2006-09-21 Sydney


On a bit of a whim, I took the overnight train to Sydney. What a great idea! The train was less than comfortable, but the fare quite acceptable and it is always nice to roll into a big city in the morning. I had breakfast and went for my wanders. I was immediately awestruck by downtown Sydney. The city was dense, but not in a claustrophobic sense. There also an impressive number of grand and historical buildings interspersed the newer towers. Some cities only look good from a distance, but Sydney has a real vibrancy on the ground.


I rode all the transport mediums except the bus (why bother?), ferry, dinky-monorail, train, dinky-tram. The surrounding neighbourhoods I saw were lower density but not super sprawling suburb. It was a nice level of density, and it is amazing how many cottage like bungalows you can find in such an urban area.


The Bridge and the Opera House really are remarkable. You glimpse them through the gaps of the skyscrapers, but you get there and whoom (yes, that’s right, whoom) the just amaze you. It must be a first time thing…go away from Toronto long enough, the CN tower actually looks as stupidly tall as it is. Live there awhile and you barely notice it.


The weekend also featured visits to Manly and Bondi beach, including a shark alert at Bondi Beach. It was amazing to see everyone clear out of the water and to all watch the patrol helicopter and jetskis run around doing something, I’m not sure what. It would have been more exciting if I actually saw a shark.


2006-09-29 Fraser Island


We finally decided to go to Fraser Island just as we discovered all the 4x4’s were booked out. A good thing too, because we weren’t really sure what we were getting into. The organized tour took us around the island on a converted truck that roared down the beaches at 100km/h. That was 20 km/h over the beach’s speed limit. But the beautiful lake in the middle of the island and the crystal clear stream made it all worth it. Spent our first two nights in a hostel on Rainbow Beach. It was quite fun, I can see why people seem to just sit in hostels and drink beer. It is like a tropical University residence (so not much of a departure for us travellers).


2006-09-30 Bundaberg


We weren’t particularly organized as part of our drive with no real plan. We headed out to Bundaberg, because it was a place to go. We got to town at around 8:30pm, but the hostels were all closed and full…except for one.  It was called the Cellblock and was a converted police station and jail.  The more interesting fact was that the hostel was full of hardcore backpackers. They were plenty of fruit pickers, some there for three months working so that they could extend their tourist visas.  It was very regulated, everyone got their own cutlery (keeps it clean and organized, I imagine) and there was the typical backpacker’s bar. We were starved and went to Hungry Jacks for a late dinner. It was all but empty and heavily decked out in 50’s America theme. I tried to explain to Team Teutonic that driving around and hanging out at a fast food chain is a very young teenage thing to do. I relished it, because Bundaberg is such a main street driving kinda town.



2006-10-15 Charleville


Took the train out to Charleville so that I could see the Outback. The train heads out very slowly 900km out to the relatively large town (2000 people) in the dry drought suffering orange ground of the Queensland outback. On the way I had a seat on a near empty carriage. It wasn’t that comfortable, but I did see my first wild kangaroos in the early morning. The town was interesting because you could envision its social and economic presence, even if it wasn’t particularly touristy. The ride back was even better, because my berth in the under booked train became a private bedroom. I had my first shower on a train and a big meal in the buffet car. Saw the great dividing range in the morning and arrived very comfortably in Brisbane.