September 26, 2007
Back from The Land of Oz

So we officially arrived home late Saturday (Sorry I didn't update the blog sooner to let you know of our arrival). Since then it's been a whirlwind of laundry, cleaning, organizing, and going back to work.

As we've already told a ton of people, the trip was an absolute blast! It was a unique and exciting way to tour Australia, and there were not many things we would have changed (besides the APEC conference in Sydney, that is).

It is good to be back home, even if it will take a few days to get used to the old routine and time zone. I'll try to parse through the rest of the trip photos and update Flickr with goodies from the sea kayaking and scuba diving. If you're lucky, I may even upload some of the movies I caught with my camera. ;-)

Posted by Austin at 06:45 AM
September 14, 2007
Yungaburra is a cool name for a town

The trip is flying by pretty fast now, and internet is sparce. We've spent the past couple of days on the Atherton Tablelands, and will now bike down back to Cairns and begin sea kayaking tomorrow.

It's not everywhere that you can see the milky way in the night sky.

Posted by Austin at 06:06 PM
September 08, 2007

We're through four days of our visit to Sydney, and we've been having a blast! Lots of walking, good food, great sights, and very friendly people have made the trip so far incredibly enjoyable... even if the weather hasn't been ideal.

Day one was the morning we arrived. Arriving at the airport in the early morning after about 22 hours of traveling, we made our way to the hotel - an absolutely lovely B&B in a quiet neighborhood just outside downtown Sydney but well located for access to the entire city. We were able to check in and freshen up before heading out for our first Sydney experience. The botanical gardens - right next to downtown - make for a fantastic experience every time we walk to the CBD. Wild cockatiels, tree kangaroos, and flying foxes are just a small sample of the wild animals that live in the gardens. The garden also gives you one of the best views of the CBD, the Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge all at once.

Day two included more walking around the downtown CBD area, as well as an unforgettable experience - the Harbour Bridge Climb! Probably the best views in the city, and a great out-of-the-ordinary activity.

Day three was our big excursion day outside of the city, with me actually driving on the "wrong" side of the road in a right-hand drive car (a la England). We started early in the morning with a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park. The park was an amazing visit with all varieties of Australian animals, some of them you could even touch, hold and feed. We also drove out to the Blue Mountains for some very cool hiking and views. The mind-numbing traffic, sporadic rain and low clouds made the trip a little less enjoyable, but the surprises we found during the hikes made up for most of it.

Day four was a general romp-and-shop fest throughout Sydney. We found some interesting finds, great food, small markets and wonderful walks. We did a lot of shopping, but not a lot of buying. There are a lot of boutique clothing stores where a t-shirt will cost $90, so we stuck to some more touristy shops and markets while still making some fun discoveries. We capped off the day with a ferry ride around the harbour and a nice dinner near the hotel.

The only downside to the visit has been the APEC conference that has almost choked the city with security and road closures. There are road barriers and police all over the place, and many stores in the CBD have closed for the weekend. Helicopters are hovering at all hours of the day and night, and it's not uncommon to see a small motorcade every now and then. The barriers have been the biggest headache for us, since there is no clear map of what is open or closed to pedestrian traffic.

We have one more day of wandering and exploring before we head north to Cairns. So far, so good!

Posted by Austin at 02:42 PM
September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day, everyone. I'm not sure what you have planned for the day - BBQs, picnics, parties, or just soaking in the sun on a lazy Monday - but I hope you have fun with whatever you do. Janine and I, on the other hand, are going to spend some time on an airplane.

A lot of time.

As most some of you are aware, today is the beginning of our big vacation to Australia. I've been dreaming about this trip for as long as I can remember, and have been planning for almost a year. After all of that time, it's hard to believe that my dream vacation is now about to start. Excited doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling today.

The trip will take us to Sydney and Cairns. While in Sydney we'll do some of the touristy stuff - the bridge, the opera house, eat kangaroo, and lots of walking. Once we hit Cairns, we'll start our outdoor adventure trip with REI. We'll be hiking, biking, sea kayaking, whitewater rafting and camping throughout the tropical flora. The highlight of the trip for me will be a 3-day stint on a live-aboard boat that will take us to the Great Barrier Reef for some out-of-this-world SCUBA diving.

We'll be gone for a while, but we won't be out of touch too much. We will have sporatic internet access, and I hope to be able to upload pictures and stories as the days fly by. Stay tuned, kiddies...

Posted by Austin at 07:53 AM