Mar 24, 2013

Aus Road Trip - Brisbane to Sydney

As many things do in the wet Brisbane summer, our road trip started with rain. Tropical Storm Oswald blew through Brisbane just a few nights before we left on our farewell to Australia road trip. The neighbours aluminium shed blew over the fence during the night of our going away party.

A few days later we took off on this route, shown on google maps.

We planned on stopping in Byron, but it was wet and rainy, so we pushed on, diverting inland through Lismore and Casino to avoid a flooded section of highway near Grafton.

Coffs Harbor was our first stop, home of The Big Banana. Mary was unimpressed that we didn't stop.

Pelicans and humans co-existing in Port Macquarie.

This walkway along the breakwater of Port Macquarie was lined with several kilometers of painted stones.

We stayed in Newcastle with a couple friends, and it was great to see them, but we're skipping ahead to Sydney.

The Sydney Powerhouse Museum was great - a cool mix of engineering and art inside a converted power station.

Also while in Sydney we were lucky enough to catch La Boheme at Opera in the Domain, a free outdoor opera concert. Great stuff - the rain scared a few people off and we got bumped up front.

We also got fancy stick on bowties.

Knowledge is power - France is Bacon.

Saturday afternoon in town by St. Mary's Cathedral. This was one of 3 or 4 wedding parties we saw in the city.

The pig statute who gives you good luck when you rub his nose.

A couple photos from the Domain gardens.

The opera house!

And Sydney's Luna park!

And the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art.

This was about the first week. Next up - Canberra, the Big Merino, and the Snowy River.

Jan 4, 2013

Lamington Park

Today Stu, James and I went for a hike through the Albert River circuit of Lamington National Park. It was a day of Australian wildlife. Wallabies in front of the car, leeches on my ankles, literally hundreds of face level spiderwebs, and then some more interesting stuff.

An adult Lamington Spiny Crayfish. We kept spooking him (her?) and he'd go into, 'What's up now, dog?' mode with his pincers up. This picture was after he calmed down and went back to fishing.

Later, we saw a few snakes. There were two or three like the one above, maybe a centimeter in diameter and 30-40cm long. I think this is a common tree snake but I'm not sure. They aren't dangerous. The other one we saw was considerably bigger - about the size of a toilet paper tube in diameter. It might have been a carpet snake (not dangerous), or it could have been a death adder (unsurprisingly, dangerous). Who knows?

Here's the start of New South Wales from Echo Lookout.

Me at the same.

James enjoying his nutritious breakfast.

Nov 19, 2012

It Began in Africa

Last week was Nickel Processing 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. I will skip the details of the conference and go right into pictures.

The entrance to the garden at the Vineyard Hotel.

The hotel had 4 tortoises that wandered around the garden and sometimes into the ground floor of the hotel. They brazenly begged for scraps and were utterly unafraid of people. This one came right up to me when I sat down to take its picture.

Later we went for a hike up Table Mountain, taking the route through Skeleton Gorge. There were no Skeletons, but there was a barbed wire safety fence. South Africans love their barbed wire.

It was hot - Skeleton Gorge is about 400m of elevation gain through stairs and scramble up a river bed.

The view was worth it though.

Lots of life to see, including this little critter, a rock dassie or hyrax. Mary tells me they are related to manatees and elephants.

Spectacular views over the city proper.

The top of Table Mountain as we entered the cloud. The mountain is often wreathed in cloud from where the cold antarctic wind hits the warm air off the continent. The second half of the hike saw us in a cold, moisture laden wind over the plateau.

Down at the waterfront where we had a well deserved beer. The red guy there is made entirely out of plastic coke crates.

May 13, 2012

A Visitor from Canada

Mary's mother June has been visiting us from Canada for the last few days, so we've been showing her around and doing the touristy stuff. Yesterday we were up at the Australia Zoo. We went up with a couple friends of ours and their kids. Everybody was getting close to the cute animals.

As part of her birthday present from me, Mary first got to meet this charming fellow.

It was pretty good for both her and Yoda, the fuzzy guy on her lap.

Of course, no trip to the Australia Zoo is complete without large terrifying animals.

And some small ones with Brett's kids.

These roos could be pretty terrifying if they were in a bad mood, but lucky for us (especially lucky for Oscar), they were amazingly tolerant. Even when they were being used by Oscar as a drum.

June got to meet the dingos - she's part of the pack now.
Mary then got to meet the echidnas - Fatty, Tippy, Yellow (Yellah in Australian), Three Foot, Dame, and Prickle.

Note that my fully grown wife is far more excited by the wormy tongue than the 12 year old girl next to her.

The pile of insect mash in front of the echidna had only recently been smeared on Mary's hand. How nice for the vegan.

Mary the echidna whisperer.

We all fed Suba the elephant.

Mary had the wombat encounter all to herself. I wanted to get her in a little wagon and have the 4 tow her like warhorses towing their fearless leader in a chariot, but the handlers said no.

Here she is emulating her little friend Dozer (Dozah in Australian).

We closed the day with Oscar going for a drive.

And Burrow the womma taking a trip around the shop, with Henry in tow.
Today we headed out to the Botanical gardens.

At the top of "Mount" Coot-tha before we headed to the botanic gardens.

Flower shots are obviously an important part of a visit to the gardens.

And a sunset from Mt. Tamborine.

It's been great having June here, but she's en route for the rest of the continent shortly.
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