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Australia 2015

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

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Photo and Video:

Australia Trip Week One, March 23-30, 2015
Click on "day" links to see photo albums on Flickr!

In late March early April we went to Australia...

Day 1 - March 23, 2015 Monday & Tuesday
Amy took us to the San Jose airport to begin our journey with a Southwest flight to LAX. After a long layover we switched to our international flight on Qantas from LAX to Sydney. So glad we upgraded to Premium Economy. The 747 was really impressive. And nice seats, service, great food, champagne, entertainment, and just enough pampering – much appreciated on the 14 hour plane ride. Our first glimpses of Australia were of beautiful rolling green hills and then more and more water as we approached Sydney. Tired but very happy to arrive!
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Day 2 - March 25, 2015, Wednesday
After crossing the international date line we jumped from Monday to Wednesday and mostly missed Tuesday, pretty cool. Nice to finally meet Graeme at the Sydney airport after many months of email exchanges to arrange the trip.

We checked into the Grace Hotel in the CBD (central business district). Really nice cosmopolitan hotel in a great location. We weren’t there too long before we headed back out and found our way through the streets of Sydney to the Circular Quay (pronounced ‘key’).

The city was really pleasant to navigate … safe, clean, pretty and friendly. The Circular Quay, Opera House, Queen Mary and harbor were all spectacular. We were lucky to have beautiful weather for our harbor cruise all around the Sydney harbor and suburbs. After the harbor cruise we found the energy to keep going, visited The Rocks, one of the oldest pubs in Sydney, and had dinner at a nice fish restaurant where we learned about the difference between an entrée and main.
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Day 3 - March 26, 2015, Thursday
This morning our day began with a city tour of Sydney. We saw the beautiful Sydney harbor from new perspectives including Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair. Loved seeing and spending time at Bondi beach – it’s amazing to see such beautiful beaches and surf with wonderful warm water right in a major city.

In the afternoon we took a ferry to Manly beach. The sites on the ferry rider were lovely and Manly beach was absolutely spectacular. The approach from the leaving the ferry, strolling across a bustling pedestrian walkway, to the picturesque beach and landscape emerging ahead of you was amazing. Arriving back in Sydney we walked through the beautiful Botanical Gardens and a very charming part of the city by Hyde Park.
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Day 4 - March 27, 2015, Friday
Today we went on a full day tour to the Blue Mountains, about 1.5 hours out of Sydney. Our first stop was at Featherdale Wildlife Park. Arriving early our tour group had the place to ourselves as we wandered among the kangaroos and all the other animals. Sue pet a Koala!

The Blue Mountains and the famous 3 Sisters rock formations were beautiful. We saw the mountains, 3 Sisters, and waterfalls from lots of different lookouts and trails throughout the day. The expanse of the canyons were pretty amazing – it reminded me of the Grand Canyon but full of trees. We enjoyed a nice lunch and met interesting an international couple from Ireland and England on their honeymoon.

Tonite in Sydney we made our way over to Darling Harbor. It was a pretty place to walk through with an interesting mix of locals decked out to attend the theater, the local business crowd hanging out after work, and tourists. We enjoyed the great people watching and restaurant choices in a pretty harbor setting.
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Day 5 - March 28, 2015, Saturday
This morning we walked to the nearby train station to take a commuter train out to the rural suburbs south of Sydney to the National Railway Museum in Thirlmere. First stop was the Circular Quay with a Carnival ship docked in the harbor, a view you can never tire of.

It was a wonderful adventure being among the locals. We arrived in Tahmoor to find ourselves in a tiny depot at the end of a rural road. We still had to get to Thirlmere several miles away. Thanks to the incredibly friendly locals in a store and by the bus stop we found our way to the museum.

Steve was in awe of the Garrets and some of the Australian ALCo designed locomotives. There were also a number of US built export models there.

We met railfans at the museum who were happy to share a lot of really useful information about the local trains and schedules and stay in touch with Steve later in the trip with updates. What a small world, they even knew the railfan that Steve connected with via email before we left on the trip.

We took a cab back to Tahmoor and just as our train came in so did another from the other direction. That was a treat!

After returning to Sydney we took one last stroll down to the Chinatown area when the city had a very different vibe on a weekend night. Our last meal in Sydney was a yummy meat pie at the RedOaks micro brewery.
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Day 6 - March 29, 2015, Sunday
Today we flew from Sydney to Adelaide in South Australia. The Majestic Hotel is in a primo location right in the center of downtown Adelaide and an unexpected room upgrade was a nice surprise.

We had lunch outside when I discovered that an iced coffee is like a rootbeer float. After lunch Steve connected with his railfan acquaintance Mark and we went our separate ways for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Sue went on a walking tour - through the pretty Botanical Gardens, the National Wine Center, and by Adelaide University. Saw some beautiful architecture at the university. On a city bus ride I got to see the river, lots of parks, and the north part of the city with unusual, old homes made of beautiful limestone and sandstone. Rounded out my day with a nice dinner at Brunelli’s on Rundle street.

Steve went on a train chase with Mark Carter - we chased a Genesee and Wyoming Grain Train down the Pinaroo Branch from Taleim Bend to Jabuk, South Australia where we ran out of light. On the way home we stopped at a country Aussie Pub and had dinner. It was the highlight of my trip!
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Day 7 - March 30, 2015, Monday
We had a great day touring the Barossa Valley. Lots of Aussie’s on the tour, and our tour guide was from South Africa. The scenery was very pretty as we got into the valley. After visiting an unusual sound-carrying wall at a dam, our first stop was Chateau Yaldara. This winery is a bit formal and very picturesque. After our first tasting we stopped in town, strolled around, and got a feel for a valley town. Next stop was Peter Lehmann where we tasted and had lunch sampling a nice variety of local cheeses, meats and of course more Shiraz. From there was a short walk to the next winery, Lanmeil. Then on to the last winery stop, our favorite of the day, at Murray Street Vineyards. If we were locals we would have joined this one! Had a nice tasting at a long table among wine barrels and took home (to Adelaide) a yummy bottle of Shiraz. Finally back in Adelaide tonight, we had a low-key evening as we prepped for an early departure in the morning.
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Special Thanks

All the great folks who helped me out with information and inspiration for these Web pages!