Our Travel Blog
We flew into Sydney, Australia from Christchurch on the 20th of June.  Though Sydney is the biggest city and the most famous one, it is not the capital of Australia!  Sydney hosted the Olympic Games in 2000 which, apparently, has brought the city to be even more known around the world!  Is there anyone who hasn't seen any picture of the Opera House?

We stayed with a friend, for 5 days, in an area north of the city called Bilgola, located on the pacific side of the Barrenjoey pennisula.  One day we took the ferry from a place called Manley to get to the city where we walked around and visited the Iskcon Temple where Ivan used to work during his previous journeys 9 years ago.  On the other days we visited various beaches in the area north of Bilgalo and the Bahá'í House of Worship for the Australasian continent located in Mona Vale, a 15 minute drive southwest of where we were staying.  

After 5 days of beautiful, sunny, cool weather, it started to rain on the Tuesday which we left Sydney, heading for Darwin in the north of Australia.  Before reaching our final destination for the day, we stopped off in a town called Katoomba.  We were told that if we pass through Katoomba, that we absolutely have to see the "Three Sisters" - Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo.  It seems as though they are the only attractions to see in Katoomba!  No they are not 3 people standing behind bars at a zoo, but rather they are a famous rock formation in the Blue Mountains (which by the way were not blue at all;-))  for more information about the Three Sisters click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_%28Australia%29.  We ended up spending the night in a city called Dubbo, unexpectedly infront of a warm fireplace.  Here we were hosted for the night by a lady, outside of whose house we were standing while trying to catch one last ride.  She invited us in to sleep in a warmer place and suggested that our luck would be better the next morning.

By the next evening we made it to Broken Hill, where we were dropped off by a truck driver who was on his way to Adelaide.  It was dark and we were in search of a grocery store to buy the usual bread to make sandwiches for diner.  We ended up getting a really good deal on a large pizza (since we were ahead enough in our budget we could afford to do this) which served as our diner for the evening.  The students working in the pizza shop also invited us to stay with them for the night.  We learned that they were part of an organization called Cornerstone which is an Australian non-denominational Christian training and mission movement.  The students in Broken Hill were learning about theology as well as trying to gain a practical understanding of how their faith could impact their daily lives.  

The next day we made it to a low shrub land, tiny town called Yunta along the Barrier Highway where we spent the night in our tent.  Luckily, by then the nights were feeling a bit warmer.  Yunta is considered one of the larger towns in the area because it has a police station and more than 5 houses.  The population consists of about 60 people.  The following afternoon we got caught under some quickly moving, dark skies in a city called Port Augusta.   We were completely unprepared for the downpour of rain which lasted such a short time but managed to soak us entirely.  Thanks to a couple of students who picked us up after the rain ended, we managed to make it to Pimba by nightfall.  

Pimba consisted of a truck stop where we camped out again, this time among many caravans of families and elderly couples who were on holidays, making their way north to the warmer weather.  One of the families invited us into their caravan for a delicious hot meal of chicken and rice, which was a nice change from the "sandwiches" which had become our staple food during travelling.  Ivan opted for the fresh salad instead of the chicken.  The same family invited us for some hot porridge and tea the next morning before heading off for the day.

The scenery was now becoming much of the same "outback" deserty look, over and over again.  We made it to Coober Pedy, which is famous worldwide for the precious Opals which are mined there.  It originally got its name from the aboriginal term "kupa piti" meaning "white man in a hole".  Many people in Coober Pedy live in "dug outs" which are houses built into the side of a hill in order to maintain constant temperatures in their living quarters all year round.  Outdoor daytime temperatures during summer are said to exceed 40 degrees celcius.  The fields are full of abandoned mining shafts, with conical piles of dirt scattered as far as the eye can see.  We camped out that night in one of the mine fields.  

July 1st was "Territory Day" which celebrated the Northern Territory of Australia being granted self-government in 1978.  We were picked up by an off-duty police officer who took us to Kulgera, our next stop heading north.  Kulgera consisted of a truck stop, police station and a few houses and that's about it!  Our evening entertainment consisted of fireworks at the truck stop to celebrate Territory Day.

The next day we made it to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park where we set eyes on the famous rock formations in the middle of Australia (in the middle of no where!) know as Uluru (or Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (or Mount Olga).  You can check out this website for more information: http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/natural/geology.html  We opted to view these rocks from a distance because the cost of getting into the national park to see them up close was over our budget - $25.00 AUD per person!!!  We were told that it is no longer under the control of the Aboriginal people and that they can no longer perform their rituals.  By the evening we were in Alice Springs where we ended up staying with a hospitalityclub.org member for two nights.  Alice Springs has a population of about 26 486 people and is the second largest centre in the Northern Territory after Darwin. 

From Alice Springs we made it in two rides to a tiny place called Three Ways, where we spent the night camping again in the bush.  By now we were 2/3's of the way to Darwin!!!  Our last night camping out was spent in Mataranka at a campsite where we had to pay.  The attraction here was the "Mataranka Hot Springs" which is a natural source of flowing warm water into a small pool where one can sit and relax.  A metal barrier farther downstream prevents the crocodiles from entering the pool area.  It was completely not what we had expected.  There were lots of loud people in and around the hot spring area in a somewhat man-made, reinforced pool.  In any case, we were able to use the showers and the backpacker kitchen and watch a show on the big screen TV.  For more information about the hot springs at Mataranka click here: http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/naturalresources/water/groundwater/springs/mataranka.html

The next day we made it to Darwin where we stayed at a friends place for 6 days before leaving the country for Singapore.  We are heading home!!!  But where is home going to be for us??

Our pictures can be seen here.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_%28Australia%29http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/natural/geology.htmlhttp://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/naturalresources/water/groundwater/springs/mataranka.html../phjnjlyOZe.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2shapeimage_2_link_3
Friday, July 13, 2007
Down Under in the Middle of Nowhere...
Bahá'í House of Worship in Mona Vale close to Sydney, Australia.

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