Archive for November, 2006

Brisbane Adventures

We are in Adelaide now and its cold! We have been to the first two days of the test match, and there’s been a very cold wind and no sun so it’s been freezing. Last night I went out in jumper and trousers and was still cold. And the first day we got here (Thursday) it was sunny and clear outside, then suddenly there was a big thunder crack and it poured it down with rain! Shower only lasted 2 or 3 minutes, but it is sure is strange weather here. Almost like being back at home!

 Had a fantastic time in Brisbane, despite the beating the Aussies gave us in the cricket. We went to days one and four of the test match, a tour of the XXXX brewery, a bus tour round the city, visited Wet’n’Wild waterpark, met my old friends the crocodiles (among others) at Australia Zoo, and went on a cruise down the Brisbane River.

There was a great atmosphere at the cricket, plenty of England fans there to banter with the Aussies. We had excellent seats and the weather was hot and sunny, so the only thing we could complain about was the result. However having been to the first two days of the Adelaide Test, things are looking up – but England would be lost without Bell, Collingwood and Pietersen.

On Monday we went to Australia Zoo and had a great time. The place is huge, and we needed the whole day to do it all. We went to a show in the Crocoseum which was short but sweet, nothing compared to the jumping cruise from earlier in the trip. Saw giant turtles, crocs, dingoes, koalas, tigers, elephants, snakes, a sleeping (maybe stuffed?) wombat, lizards, and much more. And also got to hand feed kangaroos! That was cool, we bought some food and then went into their enclosure and they came and ate out of my hand. In addition, I got my picture taken holding a koala! There was also a long row of Steve Irwin tributes, tons of khaki shirts signed front and back by visitors. It felt strange him not being there as his face was everywhere and it was very much the house that he built. They also had a guy walking round in a costume of him, which I found a bit weird.

 We had a lot of fun at the waterpark on the Gold Coast, got a bit sunburnt though. While we were on the Gold Coast we went on a brief visit to Surfer’s Paradise. I was hoping to go up the Q1 tower (world’s tallest residential building) but they wouldn’t let us up there because the observatory becomes a lounge bar after 5pm and we weren’t dressed smartly enough!

Brisbane looks really good at night and we got to see that close up from the CityCat river cruise. It was a much smoother ride than the last time I went on a boat! (Barrier Reef)

That’s it for now. We are in Adelaide until next Friday, not got much planned as yet but will probably go visit the Ashes urn, and there’s a great white shark exhibit near our hotel that looks interesting. Then on Friday we are going on a train for 19 hours (!) to Alice Springs, and then flying to Ayers Rock.

Oh and one other thing – in Cairns I saw a sign outside a restaurant saying ‘No thongs allowed after 6pm’. What an odd request, I thought. Turns out thongs is the Aussie word for flip-flops!

I have uploaded a few photos, there is a link to them on the right sidebar.

 I will head back to my 5 star apartment by the beach now, which is very nice.

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Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Ponting?

Greetings folks from sunny Brisbane, Queensland.

 The Ashes begins tomorrow, I am really excited. It has been hyped up massively over here, the Aussies attitude seems to be ‘we won everything before the 2005 series and we’ve won everything after’. The atmosphere tomorrow will be electric, and the English are taking over Brisbane already! Although I seem to get automatically associated with the Barmy Army, which I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

 Since my last update we have been in Cairns for 4 days, and for the first time we had a bit of wind and rain. On Saturday we went on the Kuranda Scenic Railway through the rainforest, and then came back down via the SkyRail cable car, they were both very interesting rides. Shared the cable car with a couple of old American women and they were crazy!

 On Monday we went to the Great Barrier Reef, it took 1hr 45m to get there by boat and it was raining heavily and strong winds when we got on. That made the trip a very rough ride, they gave us travel sickness pills but unfortunately they didn’t work. I was ok though once we reached the fixed pontoon at the reef and got chance to do quite a bit of snorkelling and see lots of corals and different fish.

 Anyone watching the cricket, look out for me. I hope England make a good start so we can give some more stick to the Aussies!

Dancing to the Crocodile Rock


Croc Jumping

Originally uploaded by howcro.

Crikey! Look at the size of that one!

I have been on two cruises involving crocodiles this week. On Wednesday we went to Kakadu National Park on a day trip (about 3 1/2 hours each way from Darwin). Kakadu is huge (19,804.00 km²) and home to tons of saltwater and freshwater crocodiles. I am not sure of the exact number but our tour guide said there is at least 85,000 in Northern Territory, and most likely over 100,000.

We went on a billabong cruise. There were lots of different types of bird, and with Kakadu being so big it felt like we were in a different country. The main excitement though was the crocs, we saw two of them. We got really close to the first one and it swam round our boat, probably eyeing us up for lunch. We didn’t disturb it, but it was clear it was letting us know who was boss, and we were trespassing on his patch! The second one was sneaking up on some ducks, but they scarpered before it had chance to attack. It was good to see them in their natural environment, and I’m sure there was a lot more of in there that didn’t make an appearance.

On Thursday we went on another day trip to Litchfield National Park, an another journey through croc-infested waters. We stopped at the Adelaide River and went on a crocodile jumping cruise (thankfully it involved them jumping out of the water, rather than me into it). The pictures showed a double-decker boat with windows on the bottom and an open area on the top. However that wasn’t in service and we just had a normal boat with open sides! And I sat at the side as well.

We soon found a croc, and the the tour guide tied a piece of meat to a piece of string on the end of a big stick, and dangled it over the edge. From the cruise the day before I noted that the crocs are dead silent when they move, and were moving very slowly. However the lure of food brought it to life, it was moving faster and tried to grab it by swimming past and doing an instant 180 turn. Then out of nowhere it jumped, most of its body out of the water and grabbed it. It was amazing to see them so close, there were only about a metre from our boat. We found four crocs on the hour-long cruise and they were all made to work for their food! Apparently their mind works like a serial killer, they sit and watch the habits of their prey, working out which is the weakest and when is the best time to attack. It was both exciting and a bit scary.

We also went swimming in the rock pools in Litchfield, which was a lot of fun and completely croc free.

That wrapped up our time in Darwin, and we have now reached Cairns where it is similar temperatures but slightly cooler and a bit less humid. Today we went on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail through the rainforests, and on Monday we are going to the Barrier Reef. Tomorrow will used as it should be, a day of rest!

Video of croc jumping is below, and lots more pictures from the trip so far will follow shortly.

G’day from Oz

We have arrived safely in Australia. The flight was quite good, saw Pirates of the Caribbean 2 on the plane and managed to get some sleep on the second leg (Hong Kong to Sydney) so it didn’t drag too much, Have now reached Darwin, where we will be spending the rest of this week. It is hot here (30 odd degrees), and mainly sunny. We had a day in Sydney yesterday, it was hot and sunny there as well. See a recurring theme here?

Not much exciting to report so far – Sydney Opera House looks fantastic in the sun, and certainly has a very unique design as well! I saw people climbing up the Harbour Bridge, I will be doing that myself when we return there in January.

The flight from Sydney-Darwin was made interesting because we flew near a thunderstorm. It was a night flight so the sky was lit up every time there was lightning. It was very cool to watch, saw a few forks coming down out of nowhere as well. The video I took is below, it’s not great but shows what it was like. 

This week we are visiting Kakadu National Park (it’s the size of Wales!) and also Litchfield National Park. Lots to see and do there, and plenty of crocodiles. Going on a cruise down the Yellow Water Billabong, and also there is Aboriginal art to look at and many types of wildlife.

 I hear it’s cold and wet in the UK – so what’s new?

Thanks everyone for the comments, keep them coming.

I will hopefully be able to upload some pictures shortly.