Our fight to Darwin was on a full-sized plane with just 17 passengers so it didn’t take long for inflight service to be completed, then the crew took their seats for the rest of the flight! We arrived at about 21.00, went straight to the hotel and checked in. Next morning we were picked up at 06.00 for a three-day trip to Kakadu National Park and Katherine Gorge, it was still dark when we left the city, we hadn’t seen Darwin in daylight! Continue reading Darwin→
Our ‘local correspondent’, Terry who lives in Brisbane, sent an interesting response to our post expressing a little disappointment on our visit to the Great Barrier Reef. We found his comments very interesting and he has kindly agreed to us sharing them with you all – in case you are interested too. Continue reading From Our Australian Correspondent→
Our time on the East coast was spent in Cairns and at the small holiday/marina town of Port Douglas about 75 minutes north. We arrived in Cairns and transferred to the Bay View hotel, our home for 4 nights, the hotel had a tropical feel with lush gardens and two courtyards filled with palm trees and tropical shrubs. It also had an award-winning Balinese restaurant voted best speciality restaurant in Australia in 2015, we made a mental note to investigate during our stay. Continue reading Cairns and Port Douglas→
We spent the last few days in the centre of Australia in Alice Springs; we had no excursions booked and decided to visit some of the sites and services the town is famous for. On our first morning we walked, slowly, into town along the bank of the Todd River; it was very odd to see the bone-dry river bed flanked by flood markers showing depths up to 2 meters. We found the tourist information Office and asked for advice on key sites and local transport, it turned out that most of the things we wanted to see were outside of town and there was no public transport. The very helpful lady in the tourist office said some people ‘enjoy’ walking 4km out to the to The Telegraph station (it was 42⁰C) but she suggested we get a cab – good advice. We formulated a plan for the two days we had in town and went to find a cold drink to celebrate.
Although we had flown from Alice Springs to Ayres Rock we made the return journey by coach. The trip from Ayres Rock direct to Alice is over 500km, and takes about 6 hours with a couple of stops, however our itinerary included a 500km detour for a night at the Kings Canyon Resort and a ‘scenic climb’ at the canyon. We caught the bus and drove for 2 hours along the Lassiter Highway stopping for coffee at Curtain Springs Station, a cattle station which has a simple service station offering food drink, fuel and toilets for people travelling through the outback. Along the way we got a view of Mount Connor, another huge rock rising out of the desert, equally as impressive as Uluru, it is very curious that everyone knows about Uluru but the other rock features never get a mention. At the junction with Luritja Road we rendezvoused with two other coaches for a passenger swap; people heading direct to Alice Springs joined another bus leaving just four of us on the 58-seater heading to Kings Canyon. We moved up to take the seats immediately behind the driver, Tony, who proceeded to entertain us with stories and information about the roads and local characters. One person he told us about was a guy called Len Beadell a surveyor and road builder appointed by the Australian Government to set up a series of rocket testing sites in the 50’s. Tony played a recording of an after-dinner speech Beadell Made in the 80’s, he had an amazing story to tell and a great sense of humour, the journey to Kings Canyon flew past. Continue reading Red Centre – Kings Canyon→
We flew from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then straight on to Ayres Rock, a bus took us to the Desert Gardens Hotel part of the Ayres Rock Resort. There is no town of any sort near the Kata Tjuta and Uluru National Park, just an airport and the resort which have been built to serve the thousands of tourists that visit every year. The resort has two hotels, apartments and a campsite and a ‘town square’ with a bank, café, supermarket and souvenir shop. There is a very efficient system of buses and mini buses which link the different parts of the resort and ferry visitors on an extensive range of excursions into the desert. As we drove from the airport we were surprised how green everywhere looked, we had expected parched red dirt, apparently after 11 years of drought there has been a very wet winter here and there was unseasonal heavy rain last week (72mm in 36 hours in some places) so the desert has burst to life, this is a very rare site so we are lucky to have timed our visit to coincide. One guide told us that when it rains hard waterfalls run from the top of Uluru, one of her colleagues had seen this happen four times in fifteen years, she has seen it eight times in six months.
Our trip to Kangaroo Island started early with a 0600 pick-up from our hotel. The drive to Cape Jervis took about an hour and a half, during which we saw lots of wild kangaroos, and from there we caught a ferry for the 45-minute crossing to Penneshaw where we met up with the rest of our 12-strong tour group. During the crossing we spotted a pod of dolphins playing at the bow of the ferry. Kangaroo Island is the third largest island off the coast of Australia, it is about 165km long and is renown as a pristine wilderness landscape; industry on the island is mainly agriculture, tourism, and fishing. Our two-day tour would take us to see several local businesses, wildlife sites, and natural wonders. Continue reading Kangaroo Island→