Monday, October 6, 2014

G'day Mate!

Warning:  The next few posts will be about our Australia trip.  There are so many pictures and stories we want to share with our families, but I’m afraid we’ll lose everyone else if I post them all here at once.  So hopefully, you won’t find this too tedious.  We had a fantastic time and just want to share that with those who give a crap…..  Enjoy (if you give a crap).

As I said in my last post, according to Jake, the only reason he came sailing with us was to “go to Australia.”  He wanted to see a Kangaroo.  As we made the decision to go downwind from the Marshall Islands, we pretty much made the decision not to sail to Australia.  At some point you get too far west and the only options to sail there are not very comfortable (some will disagree, but I would place bets that they haven’t heaved over the rail as much as I have).  So we made the decision to fly to Australia.  Andy was there 20 years ago, but I had never been and well, of course Jake was up for it.  It took weeks to decide what to do.  We finally decided, if our budget and time only allowed for a few weeks, we were going to do what we would consider the “Australian” thing…we were going to the Outback.  So we signed ourselves up for a 5 day, 4 night camping Safari. 

Getting to the Outback from Kuching is not as easy or as cheap as many led us to believe.  To save a little money, we decided to spend a night in Darwin (I know that sounds counter productive, but planning our own flight connections proved to save us thousands of dollars, even with the extra hotel rooms).  Our flight landed at 4:15….in the morning.  Since our hotel room wasn’t ready (some old bloke still sleeping there, no doubt), we waited for sunrise in the restaurant and then went for a walk about. 

Our first impressions and realization that we weren’t in SE Asia anymore was the sheer number of white people.  We had actually grown quite comfortable being in the minority and not speaking the language.  You get to hide in the background knowing no one is talking to you and you get to pretend to be anonymous all the time.  Once we arrived in Australia, everyone was speaking English and you had to actually pay attention, because well, they’re friendly and they actually talk to you.  “G’day Mate!”  “No worries Mate!”  “Where are ya from Mate?”  These Mates were all talked out in the first day!  We were also taken aback when told to put our seat belts on..."seat belts?  what's that?"

So back to the walk about…we only had a day in Darwin, so we did a nice sunrise walk on the Esplanade and as soon as the pubs started serving pints, we bellied up to the waterfront bars and wondered what it would have been like to sail our boat into the harbor.  In the end, we decided it would have been bloody expensive and a pain in the arse!  Happy to be passing through (we spent $200 in the first 3 hours with our taxi ride, breakfast and the aforementioned pints).

Seriously...the biggest paella I've ever seen.
So I can see this will get lengthy if I tell every opinion we had, so I’ll skip ahead to our trip to the Mindil Beach Market.  Apparently, this is a very Darwin thing to do and we happen to be there on the right day of the week.  It wasn’t too far from our hotel so we walked to the beach and marveled at all the food stalls, artwork, and entertainment.  We even saw a velvet Elvis, I kid you not.  We ate our way through the stalls….oysters, paella (take a look a the picture…incredible), lamb kabobs, grilled fish, and of course ice cream.  We watched the sun set and made our way back to the hotel room.  After an early morning wake up call to the tune of a fire alarm, we made sure we were on our 7:00 flight to Alice Springs.  One day closer to the Outback….

They're pretty darn proud of their croc catching skills...
I have to say Jake was impressed.

Other items impressed Andy...bloated frogs holding liquor bottles.

Alice Springs was much bigger than we had expected but you could tell we had crossed some sort of climate, terrain, and cultural line.  Our hotel was kind enough to check us in early and we promptly took advantage of the air condition and cushy beds. 

We spent a day and a half touring the city before our “adventure” began.  We spent some time at the reptile museum where we got a sneak peak of some of the creatures we would be seeing throughout the week.  Jake and I got to hold a python – probably the highlight of the museum – and we saw some of the coolest lizards we’d ever come across.  When we made it back to our hotel, we were met with a peacock…yep.  I have no idea why the Doubletree has a peacock strutting his stuff around the grounds, but they do.  Pretty neat.  We ordered Dominos for dinner (because we could…haven’t seen Dominos in years out on the boat), and turned in early in anticipation of our 5:00 wake up call (this would prove to be a trend throughout the week).  Stay tuned….

One of the many venomous snakes in Australia.

Another "can kill ya" snake.

These were supposed to be everywhere, but wouldn't you know
we picked the one place in Australia where they're  hard to find.
Kind of like the Kangaroo (not kidding...more on that later.)

The bearded dragon.  We actually saw one of these in the wild
later in the week.

Thorny devil...saw one of these in the wild as well.

Not so rare for us as we're sitting in a croc infested river in Kuching,
but cool none the less.

Jake's newest snuggle's on the list for
"when we get a house, can I have a pet?"

Not to be outdone by my son....

Wonderful lunch complete with kangaroo pizza...only $74!
What a bargain!

Don't ask...I don't know....

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