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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>(This is my first attempt to include pictures in a post, so please bear with me if it doesn't work.)</p>
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<p>  The family and I recently returned from two weeks down under, and I think it was the best vacation I've been on in several years - much better than Hawaii. Flew Qantas down (LA to Sydney) and back (Brisbane to LA). The flight down was on the new A380, and that's an interesting plane. They have a camera mounted in the tail so you can see what's going on - although since the flight is completely after dark the only time you see something interesting is on take-off and landing.</p>
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<p>  Spent the first three days in Sydney in the old 'Rocks' section of down. We were a fifteen minute walk to the Opera House and almost directly under the approach to the Harbor Bridge. Spent all of our time at places we could either take the ferry to or walk to - Darling Harbor, Taronga Zoo, Manly Beach, the Opera House and the adjacent Botanical Gardens, and downtown.</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41706/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R6-049-23.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12642" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12642/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Sydney Opera House - taken on the ferry to the zoo.</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41707/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R1-030-13A.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12643" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12643/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Kangaroos at the Taronga Zoo - The only time we saw live ones on the trip.</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41708/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R10-021-9.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12644" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12644/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Replica of Cooke's Endeavour at Darling Harbor</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41709/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R3-032-14A.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12645" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12645/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Sunset over the Harbor Bridge</p>
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<p>(more to come)</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
<p>From Sydney we flew out to Uluru (the Aboriginal name for Ayers Rock) and spent two nights. This was the one place where we allowed our travel agent to put us in 'canned' tours, and they were worth it. The first was the Anangu Sunrise Tour, where you go into the National Park and watch the sunrise on the rock (along with a few hundred of your closest friends. They then serve you a light breakfast before sending you on a walk with an Aboriginal guide.</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41710/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R3-068-32A.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12646" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12646/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Uluru shortly before sunrise</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41711/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R9-007-2.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12647" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12647/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Sunrise on Uluru</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41712/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R9-019-8.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12648" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12648/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>DS learning to throw a spear</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41713/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R9-029-13.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12649" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12649/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Our guide, holding the spear</p>
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<p>  The other tour was the "Sounds Of Silence" tour, and I highly recommend this to anyone. They take you out about five miles from the resort where they've set up a reception area (a concrete slab open to the elements) and serve you Australian wines and canapes while you watch the sun set on Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olga's, a similar formation about 30 miles from Uluru). Once the sun has set you go down this path about 200 yds, and they've set up a gourmet buffet dinner under the stars - and that's what makes this special. My God, the stars! For the first time in my life I saw the Milky Way in all of it's glory, and they have a resident astronomer that points out different features of the sky. I would suggest you see this either in the late fall or the early spring (Australian).  It was -2C the night we were there, but in summer there are so many flies that I can't imagine the dinner being comfortable.</p>
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<p>  (I don't have any good pictures of this, and any picture I'd have taken of the night sky would have failed miserably to do the sight justice.)</p>
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<p>(more to come)</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<p>  We then flew to Cairns on the northern Queensland coast and rented a camper van for most of the rest of the trip. We were going to spend a couple of days in the Cairns area then drive down the coast highway to Brisbane - which we did. However, there's not much going on in the in-between, so we might have been better off renting different campers at each end. (Still, I enjoyed the drive - even though I did all of the driving.)</p>
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<p>  The Cairns area has a lot to see - we could have easily spent at least two more days there. We made it as far north as Port Douglas (a typical coastal tourist town, though not as tacky as e.g. Myrtle Beach) and Daintree village - where we took a crocodile river cruise. The highlight of the area, though, is the trip to Kuranda from just outside Cairns. They have both an aerial cable car and a narrow-gage steam railway that take you over/through the tropical rainforest for about 10K. (We did the SkyWay both ways.) This is another excursion I highly recommend - the view is fantastic. Avoid the summer, though, because a) it's going to be very hot and muggy, and b) you'll drown in all the rain (the Daintree river typically crests 10-12 meters higher during the monsoon season than it's typical dry-season level.)</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41714/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R9-045-21.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12650" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12650/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Downtown Cairns from the balcony at our hotel - it's not a large, bustling metropolis</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41715/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R11-035-16.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12651" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12651/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>DW by the camper we rented</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41716/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R5-045-21.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12652" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12652/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>View of the rainforest from the SkyWay</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41717/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R5-023-10.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12653" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12653/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Partial view of Barron Falls, taken from one of the nature-walk stops on the Kuranda SkyWay. This is a beautiful gorge the lies between Cairns and Kuranda with a large lake upstream (to the right of this photo). There is a sign at this walk with a picture of the falls during the monsoon season - it looks more like Niagara Falls then.</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41718/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R5-041-19.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12654" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12654/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>It's hard to see, but there's a bird in the middle of this picture.</p>
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<p>(Still more coming)</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
<p>  Like I said in the last post, the drive from Cairns to Brisbane didn't have a lot of excitement until we got close to Brisbane so I won't bore you with pictures (of which I did not take many), although there are a few beaches and islands along the way the people like to visit. One of our biggest complaints was the fact that we had to stop for the night not because we were ready to stop, but because the campground offices almost always closed at 5:00 or 6:00 pm.</p>
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<p>  Things started getting interesting again around Hervey Bay, another beachfront town but not so much a tourist trap. Our last 'great adventure' was our trip on Steve's Whale Watch One out of Mooloolaba, a small town about an hour north of Brisbane. (Many maps don't show Mooloolaba, but will show Maroochydore, which is just a little bit north and part of the same metropolitan area. You can't really tell where one town ends and another begins.) DW has some video from the cruise that includes a shot of one of the whales jumping out of the water. I don't consider this one of my trip highlights because the seas were a bit too rough for me (insert disgusting sound effect), but it was still worth it to see those magnificent creatures "up close and personal". Needless to say, I didn't get any pictures here.</p>
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<p>  We spent the last night in Australia at a hotel in downtown Brisbane, and spent most of our last day wandering around the Queens Street Mall. Like Sydney, Brisbane is a bustling metropolis. Both cities felt, to me at least, more comfortable and friendly than most of our large US cities.</p>
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<p>  We aren't planning our next trip yet (the finances won't allow it for awhile), but every one of us would love to return to the country some day.</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41719/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R2-045-21.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12655" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12655/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>DW and DS by a cool metal casting at Hervey Bay - taken from the beach looking inland.</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41720/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R2-047-22.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12656" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12656/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Land-side view (the sun was at an angle that made it hard to get a good picture on this side)</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41721/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R2-055-26.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12657" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12657/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>Surfing off the beach at Maroochydore</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41722/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R8-046-21A.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12658" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12658/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>A shot of the Queens Street Mall in Brisbane. Notice the "Hungry Jacks", it's their version of Burger King.</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41723/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R8-022-9A.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12659" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12659/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>This is a really cool pedestrian bridge that crosses the river in downtown Brisbane. The support poles make it look like a set of sailing ships. (Apparently the design was controversial when it was unveiled.)</p>
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<p><img alt="7769326-R8-036-16A.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12660" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12660/width/326/height/500" style="; width: 326px; height: 500px"></p>
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<p>An old church downtown, near King George's Square (IIRC)</p>
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<p><a class="H-lightbox-open" href="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/41725/width/1000/height/800/flags/" target="_blank"><img alt="7769326-R8-042-19A.jpg" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="12661" data-type="61" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/content/type/61/id/12661/width/640/height/417" style="; width: 640px; height: 417px"></a></p>
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<p>The iconic "Koala and Child" on top of a downtown Brisbane office building</p>
 

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<p>Looks like a great trip, you were able to pack a lot in those two weeks!</p>
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<p>I loved Australia and would love to go back. DH only wants to go if we can fly business class and I don't see that happening any time in the next decade!</p>
 

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<p>Nice!</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>clare</strong> <a href="/forum/thread/69036/trip-report-w-pictures-two-weeks-down-under#post_1925545"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-right:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-bottom:0px solid;"></a><br><p> </p>
<p>I found it interesting that one part would be so cold and the other so warm.</p>
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<p>  A lot of the people we met were Australians travelling from the southern parts of the country (Melbourne, Adelaide, etc.), who kept telling us they were fleeing record cold weather. I never saw any weather reports for those areas that had lows below 5C the entire time I was there.</p>
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<p>  They didn't like me telling them about my wife growing up in northern Minnesota where it was not unusual to see -40C during the winter.<br><br>
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