Monday, October 27, 2008
I had to take my parents to the famous Big Shell :) James and my dad posed on his Ducati and then we shared a lovely dinner at the Spirit House, a well known thai restaurant near Noosa. My parents were leaving the next day. James and I drove them to Brisbane and then checked out the Eumundi Markets on the way back to Noosa.
My mom wanted too see a kangaroo or wallabie so badly. As we were driving I saw this field FILLED with wallabies. I drove around until I found the little guys. We then headed up to Port Douglas, another small beach town about 45 minutes north of Palm Cove.
We took the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway from Cairns to Kuranda. It took us over Australia’s World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforest canopy and deep into the forest. The ride spans 7.5kms over the rainforest. The cablecar was just metres above the rainforest canopy. It was pretty amazing to be at the height of these massive trees. We enjoyed the rainforest scenery, panoramic views of Cairns' tropical region and the views of the Coral Sea. There were two rainforest mid-stations on the ride up where we got out and had a chance to explore the same environment from the forest floor on boardwalks and scenic look-outs.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
We arrived in Cairns early in the evening on the 10th of August. We stayed in a town 30 minutes north of Cairns, Palm Cove. It's a small beach town with small shops, boutiques and great restaurants. We had an amazing Thai dinner, before getting some rest for our big day. On the 11th we drove back to Cairns to catch a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef. We spent the day on Green Island. It was such a beautiful day and we saw so many colorful fish.
When I first arrived in Sydney Tina and I would often walk by this cupcake shop and stare longingly at the little cakes. They were ridiculously expensive for what the were and we never tried one. I have been to Sydney many times and I still wonder about these crazy cupcakes. When my parents were here I finally caved and bought one. What a disappointment. They were so average. Oh well, now I know :)\
We had some issues with our hotel room, so after much drama they moved us into a nice suite at the very top. The first photos are views from our room. After a day of sightseeing, we rested for a bit and then headed towards a hotel near Hyde Park. My parents and my brother went on a trip to Greece a few years ago and met this amazing couple, the Lamellas. They live in Sydney and I contacted them before I left for Australia. They were like my Australian parents checking in on me and making sure I was ok. Luckily we were all able to share a wonderful dinner together.
Another day of exploring Sydney. James' mom and stepdad happened to be in the city for a race, so we were able to meet up with them for lunch. After lunch we watched a street performer squeeze herself into a small box...yeah weird. We then took a little train around the Botanical Gardens (I really love the gardens, one of my favorite places in Sydney).
We took a harbour cruise which showed us all the main Harbour attractions such as the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Fort Denison before approaching the upper reaches of Middle Harbour where huge waterfront homes, parks, beaches and marinas were found. We saw the Tasman Sea again (we also saw it on our Milford Sound boat trip).
We took a tram tour around Christchurch. It's a 2.5 kilometre track that takes you to many of the ‘must see’ attractions. These include Cathedral Square, Aquarium of Discovery, The Arts Centre, The Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens, Canterbury Museum, Punting on the Avon, New Regent Street and Cathedral Junction to name just a few.Tram drivers provide a live entertaining and informative commentary throughout the journey and guests are encouraged to hop on and off the trams at leisure to explore the sights up close.
We finished exploring Antarctica and now we're off to the Christchurch gondola. The 945 metre Gondola ride takes visitors almost 500 metres (1500 feet) above sea level. You can enjoy 360 degree views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains and Lyttelton Harbour as you rise to the top, on the crater rim of Christchurch's famous extinct volcano.
The Hagglund is an all terrain vehicle that scientist use to explore the rough terrain in Antarctica. The outdoor adventure course simulates the same traveling conditions as scientists would experience. This ride is the only one of its type in the world. It showcases the demanding capabilities of the Hagglund ATV. Visitors buckle up before riding over mounds, a crevasse, across open ground and through deep water to display the Hagglund's amphibious capabilities. The ride was quite bumpy, but pretty fun. Below I just walked outside to see James sitting in this "vehicle" and I got a photo of my mom with one foot on the north pole and one on the south pole.
The Snow and Ice Experience allows you to get an idea of what it would be like to visit Antarctica. There was real snow and ice in this "safe all-weather indoor polar room. It is chilled to -5 degrees Celsius. Slide down an icy slope, shelter in an ice cave, brave the wind chill machine at -18 degrees Celsius, or get 'exchillarated' in the Antarctic Storm that blows every 30 minutes. Warm jackets and overshoes are provided."
We spent the morning at the International Antarctic Center. The center is very interesting actually. We got to see them feed the little blue penguins. They have been rescued and cared for, some since they were chicks. Due to physical disabilities that have left them defenceless, many of them would not have survived on their own back in the wild.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Moeraki Boulders are large boulders lying along the Koekohe Beach on the Otago coast of New Zealand between Moeraki and Hampden. They are found alone or in clusters within a stretch of beach where they are protected in a scientific reserve. The boulders were formed in a process similar to how a pearl is formed. Sediment collected around fossils, wood, or bone fragments growing into these round shapes. The original mudstone seabed has been uplifted and erosion has released these massive boulders from within the cliffs.
On the way out of Otago Peninsula we stopped at Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only castle, built in 1871. The tower of the castle provides panoramic views of the 35 acres of gardens surrounding the castle, as well as views of Dunedin City, the Otago Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean. The castle is fully restored and furnished, and is a national treasure. The scandal and history of William Larnach, his three wives, his political and merchant career, through to his suicide and the rumours of his son’s affair with his third wife add to the intrigue of a visit to the castle. Larnach Castle is set in 35 acres of gardens and grounds and is renowned as one of New Zealand’s finest gardens and rated a ‘Garden of National Significance’. Included in our ticket was a free coffee :) which we enjoyed in the original ballroom. There are artifacts from Alice in Wonderland all around the grounds. One of the hardest pieces to find was the Cheshire cat, which we eventually found sitting in a tree.
"Built in 1899 over the Waiau River, the Clifden suspension bridge is an impressive structure built from totara and Australian hardwood, with concrete towers made to look like stone and 28 steel cables. It is a significant engineering achievement and one of the longest bridges in the South Island."