Testing 1 2
Testing 1 2 3. This pen writes just fine.
Or rather ... this pen writes fat lines.
(This pen ran out of ink after just 6 days. Damn Walmart pen)

We're going on another trip! This trip will be our last for a while. We have a mortgage now and won't be able to do this anymore, so in the spirit of one last "hurrah" we are going to the other ends of the Earth. We hope to see great sites different from what we've seen in our travels before. We hope to meet friendly people who we can learn more about ourselves from, and see how we are perceived by others.

I will document our travels in the following pages. Otherwise, we will forget what we have done and some of the amazing things we have seen.

Days 1 & 3 - Time Travel

12/28/2004 & 12/30/2004
Location: Newark, NJ --> Singapore --> Sydney
Weather: Warm upon arrival

Let me start by saying we've barely seen the light of day for 2 days now ... and somewhere along the line, Wednesday disappeared on us. After Mom & Dick dropped us off at the airport, we checked in at the ticket booth, and my carry-on was too heavy. Apparently, I was still paranoid from our last adventure to Portugal where our luggage was lost. :(

We went through security, put all of our stuff through the x-ray machine, etc ... when we heard over the loud-speaker, "Will Jason & Hilary Victor please report to the ticket desk?" So we left the secure area and went all the way back to the ticket counter. The woman behind the counter paged us because the Singapore Airlines lounge was still under construction, so we got passes to the Virgin Airlines first class lounge!

We took advantage of the open bar (Gray Goose Vodka) and waited for our boarding time. We had a moment to email friends and family, too!

We got on our first flight from Newark to Singapore and it only took 19 hours! We slept for a good portion of the flight, but for the other 9 hours, we had the <TA DA!>... in-flight entertainment system. I just laid back in the space-bed and saw so many movies and sitcoms, that I don't have to go to Blockbuster ever again! I saw "The Runaway Jury," "The Forgotten," "Dodge ball," and tons of T.V. shows like, "Whose Line is it Anyway," "Frasier," "Monk," "CSI," etc ...

When we landed in Singapore, we tried to use the bathroom. Luckily, I didn't have to "squat" just yet. The airport was nice!

There was a free movie theater, fern garden, sunflower garden, and coy pond.

We bought a few souvenirs, took a step outside (in the sunflower garden) and it was warm and humid! I didn't realize how close Singapore is to the equator!

We had some more time to kill, so we headed to the business class lounge and had some native cuisine and posed with the fish. After our three and a half hour layover, we got on our second plane to Sydney. This one was only seven hours long. It's amazing how short a seven hour flight feels after being on an eighteen hour flight. They had the best food! I had the beef! (no pictures, sorry) :)

After landing, we hit an ATM, took a cab to the Central Park Hotel, where we promptly crashed for the night. We might try calling family tonight, as well. Tomorrow, we'll have more to tell. I'm excited about our New Year's plans!

Day 4 - New Year's Eve (NYE)

Location: Sydney
Weather: Hot and Sunny!
I woke up a little early this morning, but managed to go back to sleep until 9:00! This jet-lag hasn’t affected me too much. We got dressed for summer and headed down to Bills (a nice little breakfast place) and ordered ricotta pancakes! They were very fluffy and rich … yummmm … pancakes. We also ordered creamy scrambled eggs with cheese and tomato. It took us 40 minutes to get seated because there were so many people there.

After that, we tried to walk off the pancakes by going to the harbor by foot! We made it and saw where Nemo was found… Sydney Harbor!

We walked up the pylon lookout and saw another angle of the whole harbor.

I started feeling adventurous and tried to climb the bridge (just kidding).

This year for New Year’s, they added a New Years ball (8 tons) to the fireworks display. We saw this close-up when we walked across Sydney Harbor Bridge. Or rather … we walked half-way across and then headed back to save time. Plus, our legs didn’t know what to expect. One day we barely move on a plane for 28 hours, and the next, we’re walking miles and miles everywhere we go!

While walking around the city, we found a Christmas tree, which is odd to us because if feels like Summer.
We also walked through Hyde Park and saw beautiful trees and fountains.
We walked back to our hotel to change for our New Years Eve dinner cruise on the harbor! On the way back, at 4 PM, the harbor area was packed!
Some were a little crazier than others, too.
We got changed and headed to the wharf where our boat was to pick us up. Well, we were nervous because it was 7:45 and the boat was nowhere to be seen! (Departure was at 8:00). Luckily, the boat was just running a little late, so we got on without a hitch.
The cruise was great! It was a little cramped and we were sitting across from two strange, older men from the Netherlands, but it was fun just the same. We drank Australian wine, beer, Champaign and there was a dance floor and DJ set up on the first floor.
The boat was in the parade of lit ships, so we were in the best area (the “fireworks exclusion zone”) going back and forth under the Sydney Harbor Bridge and by the Opera House.
The 9:00 fireworks started and were not that impressive. They lasted 8 minutes and were not very loud or extravagant. But the 12:00 fireworks were massive! Fireworks were shooting out of the top of the bridge! And they were synchronized all up and down the harbor!

While we were in-between fireworks, though, we met up with two very nice Australian natives, Craig and Shimi! Craig was telling us all about the local history and traditions of Australia and he even witnessed my first true” Australian beer experience (“Victoria Bitter”) and bought me a Jack Daniels. They were a very nice couple and the cruise was that much more enjoyable with them being there. We were so tired by the time the boat was returning to the wharf that I was ready fall over … or perhaps that was all the alcohol … :)

We settled back in our room at 2:00 AM, and we crashed for the night. Tomorrow … we relax! :)

Day 5 - Sydney Opera House and Fish Market

Location: Sydney
Weather: Partly cloudy and warm

We slept in late this morning until around 10:00 AM and then took public transport to the Sydney Opera House to take a quick tour. It’s beautiful outside! We met the guide in the lobby of this huge structure! Everyone says that the architecture is based on sails in “mid-billow” in the wind, but I have to say that I still don’t see it! Call me crazy! I never realized that the opera house is actually three separate structures. It was funded publicly and through an international lottery system.

While we were in the HUGE main concert hall (sorry, pictures weren’t allowed) a tourist came in and started snapping pictures! The tour guide threw a fit and charged the man down (which was quite humorous because the tour guide looked like a self proclaimed “galloping granny”), and forced him to delete each picture of the inside hall.

The acoustics were very wet and there was a 2.7 second echo to every sound. The seats in the concert hall were specially made to absorb sound similar to the way human bodies in the seats absorb sound for a consistent sound. The inner structures of each of the three buildings were entirely within the outer, visible structures.

By the time the tour was over, we didn’t have enough time to go to the beach. :( Looking back, we shouldn’t have slept in as late as we did. So, we headed back to the hotel, changed out of our bathing suits, showered up, and left to go to the fish market. It was a nice little district where they sell fish (duh :) ). Many of the stores were closed because of New Years, but the seagulls didn’t know that! (“Mine? Mine?”).

We ate a sample platter of fried fish and it was amazing. Very fresh! I wish we didn’t eat that much, though, because there was other things to try like sashimi and sushi.

After our fried fish binge, we got some ice cream and sat near the wharf.

We saw a few pelicans feeding on some of the fishy leftovers.

We walked around some more of the other stores and went into a place where they were selling fresh fish. We saw some fresh lobster in a tank in the back, so we thought we would take a look at their struggle for survival. We walked back just in time. Someone had chosen a lobster! The man at the tank reached in his net, grabbed one, pulled him out of the water .. but as he did, the lobster fought for its life and splashed lobster tank water all over us! It got on my face and shirt and in Hilary’s hair and ice cream cone! We decided it was best to get rid of the ice cream cone at that point.

We had dinner reservations at Doyle’s on the beach at Watson’s Bay, so we wiped the lobster tank water off our face, took a bus and ferry ride and made our way to Watson’s Bay. It was Gorgeous! (Pronounce like the crocodile hunter).

There was a large open park (where they didn’t allow dogs. Can you tell who planned this trip? :) )

The park overlooked downtown Sydney and had breathtaking views from a cliff that we walked up.

We took many pictures here, since it was so beautiful.

After our walk, we strolled back down through the park and got seated early for dinner. We were hoping for an outdoor table, but we got one with a window that was very nice. At the beach below, some local children were running naked through the water and the beach.

The meal was incredible! We had a Paella but it was fish in a type of tomato & herb sauce. It had octopus, crab, muscles, and loads of calamari with rice on the side.

We watched the sun set on Sydney from our table. Overall, it was a wonderful, relaxing evening. Then, the ride home happened. Because it’s New Year’s Day, many ferries are not running after certain times. For example … ours. So we had to take a bus back to downtown Sydney. No problem! It turns out we were picked up by the knight bus from Harry Potter. We were driving fast and going around corners and starting and stopping suddenly. The plane ride over here had less turbulence. We were so exhausted (and a little nauseous) so we went right to bed. We had an early start planned for our next day’s journey to the Blue Mountains!

Day 6 - The Blue Mountains

Location: Blue Mountains National Park
Weather: Cloudy with some blue sky

We woke up earlier this morning (at 7:15) so we could catch our tour bus to the Blue Mountains! The only problem was that we couldn’t find the hotel where the bus was supposed to pick us up! It was getting down to the wire, but finally, Hilary spotted the bus and we flagged him down. Phew!

We went to their central office, switched busses to our tour bus and began our journey. Our bus driver / tour guide was great, telling us stories about how Australia was colonized and about the recent and ancient history of this huge island continent. He told us the origin of Billy Tea.

It was made in discarded beef tins which were imported from France. Prospectors in the gold-rush era would put handles on the tins and boil water for their tea.

And now, I’m on the bus, writing in this journal. Hmm … I’m all caught up … read more later. Here … I’ll give you a pause button

We just had a little Billy Tea and Anzac biscuits (or cookies as we refer to them) and walked down a whole bunch of steps to go to an amazing overlook.

We could see the Wentworth Falls, took a few pictures, and marched all the way back up again. There was a lot of vegetation in the area and we were attacked by a fine variety of flies. :)


We took another 10 minute photo stop overlooking the mountains. There were no cookies this time, though. :( Everything is beautiful that we’ve seen, but we haven’t seen the blue in the mountains, yet.

I took a bathroom stop and ran back so I wouldn’t miss the bus. It’s a good thing I’m writing this as the day goes on, because otherwise, everyone would miss out on this level of detail I’ve provided.

Our next stop was a scenic world! We’re still in the Blue Mountains, but we got a good look at the rock formation called the 3 sisters.

We waited in a long line with our boxed lunch, and went on the steepest train in the world (with a 52 degree incline). They played the Indiana Jones theme music as we descended.

It felt almost like an elevator (or a roller-coaster). It used to be a coal transport system, but now, it transports people!

We walked along the nature trail at the bottom of the track and saw more of the historical uses of the area. Hilary had flashbacks of riding a horse called “Studly” through the Waipio Valley!

On the trail, there was much wildlife and trees we’re not used to seeing, like Eucalyptus trees.

After our walk, we went up the cable car to the top area again.

They had some statues of “the three sisters” who apparently are naked ...

... and so was the aboriginal man who turned them to stone.

Before getting back on the bus, Hilary bought some white chocolate M & Ms! They’re sweeter than I was used to! Also, they call “Diet Pepsi” “Pepsi Light” and they call “Burger King” “Hungry Jacks.”

We took a tour of the Olympic Stadium. It looked like they were trying to offset the $200 million loss they incur every year by building real-estate and putting more tourist attractions in the space.

We got dropped off (last) at our hotel and then got ready for the beach! Manly Beach! It got its name from a governor who passed by and saw an abundance of Strong-looking aboriginal men. So he called it “ Manly Beach.”

When we got on the ferry, we saw clouds gathering overhead. :( It started to drizzle. We arrived and tried to make the best of things. We walked up “Corso Street” and ate fries (or “chips as they call them here), sitting on the edge of the beach. There was a little girl drawing stars in the sand and the mother told her to stop drawing them because they might be offensive.

She was drawing stars of David. She said, “But that’s how I draw a star!” Later, her father said, “Come on, rich bitch. Let’s go.” Perhaps the parents should have been more concerned about their own language. Or perhaps they don’t have the same negative connotation for the word “bitch” here. Hmmm …

Then, we were getting cold, so we went walking back up “Corso Street.” There was a bevy of store signs with puns in their title all next to each other. We tried a meat pie. It tasted like shepherd’s pie, and then split a “Fuel” burger. It was a fast-food chain with healthy(er) options, like multigrain whole wheat buns with low fat mayo and beats for toppings!

Afterwards, we were looking for a coffee place, “Candy’s Coffee” but we couldn’t find it, so we ducked into an internet café and emailed our friends and family back home.

On the way back to the ferry terminal we had some gellatisimo-brand gelato and waited. So, what we lacked in good weather, we made up with great food!

Day 7 - Eating Emu

Location: Sydney --> Cairns
Weather: 30 degrees C / 86 degrees F
Subtitle: You’ve GOT to be kidding me!

Well, if we missed out on the beach time yesterday, we sure made up for it today! Let me start at the beginning. When the big bang exploded, it caused all the matter in the universe … oh wait … too far back … I’ll start TODAY!

We got up this morning, got all our things together and rushed out of our Sydney Hotel (Central Park Hotel). We took a cab to the airport ($10 cheaper than the trip from the airport, proving that our cabbie we had earlier went the wrong way and over-charged us).

We got on a short flight to Cairns (2.5 hours) in economy class next to a guy who smelled like smoke and took the whole armrest from Hilary.

When we got off the plane, we took a short cab ride to the pier and ate pizza! :) It was a thin crust Italian style (Very tasty with Brochette)

We hopped on our ferry to Green Island, discovered by Captain Cook.

So far, there hasn’t been an island he’s discovered that I haven’t liked! Our ferry ride was short (45 mins) and windy from the upper level!

We could barely keep our sunglasses on! The whole area reminds me so much of Hawaii! It’s gorgeous! On the ferry, we met a Netherlands couple who used to live in Andover, Massachusetts. I have to remember that part of the fun of traveling is finding out about those who are around you.

It’s amazing how small this world becomes once you start traveling. They lived right around the corner from where we stayed in Amsterdam a few years back. I wonder if we passed them in the streets 4 years ago.


When we arrived on Green Island, we just stared with our mouths hung open. The Island itself is not that big, yet there is so much to do! (It’s only about 37 acres).

We checked into our room at the private resort.

After we recovered from fainting, we took a few pictures and ran around the place, screaming “you’ve got to be kidding me!” (that’s where I got the title of today’s entry, in case you haven’t noticed).

Our bags were already brought to our room for us, so we cracked them open, changed into our bathing suits and headed for the beach! After a short walk from our room to the reception area, we exchanged our key for some beach towels from a 6’9” man behind the reception desk who looks just like Mongo from Blazing Saddles! (I’ll try to get a picture before we leave).

Another short walk later, we picked up some snorkeling gear and attempted to snorkel. I’m very proud of Hilary! She didn’t give up! And before she knew it, she was snorkeling right next to me! We saw a few sting rays and plenty of Sea Grass. There were a few good patches of some brilliant coral (brain coral, for example). Alas, my camera doesn’t perform well underwater, so … no pictures.

We’re hoping to see more tomorrow. We ended up snorkeling for over an hour, though!

Afterwards, we went back to the room to drop off our gear in the room and we partook in some complementary champagne and chocolate covered strawberries! There was a huge tray on our room waiting for us when we arrived!

After gulping down some champagne, we went to the dock (the only dock on the island) to see the 5:00 fish feeding!

It was great! All these huge tropical fish (2-3 feet long) were clamoring for food. (It was like watching me at a Sizzler buffet!) There was even a small shark, but the tropical fish were bigger and had better eye sight, so they ended up chasing the shark away.

We saw a giant turtle, too!

After the feeding, we explored a few of the paths and booked our day’s activities for tomorrow. We met on the sunset side of the island to have a drink and watch the sunset. I had a Castlemain XXXX (read “four ex”). It was very good! I think I like Australian beer. Victoria Bitter was a good brand, too.

We felt like we were in a Corona commercial.

We laid out on the beach until the sun went down.


After watching the sunset, we went to get cleaned up for dinner. It was included in our package, so we didn’t know what we were in for. Luckily, it was very good! Good thing, too , because it’s the only place to eat on the whole Island! Emeralds is its name.

My pen ran out of ink, so now I have to use a blue one.

I can now tell my friends and family that I have eaten kangaroo, crocodile, and emu!

We washed all that down with a few mango daiquiris. Our waitress, a native from Brisbane was very nice, but it was her first week on the job, so she didn’t know anything about the food yet. She talked with us a little about the country, though.

After dinner, we ran to get our torches (or flash-lights as we call them) and went on a nature walk. Our guide showed us all the local trees and the nuts they produce. There was a cheese-tree fruit that actually smelled like cheese (and apparently it acts like a laxative). There were sweet almonds, too.

Afterwards, we went to the beach, where he showed us a ghost crab. It only comes out at night and in the morning, the beach is covered with their tracks.

We turned off our flash-lights and looked up at the stars and there were so many! We were hoping to see the southern cross, but it sets at 7:00 (along with the sun) so it’s tricky to see. I would have taken a picture of the star-lit sky, but my camera’s flash only goes 8 feet. :)

Another interesting fact we learned on our nature walk: We kept feeling a spritz of water as we walked through the island. We were wondering if it was some kind of sparkler system. In a way … it was. It turns out the cicadas are out this year (and deafeningly loud, too) and they like to pee on tourists from America, apparently. Yelch! In a way, it’s like a refreshing ocean mist. Ocean water evaporates, rains back to the Earth, plants and trees soak up the rain water, cicadas eat leaves from the trees, and the cicadas piss on the American tourists. Circle of life.

After our nature walk, we walked along the pier and looked at the stars and tried to find fish with our flashlights. We found another sting ray! At around midnight, we got tired out and went to bed.

Day 8 - Finding Nemo

Location: Green Island
Weather: Hot and Sunny

We got up at 5:30 this morning to watch the sunrise. It was beautiful, but we were really tired! We walked the length of the island, occasionally getting pissed on by more cicadas.

At the end, there was a little bench where we sat down and stared at the ocean. It’s so peaceful in the morning. There’s no one on the beach (except for the one family that looked like they camped out there overnight). At around 7:00 we headed back for our buffet breakfast, which was amazing!

They had sausage, eggs benedict (with Salmon instead of taylor ham, pancakes, waffles, tropical fruit, cereal, and mango juice (Hilary’s favorite!).

At around 9:30, we took a glass-bottom boat ride around the reef! We saw a lot of fish and coral. There were so many Japanese tourists on the boat that we couldn’t hear the pilot explaining everything. We did see clams that weighed 2 tons! Imagine how much chowder you could make with that!

After the boat dropped us back off at the dock, we wanted to see more, so we went out further with our snorkel gear. They took us out on the boat! We saw everything in a new dimension!

We didn’t see many fish, but we did see coral that must have been 20 meters tall! (I have to use the metric system here) :) We had our picture taken by the guy who took us out on the boat, and we were able to get the digital pictures on CD-ROM! Hilary is like a snorkeling junkie now! She wanted to go to the “drop-off” but I told her that’s where the dangerous fish could be and she wanted to keep going, anyway! She’s come a long way from the last time we went snorkeling in Hawaii.

We still couldn’t get enough underwater viewing, so we went to the underwater observatory on the pier. We saw pretty much the same things as before, except there were some sea urchins and anemones.

Inside the anemones were two clown fish! (Like Nemo) It was hard to take pictures, but I did my best. The underwater observatory itself was interesting. It’s the oldest of its kind in the world. The walls are seven inches thick and the portholes are from World War II army vessels. I also kept butting my head on the low ceiling.

After climbing back up to the dock, it was time for the crocodile show at the maritime museum. We saw really big turtles! They were feeding them salad and dog food.

As part of the show, everyone got to have their picture taken holding a baby crocodile, quite possibly the most evil-looking creature that is still alive. So I held it! Anything for a good photo op!

The crocodiles themselves were really freaky. They would hide in the mud under some green plants, and move around with only their eyes and nose out of the water. You could barely see them!

They really did blend in with their surroundings out of the water, too. But once feeding time started, they made themselves quite visible.

Sometimes, the crocs would miss the food, and their jaws would slam shut so fast that it would make a giant thumping sound.

The largest croc we saw was twelve feet, but the absolute largest one there (and the largest captured crocodile) was Cassius (at 18 feet!!) That’s almost two stories tall (nose to tail).

They had a few more clown fish in the museum, as well. After the show was over, a bird had flown into a croc’s cage. The croc saw it and slowly stalked its prey. We waited for 10 minutes, but the bird never made it close enough to the croc for him to make his move.

After the croc feeding frenzy, I was feeling a bit peckish myself, so I ordered a genuine Australian Super dog! After that we lounged on the beach for the rest of the day! It was a little more crowded until 4:00, when the “day-trippers” left. And even then, it wasn’t that crowded by New Jersey shore standards.

Hilary wanted to get cleaned up, so she headed back to the room, while I watched the sun dip below the water. I just sat there, read my book and listened to the ocean. It was another “ Corona” moment. Except this time, I tried a Sterling light beer (Australian).

While showering, I did verify that water drains clockwise here! It looks so strange! We went to dinner (our last on the island), and had fairly traditional meals (fish and chicken).

On the way back from dinner, we were strolling along and we heard a slight rustling, then a palm frond fell right where we were just standing five seconds earlier! I think it was the Island’s way of saying, “Get the hell out!”

We caught up with the nature walk with our guide, Erin, who was born and raised in the area. She was very energetic and could speak fluent Japanese! We went into the underwater observatory, along with about 80 other people (mostly Japanese). It got very cramped and hot very quickly, so we didn’t spend a lot of time there.

Afterwards, we all stood in a circle and made rain sounds with our hands. It was like camp! It also reminded me of “Cloudburst” in college. [clap] MAHOOOOOOOOH!!!

Anywho, we were really tired after that, so we called it a night.

Day 9 - Proud to be [clap] [clap] … Aborigine

Location: Green Island --> Cairns mainland
Weather: Hot & Sunny (with some foreboding clouds )

When we got up this morning, we were a little sad because we had to leave the paradise of Green Island. We got up, packed our suitcases, left them in the room (they take our luggage to the boat for us), and went to breakfast. It was the same awesome buffet as yesterday, but I noticed they had honey dripping off a honey comb!

We got on our boat and sat in the back. It was so nice there, I didn’t want to go! About 45 minutes later, we were back on the docks of Cairns. We walked from the marina to our hotel, which looked a lot closer on the map. Apparently, when you’re lugging 2 suitcases and a backpack behind you in 90 degree heat and humidity, that walk seemed that much further!

Maybe that’s why they call it “luggage?” By the time we got to the new hotel, (The Coral Tree Inn) we were dripping with sweat. Our new room wasn’t as nice as our last one, but it was spacious. There were ants in the bathroom, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We took a bus to the scenic Kuranda Skyrail! It goes through the local rain forests and is one of the man-made wonders of the world! There were so many picturesque views of amazing trees and canopies.

There were two stops along the way, with boardwalks around the forest.

At one of the stops we saw a great view of Baron Gorge and Baron Falls! When we got to the top, we were in a town called Kuranda and we went into the local shops (very touristy) and got lunch at a place overlooking the rainforest!

We passed up the opportunity to eat at “The Deli Llama” out of our sheer distaste for restaurants with puns in their title.

Instead, we continued browsing the local stores until we got to one that looked like a pirate ship. We walked in and the place sold mainly didgeridoos. We found out that they are hallowed out by termites, then polished and painted.

The man in the store was very informative, and then he mentioned that he played for seventeen years and he played with the London Symphony Orchestra … on didgeridoo! So he gave us a great  demonstration and posed for a picture.

I felt bad about not buying anything from his store, but everything was so expensive. One didgeridoo sold for $3,000 (Australian). He even showed us his stockpile upstairs, all crafted by Aboriginal artists.

After we were satisfied with the local sampling of the Kuranda street scene, (and when it was time to catch our train), we went to the Kuranda Scenic Railway station. It was a nice little train and it seemed very old-fashioned.

We saw many steep drops and a waterfall on the way back down to Cairns. We met a nice Indian couple on the way (sitting next to us) and they were on their honeymoon, taking a vacation from their quarry business in Northern India. They encouraged us to visit India, but something tells me we’re not going to be traveling like this for a very long time. It was so hot and humid on the train that it was a relief to get off!

After we walked back to the room, we got ready for our evening dinner show at Tjupukai, an Aboriginal dinner/dance show.

We were bussed there with others from the hotels in Cairns, including a nice Irish family. When we got there, we went right into the first room with black light paint and florescent colors everywhere.

We were introduced to a “chief” who narrated an opening statement and danced from a platform (also covered black light paint). There were lightning effects and a fog machine, too!

Then we “walked towards the light” and walked outside, banging two sticks together in rhythm. We were led to a circle where we chanted and stomped, while banging the sticks together. The Aboriginals were creating fire the old-fashioned way (by rubbing two sticks together).

Once they got a spark, they waved the ignited dry grass around in the air and it burst into flame. They lit a spear, threw it into the woods across the river and a pillar of fire erupted over behind the trees! Don’t worry; it looked like a controlled explosion.

Then they lit the walkway’s tikki torches and we followed them to the dinner buffet feast! Once we were allowed to get up to the buffet, it was a mad rush for the food! There were muscles, fish, chicken, beef, pork, soup, salads, etc. I washed all that down with a Foster’s Lager. It wasn’t my favorite so far.

After dinner, the “show” started. It was a mixture of a luau, beatnik poetry reading, and the three stooges. Everything seemed very disconnected and the dialogues were embarrassing. They would just hit each other and say, “you hit my head!” “No I didn’t.” And it went on and on like that…

This was definitely a tourist trap. The cherry on the icing was when they ended the show with “I’m proud to be [clap clap] Aborigine,” which while the sentiment was nice, the delivery was so hokey I felt embarrassed for the performers.

One highlight of the evening is when they called on a volunteer for the Irish family to get up and try to make fire from sticks and then dance on stage. She got a boomerang for participating, signed by the performers. Later, when we re-boarded the bus, the bus-driver gave her a hard time about being the one who brought home the boomerang!

Overall, it was fun and the food wasn’t bad. It just seemed too pricey. I mean .. they sang “The Kangaroo Blues!” with a boogie-woogie karaoke sound-track! Also, they were covered in mud and there were no female performers. Nothing makes you hungrier than watching five overweight, dirty, sweaty, men in loin cloths dancing and flinging the dirt under their feet at each other.

That night, we tried to go to sleep, but couldn’t get “Proud to be [clap] [clap] … Aborigine” out of our heads.

Day 10 - The Sounds ... of Silence...

Location: Cairns --> Outback (Uluru, not the Steakhouse)
Weather: 33 degrees C / 92 degrees F (and not a cloud in the sky)

We woke up this morning, went in the bathroom to attend to our morning ritual of brushing of the teeth, and Hilary noticed she left her toiletry bag open. An army of ants must have been coming down with a cold or something because they went straight for Hilary’s “Cold-eze”. She had to rinse out her whole bag! Her hair gels and soaps were swarming with the suckers.

We went to check-out and mentioned it to the woman behind the counter, hoping for a discount on the room, but she just said, “Ts. Yeah … there’s been a lot of rain lately, and it’s hard to keep the bugs under control.” So, if anyone reading this is going to Cairns, avoid the Coral Tree Inn! Ha! I showed them!

We took a plane to fly to the Outback (for a little variety in our trip). Specifically, we went to a giant rock in the middle of the dessert. This big rock, called Uluru (oo’ luh-ROO) by the local Aborigine people is 348 meters (1141 feet) tall in a place where everything else is relatively flat!

When we got off the plane, it was surprisingly pleasant out, which was a good thing, because we had to walk on the tarmac to our gate. The air felt very dry and there was a warm breeze.

The airport shuttle brought us to our room for free! Since the entire town of Ayers Rock is owned by one resort, everyone at the airport is going to the same place.

We got to our new room, and it felt like I was back on my 7 th grade class camping trip! We had two sets of metal-framed bunk beds (which my feet hung off of) and an all-tile floor. Hilary and I had to sleep separately for our entire stay. We had a friendly HUGE bee in our trash can outside our room, and it was thrashing about.

We took our first bus tour at the Olga Mountains after putting on tons of Survivor© brand bug spray and 30 sun block.


I finally had a chance to wear my outback hat (which looks like a bonnet with no flowers on it. :(

Our tour guide, Shane, was a half-hour late which cut into our tour time, but we stopped off at a lookout once we got going that made up for it. The view was great!

You got a real sense of depth with all the layers of trees shrinking into the distance until this giant series of rocks jut out of the ground. There was much more vegetation in central Australia than I thought! There were also more black flies than I thought! They were relentless in trying to find moisture, so they collectively attacked my eyes, nose, and mouth. We all were doing the “Australian salute” which involved swatting flies away from our faces.

After the lookout, we went back in the van to get a closer view of the Olgas. Shane gave us the current theory of their existence. Basically, there used to be an inland sea in Australia, when the plates shifted upward, mountain ranges formed around the sea, but because plants weren’t invented yet, massive erosion ate away at the mountain and filled in the ocean, but all of the sediment created pressure on the lower layers, which caused them to solidify. After the plates shifted again, causing the underground rock layers to bend upwards and distort. Erosion then ate away at the softer soil on top, leaving exposed the harder rocks beneath, which was what we were looking at the top of. The hard rock extends beneath the ground for future generations to see (millions of years from now).

After our geology lesson, we walked up a trail through the Walpa gorge. It was 2.6 kilometers, which had to be like, 206 miles or something like that. I’m getting the hang of this metric system!

The scale of the mountains were hard to capture with pictures, but its tallest peak is about 200 meters higher than Ayers Rock, putting it at 548 meters above the ground. Not too shabby! I tried to capture the texture of the rocks because there were missing chunks and shattered, huge pieces below.

We hurried back to the room (or camper’s cabin, if you prefer) and got ready for the sounds of silence dinner. The only thing that exists in this area was the resort itself. Without it, no one would live there, so we didn’t have to be bussed far to get to a secluded area overlooking the Olgas and Ayers Rock (Uluru).

We ate canapés (emu, kangaroo, Salmon, and pesto) and drank champagne, and watched the sun set. I had two glasses of champagne and a beer by the time we sat at our table, so needless to say, I wasn’t exactly walking straight.

Sounds of silence dinner setup

Sunset picture

The view from our table

We sat with some English tourists and ended up having a great time! They were so nice and it was interesting to hear what they joked about and how they viewed world politics. It turns out that they were following our recent presidential election very closely, hoping Bush would lose. I was hoping world politics wouldn’t come up while we traveled, though. They were from Oxford and were very enjoyable dinner companions.

Before the food, there was a didgeridoo player (playing some AC/DC we found out later). She explained the instrument and told us it was not used by any Aborigines in central Australia. The dinner was great! Much better than the Tjupkai we experienced last night. Dinner included Kangaroo, Lam, Barramundi (fish), Crocodile, and Chicken. It was all good!

After dinner, when it was really dark, an astronomer introduced himself and showed us the Southern Hemisphere’s constellations, which were very bright in the Outback sky. We saw two galaxies with the naked eye! And we saw the Southern Cross for the first time. Saturn was also visible and through a telescope, you could see its rings. At one point, they asked us all for a moment of silence so we could hear how quiet the outback is! There was absolutely no sound … and then … someone farted. Everyone couldn’t remain silent after that.

We got back very late, but it was worth it. This was definitely a highlight of the trip. We have to get up early tomorrow morning for sunrise, but I’ll let you know how we make out.

Day 11 - Another day, another sunset on another rock

Location: Outback
Weather: 37 degrees C / 99 degrees F

I didn’t want to wake up this morning. It was 4:30 AM! And either I was really dehydrated, or I was hung-over (I drank more with dinner). We woke up this early to see the sun rise over Uluru.

Shane from Discovery Eco-tours was our driver/guide again, so he was late picking us up. I was worried we would miss it, but he got us there with time to set up a nice little breakfast by the bus.



We watched the sun some up over the horizon and illuminate the patterns of rock on Uluru. It really was beautiful. Afterwards, I had to go “water the shrubs” if you know what I mean. To put it more accurately, I watered the termite mound (I found out later).  But we both enjoyed the sunrise. I’m surprised we woke up this early!

After we were all satisfied that the sun was up, we headed out towards our “inactive tour” which apparently means that everyone on the tour was older, overweight, asthmatic, or a combination of all three. Shane explained the geology on how this rock was formed, which coincidentally enough, was the same way the other big rock we saw was formed. :)


On the inactive tour, we got closer to the rock known as Uluru. The guide told us stories on how the local Aborigine tribes would explain the markings on the rocks.

For example, there was a heart-shaped rock by this watering hole, and the locals told a story of a snake that turned into her human form and cried about the murder of her nephew by another snake, before slashing at it twice, killing it. It’s kind of like an aborigine soap opera … “Snakes of our Lives” … or something like that.

The discoverers had a different explanation for the heart-shaped pattern. The discoverer, William Grosse, named the watering hole, Maggie Springs (even though it was more of a collection pool than a spring, but I digress). He named it Maggie Springs after his girlfriend, Maggie, who was waiting for him back home. When he returned, she had fallen in love with another and left him, so that is how William left his heart in Maggie Springs. (Sounds like another soap opera, doesn’t it?)

There were many things to see. Some of which we were asked not to take pictures of since they are sacred sites that some tribal people aren’t allowed to see. They are afraid the pictures would get published.

The things I was allowed to take pictures of were pretty cool. We saw cave paintings that could be dated back 4,000 years! Unfortunately, tour guides in the 60’s tossed water on the paintings to get them to show up better on the rock. They thought the paintings couldn’t be affected by water. They were wrong. :(

There were many caves, formed in a variety of ways. There were peaceful, shaded alcoves where you just relax and swat dozens of black flies away from your face.


There were alcoves where Aborigine women would prepare the seeds they collected. It was kind of like a pre-historic kitchen. This food made up 80-90% of the aborigine diet, so the women were the major providers for their tribe. After the tour, we went to the cultural center, which consisted of overpriced tourist crap. Hopefully, the money they make can go to the Aboriginal people who are still negatively affected by the arrival of foreign settlers.

After the gift shop, we made our way back to the resort, where we saw a bird on a chair and checked out the little shops and cafes they had. I checked the contents of the CD-ROM that was burned for us at Green Island and they put the wrong pictures on it!

Who is this??

We took a lunch break (pizza and fries at Gecko’s café, went grocery shopping for some fruit and water, and took a shuttle back to our “room.” (This little $10 tourist back-pack has come in handy)! :)

When we got back to the room, Hilary slept, but I wasn’t tired anymore, so I did our laundry.

At 3:00 PM, we took another tour of another rock in the middle of nowhere (called Mt. Connor).

Our tour guide, Ben, picked us up in his Toyota 4x4 along with Irene from Northern England and Michael, from Melbourne, Australia. I ended up feeling tired as soon as I got in the car, so I slept the whole way to Curtin Springs. I didn’t realize that Ben was giving us some interesting information and stories behind the area.

The Severin family bought the land (over 1 million acres worth) Mt. Connor resides on. He went there during a rain storm in 1954 and decided it was an undiscovered paradise, so he bought it for next to nothing! After that, it didn’t rain again for seven years! So to this day, the whole area is privately owned and contains no people! Only a campground and a cattle farm. This was the only tour that even goes to this area! Good find, Hilary!

When we got to Curtin Springs, we took a pee break and Hilary spotted cockroaches in the bathroom!

They also had one of Australia’s only cactus plants.


We saw some parrots that the owners have captured and then went on our way. We stopped along the way at a huge salt lake called Lake Amadeus? Ben explained about how the “lake” is one of many in in the outback and how the native people fear them.

It dries you out! On a full moon, the tides pull the water to the surface and bugs are attracted to the reflections in it. They would then get preserved (a nice way of saying “died a slow, painful death”) for years.

We saw a nasty millipede ...

... and a praying mantis.

We took a few more pictures and quickly got into our vehicle, for our trip to Mt. Connor. We stopped one more time to take pictures before we got there (and to water the shrubs again)...

... and I realized that if they decided to leave me there, I’d be dead!

The road back was long and red.

Instead of leaving me there, though, we took in more of the Martian-like scenery and were completely amazed by the secludedness and the beauty!

It seemed like we kept driving on these bumpy dirt roads for miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers) and Mt. Connor didn’t seem to get any closer.

As we drove, we saw various forms of life, included a Bull and, on the other side of Mt. Connor, our first Kangaroo I’ve ever seen in person!

We stopped again, walked around, and saw various cow paths and came across what looked like a petrified stump. It was actually the fossilized remains of the world’s first oxygen-producing amoeba, a stromalite. This is the proof that there used to be an inland sea in central Australia!


After that break, we got back into the 4x4 and drove up the side of Mt. Connor. Or rather … ½ way up. The panoramic view was amazing. The sky seems bigger out here because you can see so far on the horizon. On the way up (and on the way down) the ride was so bumpy because the “road” consisted of big rocks. I felt like I was going to lose my fillings!

*** It reminded me of when we went off-roading in Hawaii, thanks to Jen and Dan! ***

We drove away from the mountain to find some more wild kangaroos and to see the sunset on the mountain. When we got to our spot, we saw one of the original settler’s house. _________ settled in the area in the 30’s during the great depression (before the arrival of the Severin family). He built his house in the ground, although now it’s filled in with soil. It reminds me of a hobbit hole.

The man was lonely, so he put an ad in the paper for a wife. Sure enough, someone responded, they got married, and raised beef together on the land. He was often away from home, tending to the cattle, so she would have to keep up the house all in the wilderness with no one around for hundreds of miles in every direction.

We spotted some kangaroos! They were very calm in front of us as long as we walked closer when their heads were down. I’d say we were about fifteen feet from two of the red kangaroos. They are the largest of their species, standing at five feet tall.

After the kangaroos finally got scared off, Ben brought out some glasses and some champagne and we toasted our second sunset over a rock in two days. The rock changed colors every time we looked up at it.

Also, it felt like we were walking on an ant colony, because there was crunching beneath our feet everywhere we walked. We stood still for a moment and besides the buzzing of the flies, there was complete silence. And this time … no one farted.

This was the ultimate outback experience. I couldn’t take in all the beauty at once. After the sun went down, we headed back to Curtin Springs for our steak dinner! Our cook was a funny, round man who always had a smile and a full glass of beer. His name was “Cookie.”

The place where we ate had a bar that was right out of Crocodile Dundee (“you call that a knife?”) but everyone was very friendly.

On the way back to our “hotel” we saw owls diving for the bugs attracted to our headlights, foxes, and a family of kangaroos! I slept for the rest of the journey. It felt like today was two days. We saw the sunrise and the sunset. What a great experience.

Day 12 - Day of Travel to Tasmania

Location: Uluru --> Alice Springs --> Melbourne --> Hobart
Weather: Cold! (Once we got to Tasmania)

We packed up this morning, shed a tear that we were leaving our bunk-bed-laden room, and took a shuttle to the airport. We took our first flight to Alice Springs for one hour, took a twenty-minute rest as a layover, then headed on a two-hour flight to Melbourne, followed by a one-hour flight to Hobart in Tasmania! Phew! That was a lot of flights!

We took a shuttle to our new hotel, the Hotel Grand Chancellor (formerly a Sheridan) and checked in. The man behind the counter gave us a wink and upgraded our room! He must have thought we were newlyweds! The room overlooked the harbor and was on a corner! The best part … it was cheaper than our “room” in the Outback! What a difference not having a monopoly makes!


After getting settled, we got dressed up and went to dinner at Mures (upper deck) right across from our hotel! It was a great meal (and great company). The fish we ate was caught that morning and Hilary had the best oysters of her life.

Afterwards it was a bit chilly so we (being very smart) got some ice cream from a boat vendor called “Flipper’s” and walked around a bit. We headed back to our hotel and wrote home on their computers, and went to bed. We didn’t get much done today because we spent all day traveling.

Day 13 - Day of Tasmanian Public Transport Enlightenment

Location: Hobart and Freycinet ( Tasmania)
Weather: Don’t know … we were on a bus all day :(

I slept great last night (now that I could fit my feet on the bed)! We grabbed breakfast to go and walked to the bus station. When our bus got there, we happily boarded for our day tour of Freycinet.

Once we were on the bus, the doors shut with a looming “thud” and the lights seemed to dim, suggesting our impending doom. The driver stood up and let us know that we were three hours away from Freycinet. “But wait!” we thought, “That means that we’ll be traveling three hours by bus to do a three hour tour and then drive three hours back!” The reason it was going to take so long was because we weren’t on a tour bus … we were on public transportation TO our tour bus. This means that it did not travel directly to Freycinet, but rather, it meandered all around, making frequent stops. There were also no seat belts, no shocks, and no seats on the bus. Okay, just kidding about the “no seats” part. But the other pieces of info were accurate. The ride made us both so sick, that when we got to our tour, we were grateful to be on solid ground.

So now our tour would start, right? Well, sort of. We got on the tour bus and found out that we would have a choice. Take one one-hour walk, or stay on the bus and take a guided bus tour. We opted for the walk. The guide asked if we brought lunch. We did not...because we thought it would be included in the cost of the $72 per person tickets. We thought wrong. The tour guide then proceeds to drive us to the nearest café (15 minutes by bus) and we buy our own lunch to take with us.

We walk in the bakery and ask if they have any sandwiches. They inform us that they do not. We reply, “Oh? Then what are those two pieces of bread with lunch meat, lettuce, tomato and cheese called?”

“Oh! Those are salad rolls!”

“We’ll take two.”

We hopped on the bus two minutes later, then waited ten minutes while our driver tracked down the passengers who thought we were eating lunch at the café. I don’t blame them, though. They couldn’t hear because the tour bus’s PA system was broken. So, the “tour bus” was more of a “bus.”

So then we got to go on our walk … after another half hour on the bus! After we got to our location, the guide informs us that we have to be back in an hour and it takes twenty to thirty minutes to walk to the Wineglass Bay Lookout, “depending on fitness.” “Oh! And one more thing. If you come across any snakes, stay away. They’re all poisonous.”

“Surely they can’t ALL be poisonous!”

“They are. They’re some of the deadliest in the world, in fact,” informed the guide.

So, we got a move-on! We walked as fast as we could without our guide along the path. Luckily, we didn’t see any deadly snakes. Accompanying us were a 77-year-old Norwegian man, who we could barely keep up with! The other was a young woman from the Netherlands.


We chatted as we walked up the steep walkway. When we got to the top, we were surprised to see how many people were up there! We took some pictures and felt really happy that we completed the walk without stopping. The air was clear and the beaches below were beautiful. We were really happy we chose the walk.

We only had ten minutes to eat our lunch (we made it up to the top in 25 minutes), so we scarfed down our sandwiches … or rather … salad rolls (ughhhhh) and gulped down enough water and then started back down again. On the way down, we saw what we must have looked like coming up! There were many pretty views on the way down!


After we reached the bottom, we hopped back on the (shudder ) … bus … and stopped off at the Friendly Beaches to see some of the beautiful coastline and amazingly soft sand (quartz). It was a nice time. The sand was like powder and pure white, which made the water a bright blue reflection of the sky.

There were huge kelp exposed (because of the low tide). We saw kelp that must have been taller than me!

The seascape was truly a peaceful sight after a hectic and nauseous day. We were seeing, smelling, and listening to some of the cleanest sea water in the world.


Our driver then rounded us up and informed us that we just missed seeing a wallaby! So we got back on the (shudder ) … bus … and started our journey home, which involved passing the conveniently located stop and went twelve kilometers out of the way to drop us off at a stop further away.

There, we picked up our public transport (shudder ) … bus … passed back over our path again twelve kilometers more and then began our three and a half hour journey back to the bus station. We were back after 6:00 PM. We traveled more today than we did yesterday! We were very upset with the touring company for leaving out key details, so we later got in touch Tassie Link and got our money back, so they seem to be a pretty reputable company.

We finished our evening (still sick from the bus) by eating at the Drunken Admiral. It was the kind of place that makes you go ... ARRRRRRR. We enjoyed our seafood, ate ice cream and went on the internet. After that, we slept off our nausea. Lesson learned, stay away from the Tassie Link Freycinet Day Tour from Hobart.

Day 14 - To Richmond with Richard

Location: Hobart, Tasmania
Weather: Warm and Sunny (but it rained for two minutes)

Today, we thought we would try our luck touring with a personal tour guide instead. Hilary called to verify our tour, and it was a good thing! They didn’t have us booked! Luckily, they didn’t have another tour today and he was able to take us! (They were having a problem with their email).

We ate a quick continental breakfast downstairs, then met up with our tour guide, Richard. He’s a real genuine local, full of local expressions like using the word “mossies” for mosquitoes and “Japs” for Japanese people. I don’t know if it has the same negative connotation as it does back home.

He had a new Nissan 4x4, which was much better than the ... puke bus ... we took yesterday. Our first stop was the Bonorong Wildlife Park! There were so many animals!

First we saw a Tasmanian Devil, which looked nothing like the WB cartoon version. They got their names from the early white settlers who heard growling and noises they believed belonged to a Devil. They have a unique shape to their tail which reminds me of prehistoric animals that haven’t evolved yet. They only exist in Tasmania.

Then we saw a wombat, a cute little digging animal with a hard ass. It uses the cartilage to protect itself from predators. It was very tame and seemed to like our attention.

There were kangaroos, wallabies, and emus all over the farm and we got to feed them! The emus were very aggressive and chased the kangaroos off!

After feeding the emus, I had to count my fingers to make sure they were all there! I think they were out for revenge because I ate their cousin. Bwah ha ha ha haaaaaa…

After the emu were full, they let me feed some kangaroos. Hilary was funny. She just would go “here you go” and drop food on the ground. The kangaroos ate right out of my hand. They would put their little, clawed hands in mine to pull it closer to the ground.

Some would just lounge around, while others would come right up to you.

There were some momma kangaroos with joeys in their pouches.

We saw some emu eggs, and as I was taking a picture, we heard the sound of Satan. We thought it was the Tasmanian devils, but it was actually the cute, cuddly, koala bears! They were awake, which was rare because they sleep twenty hours a day. Some were stretching, while others were just sitting on the ground. They only eat one specific type of Eucalyptus leaf, so they aren’t native to the Island of Tasmania (or “Tassie” as the locals call it).

After that, we looked at the largest breed of Eagle in Australia. These eagles have been known to carry small sheep and fly off! We left the zoo and went to Richmond, a small, quaint, little town with shops like New Hope back home.

Unlike New Hope, though, this town was built by convicts. In 1823, convicts built the bridge into Richmond. We had coffee and banana bread (made by Richard’s wife, and very good, I might add) and walked through town. It had a colonial feel to it, and there were shops like “Just Lavender” where they sold all products with lavender in them like soaps and moisturizers. (Translation: Chick store, but it smelled nice).

We continued on our journey through to Eagle Hawk neck peninsula and took in the view. Like Hawaii, bees and wasps weren’t indigenous to Australia. They were introduced on purpose to get rid of other pests, but instead became pests themselves. At least I haven’t been stung … yet. They call it Eagle Hawk Neck peninsula because it was a very thin strip of land with a beach on each side. If prisoners tried to escape through there, the guards would release very vicious and very hungry dogs on them.

Going with the prison theme, we went to Port Arthur next. We ate a nice lunch (included), also made by Richard’s wife (pass along our complements) ...

... and played on the swings.

We then went to the convict museum display where we were handed a playing card and we followed the life of the prisoner on the card to see how they endured the prison colony.

I got shackled. :(

We went on a ferry ride and saw the boy’s prison and the Isle of the dead (where they buried prisoners and workers who died). It really was pretty, but I wouldn’t want to be a prisoner there. They were slaves, put to work for no pay … all for some crimes as petty as showing up to work late repeatedly.

After the ferry, we went on a walking tour, where we had a different guide explain the property. He seemed like a frustrated actor because he had so much energy and emphatic pronunciation, but he was giving a tour of a prison. Although, this is the #1 tourist attraction for Tasmania…

Life was so bad for prisoners that one day a group of them walked down to the commandant’s whaling ship and they set off with it! The guards didn’t realize until later that the Commandant wasn’t on it!

The whole colony was founded because England wanted to show a presence and beat the French to colonization, so the Brits established a prison colony.

There were many buildings, including a church, where a preacher would lecture the prisoners about cleaning up their act.

The aristocracy would leave through a separate exit from the prisoners and walk through a botanical garden. It was designed to remind those settlers of the mother country.

The harbor was where the prisoners were brought in and where they were forced to craft sailing vessels.

On the way back, Richard told us more local (and true) stories that I couldn’t believe! Apparently, a few friends were dragging a boogie board through the bay in Southern Australia and TWO great white sharks came out of nowhere and “tore the bloke on the boogie board to pieces in a matter of seconds.” I’m glad we heard that story AFTER we went snorkeling in the reef. Imagine seeing two huge great whites (like Jaws) coming straight for you.

Another story Richard told was about crocodiles. They were cleaning fish on the beach and the crocs would come by at night and eat all the leftovers. They got used to coming to the beach to feed. One night, the crocs got more aggressive and one went into a man’s tent and chomped on his leg and tried to drag him in the water. It was a horrific scene. The man was with his family. Luckily, the croc didn’t go for the children or the infants in the camp. The guy’s mother-in-law jumped on top of the croc and punched it in the eyes until it released him. She got bit herself, but they both had gotten freed (just hospitalized).

Now Rhonda, in the unlikely event that we’re camping in crocodile country and I get dragged out of my tent in the middle of the night by a fifteen foot crocodile, go for the eyes! :)

If you’re interested in taking a day tour of Tasmania, it’s actually more cost effective and enjoyable to go through a private tour with Richard. :)

Here’s his information, if you’re interested:

Tasmanian Prestige Tours
Phone: 03 6261 1135

Richard & Janet Onn
P.O. Box 621
New Norfolk 7140

Day 15 - To Brissy in a Tissy

Location: Hobart --> Brisbane
Weather: 28 degrees C / 83 degrees F (and sunny)
Subtitle: Jason & Hilary and the chocolate factory

We checked out of our hotel and ate breakfast outside at the Elizabeth street pier at T/42 ° , then went back to the hotel to wait for our shuttle to the ferry. We waited and waited, but it never came, so we called, and they said that they would be right there. I think they forgot to pick us up!

They drove us to just behind where we ate breakfast! We could have easily walked there if we knew where it was. They were just about to pull out of the dock when we got there, but we made it. We got on our ferry cruise to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory.

The ride was an hour and a half and very nice. The guide was frustrated that no one was listening to his commentary, but what did he expect? There’s a boatload of kids on their way to a chocolate factory aboard. Good luck getting them to sit in one spot and listen to your commentary on the history of Aboriginal relations. He did say one interesting story, though. There was a horrible bridge accident where the captain of this huge barge refused a tug guide through the water. He missed his target and hit two bridge supports, taking out a whole section of the bridge.

At the end of our ferry ride, they kept trying to lasso the dock from the boat. They must have missed five times! It was pretty humorous. Then, we got off the ferry and took a short walk to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, where we took our tour. They gave us SO MUCH CHOCOLATE that I thought I was going to be sick. We saw them making “Turkish Delights” and saw the rooms where they pounded, mixed, and stored all the chocolate. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to have cameras on the tour, so today’s entry has no pictures.

By the time we got back to the ferry, the heat of the sun and the sheer amounts of chocolate I ate contributed to my nauseous feeling, so we did what anyone would do in that situation … we got on a rocking ferry boat and ate lunch! We were both fine, though.

After getting back to Hobart, we were on a mission to get our money back for our (shudder) bus tour yesterday. We called their headquarters with our calling card and kept getting tossed back and forth until our minutes ran out, so rather than wasting more money, we decided to waste time instead. We walked all the way to the bus terminal and demanded our money back, and after playing phone tag and standing at the counter for a half-hour, we finally got a refund.

It was worth it. :)

After that episode, we ate dinner at Mures (lower deck) one more time. We both had oysters. Hilary had them raw, and I had them Kilpatrick style (bacon and teriyaki sauce on top). We also had some blue-eyed travalla and were on our way. We waited by the Airporter (owned by Redline Coaches) because we had prepaid for the return trip to the airport. We waited … and waited … until it was fifteen minutes late and we were going to miss our flight, so we said, “screw it. We’ll get a cab.”

So $36 later, we were at the airport with three minutes to spare. We must have looked frantic, because security searched my bags manually and swabbed me down to check for explosive residue.

We caught up with the driver of their Airporter shuttle and asked for our money back, but he said that he was there, but no one else was. So, he lied because we were there early and there were others waiting after we left! So the moral of this travel tale is never pay for a round trip shuttle, because they already have your money, so they don’t need to worry about picking you up. Airporter = bad!

Luckily, we made it to our next hotel without a problem. In fact, when we got to our room at the Stamford Plaza, we could hardly believe our eyes! It was BETTER than our last room and CHEAPER than the room with bunk beds! It was even cheaper than our room in Tasmania!

Our room was on the corner and had a view of the Story Bridge and the river below!

So, overall, Tasmania was beautiful, but their public transport system sucks. If I had to do it again, I would have rented a car and learned to drive on the left side of the road.

Day 16 - Crikey! Danger! Danger! Danger!

Location: Brisbane --> Australia Zoo
Weather: Sunny and warm

Today’s our last non-traveling day in Australia, and we were excited because we’re going to see Steve and Terry Irwin … the Crocodile Hunter and his wife! We got to the train station and ate McDonalds (just as a comparison). I had a muffin and an apple! :)

The first show was the snake show. (Steve didn’t come out until the croc show). There were people coming through the exits holding snakes that you could pet. It was hysterical watching everyone shy away in terror as the snake passed by.

Then, they brought out the tigers! They were fairly large and they fed them with baby bottles. They would chase after the trainers and jump in the water with them. Spotters were there in case the tigers decided to hold one of the trainers under the water “until the bubbles stopped.”

While they were getting ready for the bird show, a whip-cracking world champion, Freddie, came out and cracked whips to a syncopated rhythm. It sounded like she was cracking six to eight whips, but she only had two!

Then the bird show started. There were huge red and golden parrots. They flew all around everyone’s heads and one even flew out the exit. (It came back later). There was one parrot called Pepe who was just learning to fly. The previous owners clipped its wings and kept it in a cage, so when the zoo took him in, they gave him wing implants. Because flying was new to him, he would try as hard as he could to flap his wings, and he got so far as a pole, but fell short a few inches and thudded to the ground a few feet below. It really was funny (once we knew the bird wasn’t injured).

Then, the moment we all were waiting for … the croc hunter himself ... Steve Irwin! It turns out they had a fake Steve and Terry come out! Imposters! … and bad ones! In fact, their Terry impersonator was a man! They captured a camera man and then ran off.

Then, the moment we were really waiting for … Steve and Terry Irwin! They made a grand entrance, complete with blasts of fog, “Oh Fortuna,” (summer blockbuster movie soundtrack music), and a Panasonic jumbo-tron.

They made a few jokes and then their first croc entered .. their daughter, Bindi, swam through the crocodile canal! She must be four or five now and she even had some lines in the show! She stuck around for the whole show and stayed behind two large spotters.

Even his best mate, Wes was there to help.

They had a new croc called Mosman that they brought out. They escorted him through the love canal (called the “love canal” because they’d love to eat Steve) and flee into the Crocoseum.

Steve got really close to this dangerous beast and I thought we were going to watch Steve get eaten! Instead, he just kept messing with him.

Steve would draw Mosman out of the water with some strips of beef. Then, he threw a whole goat leg attached to a rope at him (hoof and all). Once Mosman chomped down, Steve pulled and Mosman did a head shake and then a death roll! Steve cut the rope and let Mosman have his feed.

It took a while, but eventually, he swallowed the meat whole (including the hoof). I couldn’t imagine what the prehistoric crocs must have looked like. They were twice as long as the T-rex!

After Mosman was done feeding, he didn’t move. He just wanted to rest. Steve tried to get him back into the love canal any way he could. He tried tempting him with food, but Mosman was full. He tried a shallow dive into the water with the croc, but Mosman didn’t seem to mind.

So next, Steve tried tormenting him by pulling on his tail. Mosman moved a little bit, but not enough! So, Steve did something that he never had done before. He picked him up by the tail and dragged him to the canal!

Everyone was nervous because they didn’t know how the croc would react! It snapped at him a few times, but eventually, they got the gate down.

Steve finished the show up by calling a giant eagle to his gloved hand.

After the show, there was only 45 minutes until the next show, so we walked around for a bit and then staked out a good spot for the next show with Waipo (read “WEE-pah”).

Steve did this show, too, and the murky water made the croc almost impossible to see. His spotters kept calling out when they saw Waipo and there were a few moments when he would stop taling, his eyes would get really wide and he’d stagger back.

They threw a tethered feed to demonstrate the death roll, but the croc snapped the leg in two and the rope broke off.

Steve got him out of the water one more time for the crowd and explained that Waipo was extra territorial because his Sheila was in the same enclosure with their nest of eggs!

In poor taste, Steve went in the water and screamed like he was being eaten and Terry looked like she had a heart attack. I think the reason people find the Crocodile Hunter entertaining is the same reason people find NASCAR entertaining. They want to be there when something terrible happens.

After the show was over we took a quick tour of the rest of the zoo. We saw Agro! I pet a snake! :)

Overall, the zoo wasn’t very big. We took a quick tour of the whole thing in forty minutes. The shows were very impressive and I was happy we came. The zoo itself has been around since the 70s, but only really started to flourish and expand once Steve married Terry and they took ownership of the zoo. She really seems like the brain behind the Crocodile hunter marketing.

After we got back to “Brissy,” we went on a bike-ride along the river and over Story Bridge.

It was a great ride, except the map we had didn’t have street names, so we missed the entrance for a few turns.

We did see a lizard, though, and rock-climbers go up the cliff.

We rode along the river banks until there was construction, so we had to carry our bikes up a few flights of stairs, onto the streets of Brisbane, and then through a McDonalds outdoor area before we were back on track. We made it back to the rental place exactly an hour after we left. Good thing, too, because they had our credit card as collateral!

After the ride, we walked through the botanical gardens to our hotel, got changed, and went to dinner at Kabuki, a Japanese steak-house.

I caught an egg in a tea cup, or rather … I tried to catch an egg in a tea cup It landed square in my lap (and it wasn’t hard boiled).

Our chef, Grant, cut the egg up faster than anyone I’ve ever seen!

Then, he started throwing food at us again. This time, it was rice!

The people who sat next to us were very nice and very friendly with the staff at Kabuki. I just assumed they were regulars, but apparently, they were celebrities, because they had special chop sticks reserved for celebrity visitors. I didn’t recognize them as famous, but maybe they’re big here in Australia? They were on their 25th day of vacation!

After our meal, Grant spelled out “Thank you very much” in salt upside down on the counter top! We figured he just learned how to write that upside down, but he wrote “Have a happy and healthy journey home” next! It was the perfect last dinner for our trip.

Day 17, 18, & 19- The long journey home

1/13/2005 & 1/14/2005 & 1/15/2005
Location: Brisbane --> Sydney --> Singapore --> Frankford --> New York
Weather: Inside a pressurized airplane cabin

We took a cab this morning to the train station and just made a train to the airport! Perfect timing! The flight from Brisbane to Sydney was terrible! The flight itself was fine. It was the three-year-old terror sitting behind me that I could have done without. He treated my seat like a punching bag and no matter how many times I turned around to the child’s parents to ask them if he could avoid kicking my seat, they did nothing. The father slept while the mother read, the whole time, Damien (the name I made up for the three year old) was screaming and practicing being a place-kicker.

After the flight, another passenger confronted the father and said, “I like kids; I just don’t like parents who can’t control their children.” Then the guy responded by saying, “Then you must not like your parents very much, then.” The guy continued to confront the parents saying that their son never stopped bothering us and they did nothing. Luckily, it didn’t progress past that point. I think the guy said what we were all thinking, but it was a moot point by then. Also, unless you have children, it makes it difficult for you to criticize those that do.

Anyway, our travels continued to the international airport where we checked into the Singapore Airlines lounge! We checked our email and raided the fridge. I tried a Tiger beer. Not bad.

Now, I’m on the plane ride to Singapore (seven hours) followed by a flight to Frankford (twelve hours) followed by a flight to JFK airport in New York (nine hours) putting the total amount of time spent in the air on this trip to 68 hours! I’ll leave a few blank pages in case anything else of interest happens.


By Jason Victor

Well, it has been a fun journey. I have to give my wife, Hilary a lot of credit. She knows how to plan a trip! If it wasn’t for her, I would never have seen as much of the world as I have seen by the age of 25.

This trip has been a trip of contrasts. We’ve gone from the city of Sydney to the seclusion of the Outback and to the resorts of Green Island in Cairns. We went snorkeling one day and hiked through a sacred Aboriginal site the next. We’ve slept in beds ranging from “California King” to “bunk” and have eaten hamburgers and kangaroo. Part of seeing just how special something is, is seeing its opposite. It’s what makes the change of the seasons so enjoyable for me, as well.

We’ve met so many people and had many experienced guides showing us the sites. Folks like Ben and “Cookie” and Shimi & Craig and Richard will not be easily forgotten.

This has been a fun final world trip, and I’m glad we’ve done so much with the time we’ve had so far.

Final tallies:
Number of sunsets watched: 4
Number of sunrises watched: 2
Number of out-door urinations: 2
Number of hours in flight: 68
Loads of laundry completed: 2
Number of kangaroos eaten: 3
Number of emus eaten: 1
Number of emus who’ve eaten my hand: 3
Number of hotels stayed in: 6
Number of mosquito bites on Jason: 2
Number of mosquito bites on Hilary: 23
Number of shower floors Hilary’s flooded: 3

Back to the Travel Page