Australia – Hawaii
September 10 – November 16, 2011
Richard and Anita Dyck left Vernon the afternoon of Saturday, September 10 under sunny skies and 32 C [89 F] to meet Marjorie Buckham at the Kelowna International Airport. The three of us were traveling together on this extended vacation, Marjorie being a friend of the Dycks for some 30 years. This would be our second visit to Australia, our first being in 2008 during February and March. Planning for this trip had been ongoing for some two years with Marjorie and Richard working together, in consultation with Anita, to research and book quality and affordable experiences that would provide long-lasting memories for all of us.
Throughout this journal the metric system will be a constant to record temperature, distance and the like. For those not using our metric system, below is an abbreviated conversion table to the US system of measurement:
15 C = 59 F 100 km = 62.14 miles
20 C = 68 F
25 C = 77 F
30 C = 86 F
35 C = 95 F
40 C = 104 F
45 C = 113 F
The Web Sites I have provided are to enhance the attractions we enjoyed and provide more background for you … enjoy!
Our journey was not without incident, some serious others comical. Each will be described in the order of occurrence. Remember as you read, this could happen to each of you just as easily!
This segment will cover our time spent in Sydney, relaxation in Honolulu and our travel back to Canada.
Wednesday – November 9
We had flown to Sydney the previous afternoon following the conclusion of our Great Barrier Reef cruise. We arrived at our Sydney hotel in a true rainstorm. Wednesday proved to be sunny, hot and humid. We had booked a day tour to the Blue Mountains with Tours R Us and again were delighted to find only 4 of us on the tour. Besides the 3 of us the fourth was a female international lawyer from New Deli, India. She was in Sydney for an upcoming conference. Our pick-up time was 7:45 a.m. and Olympic Park [site of the 2000 Summer Olympics] our first destination stop. Continuing on we drove some 2 hours up into the Blue Mountains and stopped first at Leura for a short walk to stretch our legs. Leura is adjacent to Katoomba, the largest centre in the upper mountains, and the two towns merge along Leura's western edge. Next it was on to Katoomba, well known for spectacular mountain views and extensive bush and nature walks. The rock formation known as the Three Sisters, viewable from Echo Point about two kilometres south of town, is the most famous feature. At Scenic World we rode the Scenic Skyway cable car which traveled over an arm of the Jamison Valley and offered views of Katoomba Falls and Orphan Rock, down to the elevated timber boardwalk which meandered through the picturesque rainforest. We walked past the coal mines, smelling the eucalyptus trees and returned up the mountain on the Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest funicular railway in the world. We took numerous photographs of the Three Sisters and the surrounding scenery. Lunch was provided by the tour company after which we visited 2 different lookouts, Echo Point being one, for photo ops. Our final stop on tour, the Featherdale Wildlife Park, was home to the world’s largest collection of Australian native animals. It was extremely hot during our time at the Park. We were then driven to the ferry terminal for a ferry ride on the Paramatta River, the main tributary of Sydney Harbour, back to Circular Quay in Sydney. Our ferry ride provided us great photo opportunities of the Sydney Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
That evening Richard and Anita were joined for dinner at a nearby Pub by Dexter and Audrey, a couple they had met while touring the Middle East last October. Dexter and Audrey live in the Blue Mountains near Sydney.
Web Sites of Interest …
The Three Sisters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_(Australia)
Scenic World http://www.scenicworld.com.au/
Featherdale Wildlife Park http://www.bluemts.com.au/profile.asp?id=1658
Thursday – November 10
Today was our last day in Australia as we were scheduled to fly to Honolulu, Hawaii at 6 p.m. Late checkout at the hotel had been arranged and laundry was done that morning. After hotel checkout we went directly to the airport, had lunch then awaited our Jetstar flight to Honolulu. Flight time was 9 hours and 40 minutes and at 7:45 a.m. we passed through U.S. customs then hailed a taxi for the ride to our hotel. We left Australia and arrived in Hawaii on the same day having gained back the day lost by travelling over the International Date Line. Honolulu was a warm 24 C [75 F] at this early hour. Our room at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel was not ready when we arrived and at 12:30 p.m. we finally gained access to our room on the 22nd floor, complete with an ocean view! Now we could rest and relax.
Friday – November 11
Both of had a good sleep and felt great that morning, especially after the morning shower missed the previous day. It was a cloudy morning at 8:20 with the forecast of showers throughout the day. The APEC meetings were currently underway in the city and we noticed a huge police presence on the beach and the streets as well as low flying helicopters over the water. This just was not the norm but was so with all the world leaders in attendance. Richard took a morning walk after breakfast then opened a book to read on the patio. This was the first reading he had done while on vacation! Quality time was spent that day outside on our balcony and poolside as well.
Breakfast was free daily during our stay at the hotel. Called “Breakfast on the Beach’, we chose from a wide variety of continental breakfast items made available at poolside, carried our choices, in a cooler bag provided to us, back to our room to enjoy out on the patio. One could also eat down by the pool if they so wished.
For our dinners, the on-site Tiki’s Grill & Bar offered good selections and our lunches were eaten both at Tiki’s and Wolfgang Puck’s Express also located on-site. We found no need to dine elsewhere.
Saturday – November 12
Skies were partly cloudy at breakfast and later became more sunny as the day progressed. We experienced highs of 29 C [85 F] while here and were comfortable with that. Using the elevators at breakfast, one of the six was not working causing disruption as the computers controlling the elevators were out of synch. We took the service elevator up after having made our breakfast selections. The morning routine was repeated for Richard while Anita did her reading and enjoyed her rest. After lunch Richard spent quality time by the pool enjoying the warm sunshine. Reading outside on the patio filled the remainder of the afternoon.
We enjoyed Happy Hour daily out on the patio. Having not consumed all the wine we had purchased in Melbourne, we carried it with us making for heavier luggage. It paid off here in Hawaii as we had enough wine for the ladies to enjoy daily during our stay. Richard did purchase his beer from a nearby ABC Convenience Outlet.
Sunday – November 13
We again enjoyed a relaxing day and our daily routine continued. Clear skies and sunshine worked in our favour.
Monday – November 14
Our last full day in Honolulu provided yet another day of sun and warmth. We arranged for a late checkout on Tuesday of 4 p.m. and, of course, it did cost more for this. We kept our daily routine … why change?
Tuesday – November 15
The morning was clear and sunny so we enjoyed our last hours outdoors. We did enjoy one last early dinner at Tiki’s before leaving the hotel complex. Our Air Canada flight departed at 6:20 p.m. and it was 25 C [77 F] as we left our hotel for the drive to the airport. Reality would soon hit us!
Wednesday – November 16
The overnight flight was without incident. No meal was provided by Air Canada but one could purchase snacks and drinks. Arrived at the Vancouver International Airport at 5:15 a.m. and had no difficulty clearing customs. The temperature was 1 C [34 F] outside. Actually we did a “self-check” procedure at customs for the first time and were most impressed. The process proved to be a huge time saver from our previous customs experiences. All of us were now very hungry and Marjorie treated us to a full hot breakfast. The Vancouver>Kelowna portion of our Air Canada flight departed on time and our arrival in Kelowna saw – 6 C [21 F] as the local temperature and no snow on the ground! Our neighbour and dear friend, Alice, was waiting for us in the terminal to drive us home to Vernon. We collected our luggage for one last time, said our good-byes and thanks to Marjorie, then Alice drove us home.
A visit to Save On Foods, our grocery supermarket, was the first order of business after arriving at our apartment and unloading luggage. Returning home we then had a late lunch. By this time it was snowing and we were so happy to have made it back before the snowfall that deposited some 3 inches on the ground and roads.
The geography of Australia is incredible! Northern Territory offered World Heritage listed National Parks, majestic waterfalls, spectacular gorges, and transport by Road Trains. Western Australia, the largest state in Australia, with remarkably infertile soils must rely on the extraction and processing of a diverse range of mineral and petroleum commodities for its economic survial. Agricultural production in WA is a major contributor to the state and national economy also. Travel takes one through remote areas and extreme isolation is quite common. Kangaroo Island offered us majestic scenery and the chance to see animals native to Austrlaia all in their natural habitat. Truly a gem and not to be missed on one’s visit to Austrlaia! Cruising the Great Barrier Reef was a dream come true! The Reef offered some of the most colourful coral gardens found anywhere along the length of the Reef and also the rare opportunity for a close up look at sea cucumbers, colourful starfish and other marine life. Then there’s the snorkeling experience. Richard rated this as his best ever, far superior to his previous Bora Bora experience! And, Hawaii is the best place to relax and reflect on one’s travels. This, our second visit to Australia, has provided us with great memories.
Our only disappointment was Margaret River. This wine-growing area was just nothing compared to the others we experienced … the Swan Valley, Barossa Valley and Yarra Valley.
The Australians have a great sense of humour which political correctness hasn't discovered. Their philosophy often seems to include the expression "no worries".
We met many Australians who were wonderfully cheerful, generous and caring people.