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Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

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Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

Australia 2017

August 28-October 21

From August 28 to October 21, 2017, my wife and I became more mature and learned individuals. How? We traveled.

Travel is much more than just fun. It helps us grow. It helps us become more accepting of ideas. It makes us more intelligent. We had a 55 day upgrade.

A lesson about travel for us is that you don't have to be entertained all the time. A great deal of the enjoyment is in finding out for yourself how things are other places. I like to leave a place saying, “So that’s how it is.”

My love affair with Australia began as a biology lesson. Australia’s unique position in the world with its mammals that are so different from those of North America creates a perfect comparison lesson in ecology, evolution, geology, and more. At some point I stumbled across a National Geographic film (now out of print) called “Australian Animal Mysteries”. That film piqued an interest that never went away. One quote at the end of that film that I found intriguing was “Australia, the land time forgot.” There was just something about that quote that made me start studying about the continent. I’ve learned a great deal in 20 years of reading. By the time my wife and I made the decision to go to Australia, I knew we were in for a rare experience. We spent 7 weeks around the country in 2015, and we recently returned from an 8 week trip. While 15 weeks is not a lot in the total scheme of a lifetime, it is enough that I feel a special affection for the country and its lovely people.

A great deal of credit for the success of our trip lies with the great people who take their time to provide their expertise on this forum. My hat is off to all of you! Thank you again and again.

I hope what I have written as we traveled on this recent trip will help anyone contemplating an Australian adventure. I hope my writings convey even a small fraction of the education and pleasure we gained from our travels. I’ve added a few things here and there, but for the most part this is posts I made to my friends on Facebook almost every night as we traveled.

After this introduction I’m going to post the different segments as comments.

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1. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

1. Heading to Australia - August 26, 2017

My wife and I are about to head to Australia. We leave next Saturday. We'll fly from Dallas non-stop (17.5 hours) to Sydney and on to Brisbane. The Australian Trip Advisor Forum has been invaluable in planning this trip. I began to private message a lady who has been so helpful. It turns out that Sweetbiscuit21 lives in Brisbane, and she is meeting us for lunch our very first hour in Australia. How cool is that! See you a week from Monday!

We're renting a car in Brisbane and heading up the coast to Noosaville. From there, its on to our adventure in the Outback. We're driving out to Longreach, Queensland. From there its down to Lightning Ridge, New South Wales -- the opal capital of Australia. Then its on to Sydney, where we'll turn in our car and spend a few days in beautiful Sydney.

Then we're taking the Indian Pacific across the continent (4 days) to Perth and Fremantle. From there we're flying to Broome, Western Australia and driving around the north west area for a few days before flying to Darwin, Northern Territory. We'll be around Darwin a few days before taking The Ghan train (4 days) south to Adelaide, South Australia. We are staying in the Adelaide area a few days before flying home.

I've spent a lot of time planning this. It's hard to believe its about here.

Brisbane to Sandgate

We met our new friend Sweetbiscuit 21 for a nice lunch at Sandgate north of Brisbane at the Full Moon Hotel. We had a nice visit, then made our way about another hour north to Noosaville. We slept 12 hours, and we are adjusting to being 15 hours ahead of Texas time. It is very beautiful here, and the weather is perfect. Noosaville is on the Noosa River, and the ambiance is like you find in any beach type town. Lots of shops and cafes along a nice street with the river on the other side of the street.

Noosaville, Queensland -August 28-30

We had a great breakfast at Moondoggie Cafe next to the hotel.

We have a river cruise at lunch. It's 9:30 in the morning, and I'm sleepy already. We are going to go for a walk. Lovely slow pace place to start our trip.

We took a boat trip on the Noosa River this afternoon. It was beautiful. The boat captain was also a science teacher. He had a lot of interesting information on the area. It was a beautiful day. Keep in mind, its still winter in Queensland, so this is a late winter's day in Queenland, Australia.

When we were making our reservations, we had to decide between Noosa and Noosaville. We decided to Noosaville, and I’m glad we did. Noosa is much more upscale with fancy shops and fine dining. Noosaville is along the river and much more relaxed. There are many places to shop and eat. It’s a matter of choice as both places are nice, but we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of Noosaville. We’d stay here again.

The mountainous region just southwest of Noosaville is known as the Hinterlands. There are several little towns with a touristy but quaint feel much like Cloudcroft or Ruidoso, New Mexico,on a smaller scale. We visited an area named Mary Cairncross Reserve. It was beautiful, and the day was cool and sunny -- a great day to be out and about.

In Montville, we went into a nice looking antique shop. We found 2 knives and a miniature ruler that we thought were too neat to pass up. They were a part of the owner’s collection, and he said he purchased them from the collection of the first prime minister of Australia.

Today we drove north about 300 miles to Rockhampton, Queensland. The road was 2 lane almost all the way, and the speed limit 68mph (actually 100 kilometers/hour). There are many places provided for passing. We were delayed for about an hour by roadwork. We made it in 8 hours, including 2 stops along the way. Tomorrow we head west into the outback to our next destination -- Barcaldine, Queensland, where we have a big tour on Saturday with a local man named Tom Lockie. Really looking forward to that. It about 300 miles from Rockhampton to

Barcaldine, so another full day's drive.

I’ll interject a portion here about driving in Australia. Driving is, of course, on the left hand side of the road. For those accustomed to driving on the right, do not just show up at the car hire place and assume you will be fine. Do some reading about road rules first, and think about your own driving skills and comfort level. This trip was about my 6th time to drive on the left — 4 in England, and a previous trip to Australia. For me, when sitting on the right, it just seems the correct thing to drive down the left side of the road. The most dangerous place of all is a 2 lane, little used road. If you stop for some reason, when you approach the road to drive on, it just looks like any 2 lane road you’ve seen before. There is nothing at quick glance that makes it look different. At that point, you have to really use your head to remember to take off in the left lane. To do otherwise could be deadly. Traffic is your friend. It reminds you where to drive. I had no trouble adapting, but each person must make that decision.

By the way, the brake, accelerator, and clutch (if a manual) are all in the same position. You are just on the right side of the car. The only different thing is that on Japanese and Korean cars, the winshield wiper stick and the turn signal stick are reversed, so that the windshield wiper is on the left where I was accustomed to having the turn signal. For a long time, I kept turning on the windshield wiper instead of the blinker — annoying but not dangerous.

But never believe the old saying that old habits are hard to break. I drove for about 6 weeks on the left on this trip. That is only a moment in time compared to my 50 years driving a car on the right. We have a Honda that we left at our daughter’s house to drive back home.It’s set up with a stick on each side of the steering wheel. The first thing I did was I turned on the windshield wiper! And once about a week after we got home, I turned down the left side of an empty street! I’m all back to normal now — I think.

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2. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

2. Barcaldine, Queensland (September 1-3)

Tonight we are in the small village of Barcaldine, which is absolutely a long way from anywhere. Tom Lockie came and collected us just as we arrived this afternoon for us to come to his tale telling session at the caravan (trailer) park. It was a lot of fun to listen to his tales. He will pick us up at 7:30 in the morning for a full day's journey into the history of this part of Queensland. It's going to be a lot like a West Texas history lesson, I can already tell -- one of tenacity and courage against nature and the government - a tale of brave people who in the end settled a wild land. A tales filled with color and a bit of imagination.

This is the story of the Tree of Knowledge Memorial in Barcaldine (pronounces bar-CALL-din), Queensland. The tree was a large and beautiful gum tree. Gum trees have white bark and are known for their stateliness. In 1891, one of the most significant events in Australian history took place in and around Barcaldine. This is sheep country, and shearers were extremely underpaid and overworked. In 1891 over 1,000 shearers laid down their shears and went on strike. They met under the gum tree in Barcaldine and laid out their demands. The final result was not only better working conditions and higher pay for the shearers but also the beginning of a labor movement in Australia. In 1892 the Australian Labour Party was formed as a result of the strike -- the first political party in Australia.

The tree flourished for what is considered to be over 200 years until 2006. In April of 2006 it began to show signs of sickness. It was determined that it had been deliberately poisoned by some unknown person. By October 2006, it was declared completely dead.

The community began to put together a plan to memorialize the tree and more importantly what it stood for. The result is the large structure that has the dead trunk and branches underneath. (I wish I could include pictures in this TA report.)

The size of the structure symbolizes the size of the living tree, and inside the branches of the tree. It's a very impressive structure.

Today we had a once in a lifetime experience with Tom Lockie of Barcaldine, Queensland -- a national treasure and iconic Queenslander of the pioneering spirit. Just being with Tom -- as he insisted we call him -- for the day was in itself a privilege. It is one of the top experiences we have ever had. He talked from 7:30am to 5:30pm with every sort of information you can imagine -- tales of pioneer adventurers, Aborigine cliff writings, cattle -- and it was every bit captivating.

I also saw well over 100 kangaroos from the bus, but couldn't get pictures. Man, those guys can move when they are motivated. I also saw 2 or 3 emus. They are really big -- as tall as the bus!

Tonight we went back to the Tree of Knowledge Memorial. It is impressive in the daylight, but it is amazing at night. The green light and the way the memorial is built give an impression of there being a living tree present. I think some of the pictures convey that feeling.

We made it safely on to Longreach today. It's an appropriate name! It's a long reach out here. Tomorrow we have some tours arranged. The Stockmans Hall of Fame is here as is the Qantas Museum. This is where Qantas airlines started.

We are staying at a small motel reminiscent of our motel where I grew up. Each room has a covered parking space in front of it. I was visiting with the owner, and he told me an interesting story that speaks a lot about human nature.

There are 18 rooms, but they only have 13 spaces. (He didn't say how they handle that, but its not important to the story). He said they started out with the spaces numbered the same as the room number in front of it. But with fewer parking spaces than rooms, sometimes a person would need to park say in space 10 for room 5. People would get all upset and insist that their room number and parking space number match. What to do?? Ah ha! They painted over the parking space numbers and lettered them instead. For example, we are in room 9 and space I is in front of our room. He said he could give people room 1 and have them park across the lot (which is not far) M, and absolutely no one complains -- ever. Not one complaint. Problem solved.

People are funny.

On our tour yesterday, we visited with several people, one couple more than the others. Then last night, we ran into them at the restaurant and we visited some more. We found out they are headed to Longreach as well, so we we traded e-mails and phone numbers. We plan to take a day trip to a town about 80 miles from Longreach named Winton on Thursday. I asked them if they would like to go with us, and and they said yes. How fun is that! We've made friends with an Australian couple and are going to take a day road trip with them in our car. They have a motor home.

Tom Lockie came to see us this morning before we left Barcaldine to give us a gift. We so enjoyed the tour with Tom into the Australian Outback yesterday!

We had a grand time this morning at Cobb and Co. Stagecoach Ride, Australian morning tea, and then a very entertaining and fun Old West Show starting Lane and Jeremy Kinnon.

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3. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

3. Longreach (September 4-8)

Yesterday on our way from Barcaldine to Longreach, we took a 50 mile detour to the south to Isisford to see their dinosaur interpretive center. The interpretive center was interesting, but the trip there and back was more so. We had not driven Australia's version of a single track road -- that's a single lane of paved road with 2 way traffic. In Scotland they provide paved spots to pull off to the side to meet a car. They don't bother with such places in Australia. You just watch for an oncoming car and pull off such that the left tires are off the pavement on the left and keep your right tires on the pavement. It works quite well. If you meet a truck or other large vehicle such as a motor home, it's best and polite to just pull all the way off the paved lane and wait. It was not too big of a problem anyway in that we met all of 3 vehicles each way. You do have to stay alert though with such few vehicles to be sure you notice if one is actually coming toward you.

The Kinnon family has developed a fantastic group of shows and attractions in Longreach that help keep both the cattle station and the town of Longreach running.

We just had so much fun today. We had actually met Lane Kinnon on our tour Saturday with Tom Lockie. The Kinnon family is actually trying to help Tom keep his tour going somehow after he can't do it. So this is more than just a contrived way to make money, although they are quick to tell you that without this endeavor they would have lost their land long ago. The Queensland outback is into the sixth year of a drought. All the cattle have had to be sold off the land. Some sheep still are being run.

Lane Kinnon and his brother Jeremy are the main entertainers. You would never guess these two young men to be entertainers, but they are -- and they are funny and ever so enjoyable.

We started the day with a stagecoach ride. It was a lot of fun. When we came back to town, they had tea and scones for us, then a very nice movie, followed by an old time tent show where the stars were Jeremy and Lane with their dog, horse, 2 ducks, a cow, and a donkey as the stars. They were really funny, and you could tell they adlib a lot as they go.

Here’s my cut line for the picture they took of us at the stagecoach: “Newcomers to Longreach, (our names), arrived in town and prepare to set off to their new station. All of Longreach came out to give them a big welcome.”

That’s sort of how it feels out here in the Outback. Everyone is glad you’re here, and the welcome mat is always out.

Tonight the Kinnon family provided more entertainment with a sunset paddle boat ride on the Thompson River, followed by a great meal, entertainment, and ending with billy tea and damper. A billy is slang for a pot of tea boiled over a camp fire. Damper is a sort of bread like desert cooked in what we call a Dutch oven. They cooked it while we watched a movie. Great evening.

Nogo Station is not too far outside Longreach. The sheep shearing demonstration was fun to watch.

The best part of our day was the tour of the 747 at the Qantas museum in Longreach. The plane was donated to the museum (which is not owned by qantas but is supported by the company) by Qantas. It was flown into Longreach where it will remain as the centerpiece of the museum. It was most interesting to be up so close to this giant.

Today my wife and I along with our new Australian friends drove over to Winton -- the next town west of Longreach, only 2 hours away -- to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs. It is a marvelous exhibit, and the landscape of the escarpment (which they call a jump up) was spectacular.

We got to stand in the engine of a 747. It was big. Only 2 places in the world you can do this -- Longreach and a place in South Africa.

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4. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

4. Lightning Ridge (September 9-12)

Today we drove 8 hours from Longreach to Roma. It was easy driving though. I only passed 3 or 4 vehicles and no one passed me in 8 hours! There are many road trains. We met a lot. They are bigger than our trucks, and they pull 3 or sometimes 4 trailers in addition to the truck itself. I'm used to them now. They're just trucks.

I've been told over and over not to drive on the highways at night. You see that's great advice when you drive in the daytime. Man, the night road is a killing field. The road trains have super strong guards, and they just drive. Where we might see 2 or 3 deer killed on the side of the road in 40 miles, I'm not exaggerating one bit to say we saw 200 or more kangaroos and other smaller animals in about 30 miles. It's dangerous out there at night. The kangaroos have no sense of getting out of the way.

I'm wondering why this town is called Roma. It's a big town for the outback. They even have a McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a bunch of restaurants and hotels.

And I just paid our credit card bill from Australia. I still think that is amazing even though I've done it several times.

Tomorrow we head to Lightning Ridge, New South Wales. It is a very, very small town and is the opal mining capital of Australia. There are quite a few things to do and see there. Shorter day tomorrow, just 5 1/2 hours.

We took a bit of a deviation from the route yesterday, and went to Nindigully Pub, which lays claim to being the oldest pub in Australia. Thank you Sweetbiscuit21 for the suggestion! It was a fun stop, and the hamburger was great!

The Black Hand mine just outside Lightning Ridge is unique and fantastic. One man carved all these sculptures into the sandstone by hand as well as digging the mine shafts. It's about 40 feet below ground. The pictures don't do justice to the art.

Here's what opal mining country at Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, looks like. And the people who settle here look about the same. It reminds me of Terlingua.

This is Fred Bodel's camp close to Lightning Ridge. Charlie Nettleton made the first opal sale in 1903, but opal was not a desired stone until later. Today the black opal is the rarest type opal in the world(found only at Lightning Ridge), and is considered the most desirable form.

Opal is formed when silica is deposited in cracks in the bedrock by percolating water. If the silica is very dense it forms a black opal. The black part itself is call potch and is not valuable unless less densely compacted silica is deposited on top of that. The less dense silica refracts red, green, blue, and the other spectrum colors. With the black background, the colors of the other fibers is intensified. It is very beautiful.

But the living conditions of the miners through the years is not so lovely. But like gold, opal has called people to it ever since it was discovered.

I decided to post some more pictures from the Black Hand Mine. That is one of the most amazing man made things we've ever seen. The diversity of subject matter is just beyond imagining. One man did all of this. He finishes each one with a spoon and knife!

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5. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

5. Lightning Ridge to Blue Mountains

Today we drove a bit out of the way to see The Dish -- the radio telescope in Parkes, New South Wales, that was in the right place at the right time to pick up and broadcast to the world the first moon landing in 1969 when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon and said those famous words, "That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind."

If you were around in 1969 and heard those words and saw the scenes from the moon, they were being received and sent out by The Dish at Parkes.

The signal was split once it reached the next station (can't remember where that was), with one signal being sent to Hawaii and the other to Sydney. So Australians got to see the moon landing 0.3 seconds sooner than the rest of the world.

It is HUGE! It is 64 meters across. That's about 192 feet! Very impressive to stand and look at.

There is a very good movie with the very imaginative name "The Dish" about the experience. It is actually a very exciting movie with some humor. There is some language, but nothing you haven't heard a lot of times before. What's funny is that most of it comes from the Australian Prime Minister. We found it on Amazon Prime movies and enjoyed it enough that we decided to find the actual site. We're glad we did.

It was a fun detour.

The canola is in bloom in the area close to Parkes. The area is rolling hills. Many times we topped a crest to be rewarded with a scene of beautiful canola fields spreading out with a few trees in the fields and mountains in the background. It made a bumpy road enjoyable.

We have now left the middle of nowhere and are in the middle of somewhere.

Tonight we are in the Blue Mountains about 50 or so miles west of Sydney. This is our room and the view from it. It is cold and windy. The fire in the fireplace feels good.

The Blue Mountains get their name because the eucalyptus trees give off a chemical (the same that gives the eucalyptus smell) that reflects blue.

(I guess I’ll just leave the descriptions of videos and pictures in my report. Maybe imagination will suffice.)

This short video was last Saturday, Sept. 9, on the Castlereagh highway going south toward Lightning Ridge. This is a highway but not one of the better developed ones. You can see several dead kangaroos just in the minute or so this lasts, and its nothing compared to what we saw on the main highway where more trucks go at night.

The scenery is very typical of bush scenery. Those who know West Texas may feel like they've been here before.

This video shows a lot of the eucalyptus trees. We were getting close to the mountains.

You can also see that I've finally become comfortable passing on the right. They call it overtaking here.

These beautiful canola fields were after we went to the Parkes Dish. In this video you can get an idea of what they looked like.

Today we drove around in the Blue Mountains and ended up at Scenic World in Katoomba, which is the largest town in the region. Scenic World has implemented 2 cable cars and a really cool and very steep inclined rail train so that seeing the area is easy and fun. It's busy with tour groups, but it was fun nevertheless.

Here's my favorite shot of our day in The Blue Mountains of New South Wales.

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6. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

6. Sydney (September 16-19)

This morning we turned in our car after about 2200 miles and took the train into Sydney. We are settled into the Shangi La Hotel. Our room on the 22nd floor has a spectacular view of Circular Quay. The Opera House on the right and Sydney Bridge on the left. Ferries coming and going. Sail boats in the harbor. Sydney is a lovely city.

As night comes on, Circular Quay takes on a different and equally beautiful ambiance. Today has been our day to rest. We just read and looked at the view. Tomorrow we'll be off to see more sights around Sydney.

We spent part of this beautiful Sydney day taking a helicopter ride around the area. It was a great experience. We started from the Sydney airport and flew out west to the Blue Mountains. We saw several places from the air that we saw from the ground last week.

After the Blue Mountains, we turned back to the east and flew along the Parramatta River toward Sydney. It is the large river that becomes Sydney Harbor.

Most of this group is of the lovely Sydney Harbor Bridge. It takes some effort to see it from this angle. I was snapping as fast as I could. It was spectacular.

After seeing the harbor, we flew south along the coast back to the airport past Bondi Beach and across Botany Bay. It was a beautiful flight. I can't tell you anything about this group of pictures except it is Pacific Ocean to the left, and it is brilliant to see. Sydney is a fabulously beautiful city.

Today was our last day in Sydney. We walked around the Rocks area, took the ferry to Manly, walked around Manly and saw the beach, came back and walked all the way around the opera house, and walked back to the hotel.

Tomorrow afternoon we head out from Sydney to cross the continent on The Indian Pacific. 3 nights and part of 4 days with several off-train excursions and great food.

The Indian Pacific was a most enjoyable experience. Last trip, we took it west to east from Perth to Sydney. This time we decided to repeat the experience, but from east to west from Sydney to Perth. We enjoyed the east to west trip more because of the timing of the excursions. If you enjoy train travel or have never had the privilege of train travel, this is a great choice. It is a relaxing way to cross the continent as well as a great way to meet people. We met one other American couple. Otherwise, we met Australians. Right now (perhaps always, I don’t know) a lot of people are quite angry with the United States and don’t like the US for all sorts of reasons. Be that as it may, we didn’t encounter anyone who didn’t seem to like us. So we were good.

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7. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

7. Fremantle, Western Australia (September 23-26)

We made it across the Australian continent! We are in Fremantle, which is a suburb of Perth. Our hotel, The Esplanade, is about a block from the Indian Ocean. The train ride was brilliant! We met so many really nice people. We enjoyed the visitation with the people the most. The food was excellent. Eating while riding along out in the middle of nowhere is really fun. The excursions that were included in the trip were very nice and a nice diversion from the train. It's a long way across Australia, and there's just not much out there. Just imagine driving from Washington DC to Los Angeles and just going through one city and about 3 or 4 towns along the way. That's Australia. The development is around the ocean. The first night almost no one slept. It was a bumpy jumpy bouncy ride all night. The next two nights were much better. It was just a super fun experience.

Having late lunch at Bread in Common. It's a very atmospheric restaurant in an old warehouse type building. Long shared tables for the most part. They bake bread on premises as the name suggests. It's rained on and off all day. Fremantle is a seaside type town with a nice ambiance. Tomorrow is a public holiday. No one quite sure what it celebrates -- queen's birthday maybe -- just know it's a day off from work. I’m sure many people know — just not the ones I asked.

Tonight we had a lovely dinner with our friends who own an opal shop here in Fremantle. We met them on our previous trip, and we went back to their shop this time. They asked us out to dinner tonight, and we had any great time.

All checked in and waiting to fly to Broome in northwestern part of Western Australia on the Indian Ocean.

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8. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

8. Broome, Western Australia (September 26-October 2)

Driving to Lombadina today on the Dampier peninsula. This is is our unpaved road day to an Aboriginal community. Having a nice breakfast first.

Sunset on the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome at Kooljaman Resort restaurant. We are staying a few miles back down the road at Lombadina. Very beautiful and undeveloped setting with a fine dining restaurant.

Lunch at Cygnet Bay Pearl. Pearling has a long history in the northern part of Australia. Broome pearls are considered the most desirable of any. The water is beautiful.

We had a great 2 hours pearl farming tour. He went through the history of cultured pearl farming and exactly how it is done. It was fascinating. The thing that makes pearling so much better here than anywhere else is the size of the oysters. They are today about 10 inches across. They were twice that size years ago before men got to them. The thing in that day was the mother of pearl lining of the shell to use for buttons. Pearls came later as an afterthought.

It is very undeveloped up here.

We had dinner again tonight at Kooljaman Resort. We met a young couple and their 2 daughters yesterday when we stopped at the church in Beagle Bay. They were at the restaurant tonight, and he came over to our table and visited for quite a while. The girls are young. They live close to Newcastle north of Sydney. They own and operate 2 restaurants, a laundromat, a record store, and a couple of other shops. He said he realized he was not even having time to know his own daughters, so they decided to take a long break and travel. They have a pop up camper and have driven all the way across the continent up to here. They have been gone 7 weeks and have about 3 left. They plan to drive to Perth from here. His wife and daughters are flying home from Perth, and he's going to strike out and drive it as fast as he can to get home.

While we were visiting, he noticed a CD playing by an indigenous artist named Gurramal. He asked if we knew his work. We said no. He said, I just bought one of his CD's. I'll go get it and give to you. So he did. What a nice guy. Wish we could know he and his family over time.

There are so many nice people in this world.

Tomorrow we head back over the dirt corrugated road to Broome.

Not the lap of luxury at Lombadina but comfortable enough. It was like a FEMA trailer. Had AC. Not bad, and we had a really good time on the Dampier Peninsula. The beaches are beautiful but the water has giant saltwater crocodiles, so the north coast is not developed.

In Broome tonight back in the heart of civilization. Broome is the only true town for A LONG way. Broome is lovely in the winter. In summer it not only is hot but it also rains a great deal. It's very pleasant now. Our hotel is beautiful.

Beagle Bay is an aboriginal community on the Dampier Peninsula south of where we stayed. Both Beagle Bay and Lombadina were first Catholic missions. The mission began in the 1880's. The priests were all Germans. When the original church blew away in a storm, the priests decided they must build a more permanent building. They used materials from the land and sea, particularly oyster shells for the lime for the mortar, they made over 60,000 bricks. By 1918 the church was complete. There was also a mission school. The same nuns who came in 1907 taught at the school until the mission reverted to the aboriginals in the 1970's!

One of the priests built the beautiful altar completely of shells, using the beautiful mother of pearl from the oyster shells as the color. It is stunning.

In 1941 with Australia at war with Germany, all of the German priests were arrested and jailed. Two of them were eventually paroled to return to Beagle Bay. None of the rest returned.

In 1969 the Australian government made all aboriginal people Australian citizens. After that many things changed. Beagle Bay was given to the aboriginal people, but they invited the church to stay and continue the church.

In 2001, the bell tower completely collapsed. The tower was eventually rebuilt and the entire building was restored to its original condition.

The church at Beagle Bay was beautiful, but the church that we enjoyed seeing the very most was the one at Lombadina. It is made from mangrove wood. The town was also once a Catholic mission, and the story is much the same as for Beagle Bay. The building is still used every day.

Lombadina was formed by missionaries. At the time, the aboriginal people lived on the sand dunes. The town is behind the dunes. Eventually a school was started as well as the church.

The building is very gratifying to enter. Being still in its original condition, you can feel the many events that have taken place -- from aboriginal children who were taken from their families and brought to the mission to "civilize" them to modern day mass. We enjoyed this building most of all.

It's 9:30 am, and its 88 already, with a high today of 97.

I see why tourist season is about over.

Beautiful Cable Beach on the Indian Ocean in Broome, Western Australia.

Outstanding lunch. Chicken salad. Beautiful view. The ginger beer they brew here was delicious. Sort of a cross between a margarita, ginger ale, and lemonade.

Today we went to Gantheaume Point, which is here in Broome. The red and black rocks against the vibrantly blue water is beautiful. It is 93 degrees at 3:15 in the afternoon, but it doesn't feel too hot because the humidity is low and there is a strong sea breeze. Beautiful brilliant day.

Late in the afternoon we took a helicopter ride along the coast north of Broome. The beaches along this coast are beautiful. (I actually wouldn’t bother with that helicopter ride. It was expensive and only vaguely interesting.)

The Blue Seas Resort in Broome is very pretty. It's about a half mile to the beach from here. The boab tree in the pictures is known as the upside down tree because under dry conditions, it loses it leaves and the branches look like roots. The trunk becomes larger and larger, storing water for hard times. The boab tree of Australia and the baobab tree of Africa are related. If you have been to the Animal Kingdom at Disney World, you have probably seen a baobab tree.

My wife is getting a haircut. She made friends with the Korean girl cutting her hair. They hugged good-bye afterward. There are really nice people all over the place.

Tonight on a bright moonlit night we had a practical astronomy lesson and we're able to look through some great telescopes to see Saturn and the craters on the moon. It was great fun just being out in the country in the dark learning about the stars of the Southern Hemisphere.

The Zookeepers Store is a restaurant. We are having breakfast before heading to Darwin this afternoon. Their sign pretty well sums up Broome's appeal.

The lady at the counter gave us Quantas lounge access. Nice way to wait!

Off to Darwin, Northern Territory in a few minutes.

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9. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

9. Darwin and Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory (October 4-11)

Made it to Darwin, Northern Territory. Tomorrow it's off to Kakadu National Park for a few days then back to Darwin for a few days before taking The Ghan train down to Adelaide.

The Adelaide River east of Darwin looks so peaceful. But look again before jumping in!

All checked in to the Crocodile Hotel in Jabiru at Kakadu National Park. Resting a while before dinner. The hotel is shaped like a crocodile. It's a nice hotel and quite appropriate for the area -- as shown in my video of our excursion today.

It was 103 degrees F when we arrived at 3 pm.

Tomorrow we have an all day field trip to the Arnhemlander region of the indigenous people of the area.

The hotel's eyes glow red at night!

On Thursday we took a great all day tour to the edge of the Arnhem Land. It is some rugged country out there! We saw several cultural sites and some beautiful landscapes.

This morning we took a flight over Kakadu National Park. The escarpments and wetlands are spectacular. This is the area where the Crocodile Dundee movies were filmed.

It's 11:25 am on a spring day in Jabiru, Northern Territory, in the Top End of Australia. It is also quite humid.

This afternoon we had an extremely enjoyable trip on the Alligator River with our Aboriginal host Tyrone. He was so passionate about his land that he passed that excitement on to those of us on his boat. At a point toward the end of the trip, he docked the boat and invited us to spend some time walking on his land. The place he took us was very beautiful. At the end of the trip, he said, "You have now left your footprints on my land." We enjoyed Tyrone very much. He was probably about 22 or so.

Here are 2 videos along the Alligator River. The river divides Kakadu National Park from the Aboriginal Arnhem Land. The Arnhemland got its name from a Dutch ship that came to the area. Arnhem is a city in the Netherlands. The name just stuck once used.

The video with the greener water is fresh water.

Having Eggs Benny. Poor ole Benedict gets his name cut short in Aussie.

Having a relaxed al fresco dinner on the Darwin waterfront. Beautiful evening. Cool sea breeze. Perfect end to a hot day.

The aviation museum at Darwin was great. They have a B 52 bomber. It looks even bigger inside a building. That is one huge plane. It dwarfs all the airplanes around it. They had a runway big enough for it to land. They had to build a taxi way to get it it the museum site. They built the hanger just to fit. We really enjoyed the museum.

Tomorrow we take our other iconic train journey on The Ghan, spanning the continent north to south from Darwin through Alice Springs and Coober Pedy (the town where it is so hot most of the time, the buildings are mostly under ground) to Adelaide. There are several excursions. It's 3 nights and 4 days including the excursions.

During the building of the railway, camels were brought from Afghanistan along with the people who knew how to work them because camels do well in extreme desert conditions. After the camels were no longer needed, they were just turned loose in the desert. There is still a large population of wild camels across the desert regions. The train was named after those Afghan workers and their camels --The Ghan.

It's pronounced like the Ghan part of Afghanistan.

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10. Re: Our 2017 Epic Australian Adventure

10. The Ghan to Adelaide

Absolutely fantastic dinner under the stars in Alice Springs with live music. True Australian southern hospitality. Fun fun evening! Thanks to The Ghan.

Thank you to so many people who wished me a happy birthday. We've been on the train for 2 days with no service. When we leave Alice Springs in 2 minutes I won't have service again, so I'll get this quick thank you in.

We've been in Alice Springs in the middle of Australia all day. We took an excursion to the desert park which we enjoyed a lot on our previous trip in 2015. It was enjoyable.

Tonight was fantastic fun under the stars dinner with live music. I posted one song. I wish I had gotten the ones that were Australian country and western with a didgeridoo. That's one of those really long instruments made from a large tree limb.

Ok, good night. The train is moving.

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