The Top of Australia

On our way to Darwin, Australia

On our way to Darwin, Australia

From the Whitsunday Islands, we headed to Cairns by train, a twelve-hour journey north.  Since snorkeling in the Whitsundays had been disappointing, we were considering trying our luck again in Cairns, but our plans were blown up when ten minutes before our train was due to arrive, we were informed it was running six hours behind schedule.  Thank you Queensland Rail for keeping us informed. Continue reading

Ride the High Side

Riding out the storm

A break in the storm

It was time to restart our exploration of Australia’s Gold Coast.  Our flight took us from Christchurch to Brisbane, where we immediately caught a small turboprop plane for Hamilton Island.  From there, it was a ferry ride plus a short drive free-of-charge from a kind bus driver to Airlie Beach.

It was beautiful and sunny when we arrived, but the next day clouds moved in.  The skies turned ominously grey and gusts of winds stirred up the ocean ahead of an advancing storm.  It was the kind of day that you don’t really want to be outside, much less go sailing.  But we had no choice: we’d come to see the Great Barrier Reef and we only had a few days to do it.  So, we packed everything into dry bags and hoped for the best. Continue reading

Down Under

Down Under!

Hyams Beach, New South Wales

The Bali Airport wasn’t our favorite.  Standing in line for two hours to get our entry visas was tortuous.  On the flip side, the pain on our departure was due to self-inflicted wounds.

“Can I see your Australian visas?” asked the agent at check-in.  Yeah, sure.  Er…our what?  Apparently the process is a formality, but U.S. citizens are required to apply for a visa (an “electronic travel authority”) forty-eight hours prior to arrival.  We hadn’t.  And we weren’t allowed on the plane.  The gate agent shrugged helplessly, there was nothing he could do to help. Continue reading