Saturday, February 29, 2020

Next Up, New Zealand

We've successfully crossed the Tasman Sea and have arrived at
Dunedin, New Zealand.
Let's explore!

We signed up for a wildlife cruise of Otago Harbor.

 We cruised the 13.5 mile harbor to the lighthouse.

 There we saw Royal Albatross nesting.

And fur seals resting.
It was a chilly day but the crew had warm coats, binoculars, and in true New Zealander fashion, 
even served hot tea and biscuits.

Back in town, we visited the lovely Dunedin Railway station.

Its a beautiful gingerbread type building constructed of dark basalt and lighter Oamaru stone, giving it a light and dark pattern, complemented with pink granite pillars.

 We also visited the Octagon, the city centre where we saw the statue of poet Robert Burns,
complete with seagull atop.

The town hall is also located there. 
Lots of pretty architecture here.

And Dunedin has the distinction of having the world's steepest street, 
Baldwin Street.
The short residential street is 1150 feet long with a gradient of 35%.
The upper part of the street is constructed of concrete instead of asphalt.
Due to the steepness, the asphalt would flow down on hot days!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Crossing The Tasman Sea

Onward we go towards New Zealand.
But first we must cross the Tasman Sea, sometimes referred to "the ditch" by the locals.
The crossing can be one of the roughest stretches of water to cross.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Wombats, Kangaroos & Devils!

Today we sailed to Tasmania, an island off the mainland of Australia.
I was looking forward to our visit here as we are going to a wildlife sanctuary.

 Tasmania is one of the last places on earth that many native Australian animals still survive.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is dedicated to rescuing any ill or injured animals and hopefully releasing them back into the wild.

There's quite a variety of critters here.

 Of course  there were plenty of kangaroos.
And we were allowed to feed and touch them.
Look at those toes!

 This spiny looking anteater is called an echidna.
They are found all over Australia.

 This is a young wombat.  
He will be released into the wild when he's two.

This is a quoll, a carnivorous marsupial that is no longer found on mainland Australia, but still found on Tasmania.

 The sanctuary isn't just for mammals.
There are birds such as this Kookaburra.

And this cute rosy parrot.

We also got to observe the veterinarians working on a penguin through a one way glass.

 But the star of the sanctuary is the Tasmanian devil!
These fiesta marsupials are threatened but being rescued by the sanctuary as well.
What a thrill to see all these unusual animals! 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Melbourne, Australia

 The first port we sailed into was Melbourne.
Our ship docked next to another cruise ship.

Our shore excursion today was riding the Puffing Billy train through the countryside.
Everyone was glad to see the train and waved with smiles on their faces!

We enjoyed lunch on the train as we watched the Australian countryside go by.

 I was fascinated by the local birds.
These parrots were hanging around the train station.

And these large loud birds are called swamp chickens and are everywhere.

 After riding the train, we stopped at this sanctuary, 
where an artist created sculptures of the local indigenous people.

 There are sculptures all over this man's property.

 The property was later bought by the local government and turned onto a park.

There are 92 sculptures in the park.
It is interesting to walk and see how he integrated his art into nature.
William Rickets died in 1993.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Sydney, Australia

From Carnes and the Great Barrier Reef, we flew to Sydney
 where we would board a ship to cruise around Australia and New Zealand.
Before leaving, we visited the Blue Mountains,
however we didn’t see much, since there was thick fog.

As we left the Sydney Harbor, we sailed past the iconic Sydney opera house.

And we sailed under this bridge, affectionately called “the coat hanger”.

You can do a bridge climb if you are so inclined.
These people waved to us from atop the bridge as we sailed under!

Oh, and I found this at the airport!
I tried it, but I guess you have to be an Aussie to appreciate it.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Steamy Queensland

Its hot & tropical in Queensland. 
And we loved it.

 I've already seen some cool birds.

And some neat flowers.

The second day of exploring, we visited the Daintree National Park 
and took a hike with an Aboriginal guide.

 We hiked through the rainforest to the Mossman Gorge.

One of the most unusual trees we saw were fern trees.
They looked like palm trees but had fern fronds in stead of palm fronds.

Next we visited the Wildlife Habitat in Port douglas and got to see some native animals up close.
Feeding kangaroos was a highlight.

As was feeding these geese.

But the biggest thrill was getting to hold a koala and getting my picture with it!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Venturing to the Land Down Under!

We are off on a much anticipated adventure,
a trip to Australia and New Zealand!

We flew Quantas, the official airline of Australia, to Cairnes, 
and then drove over to Port Douglas to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

We arrived to lush tropical surroundings and temps in the 90's.
What a welcome escape from our North American February!

Our hotel had salt water pools that went right up to some rooms' balconies!

First on our schedule was snorkeling the the Great Barrier Reef!
We took this boat out for over an hour to get to the reef.

Summer in Australia is marine stinger season so we had to wear stinger suits.

Not all of us were thrilled with our suits!

 Just a few underwater pictures from our snorkeling.
You have to see it for yourself to appreciate its vastness and beauty.

A giant clam I spotted.

Our snorkel trip went swimmingly!

Thursday, February 13, 2020