Category Archives: Australia

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

While I was in Australia I briefly wrote about my snorkeling adventure with Sergio while we were vacationing in Port Douglas.  At the time, I was not able to include our photographs from the day trip to the Great Barrier Reef.  If you are fascinated by the reef or enjoy snorkeling I think you will like these photographs. Thanks to Sergio who took all these pictures.

Expand to full screen to get maximum effect and if you have speakers turn them on to listen to the cheesy music I’ve selected to accompany the slide show.

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Baristas of Australia

As I’ve just commented on the coffee-wars (read the entry below). What I did not share was the cafes where I started my mornings or ended my evenings – often with Sergio’s laptop so I could include a tweet or update my blog. The two places I spent the most amount of time was Port Douglas and Sydney so it was in these places that I made friends with local baristas.
Port Douglas is a sleepy little town which made it perfect for spending a few hours each day in a coffee shop to escape the sun. After one day, both Sergio and I staked out Rehab (a local cafe) and it was not long before we started chatting with Daniel. He pours a strong cup of joe and is extremely personable. Daniel has a wedding in Canada in the summer of 2009 and it would be wonderful to have him come out and visit us. We will see what happens but anyone who pours such a nice cup of coffee is a freind of mine.
Equally nice and certainly as cute is Chris (in photo above) who works at QV Bar & Cafe. I hope that last comment does not embarrass him, but he is as sweet and friendly a person you’ll meet. Quick with a comment and always smiling, I appreciated seeing him despite being groggy from late nights out in Sydney. Chris too has an open invitation if he ever decides to travel to the States.  I’ll be sure to find him an amicable barista to make him his morning coffee. 

On our last day Sergio took a group photo of the team at QV Bar & Cafe which I’ve included. What a handsome bunch.

An Americans’ observations about Australia

I’m a travel-junkie plain and simple. One of the things I love about international travel is seeing how people live in other parts of the world, because as large and different as the U.S. is, we are a homogenous country.  Life and attitudes in Boston do not differ that much from Boise. If you don’t believe me, check out life in another country (sorry Canada doesn’t count). It is precisely these differences which can cause consternation for American travelers and it is always interesting to witness this firsthand.

The most common frustration I saw on this trip did not revolve around politics, protocol or even language; rather it revolved around coffee. In the U.S. we are accustomed to filtered coffee – whether that is Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or your local café – coffee shops all make coffee pretty much the same way. In Australia, coffee is from a French Press or espresso machine with hot water added; Australians call this a Long Black (not Tall Black as I incorrectly requested repeatedly).

Without waxing on endlessly, there were other observations which I found both funny and interesting and if you’ve ever been to Australia, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts – please feel free to share a comment.
1) If going to Australia increase the amount you plan on spending for food. I found it hard to have a meal for less than $25-30 per person – this was especially true in Sydney. Of course if you love junk food you can get a fast food value meal for about $8-10.00 per person.

2) Despite being an English speaking nation, the Australian accent and propensity for slang left me baffled more often then not. This is a country that refers to red heads as “blueys”; Arugula or lettuce as “rocket” and coffee as “long black”. Never has a common language caused such a divide. However, I will admit I did fall for the accent and despite nearly continual confusion I was able to pick up most of the slang.

3) If you are staying in Sydney – beware those large black birds blotting out the setting sun each evening are actually bats (fruit bats I think to be exact) and while they are harmless; several hours after the sun sets and their bellies are full you need to beware of two things 1- bat poop falling on you as you walk under trees; it is truly sickening how much a bat can poop. 2- freshly fallen bat poop, which can result in horrible if not comical slipping, sliding and potential falling. While none of this actually happened to me there were several close calls. Never has Joseph Conrad’s words “The horror… the horror” rang so true.

Men of Australia

Three weeks in Australia resulted in more photographs taken than anyone would ever want to see. Perusing these pictures earlier today, I noticed something not unique to my travels but different from the typical traveler; very few pictures of women. Family members and friends who are not likely to enjoy bare-chested 20 somethings might prefer to skip this slide show. I on the other hand will revisit these photographs to keep me motivated and to get my lazy ass to the gym through out this winter.

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So long sweet Sydney

I’m sitting at my favorite coffee shop – QV bar cafe in the Queen Victoria Building sipping my last cup of coffee (a.k.a. long black) as slowly as I can to savor and reflect upon the past 2.5 weeks in Australia.  My favorite barista in Sydney (Chris – pictures of this handsome coffee maestro will follow) has made me my last cup of coffee and when I’m done I need to go back to my hotel to pack what can only be described as a mountain of dirty clothes; not an enviable chore. 

The ‘saudade‘ I feel in anticipation of my pending departure is sweet because this has been a fantastic trip exceeding my expectations in more ways than I can adequately describe. After I return home I will download my pictures and videos to share. I’ll also add my commentary about what I did and what I would recommend others do if / when they travel here so if you know anyone considering a trip to Australia, please feel free to send me a comment. I can guarantee that I will not tire of talking about Australia for quite awhile.


So much is happening so fast now it is impossible to write about all we are doing and seeing while away on vacation.  I’m doing my best to chronicle these memories by photographing every moment as my vacation down under begins to wind down.  I will also be writing  about this trip after I return home as videos and photos can be reviewed then uploaded to this site. 

If you would like to read about my excursion in the southern hemisphere, you can easily access these entries by selecting the label “Australia” in the right column or by linking here –

Melbourne & Hepburn Springs

Yesterday (Tuesday, December 1) we left the state of Victoria bidding both Melbourne and Hepburn Springs a fond adieu.  To date, with some brief exceptions such as snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, our time in Melbourne and the wine & spa country outside the city in Hepburn Springs has certainly been the highlight of the trip. 

I can not thank Rhonda & Boyce enough for their hospitality while we stayed in Melbourne.  We ate very well every night thanks to their restaurant picks and on Sunday evening we joined Rhonda’s parents at their home for a feast that would give a traditional Thanksgiving dinner a good run for its money.  Each night dinners extended 3-4 hours and the conversation made every evening fly by.  When we checked out of The Rialto in Melbourne and hopped in our tiny red rental car I thought we would regret leaving the city for the tiny town of Hepburn Springs.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Sergio did a magnificent job navigating the roads and I have to pat myself on the back for my expert reading of the road maps.  The drive to Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa was very easy and something I would recommend anyone visiting the area consider taking time to do.  We stopped along the way at a few towns our concierge had suggested, but we both agreed these towns were mostly forgettable and not worth seeing. Fortunately, the countryside is spectacular once you get out of Melbourne.  The area is filled with rolling hills for farming and vineyards interspersed with beautiful Eucalyptis forests. I have some gorgeous photos that I’ll share upon my return back to the states if only so I have something to remember the trip.

The sleepy towns we drove through from Melbourne were depressing and filled with dingy cafes. It really gave us pause to consider if the trip was worthwhile.  The worst of the drive was when we stopped in Woodend – a sad little town which only made us sadder after visiting it.  However, 35 minutes and about 20+ photographs later we arrived in Daylesford which neighbors Hepburn Springs.  The minute we pulled into the center of town which sort of is a mix between the wild west with the architecture (you’ll see what I mean when I post my photos) and something you would see in Napa / Sonoma because of all the cafes, restaurants, wineshops, etc… we knew we were going to enjoy our stay.

Down the road (2-3 kms) is the quaint town of Hepburn Springs which is picture perfect.  The Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa exceeded my expectations after a somewhat disapointing experience at the Peppers Beach Club in Port Douglas.  The owners of the Hepburn location are two lovely gay men Wayne and Chris and their staff was the most attentive and polite I’ve come across in all our travels through Australia to date.  I’ll post more photos of the grounds but suffice it to say, I look forward to visiting both Hepburn Springs and the Peppers Springs Retreat and Spa again.  I’m not sure which I enjoyed more the 3-course dinner which seemed to grow to 5-courses or our relaxing morning at the resort’s spa.

Flying from Melbourne yesterday was definitely sad.  I’ve developed a mad crush for everything and everyone in Victoria and when I come back to Australia, I’ll be looking to spend more time there. I’m now in Sydney and hope to explore the city a bit more.  Last night we took a night boat to explore Manly Beach which looks to be absolutely gorgeous…. but more about that later.