12/2000 - Australia – 2nd part – from Perth to Sydney

In the 2nd part of our trip we visited: Exmouth Cape Range National Park, moving southwards towards Perth we visited Coral Bay, Tourquoise Bay, Carnarvon, Shark Bay, Nanga Bay, Monkey Mia, Kalbarry National Park, Pink Lakes, Nambung National Park, the Pinnacles desert; Perth; Tasmania with Hobart, Swansea, Bicheno, Lauceston, Stanley, Boat Harbour, Strahan, Queentown and Sydney..

Coming from Ayers Rock, we slept in Perth and were ready to reach Exmouth the following morning.
The next day we joined a guided tour to visit Cape Range National Park.
The first part of the park is made of limestone, with coral sediments rich in different shades of colour.
There was a sparse and low vegetation and we began to see expanses of Spinifex, yellow bushes of dry and thorny grass.
Then we entered the Bush characterized by red sand, Spinifex and banksia, a typical plant with huge yellow flowers.
At snack time we were surrounded by emus ready to eat whatever we launched them.
After visiting the park museum, we arrived at Osprey Bay for a swim in the sea, in the midst of corals and colourful fish, as well as turtles and small sharks.
We went towards the southern part of the park where, on a boat, we went up the Yardie Creek.
In addition to the typical wildlife we saw rock-wallabies; they are the smallest kangaroos in the world with a tuft of white hair on their muzzle and chest.
We went for another bathe in Tourquoise Bay where the water assumes colours ranging from emerald green to an intense turquoise blue. We still saw corals and fish and had tea and cake.

The next morning we started the journey back to Perth: we had to travel more than 2.500 km!
The sea at Coral Bay was wonderful. We could not miss a swim in deep water where the coral concretions were much more larger. We were impressed by the mountains of staghorn corals with their light blue or purple ends. Other concretions were flat and open, they looked like leaves, all embroidered.
We made a stop in the town of Carnarvon to see the blowholes. They are water columns that are generated when the waves strongly enter the holes in the sandstone formations .

In the afternoon, we made a very long journey crossing the Tropic of Capricorn and arrived to
Hamelin Pool, the Marine Nature reserve with the group of stromatolites most famous in the world.
Stromatolites are rock formations constituted by layers of calcareous material deposited by the large growth of colonies of microbes. They are the oldest form of life in the world: 3.5 billion years!
Nearby there was Shell Beach, stretching for over 60 km, made up of tiny shells up to 10 metres deep . And locals build houses with bricks made of pressed shells.
For our part, we just wrote MERRY CHRISTMAS with shells.
Our hotel was located in Carnarvon, in Nanga Bay, one of the most beautiful places in the area.

The next morning we went to Monkey Mia, the beach made famous by the dolphins because at 8:00, every morning, they come up to the shore to take the food which bathers offer them.
The show was complemented by three wonderful pelicans which , regardless of the large crowd, were running on the beach; they seemed to be there just for our pictures.
At 9.00 we were already leaving.

We did not find any traffic so, just before 13:00, after 400 km, we were already within Kalbarri National Park.
We entered from the north part, the hinterland along the gorge where the Murchison River flows.
Along the road, first we met a fine example of a monitor lizard, then a “Banksia”, as big as a tree with yellow flowers that seemed candles, making it like a Christmas tree.
We decided to go straight to Hawk’s Head Lookout and crossed about 30 km to visit two other points. One was definitely nice: a rock formation that frames the panoramic view of the Murchison River, the Natures Window.
The town of Kalbarri (where we were going to stay) welcomed us with a large quantity of gray and pink parrots.

The next morning we visited the southern part of Kalbarri National Park, the side which faces the ocean.
There are several and interesting view points and each one has got a name: Red Bluff, Rainbow Valley, Pot Alley, Eagle Gorge, Natural Bridge.

During the day, we travelled many kilometers enjoying beautiful sights along the coast, admiring the Pink Lakes and, very tired, we finally arrived in Cervantes, near the Pinnacles Desert which is located within Nambung National Park.
Despite the fatigue and considering the beautiful sunset, we decided to go to visit the Pinnacles Desert immediately.
Unfortunately the sunlight was not enough. We had few opportunities to enjoy the long shadows of the evening.
The place was very nice and we decided, even if we had to get up early, to go back for a visit the next morning.
We were rewarded having a very clear sky and a fantastic light.
For almost two hours we walked in the desert trying not to miss any glimpse.

We made a detour to New Norcia, a small town founded in 1845 by Spanish Benedictines who even nowadays take care of the cathedral and the two colleges.
At 15.00 we were already in Perth: we travelled 2520 km!
In the city we realized that it was CHRISTMAS time. Until that moment, due to the warm climate and the absence of references, we had forgotten it. And yet that day was the 23rd of December! Perth brought us back into reality.
We visited the city center among many Santa Claus and listening to many Christmas songs.
Yet we were sweaty and in shorts.
The city is modern with futuristic buildings and churches.
Its “modernity” was fascinating and it was beautiful, in the middle of flower beds, to see the real Christmas tree.

Early in the morning we flew to Tasmania via Melbourne. In the afternoon we visited the center of Hobart, the harbor area and Salamanca Place.
We had dinner at Mures Restaurant, called the “fish temple”; we ate oysters and a plate of mixed fish, accompanied with fine local wine. It was a typical Christmas Eve dinner.
The next morning we began a very strange Christmas: we continued being tourists.
We left for the Tasman Peninsula towards Port Arthur.
On the side of the shore, there were bays and coves with small beaches, instead inland we could see cultivated hills, large cottages, pines and many grazing animals: cows, bulls, sheep and horses. It was a gentle and relaxing landscape reminiscent of Scotland.
We visited the penal colony of Fort Arthur, established in the mid-1800s.
At lunch we ate a slice of cake and at dinner a buffet in the restaurant of the Grand Chancellor Hotel: oysters, lobster, cooked and raw fish, as much as you wanted.
We were lucky enough to see an echidna and a “Tasmanian Devil,” though dead.

The next day we began the tour of Tasmania. First we visited Frycinet National Park with spectacular rock formations of pink granite, called Hazards, then we climbed up to the lookout point on the Wineglass Bay.
We spent the night in Bicheno, a seaside resort, where we could see the penguins coming out of the sea to reach their burrows.
In the historical town of Hadspen we visited Entally House, the most beautiful Victorian house of Tasmania.
When we arrived in Launceston we went to visit the Cataract Gorge and Penny Royal World, a complex of ancient mills.

The following day, passing near green pastures, we arrived at Devemport.
In Burnie we were fascinated by the beautiful view of Table Cape.
The afternoon was dedicated to visit the Sisters Beach, a beach of fine white sand 8 -km long within Rocky Cape National Park.
We arrived to Stanley with its unspoiled and beautiful landscape characterized by old Victorian houses of fishermen, a town of historical interest. We went up to the top of the Nut with the chairlift.
The next day we started to get back on the western side of Tasmania.
We crossed the Hellyer Gorge State Reserve, we stopped at Henty Beach to admire the sand dunes high up to 30 meters.

In Stanley we made a motorboat ride on the Macquarie Harbour, its gulf is larger than the Italian Garda lake.
We visited Sarah Island which was a penal colony.
Before returning to Stanley through the Hell’s Gates we arrived in the open sea and experienced …. the ocean waves! The Hell’s Gates are so narrow not to let the ships pass through them.
For the night we went inland to Queenstown, a town once famous for its mines, now abandoned.
The landscape is desolate as the dust generated by mining activity has completely destroyed the vegetation.
After a few kilometers we entered the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The vegetation was thick and we walked a trail to see the impressive Nelson Falls.
A few kilometers further we entered the Cradle Mountain Park with its magnificent mountain sceneries, snow-capped peaks and lakes. And we stopped on the banks of its most famous lake, St. Claire Lake.
To celebrate Christmas there was a dry tree painted in yellow in the middle of a cut wheat field.
In Hobart we had time to go around in the halls of their most important trade fair, the Taste of Tasmania, where you can find the gastronomic specialties of the island.
And another nice surprise: In the harbour there were already moored the first boats of the “Sydney Hobart Yacht Race”.
The boats had arrived one day in advance due to the strong winds of those days.

We arrived in Sydney the very 31st of December and celebrated the end of the year in the “Waterfront restaurant”.
We had an outdoor table just below the famous bridge and with views of the Opera House.
We could admire a spectacle of fireworks of incomparable beauty.
Most of the inhabitants of Sydney used to spend the night on boat, on the waters of the bay.
We got up late the first day of the year, in time for a tour in the city center

We continued visiting Sydney decorated, despite the heat, with Christmas trees.
We visited the Queen Victoria Building department store and ended the day at the Botanic Garden where, in addition to plants, there is the chance to see some animals

We stayed in a modest BW located in the district of Double Bay.
We could reach the city center by sea in just 13 minutes.
In Sidney you can’t miss a visit to Sydney Aquarium, the views from the revolving Tower (to admire the beauty of the bay), a visit to the characteristic shopping center “Strand Arcade”, a visit to Manley beach not to mention a walk to Shell Beach.
Finally, do not forget to spend a romantic evening in the Rocks district, with its narrow alleys and beautiful restaurants.
It is with the beautiful Opera House that I wish to greet that wonderful capital.
Our trip to Australia was finished.
I confess that it was my second trip there, the first had been in 1987.
I’m ready to leave again tomorrow: Who comes with me?