Wombats & Wallabies

After almost 2 weeks in the Blue Mountains we decided it was time to head east.  The first two weeks of traveling were quiet memorable.  The autumn colors were starting to decorate the trees (red and orange colors).  The color change in April was so different for me — as in April back in Michigan I am anxiously awaiting the blooming trees and flowers (and the warmer weather).  The weather was cooler (50-60’s day/40’s night) but not too cold. We met some wonderful travelers while in mountains.  Shumi and Lili (from Germany) and Damien and Lauriane (from France).  Its very neat to met people who are doing exactly what you are doing and are able to offer advice or answer questions etc.  We shared food, stories and warms fires at night.

Before leaving the mountains we visited a few beautiful areas.  Govett’s Leap is a lookout area with spectacular views of the Grose Valley and a beautiful waterfall.  Jeremy went for a 1 hour hike to the bottom of the waterfall.  I did not have the proper footwear nor did I want to get wet from the falls.  I wish the camera could capture how magnificent The Blue Mountains appear to me, but its impossible to put all that beauty in a photo.

Another area that we visited is Evan’s Lookout.  This area also overlooks the Blue Mountains.  It is not as busy with tourists or buses.  We were on a little walk when heard a strange bird song.  I quick grabbed my camera and followed the sound.  It turns out that it was the Lyrebird.  This Australian bird reminds me of the look of a  peacock.  However, they are very different.  This bird has an extraordinary mimicking ability.  It wasn’t making any specific song, just very different.  Check out this video of the lyrebird on youtube.  I had watched this video many years ago and thought, “I hope that I get to see that bird someday”.  Who knew?

On our way out of the mountains we decided to make a stop at the Wollemi National Park.  An area just north of the Blue Mountains.  The Wollemi area was renamed just a few years ago after finding wild species of the Wollemi Pine, a species that was thought to have become extinct nearly 30 million years ago but was discovered there in 1994.  We camped at a very quiet campground that blessed us with wallabies bouncing by our van in the morning, a wombat wandering around and parrots singing at dawn.  It was awesome!  Then to top the day off we went on a 8 km hike (roundtrip) up the mountain that took us to a special tunnel that had bio-luminescent glo-worms.  There are few places in the world that you can see such creatures.  We brought our headlamps because the tunnel was about 1/2 mile long and very dark.  The sign out in front of the tunnel said to keep lights low and be quiet as the glo-worms will “turn off” their illumination and it will be difficult to see them if we are noisy or bright.  So we whispered and stumbled through this magical tunnel of sparkly glo-worms.

At the moment we are staying in a city named Richmond.  On Friday morning we will head east toward New Castle, a beachy little town.  Loving every day.  Missing all my friends and family.  xoxoxoxoxoxo

PS: We renamed the Van — as we learn more Australian lingo we really liked how this one sounds.  Dinky Donga — Dinky = Tiny & Donga = Transportable building or rooms.  Hence the new name….we like it anyways :)

As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are.  Otherwise you will miss most of your life.  —Buddha

Into the great wide open…

After two weeks of hard work preparing the van for the big trip around the continent we said goodbye to Romani and off we drove..into the bush. We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into.  Australia is just a little bit smaller than the USA and our plan…to drive around the whole darn thing.  Seems like a big undertaking but there are so many beautiful things to see, places to visit and people to meet…I bet we will run out of time, before we get bored.

The last week we have camped in the bush near the Megalong Valley River, its a little area just south of The Blue Mountains.  Completely away from electricity or running water.  UNPLUGGED!!!  Everyday was beautiful.  One of my favorite things to do was yoga outside.  It is so peaceful and relaxing.  The weather was about 70 F.  We cooked meals for morning, lunch and dinner.  Good meals too, I might add.  The stars at night in the outback are so stunning.  The sky is overflowing with magnificent glowing stars.  I can’t put into words how beautiful it is.  After a few days Jeremy took a bath in the river.  The water was about 50 F.  There is no way I was about to do that.  Jeremy gathered wood so that we would stay warm after the sun went down.  It got dark around 6 pm so that made for an early night most of the time – unless we were hanging out with other travelers or singing songs around the fire.  On one of Jeremy’s trips to gather wood, he came across a Wallaby.  He followed it for a while – he said it was magical.  The other night while I was cleaning the dishes I noticed something move and then it climbed into the tree.  I grabbed my headlamp and the camera — it was a Common Brushtail Possum – cute little thing.  He stole an apple from our composting pile and ran up the tree with it.  It is really the first wildlife I have seen out here.  There are many many different kinds of parrots that fly overhead everyday.  This is magical to me.  We have seen the Gang Gang Cockatoo, Sulfur Crested Cockatoos, Rose Breasted Cockatoos, Red Eyed Crows, Crimson Rosella Parrots, Magpies, Rainbow Lorikeets, etc.  I didn’t realize that there were so many parrots here in Australia.

One day we drove into Katoomba.  This is a little mountain town west of Sydney by about 100 km.  It is home to Echo Point (where the landmark “The Three Sisters” is located.)  Here is the link to the legend of the Three Sisters.  It is a stunningly breathtaking view.  There are millions of trees for miles/kilometers.  There is an area where you can hike down to the waterfalls or to the first rock of the Three Sisters formation.  It is quite a steep set of stairs and then a bridge over to the stone.  I have to say that I was a bit nervous going down but it was worth the journey.  There is more to see but requires 5+ hours for a specific hike.  We might try that later this week.

There is a rainforest by our campsite down in the Megalong Valley.  The temperature dropped approx. 20 degrees upon entering the forest.  We decided to take a hike because it looked so green and lush.  It was very wet and muddy back along the trail.  There were waterfalls, big curly trees and lots of ferns and green fuzzy plants.  I love exploring!

This weekend Jeremy will be busking in Katoomba and I will be exploring the city and preparing the van for our travels into the northeast coastline.  We are headed toward the beaches and warmer weather.   We will try to get to cafes and libraries once a week to update our blog.

I am going to love this adventure.  The van may be where I sleep and how I get from place to place but the earth is my home now.  Everyday I am blessed with new reasons to be happy and to have gratitude for everything I have been given and have been taught.  Lots of love for all my family and friends.  Peace and Love!

Check out the Photo Gallery to see new posted pictures!!

Visit Jeremy’s Blog @ jeremyarndt.com

Saying Goodbye to Sydney

After seven weeks in Sydney we are finally saying goodbye.  A lot has happened while living in this gigantic city.  We started out by CouchSurfing with some amazing people (Stephen and Cass).  Slowly learned how to get around the city using public transport (via Train/Bus).  We met our roommate Romani and have enjoyed living with her for six weeks.  Went to all the best beaches in Sydney — Coogee, Manly and Bondi.  Practiced Yoga and played music at House of Yoga.  Played music with Jeremy at Lululemon (Downtown Sydney).  Played Music at House of Yoga in Coogee Beach with Jeremy.  Went to an amazing Concert by Australian Musician Xavier Rudd.  Learned how to make meals – patiently and with love.  Many of my meals at home were rushed or on the go.  This has been very refreshing for me to spend quality time in the kitchen experimenting with spices, flavors and ingredients.  We also met a wonderful family (Jaime, Lisa and Tane) who graciously took us for a day of sailing on the ocean aboard their Sailboat “The Wild Goose”.  This was incredibly beautiful.  I have never sailed before so I wasn’t quite sure if I would get seasick or not.  Well, it turns out that I kinda get that nausea feeling, but it wasn’t too bad.  And last but not least we finally bought a van.  This van reminds me of the van my Dad owned while I was growing up.  As a teenager I was very embarrassed to ride in it, so I would hide on the floor in the backseat.  We called it the “Space Mobile” and I was so happy the day he sold it.  Well it turns out that 99% of the campervans look like the Space Mobile – so Dad, I have been humbled.  It is challenging to remember to drive on the left hand side of the road, and shift with my left hand.  There might have been close to 20 vans that we had looked at.  The vans in our price range had high kilometers and were just beat up.  Our van has low kilometers and was never used by backpackers (which means it isn’t as beat up).  It was owned by a courier service in the Airport.  It is very clean and seems well maintained.  It is small, but that just will help with the gas costs.  It is $1.55/liter of petrol.  Which means about….$5.86 a gallon.  We will also be doing our own maintenance, because a simple oil change costs approx.  $88 dollars.  Yikes.  We are in the process of “outfitting” the Van with all the necessities for travel.  Propane grill, Power inverter, GPS, tools, cooking supplies, sleeping stuff, cabinets for storage, etc.  This will ensure a good sale of the Van when we are ready to leave Australia.  I will post more pics and stories as I am able.  There is not free Wifi readily available here in Australia, like there is in the states.  So whenever I find free internet I will update my blog and or Facebook.  Goodbye Sydney — you were fun, but its time to head North and check out all the Beaches, Parks, Forests and the Outback – The plan is to circumnavigate the entire continent.  Peace and Love to all!!!!!

Check out the new pics added under March 2012!!!