Week 216 May 19, 2018

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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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!


Week 215 May 12, 2018

First and foremost, we wish a Happy Mother’s Day this weekend to all our family and friends who are mothers!


This was a wonderful week spent in Melbourne. As a friend in Wellington had said, we too found Melbourne to be similar to the Wellington that we had so enjoyed, just on a larger scale. And, this was a wonderful week of catching up with friends. We began with a FaceTime chat with a couple of our travelmates from Africa who were visiting together in England. Then, I met up with another Bikram Yoga Teacher Training littermate at the studio where Loren and I were practicing daily, which is also her home studio. Then I had the opportunity to attend a voice workshop that was offered for Bikram Yoga teachers at this studio, a meaningful and memorable experience. And, we had the chance to introduce the husband of our friend to Bikram Yoga. I thoroughly enjoyed taking the class together, and think he might enjoy it enough too to take up the practice himself. 

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We also had lots of fun hanging out more with our dear friend and her family. One day we visited the National Gallery of Victoria, then rode the elevator to the top of the Sofitel Hotel to see the city view from the restroom windows! Later that evening, Loren and I walked around Federation Square, where we learned that Australia’s six states were relatively recently joined as one nation in 1901. We also discovered how Melbourne’s skyline is attractive, both during the day and at night.

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Another highlight this week was in attending an Australian Football League – a footy or Aussie Rules game, seeing the St Kilda Saints play Melbourne. This is quite the game, where 18 members of each team are on the enormous oval field at the same time, with unique rules of passing, bouncing and kicking the rugby ball. Then three of the nine refs who are on the field are in close to the skirmish, and the four on the sidelines often run, seriously they run backwards. The Saints wore uniforms of red, white and black, while the Demons wore red and blue. It was easy to identify their loyal fans who likewise dressed in those colors. What made it extra fun was choosing a team to root for, two of us chose the Saints, two the Demons, though we all cheered for good plays. The Demons won, maintaining a broad lead established by the half of 26 to 54, to finish at 67 to 106.

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On our last day of sightseeing in the Central Business District with our friend, we visited the State Library. Here we saw an interesting exhibition about books, as well as an 1860’s stained glass window featuring William Shakespeare and the words: ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE, referring to the speech from As You Like It about the seven acts of life.


Then we visited the Central Shopping Centre, to see an historic putt shot factory that is protected within a modern conical glass ceiling overhead. We visited the Shot Tower museum that described the fascinating process of how heated lead was dripped the length of the tower into a water trough to create the bullets. At the Centre too, we saw the enormous clock that musically marks the hour with Waltzing Mathilda – Australia’s unofficial anthem, played by twirling figures from a drop down platform that appears below the clock face. 

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Later, Loren and I went to see more of the Victoria Botanic Gardens, after first paying our respects at the War Memorial.

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In all we had a wonderful visit in the Fitzroy and Fitzroy North suburbs of Melbourne, and spending memorable times with very special friends. 

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Now we are visiting another Australian friend! We met this woman a year and a half ago in Montenegro. She had invited us to visit her where she lives in a beachside suburb of Melbourne. Sadly we are here in late fall, because she had also suggested that if it were summer, autumn, or spring, we could go bike riding along the bay – Port Phillip Bay. What we did instead was take a bush walk in the Dandenong Ranges, hoping to see a lyrebird. We think we heard a couple of them but never saw one. And it turned out to be the coldest day in 40 years on this date in May, but the predicted rain did not materialize. It waited until last night and today, so we are simply hibernating through an entire day of a gale and wind warnings report. 

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I must finish with the Susan Sontag quote that I came across this week, because it so  beautifully describes how I feel about Loren’s and my incredible Journey:

     I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

Week 214 May 5, 2018

At the start of this week, Loren and I flew the short distance from Sydney – in the state of New South Wales, to a western outskirt airport near Melbourne, in the state of Victoria. We rented a car to be able to drive part of the Great Ocean Road. We stopped first to see Aireys Islet, where we took a short boardwalk stroll around a small pond, finding a shag and several swamp hens on the way. 

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Then we took a longer walk to the lighthouse and beach. 

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Once back in the car, we enjoyed how the Great Ocean Road winds its way along though Great Otway National Park. And, this is where we saw our first ‘roos! I say it that way because we are unsure if they were kangaroos or wallaroos. The only difference is in their size, and we have nothing with which to compare these first ones. At least they made this road sign believable! Now with a little research, I think these were kangaroos.

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Then we drove on to Kennett River, where I had read has the best koala spotting opportunities of the Great Ocean Road area. Daylight was beginning to fade, nevertheless, to our delight we did indeed see our first koala there! A most pleasant couple helped us to spot it up in a eucalypts tree. They then walked away after taking a few snapshots. For some reason Loren and I stayed to quietly observe for a while longer, and the little one raised its head to look straight at us. What a treat! Once again our AirBnB accommodation was self-checkin – the third of three in Australia.


In the morning we returned to Kennett River. Our prior day’s tree nook was empty, but walking just a little ways away we saw another koala with lots of most colorful birds on the tree limbs below, with lots of tourists, some of whom were attracting the birds to land on their arms, shoulders, even heads, by holding out handfuls of seeds. We heard one tour guide explaining to a small group that we were seeing Australian King Parrots. Another variety that we saw we believe are Crimson Rosella. Sadly, it seemed the one koala was trying to climb further up, away from the noisy crowd.

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Loren and I soon hiked further on the now uphill road where few other tourists ventured. Here we found two other koalas, each sleeping undisturbed way up high in different eucalypts trees. 

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When we returned down to the first spot, the koala had found a comfortable spot to sleep again with one arm raised surprisingly, despite the continual parade of tourists still feeding the birds below. 


We continued our drive on Great Ocean Road, where part of the time we were going through lush forest. We had time enough to see the 12 Apostles although there are now only 8 left, as well as Loch Ard Gorge, and Razorback, before driving back to turn in our rental car and catch the hourlong express bus to downtown Melbourne. Here we had our first Australian face-to-face check-in with our AirBnB host. And, speaking of the parade of tourists above, it has been interesting to notice how some streets in Australia are named Pd. or Pde., as in Ave. or St. For example, we are now staying on Alexandra Parade in Melbourne.

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This week we have enjoyed catching up with a special friend who has lived in Melbourne for several years now, with her husband and son. I have known her since she hired me for a position when I was working in the computer industry. We became close from the start and have kept in touch over the years. They have just returned from a month overseas in Europe. They are also nearly done with a beautiful job of remodeling their home here, and it is fun to see how their handsome teen son has grown. 


Loren and I have also walked over to see St. Patrick’s cathedral, the Fitzroy Gardens, the Carlton Gardens, and the Melbourne Museum, so far.


We have been glad to be taking daily Bikram Yoga classes again too. The studio owners are a delightful couple from the US originally, who met in the Peace Corp., serving in the Philippines. They never returned to live in the US. Their studio, the instructors and the community are vibrant and welcoming. One evening, I went for a double – a second class on the same day, so that I could take class with a dear friend from my Bikram Yoga Teacher Training who works during the day. Loren joined us afterwards for a nice dinner out to catch up more.

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I also had a couple of firsts here this week. I have had knee pain for many years and lately it has interfered with my ability to do some of the yoga postures. So, I tried my first Bowen Technique therapy, which works on fascia and connective tissue, which I hoped would help. So far the one treatment has not improved my knee, however the process felt like the equivalent of a unique massage, so the session was not a waste by any means. The other first time activity I enjoyed was in taking a mid-morning Zumba class with my friend. We went for coffee too with a few other Zumba participants. Fun!