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Australia, New Zealand & Fiji

Grand Circle Travel

11/2003

My adventure to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji began with a flight from Binghamton to LA on November 5th.  After an overnight in LA, I flew to Melbourne arriving on November 7th.  It was a long 15 hour flight.  Crossing the International Date Line made for some confusion over what day it was.

It is now Sunday morning in Melbourne, Australia.  It is quiet and some people are out for a carriage ride.

This is the Melbourne Flinders Street Train Station.  A busy building and a very attractive city spot.

The Melbourne’s famous Federation Square building.

The Yarra River that runs through downtown Melbourne.

The Victorian Arts Centre's distinctive spire is a Melbourne landmark.

I am standing next to a fountain in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in downtown Melbourne. It was a beautiful church with fountains and waterways on the grounds.

I am visiting the Captain James Cooks' cottage in beautiful Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne.  With me is Vickie our attentive tour guide.  She was super and easy to tease.

The Shrine of Remembrance the Veteran's Memorial building.  It overlooks downtown Melbourne.

Next stop was at the Royal Botanic Gardens.  Beautiful flowers and trees, there was a pond with black swans.

After our 4 day stay in Melbourne we flew to the Outback.  This is the airport at Alice Springs.

It was hot and dry.  Desert everywhere!

The second morning in Alice Springs it was up at 3:45 am to see the sunrise over the Outback from a hot air balloon.

Sunrise over the Outback.  A beautiful sight!

Back on the ground after the balloon ride.  The balloon rides over the Outback is a big deal.  There were over ten balloons flying this morning.

Off to breakfast!

The site of the original Alice Spring.  Now dry.  It is at the telegraph station just outside of town.

We visited the School of the Air.  I bought some books for the students in the Outback.

Veteran's Memorial overlooking Alice Springs.

The Outback!

On the way to Ayer's Rock, a stop at a camel station.

Mt. Conner in the distance as we near Ayers Rock.  The ground was red sand that was everywhere.

Uluru (Ayer's Rock) at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.  Just spectacular!

 

The start of the trail up to the top of Ayres Rock.  The white streak is the hiking trail.  The National Park is now discouraging hiking to the top of the rock for conservation reasons.

Sunset at Ayers Rock.

Magnificent views of the rock formation abound!

Here I am with my friend Doc Moore on another sunrise tour.  This time it's a camel ride to see the sunrise.  Great fun, early morning call again and a bumpy ride.  I prefer my car to a camel as transportation!   You can note the sunrise in the outback behind the two of us.

After breakfast it was off to visit the Outback's other monolith, Kata Tjula (The Olgas).  As impressive as Ayers Rock but made up 36 rounded domes that cover 13.5 square miles.

There were many observation points to photograph the views of Kata Tjuta.

One last look as we leave the Outback for the seashore of Australia.

After several days in the Outback, our pre-tour group flew to Cairns where we met up with the rest of the tour group.

We did not stay in Cairns rather we were located at the resort area in Palm Cove.  It was a 30 minute ride from Cairns.  On our second day there we went to visit the Great Barrier Reef.  We sailed out on the ocean for several miles before reaching the reef.

This is the dive platform we docked at for our day at the reef.  It was quite the operation with helicopter rides, glass bottom boat tours and lots of snorkeling.  Our group had a lunch served on board.

Preparing to go snorkeling with my friend Doc Moore.  The water was cool and the fish were very tame.  You could swim right through whole schools of all colored fish.

The beach and surf at Palm Cove.

On our way to the airport in Cairns, we visited the local headquarters of the famous Australian Flying Doctor Service.  It was very interesting and this is one of the retired airplanes that were used at one time.

Welcome to Sydney!  This is the famous Sydney harbor bridge that people pay $155.00 to climb.  They climb from left to right and stop at the top.

Our first tour stop was the Opera House with its famous design.  The tour of the facility was very interesting.  Since it was the start of summer there were not many performances scheduled when we were there.

It was not difficult to have the urge to have your picture taken in front of the opera house and bridge.  The view of the two Sydney interest landmarks was striking.

During our stay in Sydney we had a harbor tour and walked all over the city.  It is a great city and one I would like to visit again.  These are flower beds in downtown and were in bloom as summer was arriving in Australia.

One of the many Christmas trees in Grace Brothers Department Store in downtown Sydney.  It was difficult to realize that it was Christmas and the schools were getting out for summer recess.

A last note on my stay in Sydney.  The championship match of the World Cup of Rugby was being held in Sydney.  The city was mobbed with fans.  Many were English as it was Australia vs. England for the championship.  Lots of noise and drinking were the order during this time.

The tour next flew to Christchurch, New Zealand.  This the site of the Antarctic base of the United States.  There was a great visitors center there where we learned a great deal about the Antarctic and the U.S. Antarctic activities there.  This is the airport where flights to the U. S. Antarctic originate.

This is a statue of Robert Falcon Scott famed Antarctic explorer.  Christchurch was an interesting city to visit.  While there I got to see the Santa Claus parade.  I wondered where the snow was.

There was a neat tram service to get around Christchurch.  Behind me is the new art center it was a university before a new one was build.

After our stay in Christchurch we bussed to Queenstown our next tour stop.  The scenery along the route as most enjoyable.

A first view of the southern alps of New Zealand.

Half way to our next tour stop in Queenstown, NZ, I was able to take a flying sightseeing tour of the New Zealand Southern Alps.  This is Mount Cook.  It was an outstanding experience to fly in and around these snow covered mountains.  As you can imagine I took lots of photos.

After the flight we visited the Hermitage Resort near Mount Cook.  I am standing next to a statue of Sir Edmund Hillary who first scaled Mt. Everest.  He trained to climb Mt. Everest at Mt. Cook.

One last look at Mt. Cook from the Hermitage.

A day steamer on Lake Wakatipu at Queenstown.  I sailed on this boat to the end of the lake where the tour visited a sheep station.  This is the original steamboat on the lake and was in mint condition.

On one day during our stay in Queenstown we bussed to Milford Sound.  This is early summer snow on the way to the sound.

The boat we sailed down the Sound on.  We turned around out on the Pacific Ocean.

Sailing back to Milford Sound harbor.

Mount Mitre at the head of Milford Sound.

Waiting for a sightseeing flight to take me back to Queenstown.  It was another chance to photograph the Southern Alps.  It also shortened a three hour bus ride to 30 minutes.

Looking backward at Milford Sound from the airplane.

Another day we did a bus tour of the area around Queenstown.  One stop was at a bridge that was no longer used for car traffic.  I was now a bungee jumping station.  He is a hardy sole who paid about $200.00 to jump off the bridge.

On our fourth and last night in Queenstown, Doc and I had a home stay with a delightful local couple Ray and Sandra Drayton.  They were great hosts and it was a fun time.  This is a shot from their front yard.

From Queenstown we flew to Auckland our last stop in New Zealand.  This is a picture taken at the large Maritime Museum located next to the harbor.

We did a harbor sail on a boat like the one in the background.

Here I am as the helmsman of our sail boat.  Great fun!

A monument to veteran's in front of the museum in Auckland.  It overlooks the harbor.

One pleasurable experience in Auckland was dining at the Black Angus Restaurant near our hotel.  The steaks were huge and tasty.  It was fun to pick out your steak and hand it to the cook who prepared just as you requested.

The Christmas tree with a New Zealand summer theme are the Auckland airport.

Next stop was Fiji.  The stop in Fiji cut down the flight to LA by 4 hours and that was great.  For me Fiji was a bust.  The resort we stayed at was a couple of hours from the Nausori Airport at Nadi.  The roads were not of good quality by our standards and traffic moved slowly.

The hotel was very nice and a comfortable place to stay.  Being so far from the cities of Fiji meant where was little to do.  There were two pools like this because the ocean beach front was far off shore with a large area of coral reef making it impossible to reach.  It was good to rest up but it was a boring time and place.

So ends my adventure to down under, it was a neat trip and I will go back sometime soon.  There is so much to see and experience in that part of the world.