Sunday, March 04, 2007

Land Travels: Camping, Caves, and Crazy Times

We are having a grand time trekking through the Eastern side of Australia. Billabong is safely docked in Mooloolaba and as of the 20th of February we have been putting on the kilometers in our rented “campette” campervan. As of today we have made it just past Sydney, less than 1,000 km if driven straight … however we have driven over 2,500km! We have explored the coast and the neighboring hinterlands; traveling flat coastal breath-taking views to mouth-gaping dramatic mountain roads. Australia is yet another beautiful country, and we are yet again thankful for the opportunity to be here.

One thing we have learned about the Australian’s is that they sure do know how to camp … and they don’t go skimpy! More than once on our cruising journey, I have found that I’ve had boat envy … sometimes a wee-bit jealous of the big, more luxurious boats (more properly called yachts). I still remember the day I stepped aboard a beautiful 70 foot sailboat and was handed a chilled glass of white wine in a REAL wine glass! I never thought such envious thoughts could be found in camping too. We look quite pathetic in our tiny ‘campette’ (basically a small van with a bed and camp-stove) when we pull into a campground and are surrounded by HUMONGOUS camping setups … some of these tents are bigger than the average home! We’ve even had more than one local comment on how small our little guy is! And so, as we drink our barely cool white wine from lovely blue plastic cups, I can’t help but stare longingly at the campsite next to us as they drink their fully chilled wine, in the protection of their net enclosed social area, in, of course, a real wine glass!!!

But of course for us life is grand, and even if we tend to be a bit envious here and there, there is no time to dwell on it as the sites are just to numerous and wonderful to care about how one got there to see them in the first place!

Our favorite Australian site to date is the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains National Park (just west of Sydney). Honestly, I can’t even begin to describe the wonder and amazement of this magical place. I never would’ve guessed that caves could be so interesting and beautiful. Both of us have tried to come up with expressions and descriptions, but it is useless … they were (are) just amazing and no words or photographs will ever do them justice!

Besides great hiking and walking, superb views and lookouts, and exploration of towns and cities, we have also experienced one of the highlights (according to Lonely Planet) of Sydney … the Mardi Gras. Now this isn’t to be compared to the New Orleans Mardi Gras … this is the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and boy oh boy is it the most unique and, er’, interesting parade I’ve ever seen! We were lucky enough to be in Sydney for this great festivity, and even luckier to meet up with our friends on Island Sonata. There are some things that just can’t be written about this parade, less I’m kicked off this BLOG site for pornographic material!!! About half a million folks attended and it was quite a scene to take in, especially some of the ‘outfits’ or lack there of. If you can handle the crowds it’s something not to be missed should you be in town during the event.

Next up we’ll continue our travels south, to Melbourne, where we’ll board a plane to fly over to Tasmania, spending nine days on the island before returning to Sydney, and eventually Billabong back in Mooloolaba.

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