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The Sign of the Southern Cross

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Join me for another travel adventure across the world, this time to down under!

Our first day is brought to you by the delayed AA flight and SFO airport that caused us to miss our flight and spend a day in San Francisco

Tons of airplanes over the bay
Several people enjoying the morning on the water fishing

I dared her to eat it but no luck

Everyone loves maps right?

Driving out of Sydney
Driving day 2
Last full day of driving
Whitsunday Island overview

Once we finally made it to Sydney we had a lot to pack in to make up for the lost day. The aquarium next to the hotel was first on the list.



I know what you're thinking
Mantis Shrimp

Derpfish
Dugong
Emperor Penguin with imported ice

They had tons of sharks which were hard to photograph

Next on the list was a walk through the botanical gardens on the way to the opera house.


We then took the ferry through the harbor to Watsons Bay and got some stunning views of the opera house and skyline.


Ask me for every other angle I have too



Watsons bay has some gorgeous cliffs, lorikeets, and views back to the skyline.


Lorikeet






The next morning I got a crash course in driving on the opposite side of the road getting out of Sydney at rush hour. Many tolls and kilometers later we arrived at the Blue Mountains in Katoomba where "Her most Gracious Majesty viewed the Jamison Valley from this lookout during her visit on 12th February 1954".


Wine tasting in the Hunter Valley region was next on the list before heading in for the night in a slightly creepy, over automated hotel in Newcastle.




Still adjusting to the time change we woke up early next morning and walked out to Nobby's Lighthouse to catch the sunrise (and even some surfers in the cold ocean).




We then drove to Tomaree Head Lookout where we had to really strech our legs and climb up a steep trail full of ladders and stairs to get some outstanding views of the coast.



Tuncurry was the next spot for lunch and another lookout over the forests, beaches, and towns.



Cape Hawke Lookout

In Coffs Harbour the next morning we had a nice sunrise out on our balcony.



The sun through eclipse glasses
Bird of Paradise

After lunch in Byron Bay we drove up to a picturesque lighthouse but unfortunately couldn't get out because there wasn't parking. We headed out to the next recommendation: Nightcap National Park. The road started off easy enough but as it twisted further and further into rural Australia it got harder and harder. First came the potholes hidden by shadows, then the partially washed out road, then the dirt road, and finally the river crossing before we got to the parking lot with a sole other serious 4x4 (with snorkel) to park next to in our economy rental. Drive aside, a short Indiana Jones worthy rainforest walk later we were greeted with the amazing Protesters Falls!





We made it back through the rainforest and onto the motorway and headed to stay for the evening in Gold Coast.



With the final short drive to Brisbane accomplished we then went to the fantastic Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where many fuzzy creatures awaited.




Devil of Tasmania
Dingo
Kookaburra

The baby Koalas stole the show though


Not pictured: all the tourists aww'ing forcefully





Startled Wallaby

The next day we had to catch a plane to the small town of Proserpine where our adventure on the ocean would begin.

Just some normal snacks to buy in the airport
Waiting for our airport ride to arrive

The next week was full of sailing, snorkeling, and hiking the Whitsunday islands. There was a category 4 cyclone that came through the islands in March damaging the reefs, trees, and resorts. Despite being relatively recently there are good signs of recovery in all 3.




First glimpses of Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven from the lookout the next day






After the brutal hike to the top of Whitsunday island


Just looking for food and attention
'Do not feed the birds'
Photo not mine but we had a nice night viewing the Southern Cross

Thanks again to the Gottschalks for the adventure!

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