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Our Australia Trip

Part 1

MONDAY

We got to the Airport and the driver us showed where to check in and where to go to get on board.  Did all that and and waited for the flight.  Guess who's passport photo didn't work again.  Boarded the plane and off we go.  We are in the first row, right up front, with an empty seat between us.  Not a bad flight.  Had something to eat and watched a movie and the flight was over.  Landed in Sydney and tried to find the ride service.  Finally find someone and he tells us to wait in a little area in the airport and that the bus will be there in 25 minutes.  It was just about that long until he came and got us and a few other people and led out the door and about a 1/4 mile down to the van that would take us to the hotel.  The driver wasn't there and the guy that brought us down was on his phone.  He threw all our bags in the rear of the van and told us to get in.  We sat there for about 20 minutes before the driver finally showed up and said he was looking around the terminal for us.  He then drove over to the Domestic terminal and picked up as many people as he could cram in.  He finally got to town and started dropping people off at the different hotels.  We weren't the last ones but we were far from the first.  Make it to the hotel and get checked in.  They have us in 2 single beds so we get that changed.  We asked if there was any messages for us from the tour company and they said no.  Go up to the room and put our bags in, then head back down to see if we can get any information on when and where to meet up for the tour the next day.  

Nothing.  

Stop at the bar and have a drink, then back to the room and try to call the touring company, no answer.  

TUESDAY

In the morning we go down for breakfast and then use a lobby phone to try and call again.  While we are doing that the conciegere comes over and asks if we are looking for AATKings.  I said yes and he says he will show us where to go to meet them.  He goes back to finish a phone call and then shows us.  We had to go back to the room to get our stuf then went down to the bus.  The driver said he wasn't ours but would take us to the Four Seasons where we could transfer to his coach.  On the way he told his tour that he was sorry for the delay but there was some people who were late.  When we got to the Four Seasons, our bus driver got us and we asked about the next day and if he knew when and where we supposed to be so we could be on time.  He went and asked the supervisor there and she had no idea about any tours the next day, or where the buses would be or when.  We got on the bus and started our city tour.  We drove across the bridge past the Opera House and then down to a spot where we could get pictures of both.  A couple of other stops and then to Manly Beach.  A chance to walk around and then down to the harbor to catch a boat for a lunch cruise around Sydney Harbour.  The driver lets us know that he got a message about our pickup time in the morning.  Back on the bus and more sights around town and then out to Bondi Beach and a short break.  Then it was time to head back and there was a lot of traffic and some of it at a standstill.  The driver did his best to get us around most of it.   Made it back, stopped in the bar for a snack and a drink then head for the room.

WEDNESDAY

The message the driver gave us was that the bus would leave at 0740 this morning and that we should be a little early.  We were there at 0725 and got on the bus and it left right away.  Picked up a few more people then headed out for the Blue Mountains.  Stopped at a view point to see the Three Sisters, then over to Scenic World to ride the incline railway down, take a walk through the forest and ride the cableway back up.  We stopped at the Featherlite Wildlife park on the way back to see lots of birds, Koalas, Wallaby's, Dingoes, Tasmanian Devils and Kangeroos.  Headed back to town, but got off the bus and onto a boat that took us down river to the harbor and then dropped us off a couple of blocks from our hotel.  Back to the room to relax and pack for tomorrow.

THURSDAY

We had checked the day before to make sure what time the van would be there to take us to the airport.  Had breakfast and was down in front of the hotel waiting for it when it arrived.  No immigration this time but we did have to go through security.  We both made it right through, but as I was getting my stuff from the trays a guy taps me on the arm and says he wants to do an explosives test on me.  So I have to go through that.  We go down to the gate and are waiting when a guy says he just looked at the board and they changed his gate number.  So we go look at the board and they changed ours too.  Off to find the new gate.  Find it then wandered around a little bit and got something to eat.  Strolled back to the gate and it wasn't long before we started boarding.  It was a full flight and we were in the back of the plane across the aisle from one another.  No thrills on this airline,  if you want anything you paid for it.  The lady did say the the restrooms were free on this flight.  Just about 3 hours and a rough landing later and we are at Ayers Rock.  A little more organized here.  Lots of representitves from the tour company around.  One of them directs us out to a bus and the driver says that's the one we want, so we get on and go to the hotel.  Check in, get some information then wash clothles.  Take the shuttle to Town Square and go to the tour office to change our morning tour.  A shuttle ride back and it's time to head out to the Field of Lights.  The bus takes us out to a field where we walk a little path up to a clearing where we have wine and canapes with a view of Ayers Rock.  As the sun sets we make our way to another clearing with dinner tables and a view of the rock.  A little didgeerdo music as we eat our soup, the first of three courses.  Our table's turn at the buffet comes and we have choices such as Smoked Kangeroo with Bush BBQ Sauce, and Crocodile and carrot salad.  They also had chicken and lamb.  Yes we tried the Kangeroo and the Crocodile and carrot, both were good.  After dessert a guy told us about the stars that we would have seen if it wasn't cloudy.  Actually it was clear when it first got dark so we were able to see some stars, just not during the star talk.  It was then time to walk down to the field where they had 50 thousand lights on poles in sections that changed color every 8 seconds.  Walked through the field then it on the bus and back to the hotel and straight to bed becuase we have an early morning.

FRIDAY

Up before 4 to get ready to meet the tour at 5.  We head out to watch the sun rise from a viewpoint overlooking Kata Tjuta.  After that we go and take a short walk up a canyon, and then its time for breakfast at the picnic area.  We had cereal, juice, coffee, toast and fruit.  There was also a trail with another view of Kata Tjuta.  On the way back to the hotel the driver stops and gets a Thorny Devil to show us.  After stopping by the room we walk to the Town Square.  They were giving a didgeerdo demostration and Larry tried it out.  He wasn't any good.  A little shopping and walk back to the room and spend the afternoon relaxing .  Over to the restaurant for something to eat, then call it a night.

SATURDAY

Up early again, this time to see the sunrise at Uluru.  Watch the sunrise and have breakfast, then take a short walk and hear some of the aboriginie stories.  Back to the room and shower, and to the airport to catch the flight to Cairns.

Our Australia Trip

Part 2

SATURDAY (cont)

The flight to Cairns was not bad.  We had a drink and a snack, and it was only a couple of hours.  Go to baggage claim and find the guy with our name and he loads us up and takes us to our hotel.  Get checked in and check on our pick up time in the morning, throw our bags into the room then take a walk along the Esplanade.  They had a boardwalk along the water and lots of restaurants and shops along the street.  Stop for an ice cream then back to the hotel and bed.  They had a birthday party in the bar outside our room with a live band, but it was over by 9:30, so it wasn't too bad.

SUNDAY

At least it isn't as early this morning.  We get ready and head to breakfast, then grab our stuff and wait in the lobby for the driver.  He comes in and hollers our name then directs us to the bus.  A short ride and we are at the harbor where we check in and find our boat ( there are lots of them heading for the reef).  We get aboard and find a seat.  A 2 hour ride with tea and a snack, a presentation on the reef and instructions on where to go and what to look for.  Then it's time to go out to the back deck and find a lycra suit, googles and snorkle, and flippers.  We found out they have prescription googles so Larry got a pair of them to wear.  Kathy decided she wasn't going snorkling so she didn't get any gear.  Larry slithered into the suit and then decided he needed the rest room.  We arrive at the reef and the boat drops anchor.  They off load a small boat that takes all the life jackets and personel to the beach and the other boats.  They have a Beach Buggy (landing craft with seats) and a SubSea vessel ( a boat with windows in the bilge where you can sit and look underwater) anchored there.  They start the tours in the submersible and start ferrying people to shore in the boat.  Larry is on the first boat to shore and when he gets there he dons his mask and flippers and takes off.  He spends about an hour swimming around the reef enjoying the sights.  Kathy takes a lter boat in and waits for him on the shore.  She takes pictures of the wildlife and diops her toes in the water.  Finally Larry comes back, a few pictures then it's on the boat back to the Catamaran for lunch.  After lunch we take our turn on the underwater boat and see the reef through the windows.  Back onboard we get redy to depart the reef and the 2 hour ride back to the dock.  They had a screen with a running show of all the pictures the ship's photogopher took with numbers so you could order any you wanted.  We had afternoon tea with snacks, and a guy with a guitar singing to us on the way back.  Docked the ship, found our bus and made it back to the hotel.  Went out for a short walk then back to the hotel to check on the pickup time for tomorrow, then back to the room to check out the videos Larry shot.

MONDAY

Today we have a little later start.   After breakfast we are in the lobby by 8:00 for pickup at 8:30.  Time comes and goes and we are starting to have memories of Sydney.  We find out they are running late and they finally get there.  A short bus ride and we catch the Skyrail to take us up to the rainforest.  It has two stops along the way and then we get to Kuranga.  We have 2 hours to walk around town when 5 minutes would hve been enough, then go over to the Rainforestation place to walk through the animals and then take a Duck ride through the forest.  Finish that and it's time to catch the train back down the mountain.  Nice little ride down in our fancy coach with snacks and drinks.  Made it down and got on a bus back to the hotel.  Sat out on our patio with drinks and watched the people in the pool and the bats flying around.



Our Australia Trip

Part 3

TUESDAY 
Up early to pack and get ready for our next adventure.  We head down for breakfast and are heading outside to sit on the patio.  We pass through a patio door that has a step down.  Kathy's foot was only half on the jam and she twisted her ankle as she went down.  She lost her breakfast, spilled it all over.  She had a glass of milk in her hand and some how got it on me, but she didn't break anything, not the glass, not the plate and not any bones.  They gave her some ice to put on it and called a cab so we could go to 24 hour care, but There they said it would be at least 2 hours before she was seen, so we got a brace and headed back to the hotel.  Just after we get back and as I am putting the brace on her foot, the driver showed up to take us to the airport.  We load up he drops at the terminal.  I get Kathy inside and sat down then go check in.  I also arranged for a wheelchair as she is having trouble walking.  Again we are flying Jetstar, the same airline we took to Ayers Rock.  If you ever have a chance to fly this airline, don't.  We got to the gate and they called us up early to board.  We had to go a special way and use an elevator because there were steps to get on the airplane.  Made it on and settled in.  It was a full flight again with no thrills except free bathrooms.  After landing in Melbourne we had to wait and be the last ones off.  They then had to rig a fork lift with a platform to get the 3 people in wheelchairs off.  Made into the terminal and had to go a ways and then go up and cross the terminal and go back down to get to baggage claim.  After getting our bags we went looking for the bus that was to take us to our hotel.  It was in Terminal 1.  We are in terminal 4, it's about a 5 minute walk they say.  So Kathy hangs onto the bags while I push her in the wheelchair.  And of course they are doing all kinds of construction, so it's not just an easy walk.  Got to a place where the signs were confusing so I asked someone and they said we are in terminal 3, terminal is a 5 minute walk that way.  We keep going and get to a place where the signs quit.  I ask some else and he says you are terminal 2 (at least we are getting closer, but if he tells me it's a 5 minute walk..) and that terminal 1 is right next door.  We finally make it to Terminal 1 and the counter we want is right inside the door.  I checked with the lady and she showed me some pictures of the buses and says they run every 15 miutes or so.  She says, "Do you see those flags off to the right?"  I told her I did, and she said all you have to do is go out the doors to the left and walk a little ways then cross 2 roads, and then walk back to the flags.  So we did.  A Starbus finally comes and people get off.  We try to board and the driver says we have to wait for the next one., which comes just as he is saying that.  We get into that van along with 8 other people.  An hour later there were 2 people left when he dropped us off.  While we are checking in Kathy asks if there is a 24 hour Medical place around that she could go to.  The girl says when you get to your room call reception.  Isn't that where we are now?.  But after she said it 3 times we figured we weren't going to get any where with her.  We got to the room and I went to get some ice.  All they would give was a small glass full.  Meanwhile Kathy is trying to call reception and keeps getting transfered and hung up on.  She finally made it through to someone and then the manager and concierge showed up at the room with first aid bags and a defibulator.  They talked to Kathy for a bit and said they didn't think it was broken and that she just sit and elevate it for a while.  They had room service send up an ice pack so she could ice it.  They then kept checking in every hour or so to see how she was doing.  So I got her propped up on the bed with the ice pack and then I took off for a walk around the neighborhood.   
WEDNESDAY
Today is the bus ride along the Great Ocean Road.  Kathy decides to stay in the room to take care of her foot.  So I have breakfast and head out front to meet the bus, who is late of course.  He has stopped at several hotels to pick up people and he takes us to Federation Square where we get off and wait for the bus for our particular trip.  Our's, of course, is late.  There was an accindent on the freeway and it took him twice as long to get in.  Finally got loaded up and headed out.  We rode for 3 hours out to the 12 Apostles.  Did a little sightseeing there and at Loch Ard, the site of a ship wreck.  Did lunch in Port Campbell then went to the London Bridge, a rock formation that had fallen down.  Then it was onto the Great Ocean Road, a 4 1/2 hour trip on a twisty road.  We had a couple of short stops for pictures, but that was about it.  It would have been a great ride on a motorcycle, but not the funnest in a 13 meter bus.  Make it back about 8 pm, when they drop me at the hotel.  Kathy spent the day resting her foot and getting room service.
THURSDAY
Kathy is doing better today, but is still walking pretty slow.  She decides to come today seeing as the morning is a city tour, which is a couple of hours on the bus with a couple of short stops.  The bus that was supposed to pick us up at the hotel decides he can't handle the curve coming into the hotel and parks a quarter of a mile away and makes us walk to him, down the ramp and across the street.  Again he drops us at Federation Square to meet our bus.  We do the morning tour and it was back to the square for lunch.  We then catch the bus for the afternoon run out to  Phillip Island for a few stops and the Penquin Parade.  We stop at a animal park to look at Koalas, Kangeroos, and other assorted wildlife.  Stopped for lunch in Cowes, an interesting little beach town that was hosting the Australian Muscle Car Rally at the time.  Lots of interesting cars driving around.  After that we drove along the shore and watched the Cape Barron geese, and wallabys running around.  Then it was time to go get our seats for the Penquin Parade.  Sat there and watched the sunset, and then the penquins came.  It wasn't a mass exodus, but a bunch over here and then a bunch over there.  Then we walked back up the long boardwalk to the visitor centre and watched as the penquins went to their burrows which were along the walkway.  Now it's back on the bus and a 2 hour ride back to our hotel, arriving about 1115 pm.  We get back to room and start packing.  Holiday is over, it's time to go home.
FRIDAY
All good things come to an end and this vacation is has come to it's conclusion.  We finish packing and head down to breakfast, then it's out to wait for the ride to the airport.  The driver shows up and gets us, a couple more stops and off to the airport.  We are there in plenty of time, which is good because guess who's photo wouldn't match to his passport.  Make it through security,  find our gate and settle in.  There are several airline personel hanging around shooting the breeze.  After awhile all the airline people leave, that made me suspicious so I found a board and saw that they changed our gate.  They could have told us.  Off to the new gate.  Finally get on board and have a nice flight to Aukland.  At Aukland the flight is listed but not a gate, so we find a place to sit and wait until they can decide where it will be.  They finally post it and we head off to the gate.  The flight crew is there along with airport personel and they go into the gate and close the doors to have some kind of conflab.  This is starting to make me nervous.  Come time to board and they announce it will be a few minutes because of the late arrival of the plane the cleaning crew needs more time.  They finally get it clean and we get onboard.  Time to settle in for the long flight home.  Something to eat, a movie and then time for a snooze.  Wake up, eat and it's time to land.  In Canada we had to claim our luggage and check it in again.  We also went through Canadian and American customs there, so we didn't have to do it in Portland.  This time my photo matched enough to let me through, but I had to do it a couple of times.  Find a place to sit and have an iced tea with ice, two things that are hard to come by down under.  Find our gate and get a seat, and guess what, the plane is late getting in and they have to wait for the cleaning crew.  They finish up and get us on board for our last leg home.  Get to Portland and can walk right out because of the customs in Vancouver BC.  Jason picks us up at the airport and takes us home, where we proceed to regale (bore) him with all the details of our trip.