Here we are, far away but close because of e-mail. Amazing
We flew from LAX to Sydney on September 19. Uneventful flight,
but the plane was completely full. No signs of slowdown
in passengers on the Sydney run. As usual, we "lost"
a day en route, leaving LAX at 10:40 p.m. Thursday night,
arriving in Sydney at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. The
flight was just 14.5 hours. Good scheduling though, because
we actually got some sleep. The airport in Sydney is efficient
and user friendly and we had our bags, our rental car, and
were through customs and on our way south within a half
hour of landing.
Headed south on the Prince's Highway, the coastal route
from Melbourne to Sydney. Saturday was a good day to arrive,
almost no morning traffic.The beaches here are pure sand
in most places and the water a startling turquoise. In Wollongong
we found a tiny cafe right on the water at the small bay
where the local fishermen and divers abound. Most of the
people in Wollongong are steel workers from the gigantic
steel works in adjacent Port Kemble. Tidy houses, lots of
brick used here.
Jervis Bay and Bateman's Bay have great beaches. The latter
is completely packed with teenagers and "Seaside Oregon"
type atmosphere. It was Riley Irving's recommendation; his
sister Courtney liked Jervis Bay the best. Both have good
taste. The beaches themselves are glorious, and we were
fortunate enough to find the Esplanade Hotel, quiet, comfortable,
and away from the maddening crowd. Saturday night must be
cruising night for young drivers, because the sounds went
on well into the wee hours.
Sunday morning we had the highway completely to ourselves.
The Aussies love to party, and they obviously sleep in on
Sunday mornings. Drove inland to Canberra, the capital of
Australia, via the scenic Highway 52. Sad to see so many
dead kangaroos along the highway; we have yet to see a live
one this trip. We tried to avoid a dead wombat on the highway,
but hit it with a huge thud. No car damage. They look like
a huge brown pig. The poor thing was probably hit by dozens
of drivers that morning.
Stopped for coffee in the historic and charming town of
Braidwood. The historic buildings are evidence of a once
important town, and everything is spotlessly clean. We went
to the Boiled Lolly Shop. Now we know that the hard candies
here in Australia are boiled, are called lollies, and the
"lolly" on a stick is what we call a "lollipop".
We are going to find the source of the "pop" portion
of the word, unless one of you readers (Doug?) can find
Canberra is a clean, modern city. It is in the ACT, the
Australian Capital Territory, similar to our District of
Columbia. It is in addition to the other six states of Australia.
Act includes Canberra and is approximately 36 miles square.
The new Parliament buildings are the result of an architectural
competition which brought 329 entries. The winner has produced
what to our eyes is an example of mid-fifties curves, but
the overall effect was to us uninspiring and not at all
what we had expected. The new national art museum is described
as "controversial" in the brochures and guidebooks.
That is the polite British version of the general public
reaction! Canberra is the only totally planned city in Australia.
The public parks, water fountains, lakes, etc. are fabulous,
and the residents and tourists were making good use of the
facilities early on Sunday morning. We had planned to stay
overnight in Canberra but found ourselves wanting to get
back to the beaches, so on we went.
Back through Cooma, the town where we had the tire repair
last year after after our blowout on the Melbourne Mille.
Also the town where one of the Tourist Office employees
is from Anacortes. The road toward Bombala is one we were
on last year, but we turned off this time to go through
Bega, then south through Merimbula to the small village
of Eden, where we stayed overnight on TwoFoldBay. The landscaping
here is glorious. Our good weather fell victim to spring
rains this afternoon, but the sun returned much quicker
than it does in Seattle.
The vegetation throughout most of our drive south has been
somewhat surprising. Other than the green villages along
the sea, the highway has been lined with miles of eucalyptus
trees, fairly brown hillsides and sparse herds of cattle.
Fewer sheep than we had imagined, and almost no signs of
farms and/or ranch homes. Australia is in the midst of a
serious drought which is ruining their agriculture.
Monday found us out of New South Wales and into Victoria.
We drove through Orbost and Bairnsdale, then "picked"
our way through wonderful side roads through the green hills
of Longatha and Kurumburra en route to the Mornington Peninsula.
The hills here are green velvet, large herds of dairy cows,
way more prosperous looking land. The highway sights are
fabulous. We stay on the small "A" and "C"
roads and enjoy having the roads almost to ourselves.
Sorrento and Portsea are as stylish and lush as we found
them last year. Here again, the surfers have their own private
paradise. The tip of the Mornington peninsula is narrow
enough that Sorrento has both an ocean front and a "back
beach". This is also the first site the first settlers
reached Australia! The Portsea ferry across to Queenscliff
leaves every hour on the hour and it is the gateway to the
Great Ocean Road.
Drove right along the Ocean nearly the whole way back to
Melbourne. The Nepean Highway is the way to go, especially
the section from Dromana to Mornington. Breathtaking scenery
and Arthur's Seat and Mt. Martha are especially charming.
Between Saturday morning and Tuesday morning, we drove 1450
kilometers, over 870 miles. Now we are at our "home"
in the Sebel Suites, our favorite home away from home. Just
minutes by tram from the main part of the City, we are treated
sooo well by the staff. There were fresh flowers delivered
just after our arrival. The food in the restaurant is diving,
and the indoor swimming pool is good for laps. We had it
all to ourselves yesterday. You might think we would just
enjoy the surroundings and rest for a while. You might think
that unless you know us well.
It is Wednesday morning and we are packing again already,
because we discovered that the Ghan train to Alice Springs
leaves Melbourne at 10:30 p.m. tonight. So off we are going
with just a small bag. The "Golden Kanagaroo"
tickets we have purchased include all meals and an observations
car and a dining car and a roomette with our own shower
and toilet, so we will travel in comfort to Adelaide &
Alice Springs by train, then a short trip to Ayers Rock
and back to Alice Springs. We will fly back to Melbourne
on Monday or Tuesday so that we can pack the Austin Healey
for the Winton Historic Race Weekend.
We leave on October 4 for a huge gathering of Austin Healeys.
Our 100/4 is the marque car. We will be able to drive the
track. We have entered the "regularity" and have
been told that you practice driving the loop and guess what
your time will be when you are in the competition. Those
who come close to the time they turned in as their finish
time will be the winners. Another learning experience.
We will be "offscreen" during our train trip but
will post new material next week when we get back here to
Ed and Bev
AUGUST 18, 2002
WE ARE PREPARING FOR OUR SEPTEMBER TRIP TO AUSTRALIA. WE
WILL BE DOING THE MELBOURNE MILLE, A RALLY IN VICTORIA,
AUSTRALIA. WE HOPE TO LEAVE FOR AUSTRALIA ON SEPTEMBER 15,
AND WILL KEEP YOU POSTED ON A REGULAR BASIS.
SUMMER IN SEATTLE HAS BEEN DIVINE. SUNSHINE AND NO RAIN
FOR THE PAST FIVE WEEKS. WE TOOK OUR THREE GRANDCHILDREN,
KATE, TESS, AND MICHAEL (WITHOUT THEIR PARENTS) ON THE VICTORIA
CLIPPER TO VICTORIA, B.C. THE EMPRESS HOTEL IS EXTREMELY
CHILD-FRIENDLY. WE HAD THE TRADITIONAL HIGH TEA, SWAM IN
THE POOL, "DID" THE DOUBLE=DECKER BUS TOUR OF
THE CITY, THE MUSEUM WITH ITS WOOLLY MAMMOTH, THE BUTTERFLY
GARDENS AND THE BUTCHART GARDENS, AND ALL THE USUAL TOURIST
"MUST SEES". THEN ON TO VANCOUVER VIA THE B.C.
FERRY FROM SWARZ BAY TO TSASSWEN AND THEN STRAIGHT TO THE
BAYSHORE HOTEL BY STANLEY PARK. THE BIG TREAT AT THE AQUARIUM
WAS A BRAND NEW BABY BELUGA WHALE!! WE CAME BACK TO SEATTLE
BY TRAIN FROM VANCOUVER. THE ENTIRE TRIP WAS PERFECT, AND
SO WERE THE KIDS.
IN AUSTRALIA, WE WILL BE DRIVING OUR 1954 AUSTIN HEALEY
BN1 WHICH WE BOUGHT THERE LAST YEAR AND LEFT WITH A FRIEND
IN MELBOURNE. WE HOPE TO FILL IN LAST YEAR'S DETAILS BEFORE
WE LEAVE FOR THIS EVENT. SOMEHOW OUR "WHERE HAVE THEY
BEEN' SECTION IS BEHIND A COUPLE OF EVENTS. WE DID THE MELBOURNE
MILLE IN OCTOBER 2001 AND THEN WENT STRAIGHT TO ARGENTINA
WHERE WE DID THE MILLAS SPORT, A ONE THOUSAND MILE EVENT
JUST LIKE THE ONE IN ITALY. WE DROVE FROM BARILOCHE OVER
THE ANDES TO CHILE AND BACK AND THEN SPENT SEVERAL DAYS
IN BUENOS AIRES. DETAILS LATER.
WE WILL BE IN INDIAN WELLS FOR THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF SEPTEMBER
BEFORE WE GO TO AUSTRALIA. MORE LATER.