|Yes, I know I thought I would only go to Australia once.
However, it's a great country and I needed a place to finish my
PhD-thesis without being disturbed. I figured 16.000km and 8 timezones
would do the trick :)
Similar to the first trip, I started off with a conference in Perth, followed by 10 weeks of seriously hard work in Brisbane and finishing the trip by a little under two weeks holidays. This time I drove south to Melbourne, then up again to Adelaide.
The university that hosted the conference was housed at yet another really nice campus. Which was good, because the good folks at Heathrow had forgotten to switch my suitcase to the flight to Perth. I wasn't the only one, because there was a Qantas guy calling off a list of names and handing out money to buy some things to bridge the gap until my suitcase would arrive. Which would be "tomorrow". Yeah, I heard that one three times before I got my luggage...
Anyway, Perth is a nice city with a pretty skyline.
When walking along the river, I noticed there were quite a few boats sailing in it, and they seemed to be in a hurry. I decided to take some pictures. That was enough of a reason for a bystander to ask if I was from the newspaper. "Uhhh, no, how come?" "Because these are the world sailing championships!" "Uhhh, OK, that's nice. Who's winning?" Apparently a guy called Barker was doing well, so I took some pictures of him and his crew in action.
After the conference had closed I did some more sightseeing (spotting some weird wildlife in the shape of black swans) before flying to Brisbane.
I arrived in the middle of the wet season. I was also just in time to admire another form of semi-domesticated wildlife: the cockroach. Sturdy little creatures :-)
This time the Queensland University of Technology was kind enough to provide me with a computer, a desk and a fully-manual air conditioner. Remove the cardboard and get a cold (or freeze to death), slide the Academic Calendar upwards to increase temperature to comfortable levels. Normally I would ride a bike in to work, but sometimes I would take the CityCat. The bike path was adorned with anti-Gulf war slogans in certain places.
One of my weekend trips took my friend, his girlfriend and myself to North Stradbroke Island. A nice trip if you go by car. We went by public transport. On a weekend. Right. 'Nuff said. Nice island, though.
Having finished the thesis in time, I picked up my rental car (a Ford Mondeo 2.0 automatic this time) and headed south. I stopped briefly at Coolangatta but kept going to arrive at Cape Byron (the most easterly point of mainland Australia) a little after sunset.
The next day I took a little detour, leaving Highway 1 to loop over Bellingen and Dorrigo. Stopping off at the Never Never Picnic area I encountered some more real life wildlife: a goanna of some sort. Quite a big one too.
Some more wildlife was seen (and felt) during a short walk down a hill to visit a little waterfall: leeches. Wearing white socks is very useful: if they turn red, you're bleeding because a leech is having lunch at your expense.
The next stop was to be at the Blue Mountains near Sydney. On the way I stopped at the Dangar Falls and saw some huge draglines working an open cut mine. The weather was still pretty bad, so when I got to the famous site of the Three Sisters, there was nothing much to be seen except fog.
According to my motel receptionist, the weather forecast was bad, so I added the Blue Mountains to my to-be-revisited list and drove on. I went a bit inland towards Canberra, heading for Mt. Kosciusko national park. Most people come there to ski, but that's during another season.
Going further and further south, I crossed the Snowy Mountains. Of course I wouldn't want to have missed the only tourist attraction in 200km: the grave where the Man From Snowy River rests. I admit I like the Great Alpine Road a lot better, even though it was kind of rough.
After crossing the Victorian Alps the landscape flattened out again. The Tambo River made for a nice picture. Quite a contrast with Mitchel River national park which housed the Den of Nargun. Loy Yang Power Station was something else entirely, but impressive nevertheless.
The Grand Ridge Road offered a much more interesting way of getting from A to B than the highway. Even though it was raining (again), I stopped off at Tarra Bulga national park.
After this, it was time to start following the coast again, this time taking the Great Ocean Road. A quick visit to the lighthouse at Otway national park was well worth the time.
Another sight you shouldn't skip is the 12 Apostles.
If you continue to Adelaide, be prepared for a boring drive. Along the way you'll find the Woakwine Cutting (a very deep but very thin cut in the ground), a friendly sleeping town called Kinston SE and the so-called Granites (which look like beached whales).
Adelaide, though nicely located, didn't make much of an impression on me. It seemed a friendly city. It does have an international airport, though it was about as busy as a suburban train station at 4 a.m.