Australia

Australia! Land of kangaroos and things that try to kill you. I didn’t get to spend as much time in Australia compared to Europe and Asia, but at this point i was already stretching my budget.

Also everything is written upside down.

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After getting settled in Sydney, I had some tasty dumplings from a Japanese restaurant. It turns out dumplings may be my favorite. Then I went to see the Opera House and the Harbor bridge.

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They looked like that but at night time.

Thursday I walked through the botanical gardens near the Sydney Opera House. Then I spent the day at Circle Quay (pronounced “circle key”). Later I met my friend Rach from Australia who we met years ago on a Mediterranean cruise.

Friday we took the ferry to Manley beach and had burritos. Then we went on a walking tour. They went over the history of Sydney. Sydney was founded by criminals and military after the US became independent and the British couldn’t send their criminals to us anymore. I always thought that was a joke.

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Since there were pretty much only those two groups, many criminals came into important positions, such as doctors and bankers. They didn’t stop their theivery though. There were Aboriginals here before the Europeans, and they pretty much got the Trail of Tears package.

Then we walked to see Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair.

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Saturday we took a day trip to the Blue Mountains. The original settlers had trouble finding a route through the blue mountains. They explained how it took years to find a pass through, and when they finally found it, the pass opened up the inner continent to Sydney for agriculture.

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It was also used for coal mining. There were some old mining equipment scattered throughout the forest. We went on two Gondola rides and rode the steepest incline in the world. Then we stopped at a nature preserve to see some kangaroos and koalas.

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The koalas were sleepy.

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Sunday we went on a three mile walk from Bondi beach to coogee beach along the coast. The temperature was around 107 degrees and there was very little shade, so it had some elements of “death march”, but the views were great, and it was worth it in the end. As I was flying back to Sydney to go to Hawaii I saw it from the plane as well.

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Then we went Opera House tour. They showed us the main concert hall and went over the history of the design and construction and all the time and cost overruns. The project was supposed to cost 7 million dollars and ended up coming in over 100 million.

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It was also objectively totally worth it, since the Opera House is worth much more than that today.

After the tour we went to see a “Best of the Opera” performance, where they had four different opera singers sing various famous opera songs.

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Monday we climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We started walking out in the middle of a thunderstorm, but it cleared up before they let us out. It was raining and thundering the first section though, when the tour guide says, “I’ve been out on the bridge when it was struck by lightning, it was awesome! But don’t worry, everything’s super grounded.” So that was mildly terrifying for a few minutes.

We met Andrea and Amanda from Chicago and Kutztown Pennsylvania, respectively, and had dinner in The Rocks, an old neighborhood near the bridge, with them afterward.

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Tuesday we flew to Cairns, then went to the Night market. It was much smaller than the night markets of Thailand, more like a mall. We went down to the Esplanade where I read about Cairns part in World Was II as an area for staging and support. Then I watched open mic night at the hostel.

Wednesday we went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. I saw a giant sea turtle, a giant clam, a clown fish (Nemo), parrot fish, jelly fish, and many other florescent and other kinds of fish. We snorkeled at two sites, 1770 and the Stepping Stones. Rach saw a giant blue starfish. I didn’t have a GoPro, but here are some pictures I found from the documentary “Finding Nemo”.

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It was pretty much that.

Thursday we went to the Daintree rainforest. Our Aboriginal tour guide was telling us the dangers of crocodiles and jellyfish, and of the many recent related deaths. We stopped at another wildlife reserve where we saw kangaroos, emus, wallabies, and koalas.

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Next we had lunch and went to the Beach, although we couldn’t swim due to jellyfish. Afterward our guide but took us on a rainforest walk, pointing out all the different trees and insects. We met a girl from Connecticut who summarized it best, saying “everything is poisonous, but if you cook it the right way, you can eat it”.

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Then we went on a boat ride where we saw the Mangrove forest and a crocodile. In the winter there are many visible crocodiles because the water is cooler, but it’s the summer at the moment, so they’re all in the water. No one wanted to go swimming for some reason.

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Friday I went on a scenic train ride to Kuranda. The railway was built in 1887 in the gold rush. I ate lunch in Kuranda then took the cable car down, where I met a couple from Florida from Zimbabwe, people from Australia and another solo traveler from North Carolina. We also learned about all the uses of sugarcane which is a big driver of the economy in Cairns.

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Here are more pictures from Australia.

Saturday I continue East to Hawaii. I hear Hawaii never gets hit by ballistic missles or surprise attacks, so I should be totally safe.

Thanks to everyone for all the support!

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