Australia

Welcome to Australia

Glass House Mountains, Queensland

Glass House Mountains, Queensland

Last October I had the opportunity to travel to Australia for the first time. Here begins the chronicle of that epic 4 week trip!

My first stop was to be Brisbane, to visit a friend and hopefully have him show me a bit of what it’s like to go storm chasing in Australia.

When I arrived at the airport, I was so excited to run out and meet Dean that I jumped into the shortest customs line I could find, without paying close enough attention to realise it was an e-passport line and I would not be able to speak to a real customs officer.

Most people would probably be fine with this, as all you have to do is scan your passport and have a machine take your photo and confirm that you do appear to look like that old photo in your passport. However, I found myself on the other side of the camera going “that’s it? No fanfare on entering the Land Down Under?” As someone who has not traveled extensively enough between lots of countries yet, I treasure every passport stamp I can get. I should have just walked back over to a customs officer and asked him to stamp my passport, but I was in a bit of a daze so just walked into the lounge to look for my friend…but then it became a bit of a joke through the trip that I made it Australia for the first time without a stamp in my passport to prove it. 😛  (When I left the country I asked a customs officer if he could stamp it for me, but he sadly shook his head and said they don’t carry stamps upon exit. Sad times. At least I got my stamp when I returned to Sydney a month later, but that’s another story.)

It was evening when I arrived, so by the time I dropped my bags off at my friend’s place and we went back to the city for dinner, I was starving. My first delicious Aussie meal didn’t help the stomach pain, however, so my friend kept teasing me about how much more memorable it would be if I spent my first night in the country throwing up in the Brisbane River. Fortunately it didn’t get that far, and it was nothing a little walk along the river and a good night of sleep couldn’t cure.

Some of my friends know that when I travel to a new place, be it a new country or US state, I have to touch the ground as I bask in the excitement. It can’t be concrete or pavement, it has to be dirt or grass or something natural. Below is my photo not from my first evening of touching the ground outside the airport, but from my first full day. 🙂

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On that first full day Dean took me on a little drive through some suburbs, to a couple beaches up the coast, to the Sunshine Coast, the Big Pineapple (a little amusement park that advertises the 6 days out of the week it is closed, rather than focusing on the one day it is open), and to a lookout toward the Glass House Mountains (first photo on this post).

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Some beach near Redcliffe, north of Brisbane

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Apparently harmless jellyfish

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Glass House Mountains outside of Brisbane; the outback is beyond the mountains

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Looking towards the coast. Soooo many more trees around than I had pictured; showing my ignorance of Australia, I did not realise there were so many forests in that country. Granted, a lot of these here were on a tree plantation

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The Big Pineapple

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Old pineapple plantation. The park was closed (as usual) but we were able to wander around a bit and I saw my first kangaroos in Australia (behind a fence) and I started hopping up and down when I saw several guineas crossing the path. My family used to raise guinea fowl and they were quite fun and good eating.

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Aussie World, apparently another happening place…when it’s open.

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THIS. I can only conclude Aussies love their legs. I’d never seen such an interesting pedestrian crossing sign before, and while it may not have ever looked odd before to my friend who grew up there, it became another one of our jokes throughout the trip.

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Costco!! Costco basically started where I was born, in Kirkland Washington. I went to Costco many times with my family growing up, but missed it sometimes after moving away. Dean recently discovered the Costco in Brisbane, and loves it. I was delighted to find the layout is much the same as the American stores I’ve been in.

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And finally, you know you’re in Australia when Burger King is called Hungry Jack’s. Apparently there was some smaller Burger King restaurant that won a lawsuit against the big corporation when they wanted to move to Australia…so the big one now has to call themselves Hungry Jack’s.

I spent the next couple days exploring much of central Brisbane and going to Lone Pine Sanctuary (koalas!) while my friend had to work. More on those adventures coming soon, once I get through more photos.

 

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Categories: Australia, Queensland | 6 Comments

Adventures in Australia

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Boab Tree in the Kimberley, Western Australia

I recently had the opportunity to travel through parts of Australia for nearly four weeks in October/November. I planned the trip around the start of the Australian storm season, and also managed to fit in some scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

I still have a lot of photos to sort through, but as I do that over the coming…weeks?…I’d like to share some of my stories along the way.

Australia is sometimes described as the big brother of New Zealand, as they are similar in many ways, but quite different in other ways. The east coast of “Oz” is only a short three to four hour flight “across the ditch” (i.e., Tasman Sea), so I hope to spend a lot of time traveling over there and visiting friends while I live in New Zealand.

On this first trip I flew to Brisbane to visit an old storm chasing buddy and get my first few Aussie storm chases in. After exploring parts of southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales for a week and a half, I flew up the coast to Cairns for a few days to go diving and see a bit of Daintree Rainforest. I then hopped over to Darwin, to visit another good storm chasing friend (incidentally from New Zealand), see a bit of the beauties of the Top End and more storms, and take a road trip to the Kimberley region of Western Australia, where I saw more kangaroos and wallabies than people.

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I even got kicked by a kangaroo, but that was in Brisbane.

So look out for more posts and photos soon from the land Down Under…while I also try to keep up more with my current tales.

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Happy New Year 2015

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Happy New Year!!!

2014 saw me bungee jump for the first time (actually twice), travel the South Island of New Zealand, see my first wild penguins and even start to monitor their nest boxes, dive with Great White Sharks, travel to Australia for the first time (storm chasing, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, crocs and kangaroos, and fun with friends), visit family for Christmas for the first time in four years, spend time with friends new and old, present as a keynote speaker on storms and chasing at the New Zealand Meteorological Society conference, do my first radio interview (also about storms), explore more of beautiful New Zealand, and throw myself into interesting work projects related to storms and a lot of programming.

I closed out the year in style in Sydney, on a boat in the beautiful harbour! We had a great 9pm and midnight fireworks show, and it was an awesome start to 2015! In the new year I’m looking forward to returning to the U.S. for storm chasing in May, seeing old friends, showing my sister around parts of New Zealand on her first overseas trip in February, hopefully doing the same with my parents later in the year, starting to get involved in more media work at work, more Python programming, becoming at least conversationally fluent hopefully in Korean (have been learning it for fun in the last year), and whatever other new adventures come my way.

I am going to try again to update this blog a little more often with parts of my adventures, even if it’s for just a handful of people reading (thinking of you John and Nancy!).

I’d love to stay and write a little more but am about to board my flight from Sydney back to Wellington.

I wish you a healthy and happy 2015!!

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Categories: Australia, General Traveling, New Zealand, Sydney | 2 Comments

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