Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oz Trip revisited

I know, I know... It's about time I posted something! Had a lot going on here since I got home and never had the time really to write. nothing bad, I've just been really busy.

I departed for Australia on May 4th from Miami and after an uneventful flight to Los Angeles I boarded a Qantas 747 bound for Brisbane, Queensland. After twelve hours I arrived in Australia where I had to debark and proceed through Australian Customs where the first glitch in my trip occurred...

I had forgotten a small packet of cookies I had been given on the plane earlier that I had in my shirt pocket... And food items being brought into Australia are prohibited, and me forgetting to "Declare Said Food Items" I was asked to step out of the line and have my luggage searched by a humorless but professional Customs Agent.

I was expecting the Anti-Cookie SWAT Team to come rappelling out of the ceiling at any moment since I was now some notorious International Cookie Smuggler...

All was found in order and I was cleared through customs, but since I had to proceed from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal to catch my connecting flight to Adelaide, the time taken at customs prevented my from making that flight. The gentleman at the Qantas desk was very friendly and helpful and got me on the next flight to Adelaide.

After almost twenty hours on airplanes and the crossing of the International Date Line, I lost the 5th of May somewhere... May 5th, 2010 never existed for me!

So around noon on the 6th I finally arrived in Adelaide, South Australia to be met by my good Mate, Eddie who promptly took me straight to the nearest pub! I spent the next few days with him and his lovely wife Marty who were great hosts!


On the following Saturday Eddie and I took the train into the City Centre of Adelaide to meet up with a few other mates of ours at the Strathmore Hotel for a mini-conference, adult beverages and fine dining...
It was there that my mates presented me with a fantastic honor... A plaque naming me a "Honorary Australian"! These guys (or should I now say "These Blokes?") are the greatest!
After the presentation of the plaque and a bag of goodies... We got down to some serious eating and drinking! I ordered the Stonegrill mix... A large rump steak, prawns, Kangaroo & Crocodile, chips and side salad... It was brought out raw on a slab of granite at 400C and you cook it yourself. A really unique way of eating and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Side Note: Australia is the only country I know of that you can find their National Emblems, The Kangaroo and Emu on the menus of most restaurants!
On Sunday we met up again at the Cooper's Alehouse in Adelaide for a afternoon of sampling the local favorite brew... Pictured above is (L to R) Me, Trevor, Pete & Eddie.

The following Monday I again boarded a short flight from Adelaide back to Brisbane to meet up with another mate, Colin to spend a week exploring the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.
Colin and I spent the days exploring the area around where he lives and getting some great views like the one above in Moolooaba... I simply fell in love with the area!
We also did some hill climbing... Here is a nice photo from the top of a hill we climbed near his home... This place has a name but for the life of me I can't remember it... I know the view was simply breathtaking!
For a few days Colin and I camped on Fraser Island, another place I just fell in love with! At one point I asked Colin just to leave me there and I'd just stay the rest of my life...
The place was so beautiful! The only way onto the island is by barge and you need 4WD. Another cool sight was the wreck of the SS Maheno, seen above at low tide.
Another really cool thing was the dingos. They're all over the place on the island and they'll walk right up to you!
Who could not just fall in love with the place?
Camping on Fraser Island, enjoying my most favorite Aussie Beer, Victoria Bitter, or "VB" for short!
I was in a contemplative moment above, gazing out at the South Pacific from a huge sand blow on Fraser Island...

Wishing I could stay forever...

But this had to end also, Colin had to depart the next week for some time in the Army and we parted ways at the Brisbane airport, me heading back to Adelaide and him up to Townsville. I again hopped a short flight back to Adelaide to spend the remainder of my time in Oz with Eddie.

So the rest of my time Eddie and I explored South Australia sampling the local food and fantastic adult beverages, sometimes sitting out on his lanai until the wee hours drinking beer, swapping old war stories (The difference between a Fairytale an an old War Story: a Fairytale starts out "Once upon a time..." a Old War Story starts out "I shit you not...") and basically laughing and having a great time.

In sadness I had to come home, leaving Australia on the 31st of May... I another freak of the International Date Line, I departed Adelaide at 11:00 AM on the 31st, and arrived back in the United States in Los Angeles at 11:35 AM, on the 31st of May... The 14 hour flight only took 25 minutes!

A fantastic trip, great holiday and one I'll not soon forget!

Eddie and I have already discussed next year's plans and if they can they'll be coming over here for a few weeks so I can repay some of their fantastic hospitality!

One last thing I do have to say... I have never met a group of people so damn nice! Everywhere I went everyone was so friendly... And if you ever travel to Australia, New Zealand or anywhere else in the South Pacific, fly Qantas! They really know how to treat the passengers! (and free booze on the flight!)

Copyright 2010 Thomas J Wolfenden

11 comments:

leazwell said...

Beautiful.

cmk said...

That is definitely one of my dream destinations! (The other being Finland, of course.) A beautiful country--so happy your time there was great.

tsduff said...

What a neat trip Tom. My heart always starts beating a little faster when I see my passport - and your travels look simply fabulous. I know that feeling on the last day of "Bummer, I have to go home" - but then I begin planning the next trip... The food, the company, and the scenery all look splendid. I've never been to Australia.

Mushy said...

Great post...I bet you had a blast!

Ranger Tom said...

Leazwell: Isn't it though?

Cmk: I'd always dreamed of going... Europe is next!

Tsduff: I had to renew my passport for this trip... The new one is so... empty... So now I've just got to fill it up like the old one!

Mushy: Blast isn't the word... I can't fit in any of my clothes now! I've got to go on a diet just to fit back into my work clothes!

BlueyM said...

Ranger Tom, it was great to see you here in Oz, and as is usual with old soldiers, many war stories were exchanged, tall tales told, a few cool drinks consumed and overall a great time was had by all.

I hope you will have fond memories of your time "down under", we certainly enjoyed your company.

Welcome anytime, and given that you are now officially an honorary Aussie with a plaque to prove it, you will not even need a visa next time around.

Good times.

BlueyM (aka Pete from Perth)

Ranger Tom said...

Bluey: It was a great pleasure to finally meet up with you and the other blokes... No definite plans for next year yet, but I may be coming back to Oz and if I do, a trip to WA and Perth is definitely on the agenda.

And you're always welcome at my place here in Florida!

UBERMOUTH said...

'Australia is the only country I know of that you can find their National Emblems, The Kangaroo and Emu on the menus of most restaurants!'

Fucking heathens!

Ranger Tom said...

Uber: But they make the most fabulous beer!

UBERMOUTH said...

As I don't drink beer,they are of no use to me whatsoever. :)

Edison said...

Ditto what Bluey said.

Uber, we don't always eat our coat of arms and drink beer ... but we have a whole lot of fun when we do, especially when we've got O/S visitors. hehe.

Leazwell, cmk, mushy, tsduff, and uber : y'all need to get off your butts and get over here soon.
Everyone is welcome.

Cheers,

Ed