Thank you again to everyone who helped us with your ideas and input on our hard decision about a return to California. We have decided and plan to finish an abbreviated itinerary in Australia, then will fly to San Francisco.
At the beginning of this week we spent an entire day traveling from Melbourne, Victoria to Adelaide, South Australia, partly because our flight was delayed by four hours due to rainy late fall weather. Very early the next morning we walked to the Adelaide Central bus station for our transport to the ferry to reach Kangaroo Island. Over our two days there we saw more than a few mobs – after our guide explained that a number of kangaroos together is called a mob! In fact, Kangaroo Island is advertised with this: a zoo without cages, the best place to view wildlife. And we did see some unique-to-Australia-wildlife that I had hoped we would see. In addition to more koalas, we saw:
Cape Barren geese, Echidna – said e-kid-nah, which is an anteater, and the most unusual, enormous Cassowary.
And, we saw others in a Wildlife Park, which is like a zoo but I still enjoyed seeing, like our first Dingo that is similar to a wolf or wild dog, the Flying Fox who hang upside down like a bat, and the Little Penguin. I was especially happy to see these as we missed seeing the same species known as Fairy Penguins in Victoria or Blue Penguins in New Zealand.
On one beach we had a ranger led walk to see seals – some with pups nursing, and, at a Raptor Display show we saw among others, Barn Owls and an Emu egg.
Two other places of interest we visited included an Eucalyptus Distillery, and a Honey Farm. Then there were the unique Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch views we had too. In the parking lot, we saw our first Wallaby up close!
We then had one full day in Adelaide where we took a Bikram Yoga class, then enjoyed a delightful afternoon with the daughter of friends from home. She took us to see Mount Lofty for the view. However, even though we lingered over lunch, the clouds refused to dissipate. We were more successful with the fabulous display of fall colors at the nearby mountain town of Stirling. I would love to include her photo but I neglected to pull out my camera other than for these turning leaves.
Then it was another early morning to meet our travel mates for a week’s tour of Australia’s Outback – from Adelaide to Alice Springs, also known as Australia’s Red Center. So far, we have visited the Clare Valley hillside in the Flinders Ranges and went for a hike at Wilpena Pound, traveled the Oodnadatta Track, visited the historic Blinman Copper Mine, saw Lake Eyre – Australia’s largest salt lake, drove through Anna Creek Station in the Great Artesian Basin which hosts the world’s largest cattle range. and saw a quite different sculpture gallery made from scrap materials.
We spent our first two nights sleeping in a swag – an Australian bedroll to keep our sleeping bags warm in the Adelaide-Flinders Range and at William Creek. Now we are at Coober Pedy, called the opal capital of the world where we have also visited a Kangaroo Orphanage, had an opal mine tour and home of the Outback Bar and Grill, and a town tour where we visited the Catacomb Church.
Our accommodation is in an underground bunkhouse, which someone thought would be funny to rename a bonkhouse. It is underground because here the days are so grueling hot and the nights so bitterly cold. Many of the residents also live underground, in homes not unlike our housing. I am writing this from the coffee shop at the gas station – the only place in town that has internet!
I would like to finish by introducing our lovely travel mates. There are 16 of us, actually 17 with our enthusiastic female Australian driver/guide/cook. Otherwise we are 8 older than 40, with 2 being men, and 8 under age 30, also 2 are men. We are 3 couples, one Canadian though the wife is originally Chilean, one young couple from France who were long time friends before recently becoming romantic, and us from the US. Four are mature women, one a Kiwi and three Australian, three are young women from England with two of them being close friends since they were 10, while the other is Algerian-British advanced med student, and two young women are from different cities in Germany. The one single young man is also a med student from Norway whose familial heritage is Sri Lankan. An most enjoyable group to travel with!