Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I know, it has been a bit since Christmas and New Year, but for me there was also our November trip to Australia to recover from. We are slowly getting into the groove (especially after I delivered souvenirs to my family in Croatia)

But the trip was complete success. We started in Cairns with a day trip to Great Barrier Reef, rainforest and a bit of dry inland. In the last one we stumbled upon a mango winery. No, it is not a typo, there was a huge mango plantation and a real distillery. We tasted all of their products - 3 different types of wine, two liqueurs, port and champagne. Champagne was definitely the best, too bad bottles are too heavy for overseas luggage. We managed to bring to Europe one bottle of wine, one of liqueur and one of port.

Yes, Great Barrier Reef was also great, I just hate the commercial part of all of these arrangements. Since you depend on boats to reach the reef, the hour and a half ride is used to push on you all possible ways of "enjoying" the reef. Snorkeling and the half-submersible was good enough for us.

Next stop was Kakadu National Park, east of Darwin (into which we flew). We have literally been blown off our feet by the amazing animal life. It was the end of dry season at the time of our visit so most of the animals have withdrawn to the few remaining wet spots. And therefore our sunset Yellow River Water Cruise was tremendous success. Our guide was an aboriginal woman, she even managed to spot some tiny tree snakes. Countless numbers of crocodiles and birds are still extremely fresh part of our memory. And the joey of a wallaby whose picture we missed to take! His mother got killed previous night by a car.

From Darwin we flew to Alice Springs, place where we rented camper (RV). Driving was easy since my husband had fun sitting by the steering wheel while I had time to plan our daily stops. So, on this stretch we also saw a lot, starting with Uluru rock, Cobber Paddy (opal mines), Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island (penguins and pelicans), Grampians, Minnamurra Rainforest and ending with Sydney.

Well, in Sydney we did walk around the Opera House, under the Harbor Bridge, through the Rocks and Darling Harbour. Most of the time of the three days we left over for this city we have spent with my father's family. Connection are three sisters, his cousins, whom my father saw only a few times since they emigrated in the 1960s. Contact with them and their family members is relatively good considering the distance.

We skipped all wine growing region (grapes, to be specific), have seen enough of those in California. And concentrated on seeing the unspoiled nature of this unique continent. There is still a lot we didn't get to see, but one month is too short to see it all. We managed to get a glimpse of all different regions (besides west coast) and that we will keep with us for a long time. Flying was arduous: from Dusseldorf (it is closer to us than Amsterdam), via Frankfurt to Singapore. We slept in Singapore both on the way over and back and that turned out to be perfect way of beating the jet-leg and adjusting to the tropical climate from the cold european weather.
We did all of the planning ourselves. I read travel guides, travel brochures and browsed internet, compiled a list of places we need to see, booked the RV. And my husband booked the air flights. It was not easy, actually quite time consuming, but definitely tailor made. We would not have it any other way.