24 August 2007

Darwin Day 4 - Kakadu National Park

On our fourth and final day in Darwin, Saturday 8/18, we took a one day tour to the Kakadu National Park. Our tour guide, Kerry, was awesome - we learned a lot about the park and the surrounding areas on the bus ride over. The highlights included a boat ride on the Yellow Waters, visiting the Cultural Center, aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie Rock, climbing to the lookout point and visiting the cathedral termite mounds.
There were plenty of crocs about that day, sunning themselves on the shores and trying to regulate their body temperature. We saw only saltwater crocodiles, the vicious man-eating kind...The Jabiru is a large regal bird that resides in the park, we watched one catch lunch while we rode by on the boat.The aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie Rock is amazing to view - the one here is entitled "Want To Dance?" because it depicts a lot of movement. We climbed to the lookout point and took lots of photos , it was impossible to capture the amazing panoramic view on camera... :)Our next stop was the enormous Cathedral Termite Mounds - so named for the shape they form. The "wings" to the sides of the main mound are primarily to help regulate the temperature inside the mound, apparently these guys are picky about their living environment...Last stop was at Windows on the Wetlands, a small museum and observatory where we watched the sun go down over the wetlands with a glass of wine in hand~Julie and I returned to Darwin and had dinner at Duck's Nuts on Mitchell Street. Across the street, at the Hog's Breath Cafe, it was Bike Night - a traditional shared by Americans and Aussies alike~ :)

A short while later, we arrived at the airport for our overnight flight back to Sydney (read: red eye flight) and took a nap when we got back to Julie's house Sunday morning.

We have a few more adventures to share~ For now, I must finish packing, my flight leaves this afternoon to come back to the U.S.

20 August 2007

Darwin Day 3 - Tiwi Islands & Darwin Festival

For our third day in Darwin (Friday), we booked a one-day tour to Tiwi Islands, inhabited by an aboriginal culture unique to these islands. There are two islands, Melville and Bathurst, but only Bathurst Island is open to the public. Transportation to the island is largely via small aircraft, a ferry operates only on days with calm enough water.I volunteered to sit in the co-pilot chair right next to Mel, our pilot.
My view from the cockpit.
Mel, our pilot, explains the safety features of our Cessna 404.

Tours of Nguiu, Bathurst Island, are guided by local people and include a visit to the cemetery, two arts & crafts studios, the mission, the cultural museum and a picnic/guided nature walk at a local billabong.Our first stop was at the Patakijiyali Museum.

We then stopped at the Artist Co-op where we could talk to local artists about their works and purchase some of their wares - I bought a hand-carved bird and Julie bought a hand-stamped bag.
Julie's bag was much like this one being stamped at the Co-op.Our second arts & crafts stop took us to the pottery house and the wood carving shed - where they work on carving the totems, both for burial poles and for sale.

Our next stop took us to the Tiwi Tours "base camp" where we enjoyed tea and damper. Then the crew painted their faces to perform some of their traditional dances for us at a smoking ceremony.The paint they used was stained onto a block using ochres and clay. Their paint designs and dance styles are passed down to them from their fathers.
They first performed the smoking ceremony, setting afire leaves from only the ironwood tree and then blessing each traveller to wish them a safe journey. They performed the shark, buffalo and battleship dances, which represented the family dances of several of the crew members.
Our tour guide, John, took us on a nature walk around a billabong before our picnic lunch.

Our next stop was the mission, St. Therese's Catholic Church.The alter was decorated by local aboriginal artists.
Julie and I at base camp with a decorative totem.

Upon returning to the mainland, we took a taxi to the Darwin Festival grounds at the Botanical Gardens. We asked to be dropped off at the Star Shell, an amphitheater-style stage set up for performances every evening. The cab driver must not know much about the festival, because he tried to drop us off at the Shell gas station! *sigh* We stayed there for dinner, yummy curry from Hunaman, and some entertainment - Aboriginal dance troupes and the Dilly All Stars reggae/punk/ska band.
The Star Shell at the Darwin Festival.The White Cockatoo Dance Troupe and legendary didgeridoo player, Darryl.

The Darwin Arts Festival featured a night-time showing of aboriginal art.

For more information about Tiwi Islands and Top End Tourism, check out this site: http://www.travelnt.com/en/explore/darwin/region/tiwi-islands.htm.

Darwin Day 2 - Darwin & Rotary

We started our second day in Darwin at Roma Cafe for banana pancakes (yum!), an excellent recommendation from the Lonely Planet guide. We then embarked on a walking tour of Darwin architecture and shopping. We ended the afternoon with a relaxing massage at a local spa and returned to our room to ready for dinner.
The Top End Hotel (hotel=bar), designed by Troppo Architects.

Thursday evening, we attended the local Rotary Club Meeting, at the Red Bull Steakhouse. Julie gave a short presentation on the Ambassadorial Scholarship and her current endeavors and ended with the official banner exchange with President Peter.Julie and President Peter, Rotary Club of Darwin, District 9550.

19 August 2007

Darwin Day 1 - Sunset Cruise

Julie and I decided to go to Darwin while I was here visiting. Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and the architecture of the city is quite modern because 90% of the city was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy in the 70's.

On our first day in the city, we arrived early afternoon, checked in at the hostel, went to the Visitor's Center and the office of Troppo Architects - we then went on a sunset cruise around Darwin Harbor. We finished the day with dinner of Barramundi (local catch) and Kangaroo steak at Shennanigan's in town~

Best airplane food, ever! We were on a leg of an international Qantas flight to India~
I think I may have inherited my father's predilection for liking sunset photos... :)
The day ended quite beautifully~
And there's always another friendly tourist around to take your photo... :)

Carrie's in Sydney - Act II

I arrived in Sydney at 6:30 am (ew!) and stayed up the rest of the day to re-set my internal clock to the local time zone (14 hours different from home). I went to bed at 8pm, got up the next morning and didn't have any trouble with jet lag. :)

My first picture of the Sydney Opera House... :)
The Opera House is fun to photograph because it looks different from every angle~

My first weekend in Sydney, Julie and I went on a walking tour of the city - the CBD (Central Business District) isn't too big. We walked through campus, Chinatown, Darling Harbor to the Circular Quay. We then walked from Circular Quay through the botanical gardens, Hyde Park and the shopping district.

The bats sleep during the day in the Botanical Gardens - they are fun to watch moving around while they sleep high above in the trees~

The reflecting pool at Hyde Park is a popular hang-out spot for skateboarders~

While Julie sat in class all day, I went to the zoo~ As chance might have it, Nina (a friend from WMU Dance Dept.) was also in Sydney! We enjoyed the zoo together and were lucky that it didn't start raining until we were back in the city. Thanks for the tea & dessert, Nina!

The giraffes have quite a spectacular view of Sydney~

The Koalas sleep a lot, probably to avoid spending too much time around tourists like us... :)

14 August 2007

Carrie's in Sydney!

It looks like we're standing in front of a green screen!!

more later.... right now we're headed to Darwin.

Chinese Friendship Garden - Darling Harbour

This is what boys do in Chinese friendship gardens.

And this is what dancers do.

Aussie Stadium

Football game with the girls. And a couple Rotarians. Many thanks to Dudley from Randwick Rotary Club for the tickets to the game!!