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Custom Itinerary for Rebecca & Dan Linton,

Sandra Lehman and Marcia Schuneuer

Australia & Fiji

September 2005



Day 1 - Los Angeles / Lost In Space

Begin your South Pacific journey flying from Birmingham or Memphis to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles collect your bags, then you may wish to take the airport terminal shuttle to the Tom Bradley Terminal, which is at the head of the horseshoe of LAX terminals. However, as you have plenty of time, and you will be sitting down for over 14 hours, you can also walk. Qantas logo Check in for your flight to Australia, which begins the moment you step aboard your Air New Zealand or Qantas plane. The Downunder style is apparent—easy going, casually efficient and very friendly. Both airlines are known for theirQantas plane  excellent food and inflight service, so sit back and enjoy the hospitality, meal and a movie. I would, however, recommend having dinner at the airport – there are a wide range of options upstairs, at the end of the ticket counters – then just relaxing on the plane.              *M

Day 2 - Lost In Space
Lose today due to the International Dateline, but regain it on your return journey.                *M

Day 3 - LIS / Sydney
You arrive in Sydney early this morning, pass through customs and immigration then transfer to your hotel Sydney Harbor Bridge Australia, the Harbour Rocks, located in the RocksSydney Australia restaurant meal, the historical heart of Sydney. As well as a good range of interestings shops, some of Sydney's oldest and most colorful pubs, and best restaurants, are found within a ten minute stroll. Australia has developed its own cuisine, a far cry from the stodgy English-based fare of earlier years. Restaurants featuring a fusion of Asian, European and even native Australian food abound, often featuring the superbly fresh fish abundantly available from Australia's long coastline. Due to your early arrival your hotel room may not be available, however you can leave your bags there, and freshen up. Lunch can be taken on a cruise on the harbor, with views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as the boats and ferries of what is often called the most beautiful city harbor in the world. While there are Manly Sydney Australiatours that utilize the ferries, usually with lunch or morning tea, the cheapest way to do this is to simply buy a return ticket to one of the up-harbour places such as Homebush (where the Olympics were held). You’ll see a map of all the places they go at Circular Quay. The ferries have Syndey harbor Ferry Australiaa snack/meal bar, and you can just get an easy lunch or snack there, sit back, and enjoy the ride. The ferry to Manly goes in the other direction, and as it passes the Entrance, where the harbor enters the boomerang AustraliaPacific, can get interestingly rough at times. This ferry will pass the Opera House and various other landmarks, and is also a good run. Return to your hotel for a well-deserved night's rest, but make sure you are not tempted to lie down before about 8pm. You need to stay awake all today, then sleep on Sydney's time, to best adjust to the new time zone.                   *B

Day 4 - Sydney
Discover Sydney today, a wonderfully cosmopolitan city. Just a short walk from your sydney Opera House & Harbor Bridge Australiahotel (the desk can give you directions) is the office of The Rocks Walking ToursCadmans Cottage The Rocks Sydney Australia, from where you will start your 10.30am easy 90-minute walking tour of this historic and vibrant area. Many of the buildings date from the very first years of the settlement, and are convict-built. You will get a good insight to the history of Sydney, and Australia. The rest of the day is free to explore this vibrant and friendly city. In addition to great shops to buy the needed souvenirs and gifts, just a short walk is the Botanic Gardens and the Domain, which has good views of theflying fox sydney Australia harbour, an abundant bird life, and a colony of huge grey fruit-bats, whose wingspans are approximately three feet. The Australian Museum, with its impressive collection of Aboriginal artefacts and art, is Sydney Opera House Australiaalso close by. The Taronga Zoo is a ferry ride across the harbour, and a lunch or dinner cruise is a good way to truly appreciate this water-side city. During today or tomorrow you may wish to take a guided tour of the Opera House; tours leave on the half hour from 9.30am until 4.45pm. This can be followed by dinner and a show, or just a show, in one of the Opera House theatres, depending on your tastes. A calendar of events can be found here. Everything is within walking distance of your hotel, although the Museum is a little far and you may wish to take the bus or a train - Sydney is extremely well-serviced by buses and the underground.             B

Day 5 - Blue Mountains
lookout Blue Mountains Sydney Australia You are picked up this morning for a full day out to the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney. Youbirdal veil falls blue mountains sydney Australiar route takes you much the same way as the early explorers who sought a way across the mountains to the fertile grazing land beyond. The views from the lookouts, including the Three Sisters, are quite spectacular. You can enjoy a short bushwalk, look for kangaroos, experience the tall Eucalyptus forest - and try some billy tea while there - enjoy old cottage blue mountains Sydney Australiasome typically Australian food in an country pub, or homestead for lunch, and see early Australian non-urban architecture. Your guide will tell you much abut the history and geology and of the areas visited. You are returned to your hotel about 6pm.                         L

 

Day 6 - Sydney / Cairns
This morning taxi back to the airport for your flight to Cairns.pelicans Cairns Esplanade Queensland AustraliaCairns Esplanade Queensland Australia  - photo courtesy cairnsesplanade.com On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel, Tradewinds Esplanade. You can walk out of the rear of the hotel to the Esplanade, which runs along the bayfront. It is a very short and pleasant walk through the new Esplanade Fogarty Park to the main downtown area, past cafes, shops and restaurants. Probably the best eating fish in Australia, and one of the best in the world, is Barramundi, and you should make sure this is a feature of one of your meals here. Start with an appetizer of Mud crab or Moreton Bay Bugs (both far better than they sound), followed by Barramundi done as simply as possible. A dry white Australian Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps from the Margaret River area of Western Australia, or a crisp Victorian white, will be a perfect accompaniment.             *B

Day 7 - Great Barrier Reef
Today you are introduced to one of the natural wonders of the world—Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a series of reefs extending for about 1,250 miles along the coast of coral cay Great Barrier Reef Queensland AustraliaQueensland, nearly to Papua New Guinea. On your trip today you experience two important features—a coral inner-shelf reef, and the sandy vegetated cay formed on one end. Michaelmas Reef lies about 22 miles off the coast just north of Cairns, with Michaelmas Cay on its southern tip. It is an important seabird rookery, which becomes apparent as you approach the mass of birds swirling constantly above the cay. The four primary species are Crested, Lesser-crested and Sooty Terns, and Common Noddy. Lesser Frigatebirds are usually present, as are Silver Gulls, Brown Boobies and Ruddy Turnstones. The cay, most of which is off limits, is a National Park within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. However, the birds are very tolerant of visitors and stand thickly along the beach, allowing us to approach them within a few yards. Immediately offshore in waist-deep water, the first of the corals can be seen. For those not used to snorkelling, there is no easier introduction—just walk up to your waist, and bend over. Brilliantly colored fish, giant clams, beche de mer and coral outcrops can all be seen. Easy swimming in shallow water brings us over coral “bombies,” heads of coral with their assortment of fishes, and hard and soft corals. Parrot fish glean algae from the coral, and small and medium predators search for food. Schools of fish twist and flash between the outcrops. An coral reef fish Great Barrier Reef Australiaoccasional sea turtle may be seen. You glide around the coral in a semi-submersible submarine, dry and with your ordinary cameras, while a marine biologist describes the species seen and some of the processes at work. For those interested, there are guided snorkel tours led by a marine biologist; for those who are certified, scuba diving is an option, or a non-certified introductory dive. On your trip out, one of the marine biologists explains the development of this and other reef systems and gives us an introduction to many of the animal species that you see. Lunch is a tropical smorgasbord. In the afternoon you return to Cairns, under sail if the winds are right. Your transport to the reef is a 105 foot luxury, motor-sailing catamaran. There is time after your return this evening to visit Cairns, or you may wish to relax poolside at the hotel.                        L

 

 

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