Sorry, I've been away for rather longer than I intended. I've had a bit of a road trip.
Back in 2008, my lovely niece Sarah, asked me if I'd do her a favour. I said of course I would, what was it? And she said "Will you come travelling with me when I'm 21?" Err, let me think about it for a nano-second. Yes. YES!! To cut a long story short, we booked it about a year ago through a local travel company that specialises in trips to Australia. They turned out to be fab, incidentally - so let me know if you're thinking of going - I'd highly recommend them. Several times during the planning and subsequent booking, I asked Sarah if she was really sure she wanted to go with me, and not one of her mates, and in the end she said something that I'd like engraved on my gravestone when the time comes -"Let's face it, you're not the typical elderly aunt, are you?"
So, the day after the Muse gig found me in a flurry of packing and last minute phone calls, before heading off to Heathrow at Sunday lunchtime.
We did actually drive round part of the track, on our way to the Night Zoo but sadly in a bus, and not in a racing car. The Night Zoo (yes, it really is only open at night) takes you round in a little open-sided train, apparently exposed to the dangerous animals either side of the tracks. I'm assuming there was a deep pit to prevent them dragging us from the train and having us for supper, but you couldn't see it. I was concerned that I wasn't going to make it long enough to dice with death with the venomous snakes and man eating sharks of Australia. Anyway, we survived and the next day we went into the city for a bit of shopping.
We didn't actually go shopping in here - but I had to get a photo ....
And of course, we couldn't resist doing the tourist thing and having a 'Singapore Sling' at Raffles
We were there for three nights, then it was off to Cairns (right hand side of Australia, near the top) On our first full day there, we had glorious sunshine for a trip north to Kuranda, a village in the rainforest. Fortunately, I don't have too much of a problem with heights as this entailed having to dangle thousands of feet off the ground, in what appeared to be an oversized glass bauble strung from a thin wire. We had spectacular views on the way up....
When we arrived at Kuranda village, Sarah got to fulfill one of her ambitions, to cuddle a koala. They have exceptional sharp claws - and she had the scars to prove it for a few days.
But I didn't get to fulfill my ambition to have a handbag made from one of these ...
I'm joking, I'm joking!!! I love all animals, even scary looking ugly ones.
After lunch and a wander round the market (I have to admit to buying an Aussie hat - no corks!) we travelled back down to Cairns on the Scenic Railway - the rail road having been cut out of the side of the mountain for tin miners in the late 1880's to provide a route to the coast. I think it was to get food and supplies in, rather than to provide them with transport to go surfing on their days off. It was a lovely old train and I contravened all the Health and Safety advice to stick my head out of the window to get this shot. (The girl knows no fear!)
The following day we had a trip across to Green Island, at the top of the Great Barrier Reef
We went out in a glass bottomed boat, and saw all sorts of coral, fish (including the Nemo-type fish from the film), a couple of turtles, and even a small shark. It was only a small one, about five foot long. I'm not sure I'd have felt so complacent if I'd been swimming at the time, but it looked small from the boat.
The following day, we went to pick up the vehicle we'd booked for the next part of the trip. Now, unlike the shark, that really did exceed my expectations, size-wise.
But that's all for now, I'll bore you with the rest of my trip later.
Oh, and I haven't forgotten that I promised a giveaway - I just haven't made it yet. And I think I'm going to make it a competition (nothing too tricky, honest)
Trains and Boats and Planes - Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas. (Or Dionne Warwick)