Travels with John Smith
Chapter 37 part 3 year 5 (2016)
More Uluru, Tasmania
‘Aborigine Land and a Tasmanian Devil’
-Mount Olga electrolytes
-visit with Lily
-Tasmanian devil run
-Kangaroo hang out
-Funky Art Gallery
-Mount Wellington view
-roof top cinema
-pink and grey birds in Perth
Travels with John Smith
Chapter 37 part 3 year 5 (2016)
More Uluru, Tasmania, etc.
‘Aborigine land and a Tasmanian Devil’
We are now at Kata Tjuta, also called Mount Olga, or the Olga's. It is mainly 2 mountains or big rocks with a gorge in-between. It is about 25 kilometres west of Uluru and is another bit of rock rising up from this otherwise flat landscape. We have been walking in 45 degree Celsius heat and I feel quite ill. There is no shade here and the climb up and down through the rocky gorge is strenuous.
Our guide also warned me, after I told him I did the skydive this morning, that I might experience a low and need some electrolytes. He said to ask him if I felt ill but we are far away from the bus now.
We have hats on and netting over our heads which is making it even hotter, but the flies are really awful here. They are very small and they fly straight into your face all the time. Almost everyone here has one on as walking is impossible without it. We look like people from outer space. Even with the netting covering our faces, they are buzzing around. It reminds me of the mosquitos at night in Saskatchewan except these don’t bite-they are looking for moisture so they fly into your eyes, ears, nostrils or your mouth. Very annoying.
Because of the heat, I feel dizzy and quite nauseous so we decide to turn around and walk back to the bus, stopping only to catch our breath. My only thought is to get back to the air-conditioned bus and the electrolytes. The guide gives me a double dose of electrolytes and about 20 minutes goes by before I feel better.
This is our third day here and we get up before sunset to see the sun rise over Uluru. The sun glows red at sunrise and sunset so we wanted to see both.
We learn that Uluru is a sandstone formation that is about 348 metres high and 9.4 km around the base of it, caused by the pushing of tectonic plates together and pushing the earth up. They say that even with erosion, it will always be there because there is more earth being pushed upwards than eroded away.
It is sacred to the Anangu people and they are the traditional inhabitants of the area. There are some areas of it, we are not allowed to film as there are some sights that are only for women and others only for men and they don’t want people posting pictures of it on the internet.
There are caves with ancient paintings, water holes and we learn about the various plants the Aborigine people eat or use as medicine or other uses like curing tree ailments, etc.
Before the arrival of the Europeans with their diseases, the Aborigine people lived without much illness, using what they had around them to eat and cure themselves.
We learn about a tree that is a natural sunscreen so we rub some of that on ourselves as the day is heating up. We see a plant that is similar to the bush tomato and this one is apparently delicious when ripe but when it’s not ripe, if you eat it it will kill you (I think it is called a Kangaroo apple).
We also hear many of the stories that have been handed down from one generation to the next. They are called dreamtime, which is kind of a time before light or creation and the stories help explain how things came to be. The guides only share the stories the Anangu people want them to share to give us an idea. There are apparently many more that they want to keep for themselves so their culture remains with them.
We are back in Melbourne and this time, we have a great hotel across from Flinders Street Station, which is a train station in the centre of town. The trams here are amazing and the ones in the centre of town are free. This is actually the case in most cities in Australia. We go to all the cool places we went to last time we were here and discover some more.
Tonight we are meeting up with Lily, a former student of Maple Leaf from our 1st year there. She has lived most of her life in Australia so her English is excellent and was also one of the star students at Maple Leaf. I spoke about her in year 1 as she played Cinderella in EAF and is an amazing singer. She is tiny, beautiful and intelligent. She takes us to a Japanese Restaurant and then Parliament House, a building she really likes and we sit on the steps and talk about life and love.
My niece Delaney, has been living in Australia for a couple of years, and we meet with her and a friend of hers for dinner at the Victoria Market Night Market. There are lots of people here and many stalls selling different kinds of food and others selling various cool items. We have a snack with them before they head out to a rap concert. Melbourne is such a cool city. We walk back to the hotel and pass several different street musicians, each group better than the last. I read somewhere that Melbourne is the best city in the world to live in and we can see why! There is so much art, music, good food, culture, etc.
It is the next day and we have found an amazing vintage clothes store. The girls meet us and we spend a couple hours trying on cowboy boots, Hawaiian shirts and vintage dresses. Delaney always knows where the trendy places are and she takes us to a delicious Thai restaurant called Cookies. Her friend is on a 1st date with a guy she met online so we sit at a table on the other side of the room, introducing ourselves on the way past so he knows we are there. No pressure-Poor guy!
Delaney will stay with us in Tasmania but is on an earlier flight so after lunch she goes to the airport. She will already be at the hotel when we get there. John and I hear there is a rooftop cinema in this same building so we check it out. It’s daytime so no movies are playing right now but the set up is basically a rooftop bar and there is a large screen in the middle of the space, with beach chairs set up in rows in front of it. They are very popular in Australia and we really want to see one so maybe when we come back.
We are on our way to Tasmania. We had a little trouble with excess baggage because we didn’t get why Delaney kept saying she could only bring a bag that weighed 7 kilos total. As I mentioned before, we have been travelling with a carry on and small backpack so normally would be ok but as we stood in the line up to board the plane, a guy came along with a portable weigh scale, saying if the TOTAL of your carry on bags isn’t 7 kilos, you need to check a bag and pay 50 bucks! My bag empty is about 5 kilos and my book is at least 2 kilos on it’s own, so you can guess what happened to us!
We had told Delaney she could share the room with us so she wouldn’t have to pay for one and when I had called ahead and told them she was coming, they said there would be an extra charge. The guy let her into the room when she got there but when we arrived and asked how much extra we needed to pay, he said “I won’t tell anyone if you don’t” so we had our 1st taste of how welcoming they are here.
We had to take a cab into the centre of Hobart for dinner and had a laugh with the driver who was funny, laid back and helpful so another good experience with the locals.
We hire a driver to take us to a couple places and he too is very nice and cool about everything. He takes us to an animal reserve so we can see a real Tasmanian devil. I have never seen one, except on the cartoon ‘Bugs Bunny’ so do not know what to expect.
He is running around on a track, which is like a mini-race track, curling through shrubs and disappearing for a few minutes around the corner and reappearing focused and dedicated to keep running in a kind of manic way so we guess he is enjoying it or at least recognizing that he needs exercise. The enclosure is a white walled garden that comes up to our chest.
The Tasmanian devils we see aren’t at all like the one on Bugs Bunny. They look more like a small chubby dog or a miniature bear with big ears and are very cute but apparently bite so we do not attempt to feed them.
There are also loads of kangaroos and wallabies hanging around in groups in a huge open area and they come up to us on the path that runs through the place looking for food. We bought some kangaroo pellets when we came into the reserve, a food supplement high in fibre and vitamin E that are nutritionally safe for them and they eat right out of hands and are not afraid of us at all. A mother ‘Roo’ with a baby sitting in her pouch comes up to John and he feeds her. We are thrilled to see this and be so close to these unique looking animals. Some of them are huge and when we run out of the snacks, we get nervous about how they might react but they lose interest pretty fast when they realize we have no more food. Most are non-plussed that we are here. They lounge about, like sun worshipers on a beach or lay directly on the path so we are forced to walk around them. We check out the exotic birds and see my favourites; the beautiful bright red rosellas and funny little big headed kookaburras.
There is also a koala asleep in a tree, and people are lined up to stand beside her to take a picture, but she is not really paying attention to anyone. The only time she opens her eyes is when John stands beside her and she looks right at him. John has that effect on me too.
The driver drops us off at an art gallery, that is number 1 on all the lists of things to do in Hobart. Mona is quirky and fun, has an amazing restaurant there, where we have charcuteries that rival any place in France so we have lunch there. The gallery is mostly underground, very well organized and interesting. We spend some time looking at the fabulous kooky art exhibitions and take turns bouncing on a funky trampoline outside the gallery. The ferry that takes us back to the centre has life sized sheep statues to sit on while we cross the water.
We find a Grill that has the best steaks (something that.is not easy to find in China so we get our fill in Australia).
Melissa, a girl who teaches the little kids at the Foreign National school in Wuhan, sends me a message saying she is in Hobart too. We have met up with her before on our travels and she is always lots of fun to hang out with. She finds us in the Grill, we go to hear some live music, then make a plan to meet at the market tomorrow.
It is Saturday and we are at the Hobart Saturday market. It is hopping with activity and lots of original crafts and artisan products in the stalls, live music dotted along and interesting shops in the little side streets. There are many cool things as it is a high end market here but nothing is cheap so the plan is to walk around thinking about what we like and come back for things we liked the best later. We stop for a proper brunch of eggs Benedict with all the trimmings and meet up with Melissa.
We hang out in a park for a while. Melissa will leave in the morning for Queensland, where she hopes to be able to hug a Koala (It is the only place in Australia where you can still do this).
Delaney has a great sense of humour and is easy to get along with. She says we are the 1st and the last family she has seen since she left home a couple years ago (We met up in Bangkok when she began her adventure).
It is Sunday and we are on the top of Mount Wellington, looking down on Hobart and it seems like we can see all the way to the South Pole. What a view! We take hundreds of pictures as usual, as every view seems to be better than the last. We decide to go to the beach as the day is quite warm and sunny. (Hobart is usually about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of Australia but not today.
We find a beach and I can finally do some suntanning as the burn I got on my feet has faded. Since living in Australia, Delaney seems more tanned than she used to be but she is still pretty white so I will follow her lead and do what she does to protect herself to be safe.
It is dusk and we are sitting on beach chairs, in the front row at a rooftop cinema. We have brought along some snacks, a blanket I bought in the market and some warmer clothes as it has cooled off. The colourful rooftops of Hobart fade into the background as it gets dark enough to watch the movie. What a great way to spend our last evening here.
We are back in Melbourne at the hotel near the station in the centre. It feels like coming home when you stay in the same hotel more than once.
Sadly had to say Goodbye to the wonderful Delaney.
We are in a tower looking at Melbourne from above (We like to go up towers in most of the places we visit). We were going to go to another Roof top cinema but we stay to see the day turn to night and the lights of Melbourne have begun to sparkle.
It is our last day here and we have been back to some of our favourite places and another great area of Melbourne called Fitzroy, that is full of 2nd hand and vintage shops, lots of cool, beautiful graffiti and restaurants. There is art and music and good food and a lovely atmosphere everywhere.
We are staying in a high end, very lovely bed and breakfast in a suburb of Perth. The room is in it’s own building, like a big rectangular shed and it is the equivalent of a 4 star hotel. Everything is white, with a meticulous attention to detail and is sparkling clean. The room looks out into a well kept garden and apart from welcoming us and bringing us a breakfast that looks like it belongs in the Ritz Hotel in London, we don’t see much of our landlady or her little white poodle.
We walk through a shaded park on our way to find the train station to go back to Fremantle, so I can buy the 8 string ukulele, which I am still thinking about. My thoughts are interrupted by a loud chirping sound, multiplied by a couple dozen voices or more. I look up and see pink, almost like a cherry tree in blossom but on closer inspection, I see they are birds, spread throughout the tree. They look like cockatoos but are pink and grey. We find out they are called pink and grey Galah. I love that we can see gorgeous birds like this just walking through a park! Australia is amazing!
We are back in Singapore and this time, we are here long enough to get some street food, do some more shopping and have a wander. It’s morning and the air is warm and a little humid but you can trust that it will be hot later. The Hawkers are vying for our business.
We order some spicy Nasi Goreng from one Hawker food stall. It is a kind of fried rice with tasty bits of egg and vegetables mixed in. It is good to be back in Asia with it’s boisterous energy, general friendliness wheeling and dealing. This combined with ‘not sweating the small stuff’ feels familiar now, even in Singapore where they are organized and have lots of rules. We will go back home to Wuhan tomorrow where there is less organization and almost no rules.