On the Road in the Land of Oz
Kangaroos in the paddock at Cam Ford's farm in Victoria
Most of Australia's kangaroos (more commonly known as 'roos) live in the bush, popping out in front of rural traffic to become roadkill.  I found about 25 roos on a sunrise walk through my old friend Cam Ford's farm near Springhill, Victoria.  They wouldn't let me get too close, but it was fascinating to watch them move.  Three mornings earlier I'd gone out but hadn't seen a single one.
January 26 -- After five and a half weeks of wandering through Oz, we've finally found the Yellow Brick Road!  It's located on Great Keppel Island.  It runs from a sandy point near the Bistro, down past the pizza joint and all the way to the bar at the Contiki Resort for the 35 and under crowd.

We didn't find the Wizard, but there seemed to be quite a few folks searching for courage, a heart and brains.

Great Keppel Island is located about 12 kilometers off the northeast coast of Australia, right on the Tropic of Capricorn and at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.  Carol and I came here for six days with our friends Pam and Jim to kind of wind down from the hectic pace we've been setting as we cruised through Oz.  I even snorkeled today, for the first time!

I really couldn't have anticipated just how big Australia was, and how strange too.  Some of the surprises are nice and subtle.  In a month we'd done a pile of travelling, visited four states, met lots of people and even become familiar with local language and customs.  There's still a lot of bush to be walked in this land.

I remember back about six months ago when I figured we'd be able to drive, or take the train to get around the country.  Yikes!  We've just finished our seventh flight within Australia. I don't fly that much around Canada!  Once upon a time I envisioned Australia as just an island, after all.

January 18 -- You can't do Australia without visiting Sydney, and I think we're getting a good taste of it.  Last night our friends Hildegard and Simon (a couple we'd met in Vietnam) took us down to the park at the Botannical Gardens for a picnic and a free concert with the Sydney Symphony.  Hildegard packs a fine picnic.

We arrived in good time, but there were already about 100,000 people there ahead of us, so finding a good space for our blanket was a bit of a challenge.  Turns out this concert was the highlight of the Sydney Summer Festival, and was a very popular annual event.

What an evening!  It was threatening rain, and low-lying clouds kept whipping by, sometimes obscuring the tops of nearby office towers.  The music was fine, the crowd was into it.  Then as dusk settled in the sky filled with hundreds of fruit bats, taking off from nearby trees and careening erratically overhead.  Bats just can't fly gracefully.

The rains held off though the clouds continued to zip by overhead.  It was calm down on the ground and Hildegard's picnic was complementing the evening quite nicely.  As the Symphony continued, a full moon rose over the trees at the edge of the park, building to a great finale with Tchaikowsky's 1812 Overture, concluding with choreographed fireworks shooting off from a nearby office tower.  This was a good time!

Hiking on Great Keppel Island
Great Keppel Island offered great hiking and bushwalks as well as snorkeling and hanging out on sandy beaches.  This is us on the trail to Mount Wyndham, the highest point on the island.
On the Abt Wilderness Railway from Strahan to Queenstown in Tasmania
On the Abt Wilderness Railway in western Tasmania, the engineer uses a special rack and pinion gear  on the centre of the rails to haul the train up and down the steep grades.
Carol and Elvis Parsley dance up a storm at "Grapelands", in the town of Woodford
You'll get more than a song and dance out of Elvis Parsley when you stop by the Grapelands fruit shop in Woodford, Queensland.  Yes, that's Carol with Elvis who's beltin' out the tunes, shuckin' and jivin' to all the old classics, as Pam and Jim gladly seize any good opportunity to dance.  And indeed, you could also get: "Fruit fit for the King" too.

Visit with us at the Woodford Folk Festival
Come see our journey in Victoria
Join us on our trip through Tasmania
Check out our travels in Southeast Asia
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