckily rallied so that he could enjoy the barbeque boat!
On Saturday, Lizzie and I went to Tilba to shop.  Tilba is an exceedingly odd little town known for making some great cheeses-or  at least part of it is known for it.  Tilba has about 200 people total, Bob tells me.  Despite that less than enormous population, there are three distinct areas of Tilba. The upper area that seems to consist of a small cluster of shops, is called Tilba Tilba for unknown reasons.  Central Tilba comes next and is a couple of miles away from the metropolis of Tilba TIlba.  It features some really neat shops with unexpected treasures-I found a miniature slide rule in one.  Lower Tilba has the cheese factory and the shop that sells the cheese, I believe.  There are some terrific old photos of Tilba in the frontier era which wasn't that long ago-Australia is so young. Still the pictures looked very much like the settlers in the American West.  Good cheese too!
On Sunday, Feb. 17, Bob and Lizzie took Travis and I out on the bbq boat-we missed having Shelly and Jonathan along too. Darn flu!  But it was a wonderful trip.  We went all around the inlet by Narooma which is lovely clean water and wonderful trees right up the the edges. There are lots of oyster farms there too.  We drank some beer, Lizzie barbequed some fabulous ribs, sausage and steaks and we pigged out! It was lovely day.
Monday, Shelly, Jonathan, Tirsa and Jonah had to go back home.  After they left, we decided to take Travis to Mogo and Tilba-we skipped Tilba Tilba altogether.  He found neat stuff for folks there too.  We also had some delicious fish and chips-fresh caught fish battered and fried very crisp and then lovely fries.  We almost caused a sea gull riot when we started giving some bits to some young gulls that were following their frustrated mothers around trying to get fed and peeping a lot.  I know the mothers were thinking, "you are weaned! Go find your own food!" but the babies did not agree.  We pitched a couple of pieces of potato to them and it was like the move The Birds! Gulls came from everywhere and got closer and closer.  When we were done, we broke up the leftover chips and flung them in all directions and the gulls had NO idea where to go. 
Tuesday and Wednesday, we spent sightseeing and to several beaches around Narooma. We also had some delicious fish and chips-fresh caught fish battered and fried very crisp and then lovely fries.  We almost caused a sea gull riot when we started giving some bits to some young gulls that were following their frustrated mothers around trying to get fed and peeping a lot.  I know the mothers were thinking, "you are weaned! Go find your own food!" but the babies did not agree.  We pitched a couple of pieces of potato to them and it was like the move The Birds! Gulls came from everywhere and got closer and closer.  When we were done, we broke up the leftover chips and flung them in all directions and the gulls had NO idea where to go.  We also stopped and saw the beach at Bermagui which was, as are all the beaches,  lovely. There is a place at Bermagui called the Blue Pool where they have built a pool that traps sea water so people can swim without getting dashed on the rocks.  This area has fabulous vistas and lots of wonderful views of the sea crashing on rocks.  Travis, in particular, loved this and took loads of pictures.
We also went to the Narooma Bar where Australia Rock is-this is a rock with a hole in it that is shaped like Australia-there is speculation that there has been some human help  to make it more Australia-looking but it is cool. Everyone has to have their pictures taken in front of it and it's best if you can get Montague Island in the background-Montague Island was visible from every place we went, I believe.  I think it is in almost all the beach pictures that show the horizon!  Narooma Bar features a small outlet into the ocean and boats have to time their entry and exit carefully to get out safely.  There were some neat concrete things set up to commemorate someone lost at sea (there were signs all around the area commemorating those lost).  We went to the Glass House Rocks which are near the golf course and then to the cemetery on the other side of the golf course-it is a lovely little cemetery and apparently offers the best place to go to whale watch. I wish I could be there for that!  Lizzie was determined that we should see some wild galahs (and take pictures for Susie) and we did see some flying away from the golf course where they hang out but they went somewhere we couldn't find them-we tried two days! They hid from us each time.  We last went to the Narooma Boardwalk which is a lovely little boardwalk built at the edge of a tidal pool -there we say a stingray in the water-still no galahs though. 
On Thursday, Bob and Lizzie, Jaid and Jasmine, took us to the airport for us to fly back to HongKong. I was really sad to leave and see them drive off. What a wonderful time with wonderful people!  We flew back to Hongkong and from there took a bus back to Guangzhou. Next morning, we came back to Zengcheng to begin teaching on Monday!  More on that later. 
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Comments

bevtoolady
bevtoolady on

G ' Day Pat !!
Great pics Pat. It is great to finally see pics of Lizzie ,and Bob.
Austrailia is beautiful ! I'd be arrested at the border because I'd look 400 months pregnant with
cockatoo's stuffed everywhere ! LOL
Bev

wbcci1529
wbcci1529 on

Tramping around
My darlin' wife has now slept in airports on three continents and two hemispheres. Not to mention all the local beers she can always find time to sample. I'm so proud of her. Two of the million reasons why I'm the luckiest guy around.

jaidandjasmine
jaidandjasmine on

Pat in Australia
Wow Pat, that's a great diary you kept. It was fun to relive it all through your blog and seeing the great pictures. We miss you here! It was a magical time for me to get to know you.Lizzie

cas on

i love it when someone mentions my home town!

Glade you had a greate time here, here's some local knowledge: Tilba means 'windy' and it's a really windy spot most days, and tilba tilba means 'windy windy' for obvious reasons, beacuse the wind roars down the mountain straight into the township.

cheers

http://skyandseaonholiday@wordpress.com

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