A long flight and recuperating in Sydney
Lynn and I took advantage of a United sale and headed “Down Under” in early September to explore the East Coast. A 16 hour direct to Sydney flight is a little more bearable when you’re setting up front. A couple of glasses of bubbly, a little whiskey, wine, and an ice cream sundae certainly encourages napping.
We spent three nights in Sydney which let us hit the normal tourist spots and museums with all the other tourists. We also managed to get a little way off the beaten path to places like Paddington Reservoir Gardens. Oh, and the food. Lots of good places to eat in and around the Potts Point neighborhood where we stayed.
North along the Pacific Coast
Leaving Sydney we drove a couple of hours up the coast to Newcastle. After a nice nap we were treated to a gorgeous sunset as we walked along the harbor. Off in the distance was Nobby’s Lighthouse. I suppose we should have driven out there for a better look but dinner was waiting. The next morning we walked along the Newcastle Memorial Walk, a memorial to the WWI soldiers from the area. Just north of Newcastle are the largest dunes in Australia. It looked like the photos from the first Gulf War where the Kuwaiti oil fields were burning only these were grass fires. The east coast has been suffering through many years of drought and this wouldn’t be the last fires we saw on the trip.
A couple more hours up the coast brought us to Port Macquarie for the night. The next morning I was able to drag my lazy butt out of bed to catch the sunrise at the beach across the street from the hotel. The waves were mostly 6′-8′ but occasionally a 10 footer would appear. I’ve got lots more photos of waves that I’ll add later.
After a quick breakfast we were back on the road in search of surfer action and a walk on the beach.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
After an uneventful drive inland for a night stay in Grafton we headed off for what we hoped would be the highlight of our trip – 4 days at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park. Lamington is part of the largest grouping of subtropical rainforests in the world and is a World Heritage site. Many species of plants and animals are found only in this remote corner of the world. Lots of trails for “bush walking”, humungous trees wrapped in vines and roots, ferns, orchids, colorful birds, tiny avian predators, and the occasional waterfall.
We spent 4 nights in a very nice hillside villa with a view across a wide valley with mountains in the distance. The sunsets were just incredible and with the smoke from nearby brush fires the colors were changing almost by the minute. Coming back from dinner the second night it looked like the fires were coming straight up our valley. Luckily for us and O’Reilly’s the wind was out of the east and the fire went up the valley to the west the next day.
Brisbane and the trip back south
From O’Reilly’s we headed to Brisbane for several days where we again hit the museums and took a tour down the Brisbane River. The river flooded hundreds of homes and businesses in early 2011 and they’re just recovering. John Bradfield, the designer and engineer on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, was brought in as a consulting engineer on the Story Bridge in Brisbane.
We stopped by the Museum of Modern Art and checked out their aboriginal art and costumes. We missed the James Turrell installation which lights up the building at night. Bummer.
From there we headed south again to Byron Bay to check out the lighthouse After dinner I managed to get a nice astro image. That photo was taken on the back porch of our house in town around 11pm.
After a couple of nights there we headed back to Port Macquarie for a night. The next morning the surfers finally showed up. These two young ladies and a lone dude arrived as the sun came up. When I called it a morning they had changed clothes and were heading off to work. Real slackers there as the waves were much calmer this time. Nice life down under.
Then we were back to Sydney for a final walk through the Royal Botanical Gardens where I continued my artistic endeavors. We said goodbye to Australia on the steps of the Opera House.
Can’t wait to go back. Come on United, tempt us. Please.
For those of you that might be interested, these photos were shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-H1 cameras and various Fujinon XF lenses.