Journal

Archives: Australia 2007

Our Australia Tracks 9 June 2007

Here is a quick map of our Excellent Aussie Adventure… Map of our tripthe black lines are the flights we took, landing in Sydney, and then after 3 days, going on to Adelaide. Part I (the burgundy line) is our trip into the Outback by jeep/4WD vehicles, pulling trailers. Part II (red line) shows our cycling trip from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. Part III (black lines and blue circle) we flew to the Great Barrier Reef and then took a boat out to Hook Island. Part IV (lower right burgundy line) is our road trip (bikes in the back) from Melbourne via Wilson’s Prom then up the coast then through Alpine National Park back to Sydney. Quite incredible, eh?!

A Last Long Look at Sydney 4 April 2007

We have had a fantastic two final days in Sydney; what a really, really beautiful city! Yesterday we spent walking from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach on the Coastal Walk – along scores of breathtakingly beautiful beaches with built-in swimming pools, surrounded by gardens and lovely old homes and steep rocky bluffs. (more…)

Aussie Expressions 4 April 2007

(BTW, Aussie is pronounced ‘Ozzie’) Here is a list of the expressions and words we have heard – I am sure we have left some out!

How ya goin’? – most common greeting, along with G’day (mate)!
How ya goin’, not bad, alright? – Marty does it all for you – question and answers!
She’ll be right, mate! – It will be okay
Pinched – stolen, taken
Gobsmacked – absolutely amazed (more…)

We Have Lost the Plot! (and are *really* ready to go home) 4 April 2007

Last night we plopped ourselves on the grassiest spot we could find in a caravan park just off the Hume Highway about 550k from Sydney, and today we raced into the city. Contrary to what some folks had told us though, we thought it was a beautiful drive – the countryside is lovely, even in the drought. We are now in such a hurry to get home that we passed Annandale Road – NO KIDDING! (more…)

Some of Anwar’s Flight Control Stories 3 April 2007

Last year, some race car drivers visiting Hamilton Island decided to use the runway for some fun late one night. They didn’t see the end of the runway, and slammed on their brakes as the end came up fast, and ended up down on the rocks, leaving some big skidmarks on the very end of the runway. The next day, a well known Australian airline’s jet was taking off, and as they approached the end of the runway, saw the marks and commented to the tower ‘Wow – looks like some poor fellow ended up in the water!’. (more…)

Amazed in the Australian Alps 2 April 2007

This last part of our trip (not including our last two days in Sydney), has been just amazing! We headed up into the Australian Alps, and found ourselves fascinated by the remnants of the big bush fires this past summer. There were three very big, bad fires, which combined and are now called the Great Alpine Fire of 2006. We drove through the mountains for hours, gawking and saddened, but also amazed at how it seems to be regenerating so very fast. (more…)

Rain on Wilson’s Prom 2 April 2007

We arrived back in Melbourne on Wednesday from the Great Barrier Reef and Anwar, picked up our ‘hire’ car (a brand new silver Toyota Corolla hatchback), and loaded our bikes, bags, and backpacks all into it with no problem at all, and headed for Wilson’s Promontory, a triangle-shaped, ruggedly mountainous peninsula at the very bottom of Australia, just across the Bass Straight from Tasmania.

Talk about another complete change of weather – it was rainy and quite cool there. (more…)

Anwar and His Air Traffic Control Tower 2 April 2007

After our wild ride home, we took Anwar out for Barramundi (Australia’s best fish, from the northeast coast), shrimp, fish curry, and Blueberry Mojitos, then watched his video of living and working in McKay (the one he promised Mom about 2 years ago), and then watched our favorite episode of Fawlty Towers, “Communication Problems? and one I have never seen, even though there are only 10 or 12. (more…)

South Sea Island Living 2 April 2007

WOW – we returned this afternoon (Tuesday, March 27) from our south seas island on a bucking bronco of a small boat (maybe 20 feet long?) – an hour and 15 minute trip from Maureen’s Cove at the north end of Hook Island, across the channel, around Daydream Island, and across another channel. We had a few rain squalls during the night, and throughout the morning mixed with lovely sunshine, but the boat ride took us into a windy rainstorm, and we literally slammed down into the waves almost the entire trip home… it was quite a roller coaster ride, and we were drenched from head to toe. (more…)

“Communication Problems” (a la Fawlty Towers) 2 April 2007

Patricia and I just returned from a very relaxing 2 days on a South Seas Island :), which I will tell you about in my next post, but first, two trip-related funny stories:

When I made the booking for the boat ride to our island campsite in the Great Barrier Reef by telephone from DC, I thought the company’s name was Harversford Boat Hire (as in “hah’vuhsfud” – can you see the grin on my face?). (more…)

Melbourne: The Saints! 27 March 2007

We had a lovely two-night stay in Melbourne, with Jim and Karen’s colleagues Anne & Graeme from the Outback. Jim was able to take his boys to dinner for the first time in two years, and the rest of us enjoyed a fantastic Thai dinner with Lucy, her brother John, and his girlfriend Simone, who came to Melbourne with Marty to celebrate the finish of our Tour d’GOR.

The highlight of our day in Melbourne was visiting Moorabbin, training home of the Aussie Rules footy club (team) Jim ‘barracks’ (roots) for – the Saints (Saint Kilda), to watch a training session – their first game of the pre-season is next week. (more…)

Great Ocean Road Day 12: FINISHED! 23 March 2007

Bell's BeachWe are done! We took it *very* easy today, but even so, we rode another 20k on the hottest day yet, with some very, very “bad!? hills! We rode from Torquey to Bells Beach, Australia’s most famous surfing beach and home to many competitions. It was breathtakingly beautiful, with very impressive waves and a wicked-looking undertow, but was rather quiet today in the grandstands. I kept riding along Bell’s Beach back and forth for several miles on those incredible hills to get my miles up – Surfer on Bell'sit felt a little like being on one of those gigantic swings in a carnival, swooping from one side of the valley to the other and back, except pumping the pedals on the uphills was much harder than pumping a swing.

We then drove to Torquay Beach and jumped in the surf to cool off and CELEBRATE – me in my jersey and bike shorts – fantastic!!

I have ridden 500 miles, and as my nephew Marty would say, ‘I am very happy’!

GOR Day 11: Following the Surf (Glenaire to Apollo Bay) 23 March 2007

Today we planned about 100k, and came close. Apollo BayJim and Patricia are determined to do 1000k on this tour, so they were preparing to leave around 7:30 and Irena and I would follow later to join them. I forget the rest of the plan (like true Newkirks, our plans change until they are DONE!!!). Anyway, two more tubes ‘died’ being pumped up (that makes about 10 now…), which delayed them until 9:30, so JEBIGA – we loaded up all the bikes (now that we have THAT figured out!), and Jim dropped us ‘gills’ (as he calls us) about 23k from Apollo Bay. Check out our get-out-of-town route up that hill!!! —->>>> (more…)

GOR Day 10: 32 KOALAS! (Glenaire UP Laver’s Hill to Otway Bay) 23 March 2007

Dinosaur CoveToday was a fantastic day. Our ‘success’ was getting out early (7:45 am – we are staying in this cottage for two nights), and riding up one of the most famous landmarks of this traditional ride – Laver’s Hill. It was about 1900 feet of elevation gain over 10 miles, and we worked hard, but actually enjoyed doing it. Coffee and croissants at the top with a view were a treat, as was the ride back down – I broke my speed record from 4 days ago and reached 37.3mph (over 60kph)! Then Jim and I kept going down from the cottage to order dinner (about 1k) and saw the most spectacular view yet from the bikes on our trip – steep downhill, headed straight for the ocean. (more…)

GOR Day 9: Majestic coastline, and yet MORE headwind! (PC to Glenaire) 23 March 2007

Twelve ApostlesA few days back, our bike tire pump broke down died (the valve head just came off!), and we couldn’t quite get our act together to get a new one. Of course it happened on the weekend, and everything here in these little town closes early, especially on Saturdays, and the one bike shope we found didn’t have what we needed. We have been using compressed air canisters, which is cold, so the tires go a little flat rather quickly, and it is more work (just what we *don’t* need) to ride on low tires. So, this morning I am sitting in a little motel lobby in Port Campbell using their one internet PC to update these travelogues, while the others have all headed BACK 67k to Warnambool (it is Monday morning) to buy a new pump. (more…)

GOR – Day 8: The REAL GREAT OCEAN ROAD (Port Fairy to Port Campbell, VIC) 18 March 2007

Up til today, we haven’t really been on the “Great Ocean Road” proper, which actually starts/ends in Warrnambool, though we have been following the coast. We have been traveling southeast, and as Murphy would have it, the wind, which is ‘typically’ westerly or non-existent this time of year, has been easterly, so we have been consistently riding into the wind. We are also now below the 38th parallel, and if we kept going in our same direction southeast out into the ocean, we would reach Tasmania, though of course it is too far away to see. After tomorrow, we will turn north toward Melbourne, and then only 4 more days of riding… hard to believe. Bay of Islands

This was the most beautiful segment of our ride so far, riding high above the ocean along the edge of tall cliffs, the sun glinting off the sea, and glimpsing impossibly turquoise water and surf and caramel colored sandy beaches splattered with volcanic rocks. And this was the first day we would begin to make many scenic stops (you look them up: Bay of Islands, London Bridge, The Grotto). Wide pathways lead from each stop’s parking lot to the best views about 1/4 to 1/2 mile or more from the road. They were frequently, though not always, paved or well-surfaced, so we would just ride our bikes down/along past the other tourists. (more…)

GOR – Day 7: FEELING GOOD (Portland to Port Fairy, VIC) 18 March 2007

Our itinerary has us scheduled to ride 70k today, but we rode over 100 (62 miles). JimAnd this was Irena’s longest-ever ride of her cycling career (she alternately denies and claims us Newkirks as a family – I know some of you can relate!).

Jim and I started out early from Portland, and we got a good laugh on me right off the bat: As I rode ahead of him out of the caravan park turning LEFT (which is like turning RIGHT in the U.S.), I was grinning and thinking to tell him that I am really getting the hang of this left-side, right-side of the road stuff… I looked right, then left, then promptly -automatically- crossed over to the right hand side! And just as I realized what I had done, Jim shouts “LINDA!!? (more…)

GOR – Day 6: SHORT! (Nelson to Portland, VIC) 18 March 2007

This day was a blast! We had planned for 76k, but ended up leaving the last of the logging road to the trucks, and rode only 30k (19 miles); average speed 18.87mph! It was drizzling when we woke up, so we loaded up, drove the hilly, winding road about 5 miles out to the beach Lighthouse(which would have been a *great* warm-up ride, major bummer), and then drove to our next stop for the night in Portland.

After checking into our caravan park cabin, we found another bike shop to replenish our supply of tubes – we have had 6 flats already, 3 from the tubes blowing when removing the pump. We then hopped on our bikes, and took a beautiful ride out to the Cape Nelson Lighthouse on the point – a winding, *very* hilly (the Information Center lady said it was FLAT!), rough-surfaced coastal road , with spectacular dunes and ocean views. At the lighthouse we found a standing compass and located due South, straining to see Antarctica (tricky with a 50-mile horizon). On the way back we saw an echidna – like a very shy, roly-poly porcupine. It was in the road, and as we approached, it waddled quickly to the undergrowth, curling up into a motionless ball under some dead branches, hoping we wouldn’t notice it, though we were right above it.

I reached my top speed ever today, of 36.2mph! (more…)

GOR – Day 5: LOGGING TRUCKS (Beachport to Nelson, VIC) 18 March 2007

Today was planned as a 124k day, and again I rode 65k (40 miles); average speed 13.1mph. Wombat crazyAfter enjoying a spectacular sunrise over the ocean, Patricia and I headed out from Beachport, along the beach and more stately Norfolk Island pine trees, while Jim and Irena drove out half way to Millicent, the next town, and rode back to meet us. We tag teamed like that into Mt. Gambier (Karen’s home town), and dropped our bikes at a bike shop for servicing, had lunch, and then while waiting for the bikes, drove for a “squiz? (look-see, also called a “sticky beak?!) at the Blue Lake of the volcano (the mount) – it has an impossibly blue color that changes to grey in winter, and back to blue again in summer. It is a city water supply, and according to Jim, is even blue in the bathtub! (more…)

GOR – Day 4: GR SOUTHERN OCEAN (K to Beachport, SA) 14 March 2007

Today was a *great* day – for me anyway.

A 96k day, of which I rode 65 (40+ miles), average speed 13.2mph. For the first time this tour we got a chilly early morning start, and were rewarded with a tailwind – a cyclist’s best friend. beach posesThis was Irena’s longest ride ever – she hopped on about 1/3 of the way through our 90k (58 miles?), while Patricia drove. We took a lunch stop in the delightful and really lovely tourist town of Robe, right on the ocean at a beautiful sweeping inlet point, with towering Norfolk Island pines everywhere along the shoreline. Then I FINALLY got my first crack at driving on the left-hand side of the road. It only took me 15 minutes to figure out how to get the truck/jeep (manual shift) in reverse , and after that I had no problems (we have been here now over 3 weeks, so it doesn’t seem so strange any more). (more…)

GOR – Day 3: GOING BACKWARDS (MF to Kingston SE, in reverse) 14 March 2007

Besides going *away* from our destination, one story of this day was flat tires. Jim carrying wheel

Given the head winds of yesterday, we drove all the way (126k) to our next stop, checked in, and then started our ride back. The first part of the ride back (from Kingston SE to McGrath Flats along the Coorong Preserve National Park) was boring, and dodgy – along a fairly busy road with no shoulder for the first 7 miles or so. And just as we hit the shouldered part, Patricia had a flat tire. The valve had pulled away from the tire when it was pumped up this morning. Jim’s Aussie pump doesn’t work well with our threaded tube valves, and pulling the pump off seems to destroy the valve connection to the tube. AND, unfortunately, we cannot get compressed air for another day or so – no bike shops in these little town. (more…)

GOR – Day 2: HEADWIND! (LC to McGrath Flats, SA) 14 March 2007

At Peachabella We are now on our own, the four of us. Last night when we arrived, the B&B owner warned us of tri-corner thorns when we told her we had ridden our bikes the 1/2 mile from the paved road on the dirt/gravel to the B&B (something a really serious road-cyclist would *never* do!) Sure enough, Jim had a flat, and then we blew out a tube pumping up, so our start was a bit late. Jim and Irena took off 30 minutes ahead of Patricia and I and parked the jeep at Wellington, where we would take the ferry across the famous Murray River – about 23 miles away, and rode back to meet us.

Meanwhile, Patricia and I *carried* our bikes the 1/2 mile back to the road (nervous of a flat and no air to pump a new tube – we FORGOT to get compressed air canisters! – that was a tough walk for Pat on her bad toe). It took us 58 minutes to meet up with them on the road, 11 miles out into a fierce headwind – I think about 30mph. It took them only 30 minutes to meet us, 12 miles back, with a huge tailwind of course! (more…)

GOR Great Ocean Road – Day 1: MOUNTAINS (Adelaide to Langhorne Creek, SA) 14 March 2007

We’re off, headed for Melbourne, 1000K/660 miles away, at about 8:45 am – Jim, Patricia and I – with Irena and Marty driving the jeep, through NE Adelaide (at sea level), and then up into the Mount Lofty Range. highest pointAs we rode (me sometimes as slow as 2mph!), I thought of my cousin Bob, who is a road cyclist and mountain biker, and often rides up into the front range outside of Denver, just for fun! Pat had badly stubbed her toe (maybe even broken it) the previous morning, and it was all black and blue and swollen; but she was determined to ride up the mountains, and luckily, it was much better riding than walking. (more…)

Adelaide Family & Friends 14 March 2007

When we arrived around noon from Sydney back on the 25th, after spending the day shopping and packing for our trip into the Outback, Karen, Phil and Marty drove us north along the coast to Semaphore for fish and chips. The sand of the Spencer Gulf is the *softest* I have ever experienced – like walking in baking soda, or talcum powder! (more…)

Uluru to Ernabella 12 March 2007

Today we drove back into the Lands, to Ernabella, where Jim and Karen and the boys spent a great deal of time – it was the ‘base’ of their work. I finally found a piece of art there that ‘called’ to me, and only afterwards found out that the artist is a “daughter�? of Karen’s. Aboriginal people relate to each other and everyone strictly, and only, by family structure. So Karen and Jim were ‘adopted’ by a ‘family’, and thereafter were considered sister, or brother, or mother, or daughter, or aunt, or niece, etc., and that relationship endures forever.

We spent our last night bush-camping in Ichinpiri, a lovely spot just below a beautiful rock waterhole, which we explored the next morning.