Trip to Australia, March/April 2002
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After a 12-hour flight we arrived in Hong Kong, flying in a new 4-engined Airbus 340 of Cathay Pacific. By flying eastbound we lost 7 hours by crossing the time zones and thus we lost the night. We tried to sleep in the aircraft, but unsuccessful. Cathay Pacific is proud to fly with the newest aircraft, but the legroom is based on small Chinese persons.
Still sleepy we took the train from the new airport of Hong Kong to look around there a full day. The first impression: a nice well organized town, with many nice high rise buildings, often very close to each other. Along the edge of the town gigantic flat buildings in the hills, all with nice English names, most ending on court. Many nice cars behind the, by guards secured, gates.
We got an impression of a tropical town: many palm trees, bananas and many flowering plants, trees and bushes. The Botanical garden was beautiful with all kinds of tropical plants, trees and shrubs and a zoo with many species of monkeys and birds, everything very well maintained.

We decided to walk to the Peak, through the Old Peak road, a steep old road through the jungle woods to the famous Peak resort, with a stunning view over Hong Kong.
It was not easy: hot and steep, but high over the town was the Peak Restaurant, where we enjoy the nice scenery. There we could order the Set menu, for a reasonable price, but don't order an extra drink... On the way back the jetlag took its toll and we did a nap on a roadside seat, probably much to the surprise of passing people.
The way back we took another route, through the Hong Kong Park, very well maintained and with many attractions. We looked some time to small water turtles in between the fishes, and some gave a sort of show for spectators. There were even some begging-turtles, apparently expecting a snack. We had the feeling like if we had not gone to bed for days and in the evening we took again the fast train to the airport.
The impressions of Hong Kong: a clean town with a very disciplined population. Everywhere the influence of the English reign is still visible and noticeable. Young Chinese children have cute uniforms and do exactly what the teacher wants them to do. It looks like a new hard working generation will emerge. There are many building activities and it looks like Hong Kong is proceeding on the same way as in the past, when Hong Kong was still a British Crown Colony.
If this is the picture of the future, China is the land of the future.

The two-engined Airbus 330 departed for the eight-hour flight to Brisbane. on time. It's nice to depart at midnight and arrive halfway in the morning. First we checked out Brisbane, a big city with 1.4 million inhabitants. Old witnesses of the colonial past are hidden between high-rise buildings. In the evening it was warm, almost 30 degrees and palm trees showed the tropical climate. After at last a comfortable night in a hotel, we took next morning a taxi to the camper rental firm. We first checked out the camper, already ordered in Holland, and got some good instructions how to use it. The campervan was a smelly, one and a half year old Toyota Hi-ace with 100.000 kms on the counter. For its age it didn't look bad. Getting used to left hand traffic and a new big car did cost some time. First we travelled back to the Airport where we reclaimed a lost expensive map of Australia, but only after filling in many forms. Then heading north.

The tour to the North was beautiful. First we made a detour to the coast, to Coolum Beach ,to walk over the beach and collect nice stones and shells. It was warm and sunny with a refreshing breeze. There were beautiful flowers. , and nice plants with berries as well as more beautiful flowers.
We did our first shopping and especially the gigantic T-bone steak of 2 Euro made impression.
Just before we spend the night on a camping along the highway. Traffic noise roaring along the highway was only beaten in intensity by sport aircraft of a nearby airstrip, next morning.
The first visit was to the Gympie goldmine. In the 19th century the mine produced, but was closed in the 20th century. However, in the Eighties new technologies allowed to re-open the mine and is now in full production again. Ore is produced at 1000m depths and is sometimes very rich on gold, you just can see it. Last week there was a big 'strike', a rich deposit was discovered. There is for some 1 billion Euros on Gold available and soon a new concession will be issued, expecting a yearly yield of 400.000-ounce (12 ton) gold. On the old stone deposit was one stone with traces of gold, but as we had to cut back on the weight for the way back, we had to discard the stone on the last day. The to the mine associated museum mainly shows the past. Especially the big steam engines, in working condition, are still impressive.

After Gympie we travelled over a road in a bad condition to the pineapple plantation of Yeltukka. The owner proudly talked about the product. Pineapples are planted by inserting the head of a pineapple in the ground and after 2 years they can be harvested. Then follow a few harvests of the pineapples on the side branches and these become ever smaller. The very small you can buy in the specialised greengrocers are in fact the last harvest and you are a genius to sell these waste products as exclusive and ask a high price for it!

The owner of the plantation gave himself a lot effort to make it well worth it to visit the plantation. Not too far from the plantation was a creek (billabong) where platypus (otter-like mammals with a bird bill, laying eggs and with a poisonous sting) lived. The road was well indicated. But, after a half hour still no platypus, or did we see one??...... We saw a ghost coming up in the murky water, but it might have been a water turtle as well. We were stunned by the flashing bright blue, red and yellow colours of the kingfisher, indeed hunting for small fish... and successful . At the end of the day we discovered a camping with places with a private bathroom, called ensuite. Nice and very luxurious.

On the camping in Tin Can Bay were many parrot-like birds, the Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus).Bright red and green. They flew through the camper park and made lots of noise. In the evening we made a walk and we came across trees, were countless lorikeets were gathered, making incredible noise.

Plants and flowers differ from what we are used to. Many the same so even those strange plants can be monotonous.


At Tin Can harbour daily a few wild dolphins show up. It became a tourist attraction. After running for 3 kms in the warm morning we arrived at the harbour, one of the dolphins was there. There are lots of rules, how to behave. The intention is to wade knee-deep in the water and keep your hand at the surface and wait. If the dolphin likes it, he swims to you and some people he likes to nibble the fingers.. You can buy a fish as well and he eats it from your hand. While standing in the water, little fishes eat your skin till it hurts especially scales of wounds.
The dolphin giving acte de presence, is called Scarry, and was hurt in a fishing net in the fifties, saved and treated. She and her offspring give this kind of show, but they are wild animals, which just enjoy contact with people and maybe snatch a fish without any effort.

Saturday we travelled to Hervey Bay. to see World Heritage Frazer Island. .
En route we saw everywhere signs of bushfires. In almost all forests the bigger trees have traces of previous burns and bushfires. Eventually you see fresh green sprouts in between the trees.
This phenomenon is indigenes to this area and can in principle be looked upon as a natural event. There are trees like the Banksia of which the seedpods only open after a bushfire. It looks worse that it is, but if humans ignite it, nature cannot cope again anymore with it.
In Hervey Bay we found a van-park with Dutch management, on that camping were many pigeons with a hood. And for the first time found an Internet café and -surprise- it works! We can download all the messages from all our Internet providers.
Fraser Island can be reached by a ferryboat. We decided to go for a day's program, to be back in the evening.Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world and has a tropical rainforest, rooted in sand and that is very special, it requires adaptation from the plants as sand has few nutrients. The 4-wheel drive bus ploughed easily its way through the loose sand. We drove high speed over the beach to various points of interest, including bizarre forms and strange coloured sandstone formations and a ship, which stranded long ago on the beach. Lost while being towed to its last destination. But on the beach there were aircraft as well, and nice hooded pigeons.
It rains in half a year twice as much as in The Netherlands in one year and that water flows to the ocean in crystal clear creeks. The visit to the tropical rainforest was bogus: over a wooden catwalk! However there were many examples of the rainforest to be seen at many other locations. The visit to the big, crystal-clear lake was a fairytale. Lovely to swim in luke warm clear water, surrounded by white sandy beach. But again nice flowers. This compensated for everything. Next day, the 11th of March, we travelled to Bundaberg., famous for the sugarcane rum. It is situated between the sugarcane plantations. Near Bargara we found a nice camping, with absolute sea view. Interesting that the lava flow of an eruption of a 30 kms distant Vulcan, some 10.000 years ago, still covered the beach in the form of huge basalt boulders. And again beautiful flowers. So plants wit attractive coloured berries, next to other nice flowers.Impressive were the ferns, they grow to gigantic size. Again bordered by flowers.. The ferns are in groupsand nice to see how they start as a little plant in the bark of a tree.

>Sea Turtles, Mon Repos
More or less in a built-up area is a sandy beach of only one and half a kilometre, the world's biggest nesting area of the huge Loggerhead sea turtles. The females live usually at a great distance, some 3000 km, and return to the beach were they were born. The temperature is important: low temperatures develop males and high temperatures females. As the females lay the eggs, nature see this way that the next generation can develop at an adequate warm tropical beach. The females dig a nest in the beach, about five times with an interval of two weeks. Each time they lay 80-120 eggs, size a golf ball. The nesting season is from November till January, so in high summer and the babies hatch from January till March. This happens quickly: they hatch in the night and run in the dark to sea as fast as they can to the waves, as they are very vulnerable on the land and many predators are waiting for them. So we were very lucky to see them, and could even touch them. These babies did not come out of the sand on own power, but were digged out after the first batch left the nest. They were digged out by a volunteer, to give the mini turtles a chance to survive. It was a very special experience.

The next event was a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is usually some 300 kms out of the coast, but the most southern part is closer.

On the camping we booked a trip to Lady Mushgrave Island., one of the most southern reef islands, with the biggest Laguna of the Great Barrier Reef, and a coral sand island. The trip to the island is 2,5 hours per very unstable high speed Trimaran. The boat boarded to a platform, where we could eat, snorkel and dive, see the reef through the windows of a semi-submersible vessel.A trip with a small boat with a glass underside was nice. The island consisted of coral sand. This sand is produced by sea cucumbers, black, cucumber size animals that eat the dead coral and convert it to coral sand. The pissoria trees on the island were full of breeding birds. There were even big frigate birds, normally not here, but hunting for hatching sea turtles when they, in contrary to their usual habit, hatch by day. In March is the last hatch, next round is in January.
Snorkelling was fantastic. Nice bright coloured fishes, some very big, you almost could touch them. Amazing was the coral in stunning colours and shapes. The fish were not shy at all. They approached you curiously. Especially the big poisonous Trumpet fish was impressive. An experience never to forget. The weather was favourable as well: warm, sunny, blue sky.. The beach was snow-white coral sand.

Wednesday, as always, the alarm clock went off very early in the morning to start with activities including an hour running. After recovering from that, en route to The Town of 1770., where Cook anchored in that year. We visited a Macadamia plantation. The macadamia is the only indigenous food from Australia that is recognised as footstock. They are extremely expensive, but seem to be very healthy. The same is true for the macadamia oil, which tastes very well.
After that we continued to Town of 1770, nicely situated at the end of a peninsula, with a steep cliff at the end. There was a stiff breeze and the waves were covered with foam. The "Town" is no town at all, but a number of recreation houses. We saw interesting palm types on air-roots.

In vain we tried to reach a van park in a national Park, however the road was too bad. We struggled the way back and eventually found a camping near an estuary, exclusively visited by fishermen. En route we discovered an interesting weed: a mini-version of the Christmas Star!

Mystery craters
Not too far from Gin Gin is a strange phenomena: a number of undeep craters in a strange structured bedrock, looking like someone mixed coarse clots of ocre through it. The craters are a few meters in diameter and not more than 16 meter deep. No scientist can give an explanation for this. It looks strange indeed.Later, in the Outback along the Capricorn Highway, we saw this rock often. Apparently this rock in not very special at all, the craters are.

The first kangaroos we saw were road hits, and flat. Later we saw them alive, really nice animals. A small species, size like a big dog, Wallabies.But with a big tail. There was even a white one between them, a kind of Albino. They jumped elegant.

Artificial lake
Near Gladstone. we arrived at a lake, Lake Awoonga, what appeared to be an artificial lake, of which the dam was increased in size, lots of building activities. Not too much nature, so we left soon.
In Gladstone was an atmosphere of a prosperous industrial town, having the biggest Australian aluminium production facility, using French technology (Péchiney). Further there was a huge cement factory and a big harbour. The weather was special: very warm with a comfortable breeze.
Friday March 15 we first enjoyed in Gladstone the Botanical Garden. Lots of flowers, trees and plants, nicely labelled, palm trees, plants,trees, were on show , but useful commercial grown trees and fruit plants were shown as well. All types of citrus trees were growing and many had fruits as well. The Star fruit was loaded with fruit, which tasted very well, as did the kumquats.
The rest of a watermelon spoilt a few crows.
After that we paid a visit, a private tour to the cement factory, producing 1,2 million tons of klinker, the material cement is made off. Klinker is made in a kiln, a revolving oven, under very high temperature, some 1500 degrees. Ingredients are limestone, clay, sand and iron ore. The product looks like grey coarse walnut size stones. Only 70 people working there and in shifts, so you hardly see anybody. The factory makes a very efficient impression. The factory was extended with Swiss capital and Swiss technology is used.

We spend some time with an official of the Stuart oil company operating a trial plant to produce oil from shale. This area virtually sits on huge amounts of oil-bearing shale. This area has a potential of the Alaska oil production for 30 years. However there are many problems to be solved, among others environmental. The oil they produce, for about 12 A$ per barrel production costs, is top quality.

Then we travelled to Rockhampton, the 'beef capital' of Australia. A modern Industry town, with lots of facilities. Rockhampton is situated on the Capricorn, so north of it is tropical.

Saturday we at last set course to the west to The Outback! The first goal was to reach the Tableberg National Park, but the road turned after 20 kilometre into a gravel road, unsuitable for the camper, so same way back. Really nice was nature over there.
Next trip was to Blackwater, where the biggest coalmines of Australia are located. But unfortunately it was Saturday, so no tours, as the information office was closed. But we were lucky to see our first dingo, the famous Australian wild dog. This one was rather bony.

Then further to Emerald, named after the gems found there. Tomorrow we try to find some gems, like sapphire or ruby. We see huge cotton fields, about to be harvested. The raw cotton feels like cotton wool.

So we are heading to Sapphire and Rubyvale. We'll see what happens.
Sunday we arrived in Sapphire and intuitively we decided to go to the first gem shop. The lady gave us a bag of 10-kilo material, in which the sapphires should be found. The first surprise was a plastic bag with a nice, little faceted blue sapphire. We quickly started to wash and process the material in a double strain and soon some chips and little sapphires were visible. Many were small, others bright in various colours. We decided to stay on the camping and the owner was a sympatric man, who mined sapphires himself and his grandfather discovered the sapphire fields. The sapphire fields are relatively small with rich pockets of sapphires. In the country you see everywhere campers, caravans and primitive dwellings of the fossickers as they call in Australia the people digging for gems and gold. Some are lucky and find a precious stone of up to a million dollar.
Sapphires are not only blue, but yellow, green and pink as well. The basic material, corundum is after diamond the hardest material on earth. The price varies to the quality. We bought some high quality stones, to enjoy.
The man, Barry had his own mines and took us in his 4WD to a lake he had made, to his mine and other places were gems were mined. Very interesting. And his son caught recently a fish of 10 kilo from his lake!

He was the owner of some of the most precious sapphires; you can read about these stones in almost every book about gems. A very special one, a 4 cm narrow cone with green stripes, still in the condition as it was found, is called the Tomahawk Tiger. Birgitt was permitted to hold him a short time. He had a big top-quality sapphire of honey colour, 44 carat. Estimated value: half a million dollar.. He tries to market these stones in the world, and was intending to try out Internet. I quickly made, as a demo, a working Internet site on our server, and he was fascinated how quick that worked. Next morning we discussed how we could support the business and decided to stay in contact. He showed some nice stones. When leaving we did not have to pay the camping site. As compensation for that, Birgitt got a golden ring with a beautiful sapphire and two diamonds.

On the camping was a family who probably spent quite a time there and the son was good friend with a few brilliantly coloured lorikeets. These beautiful birds were almost tame and quickly ate from your hand and came to sit on your shoulder. As everywhere in Australia, there were many hooded pigeons.

From Sapphire, via Rubyvale further to the west and deeper in the Outback. We enjoyed the deserted area and interesting nature. Endless were the long roads, without traffic. Again there was cotton growing. We slept in Alpha, a sleepy outback town. The only interesting items are murals, painted after the flood in 1990. Lots of walls are nicely painted with murals.
Interesting are the many termite moulds.

>Further to Barcaldine and still no big wild kangaroos, but soon we saw our first emu, a kind of Australian ostrich, big, dark brown with a green neck and shy. But we could make some pictures, and soon after that, an other one showed up.
Our plan was to remain overnight in Blackal., a provincial little town, with shops where you could get everything, and a small little water world with clear mineral water, at least 30 degrees
There were beautiful trees in the parks. 
The water supply is with artesian hot mineral water, from 800m deep. Even the toilets are flushed with hot mineral water. It is rather milky but turns clear quickly. It smells like rotten eggs, but is without any doubt good for some therapy.
The most interesting trees are the bottle trees. Big trunks with on top some branches.

Still not seen any big Kangaroos, but in the evening they might be seen near the village. So we walked to the field, but no kangaroos. We asked a man driving a motorbike and he told that they surely would show up at dusk. A few minutes later he came back and said we missed them, closer to the village. We went back and yes, there they were, a group man-size kangaroos. Out of the pouch of a very big one a young one was curiously looking. Lots of pictures of course and we could film it as well.
Every morning we run. Of course early in the morning, later it is too hot. But it’s really nice.

>On Wednesday, March 20 we drive to Roma, still in the Outback. Big herds of emus can be seen, up to 18! Some rather close, the birds are really big, on the horizon they look like a herd of cows.
Here we see very nice bottle trees, or boab's. If we go out to visit a few nice ones, a herd of kangaroos is jumping away.
The landscape is very variable, woods, savannas and lots of other variations. Slowly we come in an area were cattle is kept. That's why the beef is so good and cheap. For 15A$ you buy a kilo of the best, tender and tasteful rib filet.
During a stop we make some nice pictures of a cactus, a prickly pear. The fruit is delicious but covered with thorns. Birgitt needed a few hours to remove them all form hands, arms and face and lips.

We planned to use the camping from Morven, but this one was not in use. What a nasty surprise, further another 90 kilometre to Mitchell., but the good news is that the camping is free for the first 2 days. It is really a nice camping, but we have to go on. It is just too hot here, and we are heading to the cooler south.
During themorning run a kangaroo jumped just in front of us over the path.
Mitchell looks attractive, but most shops are vacated. So today, the 21st, we travelled further to Roma. A small stretch, but not too fast as it is inside the car very comfortable, with the air-conditioning. Outside it is 40 degrees and the sun burns at noon in the north. Yes, in the north, as we are on the southern hemisphere. It is confusing for your sense of direction, while navigating. In the night you can witness another surprise. The convex side of the moon to right does not mean an increasing moon, like on the northern hemisphere, but the opposite.

Today we visited the oil museum in Roma. Here the firs oil and gas was found in Australia. Even today some gas is produced here. In he evening there was a lightshow, but we were the only guests. Expensive but nice. We even saw an oil pump produced in Holland at Thomassen in De Steeg.

In the mean time we are convinced that the mineral water of the Artesian Basin tastes quite good, if the stinking sulphur Hydrogen H2S has been removed. It clears itself by time and during the morning jog we encountered a water factory were they removed the H2S by spraying the water over huge concrete containers. There it stinks, but in Roma the water does not smell. We filled the water tank and every container and bottle we had with this precious water and the remainder of the holiday we enjoyed that nice mineral water. In total 100 litres should be enough for a week. And it was.

Today is Friday the 22nd, en route to Toowoomba and finally leaving the Outback.After Roma the traffic becomes more dense and the landscape less interesting. We even got some raindrops. Few dead kangaroos along the road could be seen. Searching for koalas in a forest we found a cactus (opuntia inermis) with white fuzzy spots on it. These are the little insects that produce the dye for a natural red dye, the famous crimson for the soldier’s coats of the past. This was the reason to import the cactus and the insects, but soon the cactus became a pest, as the plant had no predator. It was quickly making vast area's unusable. Every part of the plant sprouted to a new one and the birds, eating the fruit disseminated with their droppings quickly the cactus over huge area's. Research showed that an insect, the Cactoblastis, from South America, probably could solve the problem and control the pest.
In 1926 eggs of the insect were placed on the cactus and it worked out well IN 1932 there was an explosion op the Cactoblastis population and the cactuses disappeared in pulp. Now there is equilibrium between the cactuses and the insects and the cactus is not considered a pest anymore.
During a walk in the evening, Toowoomba showed to be a very attractive town. You can buy there for a low price a nice house.
Today, Saturday the 23, we leave Queensland for New South Wales. A nice trip with lots of variations on the landscape: forest, agriculture, mountains and savannas. Around Toowoomba there was some traffic, later we were almost the only ones on the roads again. We came along an area famous for its fruits and vegetables, but the price was still high. Tomatoes for up to 6 Euro per kilo!

Eventually we ended, by luck in Invernell, famous for the blue sapphires. Tomorrow we find out what we can do to find some.
First our daily run of course and the van park appears to be situated near an artificial lake, stuffed with waterfowl. At least 50 black swans and many other birds. Beautiful!
Now first to the sapphire mining area. After picking up tools, shovels, strains, buckets etc, we drive to the mine over an awful gravel road. Better that the owner of the car did not see that. The place was very idyllic along a creek. The first stone we found a nice bleu sapphire. Later many others, but small. And much more zircons.The zircons were usually square. After our expedition in the burning sun, we enjoyed on the veranda of the owner’s house a nice tea and home made cake. He revealed some secrets about the gem market. How they are facetted and heat treated etcetera. What became clear, is that the Thai dominate the trade. Further it became clear that every market has its own preferences. The dark ones go to China, the lighter ones to America. The honey gold is the very rare, but it has a very limited market. As the richest fields are exhausted, sapphires are steadily becoming more expensive. In the mean time we have lots of sapphires in the camper. We returned to the same van-park we departed from. Then it appeared that we did forget to reclaim the money for the tools and the mine owner had called by phone to the camping boss, and the money was nicely delivered. Honest people!
We saw a nice grass palm, a very interesting tree. We enjoyed the custard apple. The taste was sweet and creamy, a right name for this tropical fruit.
Upon leaving, first to the Gem shop to compare the prices we paid to the price here. And to get informed over faceting equipment and tools, possibly Birgitt's new hobby, Well, as of 4000A$ cost a simple facetting tool, and further you need diamond discs. So forget it.
The prices appeared the double of what we paid in Sapphire. Not too bad, but the prices of jewellery were OK, so we bought some extra.

>Monday the 25th the trip went to Tamworth, a nice trip full of changes in the scenery. The landscape sometimes varied per 5 minutes. The landscape was mainly hilly with immense granite boulders glittering in the sun; a nice and interesting voyage. The granite had rather big crystalline facets
It's now time to make a plan what to do next week, the last week, about two thirds of the holiday is over, time flies and it is a good reason to come back soon. Today we eat a new vegetable, a kind of light green massive paprika, but completely different from taste. Delicious when spices enrich the neutral

Tuesday the 26th looks promising: clouds, but soon it is again hot.
Today to the Blue Mountains, called blue as the vapour of the eucalyptus trees tint the air faint blue. It is a nice trip, through hills and forests; many horses are kept here on huge farms. Before we enter the Wollemi and Yengo National Park, we see near Bulga huge open pitcoalmines. Just scrape away the top layer and thick layers of coal are ready to dig away. If you have stocks in European underground mines, sell them as soon as you can, as nobody can compete against these mines. The road passes trough deep canyons. It is becoming more and more green and at the end of the day nature is fully green, with fresh grass is growing in between the trees.
Very interesting sandstone formations can be seen. In between the stone hard solid sandstone is just compressed loose sand in layers. the total with stunning forms, patterns and colours.
In the same forest is good to be seen how a forest survives after fire. The gum trees sprout quickly, discard their bark and look as new.
Some seeds need the fire to germinate.
The camping is located in a beautiful valley, the most expensive and dirty until now.

The next day we passed the Air Force Base Richmond. It was crowded with transport aircraft, mostly C-130 Hercules, even the new C-130J model was there. No activity could be noted initially. The announced tours were deleted due to the enhanced security measures. We proceed further to the Blue Mountains. But first to the Opal museum, were Birgitt shopped till she dropped.
Next trip is steep up the mountains, on winding roads. Nice green with breathtaking views. Today we have overcast with once in a while sun. So beautiful, that you do not know where to look, to miss nothing. You like to stop every 100-meter, but you have to go on. Nice plants, flowers and birds and again incredible panoramas.
We visit the botanical garden of Mount Tomah.; you could spend there days. Behind a fence a few Wolleby firs, living fossils of a unique kind, discovered only in 1994 on a hill in a nearby national park. The exact place is top secret. Still very interesting that even nowadays, huge trees can be discovered these times. The world has still many secrets to be revealed.
Later we often saw the interesting structure of the sandstone. Incredible that pattern. Fine layers, separated by hard, iron layers. In Blackheath. we ended up a camping of not less than $24!! And nothing special, no golden taps or so.
At last it start raining. Lovely.
Good for the locals, who did pray so long for rain, but as rain continued, less attractive for us. But the camper needed a wash after the dusty Outback.
The Blue Mountains have here the nicest possible view, but in this moment it was limited to just clouds and rain. The road offered many outlooks, but unfortunately only all the same clouds.

We decided to go to Sydney and soon the skyline could be seen.
From the bridge a nice look on the town and harbours. Then the typical big-town disaster starts: queuing for hours. Meter by meter we slowly make our way through Sydney and regret we selected this detour. After many hours we enter the highway to Canberra.. Halfway we see the Lake George. But we see only cows and definitely not sea cows. The lake is dry, with on the horizon a trace of water.
En route we got coffee offered by an organisation of volunteers. But of course your donation is more than what you pay in a restaurant.
In Canberra we lost our way and after half an hour we arrived at the van-park. That was the good news; the bad news is that there was no space left, due to the Eastern holiday. We found an excellent alternative in Queanbeyan, just outside the capital. Many sulphur-hooded cockatoos were flying there.
Canberra is a mini-capita-state, situated in New South Wales. It covers quite a stretch and is situated at an altitude of 600 meters. 300000 people living there in comfort and Wide roads connect the quarters. The Parliament building with its strange 75m high flagpole, supported by 4 spars, is visible all over the town. Even more interesting is a fountain of 140 meter high, and can be seen everywhere. Speaking about spilt energy...........
We visited the Telstra Tower on the Blackhill and from here the town can be seen in overview. The weather was fine again with a good visibility. We met there some Hungarians, so we could exercise our Hungarian skills.

After Canberra the trip went to Cooma, over a broad road, in a complete different landscape: sparsely vegetation on hilly terrain. Cooma in the Snowy Mountains looked like a winter sport centre, but has no skiing areas; those are 90 km further at Perisher and Tredbo. The weather in the mountains was excellent: a bright sun and a crisp air. Interesting were the many big boulders in the meadows, with sheep in between it.
Arriving at the National Park, there were no well-equipped van-parks and we decided to return to Jindabyne., where we found an excellent camping near an artificial lake. The next day is our pan to climb the highest mountain from Australia, the Mount Kocsiuszko., and 2224 meter high. After that the plan is to travel further to Victoria.
It turned out different. In Tredbo., at 1350 meter, it was cloudy and cold. The ski lifts however were operating to bring wanderers high up the mountain. But in clouds nothing could be seen, so we cancelled it and went further to the West through the Snowy Mountains. Just further in the west the sky cleared and the visibility was good again. However in the east it remained cloudy.
We travelled through impassive gum-trees and, as we descended, a variation in trees and plants became visible.
It remained mountainous and beautiful green. From a distance it looks like Austria, but all trees are different, mostly gum-trees which can grow very tall and big.
Interesting was the visit to the Snowy Mountains Hydro powerstation. Snowy Mountains are in winter covered with snow and that area is as big as Switserland. The precipitation is collected in artificial lakes and used for power generation and through tunnels diverted to the other side of the mountains, where it is used for irrigation. The big Murray powerstation has 9 turbines and a power of 950 Megawatt. It can generate that power within 2 minutes!

Soon after leaving Snowy Mountains we entered Victoria, welcomed by a big announcement that we were not allowed to take fruit with us. Australian people are paranoia for the import of diseases and plagues and that goes for the inner Australian states as well. In Victoria it goes about the fruit fly. You have to discard all fruit, including paprika. If not, heavy fines will follow.
The scenery became ever different: steep hills and some without vegetation. After the hills, mountains showed up again, up to almost 2000m. In Mount Beauty. we entered the mountains again.
Half an hour further there was an interesting ski area, Falls Creek, it looked like a modest ski area. As there was no camping at this cool altitude, 13 degrees, we drove back again the breathtaking road to Mount Beauty, were we claimed the last powered site in this busy Easter weekend.
Today, the 30th, the clock goes back an hour, wintertime and an hour ahead in Europe, summertime.
Our trip is almost over, still 3 days to go, when we have to deliver our camper. That means careful planning with stocks, and the items, which we still like to see We still have not seen Koalas in the wild. This morning we ran not less than 70 minutes, from Mount Beauty to the foothills. At the end we almost were exhausted.
After departure we made an Internet stop in gold diggers village where was an eastern event.

The trip from Mount Beauty over the Great Alpine Road is wonderful. Again the "nicest we have seen". The air is fresh, smelling to eucalyptus, the gum tree. The species that grow here is the snow gum, in winter covered with snow.
Between 900 and 1450 meter grows the Alpine Ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis), called Woolly butt. These can only multiplicate after a bushfire. Lighting strikes causes half of the burned forest area and contribute to the re-juvenation of the forest.
The wood is hard and very usable for construction and furniture. There seems to be so abundant wood available that usually dead trees are just standing. We saw many plantations of fir trees, mainly for construction.
The nice road went up higher and higher in the flank and on saddles of the mountains, the road reached 1800m, the highest road in Australia, with a stunning scenery.
Soon we arrived at Hotham., a big ski resort at 1800m. Many ski lifts and reasonable steep descents. It looks modern and well maintained. It even has an airport, connecting the big Australian cities. There are good package deals for skiing.
10 km further is Dinnerplain., a new chalet resort at 100m, without an own ski-area.
We nosed a little around, to look for the possibility to acquire an apartment but the prices were too high for Australian market; houses in Australia are usually not too expensive. Many chalets were again on sale, not a good sign either. After Diner Plain the character of the road changed. The road was hidden on the top of the mountain, and showed interesting trees at this high altitude. Again and again the picture changed, the mountains became hills. Eventually the road led through a nice canyon, with a little river. Here again that feeling that you want to stop every minute to enjoy the scenery and to make pictures of all the interesting things. Sometimes the road is newly drilled out in the rocks and you know that everywhere are still minerals and gems to be discovered. If you pass such a site often you see something glittering in the sun.......

When we leave the canyon its time to look for a camping. We find one in Bruthen.. The road we travelled was in a relative crowded area, but that is very relative, as this is the only sealed road in a stretch of 500 kilometres leading north south. And hardly any traffic!

Today, the first of April we travelled to Lake Entrance

through a small nice road along the river Tambo, by wear deeply cut out in the terrain.
Lake Entrance: nice but touristy, so be gone as soon as you can. However, it is nicely situated with many lakes behind the dunes, most lakes connected to the sea. Thousands of boats are here anchored. We see here fore the first time pelicans, really big birds. After this, the trip has more variation: between dull and very dull, till we arrive at Yarlburn where we see big power stations. These are fired by lignite, which is mined from, only 15 meters under the topsoil and in 300m thick layers. They are mining here for a century and only 3% used, still enough for another 1000 years. And then the coal bearing layers stretch further. Australia is incredible rich on coal and lignite. Oh and thanks for the CO2 emissions, as your contribution to the greenhouse global warming.
After this the landscape became nice: rolling hills and nice green vegetation.
After every corner of the road, something beautiful could be seen. Here the trip-counter passed the 6000 kilometres. At the end of the day we arrived at the beautiful camping of Yanakie Beach, on the peninsula of Wilson’s Promontory, the most southern point of the Australian continent, forming a land bridge in the past to Tasmania. Here many interesting plants, e.g. solanum type with orange fruit.
In the morning, as usual our daily jog, but this time in the morning fog. On the beach lots of interesting plants, like tetragone, New Zealand’ spinach. Of course we collected seeds of this delicious vegetable, to plant in Hungary. Birgitt collects little shells, looking like gems.
After this to the National Park. Two emus blocked the road. The further to Mount Oberon, one of the highest peaks on the peninsula.
The climb to the top offered a fantastic view. Again lots of interesting trees, plans and flowers. Though it is autumn, the temperature is high, like in summer.
The next walk we selected was to the Lilly Pilly Gully, where koalas should be hiding. And there they were. High in the eucalyptus tree one was sleeping, moving once in a time. The koalas are rather big with a grey fur. Soon after that we saw another, clinching with his fore paws around the tree. Nature became more beautiful, a sinister rainforest with very high fern trees. We saw some shining reptiles, lizards, and just after it two breathtaking coloured parrots, with intense red and blue, pictures to follow. Even the weed was wonderful.
The next trip was to the Squeaky Beach. shining White, squeaking sand beach in an idyllic location. At last we went to Whiskey Bay, another stunning white beach.
Time to leave. After our adventure in the national park we found a nice camping in Leongatha. We spend the last night here, so preparing the camper for the drop off and get rid of as much junk as we could. And cleaning the car and stuffing the luggage in our backpacks.

The last day was wonderful, nice weather, about 30 degrees. We decided an alternate route to Melbourne., along the coast. The impression is that Melbourne is a huge, well-organised town. The endless outskirts had magnificent houses.
Melbourne is located along a huge bay. The skyline is impressive and looks prosperous. 3.3 million inhabitants enjoy the good life. First check-in in the hotel, good situated in centre of town, leave the luggage there and the drop off the camper, 30 kilometres away. No problems as the camper did not had any scratch during the trip.
The last run was in the center of Melbourne pressing our way in between business men a suits, these looking rather astonished.
End of 6000 km driving, 200 km running and much more walking.
The aircraft departed on time and the route to Hong Kong, and flew over the central desert. Stunning red coloured rocks. Next time we have to see that!

Of course you cannot include everything in this travel report. Australia is so divers that every part is interesting and we have seen only the southeastern part. Our impression is that Australia is fantastic for those people who can entertain themselves. The camper is the best way to discover the country. This offers the possibility to stop were you like as you have everything on board. A 4-wheel drive is not only part of the Australian image, but you need that if you want to visit national parks. Most access roads are gravel roads and by contract you are not allowed to use it with the camper. And if you see how these cars are suffering from it and wearing out, that clause is reasonable.
The towns are well maintained and make a prosperous impression. The cars are big, often new and well maintained as well. However the cars seem to have an eternal life, but the old ones seem to be used by the less fortuned.
The Australians we met were nice people, ready for a chat and always willing to help.
Travelling is safe, but sealed roads, covered with bitumen, are scarce in th Outback. In the outback the next sealed road is sometimes at 1000 km distance, and this limits the possibility to see remote area's in a conventionally car. A 4WD is a must if you like to see Australia.
The country is so divers that you can only give some impressions. The Outback stole our heart. A country od cntrast. You can travel there a day without meeting someone. It is usually dry and warm. The people are relaxed and helpful.
It is still the Wild West, life is lonely and harsh. But with comradeship as well and people are honest. Success is close to failing; hope close to despair, drought, turns very seldom in a water flood. Incredible wealth in minerals wait to be discovered, sometimes just waiting to be picked up
Nature is sometimes bizarre: a mammal with a bird bill, laying eggs and with a poisonous sting-the platypus. Kangaroos, they keep surprising you. Everywhere those skilled flyers can be seen, the lorikeets, parrots and cockatoos. It is real cruel to put those magnificent creatures in a cage.
It is lovely to see koalas in the wild. They sleep 20 hours a day, so difficult to see.
The northern part is definitely tropical but does not leave a tropical impression.
The food is good; the beef is very good, in quality and in price. Fruit is unexpected expensive, except the pineapples and melons. Ginger is delicious.Passing the customs was a problem due to overweight cabin-luggage. It is not fair. Someone dragging along 20 kilos of fat has no problem, but a bony person with 1 kilo too much sapphires in his luggage has a real problem.
Australia we come back!!