Goodbye…and Hello!

We’ve come to the end of our Australian journey, but Josh and I are about to start on a whole new journey…parenthood!  So I’ll say goodbye to you, dear readers, and let you say hello to the little guy or gal hidden in this photo…the very, very best Australian souvenir.

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Tasmania!

Our time in Australia was growing short.  Just one week until we would be flying home.  But do Josh and Jessie just sit around while in a foreign country?  Of course not!  We spent our last week in Tasmania, the Australian state and island that is just off the coast below Melbourne.  It was just gorgeous there, and Josh and I kept saying, “Are we really in Tasmania?”  It seems like one of those places that doesn’t really exist, like Narnia or Never-neverland, but there we were!

We flew into Hobart (the capital) and rented our fancy Micra.

We spent our first few nights in Freycinet National Park, which featured great campsites right near the beach!

You could walk right down this little path and be at the beach!

The coastline all had this amazing orange lichen along it–loved it!

The weather wasn’t entirely cooperative, but on our first day we decided to hike anyway, along the coast outside of a town called Bicheno.  It featured a “blowhole” where water squirted up out of the ocean!

Josh even found this comfortable “lounge rock” to take a break on!

Later that same day, we returned to Freycinet and hiked to the overlook of Wineglass Bay.  I loved the droplets of water on the bushes along the way.

And there was another lounge chair!

Wineglass Bay is one of the most famous views in Tasmania.  The bay gets its name from the beautiful curved shape of the coastline.

There were also some cool rocks on the cliffs behind the bay.

The next few days took us to Mt. Field National Park.  We wanted to sample both the coast and the mountains while in Tasmania, and Mt. Field was our mountain area.  The two parks we visited are also the oldest in Tasmania!  Mt. Field had a very diverse landscape, from temperate forest to alpine moorland.  The first day we saw the beautiful waterfalls that helped make the area famous.

We also saw this tiny flower, which I think is an orchid.

The next day we hiked at a bit of a higher elevation, out to a crystal clear mountain lake.  This area reminded me some of the higher-elevation areas in Yosemite.

Josh, as always the hiking leader of our twosome, had the unpleasant experience of startling THREE snakes along the way.  We were disturbed to learn later that all the snakes in Tasmania are poisonous–but luckily none of the ones we saw wanted anything to do with us.  This is about as much as I saw of any of them.

We encountered much more pleasant wildlife back near our campsite, where this guy joined us.

We also saw this echidna making her way along the road, although she balled up before I could get a good photo.

I had one last animal sighting for Australia–I had seen koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, and wombats, but would I be able to spot the notoriously shy platypus?  A late evening walk provided us with a great view of this guy, who we named Percy.

In addition to fauna, the park also featured some flora standouts–the swamp gum, which has the distinction of being the largest deciduous tree in the world.

The last day, we took a brief visit to the alpine section of the park.  Our visit was brief because it was freezing up there!!  But it really was cool to take the road up through the different environments and see the moorland area at the top.  There was even snow on some of the peaks!

Very different from the lush green rainforests we had seen in much of Australia.

Our last day in Tasmania, it was back to Hobart, where we had enough time to stop by the Cadbury chocolate factory!

Then Tasmania sent us off right with this beautiful double rainbow as we headed toward the airport!

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For Fun

One of our “hobbies” while in Australia was checking out the road signs and other caution signs posted around parks and other areas.  You never knew exactly what you were going to see…

Very scientific.

Beware of men jumping in holes!

Dog owners, let’s not let that poo hit the ground, okay?

If you’ve ever eaten a meat pie (center picture), you know why there is only one bite taken out of it before it’s “garbage.”

I really think the kitty sticker someone added to this sign helps with the confusion.  What is going on here?!?

All your favorite Australian animals.  And…cows?

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Wilson’s Promontory

 We spent one of our remaining few weekends in Australia at Wilson’s Promontory National Park, which is about 2 hours from Melbourne.  It is the southernmost point on the south coast of Australia, and the beaches there were just beautiful!

This picture was taken at the “Squeaky Beach”–when you walk on the sand, it squeaks under your feet!  While we were walking on the Squeak Beach, we saw this giant ant!  Ew!

We had some companions at our campsite.  Every time we would arrive at the site from going somewhere in the car, a pair of fairy wrens would come to flirt in the side mirror of the car.  The male was strutting his stuff and showing off for his lady friend, and she couldn’t get enough!

We had also heard that wombats could be seen at Wilson’s Prom.  We were not disappointed!!  We saw this guy by the road outside the campground, and then saw 3 more just wandering around the campground!  You even have to be careful to keep your food in your car and not your tent, because otherwise you might end up with a wombat visitor!

We spent most of the weekend just relaxing in the campground and going on some easy hikes.  It was beautiful and finally starting to get warm and feel like spring!  I’ll leave this post with some shots from the hikes.

 

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Weekend in Sydney

As our “reward” for flying to Australia in coach class, Josh’s company paid for us to spend a weekend in Sydney.  We really enjoyed the city–great sights, yummy food, a relaxing weekend!

Our first stop was famous Sydney Harbour, home of the Opera House! 

Getting closer…

Closer…

As close as you can get!

I thought it was really cool how it was actually made up of tiles.  They were in different patterns all over the building–very neat to see up close.

Sydney skyline

The next day, we went to the Chinese garden, which was a lovely, peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.

I think the animals enjoyed this bit of nature in the city as well.

Tucked away in a room in the garden was this jade wedding carriage.  It was beautifully carved and the only such carriage on display outside of China!

Later that day, we went to the Maritime Museum (free entry!).  Josh demonstrated that he is not made for a submarine.

This boat is from the Darwin Beer Can Regatta, a race in which all the boats are made from, you guessed it, beer cans!  This one even sports the Australian green and gold!

While walking through the Sydney Botanical Gardens, we saw these flying foxes, a type of fruit bat.  There were dozens of them snoozing in the trees!

On Sunday, we walked across the Harbour Bridge to Luna Park, a historic amusement park. 

We enjoyed views from the bridge:

And from the ferris wheel!

Sydney was a great city, but I can tell by looking back over our pictures that our time in Australia was growing short.  Although we were still loving being there, I was a bit over being a “tourist”–there are fewer and fewer photos!

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Back Down the Great Ocean Road

Our final trip in Australia with my parents was a trip down The Great Ocean Road, just in time for my mom’s birthday.

We stopped for a great seafood lunch at this spot, and watched the fishermen and the ocean.

Next, we saw some wildlife, including this parrot and lots of koalas in the trees–including this one with a joey by her side!

We made it to the Twelve Apostles in time for sunset, which was absolutely amazing!

As the sun began to sink under the horizon, it did something I’d never seen before–the sun disappeared, but we could still see the reflection on the ocean.  It was gorgeous!

We spent the night near the Twelve Apostles, Josh and I in our tent in a campground, mom and dad in a hostel.  (You’ll have to ask them about that…)  The next morning was mom’s birthday, and we stopped back at the Twelve Apostles to see them up close and personal!

Even though it was pretty chilly, Dad rolled up his pants and headed right for the water!  He even convinced mom and I (Josh thought we were crazy) to dip our feet in the ocean too.

Birthday girl!

It was a great trip, and a great ending to mom and dad’s visit.  They started the long journey home the next day, and Josh and I were alone again Down Under!

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Back to the Zoo!

One of the things my mom wanted to do with her last few days in Australia was go to the Melbourne Zoo, so she and I went and had a wonderful day.  The animals were all very active and we saw some things I’d never thought I’d see in a zoo!

The first amazing sight was at the tiger area.  The tigers included a mother and her 3 cubs.  As we watched the mother, it became clear that she was watching something…a duck that was paddling around in the pond in the tiger area.  She waited very patiently for it to come closer.  It was incredible to watch her patience and attention as the duck swam all around.

After a while, one of the cubs came to watch her, and soon after, she made her move!  She chased the duck up to where the other cubs were, and then let them “play” with it…and eat it!  It was right out of National Geographic at the zoo!

Next, we saw the elephants!  There are currently two baby elephants at the zoo, big sister Mali…

And the littlest baby, brother Ongard.

Our last interesting encounter was over with the bears.  Their keeper had just come by and fed them, complete with honey on the viewing windows.  It took him a few minutes to find it, but when he did, he went to town!

The Melbourne Zoo is always a great time, and it was even better with my mom!

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