Australia trip – one year ago today: Monday 24th November

A year ago today, we were in Australia. Here’s a chance to look back.


Canberra (and back to Sydney)

To my surprise, I had an enjoyable day in Canberra after dropping Rob off to his meetings at the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Belconnen (a satellite town of Canberra).
I stated with a stroll by the local lake (Ginninderra), then I drove back into Canberra for a cruise on Lake Burley Griffin (the one we didn’t manage yesterday). It was very enjoyable, mostly focusing on the (somewhat bizarre) history of Canberra’s development from sheep station to national capital.
I then headed up to Parliament House. It was quite fascinating to see, including going into the Houses of Senators and Representatives (although there were hardly politicians actually there).
After lunch, I went down the hill to the Old Parliament House (now the Museum of Democracy). To say, I was charmed was an understatement. A mere $2 (£1) to enter, and there was absolutely loads to wander round, including exhibitions, the prime minister’s office suite, the original Senate and Representatives chambers (much nicer than the new ones!) and more.
I could have spent even more time there, but needed to get back to Belconnen to pick Rob up so we could get to the airport.
Our flight was delayed by half an hour (given the number of flights we’ve done this month, it’s a miracle that was our first delay).
Back in Sydney, we popped down to Circular Quay for a late tea.

Random Australian birds…

Parliament House, Canberra

Old Parliament House
Inside: old Senators Chamber, former Representatives Chamber, Prime Minister’s office (left as last used by Bob Hawke in 1988)

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Australia trip – one year ago today: Sunday 23rd November

One year ago today we were in Australia as part of a month’s holiday.


Sydney to Canberra

Rob has a work meeting in Canberra on Monday, so we decided we’d fly over together today and have a little look round, with me having time to explore further tomorrow.
Our flight was late morning, but the joys of transfers/check in meant that we left Sydney centre pretty early. The flight was a smallish plane (2 seats each side of the aisle) and had propellers!

The heat wave has followed us, so it hovered around 36/37 today and even at 9.00 is still around 30 degrees.
We hired a car, checked in and then decided to hear out to navigate the ‘city in a park’ which is Canberra. We grabbed a quick lunch at Questacon (apparently the national science and technology centre). We were going to go in, but it seemed more kiddy-centre and we’d spotted that there was a cruise an hour later on the massive (artificial) Lake Burley Griffin which runs through the centre. We popped across the road (in the sweltering heat) instead to the National Library of Australia and saw their Treasures Gallery.
We drove to the lake and waited for the boat to come in, only to find that the next cruise was cancelled. Getting a bit fed up as Canberra doesn’t seem (to us) to have many redeeming features, we decided to get out of the heat by popping into the Canberra Centre (a shopping mall…). We noticed that it had a cinema and joined what seemed like half of the city there. We opted to see Pride, which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was an element of recent history I was completely unaware of, plus it was incredibly heartwarming and enjoyable. After tea, we decided to view the Captain James Cook Memorial Jet which shoots water from the lake over 100 foot into the air. It wasn’t on. Apparently, it only functions between 2 and 4… We sat by the lake for a while as twilight drew in, which was pleasant.
We’ve also noticed that the city, which seems to run almost exclusively on car journeys charges for parking everywhere.
I wouldn’t say the place has made the best impression on us. Maybe it can redeem itself tomorrow.

Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra at twilight

Australia trip – one year ago today: Saturday 22nd November

Reliving our amazing November 2014 trip to Australia…


Sydney

This morning started with a walk through the CBD to get to the Sydney Tower Eye. From the top of here, we had a great view all across the city. One thing that really strikes you is just how much the harbour spreads out and the city weaves itself around it.
We sat in Hyde Park with our picnic lunch before exploring it further, including the Anzac Memorial, and then mooching back through a different part of the CBD.
This evening we wandered back to the Opera House for tea and then a concert (Brahms, Beethoven and a Finnish composer I hadn’t heard of before). It was wonderful to be inside the Opera House, especially as the area around the concert hall was open only for concert-goers for the hour before, giving us since exclusive views inside and across the harbour.
We had ice-cream on our wander back round Circular Quay and through the Rocks (which we intend to explore in a few days).

Sydney Tower Eye and views from it

Hyde Park and Anzac Memorial

Older buildings in the CBD

Inside Sydney Opera House

Nighttime views…

Australia trip – one year ago today: Friday 21st November

Reliving our trip to Australia one year ago…


Sydney

We both slept very badly last night – the air conditioning wasn’t working properly and the room was really hot (we had complained when we arrived, bit they had no spare rooms to move us to, but lent us fans). This meant we had a bit of a late start today.
We wandered down to Circular Quay, the second busiest quay in the world (in terms of frequency of departures) after Hong Kong. We found somewhere for a late breakfast and then boarded a three-hour cruise around Sydney Harbour, which is huge. It took in places like Manly, Watsons Bay and the relatively narrow opening from the ocean into the harbour. Given it was sunny and the temperature was around 34 degrees, we were glad of the breeze!
It’s just possible that I took around a hundred pictures of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House…
After this, we wandered round to the magnificent Opera House and on into the Botanic Gardens, which are lovely.
We retired to the hotel (and got a new, cooler room) for a while before heading out to Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay this evening for dinner and another wander. There’s a real buzz about this area (and the CBD- Central Business District), which we both enjoyed.

Sydney Harbour Cruise

Evening walk (Darling Harbour and Central Business District)

Australia trip – one year ago today: Thursday 20th November

A year ago today, Rob and I arrived in what is probably my favourite city on the planet (I’d been there once before in 2001).


Port Douglas to Cairns to Sydney

I went for an early walk along the beach this morning. Wonderful – could certainly do that every day!
We’d arranged a late checkout today, so were able to squeeze in some last time by the pool.
Most of the afternoon and evening has been taken up by the transfer to Cairns airport, the flight to Sydney and getting the train into the city to our hotel, which is pretty close to both Circular Quay (think Opera House /Harbour Bridge area) and Darling Harbour.

There was a great moment as the plane flew over the city when we could see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Sydney train stations have class!

Australia trip – one year ago today: Wednesday 19th November

This day a year ago was one of the absolute highlights for me of our month in Australia.


Kuranda

A long day today, but definitely worth it.

We were picked up at 8am and taken down near to Cairns to board the Kuranda Scenic Railway. We’d been booked to travel Gold Class, which gave us nicer, bigger seats and nibbles during the journey. The rail line was originally built in the late 1800s to provide a supplementary route to get resources to the towns in the Atherton Tablelands (the mountains near Cairns) which often had road routes cut off during the Wet Season.
The journey into the mountains and through the rainforest was delightful and lasted about an hour and a half, including a stop to look at the Barron Gorge Falls.
When we arrived at Kuranda station, we were given an exclusive tour of the signal box. We then headed into Kuranda itself, which we found to be something of a typical tourist trap. We did, however, really enjoy our visit to the Australia Butterfly Sanctuary, where we saw hundreds of beautiful (and huge) tropical butterflies. One landed on my hand and stayed there for ages.
We returned to sea level via the rather stunning Skyrail, a ski lift/gondola system which runs for about 7km not far above the rainforest canopy. We had chance to stop off a couple of times, once to see Barron Gorge Falls again from the other side, and the second time to follow a boardwalk through the rainforest.
We eventually got back to Port Douglas near to 7pm.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

Butterfly Sanctuary

Skyrail

Cheesy ‘official’ photo

Rob took several more pictures of the day which you can see here.

 

Australia trip – one year ago today: Tuesday 18th November

In November 2014, Rob and I explored parts of Australia. Here’s what we were doing a year ago today.


Port Douglas

Another lazy day today, spent mostly by the poolside (temperature of about 32 degrees today).
We walked up the beach this evening towards town to get an evening meal. While there, we spotted a tree with hundreds of starlings in – you’ve never heard such a racket in your life! We also enjoyed seeing the fruitbats out and about.