Click on the icons below to access photo albums. You will get a feel for our charming property and get a closer look the Big Red Barn & Creekside Cottage. Also, check out Dave & Catherine’s extensive international travel- get a head start on your next vacation planning via their tips, or live vicariously through their grand adventures!
Catherine and Dave spent October 15 to November 11, 2016 traveling around Australia. Following is a presentation of this springtime adventure in the "Land Down Under."
We had a marvelous trip, with no dull moments, for almost a month. A lot of credit must go to Catherine, as she put many weeks into planning the trip, researching the cities, our possible lodgings, and doing most of the kilometer by kilometer navigating. We drove around, with maps of all areas, in addition to the able assistance of our iPhone GPS. However, since we met so many very friendly Aussies and explored so much lovely countryside we would have been hard pressed not to have had a super vacation even if we were lost.
We present this slide show not to brag about more international vacationing. No, we have other agendas; we want to let you know what we have learned about this fabulous country. First of all, Australia ranks a distant 43rd in international tourism. (#1 France, #2 the US, #3 Spain…). Almost everyone in the US knows about their unmistakable accents and their kangaroos, koalas (“they’re not bears!”), the Crocodile Dundee and Muriel’s Wedding movies, the Sydney Opera House, Australian sports successes in rugby, tennis, golf, cricket, and surfing, coral reefs and the Tasmanian Devil, taking the America’s Cup sailing trophy away one time, good and inexpensive wine, and so on. But second, evidently very few of us Yanks actually go down and take a look! Pity, as it is really fun and no more expensive than just vacationing around the US. (Sure, you must purchase a round trip airline ticket, sit on a jet for around 15 hours, and endure some jet lag at either end, but most international vacations require about the same cost and aggravation.)
To begin, Australia is a country, an island and a continent. It is the world's smallest continent and the sixth-largest country. It consists of six states and two on-shore territories: Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. In addition, there are also the mainland Jervis Bay Territory, six island territories and the Australian Antarctic Territory that comprises 42 percent of the continent of Antarctica.
We acknowledge vacation planning is a bit intimidating, especially for those short of time and perhaps some imagination. While Oz has about 25 million people, they are scattered around a continent roughly the size of the continental USA. Most are in a few large coastal cities and their environs, on the Southern and Eastern coasts. The vast interior is chiefly a desert with chronic water shortages which impact the coastal areas as well.
We also learned that most Aussies, just like we Americans, have NOT seen all their country. Accordingly, we decided to provide a road map of sorts with our highlighted itinerary along with a few suggestions of how others may emulate or improve on our adventures. If you ever visit Australia, we hope you will have as much fun as we did. It is a beautiful, interesting, and exciting country!
First Stop- Sydney...
We headed Down Under to the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia, the one and only Sydney. With a sunny attitude and a climate to match, Sydney is a vibrant place that combines the best of the beach, with the convenience of the city.
We flew directly into Sydney, best known for its harbor-front Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design. Other popular tourist attractions we discovered include Darling Harbor and the Circular Quay port which are hubs of waterside activity, with the arched Harbor Bridge and esteemed Royal Botanic Garden nearby, and Sydney Tower’s outdoor platform, the Skywalk, with fabulous views of the city and suburbs.
Our flight left from San Francisco on Saturday night, landing in Sydney Monday morning. (Lost Sunday due to International Date Line, but regained it on return trip.) We found Sydney to be like a giant San Francisco, very clean, very beautiful- honestly nicer than SF, and we like SF a whole lot.
Sydney Harbor extends 13 miles inland and is an extremely scenic and naturally irregular harbor creating many coves, beaches & bays. This city is home to some of the finest and most famous beaches in the world.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn at the “Rocks,” situated midway between the Opera House, the Ferry Terminal and the famous Harbor Bridge.
We were impressed that the city was immaculately clean…everywhere. We also visited two local museums and learned a lot about Sydney history, which started five years after the end of the American Revolutionary War.
First good decision: we did not rent a car in Sydney but took cabs and public transportation. We took ferries both to very famous Manly Beach at the mouth of the harbor and to Tarongo Zoo on the North Shore. The many ferries were frequent, efficient, and inexpensive and in beautiful condition. Above, you will see Luna Park Sydney at the north foot of the Harbor Bridge. Built in 1935, it makes a beautiful addition to the seascape!
In 1947 the conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Goossens, identified the need of Australia’s leading city for a musical facility that would be a home not only to the symphony orchestra but also to opera and chamber music groups. In 1956 the government sponsored a competition for a design that was to include a building with two halls— one for concerts and other large musical and dance productions and the other for dramatic presentations and smaller musical events. The result, designed by Danish Architect, Jorn Utzon, who won the competition from among a field of many international architects, is a modernistic and expressionist design, built with a series of concrete precast shells.
Construction on the Opera House began in 1959 & posed a variety of problems, many resulting from the innovative nature of the design. The opening of the Opera House was originally planned for Australia Day (January 26) in 1963, but cost overruns and structural engineering difficulties in executing the design troubled the course of the work, which faced many delays. The project grew controversial, and public opinion turned against it for a time. Amid continuing disagreements with the government authorities overseeing the project, Utzon resigned in 1966. Construction continued until September 1973. In 1999, Utzon agreed to return as the building’s architect, overseeing an improvement project. He redesigned the former Reception Hall, and it was reopened in 2004 as the Utzon Room.
The Opera House is Sydney’s best-known landmark, situated on Bennelong Point on the South side of the harbor just East of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It is a multipurpose performing arts facility whose largest venue, the 2,679-seat Concert Hall, is host to symphony concerts, choir performances, and popular music shows. Opera and dance performances, including ballet, take place in the Opera Theatre, which seats just over 1,500. There are also three theatres of different sizes and configurations for stage plays, film screenings, and smaller musical performances. The Forecourt, on the southeastern end of the complex, is used for outdoor performances. The building also houses restaurants and a professional recording studio. In 2007 the Opera House was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We had purchased tickets (online months before) to see My Fair Lady directed by Dame Julie Andrews at the Opera House. We first enjoyed a dining experience, on the Harbor side of that magnificent building, then sat in the 6th row of the theater. Neither of us had ever seen a better theater production!! It was such a thrill, and a wonderful way to have a real Sydney experience.
Bondi is a famous surfer's beach and the name of the surrounding suburb right in Sydney.
The two iconic residential towers are connected by stunning terraced gardens. Water captured on the roofs waters all the hydroponic plants.
Sydney, the largest city in Australia, is home to 1,168 high-rise buildings, more than in any other Australian city. The tallest buildings in the city are heavily concentrated in the central business district, although suburbs within the Sydney metropolitan area, such as Chatswood and Parramatta also boast a significant number of high-rises too.
The Cove, one of Sydney's tallest buildings, is arguably one of the best apartment blocks in downtown Sydney. Comprising 43 floors, the Cove was completed in late 2003. The development is located in Harrington Street just on the fringe of the financial district and Rocks area.
Sydney Tower is Sydney's tallest structure and the second tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere. The name Sydney Tower has become common in daily usage; however, the tower has been known as the Sydney Tower Eye, AMP Tower, Westfield Centrepoint Tower, Centrepoint Tower or just Centrepoint. The Sydney Tower is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers. The tower stands 1,014 ft above the Sydney central business district. The tower is open to the public, and is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the city, being visible from many vantage points throughout town and from adjoining suburbs.
Another beautiful view of Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House at center, taken from our friend Julian Reynold's apartment one evening during a dinner party.
After ferrying over to Sydney's Tarongo Zoo, we were happy to see the very shy Cassowary, found in Northern Australia and New Guinea, standing 5-6 ft tall, which we knew we were not likely to see in the wild. Catherine had read about it and therefore found the signage curious. Notice it says "endangered"...but nothing about how dangerous it can be to humans. In his book, Living Birds of the World, 1958, Ornithologist E. Gillard wrote: "The inner or second of the three toes, is fitted with a long, straight, murderous nail which can sever an arm or eviscerate an abdomen with ease. There are many records of natives being killed by this bird." The Cassowary is considered the 9th most dangerous animal, bird, fish, insect, snake, croc, etc.... in Australia!
Here is a picture of the real Cassowary hiding in the brush. It is the third largest bird in the world, evolved millions of years ago, and is a "keystone species"- it plays a vital role in rain-forest biodiversity.
The Tasmanian devil is NOT just a "Looney Tunes" cartoon character! It is a most unusual mammal, found only on the island state of Tasmania in Australia. It is a marsupial, related to koalas and kangaroos. Why the “fiery” name and reputation for an animal the size of a small dog? Devils are black in color and are said to have fierce tempers! Their oversize head, neck, and jaws are well suited to crushing bones. They make eerie growls while searching for food at night. And when a group of devils feeds together at a carcass, harsh screeching and spine-chilling screams can be heard. Tasmanian devils have behaviors that may seem odd or scary to us, but they have a different meaning in devil society: A mouth that opens quite wide! While the famous gape, or yawn, of the Tasmanian devil looks threatening, it is more likely to express fear and uncertainty than aggression.
Noosa is a world-famous surfing destination, known for its expansive beaches and colorful bays. You can hike across Noosa National Park's cliffs and forests, canoe through the Noosa River Everglades, kayak across the open sea or just bask in the sunshine on golden sand that stretches and sparkles for miles.
Noosa is a sprawling coastal resort and retirement community area. It’s tropical, gorgeous and relatively expensive. It’s like Hawaii with koalas and no humidity. And aside from the main downtown area, there are usually very few people. However, it was loaded with Aussie tourists on holiday when we were there. Right outside the main beach the 15 sq. mile Noosa National Park abounds with hiking trails, wildlife, beaches in little coves, and trees we had never seen before. Flying from the Sunshine Coast one can see the sand deposited due to currents and winds.
We flew from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland to attend a good friend's wedding in Noosa. The wedding actually spurred our trip to Australia.
Kate is the stunning bride with her parents, David and Maggie.
Mark the strikingly handsome groom, is a friend's son (from the States) and Kate, the beautiful bride, grew up in Noosa. "Tall Paul" was the presiding minister and Mark's brother, Eric, is on the far right.
Hobart, along the River Derwent, offers a contrasting blend of heritage, scenery and culture, with world class activities and attractions nearby. Nestled in the foothills of Mt Wellington, Hobart combines heritage charm with a modern lifestyle in a setting of exceptional beauty.
(Pop. 515K) We spent 4 grand days in Hobart, capital of the island state of Tasmania. Hobart is located in the south of “Tassie”, on a major river leading to the sea. We stayed at a well-located Airbnb, with a great view of the finish line of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Hobart is stunning, with relatively few tourists but heavy traffic because it is growing faster than the infrastructure. At its fashionable Salamanca Place, old sandstone warehouses host galleries and cafes. Nearby is Battery Point, a historic district with narrow lanes and colonial-era cottages. The city's backdrop is 1,270m-high Mount Wellington, with sweeping views, plus hiking and cycling trails.
Hobart Harbor is resplendent, with its wharves and docks, some of the downtown city buildings, with Mount Wellington towering over the capital city. Salmanica Place is located nearby in an area between the wharves with their upscale eateries, and where we stayed. It’s a historic area that consists of rows of sandstone buildings, formerly warehouses for the Port of Hobart Town that have been converted into restaurants, galleries, craft shops and offices. Salmanica is also a very popular place after dark.
On the left is Brooke Street Pier. It houses the Glass House floating restaurant, at the piers end, which is suspended over Sullivan's Cove. The Glass House has redefined style on Hobart's waterfront. We enjoyed elegant cocktails, Tasmanian inspired dishes with international flair, and water views all around. We loved our (very) expensive dinner there. Brooke Street Pier also houses the ferry terminal to Peppermint Cove. At photo’s right side is the Elizabeth Street Pier where we caught the ferry to the MONA.
Here is a good example of waterfront homes in Hobart, on the way to Peppermint Cove.
We stayed at Cassandra's Airbnb in Hobart. She is a published writer and a doctoral professor at Sydney University.
We took a ferry to Peppermint Cove. After eating, we wandered around the tiny Woodbridge Village (est. 1854).
When docked, we were taken to a splendid restaurant and given the most incredible five-course luncheon, small plates, and beautifully arranged "art" food.
We ferried past this lighthouse on the way back to Hobart. It is called the Iron Pot Lighthouse and is the 2nd oldest lighthouse in Australia. We urge anyone visiting Hobart to put this ferry trip on their "Must Do" list.
While you can also drive to the museum, the elegant and preferred visit is by ferry. Resplendent in its camouflage colors, we disembarked from the MONA Ferry.
View of the River Derwent from the top of the hill where we found the museum entrance.
Extremely ornate, rusted metal cement truck by Belgian neo-conceptual artist, Wim Delvoye.
This elevator takes you down into the bowels of the museum. The MONA is the very popular but controversial Museum of Old and New Art. This is the largest privately owned museum of art, and has become a “must see” experience that has put Hobart on the international map. From archaeological wonders to postmodern explorations of sex, death and everything in between, this museum manages to mix Egyptian mummies with an extensive collection of "cast" vaginas, and yet somehow pulls it off. Owner David Walsh, noted international gambler, art collector, and business man, calls his museum a “subversive adult Disneyland.”
We were delighted to find an exhibit that staged what American Tim Jenison did in his documentary movie, "Tim's Vermeer". It was directed by Teller, produced by Penn Jillette, about inventor Tim Jenison's efforts to duplicate the painting techniques of Johannes Vermeer (1632- 1635), in order to test his theory that Vermeer painted with the help of optical devices. Dave and I saw the movie several years ago and it was one of our very favorites. In this picture you can see Catherine's efforts to replicate in pencil a picture of the museum's owner, David Walsh. (We really recommend you find and watch this remarkable movie).
The “Bit.fall,” is a “rain-painting machine” created by German-born artist Julius Popp. Dropping two stories, this multi-million-dollar contraption uses 128 computer-controlled nozzles to drip cascades of water in the shape of phrases selected daily from news websites. You really need to see it, of course.
Erwin Wurm, one of Austria’s most important & internationally famous sculptors, has been preoccupied with expanding the concept of sculpture since the 1980's. Volume and adding volume are treated as socio-crital issues. In 1993, Erwin Wurm wrote an instructional book on how to gain two clothing sizes in eight days. Eight years later, he made his first “Fat Car” by plumping up an existing car with styrofoam and fiberglass, which resulted in a pitiful, chubby version of the original sportsy model. By taking the question of obesity, Wurm probes the link between power, wealth and body weight. He also wants to offer a sharp criticism of our current value system, as the advertising world demands us to stay thin but to consume more and more.
Today, Tasmania enjoys a global reputation as a leading producer of premium cool climate wines, winning high praise and accolades from wine judges and critics alike.
Frogmore Creek winery produces a wide range of cultivars, including about a third of their production being sold to other wineries. It is a very professionally run operation in the Coal River Valley, east of Hobart. We were highly impressed by its Rieslings.
Tom Samek is the artist. He works in sculpture, painting, printmaking, tapestry, murals, etc. The art pictured provides overview of Tasmanian wine history.
Another floor view at Frogmore Creek.
Vineyards overlooking the Coal River Valley, with the Coal River in mid the distance as well as Hobart Harbor, beyond.
As we gazed down this beautiful river valley, we asked the winemaker who owns this beautiful, undeveloped land. He replied it was entirely owned by the University of Tasmania.
Melbourne is the capital of the southeastern state of Victoria. Stylish & arty, Melbourne is a city that’s both dynamic and cosmopolitan, and proud of its place as Australia’s cultural capital. Its stately Gold Rush–era architecture and a multicultural make-up reflect the city’s recent history, while edgy street art, top museums and sticky-carpeted band venues point to its present-day personality.
Here is a panoramic image of the docklands waterfront area of Melbourne at night. At the city's center is the modern Federation Square development, with plazas, bars, and restaurants by the Yarra River. Lovely, laid-back Melbourne seemed to have something for everyone: family fare, local and international art, upscale boutiques, multicultural dining, Australian and Aboriginal history, spectator sports, and pulsing, swanky nightlife.
We had only two days to see this city that is considered the easiest or most livable city in Australia…the world? Here is "Angel," along the river Yarra Walk, by well known sculptor-artist, Deborah Halpern.
We found the tram system a wonderful & efficient way to get around this city… (as soon as you figure it out). We took the tram one evening to fabulous Ichi Ni, a Japanese restaurant in the renowned Soho-like area called St. Kilda. The wind was blowing so fiercely that we had to bend over way into the wind as we walked, or be blown over. Dave said he thought it was a 35-40 mph wind. We learned that this is not atypical of Melbourne!!
Melbournians think people from Sydney are stuffy, and that they’re so much more fun than the "Sydneysiders".
Melbourne is best experienced as a local would, with its character largely reliant upon its collection of inner-city neighborhoods. Despite a long-standing north–south divide (flashy St Kilda versus hipster Fitzroy), there’s a coolness about its bars, cafes, restaurants, festivals and people that transcends the borders. The city center has meanwhile reinvented itself with chic laneway eateries and rooftop bars opening in former industrial buildings.
Sport is also crucial to the fabric of the town, taking on something of a religious nature here. Melburnians are passionate about AFL football ('footy'), cricket and horse racing, and also love their grand-slam tennis and Formula One car racing.
The Royal Exhibition Building is adjacent to the Melbourne Museum. These glorious buildings were built when Melbourne was rich from their gold rush in the late 1800's.
We absolutely loved the Melbourne Museum, and honestly thought it was one of the best we’ve ever seen. There are some really informative and interesting exhibits on the body and the brain, and a temporary biomedical discovery exhibit that was great. There are dinosaur skeletons, impressively extensive collections of insects and butterflies, and one of the best mineral exhibits ever.
There is a wonderful section on the history of Melbourne.
There is an Aboriginal section that one can walk through and get such a understanding of this part of their history that is was like taking a course. It incorporated both the history, and the plight currently of the contemporary Aborigine person(s).
Melbourne Museum is a natural and cultural history museum located in the Carlton Gardens and adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Building. It was designed by Denton Corker Marshall Architects and finished construction in 2001.
The museum includes a few tiny strung-together hovels you can walk through, which are representative of the way early folks lived, according to recent archeological excavations in town. (These excavations have proven some surprises. For instance, it was expected that these ghettos (early to mid 1800’s) would have housed mostly men, engaged in drinking, gambling and some prostitution. What they found were that there was little of that and were mostly of families with children. Life was cold, dirty, there was little food, and life as in many places was very tough)
Overview of large dinosaur skeleton on the museum's "Dinosaur Walk". They became extinct 65 million years ago.
We drove Victoria's Great Ocean Road (GOR), home to the world class surf at Bells Beach and the craggy limestone spires of the Twelve Apostles. It is a dramatic region showcasing fishing villages, migrating whales, shipwrecks, golden beaches, rainforests and national parks. We took our time driving the Great Southern Touring Route between Melbourne and Adelaide. It was a beautiful adventure.
We began our drive of the “Great Ocean Road” between Melbourne and Adelaide. We lunched overlooking a golf course green and had our first sightings of wild kangaroos. Unfortunately, they were too far for good photos.
In Lourne, we found a large flock of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos. They were all over the trees, screeching and making a racket, because a flock of Galahs were fighting for territory in the branches.
We followed the flock into a nearby campground where a little girl put a pretzel on her shoulder and a Cockatoo came to her to eat it. The Cockatoo was very big and well behaved.
At Kennett River we took the Grey River Road up into the Great Otway National Park. There we spotted our first wild Koalas sleeping high up in the gum trees. It was a thrill. To find them, you have to stare up into a bunch of trees, looking at the crotches for a small blob that doesn’t look like a tree part. Then with binoculars you can see fur. We were lucky enough to see four of them, and one was only about 20’ up. He stared into my camera lens, just as I had planned!!!
Koalas are not bears. They are marsupials which are the only non- placental or 'eutherian' mammals in the world. Therefore, their young are born immature & they develop further in the safety of a pouch. It’s incorrect to call them ‘Koala bears' - their correct name is simply 'Koalas'. Standing on the dirt road, in this remote place we heard a horrible growling somewhere in the bush. We later found out that Koalas growl!! Habitat loss is the greatest threat to Koalas. The main reasons for this are land clearing, bushfires and diseases of the eucalypts, like ‘dieback' which cause the trees to die.
This is a Crimson Rosella which is a parrot native to Eastern and Southern Australia. We saw them everywhere we traveled and they were just gorgeous. (not to be confused with the calyx of the Rosella Hibiscus which is used in Australian cooking!).
Apollo Bay is a coastal town in southwestern Victoria, where we spent one night.
FYI- we would advise anybody, and would have ourselves had we known, taken a helicopter tour of this area. The stretch of the 12 Apostles along this Great Ocean Road, is a small portion of it. There are only a few places where the road actually goes down to the cliff for viewing the spectacular limestone.
"The Twelve Apostles" is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Their proximity to one another has made the site a popular tourist attraction. Currently there are eight apostles left, the ninth stack having collapsed dramatically in July 2005. The name remains significant and spectacular especially in the Australian tourism industry.
Here, see London Arch behind Dave and Catherine.
We drove the stretch of the GOR that is so famous for the “Twelve Apostle’s”. They are a collection of impressive limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, in Victoria. There are currently eight apostles, the ninth having collapsed dramatically in 2005.
London Arch (formerly London Bridge) is an offshore natural arch formation in the Port Campbell National Park, Australia. The arch is a significant tourist attraction along the Great Ocean Road near Port Campbell in Victoria. This stack was formed by a gradual process of erosion, and until 1990 formed a complete double-span natural bridge.
This limestone was formed by erosion: the harsh and extreme weather conditions from the Southern Ocean gradually eroded the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs, which then became arches, which in turn collapsed; leaving rock stacks up to 165 ft. high. This formation eventually became known as the Twelve Apostles, despite only ever having nine stacks.
The Gorge is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island in 1878 approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne. The arch of the nearby Island Archway collapsed in June 2009. The feature now appears as two unconnected rock pillars. They have since been officially named Tom and Eva after the two teenage survivors of the Loch Ard shipwreck.
Created by constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland beginning 10–20 million years ago, the stormy Southern Ocean and blasting winds gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs along the Great Ocean Road.
Wildflowers bloom throughout the year along the Great Ocean Road.
We took the GOR to Port Fairy which is as cute and small, picturesque and old as it sounds. It’s a cluster of little old Victorian cottages along wide boulevards lined with ancient Norfolk Island Pines.
We took this picture because we thought it to be a representative of the area's picturesque quality. To me this hearkens back to some children's fairy book. The grazing white horse would surely be Sir Lancelot's!
Any discussion of Australia would be remiss without the mention of flies. Early in the trip, Catherine became exasperated with flies that were attacking her face. Dave told her that Aussie’s frequently joke about flies being the national bird. This waving about to brush them away is called the “Aussie Salute”.
There are many kinds of flies, mainly the ubiquitous Bush Fly, the Musca Vetustissima. In 1788 when the first colonists brought 5 cows and 2 bulls, the small bush flies couldn’t believe their luck. The females were desperate for a protein rich diet to feed their ovaries and eggs. They subsist on tears, what is in your nose, and saliva. These delightful creatures also are fond of fecal material, blood and sweat. Today, with 26 million cattle in Australia, this pest has become horribly ubiquitous.
In the South and East where most cities are located, it is too wet and cold for the bush fly in the winter. But come spring, hot winds from the North blow them in great numbers into the cites. You may have 10 flies attacking your face. They are undeterred by strong winds as you might think, as on the coast. One can wear protective hats, wear insecticide, dark colors, and remember to duck into brush when attacked.
Before the introduction of the European livestock, the dung deposits were small and therefore dried out too fast to be of much use to the flies. The Australian government is doing research working with their own dung beetles, as well as the more efficient African dung beetle, to break up the dung before the flies can reap much benefit from it. They hope this research will someday see the eradication of this pest!
There are many funny, obviously homemade mailboxes of various descriptions along the GOR. Also, most driveways are marked with big tires (some are painted with many colors, some big, some small- we found it very curious).
The Blue Lake is a large monomictic crater lake located in a dormant volcanic maar associated with the Mount Gambier maar complex. The lake is situated near Mount Gambier in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia and is one of four original crater lakes on Mount Gambier maar.
Catherine joked with the young people who had rented this vehicle by saying "it was nice of you to make it so easy for the police to spot you". Note the white powder stuck to the underside of the characters' noses.
This was a beautiful rainbow along the Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean or the Austral Ocean. It comprises the southern most waters of the World Ocean.
The picturesque seaside town of Robe, where we spent a night, sits on the shores of Guichen Bay, named in honor of a French Admiral in 1802. The first European settlers came hot on the heels of the famous overlander, Charles Bonney, who brought through a mob of cattle in 1839, opening up a new route from New South Wales to Adelaide.
Robe is a fishing port located in the Limestone Coast of South Australia. The town's distinctive combination of historical buildings, ocean, fishing fleets, lakes and dense bush is widely appreciated. Robe lies on the southern shore of Guichen Bay, just off the Princes Highway (of the Great Ocean Road).
The seaport town of Robe has the same population as our hometown, Kenwood. We found it very, very charming, with lots of 100-150-year-old limestone buildings, and lots of gigantic Norfolk Island Pines.
Patterned with vineyards, olive groves and almond plantations running down to the sea, the Fleurieu (pronounced floo-ree-oh) Peninsula is Adelaide's weekend playground. The McLaren Vale Wine Region is booming, producing gutsy reds to the delight of tourists. Further east, the Fleurieu's Encounter Coast is an engaging mix of surf beaches, historic towns and whales cavorting offshore.
We happened upon Strathalbyn, an absolutely charming town situated on the banks of the Angas River. Strathalbyn is dominated by Saint Andrews Church with its sturdy tower.
The designated heritage town of Strathalbyn was settled by Scottish imigrants in 1839. Links with it's ancestry can be seen today in much of the town's architecture which is reminiscent of small highland towns in Scottland.
This beautifully centrally located park is surrounded by a number of original buildings that have been preserved.
Lovely red-roofed gazebo in Soldiers' Memorial Gardens.
When Europeans came to Australia, they named this bird a Magpie after the European Magpie. However, in Ornithology, they are different birds altogether.
Anzac Day, April 25, is one of Australia’s most important national occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as Anzacs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.
Best known for Shiraz, South Australia McLaren Vale Wine Country also excels in the production of ultra-premium Grenache and Cabernet. Mediterranean varieties such as Fiano, Vermentino, Tempranillo and Sangiovese are also very well suited climatically and provide wine lovers with yet another layer of discovery.
This region is home to sustainable winegrowing, world-class wines and culinary experiences, as well as pristine natural attractions and unparalleled tourism offerings. South Australia's viticultural origins began in McLaren Vale and the region's Mediterranean climate continues to drive the region's wine style and diverse food culture. We enjoyed the food and wines of the area, and it was perhaps our favorite destination in Australia.
We continued up the coast and then diverted inland for our weekend in the wine country of McLaren Vale. The McLaren Vale area is a valley studded with little towns and lots and lots of wineries, big and small, and world class restaurants. It is easily as beautiful as where we live in Sonoma County. However, the beautiful sparkling coast line is only 10 minutes to the West, and Adelaide under an hour away.
We could imagine living here in McLaren Vale. Perhaps because it is so like where we live…but in some ways better. Ironically the AirBnb home we stayed in was very like our own. A very nice and hospitable couple live on the property, as we do. It was situated in the countryside as we are, and we also had vineyard views.
We must remark that seeing a kangaroo hopping along in a vineyard seems like the strangest thing in the world! Although we thought Sydney was gorgeous, and Tasmania excitingly remote and beautifully rugged, we really loved the McLaren Vale area and the whole Fleurieu Peninsula, that runs South of Adelaide into the South Ocean.
This winery is located in one of Australia's premiere wine tasting areas. This cellar door (tasting room) is housed in a restored 19th century homestead with views over McLaren Vale.
This image is meant to capture the feeling of an old Australian homestead.
The "d'Arenberg Cube" is a 5-story multi-function building, which is still under construction. It will house a new tasting room, several bars, another restaurant, private tasting rooms, offices and state of the art facilities on each level. We went to this winery to see this "Cube"- we can see why it is considered very controversial in this valley. It can be seen from everywhere and there's no similarity to anything else. We agreed that it might be a mistake...
The Paxton Vineyards Tasting Room used to be a shearing shed in the 1850's. Founder and co-owner, David Paxton, is one of Australia's most respected viticulturists. He and his son Ben now have their own vineyards and tasting room. We thought the wine was brilliant, the staff were great, and we had a ball there.
Takes its name from the historic ironstone chapel on the property built in 1865. After falling into disrepair, it was restored in the 1970's by Adelaide Professor, Tom Nelson. You can see in this photo and the next the extensions of glass that were added to this old building giving it a wonderful blending of contemporary with old stone building.
Justin McNamee established Samuel's Gorge in 2003 in a farm shed built in 1853 overlooking the Onkaparinga River National Park located in the Seaview sub-region of McLaren Vale. The Samuel's Gorge label is an impression of the rugged landscape that is viewed from the winery. They specialize in four key varietals Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre and Tempranillo.
These are the largest flowering, immature grape clusters we had ever seen.
Lovely lawn for wine tasting...
In background, see ancient stone wall with daisies in foreground.
A relatively new winery producing exceptional Shiraz. In Australian slang, "Molly Dooker" is a left handed boxer.
We were lucky to get reservations at a seafood restaurant located on a cliff overlooking the waters of Gulf St. Vincent. This restaurant specializes in fresh offerings from the sea presented with visual flair. Note these beautiful oysters dressed with caviar.
The Star of Greece restaurant is named after a ship which was loaded with wheat on its way back to Britain in 1888 sank. Sections of the hull still remain on the ocean floor offering great diving. At low tide, parts of the wreck are still visible from shore.
The 45-min drive south from McLaren Vale through the Fleurieu Penninsula was a very, very beautiful drive.
Looking like a watercolor, these sheep were grazing in a field with an explosion of blue Nierembergia.
Our next stop on the journey was at Cape Jervis. We would take our trusty car on the ferry to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island (pop 4,259).
Because the Sea Link Ferry Company is the ONLY ferry, they pretty well have control of all the tourist business. The ferry is expensive at $300 for a car and two people or $150 round trip for an individual. When you book online, they are happy to link you to accommodations, hikes, jeep off- road trips etc., and their site is loaded with maps and information. Therefore the only people we saw as we drove all over the island were concentrated in the few tourist attractions which are Seal Bay, the Remarkable Rocks, and Penneshaw.
The Sea Link operates 2 large, vehicle & passenger ferries between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw, KI. There are 4 departures daily & travelling time is 45 minutes. The Island is also accessed by air from both the Adelaide and the Kingscote KI airports. Once you arrive, there are fantastic places to see and the best way to experience the splendid scenery is to self-drive. You can either take a car onto the ferry, or rent a car once there. While there are touring options, we really enjoyed exploring on our own schedule.
Carpe Diem? LOL
From Cape Jervis, your car ferries chug across the swells of the Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island (KI). Long devoid of tourist trappings, the island these days is a booming destination for wilderness and wildlife fans − it's a veritable zoo of seals, birds, dolphins, echidnas (spiny anteater) and, of course, kangaroos. Still, the island remains rural-paced and underdeveloped.
We stayed in a remote Airbnb house. The owner forgot to email us about the fact we needed to bring food. We still had a few things in our ice chest thank goodness. Catherine approached the only neighbor. Since he realized we were in trouble, he said "I run 11,000 sheep on these 6,000 acres... I'll be back soon with some lamb chops for you." He brought us potatoes, onions, lamb chops, canned beets and peaches- it was a veritable feast! And, it was the best lamb we ever had.
We thought this was a pretty idyllic little porch on which to gaze into the sea.
The only other house on this cove was owned by the nice man who gave us the lamb chops.
In this picture and the next, you will see the beautifully rusty colored lichens clinging to the rocks.
These orange, rusty colored lichens are an iconic feature on the rocks of Kangaroo Island.
Dave and Catherine eat very little meat and call themselves Vegan-wannabes. However, the lamb they ate repeatedly in Australia was so much better than any place else in the world.
He ran across the dirt road in front of us, so we jammed on our brakes and left the car in the middle of the dirt road. Lucky for us, he climbed into a very short tree so we could see him well.
Kangaroo Island is about the size of Sonoma County (or about as big as Deleware). The island is not flat, has a nice hilly rolling topography, studded with beautiful Eucalypts, rusty orange lichen crawling on the rocks, streams and waterfalls, and millions of sheep. We drove all over the island.
Kangaroo Island, 8 miles off the coast of South Australia, is brimming with native animals, some of which aren't found anywhere else. More than one third of the island is protected by conservation areas and national parks, while lush farmland and small towns make up much of the rest. The island, known to the locals as "KI", is divided into seven regions, with four major towns: Kingscote (the island’s relaxed capital), Penneshaw (where daily ferries disembark), American River, and Parndana.
We were really looking forward to seeing these rocks. We were surprised when after parking there was a long, LONG, trail to get there. This picture is taken from part-way down the trail. See how small they look from here?
No Kangaroo Island holiday would be complete without a trek to one of the island's signature landmarks, Remarkable Rocks. It took 500 million years for rain, wind, and pounding waves to create these aptly named granite boulders which are now part of the Flinders Chase National Park.
The Remarkable Rocks are a cluster of peculiar granite boulders placed atop a granite dome on the southwest shore of Kangaroo Island. These rocks were shaped into their remarkable forms by 500 million years of exposure to wind, rain and seas spray.
Remarkable Rocks sport impressive sizes, giving an impression of hand-carved caves. Visitors can hide underneath them or climb on top of them. They are huge and unusual.
Black mica, bluish quartz, and pinkish feldspar comprise most of the granite of Remarkable Rocks. These flat rocks are easy and safe to walk on during dry weather, but special caution should be taken when weather conditions become wet or windy. Strong winds and slippery rocks make it far easier to fall into the water.
We bought a walking tour with a docent down to this beach. Standing before we left on a cliff above, we could see many people and a group of seals on a large beach.
Walkway down to beach and seals...
Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) are part of a group known as "eared" seals. They use their front flippers to prop themselves up and their back flippers to help them "walk" on land. In the water their back flippers act as a rudder.
These fascinating creatures are one of the rarest species in the world. The entire population is estimated around 14,700. Seal Bay supports the 3rd largest colony of Australian sea lions with a population of about 1,000.
Australian sea lions are listed as endangered and declining by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It was incredible to be so close to these animals, so close we could actually see a baby nursing.
This crazy Australian preemptive sign means that there will be a YIELD sign up ahead somehwere... We stopped the car to take some pictures of the many banks of Watsonia (native to South Africa) that had apparently become naturalized.
These beautiful Watsonia were growing on both sides of the road on a track of dirt for about a mile and a half in the middle of nowhere (Kangaroo Island).
This is typical of this island with its sheep, Eucalyptus, and below and left, Tate's Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea simiplana), along with the ever-winding dirt track.
We drove along Middle Creek as it meandered through beautiful grassland studded with eucalyptus & Tate's Grass trees, and a crazy profusion of flowers. From a nearby cliff we see can see Investigator Strait with Middle River it flowing into the sea.
Above Middle River, driving up the escarpment, the land leveled out and suddenly there was a mob of wild kangaroos- the first truly wild ones we had seen.
We decided that Kangaroo Island is the most remote place we had ever been. When we compared it to other remote places like East Africa and Namibia, we realized how few people there were on this island in comparison. As we drove around this island, we found we could stop in the middle of the road, turn the car off, and take pictures to our heart's delight.
Though found on Kangaroo Island, this home is typical of homes we had seen in our travels throughout Australia. Most are built from limestone and have red metal rooves, lots of Victorian lace, and other elaborate Victorian trim.
Sophisticated, cultured, neat & casual − this is the self-image Adelaide projects, a nod to the days of free colonisation without the 'penal colony' taint. Adelaidians will remind you of their convict-free status, but the stuffy, affluent origins of the 'City of Churches' reportedly did more to inhibit development than promote it.
Adelaide is the 5th most populous city in Australia with 1.31 million people. The Aussies note that Adelaide is "very well organized" and we agreed that it is beautifully AND efficiently designed.
"North Adelaide is a neighborhood of old, well preserved buildings with lots of trendly looking restaurants, pubs, and cafes. It has an outstanding stock of Victorian buildings, an abundance of parks..., and constant small touches- an ornate lamp post here, a stone lion there- that give a dash of classiness and respectful vererability that Sydney and Melbourne all too often discarded for the sequined glitter of skyscrapers."
"It (Adelaide) feels rather like an urban version of a gentlemen's club- comfortable, old fashioned, quietly grand, slightly drowsy by mid afternoon, redolent of another age."
We ate lovely breakfasts outside at the Lion Hotel the three mornings we were in Adelaide. It was fun watching people come and go and the food was delicious.
We discovered this Row House plaque where we stayed at an adorable historic cottage in North Adelaide.
It was extremely well located in North Adelaide, close enough to walk to restaurants and the zoo. It was away from the skyscrapers and close to the early 19th century homes and saloons. We loved it and would stay there again.
We thought these rose-breasted cockatoos were beautiful, but most locals felt they are pests.
The Cleland Wildlife Park was really interesting. Although the animals are confined, it's not a zoo. You pass through a gate which says, for instance, "Emus & Yellowtail Wallabies". The enclosures are open areas the public can enter. Cleland's strategy is to help visitors connect with animals in their natural environment. By providing an immersive nature experience, with a limited number of enclosures and the chance to get closer to some of Australia’s most iconic animals, visitors learn more about the importance of conservation. Note the baby's tail sticking out of its mother's pouch.
The highlight of our experience at Cleland Wildlife Park was seeing kangaroos and wallabies with babies that jumped in and out of their mother's marsupial pouches. They came right up to us to be petted!
Kangaroos are large marsupials that are found only in Australia. They are identified by their muscular tails, strong back legs, large feet, short fur and long, pointed ears. Like all marsupials, a sub-type of mammal, females have pouches that contain mammary glands, where their young live until they are old enough to emerge.
Koalas are one of the most recognizable Australian animals- they are known and loved worldwide. Cleland is famous for its koala experiences – you can get up close to a koala & have the opportunity to feel its fur, learn about its unique features and take photos standing next to the koala.
As we made our way around the park we saw a variety of animals including marsupials such as koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, bettongs, and potoroos. We saw dingoes and Tasmanian devils, native birds, water birds and forest birds, and even snakes, reptiles and the elusive echidna. Most of the animals were in natural habitats as opposed to zoo-like enclosures.
Cleland is just 20 minutes from the Adelaide city center and we highly recommend the park to visitors.
We spent a little time at the Adelaide Zoo because it’s “home” to two of only 49 Giant Pandas, in 18 zoos, in 13 different countries outside of China. While we enjoyed the Adelaide Zoo, we found the Cleland Wildlife Park to be much more interesting with its many opportunities to touch the animals. Pictured is Catherine under a Queensland Bottle Tree, Brachychiton rupestris.
Adelaide Zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals and 250 species of exotic and native mammals, birds, reptiles and fish exhibited over eight hectares of magnificent botanic surroundings.
Wang Wang and Fu Ni are the Southern Hemisphere’s only breeding pair of Giant Pandas. Wang Wang was born in 2005 and Fu Ni 2006 both at Woolong Giant Panda Research Center, China and moved to Adelaide Zoo together in November 2009.
Wang Wang and Fu Ni are part of the international Giant Panda research, conservation and breeding program designed to preserve this vulnerable species.
As we walked away from the zoo, we heard flapping and chattering noises. We looked up into these giant pine trees to see this colony of fruit bats. There must have been at least a thousand of them. We were absolutely astonished, as were other passersby. Although generally shy by nature, this group is quite social and likes to roost together and enjoy a bit of chit-chat, particularly as breeding season approaches. The males can be quite boisterous at times and even like to play chase! They love to snack on creepy-crawlies like crickets, cockroaches and mealworms.
Here's a close-up of these marvelous mammals, who are the only mammals that can fly!
The Adelaide Port area, where the museum is located, is in flux. Industrial buildings are being reclaimed and re-purposed. Catherine found very little shopping to be had in the port area; Dave was overjoyed.
Catherine found this shop across from the Maritime Museum. In it, the proprietor, a woman in her late 80's, was a former Australian ballerina. Today her very interesting shop is loaded with bins full of old vinyl and historical photographs of the early Hollywood movie industry as well as early Australian city photographs- Schooners and clippers, bridges and trains... it was like a museum.
Adelaide’s rich arts and cultural heritage offers a must see collection of international, colonial, indigenous and modern artwork. Also, it's easy to get around Adelaide: buses, taxis, trains and trams operate all over the city. Port Adelaide is a bit behind, however, and is fairly deserted and desolate except for the Maritime Museum.
This is a hidden gem tucked away in historic Port Adelaide. The gallery, built in 1848, is in a beautifully renovated Coach House to the old Port Admiral Hotel. It is both an elegant AND funky venue which is a working studio, a showcase for artists, and a gift shop and framing studio. It was renovated and is now owned by a couple of American women. One of the storekeepers told Catherine that the Adeliadians "hadn't figured it out yet" when she inquired why there were not more shops like this one in the area.
Hahndorf is a small town in the Adelaide Hills region of South Australia. Currently an important tourism spot, it has previously been a center for farming and services. It is a good place for a shopping excursion.
Pretty old limestone building with Victorian lace. Probably built in the early 1800's.
The Rundle Mall is considered the best shopping area in Adelaide. There are several streets closed to traffic.
Burt Flugelman's sculpture "Spheres" has become an Adelaide icon and is fondly known as the "Malls Balls".
Dave and Catherine: Distorted reflections in the Malls Balls!
These are the principle Australian bills, also denominated as "dollars". While the Australian dollar has been equivalent to the US Dollar, now it costs only $.75 for us. Accordingly, shopping was great for the Yank tourists.
We returned November 11, 2016, just after the US Presidential Election which surprised everyone.