My trail is Australia
What fun! I came across this 2018 competition article I wrote
My Trail is Australia | International Travel News 14 Jul 2018 ... Placing second was that of ELSA DIXON of Charleston, South Carolina, whose subscription will be extended two years…
I’m going to use this article to revamp my Australian blog. Where I got the guts from to rent a car at Sydney airport and find my way around that city, Hunter Valley, and the Blue Mountains, without a GPS or Google, I don’t know. TravelswithElsa is always an adventure, I suppose!
Linking arms with newfound Australian friends while singing “Should old acquaintance be forgot,” I was enjoying “Christmas in July,” a magical yule fest at The Mountain Heritage Hotel in Katoomba, near Sydney. A jolly Father Christmas handed out port and mince pies following a 5-course dinner and Christmas cabaret, while fake snow fell outside.
My Trail is Australia started with the enticing discovery that we could have Christmas in July at the historic Mountain Heritage Hotel, truly beautiful and boasting incredible views. An artificial White Christmas in the middle of summer! The food was delicious, the entertainment excellent, and the fake snow added that special touch. Around the table: Elsa, Barbara, Judy, Linda, Anne, and Maryln.
The next day, driving back to the airport through the beautiful Blue Mountains, I reminisced about my tour so far — Sydney Opera House illuminating the harbor; noisy, cosmopolitan Chinatown, the Manly ferry at Woolloomooloo; tanned surfers at Bondi Beach, and marsupials jumping in the fields. “Kangaroos, girlie. Next, we’ll be eating them to reduce the population!”
I tasted Hunter Valley’s famed sémillon and shiraz, and at Featherdale Wildlife Park I fed a grumpy koala and crooned at wallabies, wallaroos, kookaburras, dingoes, wombats, and a Tasmanian devil running in circles.
Hunter Valley is about a two-hour drive north of Sydney The Featherdale Wildlife Park works hand in glove with many conservation bodies to protect different species. It was great to see so many different Australian wild animals and birds up close.
My walkabout took me to Cairns, donning “swimmers” to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, enjoying a “barbie” with locals, and chugging through rainforests to tropical Kuranda, where a painted Aborigine welcomed tourists on his droning didgeridoo.
Read about the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling and submersible experience in my recently published blog. We had a fascinating journey on the Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns to Kuranda, through spectacular mountain passes, and rainforests, past waterfalls, and into the Barron Gorge.
Electric-blue Ulysses butterflies and patterned Aboriginal art brightened my day before I journeyed 5 miles back across the tree canopy in a 6-person cable car.
Aboriginal rock art paintings dates back 40,000 – 60,000 years ago. The Aborigines used symbols or icons to tell stories and preserve their culture. Kuranda Village is well worth exploring for its variety of intricate aboriginal art forms and activities.
The Kuranda Skyrail takes about two hours to go down from Kuranda Village to Cairns. The journey was a little scary, gliding over the canopies of the trees, but at the same time, thrilling to have such wonderful scenic views. The Skyrail stops at a few platforms from where we could explore and learn more about the rainforest, plants, and animals.
In the Red Centre, I gazed at the luminous Uluru (Ayers Rock) and enjoyed dining under the stars.
The Aboriginal people have a deep spiritual connection with Uluru, one of the world’s biggest monoliths. It is mesmerizing how the rock changes colors as the sun sets.
The excellent dinner under the stars concluded with a talk by a local astrology expert while we could observe the star formations through a telescope he set up.
Early the following morning, we left for Alice by bus, a very long drive with only one pitstop at The Red Dog Café. The School of the Air celebrated its 60th year in existence in 2011. Through an HF Radio receiver, it provides education for children who live in remote places.
I arrived in sophisticated Melbourne in time for a “cuppa”!
My dream trail ended at Phillip Island, where daily, like clockwork, a whole colony of little penguins waddles in from the sea to their burrows. It was time for me to head home too.