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  1. One of the questions that came up was whether we had our motor home in Australia. This is something that one might consider for an extended trip but it isn’t really feasible. There are numerous problems, the first is that the campgrounds aren’t set-up for our motor homes. The power cords we use don’t fit anything here. Current is 220V but the plug is unlike anything we use in the US. They don’t have sewer connections similar to ours, they use one inch hoses for grey water and toilets are a special kind, a small canister which holds toilet wastes. The canister is removed from the vehicle and emptied into specific dump locations. Grey water drains into sumps in some campgrounds but it is quite common to drain grey water onto the ground near the rear of your campsite. Even in campgrounds where sumps are provided for grey water people will drain to the ground if their hose isn’t long enough to reach the sumps. Utilities are not located like our in the US where the electric, water and sewer are all in one place. One electrical post has four or more outlets and would be located on the common corner of four lots in most cases. The four lots being two facing one street and two facing another street. The lots vary in size but most are fairly small. Our 40 foot motor home would not fit on most of these lots. So there are many reasons why a US motor home would be a problem when traveling in Australia and I haven’t even addressed the possible problems with driving on the left side of the road with the driver’s seat on the left side of the vehicle. With a US built vehicle, the driver position when driving on the left side of the road would put the driver on the edge of the road, not in the center of the roadway. Passing vehicles are on the right side of the car which is the far side from the driver in US vehicles. Then there are the roads. The campervan we are driving feels like a very large vehicle on many of the narrow roads here. There are trucks and large busses which travel these roads but I would not feel comfortable driving anything larger than what we have now. Also, campgrounds trim their trees for campers like ours to drag their way through the low hanging limbs and large leaves. We have seen a few large motor homes. When we started our travels in New Zealand we stopped at a rest area. As we were standing there looking at the scenery a 1990 Safari pulled in. We took pictures and the owner came over to talk to us. We told him we were amazed at seeing a US motor home in New Zealand. He said he had purchased it in the US and shipped it to New Zealand. This particular chassis was easy to move the steering wheel to the right side of the vehicle. He had the electric cord modified and a few other changes made. We asked how he felt about driving on the roads and he said he didn't travel much. He has a few places he goes to and they have a special lot for him. The only other big rig we saw is in the picture with this posting. We saw it at Exmouth in Western Australia. It had two of the Australian 220V power cords which look like a normal extension cord. We didn't visit with the owner of this rig. The final nail in the coffin as far as I’m concerned is the price of fuel. We are getting around 15 miles per gallon (in US terms) with the campervan. Fuel prices in Australia have been about $1.55 to $2.45 per liter. So here is the conversion to US terms. It takes 3.785 liters to make one gallon. Multiplying the above dollar figures times 3.785 gives us $5.87 to $9.27 per gallon. These figures are in Australian Dollars which are worth about $0.92 US at today’s exchange rate. Multiplying 0.92 times these figures gives us $5.40 to $8.53 in US Dollars for a gallon of diesel. The prices are lowest in cities and highest when you get way out into the outback, especially on highways to nowhere, those roads that are one way in and one way out. For most of the outback, we’re paying between $1.80 and $2.10 for a liter of diesel. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot of outback in Australia. Needless to say I’ve left a few dollars at Shell, CalTex and BP stations around the country. There are a few other fuel companies but these are generally the least expensive. Frequently there is only one station, no choice at many of the roadhouses in the outback. If the tank is empty, you pay the price and say thank you! With two weeks to go, we have driven about 15,000 kilometers or 10,000 miles in Australia. Most people here camp in trailers pulled by an SUV or small truck. They frequently attach a tent or screened apparatus to the side of the trailer to give them plenty of protected outdoor area. Camping trailers are almost always pull-behind trailers. We’ve seen just a few fifth wheel trailers. It is not uncommon in the outback to see camping trailers which are built for high clearance being pulled behind a beefy four wheel drive SUV which is used for the many dirt and gravel roads which penetrate the outback. The roads we are traveling which are paved are often the only road in an area with all other roads being dirt or gravel. If you really want to get away from it all in Australia it is easy, most of Australia is away from it all but you need a four wheel drive to explore this area. The alternative for us is to take tours which will haul us into those areas for day trips.
  2. May 29, Thursday, we bid farewell to Australia. After three months our Australian adventure comes to a close. A van to the airport, check in with the airlines and proceed through security and we’re on our way. Of course it just doesn’t happen that quickly. We awoke at 5:00 a.m. to catch a shuttle at 5:30 to the airport. By the time we’ve checked our baggage, it is 6:30. We’re given an exit card to complete to clear customs and immigration as we leave Australia. We stopped for breakfast and this gives us a table and time to complete the questions on the card. Louise picked up several books (3 to be exact) because you just can’t find books everywhere anymore and it is a long flight to our next stop in Auckland, New Zealand. Five hours later we were in New Zealand. It really wasn’t five hours in the air, there is a two hour time change between New Zealand and Australia. The country has a wonderfully familiar look. We were here four months ago! Our hotel was near the airport and we got a shuttle to take us to the hotel. A nice room with a Jacuzzi greeted us and we both got our money’s worth from that Jacuzzi! Our night was short again, we were up before 7:00 a.m. to be ready for the airport shuttle at 7:30. Grab the bags and run – that’s our motto. We got cards to clear customs and immigration in New Zealand and then on the plane we got arrival cards for Fiji. The flight to Fiji is a short hop, 2 hours and 30 minutes straight to the north of Auckland. We arrive shortly after 2:00 in the afternoon. Transport to our hotel in Lautoka just 20 miles away is quickly arranged. We are sharing a van with another couple and their two children. They are from New Zealand on a winter vacation to Fiji. The ride to Lautoka is an awakening. We are in a genuine third world country. For all its romantic image, the nation of Fiji is a very poor country. Poverty is evident everywhere. Our hotel, the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel is a quality hotel and our room is very nice. The food at the restaurant is excellent. After two early mornings we slept in late. Check out is 11:00 a.m. and we have three or four hours after that until our cruise boards. We got lunch and then relaxed in the lobby until time to get a cab to the docks for our cruise. It is a five minute ride to the dock and then a half hour wait with the rest of the arriving crowd until we are able to board.
  3. By Tuesday we had accomplished all our first priority activities for our stay in Sydney. The forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday was a chance of rain but the rain never materialized. We left the hotel and took a city bus downtown to Circular Key, the heart of the transportation hub in Sydney. The bus route terminates near the ferry terminal and the commuter train station. We went to the ferry terminal and located the Manly Fast Ferry, a ferry service for people traveling to and from destinations within the Sydney harbor to the south of Sydney. It is not a tour boat but we used it as one. At the ticket office, we inquire about the ferry. The lady at the window says I’ve got a ferry just for you. She motioned toward the boat at the dock behind her and said it was about to depart and we could purchase our tickets on board. We hustled down the dock to the ferry and were welcomed by a young man who directed us across the gangplank and promptly pulled it in behind us. The lady in the ticket booth was correct, we were the only passengers on the ferry as it left the dock. We took seats on the top deck, an open air deck, which facilitated photography. Leaving the dock we got a harbor view of the Sydney Opera House. This was the only way to see the front of this amazing building. Among the stops were the Sydney Zoo and a National Park on the site of an early 1900’s immigration station. Manly is a community near the mouth of the harbor. All along the route we see one harbor after another with dozens of boats moored in each one. Beautiful homes crowd the hills along the harbor. In Manly we see many condominiums with harbor views. Our ride was suggested to us by an exhibitor at Vivid Sydney. He said you haven’t really seen Sydney until you have seen it from the harbor. He was correct. The ride around the harbor was a completely different view of this thriving city. Sydney is a city built around a harbor and they love their harbor. The Manly Fast Ferry is only one of the ferries that operate here. The City of Sydney also has an extensive ferry line that serves all areas of the harbor. There is a constant flow of ferry traffic into the ferry terminal day and night. Sydney has almost one quarter of the entire population of Australia. With nearly 4 million people, there is a life to the city that is found only in the largest of cities in the US. Our hotel was about 3 miles from the center of downtown Sydney. Foot traffic is heavy from downtown all the way out to our hotel all day long and well into the night. It is not uncommon to wait at a cross walk with 20 other people facing another group of equal size on the other side of the intersection. At ten in the evening we were surrounded by other pedestrians and felt quite safe. Sydney has a very diverse population. Its proximity to the Orient accounts for a large percentage of people from that area. We also met many people who were recent immigrants from European countries. One thing that stood out in our experience was the completely peaceful nature of the crowds of people. We saw no rowdy behavior or violence. Graffiti was rare and people were friendly, willing to strike up a conversation with us, total strangers. I even had one young man ask me how to use his Sony digital camera to photograph the night lights of Sydney. Not being familiar with his camera I couldn’t offer him much help but tried to give him some idea what the numbers on his digital display meant. We rode a city bus back toward the hotel but got off a few blocks away to get dinner at the Three Wise Monkeys Bar, now a favorite of ours. Once again we got a seat at the window and enjoyed watching the passing parade on the sidewalks of Sydney.
  4. Our third day in Sydney, Monday, May 26, is a big day. We start out with a second ride on the tour bus. We purchased a two-day ticket. There are two routes for the scenic drives, this one takes us south of the city to Bondi Beach and then back to the city. We remained in the urban area the whole trip but are away from the large buildings of city center. This trip was interesting as we traveled through many older parts of the city. Bondi Beach itself is a gorgeous wide beach with a nice surf. Across the road from the beach is a whole community built up around the beach. It is similar to many of the popular beaches in southern California. When we returned to town we got off the bus at The Australian Museum. From there we walked down toward the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We stopped to get ice cream at a little shop near the bridge. Then we were on to Bridge Climb Sydney. We had reserved a sunset climb to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We would start our adventure at 3:05 in the afternoon and finish about 7:00 in the evening. Once we checked in, we were met by an employee who escorted us in and took us through signing the liability release form. Then we were given our bridge climb coveralls. We changed clothes, leaving behind all metal and all personal objects except eyeglasses and stud earrings. Then we passed through a magnetometer to ensure we had no metal objects in our possession. With the security check complete we met our guide, Nick, who would take us to the top of the bridge. Now we were outfitted with a safety belt with an interface to hook us into the safety cable that guided us along our walk. We received a radio receiver and headset so we could hear our guide. We also got a pack with a fleece sweater to wear if we needed an additional layer of clothes to keep warm. We were given a headband flashlight and finally a handkerchief and a hat. All of these things were hooked onto our coverall suit so that nothing was able to fall onto the bridge below us. The final preparation was to practice going up a ladder and down a ladder. Once all this was done we slid our safety harness line onto a safety cable and were out the door and onto the bridge. We exited the door and were already about 20 feet above the ground. Initially we walked on a catwalk well out onto the bridge. Then we began to climb, three step ladder-like sets of steps took us up another 20 meters or 60 feet. Emerging onto the top of the upper girders on the bridge, we were now on top of the bridge. Railings on either side of the three foot wide walkway give us an added sense of security. Looking around we can see onto the top of the roof of some of the tall buildings in the city! From here there we walk on top of the bridge girders. There are step platforms on the surface so we were are walking similar to the way you would walk up a widely spaced set of steps. The incline is steep at first then begins to level out near the top of the bridge. Along the way we stop and have pictures taken by our guide. At the top, 436 feet above the bay below, we all give a cheer. Everyone in our group makes it to the top without any problem. Our guide, Nick, has kept up a constant patter of information about the bridge, Sydney, Australia, and much more. His commentary gives us something else to think about than the height above the waters of the bay below. As we reach the top, the sun is setting in the west. Sunset colors in the sky reflect off the waters of the bay. Sidney bay is a labyrinth of water, islands and peninsulas. Standing atop the bridge we are able to see the patchwork of water highlighted by the skylight reflections. How I wish I had my camera. I would have taken hundreds of pictures! Soon it is time to begin our descent. We stop for one last round of pictures with the lighted city in the background. As we are about to leave the bridge Vivid Sydney lights up the Sydney Opera House and we can see it from the bridge. Then it is back down to Earth. We reverse the dressing procedure removing all our equipment and are out to the gift shop. We get our certificates with a picture of our group as part of the deal. We also purchase the set of pictures taken of us as we climbed the bridge. With that challenge behind us, we found a restaurant, the Waterfront Restaurant. We were able to get reservations for 8:30 which was an hour and a half from the time of the reservations. I was prepared. I had my tripod with me so I could photograph some of the Vivid light displays. I visited a number of the displays in the area and also spent time photographing the Opera House. Time arrived and we got a table right by the wall that separated the dining area from the dock area with the displays. We enjoyed our first real restaurant meal in Sydney spending an amazing amount of money for a simple meal, a bottle of wine and desert. We had wonderful service and enjoyed the evening. On the way home I continued photographing lighting displays including the Museum of Art which had the whole building covered with a constantly changing design. There were other buildings with displays, one had a forest that bloomed, leaves came out then the colors changed and the leaves fell off and finally took you back to the bare trees again. We talked with one exhibitor who told about how their group had developed their display. We had a nice conversation and picked up a suggestion for the next day.
  5. Our second day in Sydney we took a bus tour through the city. The bus was a double decker with an open upper deck so that is where we sat. I took photos as we drove along. We had earphones with commentary on the areas of the city as we rode along. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm. At stops I had a chance to stand up and get better pictures. My philosophy on taking pictures when moving is that you shoot lots of pictures knowing some will be blurred or will not be well framed. If I take enough pictures there is a better chance that one will be satisfactory. Often the rate of travel gives just a single moment when a good photograph is possible in which I am quick on the shutter button, timing is key, hesitate and the shot is gone. Our tour took us downtown and to the waterfront. The waterfront in Sydney is like a glove. The tour visited one bay after another. I photographed a mixture of new modern buildings and skyscrapers along with heritage buildings over 100 years old. Each is interesting it its own way. Some old buildings are well maintained and look quite beautiful while others have been neglected and will someday soon become unusable. Sydney presents a nice mixture of old and new. We are enjoying the difference in architecture between buildings of different ages but also different from the architecture we knew from the US. There are a wide variety of cultural heritages which influence buildings here in Sydney. We rode most of the route before getting off near the Royal Botanical Garden. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the Botanical Garden before starting our walk home. The botanical garden is free and has wonderful old and very large trees. There is a fernery with an amazing variety of ferns. Louise said she expected to see a dinosaur stick its head out from behind one. There were tree ferns, giant ferns and a whole group of ferns that didn’t look like ferns at all. We found an herb garden which was very aromatic. Every step brought a new scent. Then we spotted an armillary sphere, a special form of sundial. This one was a recent addition to the garden. It commemorated the work of a volunteer who worked at the garden for many years. Around the horizon circle were sculptures of herbs with their names. With a diameter of 2 meters, there were quite a few herbs illustrated on the horizon circle. We left the garden about 4:30 in the afternoon. We waited at the bus stop for the next bus that would take us back toward our hotel. It took about 15 minutes for the bus to arrive. We rode for several kilometers getting off at the north end of Hyde Park where we had seen a restaurant/bar we wanted to try. The bar, the Three Wise Monkeys had a large statue of three monkeys in the classical hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil pose. We thought it would be worth a try just for the fun of it. We found seats at the windows which are open and right on the sidewalk looking out on a major street. Our table was the window sill and people are walking by on the sidewalk outside the window, just a few feet away. So we had a wonderful seat for people watching. Sydney is a very busy city. The sidewalks are filled with people all day long and far into the evening. It was a fine night of people watching.
  6. With this entry, we are clearly outside the realm of motor home experience but the remainder of our trip started with almost three months in the motor home so I'll finish off the last three weeks just to give the story an ending. We've flown to Sydney after turning in the campervan at Britz in Perth. When we checked into our hotel they gave us some information about a festival starting in Sydney on Friday night, the night we arrived. It is a two-week festival of lights, sound and ideas. There are 60 exhibits set up around town with various kinds of visual activities. Some are large like the projection of lights on the Sydney Opera House and others are small like an exhibit with a camera that you looked into and it put your face on a wall. Your face was altered and blended into a colored spot. The exhibit was called Graffiti Me. There were simple things like a light tunnel to walk through. Others exhibits were very complicated. An exhibit downtown near Circular Key projected a cartoon image with clouds, lightening, rain and a light bulb cartoon character walking across the walls of several skyscrapers. The ferries in the harbor were lit in coordinated constantly changing colors that matched the color on the ferry terminal. Other boats were lit in a variety of colors. We went down town to the famous Sydney Opera House to tour the building. Louise would have liked to see an opera there but the season doesn’t start until July. When we arrived to tour the building there was a huge crowd with more arriving every minute. This was the opening night of Vivid Sydney! Our tour of the Opera House lasted until sunset. Before the tour was over the building was the palate for ever changing patterns and colors. Once outside we enjoyed watching many of the exhibits. As we walked back to our hotel I took pictures of some of the exhibits and the city at night. Crowds were huge throughout the city with throngs of people walking everywhere. We stopped for dinner at Gallagher’s Irish Bar and continued our walk back to the hotel. Part of the way we walked through Hyde Park, a very nice park with lighted fountains and wide well lit walkways. At one point another person stopped to photograph something. I looked and they were taking pictures of a possum. These are much different than the Opossums we have in the US. They look more like a squirrel. We saw a second, a female with a young one on its back. By the time we arrived home it was late and we had pictures to process and needed some down time to relax before turning in for the night.
  7. We’ve been touring Australia for almost three months now. Along the way we’ve collected some souvenirs for ourselves and for our friends and family. When we started this trip our bags were packed to the limit. We investigated shipping the souvenirs and some of the clothing we would not need on the cruise back to the US. Every query ended up with prices that were extreme for even a small package. Then in a discussion with a park ranger at Monkey Mia we found out about something different. She suggested using Sea Mail offered by the Australian Post. She had shipped her goods from Britain to Australia that way and said it was an economical alternative. We investigated and found the prices that UPS, DHL, FedEx charged for a two pound package would pay for a 20 kilogram package shipped Sea Mail. The difference of course is that the Sea Mail package will arrive in 60 to 90 days instead of two days. That was perfect for our needs. We didn’t need to have the materials in hand quickly. So we purchased packing materials and loaded up two boxes. The amount of materials that we wanted to ship back were too much for one box so we split it into two boxes of 13 and 14 kilograms each. That is 27 kilograms or 60 pounds of goods we shipped back to the US. This took care of the excess we had purchased on the trip so far and also lightened the load in our suitcases. Shipping was accomplished on Wednesday before our Friday morning flight. Thursday was pack the bags day and also clean the camper day. We set out suitcases on the benches in the rear of the camper. Frist Louise packed the majority of her clothes and goods and then I took my turn. There isn’t enough room in the camper for both of us to be moving around at the same time. Louise did a final load of laundry and while she did that I packed my clothes and goods. Clothes were laid out for the next days flight and then everything was given a good cleaning. We didn’t wash the outside of the camper, that was not required but all the dishes and cabinets had to be left clean. The linens and towels didn’t have to be washed. Those would be left on the bed when we turned in the camper. Thursday night it rained. It rained hard off and on all night. By morning I was getting anxious about the final work of disconnecting the utilities, electric and grey water. It was going to be messy. We were parked on a sandy lot and nothing sticks to things like wet sand. If the rain continued I was going to get soaked in the process. Just before sunrise the rain quit. I got up and made a trip to the restroom. Several people were busy packing up to leave while the rain had stopped. I think everyone was thinking the same thing I was, get out quick before it starts to rain again. We had a quick breakfast, washed the dishes and disconnected. I washed down the hose and electric cord as I rolled them up. Then a last bit of packing and we left the park at 8:30 a.m. I took Louise to the airport and left her there with all of our baggage except my brief case which had the Britz documents and my records from the rental. The GPS showed me just a few kilometers from the Britz office. Ten minutes and I was there. I had called Britz on Wednesday to confirm their hours of operation. I was told they didn’t open until ten and our flight was scheduled for 11:30. The agent I talked to said he would be there at 8:30 and he could get me checked out at that time and offered to arrange a cab to the airport as well. He also confirmed for me that I would be able to take the campervan to the airport, it would be allowed in the drop off area which is something that isn’t allowed at most US airports. Anyway, he was there and after a brief look at the camper, a cab was called and I was on my way back to the airport. I met Louise in a coffee shop where she was waiting and we went to check our luggage. We got a surprise. The tickets I had booked with Virgin Australia didn’t include checked baggage. That was an additional charge. The Expedia confirmation didn’t say that baggage wasn’t included it just said that additional charges may apply for baggage. So we paid for shipping our bags and then were off to the security check. Once through security we had about an hour wait for the boarding call. Our plane was an Airbus 300-200, a wide bodied plane for this cross country flight. I was expecting a smaller plane but was pleased by the wide body plane. It takes just under four hours to fly across the country from Perth on the west coast to Sydney on the east coast. There was also a two hour time change for the time zone difference. We arrived just after sunset. I was able to photograph a spectacular sunset from the airplane. It took less than 30 seconds for the sun to disappear below the horizon once its lower limb touched the horizon. By the time we landed and got out of the airport it was dark. We picked up our luggage and found the taxi line. A $40 ride got us to our hotel in the Chinatown area west of downtown Sydney. We are right across the street from a large shopping market with three stories above ground and another story below ground. The lowest level is a vegetable market and has other vendors with booths selling other products, rather like a large flea market. Above the basement level are two stories of shops and stores including a large grocery store. The top floor is the food court. We got a simple dinner in the food court and then walked around the neighborhood.
  8. We left Ledge Point after a drive through town to get a look at the community. The housing was upscale beach housing with beautiful homes with a second story that looked over the dunes to the sea. The dunes all along this coast are very well preserved. Walkways are provided at specific places and people seem to stay off the dunes other than through the walkways. This is nice to see and seldom seen in the US. Dune erosion can be quite serious. Once the plants have been disturbed, the dune is free to move. Regular ocean breezes will move particles up one side of the dune and they tumble down the other side. Once sand grain at a time (actually many at a time) the dune moves further inland. If there is no plant life to anchor the dune, it will move into a street or road, a lawn or a field. Once the plant life is gone, it is virtually impossible to stop the movement of a dune. At the upper end of South Padre Island near where we live in the southern tip of Texas, the dunes have reclaimed the highway north of the town. You can drive north of town until the roadway disappears under the dunes. We had reviewed the brochure for Perth and the main thing we wanted to see was the Fremantle area which included some of the early buildings in the downtown. The focus of the area seemed to be the prison so we put that address into the GPS. One more time, we can’t say how valuable the GPS has been on this trip. It routed us on high speed motorways right to downtown and then we were off within a couple of blocks of the prison. The city of Fremantle has a Park and Pay lot at the prison. You pay your fee at a station, get a receipt and put that on the dash. The camper wouldn’t fit in any of the parking spaces but they were end to end double spaces so I parked in an empty pair at the far end of the lot and used part of the space in front of us. The lot was never full while we weren’t blocking a spot that could have been sold. The prison was the state prison for Western Australia. It was built in the 1860’s and that says a lot about the nature of the prison. It was added to and expanded several times. By the 1960’s there were severe crowding problems and the conditions in the prison must have been quite frightful. There were several prison riots, one in the 1960’s over the quality of the food and another in the 1980’s related to the overcrowding. The prison was finally closed in 1991. There were a number of tours available but the general information was dreadful enough we didn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon in the prison. We left there with a bus route and schedule for the free shuttle around Freemantle. Using the map we headed for the Maritime Museum on the docks. A short walk to the bus stop and a short bus ride and we arrived about 2:00 in the afternoon. Outside the Maritime Museum an extensive set of low walls listed all the people lost at sea in a long list of shipwrecks. Everywhere we go on the coastline of Australia there are extensive lists of shipwrecks. The coastline has it hazards as all coastlines do and many of the wrecks occurred before accurate navigation techniques were common. Even in recent times, shipwrecks occurred in some cases because navigational hazards weren’t well plotted. The museum itself had a number of interesting displays including one documenting a 1980’s series of circumnavigations of the globe by Jon Sanders. His boat and equipment he carried were displayed. The boat was displayed at a steep angle and a marker near the ceiling behind the boat showed the height of a 30 foot wave that overtook the boat on one of his trips. Jon saw it approaching and hung onto the mast as the wave washed over the boat. There was an extensive exhibit with models of the America’s Cup yachts from the beginning of the competition to present day. They were displayed in sets for each year and it was really nice to be able to look at the progression of changes in the design over time. One of the yachts, the Australia II which was sailed by the Perth Yacht Club, was on display, full size. An early ferry and fishing vessels from small to large were also there to be seen. We spent several hours and if we had been there earlier in the day we would have spent a few more. Leaving the museum, we caught a bus to the prison. It went out of service while we were on the way so we switched to the other free bus route and took a bus to the nearest stop to the prison parking lot. We walked back to the parking lot by a different route which gave us a chance to view a large athletic field called The Oval. We were able to peek through the fencing along one side and see the stadium. We arrived back at the parking lot with a few minutes remaining on our parking pass. Putting the address for the Central Caravan Park into the GPS put us on the way out of town to a location near the airport. The route started a bit slow with stoplights but they were well timed and we didn’t have to stop at many. Soon the lights gave out and we were on the Great Eastern Highway headed out of town. It was a much faster trip than I anticipated in early rush hour traffic. Our park is near the Britz office and the airport because we will turn in the camper in two days. We’ll spend the next two days getting everything ready for the next leg of our journey, an air flight to Sydney.
  9. Departing the Geraldton area we noticed a dramatic change from our travels over the last month. We have returned from the Great Australian Outback. Suddenly we were seeing fields of crops and farms. There were still many areas with native plants growing but the sudden change from no farmland to abundant farmland was quite surprising. Along with this, we no longer saw signs for domestic animals, cows and sheep, roaming on the road. This was the end to open range country. Traffic was light on Indian Ocean Drive. We didn’t meet a single road train in our drive to Ledge Point. As we drove the road, we stopped in several small towns to see the ocean views and walk along beachfront trails. The highway itself wanders among large sand dunes. Many are covered with heavy vegetation but there are also huge sand dunes with no vegetative cover at all. The sand here is surprisingly white. This would indicate that the sand particles are almost exclusively quartz. Several towns bear mention for their facilities along the beach. At Green Head we pulled into a park at the beach. A map directed us to a walkway up and over a dune and then to a scenic overlook on several bays and some offshore islands. We enjoyed the cool sea breeze as well as the sound and sights of waves breaking on rocks and the beach. The park, walkway and overlook were well maintained and had interpretative signs to explain what we were seeing on the walk. At Jurien we enjoyed walking out onto their pier and seeing schools of small fish in the water below the pier. There was a very nice playground set up on the sand at the upper end of the beach next to the pier. There was a walkway along the beach and we walked that for a while. Along the walk there was a set of exercise equipment for adults. A little further down the path there was an exhibit about an artificial reef which had been constructed just off-shore in the area. The artificial reef was designed for young people and other who were not capable of swimming out to the natural reef which was quite a distance from the shore. They had constructed reef balls made of concrete, these hollow balls ranged in size from 1 meter (three feet) in diameter down to 30 centimeters (one foot). They weighed as much as 750 kilograms (1500 pounds). These had been placed in water that was about 10 feet deep to create a reef environment for fish and plants. The project was driven by a group of volunteers and partially funded by the county government. Many donors contributed to the project. It was truly a community effort. Once again we pulled into our campground as the sun set. The office had just closed but we were welcomed and told where to pick a site, we could register in the morning. The camp at Ledge Point was one of the nicest parks we have stayed at. It had some long stay occupants but showed all signs of a new park. The facilities were all clean and well maintained.
  10. We left the Billabong Homestead early Saturday morning and drove on south toward Kilberri National Park. This would be a side trip off the North West Coastal Highway that we’ve been traveling. The road through the park takes us to Kalbarri, a small town on the coast. The National Park surrounds the park. The central feature of Kalbarri National Park is the Murchison River. Like many of the rivers in Western Australia (WA) the Murchison River is barely flowing or dry for much of the year. It drains a large area of Western Australia so when they get rain, it flows vigorously. We saw evidence that the water level is easily 20 to 25 feet above the minimal flow we were looking at. During this flow large rocks get rolled along by the river and it cuts the cliff base of sandstone rock. Once the rock is undercut, the cliff above becomes unstable and falls into the river channel. We saw some really interesting sandstone, red of course, in our walk to the river channel. We visited several overlooks and walked down to the river in one location. Like many other national parks in Australia there are many four wheel drive roads which are unsuitable for our campervan. The area is called a gorge and indeed it has the look of a gorge but this is flat land and the criteria for a gorge is different than our idea of a gorge. This isn’t the Grand Canyon or the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Kalberri Gorge is a shallow gorge, perhaps 100 feet deep, maybe a little more. A ten or fifteen minute walk gets you from the rim to the bottom of the gorge. Still, it provides excellent relief from the routine flat sandy plains that surround it. The red sandstone make for a beautiful rock exposure and I’m sure the river is a spectacle when it is flowing. The other feature of Kalbarri National Park is the seacoast south of the town of Kalbarri. We drove this area on Sunday, making stops at each overlook and hiking some trails. It is a beautiful coastline and we spent the entire day driving about 20 kilometers from Kalbarri visiting these sites. Again, there is the red sandstone but it is capped with some white and yellow sandstone in a few places. These are deposits that were laid down along a seacoast millions of years after the red sandstone was deposited. We saw a sea stack and a sea arch in one location. We also saw a Humpback Whale splashing in the distance at that location. A few dolphins were also swimming in the area. Finishing our exploration of Kilbari National Park at 4:30 in the afternoon we headed south to Geraldton. We have now abandoned the North West Coastal Highway and will take the Indian Ocean Drive to the south all the way into Perth. Sunset here is coming about 5:45 p.m. and we had 150 kilometers to go so we were going to be arriving after dark. Louise called ahead to a park where we wanted to stay. They closed their office at 5:00 so it was a good thing we called ahead to let them know we would be arriving late. Everything was done over the phone and we were told to pick up our packet of information in a lockbox at the office. We parked for the night at the Sunset Beach Holiday Park in Geraldton. Showers, dinner and then a little time on the internet completed our evening. This park is one of the few we have found lately that has internet service through a company that we committed to early in the trip. They have a network of parks that use their service and we made good use of it on the east coast but we have only found it in a few spots in the outback. We’ve been able to get our money’s worth from the company but just barely. When we are able to find them, it is nice to have unlimited time and a usage limit which is ample for our needs.
  11. At 11:30 a.m. we left Monkey Mia on our way back south. Just 25 miles down the road is a beautiful little town, Denham. We stopped there to walk the main street along Denham Strait. Palm trees, green grass and brilliant green and blue ocean water provided a beautiful setting for this town. Louise was making one last attempt to find just the right pearl jewelry and found a necklace and earrings at a small shop on the waterfront. We enjoyed the walk, a cool breeze and bright sunshine made for perfect weather. Denham marked our western most point on our trip. In fact there was a hotel in town that had a banner saying it was the westernmost hotel in Australia. From Denham we are retracing our path up the peninsula. We stopped at a narrow point on the peninsula to walk on Shell Beach. Hamlin Pool is a very isolated part of Shark Bay. Sea water does not circulate freely in the Hamlin Pool so the water becomes almost twice as salty as normal sea water. Only a few organisms can live in this very salty water. This is the same body of water that had the stromatolites. Limpets are also able to live here and when they die their shells are left behind. These have accumulated for many thousands of years and form a thick layer at the bottom of the bay. These blow up on land forming dunes of shells. Shells in the water compact and form a kind of limestone called Coquina, the limestone is made almost entirely of shells. The beach here is brilliant white being made entirely of these white shells. We left Shell Beach about 2:30 and drove the 100 kilometers to the Overland Roadhouse where we fueled up again. Then we drove just another 50 kilometers to the Billabong Homestead and our camp for the night. We’ve been traveling in an area where drinking water is not available. That means that the water available at campsites is not for drinking. Since you can’t wash your car or camper, I don’t know why they have water at the campsites. Indeed, our campground for the night had no water available in the campground. We’re running on our second day of water with a tank that lasts us about three days so that means possibly running out tomorrow. The showers aren’t drinking water but the water was soft, plenty of suds. It isn’t fancy but they have electric and hot showers and we were ready for some rest.
  12. Carnarvon is only about 100 kilometers from Monkey Mia as the Crow flies. We aren’t Crows and we can’t fly in our campervan so we have to drive south for 200 kilometers and then northwest for another 155 kilometers. We made a late start down the road after shopping for groceries and filling with diesel. We took advantage of the discount offered by the grocery store which is pretty standard in Australia. Woolworths, Cole’s and some IGA stores offer a 4 cent per liter discount on fuel at their partner fuel stations. We’ve been taking advantage of this when we can. It doesn’t sound like much but that is the equivalent of about 15 cents per gallon and I know not one of us would pass that up. We made another fuel stop at the Overlander Roadhouse. A fill-up there would give us enough fuel to make it back there on the return trip without buying fuel at Monkey Mia. It isn’t a good idea to plan to buy fuel at the end of a long road which is where Monkey Mia was located. Another stop along the way was to see some Stromatolites in the Hamlin Pool Marine Estuary. Stromatolites are ancient composites of microbes which form large colonies in shallow water. An information panel described it as the equivalent of a rain forest for bacteria and other one celled living forms. Fossils of Stromatolites are found in Precambrian rocks. Precambrian rocks contain no other fossils so these Stromatolites are the earliest fossils we find on Earth. After that stop it was almost sunset as we approached Monkey Mia. This part of the trip was mostly to the northwest which was directly into the setting sun which made the driving hard and looking for kangaroos and other straying livestock a real challenge. We arrived in Monkey Mia as the last light was fading from the sky and parked in our spot in the dark. We had done something we usually never do. There is only one campground in Monkey Mia so I encouraged Louise to call ahead and make reservations. I can’t say that it paid off for sure but we didn’t see any vacant sites in this park. The place was packed with campers, this was obviously a very popular site. At the office we got information about the premier event, feeding the dolphins, which occurs each morning. We were given the location and time to be there so we set an alarm to get us up and on our way before the start time. The next morning, Friday, we were on the beach waiting for the feeding to start at 7:30 a.m. This is a tradition that started many years ago when people in the campground began feeding the dolphins. It became a problem when the dolphins began to depend on the people for their food. Female dolphins would spend so much time in shallow water getting fish fed to them that their calves were dying because they couldn’t nurse in shallow water. The Western Australia Department of Conservation took over the feeding operation and carefully controls it so that the dolphins have to get most of their food by hunting and thus spend time out to sea where the calves can nurse and learn to hunt from the mother. We were given an explanation of the feeding process and then invited to come to the water’s edge forming a long single line at the edge of the bay. Once everyone was in line we were allowed to come into the water to about ankle depth. This brought dolphins closer to the shore and some of them even came within ten feet of our line. Two rangers from the Department of Conservation talked about dolphins and gave us the history of the program while supervising the group. Once the dolphins were close by, we were told to back up out of the water which signaled the dolphins that feeding was about to begin. Volunteers then brought buckets of fish to the beach. There were only a few fish in each bucket. They spread out along the line and picked people from the line to come feed a dolphin. Out of 130 people there that morning, less than a dozen were picked to feed the dolphins. Everyone else got a close look at the dolphins and the feeding. Once this was over, we spent some time on the dock looking for turtles which had been in the area earlier in the morning. Then before we left the dock they started the second feeding. This time only 30 people showed up and there were more dolphins. Louise was picked to feed a dolphin named Surprise. By this time it was almost 9:00 a.m. and we needed to be off our site by 10:00 or stay another night. We went back to the campervan and packed up, pulling out at 9:50 a.m. We left the campground and parked in the Department of Conservation parking lot. We ate breakfast and then spent some time in the gift shop and information kiosk learning more about the dolphins and Monkey Mia. We found out that no one knows exactly where the name came from. There were three possible explanations for Monkey, one being a ship named Monkey that docked there in the late 1800’s. Another explanation is that the name came from the Malay pearlers, who camped at this location, had monkeys. A third possible source of the name is that an Australian colloquialism for sheep is monkey and there were (still are) sheep farms on the peninsula. Mia is the Aboriginal word for home, camp or resting place. The information sheet clearly stated that there are no monkeys at Monkey Mia.
  13. We left Exmouth headed for another sea adventure in Monkey Mia. South of Exmouth we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. In doing this we left the tropics for the last time in Australia. The distance from Exmouth to the Monkey Mia was too far to cover easily in one day so we decided to make it a two day trip. We needed to stop for groceries and figured that Carnarvon would be a good stop for that and give us an easy 2 day trip to Monkey Mia. As we pulled into Carnarvon, there was a huge dish antenna on the horizon. It turned out to be the 97 foot diameter dish for the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. But, on the same grounds was a much smaller Cassegrain horn antenna which received the signals of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in July 1969. Carnarvon was the location of the NASA Satellite Tracking Station that served the US Space Program from its inception through Skylab. Along with Madrid, Spain and Goldstone, California, the station at Carnarvon gave the US coverage and communication with spacecraft orbiting Earth for most of their orbits. A small museum today contains some of the memorabilia donated by Australian participants in this effort. Today the NASA Deep Space Network is located in the Australian Capital Territory near Canberra. Carnarvon is left with a couple of unused antennas and a small museum along with memories of its glory days during the space race of the 1960s. Buzz Aldrin was present for the dedication of the museum. In his 80’s at the time, he looked quite different than when he walked on the moon with Neal Armstrong. It is hard to believe that almost 45 years has passed since that event. Sad also to see the US Space Program hiring our competitor for rides into space. We walked around the 97 foot dish, marveling at its size. We weren’t able to get to the Cassegrain Horn antenna as it was within a construction area. We could see it from the back side. While taking pictures of the large dish antenna I noticed a ring around the sun and found a place to get both the antenna and the ring around the sun in the picture. You may have to enlarge the photo with this posting to see the ring around the sun. We also went into Carnarvon to walk the mile long pier which is featured in their publicity. There is a “tea cup” train that makes runs out to the end of the pier but it wasn’t running when we arrived late in the afternoon. We enjoyed walking the length of the tour and watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean and full moon rise over Carnarvon. The moon rise was a fitting event considering the location and the events that transpired here.
  14. Monday, May 12, we went out to swim with the whalesharks. We chose Ningaloo Whaleshark Swim as the company based on the information we could gather. We were picked up at our park at 7:15 and driven to the dock which is on the other side of the peninsula. There were 19 adults in the group plus three young children. We were transferred to the boat which was anchored offshore and then taken to a reef area. The snorkeling was partly a training exercise for the whaleshark swim which has to be executed very quickly to catch the shark as it swims by. You can swim for a while but eventually it will outpace even the strongest swimmers. The boat anchored off the reef and we were to swim to the reef for snorkeling. With the tide coming in and the boat being inside the reef it meant we had to swim against a pretty strong current. I wore myself out completely swimming against the current and just couldn’t get ahead of it. So I returned to the boat, a washout! Louise is a stronger swimmer than I and was able to get to the reef and snorkel there. Everyone came back with stories of a Manta Ray and other great sightings of fish. Once everyone was back on board we set out to hunt a whaleshark. The actual hunting is done by airplane. Pilots spot them swimming just below the water’s surface and relay their location to the ship. So off we went bouncing our way into the 2 to 3 meter swells of the Indian Ocean. As our guide said it could be rough as there is nothing between where we were and Africa just a whole lot of open water! Reaching a whaleshark we put on our snorkeling gear and once the boat was positioned ahead of the shark we jumped in. Off we swam to see the whaleshark. I got a look at it but it was a fleeting look still I had seen it. Whale sharks are large, this one was about 4 meters long from head to tip of tail. Returning to the boat, we continued searching for whalesharks. More rough seas plus the seawater swallowed while snorkeling began to hit a few of the adults. One woman was down and out from that point on. A second whaleshark was spotted and we got another chance to snorkel. This time I got an even shorter peek at it before it swam away. I couldn’t keep up with it at all. Louise got a pretty good look. We encountered a group of dolphins and circled them several times. There were about 20 dolphins in the group. They were not shy and stayed close to the boat. I went to the top deck and took some pictures. The telephoto lens doesn’t work for dolphins because they pop up and then are gone before you can point the lens at them. You have to aim a wider view lens at the area where they are and even then when you see them the lag time between realizing they are there and pressing the shutter relase can mean you get a nice picture of the ocean surface. I got a few good shots of dolpins before we left them. Shortly after that we found a third whaleshark. This one was swimming slowly and I was able to swim along with it for what seemed like a good length of time. I would guess that I was within 5 feet of the shark for a good 30 seconds, maybe more. I had time to look at the gill slits, to examine the fins and tail and to also appreciate the host of smaller fish that accompany this huge shark. There are different fish at what seem to be special locations. I had seen two long eel-like fish just below the belly of the shark with the first shark. There was also a school of about 20 tiny fish that were five or six feet below the belly of the whale. Several medium sized fish swam just above the shark and one colorful reef fish was swimming just in front of the tail. So the whaleshark has a whole community of fish that swim along with it. During this whole time I was the only swimmer along that side of the shark. Then the group caught up with me and I dropped out. It was the best experience of the day for me. Louise also got a look at this one but was on the other side with the crowd most of the time so she didn’t get as good a look. The photo with this article is one from the set the photographer for Ningaloo Whaleshark Swim took on the day we were swimming. They gave us a set of pictures taken during our swim. Finally a really large whaleshark was spotted. Our guides estimated it at 8 meters long. Louise was too tired and was feeling the effects of the motion of the boat and the saltwater she had swallowed while snorkeling so she sat out this one. I went in after it but never saw it. Louise told me I was right in front of it but must have somehow missed it. Anyway, I’d had a good experience and learned something about my limitations. I’m going to have to get more swimming exercise to get those muscles toned up for our coming cruise in Fiji. On our way back to the dock, we were traveling with the swell and it made the ride much easier. Everyone seemed to recover from their seasickness enough to eat lunch. We stopped just short of the dock to do one final reef snorkel and then returned to the dock and back to the campground. We spent the next day taking care of laundry and resting in the campground before departing Exmouth on Wednesday.
  15. I’ve seen pictures of the planet Mars, and this part of Australia sure looks like Mars. The landscape here is relentlessly red. The red is a deeper red than the red center. The desert is red, hills are red, sand dunes are red. Even the rivers look deep red, much deeper red than the Red River on the Texas-Oklahoma border. Our whole journey from Nanutarra Roadhouse to Exmouth had only minor elevation changes and only a few curves to move us around rather than over hills. Temperatures are moderating as we travel south. With a few clouds around mid-day we were able to shut down the air conditioner periodically as we traveled. Traffic was light until we reached the turnoff for Exmouth. Making that turn, we began traveling west and then north onto the Exmouth Peninsula. The town of Exmouth lies at the northern end of the peninsula. There is a navy base north of town. We learned that the navy base used to be a US base in the 60’s and 70’s. A large antenna array north of the base is used for VLF communications with ships and submarines. The antenna is still operated by the US but the base has been turned over to the Australian Government. The antenna array is similar to another we saw in central Australia. Twelve radio towers are arranged in a circle around a single larger tower. All the towers are connected and connecting cables support an antenna ring around the central tower. The town of Exmouth didn’t exist until the US built the naval base and the antenna. Exmouth was built like a US town until Australians moved in to support the base population with goods and services. Around Exmouth there are numerous national parks and reef areas. One of our goals here is to do some snorkeling. We didn’t get a chance to see the Great Barrier Reef and want to see some of the Ningaloo reef while in this area. There are numerous companies here that provide snorkeling tours, many feature a swim with a whaleshark. Whalesharks are large sharks, not whales. They are filter feeders like whales, thus the name. They have only small teeth at the back of the mouth. They feed on plankton in the water. The whaleshark has a large wide mouth with which it sweeps up small plants and animals for its food. The dive up to 2000 meters below the surface and feed at the surface. Being a fish, not a whale, they do not need to come to the surface to breathe. While they are at the surface snorkelers can swim near them without disturbing them. A whole industry has developed in Exmouth to support this activity.
  16. Port Hedland was an overnight stop, we left in the morning intending to drive to Exmouth on the Exmouth Peninsula to the southwest of Port Hedland. The road route is over 700 kilometers which was a surprise to me. I had looked at the map and figured the distances at something over 400 kilometers. When I programmed the GPS in the morning I thought it must have a different route in mind. So Louise went to the map and confirmed that the distance was going to be over 700 kilometers. We have driven 700 kilometers in a day but I wasn’t prepared for that this day. We had a grocery stop to make and the trip would require multiple fuel stops so we right away decided that any attempt to get all the way to Exmouth would not work. As we drove we discussed options including staying at some remote location without power or utilities or finding a campground. We decided to drive until late afternoon and then based on where we were, make a decision about our stopping place for the night. Leaving Port Hedland we were escorted by dozens of truck trains. Most were associated with the local mining but there were truck trains hauling fuel, heavy equipment, wide loads and more. In this case there is nothing to do but simply keep up with traffic. South of town the Great Northern Highway, which we have driven across Western Australia to Broome and now south, turns inland and so did most of the truck trains. We continued on south on the North West Coastal Highway. Truck trains drive this highway as well but their numbers are about what we have experienced on other highways in the Outback. The road is in excellent shape, we encountered no road work once out of Port Hedland. The terrain on this route is very flat. We could see ranges of hills or low mountains in the distance. The road managed to stay between these obstructions with few changes in direction. I set the cruise in the low 90’s and we rolled along quite comfortably. We pulled off the road in Karratha to eat lunch and top off the fuel tank. The next leg of the trip was over 200 kilometers without any fuel along the way. With a full tank we drove for three hours with a short restroom stop midway. We arrived at the Nanutarra Roadhouse about 5:00 p.m. and fueled the campervan. There wasn’t much discussion at this point. It was late in the afternoon the sun would be setting in an hour or so. We were seeing cows along and on the road and we had just come through a section which was damaged during recent heavy rains. There were camper swallowing pot holes in the road and places where the highway was so broken up they had put gravel in place to make it easier to drive. Guess how long the gravel stays with the truck trains driving over it. With no traffic in either direction, I could drive slowly and weave all over the road to take the safest way through the obstacles. Facing the prospect of driving through all this in the dark, it was an easy decision to stay at the campground at Nanutarra Roadhouse. Besides, tomorrow is Mother’s Day and Louise should have the deluxe accommodations, restrooms, showers and electric power! Happy Mother’s Day dear!
  17. Our next stop was 610 kilometers down the road, a full day drive. Port Hedland is south and west of Broome. The road follows the curve of the shore just inland from the Indian Ocean. We packed up and were on our way by 9:00 a.m. Between Broome and Port Hedland there is little for us to see. The only side roads from this section of highway are unpaved dirt roads. There is access to 80 mile beach but that also is an unpaved road. As you might suspect, 80 mile beach is an extensive beach similar to the one we were on the day before. I’m sure it would have been a great place but a four wheel drive vehicle would have been necessary. The other feature of significance on this drive remains just out of sight to our west and south. The Great Sandy Desert lies just inland from the Great Northern Highway. We could at times see dunes along the beach and at other times we could see dunes inland, at the border of the desert. It was a lonely stretch of road with road trains and a few campers on the move. There are two roadhouses along the route which provide food and fuel. Otherwise, we saw no power lines, no houses, only an occasional entrance gate to some private land. The road was unfenced and we were cautioned about livestock. We only saw cows near the road for a short distance. At the Sunfire Roadhouse I fueled up with enough fuel to get us to Port Hedland where fuel prices should be more reasonable. Louise was entertained by a flock of Peafowl. Peacocks and Peahens that roamed the parking area. There were at least a dozen. She had to feed the white one that came over to check out the campervan. I amused myself by counting the tires on one of the road trains parked there. Each of the trailers on the road train has six axles, three at the front and three at the back. Each axle has dual tires so that is four per axle for a total of 24 tires on one trailer. We see three, sometimes four trailers in a train. The front trailer has only three axles on the back and the tractor has three axles with the steer axle only two tires of course. So that is 22 tires on the tractor and first trailer and 24 tires on each of the following trailers. A full four trailer rig would have 94 tires! Makes an 18 wheeler look pretty lame! I’m glad I don’t have to pay for the tires much less the fuel these rigs use. We saw several strong showers in the distance but drove only through a very light rain late in the afternoon. As we approached Port Hedland traffic began to pick up. Port Hedland is a mining area and there were truck trains hauling ore. We were in the lane with the loaded trucks and meeting the empty rigs. They weren’t wasting any time so it was a busy highway. To get to our campground we traveled into town past a huge salt pile that was surrounded with salt evaporation ponds. Sea water is pumped into the salt ponds and allowed to evaporate then collected and stockpiled for shipment by sea. The salt collection and stockpiling operation goes on 24 hours a day our camp host informed us. There is a scenic viewpoint where you can pull off to view the operation. Campground prices were sky-high, $54 per night but the internet was free. We get a discount at the Big 4 park chain thanks to an alliance between Britz and the Big 4 Parks, 10%, so we got our site for $49.60. We are parked on concrete, something that happens only rarely here in Australia. Most sites are grass or gravel. Some have a concrete pad next to the parking site but very few have a concrete pad for parking. Thanks to the free internet and paying for internet in Broome, I am now caught up to real time. This posting should be on the morning of Saturday, May 10, as we are departing Port Hedland for our next stop, Exmouth. The clouds that were associated with the showers gave us an excellent sunset. Clouds make sunrise and sunset pictures interesting and I was out taking pictures when several other photographers joined me. We all agreed this one was spectacular. I put together a panoramic and will post it. We’ll see how the FMCA Web Site handles a panoramic photo. If you click on it you can get it enlarged. Here is just a little fun for the map and geography fans in the audience... Port Hedland is near 20 degrees south latitude so we are still in the tropics. We are moving further west and are now at 119 degrees east longitude. That puts us 61 degrees west of the International Date Line. A little further west and we would be 180 degrees from New York City! That would be 105 degrees east longitude and we won’t go that far west but interesting to think about. We are still closer to the US if we travel east rather than west.
  18. Our last day in Broome was a beach day. We drove to the beach about 11:00 a.m. and parked the motor home on solid sand at the upper part of the beach. Cable Beach is a large beach that stretches from near downtown Broome on the west coast for twenty kilometers. We were on Gantheaume Bay on the Indian Ocean. Waters were quite warm and the surf was mild, waves less than two feet made for a fun beach. There were vehicles all over the beach, many with boat trailers. This was a great swimming beach but locals also used it as a boat launch. It was interesting to watch them launch and trailer their boats from this shallow beach. But first, we wanted to get into the water. There are crocodiles in this area and most areas with crocodiles have strong cautions about staying out of the water. The reading we had done on Broome indicated that crocodiles were not a concern so we anticipated being able to swim here. There were several couples wading in the surf so we inquired. They were local and said there was no problem. So in we went, walking, wading into the mild surf and then getting out into deeper water to swim. We left the US in January and hadn’t been out in the water swimming since then. Under the tropical sun I called a stop after about 20 minutes. We retreated to the campervan and set up our chairs in the shade of the campervan. Louise fixed lunch and we had a light lunch. There was a steady breeze and warm temperatures which made for a great afternoon of people watching from the shade of the campervan. We saw boats being trailered while in the water with a tow rope to pull the trailer from the water. Others would back their four wheel drive out into the surf and load the boat onto their trailer at that point. It was still necessary for someone to wrestle the boat onto the trailer and pull the bow down until the ratchet could be used to draw the boat into its travel position on the trailer. One of the most unique was the boat that had three wheels, two at the stern and one on the bow. Once the boat was in shallow water, the wheels were lowered and you just drove the boat onto the shore. It could be driven forward or backward, it was steerable and if someone wanted to join you just lift the wheels until the boat was sitting on the sand. Once your passenger joined you the boat could be put back up on its wheels and driven into the surf to go out once more. Besides boats there were many sunbathers and swimmers. In mid-afternoon a couple of wind surfers showed up and they entertained us for the rest of the afternoon. A few people brought their dogs to the beach and let them run in the surf. Late in the afternoon one of the water jet devices arrived and we watched the operator rising up into the air supported by jets of water sprayed from nozzles on the platform they stood on. If you haven’t seen this device, it has a pump that floats on the water and is connected to the operator’s platform by two hoses and a control cable. The hoses connect to two nozzles which spray water down which raises the platform with the rider. It is sometimes referred to as a James Bond hovercraft. As sunset approached everybody and their dog showed up to watch the sun set over the bay. With the sun fading we went back for another swim then returned to the chairs to wait for the grand finale. We were not disappointed as there was a fine sunset over the water.
  19. Our second day in Broome starts with laundry. The park laundry facilities here are generally quite good. Here in Broome there are 10 washers and just 4 dryers. All the parks have clothes lines set up for laundry right next to the laundry room. Our campervan came with a set of clothes pins and a small clothes line. Washers here are $4.00 per load so she has been economizing by hanging the laundry to dry rather than using the dryers. It is always an adventure to do the laundry. Some machines take $1 coins and others take $2 coins. Most park facilities have one or the other. Last week the laundry in Darwin had some machines that used $1 coins and others that used $2 coins. There is no paper money in denominations less than $5 in Australia and there are no pennies. I’ve not heard the $1 and $2 coins referred to as Loonies and Twonies! The tropics have increased our laundry considerably. Clothes worn for several hours are quickly exchanged for dry clothes when we return home. The combination of humidity, bright sunny days and low latitudes with very warm temperatures make for quite a lot of perspiration with very little effort! Louise has quickly adjusted to doing laundry in the park laundry facilities. I try to do the running for Louise when she is doing laundry. So I make the trip to the office to get the needed coinage. I try to assist her also when hanging the laundry to dry and taking clothes off the line. It makes things go faster if someone is carrying things back and forth while another pins the clothes on the line or folding as they come off the line. She takes care of all the technical work, running the machines, arranging the clothes on the line, folding clothes. I’m the unskilled labor! We spent the afternoon at the Broome Bird Observatory. Most of our birding has been done on our own. I’m a casual birder. I don’t go hunting for specific birds. When we are hiking we’ll stop and try to identify any bird we see. Once we learn to identify specific birds we simply name them and go on, sometimes taking a little time to observe their actions and view them through binoculars. When we find a bird we don’t know we’ll first try to make a mental note of any field markings that might be helpful in identifying the bird. There is an extensive list beginning with the size and shape of the bird, the size and shape of the bill, color(s), length of legs and tail, etc. Then we get out our bird book and try to find the bird in the book. This all takes time and sometimes we don’t have enough information about the bird to be able to identify it before it flies away. So up to this time we’ve identified 92 birds here in Australia. At the Broome Bird Observatory we would have a guided tour with an experienced birder who can identify birds quickly and knows where to look for specific birds. This speeds up the process of seeing and identifying new birds. It also means that we don’t imprint those birds in memory quite as well as those we have identified ourselves. That will come later if or when we see these birds again. We had the option of driving ourselves to the observatory or being picked up at our park for the tour. We chose to be picked up for the trip. We knew that part of the trip was on dirt road and we’ve tried one of these and found the campervan to be very poorly suited for travel on these roads. So we got the experience of traveling in a four wheel drive vehicle on dirt roads in Australia. Having done that, we were glad we didn’t try to take the campervan on this road. There were spots where deep sand had been blown onto the road. Most of the road was well below ground level with dirt pushed up on the sides by graders. Washboarding was common and taking alternate sides of the road helped avoid some of them but others were impossible to avoid. There was little traffic on this road but when you did meet another vehicle you had to move far to the side. It was only 7 kilometers but it seemed like a very long drive at 30 to 40 kilometers per hour. Located on Roebuck Bay south of Broome, the Bird Observatory is one of the prime locations for shore birds in the world. The large tides make for ideal conditions for shore birds with miles of mud exposed at low tide, millions of shore birds find plenty to eat. Birds from all over eastern Asia migrate to this area during the northern hemisphere winter. Many of those are gone now but plenty remain. Our guide was able to pick out significant birds from a large flock along the shore. Using a large scope we were able to get good looks at birds without disturbing them. Shore birds are a weakness of mine. Living in Missouri most of my life I saw few birds that were shore birds. There are many species and their markings are sometimes not very distinctive. The mostly have long legs and long bills so identifying them is difficult and time consuming for me. They also occur in mixed flocks, groups with many different species all mixing together. This makes identification more difficult as they move about constantly and it is hard to keep track of a single bird. An occasional Black Kite or Whistling Kite would circle overhead and the whole flock would take to the air in a great flurry (see photo with this posting) only to settle back to their same location and return to their regular activities once more. Once the flock finally moved on further south we took a tour of the grass plains on a nearby cattle station. Traveling in the four wheel drive vehicle through the pastures we observed a great variety of birds as well as a few wallabies. We added 16 new birds to the list of 92 that we had seen before. It was a very productive day.
  20. Broome is a small town on the northwest shore of Australia. The pearling industry has been a strength of the area along with tourism. Broome isn’t the only place where pearl farms are found here, it is the center of a large region that extends from Darwin in the north to Port Hedland to the southwest. The largest pearl oysters are found here and the pearls we saw in shops are enormous. The downtown of Broome has a dozen jewelry shops specializing in pearls. We browsed our way through all of them! There are a few other shops and stores and we spent Tuesday afternoon drifting through downtown Broome. Adjacent to the downtown area is an old jetty which was at one time the place where the pearling boats docked. We walked the jetty, over 100 years old, to the end. At low tide we could see hundreds of red fiddler crabs on the mud below the jetty. Tides around Broome are very large with variations during spring tides up to 30 feet. Spring doesn’t refer to the season, spring tides the tides change very rapidly from low to high tides. This occurs each new moon and each full moon. At the first quarter and last quarter phases of the moon the tides are called neap tides. Neap tides change very slowly. You can imagine a spring tide going from low to high tide with a 30 foot change in water level in about six hours, the water would seem to spring up quite quickly. The downtown area is known as Chinatown though we saw nothing of China in the shops and stores. The Japanese were primary developers of the pearl farming in this area and much of that history is recounted in the historic plaques and signage. There is a statue to the three Japanese men who started the industry there. It was a very warm afternoon so we stopped at an ice cream shop and enjoyed an ice cream cone while sitting in the shade on the porch outside the shop. School was out and kids were stopping to get an ice cream treat on the way home. Several mothers with young children stopped by the shop. We stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things before heading back to the campground for the evening.
  21. Saturday, April 26 is another moving day. We left Katherine on the way to Kakadu National Park near Jabiru, NT. Kakadu National Park is a world heritage site. It encompasses a large area of land with several large rivers and lakes. It is known for its fishing, birding and crocodiles. There are no swimming areas in the park other than swimming pools. Crocodiles are found in the waters throughout the park. One person laughingly described this as Crocodile Dundee territory! We’re going for the birds, the scenery and the rain forest. The park is on Aborigine land and the Warradjan Tribe has a cultural center here that we’ll visit tomorrow. The road from Katherine to Pine Creek is the same road we will take on returning from Darwin next week. At Pine Creek we stopped to fill up with diesel as the prices there have to be better than in the remote areas of the national park. We stopped at the Lazy Lizard Caravan Park/Bar/CalTex Petrol Station. Inside I was greeted by an old gentleman who was as friendly as anyone we have met on the road. We conducted the transaction for the fuel and he began telling me about the establishment. Louise returned from the restroom which was in the bar and said that I needed to see the bar. He talked about the bar and some of the unique features. We walked next door and Louise was right, this was one of the nicest bars we had seen. The building was a block building which was made with blocks from termite mounds. Apparently the termites make some pretty good building blocks. The bar was typical for tropical buildings, it had no doors, the walls were mostly open to the outdoors, there were gaps in the walls with wagon wheels of various sizes, saddles set on top of several walls, there were tables inside and outside and in between, under cover but no walls. There were bar stools drawn up to the walls so you could sit and talk across a wall. There were a variety of fans stirring the air and much more. Louise insists that we will have to stop for the night on our return trip from Darwin. We’ll try to do so. It was just a fuel stop that turned into so much more. Leaving the Lazy Lizard and Pine Creek we turned onto the road that goes into Kakadu National Park. It is about 60 kilometers to the park entrance and a total of over 200 kilometers to the far eastern side of the park where we will pick up a different road that will take us into Darwin after we have seen what we want in the park. We were planning to stay at the campground at Cooinda Lodge and take an early morning cruise on the lake that is part of the park. We pulled in at 3:00 p.m. and went to check in. We were pleased to find space available in the campground and space also available for the first cruise in the morning. We will stay one night and leave in the morning following our cruise. Then we’ll head further into the park. An evening walk to the boat dock ended with a spectacular sunset over the water. We didn’t see many new birds but we did meet a couple who visited with us for half an hour. They were from Darwin and had suggestions for our time there. He was in the lumber sales business and she was a librarian and teacher. Now retired, they were camping here with her parents. He spotted my binoculars and said he had just purchased the same kind of binoculars. I have a harness which holds the binoculars without the strap around the neck. He tried mine out, had his wife photograph them, front and back and was talking about making or buying something like that. She and Louise were sharing poetry and talking books while all this was going on. It was just a bird walk that turned into so much more.
  22. I hadn’t looked at a map for a while so I pulled out a map to see where our coming journey would take us. I had a general idea but the specifics were foggy. The first thing I looked for and found was the Tropic of Capricorn. How close were we to the tropics? Well, it turns out we were really close. Alice Springs is only slightly south of the Tropic of Capricorn. We would cross back into the tropics in about 60 kilometers when we left town in the morning. In fact, the marker for the Tropic of Capricorn was one of the things we saw on the way south and wanted to stop to see on the return trip. The next thing I looked for was the logical campgrounds on the trip north. The first would be to return to Tennant Creek where we had stayed on the way south. There were a number of choices for the next night but the first real town was Katherine, the second largest city in Northern Territories. The problem with Katherine was the distance which was over 600 kilometers. There were only a few stations in between. So Katherine became our goal for the second night. Once there we were officially in the Top End as the Aussies call it. We would be less than 200 kilometers from Darwin and would be near several national parks that looked interesting for exploration. Now all we had to do on Tuesday morning was execute the plan. The trip from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek was somewhat relaxed. We needed to travel just 460 kilometers so we stopped at several markers including the Tropic of Capricorn. While there I helped a group of Chinese youngsters by taking their picture and then they returned the favor by taking one of Louise and I by the marker. There are many Chinese people touring Australia and New Zealand and we have had nothing but pleasant encounters with all. We fueled up at Aileron Roadhouse. We were attracted to the roadhouse by a large statue of an Aborigine warrior on the hill behind the roadhouse. There was an art gallery with Anmatjere art works associated with the statue. Outside the gallery there was an equally large statue of an Aborigine woman and child. The Anmatjere tribe owns the land that Aileron Station is located on and they are actively involved in all its operations. We browsed the artwork and found two pieces that looked quite interesting. We asked some questions of the proprietor and discussed prices. We finally settled on one of the pieces, a painting in modern Aborigine style which incorporates many of the traditional forms and figures seen in the older works. With that done, we continued on our way north. The remainder of the trip was a straight drive to Tennant Creek so we could get into camp before dark. We arrived in time to check in and watch the sun set while we had drinks at their outdoor bar. A couple from Western Australia were there and we had a nice conversation with them regarding things we should try to see in the area we were headed into. They also shared some of their experiences traveling in the US. Another of the many pleasant exchanges we have had with people in our travels.
  23. Stick a pin in the center of Australia and you would come close to hitting Alice Springs. This is our next objective. We left Tennant in good time in the morning headed south on the Stuart Highway. We have the day to cover about 530 kilometers, somewhat less than our goal for the last two days. Fuel stops are more common now as this highway is more heavily traveled. This allows us to continue traveling for a longer period of time without stopping. Not far south of Tennant we encountered a scenic area. With fewer kilometers on our travel schedule for the day, we pulled off to travel through a short road paralleling the Stuart Highway. The road took us through an area called the Devils Marbles, Karlwekarlwe in the Aborigine language. For the Aborigine this was a sacred site. Groups from several areas would meet in this location each year for a social and ceremonial gathering. Stories from the Aborigine culture and information about the geology of the area helped us understand both. Other than that stop, we stopped at one bar/gas station. Diesel was $2.147 at this stop. I went in to pay the bill but had to go back outside to read the pump as they didn’t have a connection from the pump to the register. How long has it been since you have seen this? We made a note of other stations on the route in preparation for our return trip. We also noted a number of other stops we might make on our trip to Darwin on the north coast. Alice Springs is a good size town, the third largest town in Northern Territories. There is a large Aborigine population here and many seem to be unemployed or underemployed. The history of Australia and the treatment of the Aborigine is similar to the US history with the native Indian population. A clash of cultures and the looser suffered under years of persecution. Recovery from this situation is difficult but I can see the Australian people are making an effort to rectify the situation. Aborigine culture is part of almost every exhibit we have seen and Aborigine tribes have been given control of many lands that were historically theirs. This includes control of national parks or parts of national parks. We visited several sites in Alice Springs in our three day stay. On the top of the list was the historic part of town which had a number of historic buildings and a collection of art, cultural and civic museums. We started with the National Pioneer Women Hall of Fame. The exhibits honored women from all of Australia who were the first to enter a profession or to achieve great accomplishments, overcoming cultural practices that limited women’s choices of career choices. The stories were inspiring and the exhibit was really first class. We also made a quick visit near closing time to the Flying Physicians Museum which detailed the history of medical service to the Australian Outback. Our third day in town was devoted to flying. As a pilot, I need to fly on a regular basis to maintain my currency. When I travel for extensive trips in the US, I like to rent a plane somewhere and go sightseeing. In foreign countries, I would need to obtain an endorsement for my US license or a separate license in the country in which we are traveling. As an alternative, I can hire a flight instructor and take a flight lesson that allows me to fly a rental plane. It is a work-around and one that I welcome, I have flown with dozens of flight instructors over the years and have enjoyed learning from most all of them. Simon was no exception, he charted a course from Alice Springs out to Bond Creek where I made several landings on a bush field, or as he described it, a dust and dirt field. This was a first for me and I greatly enjoyed the chance to venture outside my normal experiences. We also flew along a mountain range to the west of Alice Springs and I enjoyed seeing the interesting rock formations. We left Alice Springs on Wednesday morning heading for Uluru, the big red rock at the heart of Australia, AKA Ayers Rock.
  24. Leaving camp at Mother of Ducks Wildlife Preserve in Guyra early in the morning, we drove to Glen Innes for breakfast at McDonalds. I know, not your idea of luxury dining but they do have internet. We parked behind the building and could access the internet from the campervan. I spent 30 or 40 minutes on line after eating breakfast. Right next door was the i. This one was a jewelry shop and information center. Louise enjoyed chatting with the jeweler. I was able to find several brochures of interest, one being up the road some distance, Bald Rock National Park. It was after noon when we arrived in Stanthorpe. From there we took a small road out of town for 20 kilometers before reaching the turn-off for Bald Rock National Park. A 7 kilometer drive into the park brought us to the picnic and campgrounds and trail heads. National parks in Australia are not like national parks in the US. While they are designated national parks, each state or territory operates the national parks. In Tasmania, park admission was $27 per vehicle for one day. We paid $60 for an annual pass to all of Tasmania’s national parks and got good use out of the pass in the one week we were there. In the state of Victoria the national parks were free, no admission charge at all. That included all the scenic parks we visited along the Great Ocean Drive on the southern coast. In New South Wales, the fees vary. Some parks are free while others have a small fee. This one cost us $7.00 for the day. Camping would have been an additional $10 per person. Generally the national parks here are protected areas with some having camping, most have only walking trails and picnic areas. They seldom have visitor’s centers and have very limited road access. They are most like the wildlife refuges in the US. Gathering our gear, we set out to hike up Bald Rock to a promised spectacular view of the surrounding area. Bald Rock is a granite outcrop, part of a batholith, a large igneous rock formation that cooled from molten rock to form solid rock while underground. The resulting large crystal structure and mineral composition make this rock granite. Granite typically weathers or wears down in the form of rounded surfaces which form rounded boulders. As the water, air, heat and cold attack the rock it peels off in layers making a rounded shape. So this mountain of granite is very dome like. There are features like this in the US, two that I am familiar with are Elephant Rocks in the St. Francis Mountains of southeastern Missouri and Enchanted Rock in the hill country of Texas. Bald Rock dwarfs both of these formations. Its dimensions, 260 meters high with an exposure of 750 meters long and 500 meters wide. This is the tip of the batholith that extends 400 kilometers from Tamworth to Stanthorpe and accounts for all the granite outcrops and boulders we have been seeing and exploring in the last several days. The hike was the kind that I like. It was physically challenging, a 25 to 30 degree slope meant that we were climbing on a surface that was near the limit of what our hiking shoes would grip. Fortunately, the large crystal structure made for a rough surface which gave really good traction. As we climbed further up the rock, we were well above tree level and still going. The height of the rock is 260 meters which is almost 800 feet or 80 stories. Imagine standing on a strongly sloping surface looking down 400 or 500 feet below you with nothing to stop you if you fall. Nothing to do but continue the climb. The course was well marked with 4 inch white disks glued to the rock surface. We both used walking sticks to help support and steady us as we climbed. About three quarters of the way up, the slope begins to level out and now the climb becomes one of picking our way through jumbles of boulders as we go to the top. The white dots continue to guide us. At the top the rock has a little hair, there are trees and shrubs growing on the level surface. Bald Rock is the second summit we have recorded in Australia, the first being Mt. Williams in Tasmania. In each case the summit is identified with a marker. We spent about ten minutes at the summit before retreating. During our stay we spotted and identified a Flame Robin, a small bird with a brilliant red breast, white wingbars and rump and a little smudge of white just above the bill. This was truly a treat for us. Gathering clouds and some sprinkles convinced us that retreat was the wise choice. No one wants to be on top of anything called bald in a thunderstorm. The rain never really developed and we never heard any lightning. Our trip down was uneventful, we chose a longer, more gentle sloping path down the rock. This led through jumbles of boulders that formed a labyrinth of narrow passageways and even under some boulders resting on others. All along the path were interpretive signs about the vegetation and geology of the area. Leaving Bald Rock National Park we drove about an hour north to Rochedale to find a park for the night. A warm shower and some internet time were welcome after our previous night at Mother of Ducks Wildlife Preserve.
  25. At the town of Adaminaby we stopped at the visitor’s center and talked with several natives. They had a statue of the Man From Snowy River, the supposed subject of the poem of the same name. Louise bought a copy of the poem for $1 and read the poem to me as we traveled on through the mountains. As we drove on, the road once again descended a steep slope and large vehicles were advised to use lower gears. I down shifted and we started our descent. Just a kilometer or so down the road we came to a rest area and scenic overlook. I pulled in partly to let traffic behind us pass and partly to see what the overlook offered. We got out and walked out onto a platform looking out on the valley of the Snowy River. It was hazy but it still provided a beautiful sight. The valley was greener than any we had seen up to this point. It turns out that the eastern side of these mountains get a pretty steady rainfall. There was a trail to other viewpoints and that led to a trail into the woods. That trail looped back to the first overlook. We spent an hour walking through the woods and viewing the scenery. Before we continued on, we fixed lunch in the campervan and then were back on the road. Our destination for the day was the town of Eden, a whaling town on the southeastern Australian coast. There is a Killer Whale Museum there and we wanted to see what it had to offer. We arrived too late to enjoy the museum so went to a campground. We booked in for two nights, which would give us the full day in Eden the next day. Leaving the office, Louise asked about the sound she was hearing. I had seen a sign for Bellbird Creek just before we got to town so I guessed it was bellbirds. We parked and hooked up electric then set up the chairs outside to enjoy the show. The trees were full of birds with a call that sounded just like a bell. More specifically, they sounded like someone hitting a glass with a spoon, a bell-like tink filled the air. It took a few minutes to get a look at one of the birds, they didn’t stay still for long. Some of them were swarming over a couple of brightly colored birds, rainbow lorikeets. Consulting The Birds of Australia, we identified the birds as bell miners. They are a very territorial bird and we watched them take on a kookaburra and some cockatoos. They operated in the same way that small birds take on hawks or crows in the US, swarming the larger stronger bird in a way that makes the large bird flee to get away from the swarming attack. On Monday morning we walked along an inland lake on a boardwalk. The walk continued on sidewalks along the bluff overlooking the bay at Eden. Along the way there were various signs describing the whaling history of Eden. This whet our appetite for the museum. Approaching the museum we noticed a number of frescos done in the Aborigine style, mosaics, by an Aborigine artist. They depicted the history of the area from the Aboriginal dreamtime before contact with Europeans through to the present day. The artist had provided comments regarding each of the eight frescos. Dreamtime is the time before birth and the time after death in Aborigine culture. In their culture, people return again and again, sometimes in different forms. The museum building had the date 1938 on its art deco façade. Inside, the exhibits mostly revolved around the whaling history of Eden. Whaling here was based from the shore. There were no large boats traveling far and wide to find whales. When a whale was sighted, a crew would rush to their rowboats and try to harpoon the whale. Local lore held that the Orcas, killer whales, would assist the whalers by steering the whale toward their boats. Then when the whale was harpooned, they would keep it from diving deeply and escaping. Details of how the killer whales did this was presented in diagrams and written accounts. It was said that one of the most revered killer whales, Old Tom, would grasp the rope of the harpoon in his mouth and pull up on the rope to keep the target whale from diving. Old Tom’s skeleton was displayed in the main exhibit hall and sure enough, his teeth on one side of the mouth were shortened and smooth from pulling on the rope. When the target whale was killed and brought to shore, even before reaching shore, the whaling crew would cut the lips and tongue from the whale and leave it for the killer whales as their reward for assisting in the hunt. This was their pay for a job well done. There were numerous killer whales that were recognized and named by the shape and size of their dorsal fin. Old Tom was one of the most revered and had an unusually long and straight dorsal fin! I thought that was really interesting! Most of the whaling crews of these days were native Aborigines. They held that the killer whales had been assisting them and their ancestors for ages. They consider the killer whales to be their ancestors who have come back from dreamtime as killer whales to assist them with their hunting. In 1930, Old Tom died and with him, the whaling industry of Eden also died. Today, no one from Australia hunts whales to kill them. Now they hunt whales to be able to share them with the public on whale watching tours. We enjoyed our visit to the museum. It helped us understand more about the Aborigine culture and the history of the settlement of Australia and lives of early Europeans who settled here.
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