Uluru & Kata Tjuta Rocks : A pilgrimage to Australia’s Northern Territory

It being a  UNESCO-heritage site and one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, a visit to Uluru (and Kata Tjuta) is nothing short of pilgrimage. In our earlier posts, we had mentioned how the “soul” of Australia (the real aboriginal history & its associated culture, national parks, the rugged outback, wild life and bird watching ) resided in the least-visited state of Northern Territory. And so it was time to fly from Sydney to the tiny airport of Ayers Rock on our least favorite but highly punctual airline Jetstar. The crazy accommodation prices reflect the remoteness of the place so we chose the cheapest private room at Outback Pioneer Lodge, which still set us back by $150 a night. All facilities and hotels are situated at a tiny town called Yulara, 20 kms from Uluru rock.

We wanted to spend all afternoon at Uluru, watching its colors change till sunset. At 3 pm, the sunset viewing car park was deserted (and at 6 pm jampacked), allowing us to choose a vantage point to enjoy the rock.

It looks dark brown in early afternoon hours.

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Mika spent a couple of hours sketching the rock and you can tell it’s a cute effort.


A close up of the rock reveals a very rugged surface.


The customary silly pictures were taken with no one around.

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By now the color has changed to light brown.



At around 5 pm, Uluru looks golden orange. A quick primer on Uluru: The monolithic sandstone rock is an astonishing 3.6 km long, 1.9 km wide, 348 high with a circumference of 9.6 kms. It was created 600 million years ago and the Aborigines have inhabited the region for over 10,000 years. To these indigenous “Anangu”people, the “rock” is of great spiritual significance as this is where their ancestors had interacted with the landscape. In their culture, these ancestral beings had created their culture at the beginning of time. Climbing the rock is prohibited by the indigenous folks even though a large number of visitors do it. Two-thirds of the rock is still underground.


And as the sun goes down, the color changes to Ochre.

The last shot of the day before we left around 7 pm. First project executed successfully.


At 6 am the next morning, we set out for Kata Tjuta (also knows as “The Olgas”), which is as pretty as Uluru. It is a series of 36 rock domes dating back 500 million years. The sunrise view point beautifully revealed the morning colors of the rocks.
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The 7.4 km Valley of the Winds walk at Kata Tjuta has been rated by seasoned travelers as the best of the region. After the sunrise, we gobbled our packed breakfast and headed off for the spectacular walk. Full of gorges and lovely rugged scenery, it took us around 3 hours to finish including water breaks and photo stops. Very cool.

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The indigenous cultural show back at the resort, frankly, was a little lame mainly due to extremely bored-looking dancers.


Kings Canyon, part of Wattarka National Park in NT, is 4 hours away from Uluru and its famed 6 km “King’s Canyon “Rim Walk” has been rated by some travelers as bettering even Uluru & Kata Tjuta. We were on a mission, so brushing the distance aside we started at 3:30 am and drove non-stop for 4 hours. At 5 am, we got super excited looking at some wild dogs which ended up being cattle!  Due to excessive heat, the walk is usually closed by the rangers by 9 am to protect the hikers, oops.. sorry, “Bushwalkers”! We managed to start much before that.


The EXTREMELY steep 100-150 step vertical climb at the start has been named as “the heartbreak hill” ( or “heart attack hill” by some morbid souls) by the locals. But once you are past it, the enchanting views of the gorge and the valley below makes the whole effort worth it.

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This is my favorite shot. We were constantly (with oodles of nostalgia) reminded of the rim walk at Grand Canyon Arizona. Of course the distance between the two rims at GC was vast but there are no clear winners !


Sometimes it is good to pause and introspect on the purpose of life which these two seem to be doing remarkably well !

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A morning well spent and we were done by 11 am. After a four hour drive back, we had no energy left but we still enjoyed the live one-man blues band at the lodge over dinner.

Our last morning was spent again at the Uluru rock enjoying the mesmerizing morning colors of rock, from the sunrise viewing point called Talinguru Nyakunytjaku. In retrospect, I feel funny having spent countless hours googling for the best sunset and sunrise viewpoints, in the end choosing the obvious and official ones. But that is the human spirit – it does not stop till it has satisfactorily found an answer howsoever lame it may be. This is how the morning colors changed from dark to light:

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We then quickly drove around the circumference of the rock to get a wider perspective in addition to bush walking the short Kuniya and Mala walks.


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The closest shot of the rock reveals a rugged surface with loads of moon-like craters. It’s like life – a situation or a person that looks picture perfect from a distance, reveals its true colors or imperfections at worst, when you come too close !

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The pilgrimage had come to an end. As we boarded our Melbourne flight, Mika managed to click these lovely pictures of Uluru from the plane – putting its vastness into perspective. Thanks for reading and see you in Melbourne & Great Ocean Road !

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Sydney & The Blue Mountain Kangaroos : The NSW sojourn

The 4 hour long Virgin Australia flight from Darwin to Sydney reminded us how HUGE the Australian continent was. We laughed at the irony that at twice the India’s size, Australia has only 24 million denizens compared to India’s 1250 million !! Meha, Mika and I had pledged to focus more on wildlife, nature and culture (the real things of life) in this world trip than big cities, which are all the same more or less. The Sydney planning dilemma was elegantly solved by dividing equal time between urban and rural Sydney. What better choice for first stop, than Blue Mountains National park – only 2 hours from Sydney. As the sun was going down, Mika managed this fantastic aerial shot of the iconic Sydney landmarks from the plane.


Europcar rental sorted out, we headed straight to our lovely AirBnB cottage at Mt. Victoria in Blue Mountains, making a quick stop at Coles at Katoomba, for our groceries.

Easily the finest AirBnB we have stayed so far, the tastefully done bed 2 bedroom cottage in a peaceful setting immediately reminded us of the lovely English towns. This is how it looked like in the morning. Very relaxing.


Tired from our marathon trip of Northern Territory, we chose to enjoy a relaxed morning sipping English breakfast tea. The sole itinerary for the day was to visit Jenolan Caves. Part of the Oberon mountains in New South Wales, these lime stone caves are truly spectacular. You have to pre-book from a bunch of them and we did not regret our choice of Lucas caves. A very engaging commentary by our gregarious guide made it all the more interesting.

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IMG_7717 IMG_7737 IMG_7768 IMG_7769 IMG_7775 IMG_7784 IMG_7788 We had fallen in love with our pretty cottage so we came back and watched “The Mummy” which somehow felt so much more nicer in the relaxed setting. What rubbish – was my first reaction when I had seen it first a few years ago. It reminded us of how big role the state of mind plays in evaluating the SAME circumstance !

The next morning, we headed to Echo Point in Katoomba which has the best view of the Blue mountains. Delighted at finding free parking and a near-empty view point, we stayed for 30 minutes and enjoyed the peaceful setting before it would be run over by day trippers from Sydney.


One of the key views from Echo point is of “The 3 sisters”. Legend is that a sorcerer turned three sisters into stone to protect them from roving eyes of three lustful young men, but died before turning them back into humans. Given the majestic setting, I’m sure the 3 sisters have enjoyed the solitude for centuries and probably would not want to come back as humans to this very touristy town !


Our next stop was Sublime Point, which true to its name, provided even more serene views than its more famous sister, Echo Point.


A quick visit to Blue Mountains lake was next with Mika truly fascinated by the frolicking of this cute one.


Wentworth Falls look out point had some outstanding views of the Blue Mountains:

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Our last stop for the day was Govett’s Leap Lookout at Blackheath, thankfully only a couple of miles from our cottage.


While researching Australia, the top question on our minds was “Where to see Kangaroos in the wild?”. A TripAdvisor (thanks to this site and its members for answering millions of such questions for the whole year) article from 2012 had pointed to a place called Euroka Clearing – between Blue Mountains and Sydney. As we check out of our cottage and headed to Sydney via Euroka clearing, our thoughts were filled with positive anticipation. With not a soul in site at Euroka, we thought that was a great thing as we could have the Kangaroos all for ourselves. The initial bird sightings were wonderful.

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We searched all over for 2 hours for Kangaroos and almost gave up (also since a trekker mentioned they would congregate here mostly in the afternoons and it was still 11 am), when THIS happened:

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There are days in life when you TOTALLY luck out, and today was our day. We had these Kangaroos for ourselves out in the wild for a full 2 hours before one van arrived. We devoured the magical experience with glee, triumphantly patting ourselves in the back . The pictures below speak for themselves.

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By 1 pm, we were Kangaroo-ed out and headed to Sydney to the next AirBnB which disappointingly was not as great as the earlier one. This is the thing with AirBnB – with no standardization, some days will certainly not be yours. Any way, Aus-SA cricket was on and with home made Khichdi as companion, what else do you need ! We returned the car and crashed.

The next morning was reserved for city sight seeing – mainly the Harbour bridge, Opera House and the Botanical gardens. By the way, did you know Sydney was only formed in 1790 when the English (who else !) invaded and drove out the Aboriginal people from Sydney area (what’s new ?).  This Limo in central Sydney kicked off proceedings for the day.


The outstanding view of the Sydney Opera House from the Harbour bridge, truly takes your breath away. Having taken a metro, we walked the whole bridge North to South, ending up in Circular Quay.


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At circular quay, it was time to take the customary public ferry to Manly Island and back, little realizing how ferocious the waves were – completely drenching us – making an ass of us in front of thousands of tourists ! Mika always has a ball seeing daddy’s misery in these funny circumstances!!

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We walked up the Opera house steps but frankly it looks better from a distance. Our last stop for the day was adjoining botanical gardens.


New Year planning celebrations were on in full swing:


At the mid point in the gardens, you get this great view of both the iconic landmarks together.



Next we walked all the way up to Mrs. Macquarie’s point and did not understand what was all the fuss about as the views had been better from earlier points. Exhausted, we headed back home for a much deserved nap.

Evening has been reserved for the Coogee beach to Bondi Beach walk. We screwed up our bus timings, resulting in a minor family altercation, and missed the walk. Blessing in disguise as the LONG walk was over 6 kms, so we sat and enjoyed the Bondi Beach views.

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Next morning we headed to the Sydney Cricket Ground guided tour. With so many child hood memories including walking up at 5:30 am in India for the test match radio commentary, an upswell of emotions was natural. We started with the adjoining Allianz stadium, used mainly for Australian football, of which most Indians like us have no clue.

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The SCG tour began with this classic analog turnstile. Vintage stuff.


Feverishly clicking pictures in the main stadium as if there was no tomorrow, I finally calmed down.

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The classic pavilion and member’s stand view:

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Mika was disappointed at the “ordinariness” of the dressing rooms, expecting them to be much more posh!

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Mika’s day was made by touching Smith and Warner’s water bottles !

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The museum had some great memories from the past but we were being rushed by the guide – I would have liked to spent at least an hour here.


How can I forget this series! After being 0-2 down, we came back strongly to win the next 2 tests before narrowly losing the series 2-3.


The guy I absolutely worshiped as a kid :

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We had a quick coffee in the SCG member’s area before heading off to Darling Harbour.


Evening was reserved for Bondi Beach:


Very interesting culture of having “swimming pools” next to beaches. It was too cold to swim though.


Another of Mika’s master creations:


And that concluded our Sydney trip. Tomorrow we fly to Ayers Rock for Part 2 of our Northern Territory exploration. Will Uluru and Kata Tjuta rocks live up to the hype? We shall see. Thanks for reading our blog at www.manysharpbends.com and see you at Uluru.

NT’s Kakadu, Litchfield & Katherine National Parks: The Australian Outback

After an exhilarating 10 days in Queensland, it was time to explore the Australian “Outback” (Aussie for wilderness) at Northern Territory – the remotest and least known of all Australian states, but the most beautiful and “real” Australia in our opinion. Most tourists confine themselves to the standard “Melbourne-Sydney-Gold Coast” circuit – that’s a real shame in our opinion, as the true riches lie in NT. The famed Uluru & Kata Tjuta rocks also belong to NT but that is for another blog. Darwin as the base to explore the upper part of Northern Territory reminded us of North East India – so far from main action that it seems another world. It is closer to Timor Sea and Papua New Guinea than main parts of Australia ! After being penalized 50 AUD by Jetstar for excess baggage in the previous leg, the Air North flight from Cairns to Darwin via Gove, was a real charm with free food and baggage allowance.

We landed in the tropical heat of Darwin and were immediately upgraded by the Punjabi dude at Hertz counter from sedan to SUV. You can take an Indian out of India but you can’t take India out of him/her! Darwin is primarily a launch pad to explore the national parks of NT – notably Kakadu, Litchfield & Katherine. We hung around for a day exploring the botanical garden, NT museum and the waterfront. Darwin was at the center of action during WW II and also was devastated by Cyclone Tracy in 1974 in which 65 people perished.

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Having made full use of the Ramada infinity pool, our real outback journey began the next morning as we headed off through Stuart highway to Litchfield National Park – famous for its lovely swimming rock pools and termite mounds.


We stopped briefly at the small town of Batchelor to capture some interesting bird life, including our first glimpse of the lovely sulphur-crested cockatoo.

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Soon after the magnetic termite mounds appeared – looking like tombstones. Built by termites they are amazing architectural wonders containing arches, tunnels, chimneys etc, and are aligned north-south to minimize exposure to sun. You also get to see the giant Cathedral Termite mounds.

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It was time to swim in the lovely rock pool of Buley Rock Hole, where the water cascades through a series of rock pools.

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Next up was Florence falls with a steep descent to a deep pool surrounded by lush greenery. We were brave enough only to venture in the shallow part. Some intrepid souls were doing cliff jumping – too adventurous for us.

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Litchfield done, a four hour drive brought us to Katherine which is famous for its gorges. A quick visit to the culture center was a flop as there was nothing to see but Mika posed for the customary photos nevertheless.


Beagle Motor Inn was bit of a disaster with tiny rooms and antique microwave which meant it took more than hour to heat our pasta. Oh well, it cannot beat El Mirador in Cusco – our worst accomodation of the trip.

Next morning we headed off to the famed 2-gorge tour of Katherine gorge, but not before meeting some exciting wild life at the boat landing.

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The Nitmiluk gorge tour (Nitmiluk is the original Aboriginal name of Katherine)  reminded us of the Colorado river and Grand Canyon. A series of 13 deep sandstone gorges have been cut by nature through Katherine river between Arnhem land and Timor sea.

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Jawoyn people are the traditional Aboriginal owners of this land who manage the park in partnership with the Australian government.

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Another four hour drive through Arnhem Highway brings us to Cooinda, our first stop in Kakadu National Park. Not before bit off a scary adventure when I momentarily dozed off behind the wheels almost causing an accident! And boy we loved those cargo trucks which are amusingly called as “Road Trains” !

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Kakadu National Park, 20000 sq kms in area, is famous for Aboriginal culture, Rock art, billabongs (water ways) and some lovely wildlife and birds. We checked into Cooinda lodge and headed straight to the Warradjan Aboriginal culture center, which depicts the aboriginal culture.

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Armed with the initial orientation, we headed off to Nourlangie – which has an imposing escarpment of red stand stone and famed rock art. The rock art which is between 20,000 to 10 years old, depicts “dreaming” stories and its an important cultural link between Aboriginal people and their ancestoral teachings. Some paintings are believed to have been made by mimi spirits (the “creation” ancestors) – a fact difficult to dispute , given the amazing height of some of these paintings which are impossible for humans to climb ! The 2 km walking loop took us first to Anbangbang Shelter which was used for refuge, and then to Anbangbang Gallery – the famed rock art. One of the main paintings features Nabulwinjbulwinj, the mean spirit who ate females !

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On the way in, we had been rewarded with a chance encounter with a Wallaroo.

IMG_7270A spectacular sunset was just the right way to wind down today’s proceedings.

As an aside, the Nourlangie traditional owners rejected millions of dollars in revenues from French nuclear giant Areva for uranium mining, choosing to integrate that land with the national park – an amazingly positive example of environment conservation.

The next morning we were treated to the exquisite bird life of Kakadu in the yellow water cruise. Highlights include magpie goose, green pygmy goose, pelicans, Jabiru stork, herons, egrets, cormorants, eagles, kites, kingfishers, crocodiles and much more. The creeks that cut through the park result in mighty waterfalls in the rainy season. Then they flood the plains to the West Alligator, South Alligator and East alligator rivers – no alligators are found in Kakadu, only crocodiles !! Those are the amusing side effects of colonization – some clueless idiot names stuff wrongly and it stays!

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After the yellow water cruise, we headed off to Jabiru and enroute did the 2 km Bardeddjildji Sandstone walk. You are rewarded with some wonderful eroded sandstone formations.

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Next up was Manngarre Monsoon forest walk where we encountered thousands of bats – never seen anything like this before !


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Close to Jabiru, Ubirr is the second mecca of Aboriginal rock art, apart from Nourlangie. Images include kangaroos, tortoises and x-ray fish – this was the main style 8000 years ago.

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We spent an hour at the Nardab Lookout, which provided lovely views of Jabiru from the escarpment.

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This painting at Ubirr is of Rainbow Serpent – a deity specially revered by the Aboriginal people.


At Jabiru, we checked into the Mercure Crocodile hotel, which is shaped as a crocodile !

IMG_7638The deal with Mika the next morning was that mummy & daddy would sneak out at 6 am to Mamakula wetlands while she slept. Mamakula,20 km east of South Alligator river, has some wonderful bird watching opportunities and we were additionally rewarded with a kangaroo encounter in the classic “jumping” pose.

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It was time to sleep rest of the day and commence our 4 hour journey the next morning to Darwin airport via Arnhem Highway. All of Meha’s wildlife wishes had been fulfilled except the sighting of the Blue-winged Kookaburra. God obliged again with “Tathastu” (So be it) and we had the sighting within 15 minutes !!



And we had our last meeting with the Cockatoos !


We made a brief stop at Window on the wetlands and Fogg Dam – two very educational resources on the birds and wildlife of the region.

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And the last Kangaroo sighting !

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As we turned from Arnhem highway to Stuart Highway for Darwin airport, the first part of our Northern Territory adventure came to an and. We now head to Sydney before flying to Ayers Rock for NT part 2 (Uluru & Kata Tjuta rocks). See you in Sydney + Blue Mountains and keep reading our blog at www.manysharpbends.com


Queensland : Where Reef meets the Rainforest

2nd Nov 2016 – We began the third phase of our world trip, a month of travel Down Under to parts of the island nation of Australia. Just over 24 hours (not accounting for hours gained in timezone crossover to the east) of leaving the shores of India at Chennai, we landed in the Coolangatta airport of Gold Coast. The sixth largest city of the sixth largest country, Gold Coast is a major tourist destination that got its name in the 1950s from the inflated prices of its real estate, goods and services. Its long stretches of sandy beaches and surf along with theme and amusement parks are the key attraction for most visitors. Lesser known is the biodiversity that this region has to offer in the patches of ancient sub-tropical rainforest and mangroves that have managed to survive the onslaught of urbanisation and new-age thrills and are now fortunately protected.

Having arrived a little before 7 am and about 4 hours before we could check-in, Manish decided the best use of our time would be a visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (which incidently also has the country’s biggest rainforest aviary) situated quite close to our AirBnB acco at Burleigh Waters. So we got our rental car and headed out with fingers crossed to get there in time for the morning Lorikeet feeding, a major attraction for all visitors. Which we did and then realised we were missing our beloved little Canon G7X camera! We had just spent a fortune on getting it repaired in Chennai after a fall it had suffered in the desert sand near Jaisalmer. A frantic hunt through all possible places yielded nothing. Bravely pushing aside the sinking feeling that it may have been left at the Kuala Lumpur airport near a security checkpoint, we decided to stay in the moment and marched forth. The mesmerising sight of hundreds of brightly coloured Rainbow Lorikeets flying in lifted our spirits. We were ever more grateful for our mobile phone cameras to be able to capture the beautiful moments!

Amazingly colourful Rainbow Lorikeets, a parrot species native to Australia
They are wild but comfortable around humans due to the daily feeding habit formed over years
Perched on my daughter’s arm, she is thrilled!!

Next attractions quite predictably were the koalas and kangaroos, the two iconic Australian marsupials. Looking at the layout map, we saw “tree kangaroos” listed and were eager to find out about them. We had never heard of them before. First up were the koala enclosures. We learnt that koalas sleep most of the day because their diet (leaves of specific types of eucalyptus) is low in energy. Like sloths (those adorable intoxicated looking arboreals we saw in the Amazon rainforest), they spend about 20 hours in a day asleep on trees 🙂

Adorable koalas, native to coastal eastern & southern Australia, are a threatened species
Koalas, native to coastal eastern & southern Australia, are threatened in the wild

Later that morning we got to witness the care-taking of a couple of wild koalas that were under treatment in the sanctuary’s hospital before they could be released back into their natural habitat. Recent conservation efforts have helped improve the situation for koalas that were driven to the brink of extinction due to extensive hunting by European settlers in the early 20th century. Currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, the gentle koalas face ongoing threats of habitat destruction and attacks by feral dogs.

And then came the legendary, curiosity invoking kangaroos. We learnt of the two main types of land kangaroos, red and grey, from the volunteers at the sanctuary. We were delighted to be offered an opportunity to feed some of the grey kangaroos.

Feeding Kanga and Roo! They are like deer that hop around
A whole bunch of grey kangaroos enjoying their morning

And then the fascinating tree kangaroos, a complete novelty for us. We got to see a couple of Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos, an endangered species. A most exotic looking animal, it is quite different from its land dwelling cousins.

Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo, native of rainforests of New Guinea
Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, a native of the rainforests of New Guinea

Next door was the “croc” enclosure where we learnt the difference between the much feared Aussie “saltie“, the powerful estuarine crocodile and the shy freshwater crocodile. And then the Australian Parrots and Cockatoo enclosure with its mind boggling variety of birds in so many different colours! It was an enriching morning, not just on account of being able to see and learn about the unique fauna of this island nation, but also conversations with the volunteers on their work and an enthusiastic discussion on cricket that Manish had with a staff member.

It was time to check-in and recheck all our bags for our camera, the former was the silver lining and the latter unfortunately the cloud :(. Groceries, SIM and lunch done, we tried to catch some shut eye and figure out our under-water camera strategy for the Great Barrier Reef, before heading out to the beach for an evening stroll. The views stretching from Surfers Paradise with its skyline in the north to the hills of the Burleigh Heads National Park in the south were pretty, though the summer evening proved a little too cold for our comfort.


Warmly clothed in our fleece jackets, we admired the esplanade with its wide walkways and public exercise machines overlooking the beach and its being put to good use by the locals who were out walking, jogging and running in summery outfits.

After twilight we drove down to buy a new Cannon G7X, armed with the underwater casing that we had bought a couple of months earlier. Much to the surprise of the salesman and our disappointment, the camera didn’t fit into the casing by just a couple of mm!! It was the newer Mark II version while our brand new $200 casing was for the Mark I model that (we had lost) had now been discontinued. So we decided to sleep over it.

The next day was an action oriented one starting with the Skypoint Climb, one of the highlights of Gold Coast. You are zipped to the top of Q1, one of world’s tallest buildings and from there it’s is a 40-meter manual climb up the stairs with safety harness attached to everyone. Exciting yet scary stuff, specially with blustery winds threatening to push you down !

All set for the climb up Gold Coasts’s Skypoint
The view from the top – coastline, skyline, inland waterways, hinterland – you can see it all!

The afternoon was spent at the Movie world park which frankly was an utter waste of time and money, with hardly any teenage attractions. We could not visit Dream World park as it was closed due to a fatal accident the week before.

Yay! See my Batman cap 🙂
The highlight for Mihika! We wouldn’t venture on it 🙂

We left Movie World within an hour and were back to our favorite Skypoint observation deck admiring the lovely views of Surfers Paradise coastline over a coffee/beer.

14915412_1155481677854097_753501052702183640_n 14915729_1155481637854101_7042282076206733044_nWe saved the best for last – a visit to the lush “Hinterlands”, the ancient rainforests whose origin is traced back to Gondwana, the part of the supercontinent. Springbrook national park is 40 minutes from Burleigh Heads and comprises mainly of temperate, subtropical eucalyptus forest. With huge canyons, gorges, cliffs, scenic look outs such as Best of All lookout point, falls such as Purling Brook falls – it is a world apart from the hedonistic scene of Surfer’s paradise.




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We also found time to chill and run at the beautiful Burleigh Heads national park – the vibes here are so much more relaxed than the hyped up Surfers paradise.

That concluded our whirlwind 3 day tour of the Gold Coast.

The AUD 50 excess baggage charge by Jetstar at 5 am the next morning jolted us out of our slumber and we landed in Cannes cursing the airline under our breath. We played along with the Punjabi taxi driver who sang praises of Kejriwal for the freebies and attacked Modi for being “anti-people”. Hmmm…

We are here in Cannes mainly to fulfill the life time dream of experiencing the Great Barrier Reef corals, apart from visiting the Daintree Rainforest and other natural attractions of Queensland. Both GBR and Daintree are World Heritage sites. A nice 2 bedroom AirBnB owned by a highly affable Aussie was a great start to the week. After a home made lunch and a much needed nap, we picked our rental car and headed straight to Palm Cove – supposedly the best of beaches around. After arriving, we wondered what the fuss was all about. With Goa in our backyard, we really don’t need to run around the world for beaches- was the lesson. Anyway, Mika made a nice sand castle and that concluded our first evening nicely.

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It was an early start the next morning to Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation – where the “Rainforest meets the Reef” as the locals say. The whole region is a combination of forest, rivers, reef and also the home of Kuku Yalanji aboriginal people. It’s at the lowland between DainTree and Bloomfield rivers where the rainforest meets the reef. Crossing the Daintree ferry, we pressed on to Cape Tribulation which is famous for its beaches, mountains and “reef meets forest” view. Apart from lovely views along the way, we were also lucky to meet the elusive Cassowaries. The day was nicely signed off at the famous Daintree Icecream company which grows exotic fruits in their orchard and produces natural and yummy icecream.

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The next morning we headed to Atherton Tablelands – full of greenery, giant fig trees, lakes, waterfalls and mountains. The Milla Milla waterfall circuit is the most popular with a bunch of lovely waterfalls

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The day ended with platypus viewing at one of the privately owned farms in the Tablelands. Platypus is a duck-billed semi-aquatic mammal endemic to Eastern Australia. Very cool when they come up the water ! It is an exercise in patience as you are not supposed to make any noise and also they are extremely small in size.

The next morning the big day arrived and we boarded Compass Cruises for their full day tour of the Great Barrier Reef. You need to carefully choose an operator who takes you to pristine outer reefs. The pictures speak for themselves.

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We had tasted blood and were determined to go to the outer reef again, another day.

Before returning the car the next morning, we headed off to Flecker botanical gardens, Kuranda rainforest  & Barron’s gorge.

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After a couple of days rest, the special day arrived – baby Mihika’s 13th birthday. Where have all those years flown?? To celebrate her grand transition to teenage, we had booked another Outer Reef tour with a new boat called Seastar. With corals and snorkeling at 2 locations – Michaelman’s cay & Hasting’s reef, Mika truly had an unforgettable birthday. A specially hired underwater camera was used for capturing the underwater proceesdings. Mika managed to take some “Nemo” shots too ! For dinner was her favorite pesto pasta in a pre-planned Italian joint followed by cake cutting at home. Daddy had to spend all afternoon the previous day, desperately running around in baking sun to arrange for the cake as every thing was closed, it being sunday; with good old Coles finally coming to rescue ! Well worth the effort for the ultra special day !!

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We spent the last day lounging around the esplanade and its 4800 sq m artificial swimming lagoon – a great respite after the hectic trips to the reef.


Our Queensland odyssey thus came to an end and we were now ready to fly to Darwin (Northen Territory) to experience the Australian outback. Thanks for reading our blog and see you soon in NT.