Tour Review: G Adventures, Australia in Style

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This 21 day trip started in Sydney, travelled up the east coast to Byron Bay, Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, and Port Douglas, then moved on to the Outback traveling through Alice Springs, Uluru, Coober Pedy, Port Augusta, Adelaide, Grampians National Park, Warrnambool, and Melbourne. That’s a whole lot to see in three weeks, but it’s a perfect introduction to Australia, and I felt like I got the most out of my experience.

I thought this trip was fantastic. It included quite a few fun activities like surfing lessons, yachting, and hiking through national parks, and there were a few really great optional activities like snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and star gazing in the Outback. I highly recommend all these activities. We also got to see koalas, kangaroos, and emus.

Activity level: although this trip has a physical grading of 2, some days were much more like a 3 (hiking, snorkeling, surfing, sailing) – so keep that in mind – I loved it, but if you don’t want a lot of activity, this may not be the trip for you.

Trip Specifics: Our CEO, Nick, was great. He was knowledgeable, down to earth, fun, organized, and helpful. The hotels were fantastic, especially on the east coast portion. There were more motels in the Outback portion, but that’s to be expected, as the areas are less populated. There were also many included meals that were quite good. This is a “comfort” level trip and you really do feel the added cushiness compared to the “standard” level tours.

There were only 6 of us on the east coast portion and 8 in the Outback. Most travelers were in there 20s and 30s and were from Canada, US, England, and Ireland. It was a really great group that got along well.

My only complaint is that there was too much driving time in the Outback. Driving is really the only way it’s possible to go to all the places we visited, but it was a lot. If I could design my own trip, I would have flown from Uluru to Adelaide and skipped the odd opal mining town of
Coober Pedy – sure, it was interesting in a “been there, done that” sort of way, but for me, it wasn’t worth the drive to get there. The Outback is exactly as you would imagine – vast semi-arid brush, simple roadhouses and motels, but well worth seeing – I just could have spent a little less time checking it out 🙂

Overall, this was an amazing trip. I absolutely loved Australia and the scenery changed so much from region to region, that you really do have to spend a significant amount of time there to see it all. From the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne, to the laid back beach town of Byron Bay, to the breathtaking views in the Red Center, the wine country in Claire Valley, and the unbelievable Great Ocean Road – this is a scenic trip like no other!

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Reflecting on Travel and Pantheism

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“To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals.” ~ Mikhail Gorbachev

I wrote an entire blog entry on Pantheism, then shied away from posting it. Instead, I will end my journey through the east with some reflective thoughts and an overtly Pantheistic theme.

For the last five years, I’ve lived in a vacation town with a beautiful, calm, and warm ocean and a tropical climate that stubbornly maintains a humid 88F/30C degrees year round. While this has its advantages, and I honestly thought I would be living there permanently, this trip around the globe has really made me long for home. By “home” I mean Pennsylvania. It’s more than just longing to be close to friends and family. It has to do with Pennsylvania itself.

Over the last few months, I walked beside beautiful waterfalls and volcanoes, trekked through jungle and rainforest, canoed and kayaked by river, lake, and sea, climbed over muddy mangrove roots in my bare feet, watched the sunrise over the Himalayas and Uluru, and felt the cool evening breeze of the Outback against my skin while gazing at stars that stretched to the horizon.

One night, in Port Douglas, Australia, as I was walking home from the market, I looked up at the sky and saw that, instead of my usual Orion, the Southern Cross was guiding me home. This sent a thrill through me that I can’t possibly explain! I’m sure it was as odd a sight as when I was literally hugging trees in Stanley Park in Vancouver. There I was, standing in the middle of the street, hands full of groceries, laughing at the sky – so moved by seeing what has always been in the sky but never in my view before now!

All of this awakened in me my deep reverence for nature and the Universe and reminded me of how long it’s been since I lived somewhere with four distinct seasons – so defined and individually beautiful. I long for a changing climate where deciduous green trees of summer show off their vibrant colors in autumn and fade into the chill of winter, only to be reborn in spring. I long for babbling creeks, daffodils of spring, maple syrup and apple cider of fall, and all the other magic of Penn’s Woods.

On this world journey, as I visited many temples, mosques, churches, and other religious sites, the things that filled me with the most awe were the wonders of nature – especially waterways. Although I am not moving to Pennsylvania, which has more rivers and creeks than anywhere else in the continental United States, I will be a mere two hours away exploring the Potomac on my new kayak.

I am so filled with joy that I was able to take this incredible trip around the world. I met amazing people, experienced new cultures, saw so many wonders of nature, and even overcame some fears. I am equally as excited to return home to the mid-Atlantic.

Home. I really like the sound of that.

~ LiAnn

Everything in Australia will Kill You!

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Somewhere along the the way, I learned that everything in Australia is venomous and will lead to your painful death and/or dismemberment. This goes beyond the obvious snake or spider – or even a deadly shark or crocodile – it also includes pretty shell fish, trees, leaves…perhaps even tour managers and killer strawberries. Still, this country is pretty amazing and well worth visiting (cautiously)!

Uluru and the Red Center

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We drove through the Outback for several days. Although some of it was a bit monotonous, it was a cool experience, and Uluru and the Red Center were absolutely beautiful. I think winter was a good season to visit this region. It was warm in the day and a little chilly at night. There were also less flies and other insects than you would find in the summer.

Also, the night sky was clear, with stars to the horizon. I attended an astronomy lecture in the Outback and even got to view Saturn through a telescope. Amazing!