Monday, November 21, 2005

 

Adelaide & South Australia

South Australia is made up of the dry hot north and the more temperate south. The green belt includes Adelaide and its surrounding hills, orchards, the Barossa Region and Clare Valley vineyards, the Fleurieu Peninsula, and the Murray River's cliffs and lagoons. Kangaroo Island is just off the coast providing a delightfully antiuqated area to visit. The Coober Pedy offers an experience in Outback living, complete with cattle ringers and opal mines.

Nearly 90% of South Australians live in the area around Adelaide. The city stands on the edge of the harshest, driest land in Oz. The parched interior contains jagged hills and stony deserts. Desolate terrain and temperatures that top 118 degrees Farenheit have thwarted the efforts of the most explorers to conquer the land. Survivors of the region have done so only through drastic measures, such as in the opal-mining town of Coober Pedy, where people live underground!

The deserts of Southern Australia hold great surprises despite their harsh conditions. The deserts offer great clues concerning the country's history long before European settlers. The Flinders Range north of Adelaide hold Aboriginal cave paintings and fossil remains from the ages when the area was a seabed. In 2000, Lake Eyre, a great salt lake, filled with water for the fourth time ever. There is alot to be learned from the deserts of Southern Australia.

Adelaide's urban character combines laid-back living with respect for South Australia's rugged environment. At the end of summer, city parks are crowded with parrots fleeing the parched desert. Bushfires are always a major concern in the area, especially since the Ash Wednesday flames that devastated the region in 1983. Adelaide has a multiethnic population and thriving urban art and music scene.

Well guys...thank you all for exploring Oz with me! I am so excited to go to Australia/New Zealand over winter session. I hope that everyone has been able to recapture their Aussie experience or learn a little something for future travels.

Monday, November 14, 2005

 

The Great Barrier Reef

Well since I've heard nothing other than great things about the Great Barrier Reef, I've decided to explore a little further. Most of you who have been to Australia mentioned the reef as one of your favorite places, and those of you whom will be traveling to Ausralia in a little over a month and half, have mentioned how much you're looking forward to visiting the reef. I know that snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef is definitely one of the things I'm most looking foward to on my trip!

The Great Barrier Reef is made up of 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. I'm just going to share some information on some of the major islands and about the reef in general. Even if you were to spend your entire time in Australia just exploring this gorgeous phenomenon, it's likely that you would miss something. There's just too much to see and do!

Lady Elliot Island - This island is a 100-acre coral on the southern tip of the Great Barrier
Reef. Wildlife easily outnumbers the maximum of 105 guests the island can hold. This island is perfect for diving. It is surrounded by the reef and graced with a white coral beach. When the waters are calm, you can see turtles, morays, sharks, and millions of tropical fish.

Heron Island - The waters of Heron Island are gorgeous, teeming with fish and coral. Heron Island is a national park and bird sanctuary, making it a great place to learn about indigenous life on the reef. Thousands of birds live here and are joined by a large number of migrating birds from September through March. Between July and October, humpback whales pass the island on their journey from the Antarctic. The island doesn't offer many activities since its single accomodation accepts only 250 guests and no day-trippers.

Brampton Island - This 195-acre island is proclaimed to be one of the prettiest in the area. The biggest attraction is the water of course, especially snorkeling between Brampton and adjoining Carlisle islands. However, the hilly interior's rain forests are home to kangaroos, rainbow lorikeets, and butterflies. Most of the island is national park, but the resort area is quite lively.

Fitzroy Island - This island is especially popular with day-trippers as it is less than an hour's cruise from Cairns. Fitzroy is a rugged, heavily forested national park. The island is covered in vegetation ranging from rain forest to heath. Of course, Fitzroy is fringed by the reef for snorkeling and scuba diving.

These are only a few of the hundreds of islands that make up the Great Barrier Reef. These pictures don't do justice to the beautiful islands (from what I've heard). I can't wait to see them for myself! The reef is actually 1,640 feet thick in some places. The Reef is made up of zillions of tiny poylps, which have been building up for thousands of years. The Great Barrier Reef attracts thousands of divers and snorkelers every year. They come to see the coral (of course), over 2,000 species of fish, dolphins, dugongs, sea urchins, turtles, as well as 400 species of coral. I don't think words can describe the Great Barrier Reef. I can't wait to explore first hand!

Monday, November 07, 2005

 

Cairns

Cairns is actually closer to Papua New Guinea than it is to most of Australia. Cairns is bordered by the Coral Sea to the east and the Great Dividing Range to the west. The area is home to various bird species including night herons, blue cranes, giant sea eagles, and white egrets. During low tide, you may even catch a glimpse of a saltwater crocodile basking on the mudflats. Most people use Cairns as a base for exploring the surrounding ocean and rain forest. A popular drive in the area covers the road from Townsville to Cairns. The Great Green Valley is a beautiful drive through sugarcane, papaya, and banana plantations, passing dense rain forests, white beaches, and bright blue water.

The Esplanade and waterfront are the focal points of life in Cairns. Most of the town's best stores and hotels are found on the Esplanade. This seems to be a gathering place for backpackers too, making it a lively place to hang out. Cairns can trace their beginnings to the place where the Esplanade turns into Wharf Street. This small area was a port for gold and tin mining in 1876. Today, it still serves as a thriving port.

Big-game fishing is a major industry in Cairns. Fish weighing more than 1,000 pounds have been caught in the waters off the Great Barrier Reef. The docks for boats that conduct tours of the Great Barrier Reef are found at Marlin Marina and Trinity Wharf. The actual heart of Cairns is City Place, where much of the town's pubs and shopping areas are found. The Great Barrier Reef is amazing to read about...I can't wait to visit!!

The Great Barrier Reef is made up of 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. Amazing! The reef was established as a marine park in 1975 and serves as a home for sea life, turtles, and birds. The reef fringes the Queensland coast. Altogether the reef covers an area bigger than the United Kingdom, forming the largest living feature on earth and the only one visible from space!

I have to say that just looking at all of the pictures and reading about all of these great places makes me so excited for my trip! I love water and sun so I know I'm headed to the right place. I think that the Great Barrier Reef is #1 on my list to see!!

Monday, October 31, 2005

 

The Outback



There is a common misconception that the Outback is simply desert land, and although it is vast and rugged, it is still an exciting place to visit. The Outback has several different places to visit depending on your interests. Try your hand at fossicking-searching for gold-in the frontier gem-field towns of Sapphire and Rubyvale or visit Hughenden, known as dinosaur country because of ancient fossils found in the region.

One city to definitely visit is Mount Isa, especially if you enjoy diversity and experiencing different cultures. This city of 22,000 people is home to people from 50 different nations. Mount Isa is also home to Mount Isa Mine, Australia's deepest underground mine. This mine is the largest producer of copper, silver, lead, and zinc in the world. Mount Isa is also home to the largest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere, which takes place each July.

More to see in the Outback:


See...there's more than just desert to see!! Enjoy!!


Monday, October 24, 2005

 

Queensland the "Sunshine State"

Queensland has something for everyone...if you're not happy here...then you're not happy anywhere. Queensland is often described as a fusion of Florida, Las Vegas, and the Caribbean. I think I'd love it...since this fusion combines some of my favorite places!! Any outdoor adventure you can describe is here for your enjoyment. Whether you want to soak in the Coral Sea, stroll from cabana to casino, or cruise rivers and rain forests...it's all available in Queensland.

Local license plates deem Queensland the "sunshine state" because of its laid-back stretch of
beaches and sun where many Australians and tourists alike head for their vacations. The major attraction to the region is the Great Barrier Reef, which parallels most of the state's edge. The reef stretches 1,178 miles and is described as an ecological masterpiece that supports thousands of animal species. I will have the opportunity to go snorkeling at the reef while abroad...hope I don't run into any sharks!!

Major cities in Queensland include Fraser Island, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisband, and Cairns (just to name a few). Don't worry...I'll cover them all in detail in posts to come. Brisbane is considered an up-and-coming city. The city is a formal penal colony turned big country town. The Gold Coast, which I canNOT wait to visit, has 300 days of sunshine a year with an average temperature of 75 degrees. Gold Coast is the most developed tourist destination in Australia, I just want to be there now! The Sunshine Coast is as
gorgeous as the Gold Coast, but much quieter. It's a 37 mile stretch of white sand beaches, inlets, lakes, and mountains. Sounds relaxing to me!! I mean look at the picture...how could you not want to be there now?? Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island, but instead of coral reef and coconuts there are wildflower meadows and freshwater lakes. Be careful though; the sharks hunt close to shore!!

There's so much to see and do in Queensland...I'll break it up over the next few posts to let you guys see everything. I can't wait believe how close my trip is...I'm ready to leave NOW!!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

 

Melbourne

Melbourne is consistently rated among the world's most livable cities. The city sprang up during the gold rush. The heart of Melbourne is an orderly grid of streets where the state parliament, banks, multinational corporations, and Victorian buildings are located.
The city is home to some of the nation's most prestigious schools and universities (it's very important to have attended the right one). Melburnians pride themselves on the face that, unlike Sydney, they live in a city founded by free people, not criminals. For a long time Melbourne's center city was considered inferior compared to Sydney's sparkling harbor. However, during the early '90s there was a large-scale building development along the Yarra Riber transforming the area into a vibrant entertainment district.

Melburnians do love their sports!! They will be hosting the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The city is sports mad! The nation practically shuts down for the Melbourne Cup horse race each year. In January the city celebrates the Australian Tennis Open held in Melbourne Park.

Australian Rules Football.
This game played between teams of 18 is only one of four kinds of football played down under. Aussies also play Rugby League, Rugby Union, and soccer. Aussie Rules also known as "footy" is the most popular version in Melbourne. The sport is beginning to gain an international television audience, revealing the intricacies of Aussie football rules. The ball can be kicked or punched in any direction, but never thrown. Players run around the field making leaps and bounds to catch a kicked ball before it touches the ground, for which the team earns a free kick. Aussie-rules is said to be at its finest in Melbourne. It's actually said that any defeat of a Melbourne team is seen as a sign of strength.

Although Melbourne loves sports...there is more to see and visit...explore the city further.

Monday, October 10, 2005

 

Canberra

Many people mistake Sydney as the capital of Australia; however, the true capital of Aussie is Canberra. Canberra gives an overall impression of spaciousness, serenity, and almost unnatural order. The current population of over 300,000 people makes Canberra the largest inland city in Australia. There are no advertising billboards, no bright colors, and very few buildings more than twelve stories high. Canberra is like no where else in Australia...it is an attempt at urban uptopia.

DON'T MISS...

How amazing would a hot air balloon rider over the city be??

To learn more about Canberra visit this site or just ask and I'll see what answers I can come up with. Only 82 more days until I leave for Australia....can't wait!!


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