Be Back Whenever


“A few of our favorite things …”

Now that the trip is coming to an end, we reflected over a gin and tonic about the good and the bad of the last 8 months. For what it’s worth …

  • Favorite “normal” places we visited – Seychelles (Mark);  Split (Susan)
  • Favorite adventure – Rwanda trekking with gorillas
  • Least favorite “adventure” – hike across Le Curieuse Island in the Seychelles
  • Least favorite town – Bundi, India
  • Least favorite “things” during the trip – Food poisoning (Susan); Bad tour guide in Bundi and Kota

Best place for a drink

  • Beer in Serengeti
  • India Pacific train
  • Catamaran to MONA in Hobart
  • Beer while watching the total lunar eclipse from the rooftop in Bundi
  • Wine on the twilight sailing yacht in Fremantle

Best place we stayed (Other than with friends)

  • Meridien in the Seychelles with an oceanfront room
  • Sheraton in Koh Samui – best A/C of all!
  • Meridien in Koh Samui with a plunge pool

Worst Hotel – Bundi Vilas Halewi

Best Hotel Lounge – Bangkok Westin

Best flight – Munich to Bangkok in First Class on Thai Air

Worst travel day – Port Macquarie to Hobart – 4 hours of flying time turned into a 14 hour trip

Best restaurant

  • Steak at the Jail House Inn, Launceston
  • Mexican food at Terminal 21, Bangkok after 5 months of no Mexican food

Best restaurant view – Indique in Jodphur

Worst food – Colonel’s Retreat, Delhi – Susan’s food poisoning location!

Worst roads – India, hands down!

Rudest person on the trip – UK couple on the train in India

Weirdest person we ran into on the trip – the Indian guy who stared at us for 4 hours on the Indian train

“Glad it wasn’t me” event – Aileen not getting her luggage for 5 days on the safari

Great coincidence –  Aileen didn’t have her phone charger and she used her phone to take pictures. Mark had his camera since he used his phone for pictures.  He loaned Aileen the camera but didn’t have the charger for it.  Annie from Tennessee had a charger that fit the camera! All was well in the photography world.

Unexpected experiences

  • Twilight sailing in Fremantle on a yacht and dinner at the Fresh Water Yacht Club
  • Seeing 2 kills in Serengeti by 3 lionesses. They killed 2 wildebeests
  • Landing in Mwanza, Tanzania, to clear immigration leaving Tanzania
  • Food Walks in Delhi and Jaipur

Little too close for comfort – the airline we flew in Tanzania crashed a plane into Ngorongoro Crater National Park just a few days after we used them

Illnesses – 4 colds (2 each) and 1 case of food poisoning and 1 sprained wrist

New friends and acquaintances

  • Avijet – Indian in Ranthambore NP from CA – works for EAS
  • Ana – met in Split – anesthesiologist from Singapore/Malaysia/Cambridge
  • Nora and Juhis – Finland met in Seychelles
  • Rob and Justin; Sonya and Graham – Australians met in Split
  • Peter from Melbourne via Rob and Justin
  • Gayle and Mark – Sydney
  • Margarida – Sydney Sheraton clerk from Portugal
  • Ben and Belinda – from Geneva – met in Golden Monkey trek
  • Uta – from Germany met in Tanzania
  • Ryan from Malta – met in Edinburgh
  • Clifford – from Madagascar – doing laundry in Bangkok
  • Suchin Shah – from South Carolina – sells RV’s
  • Per and Lise – from Norway
  • Debbie and Tim – from London

4/30 Figtree Adventures

No … that’s not Figtree as in a plant but “Figtree” as in the town in New South Wales near Wollongong.  Susan met Gale and Trevor 2 years ago on a trip with Mom to Eastern Europe and they committed the ultimate folly … they said, “Come visit”. Mark and I did!  We spent 5 days with them and had a marvelous time seeing some sights and watching the Commonwealth Games on TV while sipping wine.

Mark, Susan, Trevor and Gale after a walk on the beach

Mark, Susan, Trevor and Gale after a walk on the beach

One day we took a drive up in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales where we checked out Fitzroy Falls on a short walk and paid homage to Sir Donald Bradman of cricket fame in Bowral.  His house has a plaque on the fence; it’s easy to see where people tread on the grass to take pictures!

Sir Donald Bradman statue

Sir Donald Bradman at the International Cricket Hall of Fame in Bowral, New South Wales, Australia

Fitzroy Falls

Fitzroy Falls in New South Wales

Two local cricket teams were playing a Sunday afternoon match. I don’t know much about cricket, but it was evident, even to me, that one of the bowlers was really bad and was going to be buying the beer after the match.

Cricket field

We watched a bit of cricket – think baseball but with only 2 bases to run back and forth between with a 360 degree playing field.

The coast around Wollongong is beautiful and it’s easy to see why so many people want to live there and will even deal with the terrible commute to Sydney every day either by car or train AND why the house prices have shot up!

Sea Cliff Bridge and coastline near Wollongong

beach view

This beach is near Wollongong. The water was a bit chilly for us when we got to a beach where we put our feet in.

This escarpment runs from Sydney down the coast.

Australia seems to be enamored with “big” things.  In a previous trip we saw the Big Merino, and a Big Avocado.  Gale and Trevor made sure we had our picture taken in front of the Big Potato in Robertson.  The meat pies for lunch in Robertson were way better tasting than the Big Potato. We’ll leave it to your imagination as to what other names that spud gets!

Big Potato

There’s no choice but to pose in front of the Big Potato!

magpie on porch

This magpie visits Gale and Trevor every day.

King parrot in tree

One of the king parrots we spotted in a tree

Pink and Grey Gallas

Australia has some beautiful birds. These are Pink and Grey Gallas just hanging out in a park.


Sulfur-crested cockatoos are everywhere. They are incredibly loud and destructive, ripping leaves off of trees at will. We still think they’re beautiful.

Three weeks in Victoria, Australia

We lived for 9 months in Melbourne back in 1994-95, visited again about 8 years ago, and wanted to come back to visit friends and see all the changes.

First stop was in Woodend north of Melbourne to visit Justin and Rob who we met in Split, Croatia, while checking out a menu and then sharing some wine.  Justin rescued us from the busy Melbourne Airport on Friday evening and we spent a fun 4 days with them seeing some of the area around Mount Macedon.

Rob and Justin at Mooroba Winery

Rob and Justin took us to the Mount Towrong winery up the road from their new house and helped us spend a superb Sunday afternoon.

How better to spend a Sunday afternoon than drinking wine and eating food with friends at the Mount Towrong Winery?

We babysat with the girls – Ruby and Molly, the cocker spaniels – while the guys were at a party.

Terry and Ian were our second set of friends to visit. We met them 24 years ago before they even had any children (now in college and high school).  It was like we saw them just last week.

Ian and Terry – it seemed like just yesterday we saw them.

Essenden Bomber mascot

Mark had front row seats for the Essenden – Adelaide Footy match thanks to Ian. It was even the first match of the season. Ian was thrilled when Essenden came form behind to win!

Ian and Terry took us for an afternoon road trip to the Mornington Peninsula for a brewery visit, 2 wineries, and Arthur’s Seat.  This is a view of the Mornington Peninsula from Arthur’s Seat – a drive, not a hike.

We rented an AirBnB for 10 days right in the middle of the city, conveniently located by the Coles Market and Liquorland.  Melbourne has a free tram zone now to attempt to reduce traffic in the CBD.  Our place was in the free zone making it convenient when we wanted to go around town.

Tall building with Airnb.

The tall building with the red arrow is where our AirBnb was.

View of Etihad Stadium in Melbourne from our AirBnB

Electrical Outlets

See the extra button in the middle? For the cook top to work, this has to be turned on!

We visited the Shrine of Remembrance that now has an informative museum about the role of Australia in various wars and military actions.

Shrine of Remembrance

Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, dedicated to WWI


The Melbourne Cricket Ground, the mecca of cricket in Australia and site of the Grand Finals in Aussie Rules football.

Flinders Station

Flinders Station in Melbourne

What else did we do in Melbourne?  Haircuts, a little clothes shopping and toothpaste shopping – all the important tasks!

No devils spotted in Tasmania

Tasmanian Devil warning sign

A slightly marked up warning sign for Tasmanian Devils. The creatures are nocturnal. These go along with the koala, kangaroo, and wombat warning signs.

After the travel day from hell, we started 7 days of exploring part of Tasmania – Hobart, Port Arthur, and Launceston.  Hobart is a lovely little town right on the water with a big port. Every Saturday, the Salamanca Market with local products and arts is held on the waterfront and it was packed!  We figured the entire population of Hobart (about 220,000) was there but then we found out that the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, Innovation of the Seas, with 5000 passengers was in port.

At the Hobart marina, we found a police boat named for Mark. Wickham, Australia is way up in the northwest near Broome.

sculpture of women prisoners in Hobart

This sculpture was on the waterfront where the convicts from England arrived. Some were women and children.

After our shopping excursion, we went on a search for a few microbreweries. Mind you … this was a beautiful Saturday afternoon about noon when our walk started.  We found T-Bone Microbrewery about 1:15 it doesn’t open until 2 PM.  Why would you waste a perfectly good beer day by not opening?

Lots of stores close in Hobart about 2 PM on Saturday and are not open at all on Sunday.  It was a holiday weekend and pretty quiet except for the cruise people!  This didn’t give us much hope of finding an open micro-brewery but we ambled down the street to Shambles (They were open!) and had some pretty good beer.

The taps in Shambles Brewery

Shambles Brewery taproom in Hobart, Tasmania

Taproom in Hobart Brewery

The bar in Hobart Brewery

The next day, Sunday, off we walked to Hobart Brewery, another brewery with a great location by the cruise port in a big red barn on a large lot.  They don’t take advantage of any of this – only open on Sunday afternoon for a few hours, no music, not even any snacks.  The co-founder and head brewer is from Colorado and you would think he’d have a few business ideas for the brewery – as in having more than beer there!

Then there’s the whole issue of brewery paraphernalia – as in not much if any at all!  Mark loves t-shirts but try as he might, craft brewery t-shirts were hard to find.  Most of the breweries we visited in Australia could take a few marketing lessons from U.S. craft brewers – t-shirts, glasses, bottle openers.

Many restaurants in Hobart had a line on their menu “10% Surcharge on Saturday and 15% surcharge on Sunday and holidays”.  We learned that restaurant servers get paid more if they work on Saturday, Sunday, or holidays and the restaurants want to cover their costs.

MONA ferry with champagne

MONA is the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. We took the ferry to get there. You can pay more for the Posh Pit seating and enjoy champagne and coffee on the 25 minute trip each way. The coffee was in the morning. On the way back, we only drank champagne. The museum has lots of interesting art to accompany the architecture.

Our Tuesday excursion was to MONA – Museum of Old and New Art – in Hobart.  We took the 25-minute ride and then tackled the 99 steps UP from the dock to the museum.

MONA is an interesting art museum to say the least! One piece of art was a guy with tattoos as a piece of art.

Tuesday morning we left Hoabrt, after we picked up a car at the Avis office. We headed out of town after a few times around the block and around the round-about (The Google map lady is less than useful with 3 lanes of traffic heading into a roundabout.) on the way to Port Arthur Historic Site.  This is the site of a British prison for convicts in the 1800’s. It’s a large site and it’s easy to spend an entire day there with various talks and tours.

Port Arthur prison

Port Arthur Historical Site – one of the main prison buildings. The scenery looks a lot like West Virginia/Western Maryland minus the water. The roads are equally winding and hilly in places.

Until we arrived at the Historic Site, we thought the Port Arthur Shootings happened in the town of Port Arthur. The shootings that led to complete revamp of Australia’s gun laws happened at the little café on the Historic Site   Harry who’d we met at the Twilight Sail in Perth was at the Port Arthur Historic Site on the day of the shooting. He wanted wine with lunch and didn’t stay at the Café when they didn’t sell wine. This was the only reason he missed being at the shooting.  To celebrate and remember, he drinks a glass of wine very day for lunch.

After Port Arthur we retraced some of our path and then headed north to Launceston with a stop at Ross – 42 degree latitude marker, Wool Centre, Bridge built by convicts.  This part of Tasmania has very little traffic – more sheep than cars or people.

The bridge was built by convicts in Ross, a small country village. Ross sits on the 42nd parallel SOUTH of the equator.

Chocolate Factory sign

How could we not stop at the Chocolate Factory? Yes, we bought some.

Day 1 in Launceston had us driving to Low Head along the east side of the Tamar River to visit the Low Head lighthouse and Pilot Station.

Low Sound Lighthouse

Low Sound Lighthouse overlooking the Bass Strait. Penguins live near here but we didn’t see any during the day.

Mark and Susan

Another one of spectacular selfies – proof we made it to the Bass Strait.

We crossed the Tamar River and drove down to Green’s Beach to say we’ve been to the Bass Strait. The tide was out; the beach is deep and wide.

Wines for Joanie

On the way back to Launceston, we drove through some of the Tasmanian wine region and made a stop at Wines for Joanie since Susan’s Mom is Joan.

After 3 days in Launceston, I directed Mark on a different route to get back to Hobart to fly on to Melbourne.

Tasmanian Devil scuplture with suitcases

This sculpture is in the Hobart airport near luggage claim.

At the Hobart airport, Susan’s bags were swabbed for gun powder along with 2 other peoples’ bags – all using the same swab. What was the security lady going to do when it came back positive?  She’d used the swab on at least 8 different bags!

A week in Tasmania

We hadn’t made it to Tasmania on previous visits and we weren’t sure we’d make it this time!  Our flight was scheduled for Port Macquarie to Sydney to Hobart.  We got to the Port Macquarie Airport – very tiny airport – at 8:30 AM, dropped off our car, and discovered that the 10:10 flight was delayed to 11:00, to 12:00, to 12:25.  We finally boarded at 12:57. Needless to say, we missed our connection in Sydney.  I will say Virgin Atlantic was waiting at the gate to hand out new tickets to all the “missed flight” people. Now, we had a 3 hour wait for our new flight and that one was delayed by an hour.  We finally landed in Hobart about 10:15 PM. By the time we got the shuttle and were dropped off at the hotel, it was 11:05 PM.  No food open except the Domino’s Pizza down the street!  The pizza was pretty good .. or were we just really hungry?

Our Australian friends said we could have driven faster to Hobart if the Bass Strait wasn’t in the way.  This flight day was the worst of the whole trip so far. I guess we can’t complain!

sculpture of women prisoners in Hobart

This sculpture was on the waterfront where the convicts from England arrived. Some were women and children.

We found a police boat named for Mark. Wickham, Australia is way up in the northwest near Broome.

MONA ferry with champagne

MONA is the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. We took the ferry to get there. You can pay more for the Posh Pit seating and enjoy champagne and coffee on the 25 minute trip each way. The coffee was in the morning. On the way back, we only drank champagne. The museum has lots of interesting art to accompany the architecture.

After Hobart, we picked up a rental car and drove to Port Arthur Historical Site where many of the British convicts were imprisoned. The site is large and very interesting. There’s also a memorial for the people killed in the Port Arthur Shootings in 1996 that started the Australian gun reform laws.  We always thought the shootings were in the town but they happened in a cafe at the Historical Site.

One of the guys we met in Fremantle on the sailing evening always has a glass of wine with lunch.  It turns out he was at the Historical Site the day of the massacre. He stopped at the cafe but they didn’t serve wine and he wanted a glass of wine with lunch.  They went somewhere else that day, just missing the shootings.  A glass of wine saved his life so now he has one every day in thanks.

Port Arthur prison

Port Arthur Historical Site – one of the main prison buildings. The scenery looks a lot like West Virginia/Western Maryland minus the water. The roads are equally winding and hilly in places.

Tasmania water scenes

Views from the water of Tasmania around Port Arthur.

Launceston was the next stop on the road trip. It’s not far up to the north coast with lovely scenery along the way as well as a plethora of road construction.

Chocolate Factory sign

How could we not stop at the Chocolate Factory? Yes, we bought some.

Low Sound Lighthouse

Low Sound Lighthouse overlooking the Bass Strait. Penguins live near here but we didn’t see any during the day.

The bridge was built by convicts in Ross., a small country village. Ross sits on the 42nd parallel SOUTH of the equator.  Fort Collins is on the 40th parallel NORTH of the equator.

Mom’s name is Joan. When we saw a winery “Wines for Joanie”, we knew we had to stop and taste. Pretty good wine and the tasting room lady was an American/Australian lady raised in Tennessee.

These are the only Tasmanian Devils we saw along the way.

Tasmanian Devil warning sign

The creatures are nocturnal; hence, the warning signs along the roads. These go along with the koala, kangaroo, and wombat warning signs.

Tasmanian Devil scuplture with suitcases

This sculpture is in the Hobart airport near luggage claim.

Koalas and friends

Port Macquarie was one stop we made after a few days in Sydney.  Where is Port Macquarie, you ask?  It’s about a 4-hour drive north of Sydney or a one hour flight on a prop plane.  We opted for the prop plane and were met at the airport for the whole reason we added the city to our itinerary – Amy!

Amy was matched up with us through CSU’s International Friends program way back in 2001 when she spent a semester at CSU as an exchange student.  We showed her Rocky Mountain National Park and took her to packed sports bar for the first round of March Madness!  Now it was her turn to show us koalas and the beach and introduce us to her partner, Jacques, and her son, Levi.

Levi and Amy

Amy and Levi took good care of us!

Even though we hadn’t seen her since 2001, it seemed as if it were just yesterday and we caught up with all her adventures and life.  We had a great time!  I should mention that Amy introduced us a bit of Australian trash TV – “Married at First Sight” or MAFS.  They record the show (They can skip the commercials.  and after watching 5 episodes, we were hooked and watched it until the end to see what happened! It was good to learn that Americans aren’t the only people who will do anything to be on TV.

Port Macquarie beach

One of the city beaches in Port Macquarie. Amy took us for coffee along the beach.

A good time to visit is in the afternoon when the volunteers hand feed the patients.

Koala visiting a tree near the hospital.

This koala likes to visit a tree near the hospital. He’s not a patient!

Koala Sleeping leaning on a branch.

This guy was having a nice nap.

Koala sleeping in a tree

This little guy was at the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie. Injured or sick koalas are treated here until they can be released. Some stay forever due to their injuries – blind, amputated limbs

North Haven Beach

North Haven Beach – a short little drive south of Port Macquarie. The beach was empty the afternoon we checked it out.

Snake warning sign

Snake signs seem to be everywhere we turned in Australia.

After our visit with Amy, we headed across town for a 2 day visit with Sonya and Graham and Hollie, the cocker spaniel.  We met Graham and Sonya in Split, Croatia, and when they found out we actually had Port Mac on the agenda, we got a lovely invite to spend a few days with them.  Sonya and Graham took us to do some wine tasting and beer tasting and introduced us to a delicious Australian sparkling wine.  Hollie, the cocker spaniel, was a good hostess, too.  She was more than willing to let us pet her as long as we wanted!

We wanted to fix everyone Mexican dinner while we visited.  Our first plan was chicken enchilada casserole with green enchilada sauce.  We moved to Plan B when we couldn’t find any green enchilada (or red!) sauce.  The Plan B fajitas were a success!

Burge Sparkling wine

Burge Sparkling wine – yummy! Thanks, Sonya, for introducing us.

hollie Graham Mark Sonya

Hollie, Graham, Hollie and Sonya – friends in Port Macquarie

Even more signs

We have LOTS of sign pictures!

Warning sign in Jodphur, India – selfies and the guard rail warnings are good.

Snake warning sign

Snake warning signs are everywhere in Australia! We never saw a snale, thank heavens.

Sun warning sign

Yes, this sign really exists. We’ll pass on the political thoughts that came to mind when we saw it in Western Australia.

Ladies out of order sign

Mark thinks there must be a joke in these signs somewhere.


More signs along the way

We spotted many long winded British signs.  Australia learned their sign making skills from the Brits in many locations.

Thanks to Darcy for starting us on the task of recording signs!

Icy path sign

Oxford had to explain that the paths might be slippery if it’s icy. Really??  This is the same country that cancels train service with the excuse “Leaves on the track.”

We found this sign in Oxford University at the Sheldonian Theatre.

The firefighters have to be told how many hoses to use in Port Macquarie?

slippery tiles warning sign

Yes, this sign was REALLY in one of our bathrooms!

These signs just made us smile!

Hobart uni no parking sign

University parking is a problem all around the world. This one is in Hobart; coincidentally across the street from the Hobart Brewery.

Perth train rules

All the rules about riding a train in Perth.  The sign creator had a sense of humor at least!

Perth Rail sign to give up seat

Students MUST give up their seats. How often does this work??

What we’ve learned in Australia

We knew that Australia drives on the left side of the road, but we’ve learned a few new things about Australia while we’ve been here. (Random order)

  • Subway stores in Australia don’t have oil and vinegar to put on the sandwiches.
  • You don’t have to show any ID to fly on a domestic flight in Australia.
  • You can take whatever liquids you want through security for a domestic flight in Australia.
  • “Beetroot” in Aussie English = “Beets” in US English.
  • Seatbelts are mandatory in the back seat of a car.
  • Tasmanian Devils are now endangered.
  • You’ll need a dictionary to figure out what coffee to order!
  • Different pay rates apply on weekdays, Saturday, Sunday, and Public Holidays, explaining the surcharges applied in some restaurants!
  • Backsplash (US English) = Splashback (Aus English)
  • Pay by credit card and many places charge an extra 1% including hotels. Who has 5 days of hotel cash laying around?
  • Plasterer = Drywaller in US English
  • Grocery stores are closed on Good Friday! This calls for planning ahead.


Margaret River visit

We rented a car for our expedition to Margaret River from Fremantle.  Mark drove and it didn’t take him long to remember that the turn signal is on the right side of the column!  He only turned on the windshield wipers once or twice.  BTW … European cars don’t reverse the controls on the columns in Australia but Japanese cars do.

Stopped at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and then drove the back roads to Margaret River past all the wineries.

Cape Naturaliste LIghthouse

Cape Naturaliste LIghthouse – Cape Naturaliste is the northernmost point of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge and separates Geographe Bay from the southern Indian Ocean.

snake sign

These snake signs were at both lighthouses we visited.

In Margaret River we needed to do the laundry and went off to find the laundromat. When we realized we needed the correct change for the washer and dryer, Mark asked at a bank if she would give us 10 $1 coins. “Are you a customer?” Mark said “No.” and she replied that she could only give change to customers. Really??? Mark left without comment and went to Liquorland next door where the lovely clerk, Mel, gave him change and told us where to find some good beer – Settlers Tavern up the street.

We booked a wine and food tour with Harvest Tours because no one wanted to be responsible for driving after wine tasting.  The tour was fun … coffee tasting, wine tasting, lunch and wine tasting at Brookland Valley Winery, chocolate tasting, cheese, olive oil, soap (no tasting), and finished off with a Brewery stop at BeerFarm.

House of Cards Winery

House of Cards Winery

McHenry Hohnen Winery -

McHenry Hohnen Winery – first stop on the wine tour. We tasted about 7 different wines here.

The BeerFarm is a brewery in an old barn with a milking shed. They built a water slide into a lake but after an adult broke his arm, the council forbid adults and only allow children on the water slide – Don’t ask!

Before driving back to Perth the next day, we headed south to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – the southwestern most point in Australia where the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet.  It’s a good whale watching spot but not in March.

Cape Leeuwin lighthouse

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse at the southwest most point of Australia.

The Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean collide at this point.

Mark Susan Cape Leeuwin

We can prove we went to Cape Leeuwin.  The wind was howling when we visited here.

We wandered our way through the NP and ended up at Surfer’s Point, another great viewing spot.

Surfers Point surfers

The surfers were out in droves enjoying the big waves.

Surfers Point, Western Australia

tall trees

The trees in the National Park were tall. Do not ask me what kind of trees they are!

Adventures on the West Coast of Australia

After leaving India and Thailand, we flew to Perth, Australia to visit friends and check out the Margaret River wine region before we took the Indian Pacific to Sydney.  Dave Young joined us for the drive to Margaret River after a few days in Fremantle.

Wade and Robyn in Fremantle were kind enough to host us for a few days and show us the Fremantle scene.  It’s a suburb of Perth but certainly has its own unique vibe – beachy, boaty, lots of coffee shops, laidback like Hawaii in many ways – including the cost of housing!

Fremantle art project

An art project in Fremantle. It only makes sense from one spot in the city. Otherwise, it looks like someone is trying to figure out whether yellow looks good on the building.

Bon Scott ACDC statue

A statue of Bon Scott of ACDC fame and raised in Fremantle

coffee holder

One street in Fremantle is labelled “Cappuccino Row”. This was a latte holder.

After Dave showed up and we rescued him from the Perth Airport after his 30+ hour flight, we headed to Margaret River for sightseeing and wine tasting. One of the stops was Lake Clifton is in the Yalgorup Lakes National Park to see the thrombolites, some of the earliest living creatures on earth.

Dave Young at Lake Clifton

Dave Young at Lake Clifton

thrombolites in Lake Clifton

Some of the thrombolites in Lake Clifton

Twilight sailing was a special surprise!  We met Rob in Split while wandering around looking for a restaurant.  We had several meals together and shared a few bottles of wine, a few beers at sunset, and a splash of Croatian grappa while in Split.  He and Justin live in Melbourne but Rob happened to be in Fremantle doing some consulting at the same time we were in Fremantle.  Rob knows lots of people there and invited us along on a twilight sail. What a treat!

Rob Mark Susan on boat

Rob, Mark and Susan enjoying plastic cups of wine on the sail.

Saliing on the river

The boat won the casual race. Prize? A bottle of wine. We were NO help at all in the race. My goal was to not fall in the water.

Twilight sailing at the Fresh Water Yacht Club in Perth.

Twilight sailing at the Fresh Water Yacht Club in Perth.

The Indian Pacific across Australia

We each had one item on the RTW trip from our wish list. Mark wanted to trek with the gorillas – check!  Susan’s wish list item was a bit tamer – ride the Indian Pacific train across all of Australia.  We took it from Perth to Sydney – from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean for 4352 km or 2704 miles.  This trip takes about 4 days and we had the fun of sleeping on the train for 3 nights.

luggage to be stored

The compartments are small so all these bags went to a luggage car not to be seen for 4 days!


toilet and shower on the train

The toilet and shower compartment were very functional! Each compartment for 2 people has a little toilet room with a shower. The shower worked better than a few we encountered in hotels in India.

Train Compartment

The beds are stored during the day.

backpacks stored

We had our backpacks and one small cloth bag for our clothes. We had to buy the cloth bag in Bangkok!

Dave on train engine

Dave couldn’t wangle a visit to the engine compartment so he settled for climbing on the engine while we made a stop in Cook.

When Dave Young from Fort Collins heard about the train, he invited himself along since he’s a HUGE train buff and this one is on his bucket list.

The Indian Pacific left at 10 AM Sunday morning from Perth and climbed out of the suburbs into the hills.  The ticket prices include food, unlimited drinks including wine, champagne, beer, gin and tonic, coffee, soft drinks and tours at each stop.

The tour part is important because our first stop along the way was at 10 PM Sunday night in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.  The tour took 2 hours on the bus and showed us where the houses of prostitution were and where the huge gold mine is.  It’s a pit mine, about 1.5 kilometers deep and is worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We want to come back in the daytime for a real mine tour.

Kalgorlie mine

The Kalgorlie mine is a gold mine operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Then it was back on the train for our first night of sleep in the little bunks. Mark got the top one!  Sleep was OK although at 3 AM, the tracks got a little rough!  Mark’s bunk had a rail he could put up just in case he might want to roll out.

SUsan and ladder into the top bunk

Mark got to use the ladder to crawl into the top bunk.

Day started with breakfast in Rawhinna about 6 AM outside on tables.  Rawhinna is on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain and is the start of 478 kilometres (297 miles) of perfectly straight rail – the longest in the world .  On Day 2 we stopped at Cook for a resupply of water for the train.  Cook is pretty much a ghost town after the Australian government privatized the rail.  The only things there are an airstrip for emergency commercial flight landings in the middle of the country (Never used), fuel and water for trains, and overnight accommodations for freight and passenger train crews.

Cook explanation sign

This explains exactly where Cook is in Australia – 1523 km to one coast and 1984 km. to the other coast.

nullarbor plain green

A tropical storm had just crossed Australia and the Nullarbor Plain was very green.

rawlinna train length

The train stretched fro about one mile.

Day 3 started with Adelaide at 7:30, Mark took the tour of the Adelaide Oval – cricket and Aussie Rules and Rugby – while Susan took a bus tour of the city. Dave left us here for 5 days in Adelaide before he flew home.

Adelaide Oval

Adelaide Oval. Mark didn’t get to go on the pitch since they were getting it ready for a cricket match

The train stopped in Broken Hill in the afternoon.  We saw the Main Drag show in the hotel that was used in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.

Broken Hill Susan

Proof we made it to Broken Hill

 Broken Hill drag show

One drag queen from the show in Broken Hill

On Day 4, the train wandered its way through the Blue Mountains and suburbs of Sydney before arriving about noon at Sydney Central Station.

Blue Moutains

By the time we reached the Blue Mountains, we’d entered a completely new climate area. Lots of trees and from here the train wanders into Sydney.

In between stops, we used our cabin for reading or naps or we wandered up to the Lounge Car and had a glass (or 2 or 3) of wine while we talked with other passengers.  We met Gayle and Mark from Sydney and even got invited to their house for dinner.  Another US couple we met, and there were not many of us, were from California and they’d been on a diving trip for about 2 months.  We had drinks with them in Sydney.

Overall, the trip was fun. There are miles and kilometers of nothing in the middle of Australia.  This trip drives home the point that Australia is about the size of the US but only has about 30 million people!  Lots of it are pretty uninhabitable in the middle of the desert.

The next train trip to do in Australia is the Ghan that goes from Darwin south through Alice Springs into Adelaide.  This train has been completely updated and we heard is quite posh.