Saturday, March 22, 2008

Skyhigh from the Sydney Bridge

After 2 hours of walking and 1300 steps, Tobi and me summited the great Sydney Harbour Bridge. It may not be as great a feat as Nepal's Everest or Africa's Kilimanjaro but it was a wonderful experience hosting incredible views of a world class harbour city. Since I have climbed Kilimanjaro, I can assure you it was a helluva lot easier! No training required.

We did have to pass a breathalyzer (my 2nd one in this country) What is it with Aussie's and their breathalyzers?! We had to shed our own clothing for these dowdy grey blue suits. The were not a Sydney fashion statement. My favourite part was walking over the grated floors to look down at the ocean and street pavement below. That sent a thrill of excitement through my bones and almost sent Tobi running! Fortunately, we were also chained to the bridge with safety equipment. This was the ultimate Sydney view.

We did the dusk climb so we got to watch the sunset on a Saturday evening over Sydney.....ahhhh. Cameras were not allowed so all we have is the tourist photo for evidence.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sydney Blues

Wow, is Sydney ever blue! Blue water and blue skies are just everywhere. After Karin's departure, I welcomed several days of rest and relaxation. We did little more than drink bubbles, lunch at a cafe on the beach and relax with the pets in the garden.

Sydney is a World Class city with all the benefits of arts, culture, history, excellent restaurants and cafes but with the beauty of coastal scenery and a beach playground around every hairpin turn. From blue sky and coastal road, you find yourself at the blue water of a gorgeous Paris and London in my books.

Our last evening dinner with Karin was highlighted by a lovely dinner with panoramic views of Sydney from the 41st floor with the dramatics of a rainstorm accompanied by .lightening and thunder. It was fantastic!

I am pleased to report that I have not seen a single rain cloud or rain drop since that night and have enjoyed the 27C sunshine. I can't wait to see what Toronto will greet me with on my return. I have heard horror stories of the "Winter From Hell".

Michelle took me on a tour of the Northern Beaches of Sydney, her place of birth and where her homeland heart can be found. I have seen Bondi, Manly, Curl Curl, Freshie, Palm, Avalon, Narabeen, name only a few. I wish I had time to swim them all. I enjoyed watching the new sport of Kite Surfing, a cross between para sailing and surfing and water skiiing...what a life some people have!

We had the opportunity to spend the day on a 56foot cruiser boat on Pittwater, the sheltered waters behind the northern beaches. We went swimming on a few beaches and had few glasses on a fine sunny day.
In between all of that I have been to lunch with Michelle's mom Barbara, BBQ with friends and brekkie with more friends and shopping in Sydney. It has been nice and relaxing, something I have not done in a long time.

After shopping in the Paddington markets this fine day, me and Tobi are off to do the dusk Sydney Bridge Climb!! We are going to walk to top of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. We start at 4:45 after we are suited up and strapped in. I guess I should write one more entry to let you all know how it went!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Time for Karin to Say Good bye (sniff, sniff...)

After a month of travelling, Karin's holiday has come to an end. She is feeling melancholy about leaving this warm, sunny island but is anxious to see her family, fur babies and friends (but not the snow!).

After visiting 4 states, she is leaving from Sydney and has experienced a small glimpse of the fun, easy going life that the Australians live. The pride in their country and environment is endearing. The Sydney harbour front is amazing. It is fun to take ferries to different parts of the city which is a departure from our lifestyle (snow mobiles, skis, snow shoes - ha ha).

Tonight we will have a final meal with Tobi and Michelle at Level 41, a restaurant with panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour at night. We have lots of pictures to share and to help remind us of the wonderful time we've had. I feel a scrapbook coming on! (even bought special Australian paper). Love to you all. See you soon.

To be continued by Lisa......alone....

Fraser Island - Sand Fly Capital of the World

Lisa was sure to keep the car on 'speed control' so she did not get another speeding ticket, but we finally made our way to Bundaberg where Karin had read about seeing Loggerhead turtles nest and hatch. We made it to Mos Repos Conservation park, just in time after a long days drive and managed to squeeze in one more nature thrill - a night walk on the beach to witness the 'running of the baby turtles'.

We felt really excited to walk out onto this dark beach with only the sound of crashing ocean waves. We were guided by a park ranger by one flashlight to an area where a Loggerhead turtle nest was about to hatch. What a thrill! These little tiny turtle turtles with the strongest little flippers and tenacious will to run to the ocean came bursting out of this hole in the sand. There was a group of about 30 people accompanied by the ranger whose primary concern was the welfare of each of these hatchlings.

We formed a long 'Tunnel of Light' using our flashlights between 2 lines of people and guided the 95 hatchlings from their sand nest to the ocean to begin their life. It took them only 5 minutes to reach the ocean and swim away. Karin aptly renamed this "The Tunnel of Love". What amazed us the most, is that these turtles knew exactly what to do. A Loggerhead Turtle is an endangered species. Only 1 in 500 of these hatchlings will reach sexual maturity at age 30 and find her way back to this same beach to lay eggs for the next generation. The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the turtle and this beach produces mostly females that require warmer temperatures (because women are hotter!).

From Bundaberg, we made our way directly to catch the ferry to the "Land of Sand". Fraser Island may be the largest sand island in the world, but it is also the greatest sand fly capital and every one of those flies has bitten poor Karin. She has the red spotted legs to prove it. And blisters to boot. But even though the flies looked at Karin as the next meal, we still adored Fraser Island.

The 40 minute ferry from Hervey Bay took us the the posh Kingfisher Bay resort. We loved the extravagance of this resort. Heated pools, cabana boys (well, almost) and cold beer by the poolside. Karin went for all the nature walks offered; Lisa slugged by the pool with a beer or slept in.

There are no roads on this island, only sand road tracks and 4WD is the only method of transportation. It was like being on a roller coaster at times and we were amazed at how this 4WD bus (18+ gears) could manoeuvre through these forested sand one track roadways. The coolest feeling was when we exited from the forest into the wide open 75 Mile Beach and cruised at 80 km/hr along the sand beach highway. On one side of the roadway is the ocean and a shipwreck, on the other side was vegetation, coloured sand cliffs, sand blows and freshwater creeks that flow into the ocean. The same road rules apply: drive on the left, pedestrians watch for vehicles before crossing the beach!

We took a joyride 15 minute flight in a 7 seater plane over the island. The runway, of course, was the beach!! A great aerial view of the numerous fresh water lakes, one in the exact shape of a butterfly, the sand blows, the old tropical forest and the sand track roads. We had a smooth landing on the beach and hopped back on the bus.

We had a lovely 1.5 km walk in the tropical rain forest at Wanggoolba Creek where the water is so clear and pure that you cannot even distinguish that it is water. Our last stop was a swim at the crystal blue water and silica sand white beach of Lake McKenzie where our visit was topped off with our first sighting of a dingo. Fraser Island is known as the last place in Australia where the dingo is pure bred and the population is well protected by the rangers. The dingo here has a lifespan of 5-7 years because they ingest so much sand and are unable to absorb nutrients from the food.

Kingfisher Bay Resort was a wonderful place to stay for ecotourism. Anyone interested in this type of holiday, should be sure to include a visit to this resort.