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Eating and exploring our way through the world

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Posts Tagged ‘cruise’

A Day on Hamilton Island

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on March 18, 2010

After our long day out on the Great Barrier Reef, we decided to take it a little easy the next day.  Besides, this is the only stop on our journey that we’re staying 3 nights, so having another day that we didn’t have to jump out of bed, pack, and get on the road was a welcome treat.

After sleeping in a little bit, we headed down to the Koala Gallery for breakfast.  At the Koala Gallery, one can enjoy a nice breakfast, as well as see and pet live koala cubs.

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Seeing live, WILD koalas is definitely on my list of things to do while here in Australia, but they are very hard to see in the wild.  It’s not so much that they’re “rare,” as much as it is that they sleep 20 hours a day, high in trees, and their fur is the same color as the eucalyptus tree bark.  So unless you KNOW where to see them, then you spend a lot of time looking high up into treetops wondering if the lump you’re seeing is a koala bear, a tuft of leaves, or some kind of tree malformation.  I’m still hopeful to be able to see a live koala once we get down toward Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road, but for now, I figured I would settle for seeing a koala in semi-captivity.

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After breakfast, our daily agenda consisted of four things: an island hike, a dip in the pool, a sunset cruise, and a nice Italian dinner.  So, first things first, we got ready to go on our hike.  We headed off to the trails, and swung by the beach for a quick look at the peak we were headed to.

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We hit the trail, and the beginning section, labeled on the map as “moderate” difficulty had the Wife and I reconsidering our decision.  The trail was steep and rocky, and not particularly well worn.  The trek to Passage Peak (the aforementioned summit) had several sections listed on the map as “steep,” and we figured that if the opening section wasn’t considered “steep,” then maybe “steep meant you needed climbing equipment!  Well, after about the first kilometer, the trail leveled out to something more what we would consider “moderate” at a family resort.  We then arrived at some stairs to announce our entry to the “steep” climb toward the summit.

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To our surprise, these are all the stairs there were (pictured).  We somewhat expected the stairs to extend further; it was certainly steep enough.  As we moved on and on, the trail became less and less worn, and more and more “natural.”  We did eventually come across some more stairs, but more rustic than the first.

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Finally, after a break or two, we came to the top.  It was gorgeous, and well worth the ~3 km hike.  Hamilton Island really isn’t all that big.  Only about 4 km long, but the peak is about 750 feet high (234 m).

IMG_5505It was an awesome view of the Whitsunday Islands.

IMG_5522 We set up the tripod, which was a challenge with the wind and rocks, and got a picture of us to prove we were there.

IMG_5534Then we picked up and headed back to the bottom of the trail.  As always, the way down was easier than the way up, but with ALL the rain the Whitsundays have had, the path was still very muddy, and hence fairly slick.  We did have time to get some pictures of the natural beauty.  The majority of Hamilton Island is National Park, so there is an awful lot of nature to see.

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We also saw a Kookaburra, and got a couple pictures, but none of them came out.  We got to the bottom, and decided it was time for a little rest, a quick shower, and some water before heading off to the pool.

IMG_5438The pool was nice and pleasant for the first 30 minutes, but then it began to pour rain.  We jumped in the pool for refuge from the downpour, but it was pretty cool; far cooler than one might expect at a tropical island paradise.  We adjourned to our balcony to read for the remainder of the afternoon.  One of the local cockatoos came to join us, too.

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At 5, it was time for our sunset cruise.  We looked at the weather, and wondered if we would see any sunset at all, but figured we’d check it out anyway.  We were supposed to be on a sailboat called the Banjo Patterson, which according to the brochure sizable, but not particularly large.  When we got to the jetty (dock) and there was no Banjo Patterson in sight, we were a little concerned that the cruise had been cancelled because of the impending crummy weather.  No so!  Evidently the Banjo Patterson was undergoing significant maintenance, and so a different boat, a large catamaran named the First Light, would be taking us out on the water.  It has a huge catamaran for the 20 or so passengers.

IMG_5586 We got on board, got our safety briefing, and off we went.  We were hoping the weather would hold up, but to be honest, I don’t think any of the passengers had delusions that the partly cloudy sky was going to hold.

As we left the harbor, we had a great view of Hamilton Island, so I snapped a shot.  Notice the dark clouds in the background.  They were coming right for us!IMG_2090

As we were heading out the channel, one of the crew explained to us that the island directly adjacent to Hamilton Island is the only privately-owned of the 74 Whitsunday Islands.  Most of the islands are leased from the Australian Government, but this island has been deeded.  It has had multiple owners, but its most recent owner, a cattle family from Cairns, purchased the island about 14 years ago for $650,000 AUD.  Today, it is worth an estimated $8.9M AUD, and there’s only three buildings on the entire island. Now THAT’S an investment!

IMG_5560 The island’s in the background, and the boats and sandbar are in part of the Hamilton Island harbor.

As we cruised on, the clouds just got more and more ominous.  Eventually, we just watched as a wall of rain collapsed on the boat.

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This, sadly, was as much of the sunset as we were able to see.  We did meet a lovely couple from Victoria, though, celebrating their honeymoon.  We chatted with them for the duration of the cruise, and the complimentary drinks made the entire trip quite enjoyable.  Besides, I don’t know when we’ll have another opportunity to have free run of a catamaran that large!

After the cruise, we headed off to Romano’s Italian Restaurant on the island, for which we had reservations.  Come back and check out our post on Italian food in Australia!

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An International Concert in Vienna

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on August 28, 2009

After our relaxing cruise down the Danube through the Wachau Valley, we finally arrived in Vienna.  We all enjoyed an earlier dinner and then boarded buses to head into the city for a concert!  The concert was hosted in the Kursalon Wien and led by the Sound of Vienna.

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The room was the size of a ballroom with lots and lots of rows of chairs.  It was clear that it was a tourist group attraction as there were many groups of 50+ people in them from all around the world.  When the host welcomed everyone at the beginning, he did so in many languages 🙂

Since Johann Strauss used to conduct his own concerts right in this building, the focus of the concert was his music.  Some of it we recognized and some of it we didn’t.  Along with the music, we also had dancers.

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We were very impressed with all of the musicians and dancers.  They were all very talented!  While I noted that this concert appeared to have many, many tour groups, it looks as though individuals can purchase tickets to attend the shows as well.  If you find yourself in Vienna, looking for something to do one night, consider attending this concert 🙂 I think you’ll enjoy it… (as long as you like classical music!)

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The Wachau Valley

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on August 27, 2009

After leaving the town of Melk, we spent the rest of the day cruising down the Danube enjoying views of the Wachau Valley.  While foggy and raining, it was still quite beautiful.

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Here’s one of the boats that I mentioned in an earlier post that pretty much had the same itinerary as us.  We saw them at most ports and would be parked next to them once we got to Vienna.

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After dinner, we would arrive in Vienna!

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The Town of Melk

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on August 26, 2009

After touring the Abbey in Melk, Austria, we headed into the town to take a look around.  Melk was the only port on the river cruise that didn’t have that day’s English language newspapers so that gave us a certain idea of what it would be like when we walked around.

It was too cute!  It was a very small town and still quite early in the morning so nearly nothing was open.  The Husband and I stopped to look at real estate listings in one window and could envision living here! If only we had a reason to live in a quaint little town in Austria 🙂

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As you can see, the Abbey is a huge part of the town that you can see from many different areas.

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After an hour or so, we headed back to the bus in order to head back to the boat.

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We continued down the Danube toward our final destination on the cruise: Vienna! We enjoyed beautiful views of the Wachau Valley and the numerous locks along the way…

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