Sherry's Trip to Australia

April 2005 Trip to Australia

Monday, April 25, 2005


I have my pictures uploaded online!

Just go here:

Friday, April 22, 2005


I'm home! Really weirded out from Jet lag, but I'm back.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Did I take a wrong turn to London?

I left Ayers Rock after an uneventfull night's stay, which was kind of nice. Slept in till 9:00am! Flew to Sydney of the real nothing dessert in the middle of Oz. Makes the Outback look like a lush paradise. Said goodbye to the rest of my tour group, which was sad. I feel like I was just getting to know them.

I went to a seafood resturant and had my taste of the famous Morton Bay 'Bugs'. Imagine a lobster tail with eyes. Very tasty. Especially with beer.

it's raining in Sydney. Again. WTF? My English mates says it reminds them of home. I was planning on Bondi or Manly beach, but the wetaher is just not getting on. So yesterday I went to the natural history museum. It must be a public holiday because I was bum high in kids. It's amazing that this museum has had a comprehensive human evolution section for years, when the American's caused a ruckus a bit back. What a difference an ocean makes.

The inside archetecture reminded me of the old museum style like ANSP. A tall main room with balconies, pretty hardwood railings and wrought iron and marble steps eroded by footfalls.

They have en entire FLOOR of geology, which shouldn't be a suprise with the rich mineral hertitage here. Fossicking (collecting) is popular here as a hobby.

So I have a few hours left, I'm going to zip through some of the public buildings before I leave today. I'll be home tonight (21st). I'm getting a bit sad that my big adventure is over.

Oh, and I have the hives, all over from something. I look like a leper. I'm happy they sell antihistimines here OTC.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Yesterday we hiked around Ayer's rock (Uluru). It was a 10 km hike. We first did a short walk with an aborigional park ranger who was able to explain some of the lore of the park and show us some of the artwork and paintings done there. Then we did the rest of the base walk- it was nice that everyone in our group respected the requests of the aborigional tribe and did not do the rock climb.
The base walk was nice, but it was 110 degrees and lots of flies. I had to buy a fly net a few days ago. We passed by some really interesting caves, and some sacred sites that are off limits to pictures and people. We went to a buffet dinner for our last night together, where I had croc and kangaroo. Then of course, we went to the pub. It was out last night before everyone had to leave.

Today we went to the Olgas (kata tjtiu), a sister formation near Uluru. We didn't have the time to do the long 7 km walk, but did a short one instead. It's really interesting that while Uluru and Olgas where made with the same geological process, the Olgas are conclomerate (rock cement) and Uluru is sandstone.

Then we went to camp and cleaned everything for the next group that leave tomorrow. Poor Nathan, our tour guide doesn't even get a day off before another 30 day trek. We dropped off half the people who had flights out tonight.

Then at 5:30, it was HELICOPTER TIME! They picked me up in a cute helicopter van driven by the pilots. I got to go on a Bell 206 Jet Ranger. We had a sister copter with us too. Copters are nothing at all like airplanes. They are much smoother, and a lot more fun to ride in. It was really great, I got to see both the Olgas and Uluru at sunset, the mountain range in the distance, and a falt line that helped form them all. We had a little disagreement with another helicopter trying to fly aboce us, but our sister copter warned us and my pilot shooed him away on the radio. We didn't know until he peeled away right over us. Interesting seeing another copter right above you. Anyway, I got some great sunset shots, the copter had domed windows so you could see right down. Landing was lots of fun. Smooth as glass. But these guys also so the search and rescue on the mountains too. WHOOOO!

Tomorrow I leave the red center and I'll be back in Sydney by supper time.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


The King's Canyon hike was great. It has a killer staircase out of stone that they call 'cornary hill' at the trail head. It pretty much takes you tot he top of the mountain formation. Once up there the hike is pretty resonable. You go around this gorge area with lots of really cool geomorphs and funky rock formations, sheer drops, and other neat things. It was kind of like the west of the US, actually. Camera got a workout.

We then drove to Uluru, or Ayer's rock. We set up camp and watched the sunset over the rock. It's hard to decribe this giant rock that just rises out of the middle of nothing. It has lost of caves and niches and is just an odd shape. About 1 hour before the big rock we saw a flat toped mesa-like mountain that was bigger, but not the same mysterious shapes or color of Uluru. We had suprise champange and crackers and cheese at the lookout. It was really breathtaking to watch it just light up with colors.

Today we woke up really early (before dawn) to see the show in reverse and watch the sunrise on the other side of the rock. Not as magical, I'm sorry to say. But then I'm not a AM person. Then we went to hike AROUND the rock. I did not climb it, since it is a sacred site of the Aborigionals who live and are the caretakers of the land. They ask people not to climb but don't forbid it, but so many people sadly chose to do so. It's also a hazard to climb and people die, which also saddens the tribe, who according to their laws, feel responsible for the deaths.

We went on a 2 hour guided tour of about 1 KM around the rock to start, where an aborgional ranger told us about some of the artwork on the rock and the stories that go along with some of the caves and crevases. Then we went along the base of the rock 10 km walk, that was much more interesting then climbing along the top like a bunch of 'ants'.

We then went to the cultural center, which I honestly was a bit disapointed with. The museum at Kakadu was better, but this place was award winning and has rave reveiws.

Tomorrow we hike the Olgas, a sister fomrmation down the road. Then my tour is up.

Oh, but that night I chartered a helicopter to go over the Rock and the olgas at sunset.



Friday, April 15, 2005

Kings Canyon

Yesterday we went to an aborigional culture center. We threw boomerangs and got a chance to talk to some shy aboriginal artists. Then we got to try thr famous bush tucker. We got billy tea (man in a can over the fire), spotted dog bread with syrup, kind of like a scone cooked in a dutch oven. Then we traied bush tomatoes, and the ever famous witchity grub.

I ate a live 2" catterpillar. Only 3 of us did it. We all agreed once in a lifetime was enough. They don't taste bad, kind of like a nutty custard. I almost gagged when I got to a few crunchy bits and was informed it was a head. Yuck! Well, it was an experince I would have regretted if I hadn't done it.

That night we went to dinner at an outback Aussie cowboy resturant. They sell all kinds of crazy meat like roo, camel and croc. I tried the roo and camel, and it is indeed tasty. We then decided to chill out for a night an went to see a movie in town.

Today we arrived at kings caynon. Earlier in the day we stopped by a ranch. We had the option of a camel ride or a 4 wheeler. Some of us opted for the 4 wheeler option. The trails where really fun, but not really for beginners! Especially that they required shifting! I did get the hang of it eventually, but let's just say we all took out our share of scrub trees going off the crazy track.

Tonight was my turn to cook, and I made fireman's chicken. It went over well, of course!

Tomorrow we go on a real hike, and then it's off to Uluru.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A town called Alice

Today and tonight I'm in Alice Springs, right in the middle of the outback.

When we left Katherine, we went to a campsite with a hot spring. It wasn't very hot actually, but since it's usually 90, that's a good thing. At the campsite I got to see my first roos...lots and lots of roos. Wallabies, actually, they are smaller. They munched grass around our tents at night.

After that we had a couple long driving days. We went to swim at a waterfall for a lunch stop, and then we got to Devil's marbles, a really odd collection of granite boulders eroded into egg-shapes. We watched the sunset from there.

Now we are in Alice for a couple days, and we're busy. Last night we went around town a bit, and at night we went to an aborigional show and dinner. They danced and told stories and played the didgi. We had a full dinner of lamb, barramundi fish, and water bufflalo. Lots of wine too. Afterwards we went to a pub, where our guide is trying to teach me to play pool. It was a really spectacular night.

Today we go to another aborigional town and we learn about arts and crafts and get real bush tucker. That's roo tail roasted over the fire, wild yams, honey ant honey, green ants (I tried them allready) and witchity grubs. We also get to learn how food was collected, how to throw a boomarang, etc.

Tomorrow morning we drive a few hours to het to kings canyon. We should get a nice hike in there. Then it's off to Uluru for 2 days before the trek is over. Weather is better now, hot but dry in the day and cool at night.

animal count:
wallabies: a mob
rock wallabies: another mob
Some sort of bearded dragon lizard
stick insects
extra large spider

Yet to be seen: frilled lizard

Sunday, April 10, 2005

In Kathrine

Here I am, in a little snip of a town tonight called Katherine.

I met up with my group. I didn't know but they have been travelling together for a month. They are one of the longer treks. They all know each other but I don't feel like the odd man out.

The first day we didn't do that much. We drove to Kakadu national park (where Croc Dundee movie was filmed) we went to a wetlands sancuary museum and camped early. It's hot and humid and really miserable. It's like %98 humidity and 92 degrees. Our campit had a nice pool though.

The next day we went swimming in a plunge pool (with a 'harmless' freshwater croc warning sign- no crocs but got some pics of a nice water monitor lizard nearby), and we went to two aborigional sites with ancient rock paintings. Really great stuff. Our next campsite had dingoes snooping around. It was bad out, just swarms of mosquoes.

Today we got up at dawn to go on a river (or billabong) cruise. I saw my first wild saltie crocs. I have good pics, very cool. Also some nice birds- one is a jacana, a big footed water bird that walks on lilly pads. It had cure chicks! It's the end of the 'wet' season, so all he lotus and water lily is starting to bloom. It was very nice. Camera is working great.

We where also supposed to go to an aborigionie camp today to learn about them, but the camp was closed since this is considered off season. Instead we went to a aborigional culture museum that was OK.

Tomorrow we go hiking and to a hot spring.

Wild animal count:
Dingoes: 2
gowanna lizard: 1
water monitor: 1
wild horses: a herd
Salt water crocs: 3
cool parrots: many
flying fox bats: a bunch
Little frogs and lizards: a bunch
mosquitos and flies: a zillion

no roos or frilled lizards yet. :(

See ya!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Into real Australia

Tonight is my last night in Darwin. Thank goodness. It's more like a waystation to the outback then a city proper. Lots of bars and tourist shops. You have to take a bus out to anything interesting. It's also bloody hot and humid here, and to make that worse, they have some of the nicest beaches I've ever seen. But you can't go in them, even to paddle your feet, or you die a death by box jellyfish.

It's probably allright though, since my forced marches through Sydney tweaked one of my knees. It's OK, but A couple days of not walking for miles and miles was probably a good thing. I bought an ACE bandage just in case.

So I've spent most of the time just poking around, hanging in my tiny tiny hotel room, and eating. I managed to stalk some locals and find a diner that they eat at. They suggested I try a sushi train, where I wrestled with some others for what came off the conveyor belt (hint: sit at the front of the train). That was pretty cool.

I have learned that in the first five minutes of knowing one of these folks, it seems that you must trade gentle insults and teases. It's kind of fun, you just have to be prepared to say something smart assed when you say 'ello to someone new.

I also went into a drugstore and a pharmacy (mostly for an A/C break) just to look around to see what they buy. I also watched a bit of Aussie news last night. They have some of our commercials dubbed over with Aussie voices, which was interesting.

I did get a bus to the Museum of the Northern Territory. it was a very nice art/natural history museum. Some nice Aussie fossils too of giant roos and ammonites. They also have no qualms about public displays of evolution here (I hope not, in the home of Charles!). They had a great section on cyclone Tracy that more of less destroyed Darwin in the 70's. They have this creepy dark room you can go into and listen to actual recording of the cyclone as it hit. It sounded like a train crash, not like a storm at all.

Internet terminals are abound here. Cheaper then phone blog calls too. I don't think I'll find another until Alice though. Phone cards are oddly complex- I allready bought the wrong one once. Hopefully this one I have now is the proper one.

Off to the 'real Australia' tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Off to Darwin

I'm waiting for the airport bus, so i thought I'd update.

Jet lag only lasted one day. I feel myself now.

Yesterday I went to the Sydney Aquarium. It was a pretty nice place. It's nice going to zoos and such here because they have different animals then we have. They had a walk through glass tunnel thru the shark tank. Saw my first playpus. It kept me busy until the rain stopped. Then I went to Chinatown and went to the Chinese Garden of peace. It's a lovely traditional Chinese garden right in the middle of downtown. I then had tea and lunch at the tea house. It was really serene there. Then, I decided to go to the Rocks, which is the historical first settlement of Sydney. it's high class shopping now. I underestimated the distance from Chinatown and it was a forced march in the wet. I started to get knee cramps. I found my black lighting ridge opal. It's a really neat one. I it's not really black, but almost crystal with all the colors in it. it's even set in silver instead of gold. I ended the night watching the sunset over the opera house eating fish and chips. I'm shocked my legs didn't fall off.

Today I went to the zoo. The weather was still iffy for a beach trip. I got to ride the ferry to the other side of Sydney. I saw every kind of Aussie critter you could think of. Koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echednas, dingos, fierce snakes, crocs, jackaroos (mating), wombats (mating), brushtailed possums (mating-what the heck is going on at that zoo??!). The reptile house was just amazing, BTW, as you can imagine. I saw a wild kooabura on the grounds of the zoo too. I was excited, when I was a kid I didn't realize what the song was about. They really do laugh! A nice Aussie pointed him out to me.

I then had a panic attack because the biggest bank in Sydney's ATM wouldn't take my cash card. No worries, 7-11 to the rescue.

Mullets are alive and well here. Even businesspeople have them. I should start snapping pictures.

The takeaway food is great. Meat pies are yummy, and the fish and chips, and the cheap noodle houses. I haven't had the need to go out anyplace pricey yet. They call ketchup 'sauce' here, BTW.

I saw a pedestrian kick a cab and cuss a blue streak today. I felt homesick. Minus the cussing was a but more elaborate, and the cabbie got out blocking the intersection to cuss him back. I was amused.

Anway, I'm rambling. off to Darwin I go!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I'm here

Hello Folks!

It's around 4:30pm on Sunday here in Sydney. I made it here OK. I'm in an Internet Cafe across the street from my hotel.

That 14 hour flight is a whopper. Our pilot was retiring on our flight. They saluted him with fire engines spraying water on the 747. I'm happy they explained that one on the PA.

Jag lag is odd. I'm really not very mentally aware, but the body is still going. It's getting better as the day goes on, which I guess makes some sense.

I landed in Sydney and got into town around 9:00am. It's really lovely here. A mix between old Euro charm and Manhattan Metro. I don't know hoe many Aussies I saw today though. Seems like the tourists out number the locals.

I just walked around today to get my bearings. I'm near one of the historical districts, about a 10 minute walk to the harbor. They have an amazing city park that reminds me of something you'd see in longwood. I saw lorkeets, some huge HUGE spiders (I did not pet them)and the famous Sydney flying fox bats. Imagine bats the size of a medium dog. They also have some kind of odd Ibis stork critter that kind of picks at trash like a pidgeon. Very odd to my eyes.

The Opera House is amazing. No photo you have seen does it justice. It was hot and sunny today, and the place just glows in the sun. It snuck up on me when I was walking through the park. I turned a corner and there was the harbor and the House in it's glory.

I had an appointment at the Powerhouse Museum to see the Lord of the Rings movie exhibit. It was the last day. It was amazing. Costumes from all the heroes, you got to feel a Weta Chainmail sample, get in a forced perspective green screen that made you into Hobbit size in Gandalf's cart. The artwork was great, they had many drawings and paintings from the conceptual artists. They had armor from orcs, Sauron and the heroes. Even if you watch the extended edition DVDs you don't appricitate the detail that went into the movie until you see the real thing.

I have to admit it's a bit intmitating traveling alone this far from home. Perhaps it's the jet lag or my lack of experience, but it's a bit overwelming at first. How does the money denominations work? Getting used to looking for oncoming traffic the wrong way down the street as you cross at a crosswalk. Cabs and the extensive train, trolley, and monorail system (I gave up and walked anyway). I'm better now. Especially after being called 'mate' and 'gday'ed everyplace. People are friendly here, but in a metro kind of way. If you start talking to someone they are pleased to talk back, but they do display a bit of urban reserve.

As far as the city itself, it's clean, almost perfectly so. Especially with the numbers of tourists. the cleaning crews must be excellent, but frankly I didn't see anyone litter either. everyone drives on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong side of the car. Lots of surfer types, and skateboards seem to be a socially acceptable way or transport here, more common then bikes. Lots of nice looking people too. I saw a lot of runners out this morning, and even a pair of mates in the park stick fighting! Very cool. Children don't act like little monkeys here, and the parents are not as uptight.

Well, I'm running out of time. I'm here tomorrow (monday) Then Tuesday I'm off to Darwin for a couple days. I'll drop a line soon.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Hey ho, Let's go!

Only a couple hours now until I leave for the airport!
I'm packed, ready and waiting to go.

My back is better, BTW. Just a little sore now.

I'll call when I get thru to security in Philly. Plane leaves at 4:30. Then I'll call once I get thru the international terminal in San Fran, which will be after 11:00 Philly time. Plane to Syndey leaves around 1:00am Saturday Philly time.

For those of you new to voice blogging, I don't have a computer with me. It's just a phone number that's linked up to my journal. I just call a special number and leave a message, like a voicemail, and it appears here. So if you leave comments, I won't see them until I get back. But that's OK.