A Travellerspoint blog

Australian Hospitality

An ocean apart, but a world of difference ...

View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.

Kangaroo at Blackbutt Reserve, Newcastle, AU.

We must first address the news you have surely been reading about Australia. The Melbourne bush fires have taken close to 300 lives, and in Cairnes, the community is dealing with horrific flooding. We are currently north of Melbourne and south of Cairnes in a very safe, although hot, climatic area. We plan to travel to both areas, but will do so only if the natural disasters have run their course and are safe for visitors. The outcrying of support from locals for the victims of both tragedies has been amazing.

Wow! What a difference an ocean makes. In Australia the grocery store clerk wants to chat, find out where we are going and then give advice, the rental car guy goes the extra mile to print us out google directions to our exact destination, and the people who work at the information centers want to give us ample information and then some (what a novel idea!). We wanted to give each of them a big hug after our New Zealand experience where people were often shy, abrupt and typically not forthcoming with information, especially without a direct inquiry. Australia has been a breath of fresh air.

Traveling has really given us an appreciation for the few cultures that speak our language; not just english, but a similar communication style. We've met a plethora of nice people from many different countries, but when we sit down with Australians and people from England to have a few drinks and a few laughs, we almost always feel like we've been drinking buddies for years. Our theory is that these cultures incorporate the key ingredient to fun conversation - SARCASM, and as they say, "taking the piss out of each other" (a.k.a. making fun of each other.) Making this point very clear for us was our experience at Melaleuca Backpackers in Anna Bay, which we'll tell you about in a minute.

Since we got used to living in a car in New Zealand, we decided to stick with it. So for three weeks we are home owners of a new crib...this one with a brand new fridge, dvd player and radio. Are you jealous? At night we roast, but that is the price you pay for being a street person in a bug zone. The windows (give or take an inch) need to stay closed. We've heard one too many stories of travellers getting dengue and other fun illnesses.

Our first few days are a blur. After landing in Sydney, we got our crib and drove out to the Blue Mountains, which are west of Sydney. They are named for the blue haze created by the mass of eucalyptus trees in the area. To view the famous Three Sisters rock formation, we did a nice hike down a million steep stairs to only find out most people take the tram up, but with our wallets in the car, and my 'save a dollar' philosophy, we hiked all the way back up. May we have buns of steel after this trip!

Then we were off to the Hunter Valley, Australia's largest wine region. There are hundreds of wineries here, but we narrowed it down to about six to do some tasting. All and all, we are not overly impressed with the taste ... the local specialty of sharaz (very oaky, spicy, and heavy) may not be our thing. The area, however, is beautiful.

We raced through Newcastle, a city that is quite industrial and in need of a makeover, but the Blackbutt Reserve was a good stop there, introducing us to kangaroos, emus, koalas and other local habitat.

Next stop was Port Stephens, including Anna Bay and Nelson Bay. We planned to spend a day, but ended up staying for five. This area is known for its white sand beaches and impressive sand dunes, which we borded down with avengence. As a bonus, we got to check out the Nude Olympics, which were happening on the beach next to One Mile Beach, the one we frequented. No photos here, but invision lots of 40-70 somethings bending over for an egg toss. Yummy! Not appropriate were the few kids (old enough to know) watching on as mom and dad did a naked hurdle : - )

We enjoyed a hike at Tomaree Head, the highest point in Port Stephens. Dave has a new found love for spiders and their webs, as they are the biggest and most poisoness in the world. The other wildlife speaks for itself....they just grow bigger in Australia! The last photo here shows the kookaburra, which sounds like a group of monkeys. The birdlife here is incredible. Pictures don't do it justice. You need a cd! Think about the sounds of Pac Man all around you at all times!

The best part of Port Stephens was by far the hospitality. By fluke we parked our crib at Melaleuca Backpackers camping site on our first night in the area. The owners, Mick, Mish, Pete and Janeatte were friendly from the onset. Dave struck a deal to help them with some computer issues in exchange for a few nights stay, so our visit lasted close to a week. It was perfect! We needed to slow down; to stop and enjoy the scenery, to talk to locals, to breath and treasure the experience we are having. The owners also treated us to a dinner out on the town, which was more than welcome by Dave who is being fed "Budget"and "Home Brand" rice, pasta, soup, tuna, and pb&j daily. The poor man is wasting away.... ok, not really. We enjoy sampling every cookie and granola bar the supermarkets have to offer! And we do splurge on meat when we can cook at a camp site (not in our car) and fresh veggies and fruits!
Mick & Mish kindly take us to dinner, along with Pete (not in photo). Janeatte was taking care of the ship!!

Melaleuca was not only our home base for a bit, but also our school on local animals. Michelle works with the local humane society (of sorts) to treat injured wildlife. She was like 'Ace Ventura Pet Detective' specializing in birds, who took quite a liking to Dave. They also have a fews dogs and a kangaroo that was orphaned. Josie is probably the most photographed kangaroo in Aus. Coincidentally (or maybe not if you believe in that sort of thing), she also has a temperment just like Josie, Pat and Ellen's dog, who passed away last year. She was friendly, laid back, and just enjoyed hanging with the travellers.
Josie, the friendly kangaroo.
Sqeaky, a noisy miner, took a special liking to Dave. He confused Dave's curls for his nest, frequently landing on his head for a rest.

We can't thank our hosts enough for welcoming us and treating us with such hospitality! It was hard to leave, but we pulled ourselves up after Mick's specialty egg and bacon breakfast sandwichs to head north to Seal Rocks at Myall National Park. There is a beautiful lighthouse there that was erected in 1875 (100 years before my birth). The rocks surrounding the lighthouse are known for wreaking havoc on several boats.

The next day, we took our two booties to Booti Booti National Park for a hike bordering Wallis Lake and the Tasman Sea.

Driving north we stopped in several other small beach communities, not significant enough to write about.

Dorrigo National Park was a fantastic stop. On a rainy day we took a walk through the rainforest. It was ripe with enormous trees, beautiful waterfalls and flora.

On the road again,
- Elizabeth and Dave

Posted by daveliz 19:06 Archived in Australia

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Wow! I love this blog. It is so terrific to hear about your trip as it is happening rather than flipping through hundreds of photos when you get home. Thanks for keeping up with it. Thanks to this entry I am adding Australia back onto my list of places I want to go. I can't believe all the great wildlife you guys have gotten to see up close. What is the animal Dave is holding in the photo above Sqeaky, the noisy miner? It is so cute. Have a great day. -- Sarah

by sycurtis

Blackbutt and Bootie Bootie - didn't know the Aussies were so fascinated with bums!

by nshimshock

Yes, the animals are adorable, the scenic wonders memorable, but the flattering rear view photo? "Buns of steel" - not to worry.

More OOOXXX.....

by ediegr7

Australia is so gorgeous and the light through the leaves is spectacular. Please send some Kookaburra red licorice!It is cool you are took the time to slow down and experience the flora and fauna. I never wanted to go but now I do! Hug a koala for me! Love, SJ

by Sarajane33

Dave & Elizabeth: Your awesome photos and insightful commentary leave us speecless...L&F

by fsteinmroz

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