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Trains in Australia
by Jim & Julie Nowell
http://www.trainweb.com/travelogues/2006/julie.html

Julie & I have just returned from our month long tour which focused on riding six long distance trains, two steam trains, trollies, and the best dinner train (1927 Tramcar in Melbourne). "Down Under" where: the moon is upside down, public telephones have no phone books, there are numerous drive in liquor stores (bottle shops), electrified trolly cars in the big cities can take you anywhere, RV'ers are called Caravaners or "Grey Nomads", their most used phrase is "no worries" (everything is ok - no problem), cities are clean with a blend of the modern and many old iron Victorian lace, wooded buildings like New Orleans, hour long TV shows start on the half hour. We saw most areas except Perth and Tasmania.

Highlites: Our two day GHAN train ride in gold kangaroo class from Darwin to Adelaide was the best we've experienced: gourmet food with the highest level of service; snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef (which they say is dieing) from Cape Tribulation: blue starfish, giant 3-4 foot clams, fish and coral of all colors; rain forest of Kakadu where we saw aboriginal rock art and "heaps" (another Aussie phrase) of crocodiles on two river cruises; being in a bush camp to watch Kangaroos, Wallabies and multicolored parrots; two very special days on Kangaroo Island (near Adelaide) - sheep shearing; back country Eucalyptus Oil Distillery; walk on the beach with Stellar sea lions who dive for food for three days then come ashore and climb up to 1/2 of a mile up steep sand dunes to rest; watched sheep(the "ladies" are smart enough to go to the same stall each day) being milked at a dairy which makes cheese & yogurt; saw at night the thirteen inch Fairy Penguins walk out of the ocean to their burrows up steep hills; had a cave tour; observed Koalas sleeping high up in the "Gum" (Eucalyptus) trees; went to Admirals Arch to look at the fur seals. They say the best whale watching capital is in Hervey Bay and we agree. The big guys swam right next to the boat eye balling us or rolling over showing their white bellies and slapping their fins. The Sydney Harbor was the largest and most beautiful we've seen with contrasting new high rise condos and 200 year old stone structures along with the many types of water craft: freighters, cruise liners, jet boats, sail boats, tourist boats and the second (Hong Kong #1) most ferries which were all heavily used.

Our memories are highlighted by the hospitable, friendly, carefree Aussie people and all the close animal encounters. We were thankful for the opportunity to visit with four of our Y's Men friends who we last saw seven years ago. At one time we had thought of touring by RV down there, but the distances are too great between attractions.

With the beautiful birds singing in our ears, we say G'Day!

Jim & Julie


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