Springsure and Rockhampton

After leaving Carnarvon, we thought it would be prudent to call the campervan company and let them know that the van was broken. After much deliberation and at Adam’s insistence that we did not need a tow truck, they directed us to a little town called Springsure, which has a nice name, but is one of those towns that I would rather be killed by any means of slow torture than to live in. We were directed to a Toyota dealership where the manager of the shop who looked to be about 12 or 13 tried to solve the problem of not having the correct parts while the older gentlemen in the back tried to rig up a temporary fix without said parts. While this was happening, we were sitting on a rickety white wooden bench in the shop which was the only thing in it, and watching what was going on outside. Continue reading “Springsure and Rockhampton”

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Thank Goodness for Carnarvon Gorge Park

Our original plan in Australia was to go from Sydney down towards Adelaide and then all the way up the Stuart highway to Alice Springs, continue north an unspecified distance, and end up in Cairns sometime before the 17th of September. When we picked up the van, we decided that maybe we should stick more to the east, and the plan was revised. The bottom line was that when we left Sydney we really didn’t have a clear plan, which began to cause some problems. We were driving, but not seeing anything interesting. We were cooped up in the van or at least in the vicinity of the van for five days without having much to do. In New Zealand we were going out hiking every single day. In Australia, we were sitting in the van either driving or parked. Not only that, but the van, as was to be expected because that’s the way things go, was having some mechanical issues. According to Adam who is one of those men who can look under the hood and actually diagnose a problem unlike many who just stand and stare hoping the answer will come to them through osmosis, the radiator overflow reservoir was sliced through and was leaking. Continue reading “Thank Goodness for Carnarvon Gorge Park”

The Country Music Capitol

On a quest for a guidebook, we were drawn to a town called Tamworth, which is the country music capitol of Australia. We went there specifically to find out what the hell this meant. In Tamworth you don’t really get a sense of why this is so except for in the park there are busts of several famous country music singers including The Yodeling Bushman. Other than that, the town has an overabundance of hooligans, and the Saturday afternoon activity for the whole town seems to be going to the very tiny mall which houses a poorly stocked Kmart. I never thought that I would say, “Saturday we were at the Kmart in the mall in the country music capitol of Australia.”

We Come to the Land Down Under (but do not, under any circumstances, eat a Vegemite sandwich)

Being pretty much done with snow and rain, we were glad to see that upon our arrival in Sydney the sun had at last made an appearance. Such luck that we happened to be staying in Bondi Beach which is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Sydney. The area had a nice beach-town vibe to it and the beach itself was well tended with shimmering white sand and water that reflected a vast array of greens and blues. We discovered that there was a lovely walk that takes you across the sandstone cliffs over to the next two beaches. This was where on our third day in Sydney, having nothing in particular to do, we bought a loaf of bread, some brie, and salami, and had a little picnic and read for most of the day. Such a difficult life! Continue reading “We Come to the Land Down Under (but do not, under any circumstances, eat a Vegemite sandwich)”

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

After my marathon reading session in Rarotonga, things slowed down a bit. We’ve been listening to audiobooks on the road and at night: David Sedaris, Thomas Pynchon, Bill Bryson, Carl Sagan. I started rereading the Oz books because they had all of them available for the ebook. My grandmother loved the Oz books when she was a child, and she introduced them to me. I remembered very little about them, but I remember that I liked them when I was young. Unless you have a nostalgic attachment to these books, you probably don’t need to read them as an adult. I enjoyed it, but these aren’t the kind of books that are written for children today. Children’s books today need to be accessible to children as well as keep the adults interested in order to sell well, but it wasn’t always that way. The Oz books are children’s books for children. And that’s OK.

After some light reading, I decided to start on a project that I have been postponing. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Reading Lately”

Thoughts on Auckland

I can’t remember why we decided to stay in Auckland for 5 nights. It certainly is a huge change from the wide open spaces of the South island. There are over a million people who live in Auckland and at certain times of the day, all of them are running down the street in a hurry to get somewhere. Adam put it nicely when he said, “There’s nothing that I dislike about Auckland, it’s just that there’s nothing that I like about it.”

My thoughts exactly. Auckland is one of those big cities that is just like every other big city that has lost its identity, or perhaps never had one. Continue reading “Thoughts on Auckland”

Ice Capades

On the second to last day in the South island, we drove from Franz Josef Glacier on the west coast over Arthur’s Pass. We stopped a couple of times, but the best was the stop where we saw a gaggle, for lack of the proper word, of keas. We had only seen one kea up until then, so we were excited when we pulled into the lookout point and saw a kea standing next to the van. No sooner had we stopped the car than a large group started coming somewhat cautiously out onto the pavement from behind the rocks much like the Munchkins after Dorothy’s house lands on the wicked witch. It was now clear why every trail and campsite had signs saying, “Don’t feed the keas.” These guys wanted food and they weren’t afraid to come up and Continue reading “Ice Capades”

West Side Story

In just a few hours we went from mountains and lakes to the beach and rain forest. It really does look quite tropical here – many of the plants and trees that grow here are closely related to the tropical plants that they resemble. The New Zealand rain forest offers you the best of both worlds – you get to spend as much time as you like walking around admiring the plants and you don’t have to worry about puma pouncing on you and ripping your throat out or a snake or poisonous spider dropping from the canopy to deal you a fatal bite. That’s because there is nothing in New Zealand that can kill you. The most you have to worry about in the rain forest is a bird crapping on your head or a fly biting you. It’s all very safe. Of course, there is one drawback to the rain forest, which I’ll come to later on. Continue reading “West Side Story”

Te Anau to Milford Sound

Te Anau is one of those towns that you fall in love with not for any particular reason that you can put your finger on except for that it just feels right. The first time we saw it, we drove through it quickly on the way to Milford Sound. Now, the road to Milford Sound is prone to snow and closures this time of year, so we were lucky when the weather cooperated with us and we were able to drive up over the pass no problem. The tunnel near the sound is pretty wonderful. It’s a one lane road that is 1270 meters long. When you drive in you get the same feeling as you do in the Universal Studios backlot tour where you drive into a tunnel and OH NO! it’s an avalanche and the tunnel which is painted to look as if it is covered in snow starts turning around you making you feel not frightened, but nauseous. Thankfully this tunnel did not start spinning. Continue reading “Te Anau to Milford Sound”