🇦🇺 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. 😎
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
TASMANIA AND HOBART :
Hobart on the southeast coast of Tasmania, finishing port for the annual Sydney to Hobart race has a picturesque working marina.
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.
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.
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 😂
A whirlwind of hikes, exploring , cooking classes and exceptional meals and soon it is time to catch our plane back to Sydney.
SYDNEY AND HOME: