CRR Dan Simmons was kind enough to say a few words about and send some photos taken on the recent trip that he and his wife, Sue, took to Australia. In his own words…
Sue and I had an awesome time. We started in Melbourne after an arduous 16-hour flight from L.A. The day we landed, it was hot and eventually got to 102°F. However, the rest of the time in South Australia was very pleasant. Melbourne is a beautiful, clean, modern city. We stayed right downtown, and I quickly found Fitzroy Park nearby, where I ran every day. On day two, we went to see four matches at the Australian Open. We had fantastic seats, and Sue and I really enjoyed that. The next day, we went to the savannah in a national park about an hour from Melbourne, where we saw a decent amount of wildlife, including echidnas, koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, emus, and numerous indigenous birds.
We rented a car, and, yes, I got used to driving on the left side of the road. We drove along the great Coastal highway, which is very similar to Hwy 1 in California. Our primary destinations were Kangaroo Island, where we had an all-day tour, McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley, where we hopped from winery to winery, and Adelaide, another beautiful Australian city. Our wine-tasting experience was spectacular. I had booked several tours ahead of time, and we were treated like royalty. Unlike California’s Napa Valley, Australian wineries don’t charge for wine tastings, and they are very generous. We sampled as many as ten wines in one place, and another opened up a $200 bottle of Shiraz for us to try.
We then flew to Cairns, which is on the north coast right by the Great Barrier Reef. The weather there is very different. It’s very tropical—hot and humid—and everything is lush green. Running there was much more difficult; it was in the low 80s and very humid at 6:00 in the morning. We did two days of snorkeling, which was amazing. We saw dozens of colorful corrals and hundreds of types of reef fish. The diversity of life there was simply stunning. On the second day there, I rented a video camera; unfortunately, the quality of the images is not great. In Cairns, we also visited the zoo at night and went to an Aboriginal park, which was quite informative.
Our last three days were spent in Sydney where we saw the usual sites, including the Opera House. Those structures are an engineering tour-de-force. Sydney is a much more international city than the others and much busier. We also took a 4.5-hour bike tour, stopping every ten minutes for a historical lesson by our guide.
All in all, it was great, and we can’t wait to go back. After all, the Barossa has 90+ wineries and we only visited eight!