Week 213 April 28, 2018

Dear Family and Friends, Loren and I so appreciate your words of wisdom and support, and especially now in response to Loren’s latest poetic prose/photo email. We have so enjoyed following our passion and sharing it here for over our four full years traveling. We have been so consumed amidst our travels that I forgot to note on Week 210’s headline that Year 5 began! That has been corrected as I write. For now, we will continue our travels in Australia, taking it week by week, even day by day.

We spent our last day in Sydney at the beginning of this week visiting the Art Gallery until closing. Here we found a lovely painting of New Zealand’s Milford sound from the 1870’s. We attest that the scene has not much changed from our own recent visit there. We walked to MacQuarie Point and Mrs. MacQuaries’ Chair where we had another view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. That evening we splurged on dinner at a French restaurant where Luc the owner, a Frenchman who has lived in Australia for 5 years promised it was “The best French food in Australia.” I must say not many restaurants in the world would compare to how delicious Loren and I both found his dishes to be.

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By far, most of the population of Australia is established on the southeast coastline. The country is made up of six States: New South Wales, with its capital being Sydney; Victoria with its capital Melbourne; Tasmania, a separate island has its the capital in Hobart; South Australia’s capital is Adelaide; Western Australia which is the largest land mass has its capital at Perth; Queensland’s capital is Brisbane; and, two Territories: Australian Capitol Territory which is wholly contained within New South Wales with its capital and the capital of the entire country being in Canberra; and, Northern Territory with its capital at Darwin. We are in NSW right now.

Driving over the Sydney Harbour Bridge north felt like driving from San Francisco to upscale Sausalito. We stopped briefly to see Manly, Freshwater and Curl Curl beaches while driving along the Pacific and Great Western Highways. We learned at Manly that there is such a sport as beach tennis, what a great idea, and, that surfing is popular as well at Curl Curl. 

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I have to say that when driving I have become better at not mistakenly flicking on the windshield wipers when I want the turn indicator, though this week it happened again. It is because, like the driver’s seat, these gadgets are also on the opposite sides from what I am so used to using for more than 50 years! Also, when using the car radio, Loren or I unwittingly change the station when trying to control the volume, for the same reason. On our way to our destination to stay in the Blue Mountains, we stopped at Botanic Gardens Mount Tomah, where we were again enchanted by the scenery

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and the birdlife there, until closing. We arrived at our AirBnB in darkness, but that was no problem as it, like our Sydney studio apartment had been, was self-checkin. We were told by numerous people that the wildlife in Australia in fascinating, and I agree from just our two weeks here. But, we still have not seen a kangaroo, a koala, a wallaroo, a wallaby, a wombat…  We did see a flock of huge bats flying in and out of trees overhead at dusk near the harbour in Sydney last week. While we have seen no ibis in the mountains we have seen other incredible birds.

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We went for a day hike several times this week. But excuse me, that is USA-speak. From learning of Nepal’s trekking to New Zealand’s tramping, in Australia we are now bushwalking. We went down and up the steep Golden Stairs, hardly an accurate name; along Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Bridal Veil Falls, from Leura Cascades to Gordon Falls to Princes Rock Lookout; down and back up part of Six Foot Track, though it is unclear where that name came from. Our favorite was Undercliff Track, for its dramatic cliff overhangs. All the hikes had differing viewpoints of the vast valley between limestone peaks and cliffs, surrounding ancient, untouched thick forests, that are the Blue Mountains.

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We encountered gentle waterfalls – it is autumn after all, and unique ferns and other foliage. We learned about bull ants which we were warned to steer clear of, and, learned that the local name for a prevalent imported tree we have at home is called eucalypts not eucalyptus here. There are more than a whopping 90 varieties of eucalypts just in this area of Australia alone. Loren learned and explained that the naming the area with blue comes from an oil off the eucalypts that mixes with dust to create the blue-tinged haze. 

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We saw more unique birds, that I apologize for not being able to name as yet, but I can tell you that the brown one has a tail nearly as long or longer than its body; the white one is as large as a duck; and, the red and blue, is remarkable for showing red, white, and blue in flight, and this one posed on the fence outside our AirBnB yard one morning long enough for me to snap its photo. 

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One evening we spent at the Brahma Kumaris Spiritual Centre for a community meditation, and returned the next day to meditate again on our own on their vast tranquil property. We visited the house and grounds of Norman Lindsay, an artist who is famous, in part for his children’s book, The Magic Pudding and also for his risqué paintings and sculptures of his century old works. And, we dropped in at the Cultural Centre where we bookended the week enjoying another artworks display as well as learning more about the terrain and history. 

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We finished our week by watching our AirBnB host’s copy of Searching for Sugarman, which we again agreed is one of our most favorite movies. I will finish this post with saying how it is always fun to encounter the use of different words of the English language. This week three came up when hearing folks call others blokes and us mates, heaps of times. 

 

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