A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Do you Didgeridoo?

Adventurous DIY continental brekky of two poached eggs, two slices of toast- hold the Vegemite, apple and orange juices, and bad coffee, probably due to our inexperience with the coffee machine. It was a relaxed, slow breakfast on our deck, just listening to the very vocal birds, some with crazy hairdos.

Not knowing where the day would take us, we packed a day bag and went for a wander.
Beach #1, for just 20.
Sidewalk Cafè, for iced coffee (not so much ice, but ice cream!) and we stayed for lunch. We both had a Greek Salad, L with squid, m with prawns.
Beach #2, for a long time. It was fantastic, and M's happy place.
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We lounged, because with motivation like this:

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We did not go for a dip.

Late afternoon brought us to a tapas bar for Sav blanc. First though we were drawn into an art gallery by a didgeridoo. We bought an Aboriginal painting. A small one on canvas. It has a turtle.

We went back to our patio to enjoy the bottle of champagne our B&B left for us.
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We had quiet moments admiring the Starry night. So many stars! M used his Astronomer app to identify some curious formations. I'd never seen the Cross constellation before. Is it Hemispherical?

We were content and comfy, but hungry. We did venture out again for dinner. Chem recommended Fish Divine, so Fish Divine is where we went. Surprisingly it was not crowded- and this is supposed to be peak season? We have been hearing, and seeing, a weak Aussie economy. We did our best to contribute. We ordered Tempura crocodile with aioli for start. Two specials for mains: Spanish mackerel with peas and sweet potato fries, Whole crispy local reef fish (red snapper) jasmine rice and bok choy and sweet sauce. Iridescent Scales. Sharp teeth. Spiky fins. Saved the best, tastiest bits for last, but l didn't have room for the cheek, or the eyeball.
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Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged queensland Comments (0)

The World of the Reef

Our search for turtles

Lauren, Matthew and about 150 of our closest friends chartered a boat to the Great Barrier Reef. With Cruise Whitsunday you saddle up to the Pontoon, either at Hardy or Knuckle Reef, conditions depending, and snorkel, dive, have a massage, ride a semi-submarine, watch from the observation deck, sunbathe. The cruise out to Hardy was over two hours. Along the way we watched whales. Baleen whales were out - a baby and mamma were doing the acrobatics like you see on the Discovery Channel when they explode from the water and do a whole body twist and then crash down. Truly amazing! Funny that they are just trying to get those pesky parasites off. Whales breaching! Mamma and calf. They even waved to us. The captain turned down the engine - the noise hurts the big guys' ears - and the waving apparently means don't come any closer.

On the ride out, the forced-friendly staff prepped us about the gear. Some were backpackers: young and wandering looking for temp employment. One told us she had just been on a farm for 6 months. come to find out if a foreigner would like to extend stay past the one-year visa in Australia, one must work on a farm for 88 days. There are designated farms that have jobs for backpackers. They all camp out and pick strawberries or something. Most are unpaid.

Once at the Reefworld pontoon, we were met by 150 casual acquaintances from another company boat, who beat us to the picnic tables, lounge chairs on the sun deck and benches along the side. No seat available, no person in sight, but all their shit was there to claim their territory for when they return from their snorkel and dives in two hours. jerks. We opted to not follow the crowds to snorkel but to ride the semi-sub first. Thankfully there was no funky claustrophobia going on.

Initially, we thought they brought us to the poop reef. The colors of the coral itself were bland... Many different shades of beige, although there were sprinkles of periwinkle coral.
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But where were the coral corals? and the mauves and yellows and oranges? Well, they are not here! Learned something new: in person coral is not colorful- it's the camera's flash that brings that out. The patterns though... And shapes: Brainy ones and phallic ones, lacy ones and mushroomy ones. It's slow growing, just 1mm/yr.

Wet suits.
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If not in suits, suntan lotion can harm coral. Plus it was cold! But absolutely Fantastic. We timed our snorkeling perfect, one hour in as the first crazy rush of over zealous snorkelers were emerging from the crowded waters, we were submerging into the uncrowded waters. Plus it was low tide, so we got closer in to the coral. no turtle sighting while in water, but leopard print fish and rainbow fish, with psychedelic color patterns. Never strayed too far from rope guide, fearful of a great white, or any other sharp-toothed and finned creature.
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Pruned and foot-cramped with purple lips, we were like kids getting called by mom out of the water for supper. Ah, do we have to? Wish we didn't because once out of the water, that is when she came. the big, mamma sea turtle. At least we had a nice vantage point from the top deck.

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Mr. Bones for dinner, a short walk from our b&b through lagoon. Duck spring rolls, corn fritters and margherita pizza - the best all trip - and then dessert. Oh, sweet dessert. Vanilla ice cream atop fried custard. Ridiculous.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged queensland greatbarrierreef Comments (0)

Getting Funky, not phobic

Our last day in Queensland started out sunshine and unicorns:
We went to Barcelona, a restaurant at Abel Point Marina known for a curious fusion of Spanish and Whitsunday tapas, for non-hurried Cappuccinos and to eat breakfast, write postcards (with no post office to speak of on any island near) and to admire the view. The smoked ham with avocado was fantastic in the burrito. M had ham and manchego on garlic smeared sesame toast. Ah, downtime.

Then :
For the ferry cruise to Hamilton Island Airport, we chose the top deck, for first leg anyway. We smelled the salt air and admired the blue hues of the water...

Then it turned ugly:
white caps...choppy...no adrenals...no bueno.

Then annoying:
Flight delayed. Indefinitely. Hmmm...stay in palm tree paradise, or make extra stop in Brisbane? But alas, the Brisbane stopover flight got us to Sydney at 5:20 - a sure thing. We opted for lighthearted laughs with the animated movie Rio for our in-flight entertainment.

Then frustrating:
Air bus service to hotel. A very crowded mini-bus. M was thankful we were the first stop.

Then it got better again. Way better:
At the 1888 boutique hotel in Sydney. So cool! Exposed brick, open lobby, cushy retro chairs and seats, couches and pillows. Glass of wine... Ended up staying for dinner. And we were glad we did.
Beef cheek braised in red wine jus, cauliflower purée and honey carrots.
Fresh pappardelle pasta, lamb ragout, oregano, peas & Parmesan.
We like it here.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney queensland Comments (0)

Kangaroo does not taste like chicken

For our Sydney stay we bought mymulti3 for $63 ea covers ferries, trains and busses.
We took lots of ferries.
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We're staying on Darling, took ferry to circular quay (pronounced key) and stumbled on a French festival. Coffee and egg and ham on brioche. Then pan au choc. Walked up quay to Opera House and hopped the next ferry to Manly Beach. Luckily this ferry went without incident.
While walking the SeaWalk we were on the look-out for penguins, but there were no penguins, just impressive panoramas.
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Manly beach. Evergreens and palm tree combo. Watched Surf lessons.

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Moo gourmet burgers for lunch. My meat did not moo. I ordered a Kangaroo burger and chips. This is one meat that doesn't taste like chicken. Looks more like and tastes more like beef- a lean beef topped with beet relish.
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Walked the market where we bought a Manly Beach travel poster.

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Rigoletto: Our first opera. Together and as individuals. It was overwhelming to see our first opera at The Sydney Opera House! Was underwhelmed with opera house interior. Impressed with music. Thanks to the cliff notes prior to, and English subtitles on digital screen above stage during, we could follow story line. Even with cheat sheets, things did get a bit muddled, but the gist was, the men were upset with the court jester mocking men who were upset his wife/daughter/mistress was taken by the duke. Women are changeable like the wind. When courting yet another taken woman, whom was taken by the duke's swagger, lauren couldn't help herself, commenting, "what a dick".

From opera to techno. We wined and pulsed at an outdoor rave, then strolled back to our hotel at darling harbor via Koreatown for bibimbap and pork dumplings.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney Comments (0)

The Email at Slurrey Hills

Sydney Sunday

Our friend, Jess at the front desk knows all. All her recommendations are gospel, from breakfast to dinner and all in between. It was a short walk to Le Trader, a French/ Cafè for Sunday brekky with organic this and organic that. she just had us at French anything. On our walk we passed rainbow-bright pigeons gluttonously feeding from a bird lady's mush-filled feeder.

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Still trying to figure the coffee sitch. Cappuccino and latte make sense, as does espresso, but then there is long black, americano, and the short. Regardless, it's strong.
We each had a crepe. We entertained ourselves, or at least L did, making four letter words with the Scrabble tiles on the wall.

We explored and zig-zagged our way through biz district, a ghost town on a weekend day, to The Rocks, the oldest neighborhood in Sydney. M got a rash too close to the market, so we wandered side streets. On ferry home got emails from neighbor downstairs Corinne about crazy partying-a-pooping going on in our home. It couldn't be our cat-sitter. Could it? A second email confirmed that no, it wasn't him, but it was a friend of his. One of the many, many late-night friends he had over to our home. Poor Carlos!

The Winery in Surrey Hills.
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Phenom. M was calling it "slurrey hills" even before he had a sip of wine. Outdoor garden plants, wine (obvi), innovative wagyu beef lasagna, m went with sirloin, and a shared cheese plate for dessert. And many cases of glasses of wine to figure out the home sitch and come up with a plan. We will give the cat sitter until 8 am est to sleep it off before the eviction call. Fortunately, but unfortunately, we leave Sydney for Boston tomorrow so we don't need to worry about a replacement sitter.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney Comments (0)

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