25 Feb 2016

Darwin, Australia 2016



Today was crocodile day in Darwin. Exciting.

Darwin info - If Australia were a clock, Darwin would be at 12, Sydney about 4:30 and Melbourne 5:30.

Darwin is in The Northern Territories. They are almost the size of Texas, yet less than half the population of Wyoming, our least populated state.










Last time we were here, 2010, it was snake day.



21 Feb 2016

Hamilton Island, Australia



Today we went right to the airport for an hour and a half seaplane ride over some of the Great Barrier Reef. 10% of the total fish species in the world can be found here. It is the size of 70 million football fields.




As anticipated it was quite beautiful.



We even flew over the famous Heart Reef that can only be viewed by air.





Then we landed on Whitehaven Beach. This 4 .5 mile beach is pristine bright white sand. Access is by sea only. No dogs or cigarettes are allowed.


They have been named the most eco-friendly beach in the world, the cleanest, the top South Pacific beach and among the top few in the world.


The sand is 98% pure silica, which gives it the special characteristics. It is so fine it squeaks when walked upon. It never gets hot. It is so fine it can ruin cameras and other electronic devises. It can even be used to polish jewelry.


Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island in the Whitsunday Islands in Eastern Australia at the Great Barrier Reef.


It was developed at the end of the last century and went broke. The Bob Oatley family bought it is 2003.



Transportation is by golf cart, which we did in 2007 (photo from then).


Even though there are only 1,200 residents here, they have about 800,000 visitors annually.


It is the only island at the Great Barrier Reef to have a commercial jet airport.

17 Feb 2016

Sydney, Australia 2016



Call me crazy, but what’s the first thing I do when arriving Sydney after three weeks on a cruise ship – I take a Harbour Cruise!





Then we had a delightful dinner at  Catalina on the waterfront with our Sydney friends Stephen and Wendy Baer whom we met cruising previously.







Sydney has so much to see; both day and night.






Today, again we enjoyed the view and weather eating lunch outside at Café Sydney on top of the Customs House.





That was followed with a wonderful tour of The RocksSydney’s historic area. Our guide, Alex, made it even better than one would expect.


Sydney was founded as a penal colony. Since England was overrun with prisoners, they used "transportaion" laws to sentence felons to be sent away to far away places to work in poor conditions, although not necessarily be incarcerated. The USA (prior to being the USA) was the place of choice for 150 years until the Revolution. Shortly thereafter Sydney was formed and used to transport felons for 80 years.


Then it was goodbye to Frankie and Dick who left today to return home.





Finally we took a walk through the Pitt Street Mall, Sydney’s iconic one block cosmopolitan shopping area.


Sydney has always been one of my favorite cities. It is so beautiful and the people are great. A couple of my favorite previous blogs about it can be found here, and here, and here, and even here.










13 Feb 2016

Noumea, New Caledonia





Today we find ourselves way far down in the South Pacific in New Caledonia. Touring was easy and fun today on a guided open-air railroad (that uses the street.)



We saw the world’s largest lagoon, learned about the world’s second largest barrier reef and third largest nickel producing county.




New Caledonia still has many ties to the past. It is a French Colony currently debating whether to opt for independence.

11 Feb 2016

Mystery Is., Vanuatu


In a survey made in 2006, Vanuatu was found to be the country with the happiest people on earth. Maybe it’s because they were hard-core cannibals until recently.


Playing the bottles is fun. 

Vanuatu has some of the most accessible active volcanoes on the planet.



220,000 people live in Vanuatu. None live on Mystery Island. They think it has bad spirits. Even the locals don’t live here.


Strangely they speak 113 languages giving it the most languages spoken in a country per capita in the world.




Out of nowhere a plane landed. Pretty strange for an island with no people that you can walk the entire perimeter in 20 minutes.