Tuesday, June 06, 2006


How should I blog about my trip? I have several ideas running through my head... I'll start out chronological...

But I have to answer one question that I heard a lot... Why Australia? My answer: The reef, The flora, The fauna, & The Great Ocean Road.

The first part of our trip was a cruise around the Great Barrier Reef. One of the better parts of this was that 95% of the passengers were Australian!
(I tend to judge things like that and ethnic restaurants by how many natives are there... If you don't see any Chinese people at a Chinese buffet, what does that say about the food? I am probably the only one who feels that way, but...)
They were so interested in why we chose to come to Australia. Some were rather disappointed to hear that we were going to Sydney & Melbourne - cities are all the same... We got outside of both cities & tried to see what was "special" about both. (We did not got to "McCafe", Subway, KFC, etc.) While we did go to a couple malls, it was not for retail therapy. We had two climates to pack for, so we went to Target in Cairns for shorts for Michael & We went to the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney - because it was the Queen Victoria Building!

Back to the chronological plan... We arrived in Cairns & hit the road running! (Our vacation package included transportation to and from the airports, hotels, and breakfasts) Derek was our driver and he was so nice & informative. I don't know how it came up but he told us that he likes to watch American crime dramas. (I must have been thinking that he was talking about really old ones or that he had been to America fairly recently...) Our hotel was nice (not super fancy - I don't like to spend a lot on accomodations - clean is my criteria.) and centrally located.
We took a quick shower and then went out to explore the town.
Our first stop was a quilt shop - YES it was! The shop was closed, but the owners husband was in straightening up & let us look around. That shop had a great selection of Robyn Pandolf and April Cornell & a lot of other similar things. Their specialty was blocks of the month that included embroidery.
(insert trip to the mall for the above mentioned shorts) Cairns was warm, not too hot. We wandered around a bit more and then went back to the hotel for a nap. (You know, we'll get up and get something to eat in an hour.) that was 7 p.m., we awoke at about 7 a.m.! Breakfasts were included in our package, so we got dressed and went to have a bite to eat. They had a lot of what you would expect to see on a breakfast bar. Including a Japanese Style breakfast. But the thing that stuck out in my mind was baked beans! (not breakfast fare in my book.)
Anyway we found enough that we could eat - fruits, pateries, eggs... & went too see more of the town.
I found some silver charms for my charm bracelet - something that I am starting to chronical our travels as a couple. (They sold me the charms before the store opened and even aranged to get them soldered onto my bracelet.)
& A ton of Opal shops. It was early & not a lot was open so we looked into a lot of shop windows.
Around 10 we found a shop that was not as touristy as most seemed to be & so I stopped in. (I needed to get an opal for my friend who has an October birthday.) We got a nice lesson in opals... Did you know that there are three types of opals?
The most common is white (The kind that you are most likely to find in the States in a jewelery shop) and then there are black {Black opal is the rarest and most valuable type of opal. Black opal is generally found as an opal bar (or bars) of various colours forming natural water horizontals in dark grey to black opal 'potch nobbies' or 'opal nodules'. Few realize that 99.9% of the world's opal supply of this radiant, dark, lustrous gem is mined at only two pinpoints on the globe-- the Australian towns of Lightning Ridge in New South Wales and Mintabie in South Australia} and boulder opals {Boulder Black Opal is a special type of opal, found mostly in central Queensland. Boulder Opal is a curious form of silica which has filled the cracks and crevices in light and dark brown ironstone boulders. Invariably, the boulder opal stones are cut with the natural host rock (ironstone) left on the back.}.

There are triplet & doublet opals too... A triplet opal is not a solid opal: triplets are made of three pieces. Firstly, a flat thin slice of precious opal is glued on to a backing of common opal, glass or porcelain that has first been darkened. A protective dome of clear quartz crystal is then cemented to the precious opal with a clear resin (glue) to complete the triplet opal. A doublet opal is more valuable than a triplet because it has a greater opal content. Doublets are made by joining a thin slice of Coloured Opal Crystal to a backing of common opal stone (potch, dark glass or porcelain).

I got myself a black opal pendant. Later in the trip, in the Queen Victoria Building, I got a pair of black opal earrings that go nicely with the pendant. I also got a charm of a kangaroo that has a white opal on it for the charm bracelet.

Up to this point, I did not take any photos! However, I did take over 300 photos, so I'll share one here. (My photo would not upload - I'll try again later.)


cher said...

good to be back I am sure-looking forward to seeing some photos when blogger allows.

Nancy said...

Welcome home! And thank you for sharing part of your trip with us. Of all the places in the world I'd love to travel to Australia is top of my list. Not likely to happen but you never know. I might win the lottery some day. LOL! Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip and get to see the photos.

Laurie Ann said...

So glad you are back. I am enjoying hearing all about your trip!

Jeanne said...

Howdy howdy howdy! Glad you're home safe! I'm looking forward to pictures and descriptions :)

Mary said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Australia is definitely on our list of places to visit.

ForestJane said...

Glad to see you home safe and sound!

And really looking forward to a vicarious vacation. :)

TeresaQuilts@JUNO.COM said...

Welcome home, Amy!

So glad to hear that you are starting a charm bracelet of your travels with your DH. Nearly 33 years ago, my own DH gave me an empty charm bracelet for our wedding gift. It was completely filled - as in every link- by the time that he left the Navy after 23 years, ans so it grew into a long - opra length necklace! I will get another charm in July when we add another state (SD).

Oh, to be able to add something from Australia! Looking forward to your pictures and living the trip through you.

Best wishes,
Teresa in North Canton, OH

Kay said...

I so enjoyed reading about your trip. It brought back some good memories. Aren't the Australians the friendliest people you could imagine? And, like you, we always judge restaurants by how many "natives" there are in them.