Wednesday, August 4, 2010
During the last week of May, the relocation company cleared out our apartment in Singapore and put all of our stuff in a container to ship back to the US. After all the work of getting ready for the packers and living at the Hilton hotel for our last week in Singapore, we were ready for a vacation. Australia, here we come!
We booked a 10 day vacation on the east coast of Australia as part of our trip back to the States. The first part of the trip was a 6 day bus tour of the "Gold Coast" area around Brisbane. From there, we would fly to Sydney on our own and spend 4 days exploring the city.
We booked our bus tour portion of the trip from a Singaporean travel agency. Upon arrival at the airport, we were greeted by the agency's local representative. "Oh, you're with the Dynasty group? Wow, I wasn't expecting any Caucasians!"
What a nice welcome! It turned out that we were the only non-Chinese family on the tour. This kind of turned out to be the theme of the week. In 6 days, we heard a version of that line 9 times. As we walked into places with our group, the people that worked there would try to stop us because they didn't think we were part of the Asian tour group. It became our running joke with our family to keep a tally.
Our first stop on the tour was Tangalooma Island Resort. This resort on Moreton Island is known for it's dolphin feeding experience. At night, wild dolphins come into the beach to be hand fed. (Unfortunately, no pictures of that because it was to dark.) We stood in water up to our waists and were able to hand feed fish to a dolphin.
The other great part of Tangalooma was the sand dunes. We all got a chance to go "sand tabogoning" down the dunes.
It was so fun to slide down the sand dunes just like a snowy hill. The only difference is that the sand doesn't melt when it gets all over your face.
The climb up the dune was a lot harder than it looks in the pictures. For every step you take, you slide backwards half a step in the sand. These old legs were pretty worn out after my 2nd climb. Jack was a crazy man and climbed the hill 4 times; the most of anyone there. At the end of the day, the staff presented Jack with an award for the best sand slider in the group of 50 people.
After eating our fair share of sand, we left Moreton Island and made our way to the "Gold Coast" which is a very popular vacation spot in Australia. It's very similar to Florida because people go there for two things; the great beaches and the amusement parks.
Unfortunately, it was June and that means winter in Australia. Our only visit to the beach was a short one but at least Melissa can say that she's been in the Australian ocean.
On three straight days, we went to Movie World, Sea World and Dream World.
After three days in a row of amusement parks, we were pretty burnt out on rides and looked forward to seeing more "Australian" sights.
One thing on the itinerary that we were unsure about was "pumping for yabbies on the crab hunt." I didn't even want to guess what that meant. It turns out "yabbies" are a kind of cross between a crawfish and shrimp that live in the rivers in Australia. They're smaller though and mainly used for bait.
Yabbies are caught by "pumping" them out of the mud in the river into strainers.
After pumping for yabbies, we also pulled up some crab pots and looking for snacks.
They actually cooked the crabs we caught on the boat and we all got to have a snack.
The next "Australian" adventure was a stop at "Honeyworld". This was a working honey farm complete with it's own bees. We got a very informative tour and were able to try all different flavors of honey. It was amazing how different each kind of honey could taste.
After spending the morning with the bees, we spent the afternoon on a fruit farm. This was a fully functioning farm and research facility that grew all kinds of different fruit for the market as well as tried to develop new breeds of fruit for other farmers to grow.
We got to pick our own oranges as well as taste all kinds of different things. Choices ranged from simple apples and bananas to exotic things like breadfruit and capote.
After the wonders of all the honey, fruit and Asian people we could stand for a whole week, it was time to break away from our group and head off to Sydney on our own. We took a quick flight to Sydney and checked into our hotel near downtown. We didn't really have any planned activities scheduled in Sydney, and that suited us just fine after 6 days of the precision of a Singaporean scheduled bus tour.
Sydney is a beautiful city that Melissa, Jack and I all really enjoyed. One the the tings we were happiest about was the weather. After 2 years in Singapore, the cool Australian winter was a wonderful weather. It was the first time I'd needed to put on a sweatshirt in over 2 years.
One of the places we visited in Sydney that I really enjoyed was the amazing maritime museum. They had a wonderful display about the relationship between the Australian and US navies. We were also able to go onboard the navy ship and submarine they had at the quayside.
We were also able to tour an amazing replica of the HMS Endeavour, the ship of the famous Captain Cook.
The other highlight of visiting Sydney was that we went to the zoo. By far, the highlight of the zoo visit getting to see the kangaroos and other animals.
That's more than enough for this post. I've gone on long enough. I'll be back in a day or two.