72. Cloud (Australian Travel Story)

                                                 It’s Sunday morning and I wake to cloud cover. Unusual in Arizona. Maybe it’s a good thing as it gives me a chance to contemplate our January month this year in the Australian heat wave. It was a wonderful, utopian month and we had no end of adventure. Our bed and breakfast hosts knew how to keep our room with a view cool for our six days in Sydney.

                                                 Fireworks lit up the Harbour Bridge; the Opera House, all above and around us on New Year’s Eve. It is a sight to be seen and walking home shoulder to shoulder at one am with 1.5 million people makes me laugh in amazement.

                                                  Also amazing was how easy it was for Bob and I to go to an information centre, and not only find out what to see and do, but they provided free assistance to book it right there.

                                                  I loved that in every town and all through the cities, there were clean public toilets and signs as to where they were. There were also great street signs, but even better, additional signage to let you know the great things to see. Sign examples are: To downtown: 3 miles. To botanical gardens: 1.5 miles. To National Art Gallery: 1/2 mile.

                                                  I think they used kilometres like we do in Canada but they drive on the wrong side of the road. Bob was brave and we rented a car to tour Tasmania for 4 days. It is a slow paced, laid back, friendly-peopled island. When you look in the ocean, you could see the oysters.

                                                  The dense foliage of the rainforest ferns and the zigzag turns as we climbed the mountains stretched Bob’s bravery and driving skills.

                                                  We saw the devastation of hundreds who lost their homes in the wild bush fires. We could do nothing but hand in a donation at the evacuation centres as the smoke still rose.

                                                 Canberra, the capital, was like a tinderbox. It was 40 degrees celsius or 115-120 fahrenheit, with 70 – 80 mph winds. The grass crackled and broke as we walked on it. We were still out there all day sightseeing knowing they were saying on the news to “Know where you are at all times in case of evacuation.”

                                                 We went on a Great Ocean Road Tour, leaving Melbourne in a van with a bunch of twenty-year old backpackers. We didn’t know that would be happening when we booked it but it was fun. They were in tents. Bob and I were in a hostel. We didn’t bring towels. Bob found one and I used a pink, fluffy pillow case and used a sugar bowl for my orange juice.

                                                  The kangaroos and koalas in the wild were exciting; but a highlight for me was seeing a penguin walk out of the ocean.

                                                  Sights and sounds are different. The tropical birds at daybreak were as enjoyable as watching multi-colored parrots and the cockatoos screeching as we enjoyed a glass of wine.

                                                  Speaking of wine, we toured the Jacob’s Creek Vineyard. We also did the hop on, hop off tours of the places we visited. In Adelaide there are eighty churches and two hundred pubs. The bus driver told us they have the most religious drinkers in the world.

                                                  And speaking of cloud, our last four days in Brisbane were part of Cyclone Oswald. Monsoon rains of fifteen inches in three and half days with cyclonic winds and flooding had us missing our flight home. I had the song line in my head, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.”

                                                  The airline booked us the next available flight and we are home, ready for the next adventure. 

                                                                        February 4, 2013         

—-Ellen Sagh

summer:  306 382-5204
winter      480 373-1734
writings:   ellensagh.com

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