Family & Holidays                              

 

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Holiday Time in Australia - November 2012

 A special pre-trip lunch was enjoyed by the 'Bath' team

 

First to Hong Kong - where people will cross the road to speak English - then to Sydney, Brisbane, Port Douglas in Queensland, the Outback, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart and Singapore- that is in some ways more British than England; but is just 84 miles North of the Equator. The photos below are largely in a mixed order for each location. A Picasa Slide Show is first then the same individual thumbnail photos to enlarge.

  

Highlights for us included almost overwhelming numbers of people in Hong Kong as well as an amazing underground railway and outdoor cafes in the market places. We had to make a special journey on the metro to visit a bookshop (which are very rare in Hong Kong it seems) on the upper floor of a stylish skyscrapper in the financial district.

           

             

Sydney is clearly the commercial capital but is busy rebuilding its central areas to attract lots more visitors. The Opera House is just fantastic inside and out and the Darling Harbour area is spectacular for views and eating out. But perhaps the most amazing spectacle was seeing so many young adults dressed up to watch the 'Melbourne Cup' on large video screens set up in the streets, squares and restaurants.

                      

                         

                       

             

            

          

                     

Moving on to Brisbane that has even better weather than Sydney but much calmer and friendly - one trader gave Jean a Christmas decoration after hearing how much the design was admired. John (from 71 Princes Gate days) and Natalia showed us more than any usual visitor could hope for.

                    

Then to Port Douglas via Cairns where I enjoyed my first drive on the left in Australia. Then to top this our first chance to share a Total Eclipse of the Sun with thousands on the beach just after dawn will never be forgotten. Passing clouds added to everyone's excitement and awe when the time arrived for darkness to descend for 2 minutes and a few seconds. A few from the Bath Uni. Electrical & Electronics Course also met here with our wives leading the way.

                                         

A day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and then another outing was a drive up the coast to explore the tropical settings by the beaches that seem to go on forever.

                                               

The next adventure was arriving in the Outback at Uluru in blistering heat. Even the hotel ceiling was some 30 foot high. Seeing the colours change at sunset on Uluru is something to experience. Then off to Kings Canyon and Alice Springs - where we wish we could have spent an extra day as it is so special. A special early morning visit to the 'GPO' built Telegraph Repeater Station between Darwin and Adelaide is just amazingly well organised and displays the professionalism of telecom engineers since the days of Morse Code traffic.

                       

                           

A Special guy - Chris Barnes - we met in the car park at Alice Springs 'GPO' Telegraph Station, spent a while telling us about the 'Joey Kangaroos' he rescues from their mothers' pouches when the mothers are killed by passing road traffic. He later had two special programmes on BBC2 dedicated to him starting in late January 2013. Chris is called 'Brolga' by the locals (it means a tall skinny bird - Chris is well over 6ft tall) and lives in the bush in the Alice Springs area.

Adelaide is has an enormous amount of parkland immediately around the town centre, in a relatively cool climate and magnificent modern trams, buses and bikes in the centre - all free to use around town. The hotel was decorated in Art Deco and the North Terrace has excellent museums where they give you a free personal guide. What a great place to escape for a weekend - next time the vineyards will be explored.

                         

                           

That Melbourne is the cultural capital becomes clear when you walk along Southgate promenade by the river, visit markets or trip around the city to see the museums, parks, theatreland and a fabulous aquarium. We stayed at the Crown Hotel and were given our best hotel room ever on the 12th floor with a view across the town centre and river. To cap it all the hotel is in three blocks linked at the centre with a casino. Indoor waterfalls and tennis courts on a roof added to the excitement.

                            

                             

The flight to Launceston, Tasmania was shared with Aran Miller - a 17 year old swimmer with Downs Syndrome who had won gold and silver medals in Italy for Australia. The reception he got at the Airport included a fabulous Welcome banner, TV cameras and fans showering him with love and appreciation. Tasmania is a jewel in Australia for people from Northern Europe. The weather is like a good English summer, no flies like the Outback, unbelievable scenery and mountains to explore. Certainly worth another visit one day.

                              

                    

Then finally to Singapore on the tip of Malaysia. It is steamy, loves UK traditions to a fault and is bright, clean and very pleased with its global success. The average wage is around $60k - but the space to move is very limited and to live boardering on cramped. Our hotel was opposite Raffles so we had no excuse to try a gin-sling. For a non-European country this place is unbelievable for virtually no corruption and many places to visit. How Kew gardens must envy their Botanic Orchid Gardens.