The last couple of days of our Australian Adventure were held in Sydney. We stopped in a hotel right next to the harbour so it was perfect for all the main attractions.
Despite the expense (and it was very expensive!), we decided to do the harbour bridge climb. It was good, but you can’t take your own camera. You get one group photo included in the price, which I am sure they make sure is rubbish, and if you want any more you have to buy them. You have to wear romper suits and they are so afraid of anything that might fall on to the cars below that everything has to be attached to the suit. Our guide was good fun and the three hours went very quickly.
They obviously know the repuation of rufty tufty climbers…
We also took the 30 minute ferry ride to beautiful Manly to check out the beach and do some more body surfing.
On our last morning we went to the botanical gardens. Very beautiful. Check out the fruit bats!
It was all a bit sad to leave Australia, but we’ll be back…
We arranged with Steph to meet her halfway between Sydney and Canberra. We planned to climb at Nowrah but because of roadworks, and heavy traffic before we got out of Sydney, we changed our plans en route (how did we ever manage without mobile phones?) and rendezvoused at Kiama, a delightful seaside town with sandy and rocky coves.
Ian and Steph picnicking at Kiama
It was great to see Steph after such a long time and to catch up with all her news. A good thing we did not have to fit in “proper” climbing as we filled the day quite easily with chatting, coffee and cake (surely not??) and , in my case, swimming.
Anna and I finished our trip with a few days in Sydney catching up with friends and seeing the sights. We stayed in Mosman, close to the north shore with Joanne who used to work with Anna. We also visited Angus, (a friend of mine from college days) in Rose Bay. It was trivia night at the local pub, and we came 2nd, winning $30 of beer vouchers. We might have won but for the questions on rubbish Oz tv.!
I had dreamed of visiting Daintree for years. It looked so idyllic, with tropical rainforest right next to the Great Barrier Reef. Of course, it’s far to hot and humid to climb, but it seemed like a great place to relax after a month on the road.
I wasn’t disappointed. Daintree Eco Lodge was luxurious. The rain forest was alive with bird and insect sounds. It was very hot and humid, bur that gave us a good excuse to do not much except relax and take it all in.
The reef trip on Poseidon was fantastic. We took an introductory diving course and did two dives as well as some snorkelling, seeing the most amazing fish and coral. Sorry no pictures of the diving, but there is a rather sexy picture of me in a stinger suit – it’s stinger season right now so better to look like a telly tubby and be safe. 😉
I would have liked to have seen more, but we were out of time… 🙁
Here is a collection of shots from the three days we had there.
One of the objectives of visiting Brisbane was to climb at the Glasshouse Mountain National Park. These are strange looking vertical lumps of rock about an hour north of Brisbane – remnants of volcanoes that were active about 25 million years ago.
We had a few logistics to sort out early Saturday morning, so by the time we got to Tibrogargan – the mountain with the most climbing routes – the day was very hot and very humid. We decided we should just attempt Caves Route, a scramble that gets you to the top. However, after being attacked by a million mosquitos and with sweat just pouring off us, we had to abandon the route, down climb, and make our way to the beach for a refreshing splash in the surf.
Not to be deterred, me and Pete decided to get back to Tibrogargan the next day. We chose the even easier route to be sure we got to the top.
It was still a scramble, but at a more friendly angle. The sun was very hot, but the day wasn’t quite as humid.
Afterwards we toured the area, stopped off for ice cold mocha and banana and chocolate smoothie with strawberry and white chocolate muffin (got to get those five a day somehow!), and then went for another splash in the surf.
The Glass House mountains are wonderful – but it’s just a bit too hot to be thinking of climbing them right now.
Our first day in Brisbane kicked off with a few trips down memory lane; a drive out to Redcliffe to see my old home and school! It was exciting, and a little bit sad.
After that Laetitia, Ian and I went off to the see the late Steve Irwin’s world famous Australia Zoo. What a great place. I’m not a fan of caged zoo animals normally, but here there is so much space and interaction it seemed far more equitable for the animals. Plus a clear overriding aim to protect and celebrate Australia’s unique wildlife!
I took over 150 photographs it was all so amazing. How much would that have cost before digital photography? Here are just a few to show some of the highlights…
The water lizards were roaming freely everywhere. It was hard not to step on them.
The centre piece was the show at the “Crocoseum”. All sorts of animals were showcased; snakes, parrots, etc. But it was the adult salt water crocodile that stole the show. As he came out swimming/gliding slowly under the water (barely knee deep, yet not making a ripple) he seemed quite small. Then as he climbed out of the water, tempted by one of the crocodile handlers offering a chicken leg, we realized just what a massive creature it was.
Later we got over to the tiger enclosure, obviously not an Australian animal, but what a show. There were six juvenile tigers playing in the water with a very brave and tough handler.
One big Australian wildlife ‘tick’ that we hadn’t seen was the Koala. But maybe that isn’t surprising. We learnt that there were 3m Koala’s in the wild when europeans came to Australia. But now thanks to hunting (before they became protected – a legal status now enjoyed by all Australian native wildlife) and cat & dog attacks, there are only about 100k left! Then consider that there are only about four thousand in the Brisbane area of Queensland – the same number that are killed every year in the same area by road traffic accidents – and it’s clear we would have been very lucky to see them in the wild. These cute critters are seriously at risk.
:star: Crikey, a Ripper venue, recommended! :star:
We had one day to climb in the Grampians so we chose a popular route on Mt Difficult – Epaminondas. The path up to the crag was quite strenuous compared to the approaches for routes at Arapiles, but it was well worth it.
As well as completing an excellent climb we did a bit of sight seeing including some fascinating Aboriginal paintings at Manja Shelter.
Val and Pru recommended that we visit the Emu Holiday Park while we visited the Grampians. The park caters for holiday makers (like us), but more importantly, it is a rescue home for many local animals that have been injured or left orphaned by road accidents or attacks by cats dogs, foxes, etc.
Well, were we glad that we took their advice? Oh yes!
Not only did we stay in fantastic log cabins – with proper beds(!) and an en-suite bathroom(!!) – we were given the opportunity to feed two of the cutest joeys ever. Anna fed RB who was 12 months old, and I fed Tigger who was 11 months. Unfortunately Squatter, the 8 months old, had gone missing somewhere in the bush.
It was just brilliant.
Alan and Vicki do a fantastic job. It’s a real labour of love. All costs (at least $15,000 a year) are covered by donations.