(Sorry this is a very very long entry, I don't blame you for not finishing it, but I encourage you to read the whole thing so you get an understanding of the pictures. )
I'm back from my amazing trip across down under! As some of you may have heard my parents came out to visit us in Australia for a month. Their plan was to start in Brisbane and make their way down the East coast and across the Southern coast of the country to Western Australia. Ryan surprised me with a ticket to meet them in Brisbane and experience the drive with my parents. It was such a blessing to experience most of Australia with my parents and one of the best tour guides in the world, my dad. We probably saw more of Australia than most Australians and everywhere we went he knew all the facts! This trip was one of my greatest memories not only because we were left with seeing some of the most beautiful sights in the world, but it also brought us home with a much bigger view of God.
Let me just start off giving you a bit of structure of where we went on our trip.... (If you can see a map of Australia while your reading it might give you a better understanding of our trip.)
My parents and I landed in BRISBANE only a few hours apart. Brisbane is located in the southern corner of Queensland on the east coast of Australia. I didn't have much time in the city of Brisbane but its surroundings were different from what I expected. It was much more tropical with palm trees and humidity. We drove several hours north of Brisbane to NOOSA HEAD, and here we saw only the beginning of beautiful coastlines.
As we made our way back down the coastline through Brisbane we stayed the night in SURFER'S PARADISE. It resembles very much Miami, Florida.
The next morning we continued on down the GOLD COAST to TWEED HEADS and BYRON BAY. Byron Bay is near the top of my list of most beautiful places in the world. It was just breathtaking standing at the top of the hill overlooking the valley and onto the South Pacific Ocean. It was a valley of green pastures filled with grazing cows and farmland.
Our next stop was COFF'S HARBOUR. Here we saw the Big Banana. Australia is filled with tourist attractions of what they call "The Bigs." Many towns all along Australia have a "Big" - a huge structure that often represents something that is special to that particular town. In this case it was bananas.
After several more hours of driving we landed in a little town called HARRINGTON. That night we stayed in an old saloon. Quite an experience! I felt like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Although it was a bit run-down I must say it did have its own charm. The seas were raging the next morning as we woke up and started our trek down to SYDNEY.
We spent a couple days on the outskirts of Sydney in a town called MANLY. Sydney reminded me very much of San Francisco the way it was crowded with houses on the green hills amongst a large bay covered in fog. It is located on the eastern coast of New South Wales. We took a ferry from Manly to Downtown Sydney. The night was beautiful as the sun was beginning to set as our boat landed adjacent to the Opera House. We walked along the harbour, toured the opera house and had a nice italian dinner while being serenaded by two men with a guitar and harp. The next morning we took a bus tour to see all that we could of Sydney from the ground. To see all of Sydney from an ariel view we took a tour to the top of the Sydney Tower. Here we saw a 360 degree view of the whole city. We even spotted a rainbow across the bay.
Before we made our way to the Capital we spent the night in GOULBURN. We had dinner at a wonderful little diner called the Paragon. My dad had the best meal of his life here. An omelette with scalloped cheesy potatoes. Unfortunately I didn't have the same meal but it sure looked tasty!
CANBERRA, the Country's Capital, was our next stop. This wasn't my favorite city although the colors of fall were quite vibrant. In each capital city of the states it was our goal to visit the parliament buildings. Canberra's parliament building was a bit boring compared to the rest. It felt similar to being in a hospital with not much character or detail. Fortunately, I was able to snap some great shots of the beautiful fall trees.
My mom and I were finally able to do some shopping at the Markets in MELBOURNE, the country's "fashion capital." Walking along the streets and shops felt like walking in Europe; especially with the toilets in the middle of large intersections. Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and is near the southern most point of Australia. Melbourne is one of the more industrialized cities in Australia. Each building was modern in architecture; except for the the Melbourne's Parliament Building. It was filled with detail and character.
Driving just outside of Melbourne we stopped for the night in GEELONG. We had seen Thai Restaurants all throughout our trip and my parents and I really wanted to try it since we hadn't before. Our hotel that night happened to be connected to a little Thai Restaurant. So we hopped in and took a seat ordering a peanut and curry chicken dish with coconut rice and a prawn, beef and curry dish. Delicious!
After Geelong we began our journey along the GREAT OCEAN ROAD. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It stretches 250 km from the surfing mecca of TORQUAY to WARRNAMBOOL. We stopped along the road to spot any surfers and sure enough there they were with their wet suits and Kombis (A painted, "hippie"-type van that surfers live and travel in). We saw these vans everywhere we went.
We made another stop along the Southern-most point in Australia, CAPE OTWAY. As we were driving along the side ride I spotted a koala up in one of the Eucalyptus trees. This was the first koala we saw unless you count the stuffed koala my mom spotted in a tree a few hours earlier:) Yes, we really saw a stuffed koala in a eucalyptus tree out in the middle of nowhere; several in fact. Some one was playing a joke and we were all fooled. Nevertheless, we saw a real one a few hours later. We had difficulty taking pictures at first because the koala was sleeping and it's head was facing down, hiding behind a tree branch. But who would have thought that my mom could speak koala! Every time she made a screeching sound the koala's head popped up giving us the perfect opportunity to take pictures.
Continuing further along the Great Ocean Road, we arrived at the TWELVE APOSTLES. These were 12 rock formations that are continuously being eroded by the ocean. They make a spectacular coastline view. You become marveled at the view and reminded of the vastness of God and His creativity and beauty. You CANNOT ignore the fact that there is a God after seeing beauty and you CAN'T help but praise Him after seeing this beauty.
Onward toward a little town called MT. GAMBIER where we stayed for the night before we made our way towards ADELAIDE. The next morning was extremely foggy making it very difficult to drive but I was able to get really cool photos of the fog creeping over the landscape as the sun was rising.
We saw several "Bigs" during our trip but one of the favorites was "Larry the Lobster" in KINGSTON SE, South Australia. He sure was big!
Adelaide is located in the lower right corner of South Australia. My Parents and I didn't see much of Adelaide because we needed to stay on time, but it might have been one of my favorites of the big cities. The whole downtown was surrounded by a park with big beautiful trees and walking paths making it such a unique city. The streets were very spacious and the buildings were old and filled with beautiful architecture. It was also much smaller than the other big cities making it less crowded. It is also called the city of churches for its vast amounts of different churches on every corner in the city.
I told many people that we were going to drive across Australia and most reactions were "You're crazy!" "You're driving across the Nullarbor?!" Yes, we did! It is wasn't as bad as people told us it would be. It was actually quite a pretty drive. The scenery seemed to change nearly every mile with its different Eucalyptus trees and bush. Nothing like what you would expect the outback to look like.
The last town we stayed in before we drove through the Nullarbor was PORT AUGUSTA, and there was pretty much nothing after that except for little towns of like 5 people maybe.
You'll see in some of the pictures that we stopped at the Great Australian Bight. It's a coastline that looks like someone took a big bite out of it. The water was amazingly blue and the high cliffs literally took your breath away.
Before we hit the longest straight stretch of road in Australia(146km), we spent the night in EUCLA, an itty bitty town on the border of South Australia and Western Australia.
As the NULLARBOR ended we drove down south to a small town called ESPERANCE. It was a fascinating beach town because it had an archipelago of nearly 100 small islands off the coast. The water was as blue as could be rimmed with pure white sands. Although we caught it on a rainy day this town is still near the top of my list of most beautiful places.
Ten hours later we made it to Perth where we had dinner with a wonderful Christian family Ryan and I know and a nights sleep before we headed onto Geraldton.
The rest of the description of the trip will be continued....I figured that if anyone actually did make it this far in reading I would give them a break and a chance to look at the pictures before explaining our next journey around Western Australia!
Thanks so much for reading, I hope you got a little glimpse of what Australia is like and left with a little bigger view of God as well. I hope you began to see the splendor of His handiwork and creation that echos the truth that He is truly Glorious!
"The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."