Month: March 2018

King’s Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta: Exploring the Outback

King’s Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta: Exploring the Outback

Our last stop in Australia was the outback. We flew directly from Melbourne to Uluru (Ayers Rock Airport) and rented a car for 4 days.

Driving through the outback

Round trip we drove around 600km from Uluru to King’s Canyon and I was really surprised how green the outback was. I expected lots of rocks and red sand and not so many plants.

King’s Canyon

After arriving in the Red Center we drove to King’s Canyon Resort and spent the night there. It’s the only hotel in the area which explains the prices and low quality. For example, we had a few spidery room mates, I named one of them Adalbert. Sadly, we had to leave him because our air conditioner wasn’t working and the I decided not to get attached to the new room mates ;).

In the morning Thorben got up while it was still dark to take pictures of the sky and do the King’s Canyon Rim Walk (at this point I was pretty sick). After he finished I also wanted to get a glimpse of the Canyon so we did the King’s Creek walk. The Canyon was also much greener than expected, but really pretty.

Fighting flies

While people might be worried about snakes and spiders the worst thing in the outback for me were the flies. They don’t sting but are very very annoying, constantly landing on your face and trying to get into your eyes and nose. This problem is easily fixed with a super stylish fly net, which we bought on our way back from King’s Canyon, so that’s what I looked like 95% of the time πŸ™‚

Segway at Uluru

Instead of walking the 10km around the base of Uluru I signed us up for a segway tour πŸ™‚ I picked the Uluru Sunrise and Segway, so we first had breakfast with a close up view of a beautiful Uluru sunrise before cruising around the base. The rock is really magnificent with so many different looking parts, it’s really worth going all the way around it.

A Night at the Field of Lights

The night at the field of light started with drinks, canapΓ©s and sunset viewing and then we had dinner under the stars or in our case under the full moon. During a star talk we learned about some different formations and finally we headed to the field of lights, a pretty cool art installation. Overall it was really pricey but also a cool experience.

Kata Tjuta

We drove out to Kata Tjuta on our last night to see the sunset. It’s a massive structure, I think even bigger than Uluru. Just as the sun was about to set and transform the colors it got blocked by some clouds. As a compensation we got to see a really cool moon rise on our way back. I’ve never seen the moon so big and bright.

Sunrise at Uluru

On our last morning we managed to get up early enough to see a beautiful sunrise at Uluru, complete with some typical tourist shots πŸ™‚

 

And that’s it! Almost 4 weeks after getting back this was the last of the Australia posts. Next trip: Tokyo πŸ™‚

2 days in Melbourne

2 days in Melbourne

Originally we planned 4 days in Melbourne but because we got sick we only left the hotel for 2 of those 4 days. While we missed out on a few things I wanted to do, we still had some fun times and great food in Melbourne.

Free Walking Tour

The first thing on our Melbourne itinerary was of course a free walking tour. We went with I’m Free Tours again, the same company we used in Sydney. As (almost) always, it was a fun, informative tour with lots of good recommendations.

Lane Ways

Though we only got to check out a few, the lane ways in Melbourne are fantastic. We had some delicious breakfast in Centre Place and also lunch at a different restaurant there.

ArtVo

ArtVo is a really cool museum/art gallery where you get to be part of the exhibits. It’s a really fun place to spend a couple hours and take lots of silly pictures, see below πŸ™‚

Star Observation Wheel

The Melbourne Star is in the same complex as ArtVo, there was almost no one there so we thought why not. We got our own cabin and one spin takes around half an hour. There was a free audio tour playing so we even learned something.

Melbourne Museum

Our guide from the free walking tour highly recommended the Aboriginal Exhibit “Bunjilaka” so we headed over to the Melbourne Museum on the free tram. I’m not a big museum fan but this one was really cool. I really liked the Science & Life Gallery with a blue whale skeleton and the dinosaur walk. The “Bugs Alive!” part was super disgusting (but well done) and gave me shudders.

Kangaroo Island to Melbourne Road Trip

Kangaroo Island to Melbourne Road Trip

After Kangaroo Island we took 4 days to drive over 1,000 km to Melbourne with many pretty spots on the way. The weather wasn’t the best but we still had a good road trip.

Day 1: Kangaroo Island to Hall’s Gap (580 km)

Our road trip started with a big travel day. We drove to the port, took the ferry and then drove 580 km to Hall’s Gap, which is in the Grampians National Park. By “we drove” I mean Thorben did all the driving πŸ™‚

Day 2: Grampians National Park to Port Fairy (160 km)

In the morning I sent Thorben to hike up to the Pinnacle by himself while I was busy sleeping in and coughing.

After he got back we drove to different lookout spots where you never had to walk more than a kilometer for a pretty view. We did the Boroka Lookout, Reed Lookout, the Balconies and MacKenzie Falls. The weather wasn’t the best, I’m sure it’s even more beautiful when the sun shines

In Port Fairy we walked along the beach to a lighthouse and if it wouldn’t have been for the wallabies we saw it might as well have been Spiekeroog (a tiny island in the north sea) πŸ™‚

Day 3: Port Fairy to Apollo Bay (200 km)

Day 3 was when we drove the most famous part of the Great Ocean Road and hit all the major scenic viewpoints including the Bay of Islands, the Grotto, the London Arch, Loch Ard Gorge and of course the Twelve Apostles.

Day 4: Apollo Bay to Melbourne (200 km)

The last stretch of the trip wasn’t too exciting. We wanted to stop at some beaches and surf towns but it was drizzling most of the time. We did however make a stop at the Great Ocean Road chocolaterie and got some goodies πŸ™‚

Kangaroo Island: Nature and Wildlife

Kangaroo Island: Nature and Wildlife

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Mama! πŸ™‚

Our third destination was Kangaroo Island and we both really loved it there. While it’s not on the typical tourist circuit in Australia I think it’s really worth visiting.

The island is a 45 min ferry ride from the mainland, 150km long and 90km wide and there are only 5000 people living on it. Our focus was on nature and the wildlife so we didn’t really explore the towns.

In our 3 days we spent time at the following places:

Baudin Beach

We arrived in the evening just in time to catch the sunset at Baudin Beach. A pelican was nice enough to pose for us, Thorben’s favorite picture of the trip.

Island Pure Sheep Dairy

We bought some yummy sheep yogurt from Island Pure at Adelaide Central Market, so while in the area we decided to go there in person. The food is good, so we had lunch there twice and there is a little store where we got more yogurt and cheese – Thorben must have consumed at least 2kg of their yogurt during our trip πŸ™‚ For a little sheep dairy education you can watch a video of the inner workings and see the sheep getting milked. They even had little lambs you could pet.

Raptor Domain

Raptor Domain is a rehabilitation and education center, so you can only see their animals during the presentations they do. We caught the second half of the reptile presentation, where we got to hold 3 different snakes and touch a little crocodile. Next up was the birds of prey show including Shush, a cute owl you could pet. It was really cool and informative, a great tip by our B&B host!

Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

The sanctuary is a huge fenced in area to keep predators out but all the animals that live there are wild. We did a guided sunset/night walk and saw koalas (one with a joey!), wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas and a possum – the big 5 of the sanctuary! At the end we heard something that sounded like a wild pig – turns out that’s the mating call of male koalas πŸ˜€

Flinders Chase National Park

The national park is beautiful and we did the main highlights: We saw the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse, Admiral’s Arch and Remarkable Rock which were all fantastic and watched seals and adorable seal pups. In the parking lot of the visitor center we got lucky and saw another wild koala in a tree which even came down pretty low for optimal picture taking πŸ™‚

Stokes Bay

Stokes Bay was were we had our favorite meal on KI, great tapas at Table 88 with a fantastic view. Afterwards we also checked out the beautiful beach.

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park

Because holding a koala is addictive, I wanted to do it again so we went to the KI wildlife park. It’s a really nice little park with lots of Australian animals and wasn’t crowded at all which made the experience even better than at Gorge. We got there really soon after it opened so the kangaroos were still pretty active and hungry. They almost climbed on Thorben because he was not feeding them fast enough πŸ™‚

At the park they have a koala talk, where you can go into the enclosure and are allowed to pet them. Holding a koala cost 30 AUD extra but that meant there were a lot less people. There was only one family ahead of us so we got a lot of time with cute Alfie, a 12 kilo boy.

After that we watched the little penguin feeding, fed some wallabies, which were again pretty insistent on being fed, and saw the rest of the animals there.

Adelaide and Koala Snuggles

Adelaide and Koala Snuggles

Our second destination was Adelaide. We took a flight in the morning and then had 2 1/2 days there.

Our first afternoon we went to the Central Market and had lots of fun picking yummy Australian treats. So that’s what happens when you let us loose in a market: Bread, cheese, dips, olives, sheep yogurt, fruit, nuts, cake … Plenty for lunch, dinner and snacks for the next few days.

Of course a free walking tour was also on the agenda and saw some pretty cool things including the place where the Beatles stood when they visited, Rundle Mall and lots of street art.

Adelaide was when I started to get a cold and cough, so I had to take it a bit easy so after the walking tour I sent Thorben to the Botanic Garden by himself.

The next day we picked up our rental car and drove to the Adelaide hills with a very important goal: Snuggling a koala. Originally I wanted to go to Cleland Wildlife Park but read online that the koalas there had a skin condition which means no cuddles. So we headed to Gorge Wildlife Park. It’s further away but it was so worth it! Holding a koala is even included in the entry fee.

Meet Kevin, a 10 kilo cuddly koala πŸ™‚

Besides this obvious highlight we also got to feed wallabies, or tried to but they weren’t hungry, and kangaroos. Thorben even braved feeding an emu or maybe it was an ostrich? They also had some cool birds, bats, dingos, otters, guinea pigs, deer … it’s a pretty small park but a really great half day trip.

After that we had a little picnic at the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden and then drove down to Port Jervis to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island.

5 days in Sydney

5 days in Sydney

Besides many great memories Australia also gave me pneumonia, hence the 2 week delay in recapping our trip. Feeling better now, so this is the start of many detailed posts (maybe 6?) with lots and lots of pictures πŸ™‚

Flying into Sydney at around 1pm was a fantastic start to our Australia adventure, just look at the view we had from the plane:

Here is what we did in our 5, or really 4 1/2 days in Sydney:

Free Walking Tour of the Rocks

As usual we started our trip with a free walking tour. I’m Free Tours has an evening walking tour of the Rocks, a cool historic area with lots of food, which was really fun and informative. We learned a lot about Sydneys origins as a convict colony and also checked out Observatory Hill.

Free Walking Tour of the City

On our second day we did the Sydney sights free walking tourΒ to get an overview of the city. Again, it was a great tour with many interesting stories and ended with a view of the Opera.

Museum of Contemporary Art

After our walking tour we decided to escape the heat and check out the exhibits at the MCA. I don’t really know anything about (modern) art, so I annoyed Thorben with my “That’s art?” and “Even I could do that!” comments πŸ™‚ They did have some cool pieces, most exhibits are free and it was right next to the ferry dock, so why not.

Manly Beach

On Sunday the maximum you can spend on public transport with your Opal card, which also works on ferries, is 2.60 AUD. We took advantage and took the ferry to Manly (usually thats over 15 AUD). Of course we were not the only ones with that idea so it was pretty crowded but that made for good people watching πŸ™‚

Day trip to the Blue Mountains

On Monday we took a small group tour to the Blue Mountains. The tour mainly took us to viewing spots and then Scenic World, where you can ride 2 different cable cars and the steepest train down to the rain forest. Sadly for Thorben we only did one little hike at the end. Overall we had great weather and beautiful views, so it’s really worth the trip.

Taronga Zoo

Even though I’m not a fan of zoos, I’d heard great things about this one so we thought we’d give it a try. Overall, I don’t think it’s a must do, I enjoyed the wildlife parks we went to later in the trip much more. My highlights were the views from the zoo, the meerkats which were fun to watch and seeing quokkas. They were asleep at first but after watching them for a while we got lucky and it was feeding time which made them much more active. After half an hour Thorben had to drag me away, but they are just so adorable πŸ™‚

A night at the Opera

Before Sydney I’d never been to the opera, so I thought that this was the perfect place to change that. We saw Carmen in French, thankfully with English subtitles πŸ™‚ I think I’m going to stick with musicals in the future but it was still a cool experience.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

This walk was another must do on my Sydney agenda. While Thorben wasn’t too impressed (too many people and too many buildings), I thought it was a beautiful walk. There were lots of steps, so it was also quite the workout. Because of construction we had to take a detour through a really nice cemetery and we even got lucky and saw some dolphins.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

We decided against doing the Bridge climb because a) it’s super expensive and b) you can’t even take your camera. Instead we just walked over the bridge, which is free, and were so happy with the view, we didn’t even go up to the Pylon lookout.

Open Air Cinema with a view

For our last night (and also Valentine’s Day) I had booked tickets for the George Open Air Cinema, which is open every summer. The location is fantastic: overlooking the CBD, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. We saw “The Big Sick” which was really fun. They even had fireworks that night before the movie, it was pretty amazing (and romantic ;)) and one of the highlights of the trip.