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My trip in Oz

Created 12 May 1996 ... Updated 17 December 1998
Note: this is the original, unmodified text.

Plans before I started the trip

Since I'm almost totally independent there's no fixed plan but since some friends are flying over to visit me downunder the schedule is:

10 June - trip starts at Amsterdam Airport.
12 June - arrival in Sydney.
August - one month to travel from Sydney, via Brisbane to Cairns where we'll be scuba diving.
October - travel into New Zealand and do some hiking.
November - fly to Darwin and Kakadu and travel via Alice Springs to Adelaide and start to travel the south-east coast.
May - fly to Thailand.


June 1996
The first days after my arrival were a little wet: raining all the time but I thought: this must me typical Sydney weather during the winter. It turned out to be different as the temperature is now about 20 degrees Celsius average during the day. The nights are cold but it's ok, it's colder in Europe than in Australia while it's supposed to be summer over there...

The first week I spent mostly on walking through the city centre just to see everything, went to some musea and really like the many harbours out here. The first day I came I wandered off to the centre and the second thing I saw was the BT Building in Darling Harbour (the first thing was, ofcourse, the Sydney tower). On Friday I simply couldnot resist to go visit someone I knew in BT and was offered a job. After some telephonecalls and visits I started my job at BT on Monday 24 June and will work there until the end of July. So it's not really a holiday anymore but since I work in shifts I'll still have some time left to go out and do other things...

Some things I visited over the past week:
  • King's Cross - the notorious 'red light district' of Sydney, pretty calm
  • The shopping centre - pretty ok, free lunch concerts on Martin Place
  • Darling Harbour - a good place to be during lunchtime
  • The Rocks - some good live bands during the weekend and for free!
  • Circular quai - where all the ferries depart from, nothing special
  • Botanic gardens - some good views
  • Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art - a cool multi media exhibition and some native Autralian art
  • Museum of New South Wales - good photo exhibition overthere at the moment
  • the movies - many cinemas out here, saw 'Trainspotting', it's great although you'd only understand half of it when you're not scottish
  • Manly - did a 3 hour hike along the shore but decided to take the bus back to the centre afterwards as it turned out to be 20 kilometers away...
  • pubs - some good ones in King's Cross and best thing is that you can walk home, even when you're drunk: I live in the middle of the Cross
Anyway, I really like it at the moment, so many people to talk with and it seems I'm the only one who just started to travel as many others have already been in Asia for some months and are now going to explore Australia or are about to leave for home.

July 1996
The first week of July was just normal: working at BT's for a couple of days. Since I'm working in shifts, I've got quite some days off so I decided to spend my first short break to visit the Blue Mountains, a park the size of Belgium with great views, steep cliffs, grotto's, waterfalls and sub tropical rainforrest. I've had a great time walking there for three days. The first day we saw all the usual tourist stuff: scenic skyway, the world's steppest railway, the three sisters and echo point. The day after we went to Wenworth Falls to see a spectacular waterfall (it might be the reason the town's called Wenworth Falls...). The last day was spent in Blackheath: the place to see Australians instead of tourists. The temperature looked more like winter as it was 5-7 degrees maximum and -4 - 0 minimum.

Living in King's Cross is ok for a couple of weeks but after a while it gets boring. Therefore I just moved to NewTown, the student area of Sydney. It's got many second hand stores and many nice and cozy bars. So for the moment I'll just stay there until I'll take off to the north at the beginning of August. In the meantime I'm still working for BT Sydney so not much I do now, just wandering around and enjoying life. So the last week of July I went to the beach twice: first to Bondi Beach and a couple of days later to Manly Beach. The latter is far better as the people are more relaxed it seemed, or it might have been the day of the week. The beaches have some great views, nothing I'm used to in The Netherlands: rocks, cliffs, the lot...

August 1996
After an extra week in BT I finally can start my travelling. A friend is coming over next Monday so I'll show him around Sydney for a couple of days and then we take off to the North, Brisbane, fraser Island, Hervey Bay and maybe other interresting spots. The plan is to end up in Cairns in two weeks time to do a one week's diving course on the Great Barrier Reef.
After a couple of days together in Sydney we decided to move up North. The first stop was in Byron Bay after 14 hours sleeping in the bus. Nothing really special there but it was once the home of Paul 'crocodile dundee' Hogan and is supposed to be one of the best surfing beaches of Australia. The idea was to learn sufing there but as it was too cold we decided not to surf but do some bushwalking instead. As the hostel provided free bikes we did some serious cycling as well (on the left hand side of the road!) which was good fun as well.

After two days we took off to Brisbane, Oz' third largest city. Nothing really interresting there so after a couple of days we moved further up North to Hervey Bay. There we took a three day 4WD trip to Fraser Island, worlds largest sand island. This was absolutely brilliant, much wildlife: dolphins, mantas, dingos, the lot. Only problem was the duration of the trip: much too short.

After that we moved to Cairns to do some serious diving on the great barrier reef but since we cought a cold during our stay on tghe island we cannot at this time. So I'll have to wait for another week but there's lots to see and do here so I won't get bored anyway.

At the moment I'm still in Cairns as I was waiting to get over my cold. Since it lasted so long I decided not to dive anymore but to go snorkelling for one day. This is totally awesome, just like swimming in a gigantic salt water fishtank. Totally surrounded by blue, yellow and orange fishes which you can almost touch. Diving should be even better though...

Thursday 29 will be my last day here and will take off to Alice Springs on Friday 30 August, my birthday. Yesterday I planned my next 5 weeks in Australia and it is so loaded that I will only have 5 days for myself, the rest is filled with travelling and doing tours. Should be great so as soon I get a change to get to the 'net...

September 1996

The trip to Alice brought me straight through the outback. I really love the colours and especially the sunsets. During the night you can see billions and billions of stars and it's good fun to look for the constellations and other interesting things like shooting stars before you fall asleep in your swag.

Alice Springs is not that interesting, I spend there one day and got already bored after three hours. The temperature is about 35-40 degrees but the air is fairly dry so it's alright, even for us Europeans. After one day I left for Katherine Gorge, spend an whole afternoon canoeing which is just brilliant, so relaxing. It consists of nine gorges but due to the time constraint we only made it to the beginning of the third so I have to come back one day to do the other gorges as well.

Darwin is pretty good but the time I was there was the build up for the wet season so it became more and more humid by the day, it was not that warm, only about 32 degrees but as it was so humid you didnot want to do anything really. But after a couple of days I went on my three day trip to Kakadu. This is great, climbing to the top of waterfalls, swimming there, going down to have another swim at the bottom end of the falls, go the another waterfall and do the same thing all over again. Good fun. The day after my Kakadu trip finished, I went on a two day tour to Litchfield, another national park near Darwin. The time was spend with swimming and above all with rockclimbing and abseiling. After some practice on indoor climbing walls back home it was finally time for the real thing and I loved it. It's so relaxing to climb up, it could be my kind of sports.

After Darwin I slowly worked my way back down to Alice Springs again to do a five day tour to Uluru, the Olgas, Kings Canyon and the Western MacDonnell Ranges. This was great, the views you get. The best thing was that we climbed Mt Conner as well, no one has ever done this as it is on private land but our tourguide happened to know the owner and talked him into climbing the hill. The views you get are the best and as noone else ever climbed it, apart from the owners ofcourse, it makes you feel even better.

I then worked my way to Adelaide where I am at the moment, only for one day as I don't have enough time. I will leave for Melbourne tomorrow morning and will stay there for one or two days before I go back to Sydney to meet some friends and fly over to New Zealand. I have to do Adelaide and Melbourne again though after I come back from NZ.

And back in Sydney, where it all started. Back to see some friends I've met during travelling, back to BT to say hello and now trying to arrange a flight for New Zealand. As things look now I'll be flying on 11 October into Hamilton, then to the South Island to do some excessive ;-) hiking and will be back end of November to do Melbourne the proper way, i.e. 3 weeks instead of 3 days. I really like Melbourne it seems. Ofcourse I didnot stay there too long so cannot have a real opinion but I'll see when I come back...

New Zealand October/November 1996
After two failed attempts to fly over to New Zealand I finally arrived in Hamilton were a friend had been waiting for me for a couple of days. After a good night's sleep we moved to Rotorua to do some sightseeing, mountainbiking and relaxing in hot pools. After a couple of days we took the bus to Wellington to take the ferry to the South Island. After a day in Picton we took the Kiwi Experience to travel down the Westcoast where we did a short hike in the Abel Tasman National Park, a hike up the Glacier in Franz Josef and lots of sightseeing. We didn't really like the Kiwi Experience as it's just to commercialised, the busses too crowded and really touristy. After one day in Queenstown we started on our first multi-day hike: the Caples track. Apart from a long and steep climb uphill, walking and slipping on treeroots and mud it was great and I became addicted to hiking.

After a couple of days chilling out in Te Anua I decided to do the Kepler track. It's one of New Zealands so called Great Walks and the roads are nearly paved, especially when compared to the Caples Track. The plan was to to the first two stages stages in two days and the last two in one day. When I arrived at the end of the first stage the hutwarden told me that the second stage would be closed down the next day due to heavy weather so I decided to carry on and arrived, totally exhausted after ten hours walking with a 17 kilo backpack over the snowwy mountainridges in the hut at the end of the second stage. The last two stages were then done in two days, to recover...

After a couple of days in beautiful Te Anau I moved to Invercargill to experience a real city. How wrong can one be: Invercargill is just not interesting, the only reason for a traveller to go to Invercargill is to take the ferry to Steward Island, which I didn't. Some people told me Dunedin is more interesting and it is. Dunedin is packed with students and therefore also with coffeeshops, cheap eateries and nice bars. After a couple of days I moved back to Queenstown to pick up my left luggage and some walking before I left to ChristChurch to spend the next five days there. ChCh is quite a nice city with lots of nice buildings, views, gardens and people.

After one afternoon in Kaikoura, another pretty village on the coast, I ended up in Picton. Partly to do the three-day Queen Charlotte Walkway and partly to take the ferry back to the North Island. The QCW takes you along the shore of some sounds, over mountaintops, through forrests and over some farmland. The views are just brilliant and the walk is not too hard.

The ferry arrived in Wellington so we stayed there a couple of days before moving over to Tongariro to do another 3 day hike. Unfortunately the weatherforecast was really bad so we decided not to do the 3-day trip but only a one-day hike. This takes you over a vulcano, to some blue-green coloured lakes, a hot stream and you get a great view over lake Taupo. As the weather was not too good we had also lots of rain, snow, wind and sunshine and that all in one day. As the hostel was quite nice we decided to stay there for another day so I did some mountainbiking. Cycling is one of the things I really miss when travelling so every time just looking for some good biking.

After having done blackwater rafting in the Waitomo glowworm caves I ended up in Taupo to do a one day hike. Not really spectacular but the weather and company were nice it was good anyway. After two days I moved to exciting Hamilton to catch my flight back to Sydney.

December 1996