Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The New South Wales and Victoria Chapters

More than any other country, what's incredible about Australia is its sheer concentration of incredible things to see and do on any given road trip (save for, say, the Plenty Highway in the Northern Territory's, where you'll see a whole lot of nothing).

In Queensland there's the Great Tropical Drive, Glass House Mountains and Gold Coast Hinterland to explore. Meanwhile, New South Wales' boasts the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley routes. Still further south, Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and Great Ocean Road are great fun to drive. Out west, the fabulous outlines "8greatescapes". Or how about the NT route from Uluru to Darwin, taking in Katherine Gorge and Devil's Marbles along the way? Regardless of where you end up, what's critical is that you leave yourself some flex time, for the many surprises that await you along each journey.

Ultimately, as with any journey, it's the people you come to know along the way that makes it extraordinary. Wondering how to meet people before you go? Here are a few thoughts:
1) Talk to friends and family. Do they know anyone in Australia?
2) Re-evaluate your facebook "friends". Maybe you have one that lives in Oz.
3) What's your hobby? Is there a group that does it in Australia? Try to get in contact with them before you go.

Now with a little over a week left to go here in Oz, we've discovered that this country continues to tug at our heartstrings, and although I can't upload all the photos just yet, there are a few extra special moments that are worthy of mention, if for no other reason than to encourage you to include like-adventures to your travel itinerary in the near (or distant) future.
[I've included link wherever possible to simplify your trip planning and online reasearch.]

So here's the scoop on our time in NSW & Victoria. After leaving Queensland, we chose to spend some time in Sydney, Melbourne, and the Mornington Peninsula, intentionally leaving out the Blue Mountains with its stunning Three Sisters and Great Ocean Road (both of which are spectacular), and focusing instead on exploring some new territory.

You can drive from Sydney to Melbourne, taking either the inland "Heritage Drive" or Coastal route. However, since both of these road trips take several days to complete, we opted to fly this time around.

Without giving you a play-by-play on the events of the past week, here are a few highlights:
In Sydney:
-Breakfasting at the Botanic Gardens Café - beneath thousands of frisky fruit bats - in Sydney's magical Botanical Gardens
-Sailing with the Tribal Warrior to "Be-lang-le-wool" island in Sydney Harbour, for an aboriginal performance.
-Eating scrumptuously fresh fish at "Fish At The Rocks" (and later that night, Tobi took this incredible photo of Sydney Opera House from The Rocks)
-The boat ride to the quaint village of Manly, and dining with old friends at Manly Grill.
-Riding high on the cable cars at Taronga Zoo, and exploring the zoo itself... with it's unrivaled views.

In and around Melbourne:
-Melbourne's Botanical Gardens. Although we missed the visiting hours of the Ian Potter Children's Gardens, the kids still had a blast running through the meticulously planned gardens, and up the stairs of the memorial.
-Melbourne's South Bank. We dined at an Italian eatery, but there's cuisine for every taste, and some fabulous views of Melbourne's skyline!
-Driving The Dandenongs (not to be confused with the community "Dandenong" -- this mountain range is about an hour East of the city center -- think Carolina's). Here, we paused for breakfast on Main Street in Olinda, navigated our way through the maze (GREAT FOR KIDS!) at Sky High, and meandered through the serene surroundings of the William Ricketts Sanctuary.

The Mornington Peninsula
(See Website:
-Staying with friends in the sweet town of Yanakie, with it's tiny town store.
-Four-Wheeling along the Corner Inlet National Marine Park
-Driving through Wilson's Promonotory National Park, and our short walk to the beach at Tidal River.
-Stopping at the Caldermeade Dairy Farm to see cow's come in for their daily milking, pet the baby animals, and have a scoop of dairy-fresh ice cream.
-Driving along the picturesque, cliff-lined coastal road from Mt. Martha to Mornington (see above Mornington website for details).

It's a bit long-winded, I know... but I hope your sold. :)
I'll add photos soon, and if you have any questions, please ask!!!
Signing off from Airlie Beach in the gorgeous Whitsundays (your clue to my next blog posting!),

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