My Mom and I just got back from a 16-day trip to New Zealand and Australia. It turned out to be a very random trip (in my opinion, the best kind), with visits to family, old friends, new friends, farm and city. The following photos are a few visual highlights.
We spent our first few days near Aria, New Zealand with family (Denis & Debbie). They live in beautiful, hilly country where roads seems to curve constantly (its rare to drive straight for any length of time). We did some touristy things (checked out a waterfall, drove by the cliffs where The Hobbit was filmed and got introduced to their national bird, the kiwi). Mostly though, we spent time on their farm… going along to do some of the chores. It was a great way to see the land, and to get to see Debbie’s dogs at work.
Then we moved on to Sydney, Australia where we met up with my Uncle Raymond who planned his trip to Australia for around the same time. We were only there for a couple of days but managed to pack a lot in. On day one, we walked through the botanical gardens (I loved all of the different trees there) and by the Sydney Opera House. After that, we took a ferry over to Manly Beach and wandered around there a bit. On day two, we drove up to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains called to me the most, and I would have liked to spend a few days hiking in them. We did manage to walk partway down into the valley, past a waterfall and along the cliff sides, but would have needed quite a few more hours to go all the way to the valley floor and then back up. We also saw the Three Sisters at Echo Point, and took a cable car down into the valley, where we could walk through the rainforest. On our last morning, we went for a sunrise boat cruise through Sydney Harbour, and stopped for a breakfast of croissants and jam in a quiet little bay. There wasn’t enough wind to sail, but it was lovely just the same. I really like being out on the water.
After that, we flew to Tamworth, and then took a three-hour bus ride to Warialda, which is about an hour away from our friends farm. 25 years ago, Scott lived with us for six months on an agricultural work exchange trip, and we’ve kept in touch since. He has a wonderful wife and family, and they were all lovely hosts. We spent a lot of time visiting with them at home, eating yummy food, playing pool and ping pong, laughing and talking. I got to learn whip cracking, attempted to learn how to properly catch and throw a rugby ball and even tried out sheep sheering. We also got to ride in a cotton picker, check out a couple of art galleries and go swimming.
However the best part was driving out on the land, sitting half out of their ute, sighting big groups of kangaroo, as well as emu. There are so many kangaroo there, that they are actually a problem for the crops… but for the Canadian sightseers, it was fantastic! We saw several groups of them (always jumping very quickly into the distance), sometimes 25 or more at once. That was really fun.
For the last part of our trip, we went to Melbourne. I really liked Melbourne; would be fun to live there for a while and really settle in. Mom and I did a tonne of walking there (almost 12 miles one day), a little shopping and through that, saw lots of streets, lanes and alleys. I managed to fit in an early morning run along the Yarra River, and we also took a train to Greensborough, to visit another cousin (Pauline) who was so fun and friendly.
A definite highlight was visiting my friend Dan, who until this trip, I hadn’t actually met in person. He spent a lot of time with us, showing us around Melbourne — taking us to a community garden, along the Yarra River, through the botanical gardens, and on a tram to a seriously yummy restaurant. That was by far the best meal that we had on our trip, only improved by a Charlie Chaplin silent movie playing in the background, and a pretty good band.
A trip is made up of moments, and I feel as though we had many good and eclectic ones. All in all, a great holiday. That said, we are both happy to be back home with our favourite people.
Mom and I turned out to be really good travel partners (we both love to walk, are pretty easy-going, and generally up for anything). It was so great to be able to spend some quality time with her. I came back inspired to make some changes around the house — from what I saw, Australia and New Zealand are way ahead of us in terms of water and electricity management, and I want to copy what I can (collecting rainwater off the roof, dual flush toilets, outdoor clothes lines, etc.). I’ll want to go back someday with Rob, with a good zoom lens and at least a few weeks of time.