Twelve years after my first trip to Australia, I received an invitation to attend my friend’s wedding. I think that weddings are one of the best excuses to travel (not that I really need an excuse) and I was delighted to find out that the wedding was taking place in a part of Australia that I didn’t get to visit the first time I went.
I knew that Bec lived in the state of Victoria, not too far from Melbourne but the invitation indicated that the wedding was to be held in a place called Kangaroobie, Princetown, approximately 20kms from Port Campbell. I was so excited to find out that this area is located along a stretch of highway known as The Great Ocean Road. It is here that one can see The Twelve Apostles, sculpted by the wind and sea.
The actual venue for the wedding is described on the Kangaroobie website as, “a world-class location – surrounded by the Shipwreck Coast, diverse ecosystems and natural bushland with abundant wildlife.” The website also informs that the word ‘kangaroobie’ means a resting place for kangaroos.
The Sunday following the wedding, I returned to Melbourne to catch a flight to Ayer’s Rock Resort in the Northern Territory state. I had already booked a flight for early Monday morning but I had not yet received confirmation about the accommodation and tour of Uluru. I had not been on-line for days. I stayed at the ibis Budget Melbourne Airport hotel which is walking distance from Melbourne airport. They had a coin operated computer terminal in the reception area. Although I could get on-line, I wasn’t able to connect to my email or to Facebook which meant I would be getting on a plane the next day, and going somewhere I had never been, without knowing if I had a place to stay.
In my last post, I shared the May 2002 edition of the Yamagata Monthly. Here is the June 2002 edition:
Reefs & Rainforests, Beaches & Billabongs Part Two
Akiko and I flew from Sydney to Cairns in Queensland. We were picked up at our hotel the following morning by Dave, who was to be our guide and chauffeur, (our ‘limousine’ was a 4×4 truck). I had found the company for which he works on the internet. Their name is The Adventure Company . Dave had been told that his passengers were two women, one from Japan and one from Australia. He was highly amused to find out that the tall Caucasian woman was the one from Japan.
Anyway, we were driven through the Australian bush to Jowalbinna Bush Camp. Immediately upon arrival, we were greeted by a dingo. We were very lucky because an extended family of Aborigines (Murrays) were at Jowalbinna and we were able to eat real bush tucker as one of the grandfathers had caught a fish (I think it was a barramundi) and it was cooked in a pit along with some wild potatoes. Yum! Yum! We spent the evening sitting around a fire singing and playing instruments both aboriginal and western. This is not part of the regular itinerary but rather one more example of how lucky I am. We were four days altogether with Dave, looking at Quinkan Rock Art sites and generally learning a great deal about life in the Australian north. I’m not sure that one would also be treated to the sight of a dozen or more wallabies grazing in the early morning mist but I can assure you that the sight of this as I was strolling back from the shower was the moment I knew I was, beyond doubt, in Australia.
Our third night was spent at a lovely lodge called Mungumby which I highly recommend to those who don’t really want to ‘rough it’ on their adventures.
Our last full day in Cairns was spent taking a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, complete with snorkeling, sunburn, and seasickness. I had been snorkeling before in the Caribbean but it cannot compare with the Great Barrier Reef. The highlight for me was seeing a sea turtle. I did not take this photograph.
Now that I have finished writing about my trip to Turkey, I thought I would write about my travels in Australia, and the best place to start a story is at the beginning.
It was April 2002 and I was living in Japan and my good friend Akiko was living in Australia. At that time I was writing a monthly newsletter which I called The Yamagata Monthly. I suspect the blog had not yet been invented. I am feeling a bit lazy so I will post the YM instead of writing something new.
Reefs & Rainforests, Beaches & Billabongs Part One
Last month I went to Australia to visit my friend Akiko who is attending the Australian National University. We spent two days in Sydney where I got my hair cut and dragged Akiko into 100 jewellery stores to look at opals. (The estimate of the number of stores we visited was provided by Akiko) We got to watch Aborigine buskers playing didgeridoos and we were able to meet and speak with an Aboriginal artist while we were having lunch at Lillipilli, a restaurant on Nurse’s Walk in the Rocks. It’s owned by an Aborigine woman who is a writer. We went up the Sydney Tower and had dinner in the revolving restaurant. I ate kangaroo, emu, camel and buffalo. I liked the emu best.
After two days of ‘shop till you drop’, we flew north to Queensland to begin the adventure part of our vacation.
Unlike Anna Leonowens, I never got to dance with the King of Thailand. In fact, I never even met him. But when I read that King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, one of the longest-reigning monarchs in history, died at age 88, I was saddened.
He was beloved by the people of Thailand and when I went to Bangkok last week, I found a country in mourning. Farewell and rest in peace, my favourite king.