Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Arrivals in New Zealand

We have landed and settled down for a stay in Rotorua with some great friends of Mekayla’s Mom and Robert. We haven’t explored much yet, but the land is all volcanic and green. There has been a fair amount of rain in the 24 hours we have been here, but some of the clouds we’ve been seeing have been from the geysers and hot mud pools from around the area.

The posts today bring us up to date on most of where we have been. We’d still like to write a few more posts on Australian accents and some of the characters we’ve met, but it might be better to slow our pace so we don't overwhelm our readers.

More kangaroos

I said before that we were going to stop taking pictures of the squirrels. But then a clan of kangaroos showed up and our resolution broke down entirely.

Lastly, for all of the golf fans, we have the golf course in Anglesea, Victoria where a mob of kangaroos lounge on the golf course relatively oblivious to the golfers.

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road was built to be similar to the Pacific Highway in California, but I would have to say it is a fair bit more spectacular.

And at sunset the red colors of the rocks really starts to stand out.

We were also blessed with stormy weather. I decided not to bore you with twenty pictures of rainbows. Why are there so many pictures of rainbows? Possibly it is because we saw eight in one day. It alternated between rain and sunshine every half hour or so.

Well, this one has a rainbow in it, but that is really incidental. There is also a dog!

It is rare that we end up with any pictures of the two of us these days and since there are parents reading this blog I will throw some red meat to the wolves in this post.

A Far Too Fast Tour of South Australia

Our whirlwind tour of South Australia took us from Adelaide up to the Flinders Ranges and back down through the vineyards of the Barossa Valley. The drives in between entertained us with open country of yellow fields of canola starting to flower, sheep as red as the dust in which they were grazing, and lonely, broken homes left behind by failed settlers.

We were lucky enough to have timed our arrival in South Australia with the beginning of spring. The wildflowers had just started flowering when we reached the Flinders Ranges for a few nights of camping. We also hiked over twenty-two kilometers of spectacular, rugged terrain.

The day before we got to watch some Aussies try and conquer a hill with their 4WD. They got a pretty good running start, but when they were halfway up the 60-degree slope the wheels spun in the dirt until the engine stalled out from the dust. They then meekly turned around and drove away. It is quite entertaining what you get to see just while sitting at your campsite.

We spent only one day tasting wine in the Barossa Valley.

The Indian Pacific Railway

Our train ride from Sydney to Adelaide was a beautiful experience. Traveling by train allowed us the luxury of reading while the 1400 kilometers sped effortlessly past the windows. We left Sydney in the afternoon and watched the sun set upon the Blue Mountains. When the sun rose again we were greeted by kangaroos racing along beside the train and vast stretches of flat, scrubby outback.

Near the outback town of Broken Hill a recorded announcement described the largest freshwater lake in Australia and that we were about to pass it. Immediately after the recording, the conductor came on and explained that the large expanse of scrubby trees to our left was what used to be the lake. The drought (or climate change) in Australia has completely dried the lake up. Where before we would have been looking out on boats fishing, there were now trees and bushes.

As we crossed over into the state of South Australia the emptiness of the outback began to be replaced with farmlands and sheep and cattle pastures. The brown, scruffy country turned to green, manicured farms. Both are beautiful in their own ways.

I guess the only problem with the train is the rather poor sleeping accommodations in the cheap seats. (Have I mentioned yet that I got bored of shaving)