Sydney, Victoria and the Adelaide Hills

 

Several unforeseen reasons have delayed the posting of this last blog;

  • first of all, during the 3 weeks we spent in the Adelaide Hills, where I had hoped to get the NZ blog written, our WiFi connection was so poor to non-existent that I was unable to make any progress.
  • Then, on our return to the US I had issues with my laptop and eventually had to have it stripped and returned to factory settings.
  • Finally, at the beginning of May we visited North Carolina and quickly decided that this was where we wanted to put down roots.  We found a house and mid July moved in, putting me even further behind.

SYDNEY DECEMBER 29, 2016 – JANUARY 9, 2017

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The above map I hope gives you an idea of where our apartment in Rose Bay was located in relation to downtown Sydney.  What a magnificent setting for a city, set back and protected by Port Jackson and the Sydney HarbourIMG_6589The 2nd floor, 1 bedroom apartment was quite comfortable and conveniently located.  A grocery store was just across the street and several buses ran within a short walk from us.  However, since it is located on the ridge of the peninsula, it meant that to get anywhere, it was first downhill and then an uphill climb back!  We quickly noticed how weak we had become after sitting in the car for 5 weeks in New Zealand.DSC_4420We started by exploring the west side of the peninsula, near Vaucluse.  The weather was hot and muggy.DSC_4406As you can see to the right of the photo, the party boats were out!  We enjoyed walking along the footpaths, weaving in and out of some beautiful homes.DSC_4439The following day we explored the east side, overlooking the Tasman Sea.  Hi NZ!!DSC_4468New Year’s Eve

We considered paying AU$1000.00 each for seats on a boat to view the fireworks from the bay – probably the best view.  What the heck,  it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, right?  But, we knew that after the show there would be unimaginable  congestion in getting back to the pier.  And then we would have to get a bus or a taxi back to our digs, both of which would be in short supply …. We also considered trying to get a spot in the Botanical Gardens, but one or both of us would have had to line up perhaps a day earlier to ensure a decent place in the gardens, so we discounted both of these options.  Our hosts suggested that we consider Dudley Page Reserve, about a 10 min walk from where we were staying.  So, about 4 months earlier, we bought tickets for this venue.  The gates opened at 6pm, so we started lining up at 4pm, hoping that we would be able to get a good spot.  By making some clever moves, we got a great spot right by the fence overlooking the bay.  It was perfect!  But we still had 4 hrs to go.  Oh dear!  It wasn’t very comfortable sitting on the ground (even though we had a blanket. Only low chairs were allowed.  How we wish we had bought a couple!) We passed the time by getting to know our neighbours; a couple of nurses and a German who had married an Asian Australian.DSC_4476As the sun went down, we were increasingly alarmed by the weather; was it going to rain?DSC_4480It didn’t look very promising.DSC_4488As the clock approached midnight, the crowds behind us began to surge forward.  I had a small tripod that could be wrapped around objects; I had it wrapped around the fence post, but none of that helped, because the fence moved constantly under the crowds leaning against it!

So these photos are far from what I had hoped to capture, but they are precious memories and give one an idea of the spectacular show.DSC_4487 (1)Despite the discomfort, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It would take a couple of days for us to recover from it, though!   Our recommendation to anyone wanting to experience it, would be to get a hotel room (book at least 3 yrs ahead) near the Opera House ($$$$), and charge guests an entry fee to defray costs!! 😆

-♦-♦-IMG_6533Our apartment was located on the crest of the hill, to the right of the tower.

The Rose Bay harbour used to be the base for Qantas flying boats that provided the only transportation between Australia, the US & Europe.  The last flight departed in the ’60s.  But it is still used by seaplanes on scenic flights.

We wanted to take a Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour of the city, so first we took a bus to the Rose Bay pier and then a ferry to Circular Quay.FullSizeRender 6

DSC_4563Here, driving through The Rocks; the old convict area of  Sydney.  It is now a trendy area with restaurants and small shops, museums and some very expensive housing.

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DSC_4519We enjoyed seeing the modern interspersed with ….DSC_4576…. the older, grand buildings.DSC_4529All up and down the north and south shores of the Sydney Harbour are white, sandy beaches and docks full of yachts and boats of every size.DSC_4586St Mary’s Cathedral.

I could bore you with our woes with this particular Hop-on-Hop-off bus, but I’ll just say that it wasn’t the best and we got lost in one of the seedier sides of town, Darlinghurst (but that is what adventures are all about).  We gave up and took a city bus home, stopping off at Bondi Beach on the way.IMG_6269

IMG_6352It is always interesting to see a place one has heard so much about.  Sometimes our expectations are met and other times not.DSC_4605

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IMG_6168On another day we met our good friend Ros at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  After a delicious lunch, we looked around at some of the Aboriginal art, which we both love.  Oh, for unlimited riches!IMG_6493

From the Art Gallery we meandered through the truly magnificent Royal Botanical gardens,FullSizeRender 8…. to view the Opera House up close for the first time.DSC_6546After walking about the harbour and the Rocks, we made our way to Sydney’s Oldest Hotel,IMG_8404where we enjoyed a great British staple – beef pie, mashed potatoes, gravy and mushy peas!IMG_6385The Rocks bathed in the evening sun, surrounded by the modern sky-scrapers of the business district.

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Thank you Ros for your generosity in opening your home to us several times and showing us around your adopted city!

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DSC_4758On another day, we took a short bus ride north to explore Watson’s Bay on the tip of the peninsula.  Here one is looking across Port Jackson to North Head.DSC_4771We climbed around the tip of South Head and enjoyed magnificent views back over the city.DSC_4773We were headed to Doyle’s restaurant to taste their fish and chips – it was “ok”!DSC_4761I had always thought Cape Town was the most beautiful city on earth (not that I am partial of course).  But Sydney certainly gives it a run for it’s money.  I was falling in love…DSC_4777This is one of the high speed ferries that go between Circular Quay and Watson Bay.  All the ferries throughout the Harbour run frequently, making it an excellent form of transport.

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IMG_5768Jouko looked up a former colleague of his and we agreed to meet them in Manly.  The Manly ferry is the largest of the ferries, since it has the furthest to travel (it takes about 30 mins) and has to cross the harbour in all weather.IMG_6545Daniella, originally from Zurich, joined Jouko while we were in Singapore.  After working there for a couple of years she moved to Australia, where she met her husband Steve.IMG_6548After walking around for a while, we had lunch and continued to chat and catch up with each other.

-♦-♦-DSC_4700On another day we took a boat tour of the harbor which gave us a different perspective.DSC_4702Kirribilli House is the official Sydney residence of the Prime Minister.DSC_4709Admiralty House is the official Sydney residence of the Admiral-General. I believe that all dignitaries visiting Australia stay here.  Both of these residences are opposite the Opera House.DSC_4727We headed under the Harbour Bridge to explore the west side.DSC_4728Miller’s Point.  If I remember correctly, Nicole Kidman has just sold a loft in one of these restored warehouses.DSC_4737

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DSC_4686Then we headed toward the mouth of Port Jackson and the Tasman Sea.   On the right, South Head and Watson’s Bay.  On the left, North Head and a little beyond that is Manly.  I saw dolphins playing!  And they say whales and shark frequent the waterway, too!

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January 9 – 13, 2017 to the Blue Mountains

IMG_6605We rented a car as we left the city.  It wasn’t a long drive; the Blue Mountains are only 50 km/31 miles from Sydney.

Our Airbnb in Leura was called “The Library”.IMG_6593Quite an appropriate name!

The stained glass windows made it even more charming.DSC_4799Over the next few days, we were able to get a pretty good overall view of the plateaus, cliffs and gorges which make up the sandstone mountains.DSC_4806

DSC_4994The charming small town of Leura.DSC_4999If I remember correctly, everywhere in NZ and Australia, one cannot alter the exterior of these old buildings, which really maintains the charm and warmth of the towns.

Everywhere the Agapanthus were in bloom and the Suphur-crested Cockatoos were not shy about nibbling on any crumbs they could find!  The birds are loud with a very unattractive sound, but I loved to see a flock of them flying through the sky.DSC_4811We didn’t hike very far into the valleys, but explored various beauty spots with incredible views.IMG_6721Wentworth Falls (barely!). (iPone)IMG_6722If we were 10 yrs younger, we might have considered this hike, the National Pass and Grand Stairway, although I’m not sure I would have dealt well with those heights! (iPhone)DSC_4855Probably the most famous landmark in the Blue Mts – The Three Sisters.  According to Aboriginal dream-time legend, the 3 sisters were turned to stone following a sad love story.DSC_4836During our stay, between driving around and taking short hikes, we made time to have a couple’s massage which we really needed.

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DSC_4820The Leura  Cascades.DSC_4875On Ros’s recommendation, we made time to have afternoon tea at Lilianfils, a beautiful Queenslander, now part of a Resort and Spa.  We were served by a young Finnish lady!DSC_4929I returned to Echo Point, the best place to view the sun set.DSC_4982Off in the distance some rain showers drifted in!DSC_4986It had turned out to be more dramatic than I had expected.DSC_5034It had rained the night before we left The Library, which was perched high up, overlooking a valley.  The waterfall was fuller than it had been previously.DSC_4889A Crimson Rosella stood guard as we bid good-bye.

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DSC_5052We made our way back to Cooranbong to spend an absolutely delightful weekend with Lynette and Colin Shrimpton and their spirited little dog, Jerry.  It was hot, about 40 C, (low 100s F) and the aroma of bush fires in the distance greeted us.

Since it was so hot, we spent the time indoors, sharing and catching up with each other. Lynette and I have known each other since we were girls of 16!  Their beautiful, lush garden was a popular spot for the Rainbow Lorikeet.  Here one is trying to hide!

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January 15-17, 2017 Close to Nowra, NSW

DSC_5066From Cooranbong we drove south, bypassing Sydney.  Then we turned southeast toward the coast, driving through the Kangaroo Valley.   Unfortunately it was too misty to see much.DSC_5102By the time we arrived at our Bed & Breakfast, a beautiful example of a Weatherboard House, the evening sun had burned it’s way through the fog.

We had a nice big room with an en-suite bathroom and our own lounge area where we were served the best breakfast!IMG_6939Originally from England, they had bought the cottage back in the ’60s while living in Sydney.  It was their weekend retreat and over the years he had extended and renovated it.  After retirement they had moved here permanently. We had an interesting conversation about American politics; we came across so many Australians who just couldn’t understand what had happened in the US (neither could we!).

The house was situated on the Shoalhaven River, so we followed the country road down to a nearby fishing village, where among the fishing boats & Pelicans, we saw lots of jelly fish swimming about.DSC_5085The next day we drove up to Kiama.

After grabbing a coffee in town we headed to a park jutting out into the ocean.  A lighthouse dominated the high point, overlooking a blow hole. To the north and south lay a spectacular coastline.DSC_5089

DSC_5145Then we turned back to have lunch in the quaint little town of Berry.DSC_5098However it was so hot and there were so many people around, that after walking around for a while, we quickly found a place to have lunch and cool down.DSC_5131The cozy sun-room at the back of the house.

After checking out a place by the river our hosts had told us about, we ran some errands and then headed back to the cottage.  Our hosts had invited us to look around and so I did.DSC_5123

And then I heard some birds up in the tree.  Aiming my camera in the general direction, I was later amazed to see these two beautiful birds.  Lynette and Colin did some research and are pretty certain these are Red-whiskered Bulbuls.

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January 17-18, 2017  to Wyndham near Pambula

DSC_5160It was a very pleasant drive, through fields…..DSC_5163….  Eucalyptus forests,DSC_5149…. and so many gorgeous beaches, we had to enjoy them from afar; we didn’t have the time to stop and explore.2017At Pambula, after doing some grocery shopping, we turned west into the hinterland and drove about an hour into the hills to our next Airbnb in Wyndham.

It felt like we were in the middle of “nowhere”.  There were maybe a dozen homes.  But the house was comfortable, the air-conditioning worked well and we had beautiful views. I believe we were in the South East Forests National Park. DSC_5172The view from another window.IMG_7014Our hosts had a Kelpie, an Australian breed.  That evening we watched the DVD,  RED DOG, a classic Australian true story about a Kelpie.DSC_5188The following morning we passed the center of town, made up of a hotel…DSC_5190… and a General Store, complete with an enthusiastic shopper!  It had been a great experience.

January 18-19, 2017 –  to Lakes Entrance.

DSC_5225Once again we drove through such a variety of landscapes and Eco systems….DSC_5223

….. and some impoverished areas,DSC_5142…. as well as more stunning coastal areas.DSC_5231Lakes Entrance.

Melbourne January 19-25, 2017

IMG_7020We settled into our new digs in a suburb southeast of the city.   The following day we took a bus and train into the city center.DSC_5259As we were approaching the station, from the train window I saw a helicopter circling the downtown area.  I thought it was probably a routine traffic check.  We took a tram ride that made a circle around downtown and overheard people talking about a car driving into pedestrians.  We had arrived about 1/2 hr after a fatal incident!IMG_7060And then, as we made our way to the market area, Nick called us.  I was immediately alarmed, thinking something must be really wrong for him to call.  It turned out that he had been reading the news on the internet and had seen that some crazy guy had driven into pedestrians in Melbourne with a number of fatalities!  He was checking that we were safe!DSC_53845 people were killed during the incident .  A few days later, we walked past the site of the incident and this was the scene.  There are crazy people everywhere.

Several of the many painted streets of Melbourne.DSC_5237So I guess they don’t just make boots and slippers!DSC_5255A peek inside St Paul’s church.

Another day we took a day trip to the Dandenong Ranges.DSC_5371The hills are covered with majestic trees, creating an underworld of hidden paths …..

 …… and homes trying to hide!DSC_5377Driving through the villages was like going back in time, to a bye-gone era.DSC_5332We meandered through the William Ricketts Sanctuary,   Made up of 92 sculptures he had created of Aboriginal people he admired and wanted to protect.DSC_5346

DSC_5370The Rhododendron Gardens.DSC_5372I never tire of seeing these magnificent eucalyptus trees.  So many varieties, too.DSC_5355From the highest point in the Ranges, Melbourne way off in the distance.DSC_5352

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DSC_5300St Kilda

A nice little southern seaside suburb of Melbourne.

The day we visited, a southeast Asian show, with dances and food occupied the Cantani Gardens.DSC_5281

DSC_5291The St Kilda Pier, looking north toward the City.DSC_5310The old and the new.

Our last day in MelbourneDSC_5249We took the bus and train back into town.  The golden domed building is the Flinders St train station.DSC_5399We decided to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens.DSC_5389It was very beautiful……

….. and we saw many trees and flowers & plants that we were not familiar with.DSC_5396But it was a hot and muggy day, so we became tired quickly.  I had hoped to visit the National Gallery, but we got lost trying to find it, and arrived too late to make the visit worth it.DSC_5401

DSC_5403So we meandered around the river before going home to pack….

January 25, 2017  – to Lorne on The Great Ocean Road

DSC_5421We drove down the Mornington Peninsula to catch the ferry at Sorrento.IMG_7242It was a short ride across the Rip, the entrance to Port Phillip Bay.DSC_5451On the other side, in Queenscliff, there were some superbly preserved older buildings. They stood guard over the incoming traveler to The Great Ocean Road and the western side of the Bay!DSC_5455Just before TorquayDSC_5481From here on, it is just one beautiful beach after another beautiful beach!DSC_5468Bells Beach is a well-known surfing beach, often featured in competitions.DSC_5469

DSC_5497Port Addis Marine National ParkDSC_5505Aireys Inlet.  It was interesting to climb up the old lighthouse.DSC_5521We had booked a hotel in Lorne for one night.  We checked in, dropped our bags and continued up the coast to catch glimpse of Koalas in their natural habitat.DSC_5525A spectacular coastline in the late afternoon sun.DSC_5527

DSC_5530At Kennett River we turned off.  The instructions from “someone”, were to look behind a cafe!?!DSC_5540We joined a small group of people gazing into some trees and eventually spotted them! There were at least 3 or 4.  How cool to see them in their natural habitat!DSC_5601Before leaving Lorne the next morning, we drove to a reserve area high above the town.DSC_5606On the way down to join the Ocean Road, we passed some delightful B & Bs.DSC_5609The Cape Patton lookout, looking west towards Apollo BayDSC_5613The road then turned inland, bypassing the Otoway Peninsula (we didn’t have time to divert off the main road).DSC_5646 Eventually we arrived at the 12 Apostles, although there are fewer than 12 now!  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to climb the Gibson Steps.DSC_5637Even in the overcast weather it was so picturesque!DSC_5631We spied what I think was a wallaby in the high grasses along the footpath.DSC_5667Loch Ard GorgeDSC_5675At every stop there were busloads of Chinese tourists invading the viewpoints.  We tried to leave before them and arrive at the next stop before the buses pulled up!DSC_5673

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DSC_5669The ArchDSC_5690London Bridge – has fallen down!  There used to be another arch spanning the mainland with the outcrop of cliff jutting into the ocean.DSC_5697Bay of Islands Coastal Park.  We would return a few days later, to look back on this area at sunset.DSC_5699

January 26-29, 2017  to Warrnambool

DSC_5895It took us a long time to learn how to pronounce the name of this town.DSC_5712It was a nice, quiet little place on the edge of a small farm.DSC_5769It was quite by accident that we came across Middle Island in the Merri Marine Sanctuary.  While in Italy we had watched a movie about dogs protecting a penguin colony somewhere in Australia.  The Maremma dogs are beautiful creatures and the movie had really captured our imagination.  The Middle Island link is well worth watching with a couple of videos.DSC_5777Located just outside of Warrnambool, the geology of the rocks, the tide pools and rock beds were pristine and fascinating.  Long boardwalks and footpaths made walking around the sanctuary very easy.  DSC_5713A little further west was Port Fairy.DSC_5755In 2012 it received this distinguished award.DSC_5752Many of these old worker’s cottages are now rented as holiday homes.DSC_5716We loved this area so much we came back a second time.DSC_5721Walking around Griffiths island, the roar of the Southern Ocean hitting the rocks was a loud constant rollDSC_5731

Port Fairy lies along the Moyne River.DSC_5803DSC_5805DSC_5750Some brave enthusiasts.DSC_5757-♦-♦-DSC_5788We also took the time to drive around Tower Hill Reserve.  A crater formed by a volcano, now home to a wide variety of wildlife.DSC_5799It was also interesting to visit the Visitor’s Center run by Aborigines.  They had some cool artwork and we bought a painting for a friend.  Quite a few Emu were wandering around.

-♦-♦-DSC_5826On our last evening we drove back to the Great Ocean Road, to a beach where we could look east toward the Bay of Islands and hopefully see a pretty sunset.DSC_5827

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Apparently Jouko wasn’t interested in the sunset! 😀DSC_5839It was such a special experience as we were the only ones on the beach …..DSC_5878… & as it turns out, this would be the last sunset we would see dipping into the ocean.  We had been very fortunate to witness so many gorgeous ones over the months.

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January 29-30, 2017 to Naracoote, South Australia

DSC_5934The drive northwest to the Adelaide Hills was going to take 2 days.  And we were so glad the GPS took us over the back roads and through small towns.DSC_5915At times we had to share the paved areas of the road!

I loved driving through the sleepy little towns… MacArthur, Victoria.DSC_5902Note the solar panels!DSC_5917I remember this spot so well.  We had been the only car on the road for a while.  The air was hot and still. The occasional bird disturbed the silence and the lone farmhouse in the distance.

There were never many people around in these neat little towns.

The inside of a cafe where we stopped for a coffee, had a ‘tree’ painted on the wall with English translations of Aboriginal phrases on the branches.DSC_5911The terrain turned flat as we drove through areas filled with vineyards.DSC_5952We were going to spend one night in Naracoote, but had time to stop at the Naracoote caves just south of town.DSC_5961As we arrived, a tour was just leaving, so we joined them.  Ahh, it was nice and cool down there!

Stalactites and animal remains.DSC_5996We were 160 km/100 miles from the ocean, but here are shells embedded in the roof of the cave!IMG_7472We had this cottage to ourselves!IMG_7473Naracoorte town square.

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January 30 – February 19, 2017 – Bridgewater, Adelaide Hills, South Australia.

DSC_6011It was such a relief to arrive at our next Airbnb.  We were pretty tired, having been on the go for quite awhile and it was good to realize that we would be here for 3 weeks. It was a lovely home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  We unpacked and settled in for a well deserved rest.  Above is a view from the large, picture window in the living-room.

DSC_6029And a couple of nights later, the sky lit up as if on fire!DSC_6140Bridgewater was a charming little town, tucked down among the Hills & about a 1/2 hr from downtown Adelaide.DSC_6143

DSC_6144In so many Australian towns, as in England, the Oval (cricket field) was the center of town.DSC_6051Right across from the Oval was the Bridgewater Inn, which had a delightful patio next to a stream.  We ate there a few times and enjoyed the senior discount on the menu!!

As I said, I had planned to get my New Zealand blog written while here, but when it worked, the WiFi was very slow.  We could not have asked for a more attentive host; she had the service providers come in 3 or 4 times in an effort to improve it’s performance, but without success.  I couldn’t believe that in such a wealthy area, folk could put up with such poor access.  Oh well…….DSC_6019The well known German town of Hahndorf was a 15 min drive away.  We looked around and appreciated the charming architecture, little boutique shops and over-priced cafes and restaurants, but it was quite touristy, so one visit was enough.DSC_6022

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IMG_7592We loved the next door village of Sterling.  This is their library where I went almost every day to take advantage of their free WiFi (which only lasted an hour).  They were so warm and friendly.  The library appeared to be the center of all village activity. (iPone)IMG_7594One Friday afternoon one of the schools held a bake sale outside the library.  I watched them for a long time; the moms setting up the tables and then standing back to talk among themselves while the girls, in their school uniforms,  took charge of the selling! (iPhone)IMG_7983This classic, an Austin-Healey, epitomizes the village of Sterling!IMG_7801Some days we were quite happy to go out for a walk and then spend the rest of the time inside.  Can you see the bright red Crimson Rosella perched on the tree?  I loved seeing and listening to the different birds.

The Kookaburra

DSC_9198I forgot to include this in my ULURU post.  While in Cooranbong, we found a place to feed and interact with kangaroos.  We spent quite a while watching them in their natural habitat.  While there, I heard an awful racket coming from high up in the trees.  Russel and Inge-lise Butler later informed us about the “laughing Kuukaburra”.   I’m not sure if they were mourning the death of a chick, or fighting over it!

The MagpieIMG_7902Our house was almost on top of a hill.  We often made a loop; going downhill and then climbing up another road.  These  hidden gems were dotted around in among the trees.DSC_6044The Englebrecht Reserve

In the house were maps and brochures of things to do around the area.  We decided to follow a trail that would take us around the outskirts of the village, about a 3 mile (4.8 km) trek up and down dale. We left late in the morning – it was already very  hot, which added to the challenge.DSC_6040The diversity of flora and trees always caught my attention.DSC_6041The trail eventually brought us back around to the Bridgewater Inn, the Oval and then a stiff climb back home.DSC_6196The weather varied quite a bit.  Sometimes we needed the heating on and other days the air-conditioning.DSC_6093The Barossa Valley wine region.DSC_6084The Valley lies north east of Adelaide.DSC_6095

DSC_6091Overlooking the vineyards.DSC_6113After touring the area, we took a quiet country road back home.

-♦-♦-DSC_6122On an extremely hot day we decided to go the ocean, Klenelg Beach.  But, because of the heat, very few sunbathers were on the sand – they were all under the jetty seeking shade! Actually, it was the wrong day to go to the beach – it was too hot!DSC_6129With no breeze, one really did not want to be out walking.DSC_6123It was a shame, because Klenelg appeared to be quite an attractive town.IMG_7692We drove further south.  Long, white sandy beaches with some very lovely homes overlooking the ocean.DSC_6132A cricket and tennis club.IMG_7710A war memorial framing the pier at the Brighton Beach.IMG_7696South of the pier.  Later in the afternoon, I guess folk were more willing to come out of the shade!IMG_7766My Aussie husband warming up for a walk down in the “donga”, a South African name for a ravine.DSC_6186This was one of our favorite places to walk.  It led all the way to the Oval.DSC_6191The path followed a creek that led past the Bridgewater Inn.

Mount LoftyDSC_6150It was a large park area with hiking trails and picnic areas.  It also had fantastic views west over the ocean……DSC_6167

DSC_6147….. and east to the Piccadilly valley, in the Adelaide HillsDSC_6162Looking north to the estuary and Torres Island.DSC_6163The Flinders column was erected in 1902.

McLaren Vale wine regionDSC_6198Another day trip took us south to the McLaren Vale.  Oh look!  Do we need any??IMG_7848It was a pretty ride through the back roads.IMG_7862Seeing some camels, we stopped the car &  I got out to take a closer look.  Another young couple were doing the same thing – and then I overheard them talking…Finnish!!  They had left their jobs about 2 yrs earlier and had hoped to stay in Melbourne and find work, but they found it too cold during the winter and they also missed Europe.  They are still undecided as to where they will end up.  Spain?  Portugal?DSC_6215We had so much to talk about and so many experiences to compare, that we continued in to town and found a place to eat.  We are still in touch with Juha and Minna and hope to meet them in Finland in December.IMG_7907We thought we better go into Adelaide at least once, so we found the market.DSC_6235A large, eclectic place.DSC_6236Seeing the market was enough for us.  The countryside was much more appealing, rather than the hustle and bustle of a city.

And then it was time to pack up and make our way back to Sydney.  I couldn’t believe the adventure was almost over…….

February 19-21, Mildura, Victoria

IMG_8069We were definitely entering farming country!DSC_6241We could see the dust storms from way off in the distance.DSC_6240

DSC_6270The cathedral was the most interesting spot in Mildura!IMG_8112Staying near the Murray River, we explored it a bit on foot.  We were going to be following the Murray for quite a while the next day.

February 21-23, Albury, New South Wales

DSC_6294          We decided to follow these folk 😄Processed with VSCO with c1 presetWhen the drive becomes boring, one has to make up one’s own fun!DSC_6300A back road took us over a bridge and I asked Jouko to stop.  The river, flanked by trees, had captured my attention and I got out of the car and trudged down through the dry, dry scrub to get to this point.  I have left part of my heart in many places during this trip and I have to say that part of it remained in this quiet spot.  It is hard to put into words as to why it captured my imagination so.  I loved the isolation, the crackle of dry leaves and twigs underfoot.  And to me it epitomized a part of rural Australia……  DSC_6314These were some of the last back roads we would enjoy.DSC_6311Sometimes I wish we had returned via the Grampians National Park and seen more of the interior of Victoria, but then I would have missed these out of the way, remote areas which I just loved.  Another time, perhaps!IMG_8198Albury is a very nice town, about half way between Melbourne and Canberra.

February 23-26, 2017  –  Canberra, NSW

DSC_6381The Hume HighwayDSC_6361A sign on the highway mentioned Gundagai as a “historic town”. The little town had a kind of charm, and we enjoyed the view from the hill.  In the center of the picture one can see the old wooden railroad tracks.

We continued up the highway to the capital, Canberra.DSC_6391The Australian Coat of ArmsDSC_6383Lake Burley Griffin and I believe the National Portrait Gallery is on the right side of the lake.

Somewhere I had heard that Canberra was a rather “boring” city and perhaps not worth a visit.  But I’m so glad we did make the effort, because we really enjoyed looking around.Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 4.34.22 PMThis is NOT my picture, but I realize as I am writing this that I didn’t get a photo of the exterior of Parliament House.DSC_6388The public are allowed to walk up on the grassy roof,  but unfortunately it closed just before we got there.  I wish we had returned another day to do it – the views would have been expansive.IMG_8345The impressive entryway.IMG_8239Joining a tour of the interior, we came across this painting.  Painted by an Aborigine, it shows what it would have been like if the “dark skinned” indigenous people had conquered the “white skinned” folk!!  I found it fascinating.

Very similar layout to the British House of Lords and House of Commons.DSC_6392Like Washington DC, Canberra is a planned city.  The above picture is taken from the front entrance to Parliament House. It overlooks the Old Parliament House and beyond is the War MuseumIMG_8288The National Museum of Australia.

I gravitated to the Aboriginal art.DSC_6395The Australian War Memorial.DSC_6398From the steps of the War Memorial to Parliament House in the distance.DSC_6522Eager to get out into the countryside, we visited the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.DSC_6412There were plenty of skippies around!DSC_6483 Ahhh, it was good to go bush-walking again!DSC_6415We found some tranquil beauty spots.DSC_6427

DSC_6428Walking through some bush, the area was a-buzz with the White-eared Honeyeater.

The White-eared Honeyeater forages under bark on tree trunks and has a distinctive white ear patch.”DSC_6421I also managed to get the backside of a Fantail 🙂DSC_6498Peekaboo!

There was also a Kaola reserve, where we lingered for a long time.  DSC_6436Hi!

Climbing up to sleep.DSC_6493A mother and baby.

February 26-28,2017  Sydney

Oh dear.  That dreadful time was drawing nigh; only a couple of days left….

IMG_8393Cynthia and Karl Benz (from Newbold, England) had taken a cruise which ended in Sydney.  Lynette planned to meet them and we also wanted to meet up with them.  Ros had invited us to stay with her again, so we drove to her home….DSC_6534…… then took the ferry across to Circular Quay.IMG_8447Upstairs at the front of the ferry one has the best view!DSC_6537An example of the lovely homes, some from a former era and some contemporary, lining  the cliffs around the bay.

It was wonderful to meet up with them again.  Who would have thought a couple of years ago, that the next time we would meet would be half way around the world in Sydney!  It had been many, many years since Ros had seen them.  Unfortunately Lynette had to return home early.IMG_8385Back in the day, Cynthia had been one of Jouko’s English teachers 🙃

The following day we took the ferry across the bay.  Our plan was to climb the Harbour Bridge Pylon for a view over the city.DSC_6569So we crossed up through the Rocks……..DSC_6543…. and up to the pylon.DSC_6555From the pylon we had a great view of the much braver folk willing to climb the Harbour Bridge.  For their safety they are tethered to each other, but they are not allowed to have cameras or cell-phones are anything else that can be dropped.  Besides not wanting to spend AU $300, I am so scarred of heights that I couldn’t even deal with the height of the pylon!DSC_6561I felt safe inside, taking pictures of old pictures!DSC_6562This photo was taken before the Opera House was built.

The Bridge was opened 19th March 1932.DSC_6549It is a very busy harbour.DSC_6560Looking down on the Rocks to the lower right and the business district behind.  Jouko had to take these pictures for me 😓DSC_4647That afternoon we had a tour booked of the Opera House.DSC_6587We headed toward the meeting area.IMG_8411We were so glad we took the tour.  Unfortunately photography was allowed only in certain areas.IMG_8412

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But “miraculously” we have picture of ourselves inside one of the halls (from a souvenir booklet of the tour).

 

 

 

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Jøn Utzon, architect of the Opera House.   It is rather an extraordinary story about the master mind of this remarkable buildingDSC_6580

DSC_6586We were going to meet Ros for dinner across the Bay, but we had a little time to look around on our last evening.DSC_6590Sydney of course is a major destination for cruise ships.  The smaller ones can sail under the Harbour Bridge to dock further up the river.DSC_6597Others, too large to sail under the bridge, dock opposite the Opera House, unfortunately dominating the harbour.  I wish there was somewhere else for the behemoths to dock so as not to distract from the uniqueness of one of the most famous and most beautiful harbours in the world.DSC_6599We took the ferry across to the Luna Park pier.  Luna Park is an amusement park, but we were going to eat with Ros at the restaurant in the low white building on the right.DSC_6601With still a little time left before we met her, we took a stroll.IMG_8443Thank you Jouko for this wonderful experience and for all your excellent driving.  He drove approximately 20,000 miles / 32,000 km, without a single scratch on any of the 11 rental cars.  We never had a problem with any of our cars; no flat tires, no engine problems.  He drove 6 months on the right-hand side and 6 months on the left-hand side of the road.  I booked the Airbnbs and generally planned the routes & he booked the occasional hotel/motel, car rentals and the airline tickets.  It took us 21 flights to reach all these different places, without only one hitch.  We slept in approximately 100 different beds and only got sick once (a gift from our grandchildren 😍).  We had too much “stuff” with us, but we’ll know next time to pack lighter! It was a true partnership, not without it’s disagreements, but always united! ❤️DSC_6605We have often been asked which country we liked the best.  That is an impossible question to answer.  We loved Spain. Italy.  There are good things and bad things everywhere.  But Australia and NZ hold very special places in our hearts.  We felt that we could easily settle in OZ  – if our sons lived there!IMG_8462February 28th we caught our last glimpse of a place that holds a very, very special place in our hearts.

Haere Rã!

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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