PreMoon: Australia off Infinity

🇦🇺 August 7- August 24 2022

A bit of trivia. I have started to include the flags of the countries we visit. The Australian flag is the same as New Zealand except Australia has a single large star under the Union Jack that represents all 6 states and 2 territories. Surprisingly several Ausies that I asked did not know what this star represented. The small stars on the right represent the “southern cross”.

Gail and I had a spectacular time exploring Australia from our first day’s BridgeClimb in Sydney to our last day where we saw Phantom of the Opera at the Sydney Opera house. The only problem with a wonderful “Premoon” is that it raises the bar for the real honeymoon….But that is down the road. 😎

Hamilton Island Airport departing for Sydney….. Everyone drives golf carts over this small popular resort island


We chose to have a tour company – Southern Crossings- coordinate our trip through Australia which allowed us to pack a lot of travel in the short 2 1/2 weeks we had before Gail flew home. This was a good decision … We literally had one of the best vacations of our lives.

Sydney Bridge and North Sydney from Observation Point…. A popular wedding venue… Sydney is chocked full of beautiful parks and surrounded by water making it one of the most beautiful cities in the world

Australia is a beautiful, wonderfully inviting country with super friendly people. They are just coming out of a very deep recession caused by strict Covid restrictions that included local curfews…. 2 hours a day outside your home and only within a 5 block radius, Then loosened but prevented any travel between states. Foreign travel just opened up in the past 2 months. These restrictions devastated their travel industry….. Tourists from China used to comprise 25% of Australian tourism . It has not returned.

“The Rocks” or old part of town preserving the original sandstone buildings constructed by the first settlers AKA “prisoners”to Sydney
Americans and Europeans have currently replaced the Chinese as Australia’s most frequent tourists

Parks, Botanical gardens, museums and beaches make up a rich assortment of exploring that kept us busy for 3 days before moving on to the Blue mountains and Wolgun Valley.

Ferries are a fun and quick way to move around this beautiful city…..Here we are off to explore the city and visit the zoo
Finishing a tour of the Opera House…..View of Sydney Bay from the Atrium
Bondi Beach , one of Sydney’s popular surf spots in the city

BLUE MOUNTAINS: Emirates Wolgan Valley

We next caught a ride to the Blue Mountains to stay at the Emirates One and Only Wolgan Valley, an old Australian ranch that has been turned into an environmental resort dedicated to preserving Australian wildlife. The Blue mountains are a popular mountain retreat where locals escape the heat and city in the summer. We spend a few days relaxing , hiking , mountain biking, exploring and being spoiled as Emirates knows how to do so well.

A ‘mob’ as they are called of kangaroos in front of our cabin
Kangaroos with a little “Joey” in her pouch along with a wombat…..
A Wombat

ADELAIDE: The Barossa Valley and Australia’s wine region

Adelaide, capital of South Australia dubbed the “City of Churches” is a beautiful city on the southern coast . Australia’s only planned city ,designed for settlers escaping religious persecution in Europe. It was Australia’s only city for free settlers ,the rest of the country was occupied by “prisoners”. Adelaide has been called Australia’s most livable city with the city center listed as a national heritage . It is interspersed by wide boulevards, large public squares and surrounded by parklands as it pushes up into the Adelaide hills and one of Australia’s most famous wine regions. All of Australia produces exceptional wines but the Barossa Valley is perhaps the most famous and similar to Napa is filled with vineyards and wineries. It is hot and the preponderant grape is Shiraz.

We spend three fantastic days exploring the Adelaide hills and Barossa Valley.

Living close to Napa I have had the opportunity to tour many wineries in the US as well as Europe and South Africa. I found the tours in Australia highly informative and some of the best I have attended. They are very passionate about their wines over here. We finish our tours with visits to Peter Lehmann Wineries, Yaldera and Wolf Blass.

Penfolds Winery founded by an English physician in 1844 ,one of Australia’s oldest and best known wineries…. Now owned by Treasury Wine Estates who also own Berlinger.
Penfolds cellar where we are treated to a private tour and lunch at their Magill estate
Chateau Yaldara… these historic wineries founded by European wine makers fleeing persecution in their home countries are filled with beautiful architecture and history
Lots of space in the Barossa to grow grapes on beautiful rolling hills


Now a quick flight to Melbourne….. Melbourne is a fast growing young vibrant city with many universities. It has many characteristics of a busy US city and is fast becoming a rival to Sydney as the biggest and most important city in Australia. Here we tour the city, eat at some outstanding restaurants, Melbourne is known for their unique eateries, and take a long day tour of the “Great Ocean Road”.

“The Great Ocean Road” was originally constructed by WWI Veterans as a make work project . It cuts through some truely difficult terrain which they accomplished with little more than picks, shovels and wheelbarrows
Original road was a single lane dirt road started in 1918
Lots of Koala bears along this interesting highway..They only live in certain types of Eucalyptus trees eat the tender distal leaves which eventually kills the tree.
Bells Beach… iconic surfing spot
Despite lighthouses this rugged coast claimed a lot of ships
The 12 Apostles


Hobart on the southeast coast of Tasmania, finishing port for the annual Sydney to Hobart race has a picturesque working marina.

Customs House….Traditional 1st stop after finishing the Sydney to Hobart race
Winners wall since 1st race in 1945…including Larry Ellison’s SAYONARA winner in the tragic 1998 Sydney to Hobart race
Popular Salamanca festival in Hobart….Gail has got more use out of her Christmas winter coat in Australia this summer than all her time in Tahoe. It is cold down under.

Hobart and “Tasi “ as the locals call Tasmania is down to earth , filled with spectacular natural beauty and endless seafood. Highlights include a visit to Mt Feld National Park , a Wilderness Heritage site where we hike old growth rainforests and explore a truly unique habitat.

Popular Russell Falls
Giant Eucalyptus…..some over 300 ft tall…. For comparison the Giant Redwoods in California are the tallest trees in the world and grow to 380 ft in height.
Trunk of an old giant Eucalyptus with our guide Jason

We finish our day with a visit to Hobart’s MOMA museum….a seriously unique subterranean museum . Founded on the premise that art should appeal to all generations and backgrounds……If you visit Hobart the MOMA is a must see.

Cast iron cement truck at the MOMA

Gail and I , a little sad that our magical time in Australia is approaching an end. Early the next morning we drive off up the east coast of Tasi to our last destination the Saffire Lodge in Freycinet National Park ; unaware that we were saving the best for last. After a long drive up the coast punctuated by a quick stop at Freycinet Winery we arrive at yet another remarkable lodge… Rated one of the top 50 resorts in the world Jacki had found us a special spot for our last stay in Australia. Before we had a chance to check in we were whisked away to visit an Oyster farm. A local couple had grown a small oyster farm selling 90,000 oysters a year into a thriving business selling over 2 million oysters each year. Quite the operation and a educational fun visit.

Fun Fact: at various stages of an oysters life they are both male and female before we eat them at 3 years of age. Don’t let our politicians know or they’ll probably want the set up special transgender oyster bathrooms 😂

Special insulated waders to inspect the oysters
Hundreds of small oysters ‘spats’
Oysters like cold water
Oysters never tasted so good
Freycinet Hazzard mountains from our cabin….Saffire Lodge is a full service resort with only 20 cabins…I didn’t appreciate what “full service” meant until Gail noticed that part of the turndown service included putting fur lined hot water bottles under our comforter to offset the night chill.

Saffire Lodge runs a rescue center for Tasmanian Devils… Australia’s last surviving terrestrial carnivore currently threatened with extinction
Wallaby saying goodby after a hike

A whirlwind of hikes, exploring , cooking classes and exceptional meals and soon it is time to catch our plane back to Sydney.


Last night …Phantom of the Opera at the Sydney Opera House….Priceless

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