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Old 30th May 2012, 20:45   #1
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Default G'Day From Down Under - The Australia Album

Hi Guys....or maybe i should say G'day Mates!

G'day is short for Good Day literally but its used for every kind of greeting, it can mean Hello, Good Morning, Good Day, Good Evening, Good Night and so on depending on the time a lot like Ciao in Italy. There is a whole list of slangs indigenous to the country which one would have never heard before nor are used in any other place.

Australia was an inevitable destination for me, well actually New Zealand was but now, time being short i thought, id take a holiday, only to Australia, a place ever since my visit in 1999 i have been longing to return back to. Sometimes i even considered migrating there, way back (New Zealand was the first choice again) thats how much i liked the country as a destination back then and even now...... So when we were planning a holiday after my sons's 10th ICSE board exams, Australia and New Zealand came up. It was his idea, as he was fascinated with the country, learning about it in his school. Unfortunately,w e could not do both being pressed for time so New Zealand would have to wait its turn and Australia won hands down (under).

Our visas done, (takes 5 -7 working days to get a Visa as it has to be obtained from Delhi), tickets booked, we boarded one of the last Qantas Airways flights, before they stopped operations from Mumbai (5th May was the last date they flew out). Our route, Bombay-Singapore(In transit) Sydney-Melbourne-Cairns-Brisbane(Gold Coast)-Singapore-Bombay. We deliberately chose to get into the colder parts of the country (as winter was just setting in there) and then the warmer ones as it would be good for the kids and give them time to cope with the drastic weather changes in different regions, in car lingo, we needed to get tropicalized.

Inhabited by a population of roughly 22 million throughout the country, the east coast is the most populated.

Travel Tip: Australia, like Bangkok and a few other countries has a check in time of 2 pm and a check out time of 10 am. So if you decide to land there before 2 pm they will extract their pound of flesh by charging you extra (as in almost a days tariff) for early check in.

Australia is a beautiful land and with sincere apologies to Kerela, I think the slogan "God's Own Country" fits here like a glove. Not that it doesnt Kerala but somehow, thats what comes to your mind once you have experienced the scenic palate it has to offer.

The country is very diverse and the people extremely friendly. Its comforting to know that that the people were still as, if not more friendly, than my last visit here.

Im sure everyone knows the origins of the country so i will not bore you with all that history but its a different country all right. Need to brief those who do not know about the Flora and Fauna found in this country which are so different that none similar to it is found in any other country or part of the world. How different???..Well....has anyone seen a Duck Billed Platypus, Wallaby, Kangaroo, Koala Bear, Dingo, Wombat, Tasmanian Devil(now believed to be seriously dwindling if not already extinct), Ostrich, Emu (Who said Khandala and Nasik?)...to name a few animals, elsewhere in a natural habitat? So that should answer your question. So also there are a huge number of plants that do not grow out of this region, naturally, So we can call it the land of disparities, beautiful disparities. Where people of different cultures and ethnic background co exist happily


There are roughly over 25,000 plant species in Australia, including some living fossils.
The Eucalyptus, also locally known as Gum trees are most commonly found here. No wonder they have so many Koalas because the Koalas only feed on certain species of Eucalyptus leaves.
The World famous Blue Mountains has the largest and the most diverse range of eucalyptus species in the world. Thats where the name, "The Blue Mountains" comes from. The blue haze which surrounds the landscape of these mountains is the result of the oil vapours from these trees, which combine with the air to form a blue haze rising up from the trees.
Around 80 per cent of the plants are unique to this country and are not found anywhere else in the world. One can find a mind boggling species of Wild and cultivated orchids. Remember before plucking any wild flowers, they are a protected species in Australia.


The animal kingdom of Australia is made up of Mammals, Marsupial,s Monotremes (Egg laying mammals) Birds, Reptiles and Marine Animals. More than 80 per cent of the mammals, like the plants found here along with reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia and are found no-where else in the world. Some of the best known animals are the Kangaroo, Koala, Echidna, Dingo, Platypus, Wallaby and Wombat.
In fact the Monotremes, is a group only native to Australia and is not found anywhere else in the world. eg. The Platypus, a river dwelling animal with a bill like a duck, a furry waterproof body and webbed feet and the spiky, spider eating Echidna which looks like a Porcupine. Dont be tempted to pet one if you see it. No wonder Australia has amongst the best wild life parks, Rainforests and Zoos in the world and its wildlife is fiercely protected.

First stop; Sydney.

Sydney is amongst the most popular cities in Australia. Almost all of Australia in this side enjoy a relaxed outdoor and beach lifestyle. In Sydney, one finds a thrilling combination of arts, culture, food, wine, nature and of course shopping.
The harbour is the life line of Sydney and almost entirely the central focal point of the city. Catch a ferry at Circular Quay for views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from the water. Darling Harbour is where almost everyone comes for leisure and is a favourite tourist, family leisure and entertainment place. Visit the various interesting Restaurants, Cafes Shops or just walk along the promenade. All kinds of food available from a Mcdonald's to a Michelin star restaurant. Most kinds cuisines available including Indian.
Take a short walk or the monorail to the Circular Quay area, Ferry, train station. Wander the weekend markets or climb the the Harbour Bridge. Sail past the Opera House on a chartered yacht or paddle the harbour in a kayak. Take a scenic cruise from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour, past waterfront mansions, national parks and a number of small lovely. Watch the beautiful harbour from the amazing Royal Botanic Gardens, adjacent to the Royal Opera House.

Catch a Ferry to Manly ( I dont know why anyone goes to Manly. Its just another suburb of Sydney) but still, try a round trip on a Sunday as there is a Family pass as low as AUD. $ 2.50. per person. Child below 12 goes free. Thats for, all you can travel on a Sunday upto 4:00 am in the morning on a Bus, Train or Ferry. Awesome bang for the buck. . The world-famous beaches of Bondi and Manly have running along their side, a promenade which is another perfect way to take in the glory of these beaches. Picnic at one of the various beaches or learn how to Scuba or wind surf of you are adventurous. Hire a scooter/bike/car/convertible classic and do a round trip of the beaches at your leisure. Explore the shops, bars and cafes along the bustling pine tree-lined promenades and dine at world-class restaurants with water views from almost anywhere in the city.

Sydney, as all of Australia, has a notorious and colorful convict history. Just around Circular Quay, you can hear stories of hanging and hauntings on a ghost tour, or visit the historic Fort Denison in the Harbour or take an Aboriginal cultural cruise to learn about Sydney's first inhabitants. It is said that on New Year's Eve, tickets to Fort Denison go as high as 1500 AUD for a meal, table and entertainment which includes a great view of the fire works.

Take a few steps away from Circular Quay and visit the Rocks. The old part of Sydney and soak in the old world charm. . In amongst the maze of sandstone lanes and courtyards, you’ll find historic workman’s cottages and elegant terraces, art galleries, lined by quaintly placed shops, boutiques cafes restaurants, its a place one would never forget. Visit all the above at the Rocks in winding small alleys, some slanting and sloping all dimly lit to give one the presence of old world charm
Away from the Harbour in the city centre, history comes alive at the Queen Victoria Building and The Strand which are now fashionable arcades housing designer fashion stores.

Sydney is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, the Hawkesbury River to the north and the Royal National Park in the south. Did anyone say Location..Location...Location?
I have been told that a visit to the Hunter Valley wineries and swim with dolphins in Port Stephens is a great experience, though i did not have a chance to tour these two as was pressed for time and had children with me do a tour of a winery would not appeal to them but someday in maybe another place i will.

Its a land where the Old and new co-exist,

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A land of diversities...diverse cultures, Flora and Fauna.

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Will post more pictures as we move along the country

Where the sun is stronger than any other part of the world (highest rate of skin cancer in the world)

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a land of big wheels

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....and people aspiring to own some in the future

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A land where almost everyone owns a boat, surf board or a snorkel (of some kind).

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Coming back to our first stop Sydney.....

.....home to the famous Sydney Harbour bridge in its 80th glorious year now.

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Last edited by V-16 : 12th June 2012 at 13:54.
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Old 31st May 2012, 16:52   #2
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Default Re: G'Day From Down Under-Australia Album.

and the Sydney Opera House, one of the youngest Unesco world heritage sites and a master stroke of architectural genius.

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......Where the sunset is beautiful

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and the moonrise is even better

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.....and gets better with the night,

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.....where its oldest mascot is seen from almost every corner of the eye...

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inhabited with very friendly people....(Australian Munnabhai perhaps??!!!)

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where the Murruku or the Chakli becomes a Soy Crisp

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and a bhujia mix becomes a versatile snack...Versatile?? Oh C'mon....!!

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Where one can Waltz all over the Darling Harbour promenade..and not necessarily with Matilda......

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Here the Indian in me inevitably starts comparison with our country. I find India one of the least tourist friendly of all places in the world. Stupid, useless restrictions, completely non tourist friendly approach, non recognition of tourism as a paying proposition etc etc. Just compare it to any place in the world, you will know what i mean . We have everything that can make India a tourist's dream come true but the red tapism and babu culture is frustrating. Its time we asked the politicians, what they have done for our country...but then this is not about India, lets stick to Australia.

So as i was saying, this is an adrenalin junkie's dream come true. Bungy, theme parks with the craziest rides, food which you could never have thought to be edible....(Yes, Marmite/Vegmite is included in that group), its a crazy place with crazy things to do. Travelling through the cities i went to was a cinch. Trains, Trams, buses Cabs (really friendly and helpful ones) Have you noticed that in almost every other country, the people sitting behind the information counters are usually grumpy and irritated/ Well, not here!!

Last edited by V-16 : 3rd September 2012 at 19:13.
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Old 13th June 2012, 17:40   #3
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So carrying on with my Australia Picturelogue, here something more about the Promenade of the Darling Harbour.

....Situated close by on the promenade is the beautiful Sydney Aquarium. Well, now its not so unique as most of us have seen the one at Singapore and other places but this one was the first one to have a walk through many many years ago. There is a unique Shark exhibit here which shows the different stages of the shark right from the embryo stage to a full grown menacing set of Jaws. Learn about the sharks, things that you never
knew. Australia has a love affair with the sharks and we learnt some fascinating stuff about how all sharks are not prone to attack humans. Its the other way round, a lot like snakes. See one and you want to kill it as one instantly goes into self protection and hate mode. Sadly thats not the truth.

Sadly i could not get pics of the shark exhibit as they are live exhibits and in pitch dark where and flash photography is not allowed, understandably.

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Also there were some really quaint fish, some ive never seen before but then i was in Australia.

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Do visit the Sydney Olympic Stadium. Remains a tourist attraction as yet. I met up with a dear old friend who migrated there five years ago and is leading a comfortable and good life. Its so good to meet friends after so much time and find out that actually time has stood still. You take off from the time you met last and as if all the years in between have not existed. Im glad hes doing well.

Here is Robbin posing with my family

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Having done with Sydney, Robbin drove us back to the hotel and after chatting with him till the wee hours we bid adieu. He went back to his house and i to bed for the next morning we had an early flight to our next destination, Melbourne.

Last edited by GTO : 1st November 2012 at 21:41. Reason: As requested
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Old 13th June 2012, 17:40   #4
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Default Re: G'Day From Down Under-Australia Album.

Stop two, Melbourne:
Melbourne is a cold city. Windy, wet and cold. It is said one can experience all the different kind of weather in Melbourne in one single day and i have just experienced it. Sun, rain, heat and shivering cold weather , all within 24 hours. Needless to say it got a whole lot colder after the drizzle

Known as the Garden City of Australia, all in all Melbourne is well planned and like most planned cities is laid out in a grid. It is known for for its shopping, in the tiny lanes hidden behind the main streets you’ll find off-the-beaten-track boutiques, galleries, and small cafés, bars and restaurants, Trattorias. Owing to its multicultural heritage, you’ll find everything from European-inspired cafés to authentic Asian food. Explore the by lanes for alfresco dining, jazz and wine bars, cafes and boutiques. Very well connected via trains, trams and taxis, the public transport system in Melbourne is as good as any ither developed Metro city in the world.

Enjoy the bayside beaches that stretch along the arc of Port Phillip Bay. Here again, less than an hour away you will find world class wineries in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. Melbourne and surrounding areas like Bendigo and Ballarat were the capital of the Gold Rush.Now there are tours to take one to these historic goldfields. To the north lies alpine country and to the South you’ll find the Great Ocean Road, a feast for the eyes and the mind.

In the city, Visit Federation Square, the landmark cultural space. Its from here all the tourist buses depart and return to for and from their daily tours. Trams are a great and inexpensive way to travel in the city. Take the tram to St Kilda or a stroll on the promenade, along the Yarra River, or wander through the many parks and gardens that surround the city centre.
Take a day tour to cover the Gardens and other sites of Melbourne. Its the best way to see the city. Known as the Garden City, one cant miss the various pockets of greenery on the city, most importantly the Fitzroy Gardens, a heritage listed garden spread around 64 acres and is one of the Victorian era gardens in the city. It houses many attractions amongst which is Captain James Cook's cottage which was shipped from England to Australia in 1934. This is the very cottage in which Captain Cook spent his early years of childhood.

Take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens a huge 38 hectre park housing in excess of 10,000 species of trees and flowers, or catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood at the Queen Victoria Market operative since the mid 1800s. Amongst other things there is a huge food section along with organic sections to buy food, fruits, meats, as well as a deli to try some unusual local produce such as cheese, meat etc. There is also a food court catering to almost all palates. If you are the shopper cum bargain hunter types, the Queen Victoria Market is known for its bustling crowds and flea market type of arrangements. One can find a few bargains here also but most stuff is sold here at higher than ordinary shop prices but then, thats true with most touristy flea markets.

A day trip to Phillip Island nature park is a must, to watch fairy penguins waddle home in huge numbers. The Penguin Parade as it is called is a sight to see. Pygmy penguins seen in Australia amongst the other few places this species can be found, are seen returning to t heir burrows in the ground from the waves. It is a sight to see them waddle from the sea and make a dash to their burrows right past you. Flash or any other kind of photography is not allowed as it scares the penguins. When i visited 13 years ago, photography was allowed but use of flash was even then prohibited. Now any kind of photography is allowed, though some idiots...actually a lot of them will still pull the trigger inspite of warnings. I will see if i can pull some pics from my previous trip and post them. On the way one can see a lot of Kangaroos and Wallaby's bouncing around the landscape.

Drive the spectacular Great Ocean Road to the iconic Bells Beach, Otway National Park and the magnificent Twelve Apostles. These ate magnificent limestone stacks and structures just jutting out of the sea. Sadly, only 8 now remain of the original 12 as erosion has taken its toll. Its a great sight and must be visited.
One can combine a day tour to cover the Great Ocean Road, Philip Island and a Cattle farm experience. In the farm experience, one can visit an actual working farm where one sees and interacts animals like the duck, Kangaroo, Wallby, Emu, Ostrich roaming freely and can pet and feed them. One can see how cows are milked and how sheep are sheared. One is taken around a tour of the farm and can break in for a bite at their cafe serving veg and non veg food, amongst them some Kangaroo pie too.

In the city if if one is fond of Casinos the Crown Casino Complex is a huge entertainment complex where one can spend an entire day. Of course certain areas are off limits to children due to the Casino rules but this place houses the swankiest boutiques, great dining options and fun, including an entertainment centre for children and a multiplex. When i visited last it was a first for me to see the entire glass ceiling come down in co ordination with music and turning into numerous chandeliers. A work of precise computronics. All this co-ordinated with dancing fountains. 13 years past it is still there and attracting as much attention but sadly the fountains are wanting attention. More than half of them do not work and which do, the nozzles do not fire the water spurts as evenly. I did not expect such poor maintenance. Still worth going to see the place and the ceiling dance to the music and lights, several times in the day and night.

Lets see some pictures:

We start by "Reflecting" on the Melbourne weather

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The Hotel on Collin's Street where we stayed, very central walking distance from anywhere you'd actually want to go in Melbourne city

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A Krispy Kreme outlet right below the Hotel..how convenient is that?

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Ikon of Australia the Holden Kingswood in a pick up Avatar

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At the Fitzroy Garden

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Captain Cook's Cottage

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Clear skys and the Moon in daylight

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Very interesting public loo loo. Oz's Shulabh Shauchalaya.

An all wrought Iron and steel structure housing 4 toilet blocks. Full stainless steel and clean. Instead of making eyesore structures, these are built with the surroundings in mind, hence the green colour. Wish we could take a lesson or two from here.

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The Melbourne Cricket Ground

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Dennis Lillee the Icon

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The beautiful and exclusive suburb of St. Kilda with its palm tree lined promenade

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The awe inspiring Royal Botanical Gardens

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The Seperation tree

The citizens of Melbourne rejoiced under this tree when they received the news on 15 November 1850 that Victoria was to become a separate colony from New South Wales. The tree is several hundred years old. On 15 November1951, a replacement river red gum was planted nearby to mark the start of the second century of self-government.
If you notice, the centre of this tree lookes shaved, this was an unfortunate part of mindless Vandalism a few years ago. The park authorities have taken utmost care and efforts are being made full scale to nurse the tree back. The Plastic surround you see is to keep Possums and other pests pot of the trees. You will find this kind of barrier in most trees where certain birds and animals live, so that there is protection to them from the pesky Possum.

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The Duck in the Pond. Very beautiful and very deceiving. The entire surface is covered with a water growing plant and not an inch of water is seen below. One can easily walk into the pond thinking it ti be grass.

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Last edited by GTO : 1st November 2012 at 21:48. Reason: As requested
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Old 13th June 2012, 18:10   #5
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Default Re: G'Day From Down Under-Australia Album.

.....Continuing from where we left...Melbourne.....!!

At The Cattle Farm... Tete a tete with the Wombat

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Kangaroo and Ducks

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The actual Farm Workhorse -Nice External Roll cage Eh??

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Phillip Island

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Amazing View of the water

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Back to the city...Varying Modes of Transport at Federation Square

The Pick Up

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and the Horse Drawn Carriage

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Queen Victoria Market

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At the Crown Entertainment Complex

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Flinder's Street Station

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The Tram Restaurant

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Whatta way to eat!!

More coming.......
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Old 26th June 2012, 20:46   #6
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Default Re: G'Day From Down Under-Australia Album.

Cairns is the gateway to Australia's tropical Northern Paradise , with islands, rainforests and reefs on its doorstep. From Cairns you can swim, snorkel, dive and sail at the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. In Cairns, you are just minutes away from quaint islands, beautiful and colourful coral reefs and the world’s oldest surviving tropical rainforest so get enchanted in the World Heritage Rainforest, or take the scenic century old railway to the tranquil, butterfly fringed village of Kuranda, past gaudy Parrots and Crocodiles. Be spellbound by the beauty of the natural Baron and Stoney Creek falls and be amazed by the historic engineering feat of the Barron River falls bridge. Owing to the warm tropical lifestyle, which is typical of Cairns, shorts and T-shirts are normal attire. Structures here are not skyscrapers but a maximum of one or two levels tall.
When I last visited Cairns in 1999, it was a laid back quiet city, with not much population. This time i noticed, the city has recently experienced rapid growth, with the city spreading in all directions and i was told that the suburbs were taking over land originally used for sugar cane farming. In a nutshell, Cairns is a stylish city, with a relaxed pace, tropical climate and laid back ambience. It is in fact a nature lover's delight. What with so many rainforests there are ample opportunities and places to to go walking in the rainforest or offroading in the Great Dividing Range.
One can even stay in the magical Daintree Rainforest, the planet’s oldest surviving tropical rainforest, amongst the local Aboriginal people. The mangroves of the Daintree River reveal crocodiles and turtles in clear, sparkling streams.

Our first visit the next morning was to the Rainforestation wild life park. Its an animal park and a place to see the Aborigine culture including dances. One can see how to throw a spear and its uses, how to play the didgeridoo and how to throw the boomerang. Does it actually do all that dramatic stuff like fly back at you. Well it almost came back to me, save for a distance of a few feet. Then embark on the Army Duck Tour to learn about the fauna the different kinds of plants and Basket Ferns. these actually fascinated me to no end.
One cant but marvel at the thought of such a place just a short drive from the city.
We entered through a gift shop, as all touristy place go and found that we were a bit early so we decided to look around the place. It was like a large farm. An entrance on one side with steps leading into the place and the road on one side with a view of what looked like a river pond with Barramundi (local fish) swimming around freely.

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Three Crocodile Dundees

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The access to the water was through a pebbly sandy beach. We came across this guy lazing around on the beach but did well to keep out of the water lest his much bigger cousin was also around and decided to take a swim at the same time

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We entered the wildlife park

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amazed to see the number of Kangaroos and Wallaby's just lazing around sunbathing.

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with a few others following suit

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One little guy was adept enough to keep following us around, hopping like a rabbit

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and did not leave us till it was fed.

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we also came across the beautiful cassowary

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and the Dingo

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and of course crocs. This guy in particular called Jack The Ripper. Story goes that he is not fond of the company of other crocs and is known to have caused extensive damage, even to his own species. Even the female kind so they decided to leave him alone...

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while the others live happily.

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After the brief wildlife park visit we were taken into covered amphi theatre where we enjoyed the aboriginal dance. The dance was explained to us and much like our own Adivasi culture, this dance was also about, harvest, hunting and happiness when rain falls.

All this was accompanied with music played with the quaint and ancient instruments like the didgeridoo and some sticks and rocks.

Me being the odd one out was also invited to the stage and i had to shake a few limbs in the way they did. Interesting.
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Last edited by V-16 : 26th June 2012 at 20:49.
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Old 26th June 2012, 21:06   #7
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Of course, after that show, we had to learn all about how to play one of these Didgeridoos are weird instruments, formed from wood hollowed out by termites. That was also a demonstration as its not easy to play the instrument.

Next up was a spear throwing demonstration, both, hand held and using a Woomera, a device that helps increase the distance they can throw. They didn’t let us try this one, maybe because of the danger involved handling a sharp object but it was quite impressive to see that they were quite accurate in their aim. Most of the times they hit the target, quite far off bang in the centre.

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Boomerang throwing lesson was next.

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My own practice throw was reasonably good and i managed to throw it almost straight up, and it returned not very far from where we stood. The guy was impressed.. While my kids got a hang of it almost immediately, the wife tried unsuccessfully a few times and gave up

Up next was a tour of the Rainforest in an Army Duck (DUKW). An army duck is a very interesting amphibious, go anywhere vehicle made by GM powered by a inline 6 cyl 4.4 Ltr petrol engine which our guide said gave almost 2-3 km/ litre as was most of the time driven in the low range at speed of max 10 km/hr and they will allow you to get through some very rugged terrain and/or marshes quite well. Whats really interesting is that these vehicles which are more than 60 years and older are doing their duties as well, only now, they are moving tourists instead of troops.
A parked Duck

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I got all this information from their office notice board and they were really amused to know my inquisitiveness about the vehicle. One of them showed me literature which i took permission to photograph, which speaks a lot about the history of these vehicles.

Get to know the Duck

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The straight six heart

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So we boarded the duck and sat in the numerous rows provided while the Guide took us on land through some really steep paths to explain about the rainforest.

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The best part of this tour was when the duck entered the water.
The road just lead into the water...

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and from there on it was a water bound tour for a while, where the DUKW performed its amphibious duties very well. And while we didn’t see any crocodiles or turtles around but im told there are plenty.

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Last edited by V-16 : 26th June 2012 at 21:11.
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Old 11th October 2012, 16:48   #8
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...Continuing with Cairns....

What really fascinated me was the Basket fern. Will not get into the nitty gritty of the facts of a Basket Fern but i have several pictures of the awe inspiring plant. I think you should go through the link attached just to get to know this amazing species.


Basket Fern:

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We also got a chance to see these dangerous berries which if handled and crushed were almost lethal in their own way. These berries emit a highly toxic dye, which stains skin for weeks together. Better not handled and best not consumed.

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The tour continued, made interesting with the wit and tongue in cheek humor of the guide and many more trees and fruits ....

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and some exotic fruits and flowering plants later ......

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......we bid adieu to this wonderful little paradise, a must visit when in the city.

We were then dropped in the beautiful butterfly city of Kuranda

In the quaint rainforest village of Kuranda you can boardwalk through the rainforest to the Barron Falls lookout. Browse the street markets, buy Aboriginal artifacts and visit the local candy store where you might catch a candy making demonstration.

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An assortment of Home-made fudge from the candy shop

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This day was still not done, as we still needed to get back to Cairns, for which purpose we took 7.5 kilometer Skyrail cable car ride over the rainforest. I recommend this way back to Cairns via the Sky rail with its three stop points. I also recommend strongly that you take a stop at all these stations and let the natural habitat soak in. After that at the bottom, you can continue your Aboriginal experience with the world-famous dance theater, Tjapukai and the cultural arts centre and Aboriginal museum if the culture is not coming out of your ears. At this place you take your designated transport back to the hotel.

The Skyrail

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Pictures from the boardwalk

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The views from the car were awesome, at some places just barely skimming over the tops of the trees, and allowing a view down to the forest floor some 200 ft lower, at others giving us a panoramic view of the entire area.

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Basket ferns on trees

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Baron Falls from the cable car.

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Last edited by V-16 : 11th October 2012 at 17:27.
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Old 11th October 2012, 19:40   #9
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We reached back, surprisingly not tired but refreshed. All that pure Oxygen and the wonderful sights did well. We had worked out an appetite and settled to go out for a nice meal as we had an early morning next day. We were going to be visiting the star attraction, the Great Barrier Reef the next day.

A lot of you may be wondering why and how ive kept the mention of food and pictures out of my thread. That because after im done with the holiday picturelogue, im going to bombard all of you with the food pictures from different cities. Didnt think i was changing my style did you?? Hang on for a bit, its two more cities and the food pics will follow.

Our last day was spent at the most famous attraction of Cairns, the UNESCO world heritage site, The Great barrier reef. The Great Barrier Reef, is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kms over an area of approximately 344,400 square kms.

To know more about this great wonder, click on the link below.


We had booked our tours from India itself so it saved us the trouble of choosing and haggling. Let me tell you it buys peace of mind. We did our research from India and paid for most of the tours and attractions in India itself. Also, with the dwindling Re. it was a wise thought.
We chose the Quicksilver tours as that was slated to be the best and we had been with the same tour company way back in 1999, when we had visited Australia.

I was also disappointed with the GBF. The reefs had lost most of its colour and the species of fish were far lesser in numbers that what i remember. I guess its the over tourism of a place like that. The constant touching of the reefs and the constant influx of humans have also lead to a lot of the corals dying down and hence loosing their vibrant colours. Now it was mostly a dead dark green. I remember it from the time there were so many colours that it just was mind boggling. Still to the first time traveller the entire expanse of the reef is magical.

We got on to the catamaran for a 45 minute ride to the reef, actually a pontoon in the middle of the ocean , where the catmaran docks and from where we access the reef.

On the catamaran enroute to the GBR, through some picturesque surroundings

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The propellers churning the waters to a pristine white

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As we set out deeper into the sea, the winds get stronger to a point that it gets almost impossible to keep your hats on your head.

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As we venture deeper into the sea, the slightly muggy waters turn into an Aquamarine blue almost instantly

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At one point you can see the layers of blue, each different in its definition and beautiful as ever.

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The Catmaran docks onto a private Pontoon. The reef has many points where tourists are allowed, others being deeper into the sea and inaccessible to the common tourist. These are probably leased out to tourist companies where only their boats can dock. As soon as we docked, we were given instructions on the activities around and the safety instructions, the parameters where we could swim out and what we should and should not do. Adeptly monitored by life guards on the boat and in the sea, we felt very comfortable swimming in the vast expanse of water.

The Private Pontoon

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We decided to do the submarine tour first. It is a deep boat which has setting in its glass hull around which we sat and watch the underwater wonders. A short ride but worth the time. This is complimentary.

Scenes from the Submarine:

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Once out, we headed to enjoy some snorkeling. While my older one wanted to try the underwater scooter (not included in the package), my younger one shied away from the experience, so we set out to try some snorkeling (included). One picked up wetsuits as per size, then flippers and finally the snorkeling masks which are kept immersed in a sterilizer liquid.

The under water scooter...How James Bond!!

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To get into the sea from the catamaran, you climb down a steel suspended platform into the sea and gather up courage to take a dunk in.

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Once in the fresh sea water surrounds you, you feel so small enveloped in water everywhere with the waves bouncing you like a rubber toy. If you dont have your snorkeling mask the salt from the water stings and it takes quite a while before you can open your eyes and see clearly again......

....to be continued
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Old 11th October 2012, 19:49   #10
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I took along an underwater point and shoot which served the purpose. Thanks to that i could get some pictures, otherwise not possible to get with an ordinary camera.

Water pics:
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Old 11th October 2012, 19:59   #11
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Wherever you are in the water you can be sure that there is a photographer tagging along somewhere closeby, who gets trigger happy at the mere sight of you. I realized what a rip off it was when we were back on the boat and was invited to "Buy" your photos. Sold at an exorbitant price, we still bought a few as these were memories which just had to be captured.

Always by your side

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Back to the Jetty tired and hungry.

We returned back by the evening and headed directly to the hotel for a wash. Swimming exhausts you and makes you hungry. Not having the guts to venture out anymore, we decided to order Pizza, Pies and some room service and settled for a really well deserved meal. We also tucked in early as out flight to Brisbane was in the morning and we would have to leave for the airport quite early.

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So we slept tight with wonderful memories of Cairns which we would carry along with us and cherish for a long long time.

Next Stop...Brisbane/Gold Coast!!
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Old 17th October 2012, 20:56   #12
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The Gold Coast:

Warm tropical days and nights, unending pristine golden beaches best describe Brisbane. Of its many attractions in the south are the surf beaches of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. With super clean golden beaches, the Gold Coast is a mix of cosmopolitan lifestyles, theme parks, high-end boutiques, and some of Australia’s best sporting events, not to forget an adventure sport lover's paradise.

Home to the world renowned ‘Surfers Paradise’, the skyline is dominated by high-rise buildings, including the Q1, one of the world’s highest residential towers. The Gold Coast is glitzy, glamorous and fun and boats of one of the best food and fashion boutiques. The restaurants and nightclubs of Cavill Avenue are the main hub of activity. There are also many theme parks close to town.

Gold Coast is home to some of Queensland’s best natural attractions. Go whale-watching and island-hopping, or venture into the lush hinterland of World Heritage-listed national parks, rainforests.

Welcome to Gold Coast. The view from the aircraft is very inviting and exciting. We cant wait to get onto the ground.

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After collecting our bags we were escorted by the person who received us, to a dedicated place, where we waited for him to get our van and pick us up from the spot.

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Even on my earlier visit i had noticed that the person who receives you at the airport also doubles as your driver, porter, in many a resort, even your receptionist and also your concierge.

Our pick up, a huge bus where only the four of us rode to the Gold Coast, a very pleasant drive of approximately 40- 45 minutes.

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We saw this lovely Mustang which looked a bit saddled in the rear dont you think? Its pertinent to note that its a LHD.

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We checked into the Grand Chancellor hotel (previously the Courtyard Marriot) right in the nose of Surfer's paradise. Amazing location.
We looked around, got our bearings right and then set out to plan the next four days of our stay there. We had to see the city, check out Movie World, Dream World, well Sea World was rejected by the kids outright....they had seen too many Aquariums and sea life. They wanted to do the Aquaduck ride and just hang around the place and basically just chill!!
So, in the evening we decided to take the Aquaduck tour.
Riding the Aquaduck has to be the most bizarre way of seeing the sights of Surfer's Paradise and also the most unique.. A former military amphibious assault vehicle, remodeled to look like a cartoon duck. It’s the size of a BEST bus, travels on both land and water, and it also quacks.

The Aquaduck

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Tour begins with boarding the Aquaduck which takes you around the streets of Surfers Paradise, followed by a dunk in the waters along the glorious Gold Coast beaches and up to the magnificent Versace and Marina Mirage Resorts, past the spectacular and famous Millionaire's houses along the water. One can move around, along the tour on the vehicle with great views.

In the water

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The Floating Chapel

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For kids this is a unique and a must do. They have an opportunity to steer the vehicle along the Broad-waters....

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....and they also get a certificate/licence for the same, a cherished souvenir. They were thrilled.

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To be continued.....
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Old 17th October 2012, 21:43   #13
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Past the super rich houses, Jackie Chan own one here too.

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I think this is Jackie's House

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High Rises along the sea

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As the evening sun glistens you realize that this place is called Gold Coast for a reason.

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The tour lasted approximately 1:30 hours and we were bought back to the very spot we were picked up from, just steps away from the hotel we were staying at. The kids were hungry so we decided to snack a bit.
Those of you reading this must be wondering as to why there is no mention or even a picture of food that i so passionately post and report about. Well i guess there are so many that i wanted to make a huge huge post of only the food, city wise but down the posts i think i cant keep away from posting about food. So i decided to start with the last city in Australia i visited, after which i will post abput the food in the previous cities and then carry on with Singapore.....Capiche?? So here goes....
When kids (and me) have the deciding right, the venue most often turns out to be related to sweet offerings, this time Max Brenner at Broadbeach, just near the Versace Hotel.

@ Max

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We strolled and saw the cafes and restaurants lined along this Mall housing fine dine restaurants and premium shopping and eating outlets.
Returning back to the hotel we were pretty late and well yes, hungry again.

While waiting for a cab we caught a glimpse of this quaint and odd, yet attractive (to me at least) Nissan Cube.

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We reached the hotel and we had made our choice. It was the first day and we had travelled a lot. Tired and wanting to start the next day afresh we chose to eat a t a place close to the hotel or in the hotel itself. As we disembarked from the cab, we caught this group of Krishna consciousness chanting Hare Rama Hare Krishna on the streets.

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We decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe.
So we huddled into the next to our hotel Hard Rock Cafe. Safe and sound we were in no mood to be surprised with some place which we were not sure of.

The quintessential HRC Harley

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Yummy BBQ Chicken Wings

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Caesar's Salad

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After a good meal like that, we all retired to our rooms for a good nights sleep. The first day at Gold Coast had been all that it promises to be; super fun, exciting, exhilarating, and if one would describe it as the kids did....Awesome...

......More follows soon.......
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Old 23rd October 2012, 20:03   #14
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Default Re: G'Day From Down Under-Australia Album.

Day two at the Gold coast was all about theme parks. Getting tickets fo theme parks is a very confusing trend. I visited almost all sites offering tickets for the theme parks and finally came across a store just steps away from the hotel lobby which offered all tours in and around the Gold Coast at the best prices i had seen. I got tickets to the two theme parks and the tickets to the shuttle to and fro from them at almost a 15% off any other deal that was going on. This place specialized in Japanese Tourists as it had most signs in English and Japanese. The persons across the counters were also Japanese who spoke fluent English. After paying for my tickets.

My sons and me hopped on the shuttle which picked us up at the hotel foyer and we left for Movie World

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Fab and crazy roller coasters and rides

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They never wanted to get away from the Ben & Jerry's Store. Cant blame them, I love Ben & Jerry's myself.

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Tired couple......Jet Lag perhaps???

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Stopping for a bite of some Mexican food...here Quesadillas.

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The boys won this bear for their mom. She proudly displays it in our room now.

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I could see no resemblance to the three super heroes above in any way.

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after the visit to Movie World. we reached back to the Hotel. The shuttle was there at clockwork time to pick us from the designated spot and drop us to the hotel. After we dumped what we had bought from the theme park we set out for a refreshing walk along the beach front

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and found some Exotic cars for rent

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The walk worked up an appetite but it was rather too early for dinner so we headed towards the streets which are lined with restaurants and snack bars. All of us had a different idea. The boys wanted Italian (they can eat Italian 24x7) or something new. The wife and me were ok with anything as long as it wan not Indian so we decided to take a walk along the adjacent streets which boasted of many a popular restaurant and cafe. We would then take our pick.

Decisions, Decisions....

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We came across a Thai restaurant which looked good and was buzzing with people. Surely the locals knew where they wanted to go so we decided to try this place as a prelude to dinner.

We entered this Thai restaurant for a bite and ordered the chicken Satay, a portion of Garlic Chicken and the Kum Kha Gai. This is a soup made with coconut milk, galangal, lemon grass and chicken and some fried chillies. It tastes wonderful and is hearty enough to keep you going for a hour ofr so till you get to your food.

Kum Kha Gai

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Chicken Satay

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Garlic Chicken

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After that we strolled along some of the numerous gift shops which throng every nook and corner of the streets, just gazing around and finding for something interesting to see or buy. We realize that with the economy opening up in India, its almost impossible to find something overseas, which we have not seen or is not available in India and cheaper too. Still the ardent and inquisitive shopper in us hunts for a bargain almost everywhere. At almost 57/- Rs. to an Australian Dollar, a bargain is the last thing one can expect in this country.

All this activity across so many shops and showrooms has bought our dinner appetite to a peak. It is almost 9:45 pm, dinner time according to IST so we set to find us some food and come across this lovely restaurant.

Spanish it is at La Paella

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When at a Spanish place do as the Spanish do.....Tapas!!

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The Garlic Prawns in Olive oil are so good we order another portion which comes boiling and bubbling at our table.

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Next day was Dreamworld day. The wife refused to see another park so the Boys and me trotted off to Dreamworld, while we left her to attend to her shopping and her Spas. It was an all boys day out. The kids were thrilled as there would be no one stopping them from indulging in ice creams, lollies and junk food. They were behaving as if they were criminals holed up for a long period, suddenly left free.

Enroute we spot a pristine Beetle

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Notice the Hanuman Tee the man is wearing?

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.....Theres more...a lot more......
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Old 23rd October 2012, 20:29   #15
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Default Re: G'Day From Down Under-Australia Album.

At Dreamworld!!
The Claw at Dreamworld

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The Green Lantern, on of the Steepest Roller coaster rides in this part of the hemisphere

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An Ibis

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We overdid the icecream bit, with their mom not being there to stop them...or me from sheer indulgence.

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Most there parks you visit give you the been there, done that feeling but then almost everyone of t hem has a unique experience which is so different from the others. Dreamworld has its Tiger Display where they have tiger cubs, the cutest fluffiest looking things which soon turn into vicious but so royal looking beast that one cant help but admire their majestic aura.

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Sitting calmly on a see through fiber see through sheet is a full grown Tiger. The only partition between him and us is the sheet. One cant get closer than this to admire the majestic animal.

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They have a Tiger Show to make us aware of the animal. Find out the timings and ensure to reach the show before it starts.

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While a Great White Tiger catches up with his sleep disinterested in the happenings around him.

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