Down under

In Voyages on 02/04/2011 at 07:21

We liked it there, in Australia. So, as our shipment of spare parts for the boat was delayed getting to the Solomons, we decided to stay a bit longer. That gave us time to see some more of this country, meet some real Aussies and go looking for ‘wild’ koalas.

Gerard & Marijke

But before that, we had a visit from home. After their trip through the Indonesia, Rolf’s parents arrived in Brisbane to spend a week with us. Together we went up to the Sunshine Coast, where it was indeed sunny and very relaxed. We visited some seaside towns, became members of the Noosa surf club (otherwise they couldn’t serve us coffee) and visited a hippie-market. And very Australian: the house we stayed in had kangaroos jumping through the garden.

Sydney

By then we had been in Brisbane for three week, so it seemed time to see some more of this country. At the airport we bought a plane ticket for the first flight, which turned out to go to Sydney. Arriving there, we found out we arrived just before the weekend of the gay Mardigras and the city was packed. We were actually very lucky to even find a bed for the night. The next day we got even more lucky. When we walked in to a hotel to inquire if they had any rooms left, the receptionist turned out to be Dutch and was in her last day on the job. She gave us the best room in the house and a huge discount!

So we started exploring Sydney. Walked around the city, had afternoon drinks on the waterfront, dinner in a very good Italian restaurant (the Italian food is amazing in Australia) and went for after dinner drinks in a local bar. There we met Tim and Karyn, a very nice Australian couple who have actually lived in Voorburg (a town in the Netherlands). They invited us to join them on their sailing boat for a sail through Sydney Harbor. Well, that was one of the dreams for this world cruise, so: yeah!  We had a beautiful and fun day on the water and actually did some real sailing again (with tacking and manual steering and everything;).  To top it all off, that night we had tickets to Figaro at the Opera House. A perfect Sydney day…

Cross country to Canberra

We spend some more days in Sydney, (tried to) watched the Mardigras parade, ate Dutch ‘kroketten’,  had drinks in the turning restaurant, did some shopping and went to the beach. Then it was time to hit the road again. From Sydney we drove west, to an area known as the Blue Mountains. The road took us through a gorgeous landscape of mountains and passes with red rock and waterfalls. We first thought we wanted to spend a few days there, but after seeing the giant spiders that creep along the countryside in this country we reconsidered (yep, we’re cityfolk).

So in a few day trips we drove to Canberra. Australia’s capital and a very strange city. It looks more like a big suburb then a capital city. Except for the government center, which stands on a hill by itself and looks grand and very much built to impress. In the National Museum and got an introduction into Aboriginal art from a very knowledgeable guide. Apparently the only other museum in the world with this big a collection of Aboriginal art is in the Netherlands (Utrecht). This was actually also our first introduction into Aboriginal culture. Although we had been in Australia for almost five weeks now, we hadn’t met or even seen any Aboriginals yet. Apparently Aboriginals live mostly in the outback, so we were told to go out there if we wanted to meet them. Unfortunately we had just over a week left on our trip, so we decided to save that for another time.

Melbourne

From Canberra we drove on to Melbourne, on the way meeting up with Caitlyn who was just over from Tuvalu visiting her family. Melbourne reminded us of home. The center of the city is very walke-able, there are terraces everywhere, street trams take you everywhere and it gets cold at night (we actually had to wear our summer coat and a sweater, wow!). What is certainly not like home, is the fact that there are penguins living next to the marina. Every day they swim out to open sea to catch fish, and at dusk they return home to feed their young. And of course there are tourists there waiting to have a look at them. We were, and we loved them.

Great Ocean Road

What we loved even more were the koalas we saw while driving along the Great Ocean Road. We had actually expected to see them everywhere along the road during our trip to Australia, but that’s just our tourist image of this country (as we were told by Australians). We did see a few kangaroos along the road, but unfortunately mostly dead ones.

The Great Ocean Road winds along the south coast between Melbourne and Adelaide. It has the most beautiful and stunning views of we have seen in this country. A wild sea and carved out rocks that seem to just stand on the beach on their own. There was a constant, cold sea breeze from the Southern Ocean that reminded us of an early spring day at the North Sea coast at home.

Back home

After a few days of cold sea wind through our hair, it was time for us to go back to the Solomons. The shipment had arrived in Honiara and we really wanted to get back to our boat to start the repairs.

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