01.13.2010 - 01.21.2010
We've been in Bali for about a week now, and as you've probably noticed I (Brett) have been horrible about blogging for our travels in Australia. I have 2 excuses for this: one, our computer got a virus and is now taking the 3 month shipping route back to Kansas, and two, I don't really enjoy blogging (sorry, but it's true). I'm currently sitting in an internet cafe in Seminyak, Bali and will try to summarize the other 3 weeks of our time spent in Australia...
From Sydney we picked up our rental car, a brand new red Holden Cruze, which often times made people question that we were really "backpackers on a budget". Apparently this car is all the rage in Aussie these days. Anyhow, we left Sydney and headed to the Blue Mountains to check out the picturesque valleys and gorges that have been cut into the limestone mountains. Unfortunately, we missed out on the most famous site, the Three Sisters rock formation, due to a blinding fog that rolled in on us that night and did not let up the next day.
The next day we head to Hunter Valley, the well-known wine region just a few hours north of Sydney. Hunter Valley is known for its Shiraz and white Semillion grapes, the later of which our palates were not too accustomed to. The people in Hunter Valley are very proud of their Semillion, and it wasn't until we were offered a tasting flight of Semillion wines over the past 15 years that we began to enjoy and respect the unique style of this wine.
Amy made some new friends on the property where we were staying
After a relaxing day of wine tasting, it was time to start making our way up the coast. Our next stop was the fun, laid-back, yet extremely overpriced backpacker beach town of Byron Bay. On our way, we stopped at a Koala Hospital which rescues the cute marsupials that get injured by vehicles, domestic pets or disease. It's kinda sad, but good to know there are people out there helping these fragile creatures survive.
Cape Byron Lighthouse
Cape Byron (eastern most point of mainland Australia)
Killer 2-3' sets lining up off of Cape Byron
After 2 days of working on our tans (you'd think we'd have done this by now, but not really), playing in the surf and enjoying the town of Bryon it was time to move on. From there, we made a quick stop in Nimbin, which is known for its extreme hippy community of about 500 people. Australia's equivalent to our Woodstock, the Aquarius Festival, was held here in 1972 and these people never left. I seem to be lacking a good photo, but think Haight Street on steroids in a town half the size of Burlingame, Kansas. No, we did not accept any of the offers of "goodies" on the street.
The country side near Nimbin
From there we made our way to our final stop in New South Wales, where we stayed 2 wonderful days with our first Australian couchsurfing hosts: Jill, Alex and their granddaughter Aylee. We had a great time talking to them about all of their travels, learning about the local wildlife (they had created a photo album of all the creatures they had encountered), and enjoying relaxing dinners in the evenings. They were such gracious hosts! We got to canoe down the river from their backyard almost to the ocean in about 3 hours and saw a snake and a lot of fish along the way. When we got to the end they were waiting for us and had picked up the best calamari and chips I ever tasted!
One of Amy's spider friends (completely harmless, but caused nightmares nonetheless)
Dragon fruit flower in Jill and Alex's garden
Jill and Alex had given us many things to do the next day, so we got an early start and headed off to the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary where we got to see the rainbow lorikeets for their morning feeding.
Then we drove to Springbrook National Park to take in some views of the huge ancient volcanic crater and the Gold Coast of Surfer's Paradise in the distance (not seen in this photo). We hiked down to a very cool waterfall in the rainforests below.
From there we drove done into the Gold Coast to Surfer's Paradise, leaving New South Wales behind, entering into tropical and sub-tropical Queensland.