SEP 15,1991 - DEC 29,1991 (106 DAYS)
Australia – beaches, rainforests, snowy mountains, desert, towns and villages, marsupials of different kinds and lots of crazy people. We were just two people trying to get back home safe, sound.
This post is based on a diary that we wrote during our trip. Here, you will find a series of pictures accompanied by the memories from our 4 months in Australia. We saw a lot, experienced a ton, and missed home a little. For those of you who are interested in planning a trip to Australia, I have also included relevant links.
There were many places we didn’t have a chance to visit, which is a shame. However, we had to make compromises. Our most important conclusion from the trip was: when you start seeing through the places and not the places for themselves, it’s time to go back home.
"…The trail passes by a spectacular view of the Royal National Park - shores surrounded by cliffs. From time to time you could see the golden sand between the mountains and the ocean. We walked along the beaches, leaving footprints in the sand and skipping over the unusual rocks. We built our tent and made ourselves a delicious and satisfying dinner, with a pestering seagull joining us, demanding more and more food. After playing with the seagulls, we landed inside our sleeping bags".
"…Though we only planned to spend 2-3 days in the Blue Mountains, it’s hard not to be enchanted by the wonder of the area. We have been here for three and a half days, and we are planning to stay another day at least. Lots of hiking trails that very diverse in difficulty level and scenery. Today we walked slowly, admiring the beauty, and eventually wore ourselves out on the climb up. The road back took us by Banksia bushes along the stream, ending with a waterfall. It was exhausting but extremely beautiful".
"…The scenery and the formations of the volcanic rocks at the Warrumbungle National Park are very impressive. The Breadknife is wonderful, sticking out against the background view, a narrow lava formation 90 meters high. Along the trail we can see it from every angle: sideways, from above, up close and far away".
"…We walked along the shore of Yuraygir National Park. The beach is lovely, with small inlets with rocky sandstone roofs. We got as far as the beautiful Shelly caves. Two of them were flooded – the sea was stormy that day – but we could still visit the other two. The soft sandstone was melting, and the colors resembled the layers of a cream cake. The path passed near changing coastal flora. On the beach we found rocks and shells, all kinds disgusting mollusks, and a chair someone left behind a long time ago".
"…It's rainy. Not much to do. We skipped ahead through the beach towns, and when the rain stopped we quickly found a small and charming reserve by chance – a wet rainforest gliding down to the sandy beach of Broken Head. In the ocean, naturally, the guys are catching some waves. No idea what lies ahead at the end of the road…"
"… We walked along the old telegraph road of Cooloola. The path passes through the eucalyptus forest on a sandy road, and then you go inside a coastal rainforest. At night, the wind howled, and with the break of dawn it started to rain. We waited for it to stop for a bit, and continued the journey relatively late. We walked along a beach with surreal scenery of stormy sea, sandy cliffs, dead birds and lots of fog surrounding us. Eventually, the rain came back with extra power. Within seconds we caught a ride with a family of drifters that got us as far as Rainbow Beach, saving us an exhausting walk of 10 km in the rain".
"…Fraser Island - The largest sand island in the world was discovered a couple of times, and it took a while till people realized it is an island after all… Of course, Mr. Coock didn’t pass it by, and two spots on the island are named after the nonsense he said. The walk on the sand is not easy, and after you pass the first 10 km, you definitely feel it… the winding road passes near marvelous lakes lined with white sand dunes and crosses forests with a mixture of rainforest trees, coastal flora and eucalyptuses. The beaches – sandy beaches, of course – are very beautiful and very clean. Here and there a dingo stared at us from the other side of the dunes, watching with suspicion and keeping a safe distance".
"Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is at the outskirts of Canberra. The road leading to the park is very beautiful, and it took us straight to the biggest mountain range in Australia – The Great Dividing Range. Inside the park we walked around for a couple of wonderful hours in an area with lots of animals. Best of all were the koalas. Every morning, the rangers mark the trees where the koalas are, making the search an easy one. We saw two of them, adorable, captivating, and, naturally, sleeping. We had luck with one, as it was sitting, unusually for a koala, only 2 meters above the ground. The strange marsupials of Australia are very beautiful and special – kangaroo, koala, wallaby, opossum, echidna, platypus, wombat… usually it’s no problem seeing them in nature. We met them everywhere".
"This park is part of the Australian Alps, and in it you’ll find the highest mountain in Australia – Mt. Kosciusko. All around there are mountains with snowy peaks, blue lakes – some frozen - alpine flora and running streams. From the top of the mountain we descended on the “lakes trail” that took us to Albina Lake, which was still mostly frozen. Walking above the height of the tree tops on the snowy peaks, we noticed flowers blossoming between the puddles, reminding us again and again of the Scandinavian part of our trip. We walked some more, passing Club Lake, and from there on a steep road down to the Blue Lake – the biggest of the five lakes on the peak, created by the glacier that was once there. On the puddles around the lake, skiers caught one last slide before the next winter".
"…From the top of Mt. Oberon you can see a breathtaking view of the south-west side of the Wilsons Promontory National park. The rocky beaches are composed of small inlets, the sea is blue and calm, and there are many islands near the shores.
The water is very clean and clear, with a special hue of turquoise. Giant boulders spill into the ocean between the inlets. As the evening settled in, we went to watch the sunset from Norman Bay. A spectacular view not soon to be forgotten".
"…As soon as we landed in Sydney, we fell in love with the city.
“Our” Sydney is the charming botanical gardens, the beach, the opera house, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Taronga Zoo, The Harbor Bridge, strolling around in the shops before Christmas, the NSW gallery, Sydney Tower, Paddington’s market, cheap backpackers, and Kings Cross".
"…Canberra is well planned and gracefully designed. The administrative center is a huge square with the Capitol Hill in the center. The roads are paved around it in expanding concentric circles. On the other side of the lake, you’ll find the business center and the shops, with another square in the middle, named “the city square,” also surrounded by expanding concentric circles. The streets are wide and about half of the city territory is devoted to parks and public gardens. It’s easy to find your way around with a car or on foot. Near every museum, public site, or important building, you’ll find free parking! Most of the museums offer free admission as well. For us, it was a big change from north QLD, which is crowded, touristic and expansive. Canberra is where we spent the longest continuous period of the trip, which says something about the place…"
"Finally, we got to Brisbane, the city that looked so far away on the map. It took us a month, but the fact of the matter is, we are here at last. So what did we have in Brisbane? We got mail, and a lot of it, as a big chunk of it chased us along the way and the lesser part was sent here. There were letters from Sydney and Singapore, and one package even followed us all the way from Iceland!! There was McDonald’s and all kinds of maps we picked up from RACQ, postcards bought in NPWS and traveler checks cashed into real money. We didn’t go up the city tower because of an elevator malfunction. Tomorrow we’ll probably head on north, since we are not in the mood for a big and crowded city. But, importantly, we have showered, we have something to read, and tomorrow we’ll do our laundry and phone home. From the big city, all that is left is a photo of an agama that passed by the camp".
"Hill End is a gold miner’s town which saw the better part of its days in the 70’s… the 1870’s that is. For some reason, things took a bad turn and almost all of the town’s inhabitants have found a better place to live. In the 1960’s, the NWPS took matters into their own hands, and transformed the place into a touristic town, with walking trails, guided tours, a museum and look-outs. In the morning, after a dreadful night of thunder and lightning and a little rain, we set out to tour the area. It is definitely part of the interesting local history".
"We were on our way to Wellington. Huge trucks tried to push us off the strange side of the road, but we stood strong and arrived, slowly and safely, to the local town with not much to offer besides crazy people and caves.
The Crazy – The bottle house, watches, balls rolling all over the place, weather vanes and an animal farm with kangaroos, emus, some sort of a combination between a wallaby and a kangaroo, and all kinds of parrots (which are better viewed in a cage than run over).
The Wellington Caves -- disappointing".
"Gunnedah takes pride in being “the world capital of koalas”. We prepared our tent and away we went to find the koalas. But what a disappointment – there were no koalas in sight! The next day we tried to find the koalas yet again, still with no success. We switched directions and headed to the Gunnedah cattle and sheep market, held every Tuesday. The buying and selling is done through an auction, and so the auctioneer – an artist by his own right – and the buyers move from corral to corral, and the cattle are usually sold within seconds. It’s a strange and interesting scene…"
"Yesterday we celebrated five months of traveling. The festivities lasted from dawn to dusk and it was a fun and enjoyable day. The opening ceremony was conducted in Townsville’s post office, where we received five letters and a huge package filled with all sorts of treats. Mom sent us plenty of candy and dried fruits, homemade cookies, instant coffee, soups, “child-day” t-shirts and of course the latest news from the sport’s section in the kibbutz pamphlet. We were sad to discover that the peanuts she had roasted were taken by the Australian customs, which forbids things like that from entering the country. Later, we went our separate ways with only a few pennies in our pockets – a sacred sum devoted to buying each other surprise presents, a difficult task that ended with an ice cream cone.”
"…As we moved further from the ocean and into the continent, the weather became more and more desert-like. Lots of yellow dryness, brown land, hills covered with sparse eucalyptuses and lots of termites’ nests - entire fields. Some of the nests are a meter high and more. The route changes from a paved road to a dirt road, and the driving speed is slowed down. The small village- Chillagoe - is located between charming karst caves, inside them there are shaded and partly illuminated labyrinths, big fig trees growing from within, honey and yellow colors of strange and impressive karst formations.
In the afternoon we set out to roam the abandoned plants, once keeping the “city” alive. The sight of the lonely and leaning plants is sad and surreal. We climbed to a view-point on one of the rocks, which made absolutely clear how special the place is, particularly in the sunset. On our way back, everything was colored with a beautiful pinkish red desert shade".
"…Later on, we traveled to Mission Beach, apparently a well-known beach. We hadn’t heard anything about it… The beach supplied us with nice weather and a cool breeze. Wonderful coconuts grow nearby, and every morning one of them “fell on our head” straight from the tree. You can see the islands not far from the shore. It’s fun just to relax and not do anything. Here, very very close, you can stroll between beautiful Fan Palm…"
Going down south
"It’s not hard to sum up 3 straight days of driving, since you can just write “we drove for 3 days + 1,000 km”. But the truth is that, though we expected dull, dry and monotonous scenery, in some parts of the road we enjoyed the changing sights and saw many animals. We did our best to ignore the dead ones, despite the large quantity. The first day was, in fact, dry as hell, but the next two nights were rainy and we could see lots of puddles and green grass. We saw a plateau scenery and mountainous scenery with cliffs, and there were fields and farms and small towns and eucalyptuses and acacia and other trees we didn’t recognize and low bushes. There were also wallabies, kangaroos, emus and birds in all the colors of the rainbow and one echidna. We met a funny elderly couple on a motorbike and they told us all kinds of tales and legends, and I am sure there are lots of things I didn’t mention…"
"When reminiscing about Australia, we have to pay our respects to the Holden, otherwise known as “The Monster”. It took us only seconds to fall in love with it – a bluish Holden HX, a bit old (1976) but well maintained (we were the third owners) and within our price range (3,000 A$). We bought it, and despite all the trouble it gave us along the way – forcing us to change part after part – we didn’t regret it, not for one second. Along the Australian part of our trip it was our home away from home. We drove thousands of kilometers together, slept inside it in places no one wants to hear about, had the nicest meals inside it, took cover from the rain, treated it like it was one of the family – and it gave us love in return, in its own way…"