Australia, 2005

Photos © R.Leeuw
(Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them)

At home we had seen the Autumn season begin in earnest: weather turning wet and cold. We fled Europe and headed for Spring in "Down Under"...
The flight was frustratingly long; after a few stops and many security checks we arrived after 2 days (actually only 28 hours, but we left home in the morning and we arrived at 23:00 in our hotel in Sydney) quite safe but very, very tired to the point of severe disorientation... but nothing a few beers and a good sleep wouldn't solve.

Austalia: the beginning.. Sydney had lovely spring weather for us in store and we took to the streets and the ferries. The Opera House, which I've seen so many times on tv and on films, did not make much of an impression on me in real life at all !. Yes, it has a unique shape, but so what ? Only later it dawned upon me, after having seen it from many angles and viewpoints, that it does draw attention and it is what it is: a unique landmark; it is Sydney...

modern city As the photos on these 2 pages will show, we've only travelled the eastcoast of Australia and did not get any Outback experience; nor have we had time to indulge in any Aboriginal culture (next time!). What we did see was the modern and often sophisticated enough side of Australia.
Sydney is a very modern city, with very cosmopolitan people and the shops sell top of the line stuff; there are many restaurants, serving flavors to suit all tasts and budgets. Steve Earle, Bob Dylan and Stevie Nicks (to name a few) were advertised to tour Australia soon.
Modern and comfortable, that is what we found and enjoyed: no worries!

Sharks all over Sydney Aquarium has the reputation of the next best thing after the real Barrier Reef. I might argue that it is even better !
It is definitely in the top three of what I enjoyed most in the 2 days we spent in Sydney.


Better than the Barrier Reef? Look at those colours, no way you will see this in real life !
They use uv-lamps to show the colours and they really stand out, don't they ?
There is a special section on the Great Barrier Reef and it is one of the best parts (after the shark tank of course..)

More photos of the Sydney Aquarium:

More sharks Big fish overhead Resting
cleaning Sydney Aquarium

SYD harbour Outside the Aquarium, at the waterfront, one can sit and relax or enjoy a snack or a meal with the many restaurants here.

Harbour Bridge is another famous landmark here. And again it did't really move me much. People walk to the top and that would probably be a cool thing to do; but my fear of heights is a but of a problem in that department... Also I would have to be separated from my camera and that is a definite no-go !


A good way to see Sydney Harbour is from the many ferry boats, which depart at high frequency from the Wharf (Circular Quay) to many destinations. These boats are either speedy catamarans or the more traditional boats like shown here.

But what better way than from the air !

Being a fan of vintage piston-engined airplanes, I took my opportunity for a flightseeing flight from Rose Bay aboard this vintage DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver floatplane. Mike was our pilot and he flew us over Darling Harbour and along the coastline for a short bit.

Bondi Beach


The beaches... Bondi Beach is probably the most famous of all Australian beaches; we did not have time to relax there (nor for any other beaches for that matter !) as we had work to do: we had make tracks and see Australia !
Oh well: next time (we had to say that a lot on this trip)...

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DeHavilland of Canada produced this plane to serve the many small communities in Canada, isolated in the vastness of that country. The same goes for Australia of course. It was hugely successful and almost 1700 were built.
The first flight, of a prototype, flew on August 16th, 1947. Production began in 1948 and ran for 2 decades.
A few technical bits: the Mark I has a Pratt & Whitney R985 Wasp Junior nine cylinder radial piston engine (450hp) and it has a two blade variable pitch Hamilton Standard prop. The maximum speed is 225km/h (121kt), though normal cruising speed 201km/h (109kt). It makes a very nice racket !
Rose Bay used to be the base for flying boat services to various parts of the world. That era ended in 1974 with the closure of the service to Lord Howe Island. Rose Bay is only a short trip by ferry from Circular Quay.

Party Party time... "Packed like sardines" came to mind here... We had heard that when corks start to pop the Ozzies drop everything, but we couldn't help but think there was something more afoot here... And there was!

Enjoying Spring...
... and parties...
We wondered why so many people all dressed up were walking the streets around lunch time; it was a really nice sight, esspecially the women were looking great! It seemed that we had arrived in the middle of the Melbourne Cup fever (a horse named Makybe Diva won) and all over town parties were held with speeches, lotteries, drinks and nicely dressed women!
And the betting going on, unbelievable !
After that everybody seemed to dress down to flip-flops (or thongs..). (I was amazed by how many people walk barefoot in this country).

The Powerhouse Museum was a cultural outing, although I have to admit I initially went there because they have a few vintage planes.
This museum is probably best described as a science museum and it stocks the most amazing variety of items, including full size trains, planes and automobiles!
It is definitely a museum where you can wander around for hours; every effort has been made to share the most amazing details with you.


The Powerhouse Museum is a science-and-technology museum that promotes interactive learning experiences through computer games, videos, demonstrations, lectures and activities. There are more than 25 exhibitions that explore science and technology, human achievement and the decorative arts, and how they relate to our everyday lives.
The museum itself is built from the shell of an old power station constructed in 1899-1902 to provide power for Sydney's electric tram system. It was a working power station right up until 1963 and suffered a decade and more of neglect before the Wran Government named it as the site for a new museum in 1979, the museum eventually opening in 1988.

Frankly I was surprised to see the schooluniforms here, but quickly realized that many things reminded me of Ol' England (e.g. roadsigns). On the other hand, many things reminded me of the US (e.g. the shopping malls).
But mostly, it was plain Ozzie, thank goodness.
But I do have to say, those schooluniforms look bloody awfull. Sorry kids.

I think I have seen this performer also perform on the Billy Connolly's World Tour of Australia 1995, which was broadcasted on the BBC. The DVD mostly covered the extend of our preparations of this trip. The music by this instrument is quite mesmerizing.
We also brought with us The Rough Guide of Australia and Footprint's edition of East Coast Australia, though the latter didn't cover the area between Sydney and Melbourne. We consulted these guides while driving, for things to see; we found both editions detailed, but too much directed towards budget travel to suit our purpose.

Quite an improvement from the aforementioned schooluniforms, though I suspect this was due to some special occasion; I did not find out.

Recently I started to enjoy taking photos of people more than (e.g.) buildings, although I am always self conscious about invading people's privacy. With people you always tend to think: what is going on?
Still, a landscape can put me in a state of awe and wildlife on camera tends to move me too; so, plenty to aim my camera on!
(I think I forgot to name aeroplanes there..)


A spring scenery, trees in blossom and birds chirping; the trees were bright purple but forgot to ask which tree this is.
The Harbour Bridge looms in the background.

By ferry we went to the Sydney's Taronga Zoo, also in the top 3 of things I can recommend.
The Zoo sits on a hillside and you can see the Opera House and Downtown Sydney through the trees.
It is of course a good opportunity to see the animals that are indigenous to Australia: the Koala, Wombat, Wallaby, Kangaroo, etc. There are many more unique animals in this zoo.
We did see Wallabies and a Wombat while driving along the eastern seaboard; some alive, many others as roadkill.


The Wombat likes to sleep during the day, though having said that, at some point we saw one crossing the road at 3 pm.
We were told they can be quite agreeable when they are young but they become surly and agressive at the age of about 16 months.
Despite their thickset body and stubby legs, wombats can run up to 40 km/hr (25 mph) over short distances. They can cover 100 meters (325 feet) in less than 10 seconds which is as fast as the fastest Olympic sprinters.
They are strong (built like a tank) and they will often go through an obstacle rather than around it... They have been known to go through doors, walls, or anything else that stands in their way!

More photos of the Sydney Zoo:

SYD in background Komodo Dragon Hippo outside the water! Grizzly
Tiger Tapir Dingo Giraffe

ANZAC My interpretation of the ANZAC Memorial, because I found it a real ugly building.
It is located at the south end of Hyde Park and is seen here reflected in the Pool of Remembrance; the memorial was unveiled in 1934 and is classic Art Deco.

We walked a lot in these 2 days: we walked until our feet hurt and walked some more. We did not care for The Rocks, we liked the shops on George- and Pitts Street much better. But after 2 days and 3 nights in Sydney we merely sniffed at the possibilities of this cosmopolitan city, more on a next visit.

Continue to PAGE +2+ , the journey from Cairns to Melbourne.



Last updated 24.12.2005