Airplane Flight Around Coromandel Peninsula

Andrew J. Wharton, Dave Clingman, and Elizabeth Jones

Andrew, Dave, Elizabeth, and the airplane we rode

We hired a local pilot to fly us and a friend around the Coromandel Peninsula one afternoon. It was amazing seeing from the air all the places we’ve driven and/or walked, as well as seeing some places I’ve never been.

Pilot Amber Drummond and Dave Clingman flying around Coromandel Peninsula

“Keep your eyes on the road, Amber!”

The flight took 1.2 hours and cost each of us $96.00 (about US$82.00). Our pilot, Amber Drummond, met us at Thames Air Strip, and we took off on our adventure. She wants Continue reading

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Happy Birthday to Me: I’m Now a New Zealand Permanent Resident

Today is my birthday, and I just received my passport back with my permanent resident visa. I’m in! I’m a permanent resident of New Zealand. And in three more years, I’ll apply for citizenship and be a true kiwi (even though I call myself “kiwi” already).

Andrew and I are both very surprised at how quickly the permanent resident visa was approved. We only just sent in the paperwork Continue reading

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Sydney, Australia

From Cairns, we caught a pre-dawn flight to Sydney for our last day and night in Australia. There’s much to see and do in Sydney besides the world-famous icons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Still, those two constructions are beautiful to behold in person. So, we visited them.

Sydney Australia Tower

Sydney Tower (click to enlarge)

Our first walkabout, though, was over to the Sydney Tower for a look out over the city. The tower was only a few blocks Continue reading

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Kuranda Rainforest, Cairns, Australia

Dave Clingman and Andrew J. Wharton holding a koala bear

Holding a koala at Kuranda Rainforest

We visited the Kuranda Rainforest on our second big day in Cairns. This was a wonderful place, though it is a bit expensive. There is so much to see and do here, though, that we think it is well worth the cost.

Kuranda Rainforest Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway at waterfall bridge

There are basically three ways to get from Cairns to the Kuranda Rainforest: Continue reading

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Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Franklin Islands Tour Boat at Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Our boat for the day

The first big thing we did in Cairns was a full day trip to the Great Barrier Reef, at Frankland Islands, to be specific. It was a wonderful time, very interesting and exciting, though the day seemed far too short. The boat ride out to the reef and islands took about 45 minutes, first along a wide river and finally out through the surf and into the ocean. The sea was calm for the entire day.

Dave Clingman and Andrew J. Wharton at Great Barrier Reef, Franklin Islands, Australia

Frankland Islands in background

When we arrived at Frankland Islands and we all offloaded from the boat, our guide went over Continue reading

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Ayers Rock (Uluru) and Kata Tjuta (Mt Olga), Australia

Uluru Ayers Rock from Kata Tjuta

View of Ayers Rock from Kata Tjuta (click to enlarge)

Most people in New Zealand seem to think that Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) is near Alice Springs, but in actuality, it is more than 460 kilometres (nearly 300 miles) away. It takes over six hours to drive from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock, even at 130 km/hour (80 mph) on some stretches. It really is an all day drive, but it is interesting and there are places to stop and things to see along the way.

Mount Olga, Kata Tjuta, near Uluru, Australia

Kata Tjuta from the back side (the side one first sees)

Another misconception is that Uluru (the local name for Ayers Rock) is all one smooth solid piece, when it actually is quite variable and Continue reading

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Alice Springs, Australia

Alice Springs, Australia, Anzac Hill Panoramic

Panoramic looking east from Alice Springs' Anzac Hill

Our first stop in Alice Springs (after checking into our motel) was Anzac Hill, 234 steps from bottom to top. There is a 360° view from up there, and it’s a great introduction to the area. At the top, we discovered that there is also a road that goes up the back side, in case Continue reading

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Kangaroo Island, Australia – Day Two

Kangaroo Island Sea Lion suring the waves at Seal Bay

Sea Lions surf the waves to come back to shore

Whereas our first day covered

Mating Sea Lions at Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island
immature male sea lions fighting over a female

the eastern half of Kangaroo Island, our second day, we headed to the western side of Kangarooo Island. We began our second day at Seal Bay, the A$32 guided tour ($15 unguided) admission to which is included in the Kangaroo Island Tour Pass. The guided tour is very interesting, as the guide is both well informed and dedicated. He pointed out many things during the walk to the beach and continued the narration at the beach for awhile. Then, he let people answer questions, which was also interesting.

Kangaroo Island's Kelly Hills Cave
inside Kelly Hills Cave
Kelly Hill Caves on Kangaroo Island

interesting striations in Kelly Hill Caves formations

At Kelly Hill Caves, also included in the Tour Pass Continue reading

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Kangaroo Island, Australia – Day One

Ferry from Australia to Kangaroo Island

Our transportation

From Melbourne, we flew to Adelaide, picked up our 4WD rental car, and drove to the ferry to Kangaroo Island. The ferry to Kangaroo Island (the only way to get there other than by private boat or plane) takes about 45 minutes and costs AU$47 (online) in each direction. If the water is calm (a rather rare event), the trip is quite enjoyable, but when the sea is rough, the boat bounces all over the place, on all three axes. During our return trip, even Andrew wasn’t feeling well.

But Kangaroo Island is worth the discomfort, bad as it can sometimes be. The place is wonderful. There are animals Continue reading

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Melbourne, Australia

Entering Melbourne on Motorway
Melbourne, Australia (click to enlarge)

Our second stay during our Australia holiday was Melbourne, the second most populous city in Australia and home to the world’s largest tram system. We were quite excited as we drove into the city, with all its tall skyscrapers and interesting architecture.

Melbourne's St. Kilda Pavilion
St. Kilda Pavilion

Our first stop was St. Kilda for a look at the world’s smallest penguin. We’ve tried several places several times during Continue reading

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