It’s early morning here in Wollongong, and as I mess around with photos while everyone else is asleep, I’ve just been reflecting on our trip so far. Anna and I have only a week left in Australia (aside from a week at the end of the trip after NZ), and while we didn’t hit some of the places we had originally intended, I feel like I’ve gotten more out of this voyage than I could ever have intended. Two things about this time away are different than any other before it, and have made all of the difference.
First is Anna: it dawned on me some weeks back that my favourite thing about this trek has been sharing it with her. I know many of you will make that “aawww” noise right now, either because you think it’s sweet or you’re having a laugh, but it really is true. I’ve loved seeing new and old sights, getting on buses and planes, and hanging out with people, and all with Anna next to me. And she feels the same way (good thing too!). I think that it has only strengthened our friendship, and thus our marriage… it`s just another type of environment for us to learn about each other, how we respond to different pressures and problems, and what types of things really make us excited about life. Anna`s just a pretty fun person.
The second thing is the pace: I’ve also realized that I think I’ve eclipsed my backpacking/seat-of-my-pants years. Sure, I can still do it with the best of them, and there have still been times between condos and free-rides that we’ve had to. NZ will be full of it. But I’ll be completely honest when I say it tires me out MUCH quicker, and I find myself drawn ever stronger to the life of an all-inclusive or a HOTel over a HOStel. I don’t think that will change much of my traveler’s spirit over the coming years, other than probably shortening the length of these trips from a few months to a few weeks. And heck, I might even through in a cruise or two.
As for the trip, since leaving the Sunshine Coast we have moved around a bunch. We first arrived in Sydney and were picked up by my old friends Phil and Kathy Macarthur. They were super great, hosting us for five days and taking us around to all sorts of places. We visited the Symbio Wildlife Reserve during our time there, and got to see some pretty hilarious animals. For some reason Australian wildlife makes me laugh, and not in a mocking way. I can`t explain it other than saying that it`s almost like they`re all out of cartoons or something. See the following for examples:
During the rest of our stay in Sydney we also spent a day downtown. We visited Sydney Harbour, with it`s iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and walked around the old part of the city called the Rocks. We took the ferry across the harbour and north to Manly, then returned later that evening and had dinner with Andrew Feeney. A couple days later we went up to Newcastle for the night to see Ruth Feeney, then back down to Sydney. Finally, it was on to Wollongong, about an hour south of Sydney, to stay with Ian and Charlotte Kirk in their apartment that overlooks the water and the Escarpment. Our time here in “The Gong“ has been great… there`s tons to do and see in the area and since Ian and Charlotte have done (in the words of Ryan) about everything there is to do in a 300-400km radius of Wollongong, they are great tour guides. Just yesterday we visited the Blue Mountains and saw the famous 3 Sisters rock formations, the Aussie version of the Grand Canyon, and beautiful Wentworth Falls.
Only 4 days left and we head to Auckland!