From Kangaroos to Keas

Australia and New Zealand with UC Retirees, 2004

by Harry & Iris Matthews

Picture titles

Click on the number to the left of a title to view the image at the current resolution. The numbers refer to the full set of 41 images.

1.  

In Melbourne, we spent a day with our friends Barry and Nora LeMar who we met on our Silk Route trip. This rose is from their garden there.

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2.  

The main part of this Roman Catholic Cathedral in Melbourne is quite old, for Australia, but the spire was added recently.

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3.  

The Red Centre. The centre of Australia is mostly desert, or near-desert, with deep red soil and rocks. This is a view of the desert with the Olga Mountains in the background, near Ayers Rock (Uluru is the original name for Ayers Rock, and Kata Tjuta is the original name for the Olga Mountains, given by the local Anangu people). Kata Tjuta means "many heads" because of the multiple peaks, unlike the single mass of Uluru.

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4.  

Walpa Gorge, Olga Mountains. Notice the smudge of people on the trail in the lower left corner of the picture. The bright red colour of the mountains was startling.

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5.  

Uluru Ayers Rock. This huge rock rises out of the flat desert with almost sheer sides. There are some people near the bottom right hand corner of the photograph. This is the Rock's midday colour. The colour changes with the light as seen in the next photograph which was taken at sunset.

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6.  

Uluru Ayers Rock at sunset. This is the whole Rock, as seen from a distance with the desert in the foreground. There is quite a bit of vegetation at this point, but other areas of the desert were much more sparsely covered.

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7.  

Uluru Ayers Rock. This detail of the rock face shows the effects of wind over geological time.

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8.  

Petroglyphs at the base of Uluru Ayers Rock. The cave containing these images was used as a pre-historic classroom. The symbols have meanings, making them almost like the beginnings of a written language.

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9.  

Dinky the singing dingo. On the 2-hour coach ride from Uluru Ayers Rock to Alice Springs we stopped at a lonely roadside café .

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10.  

A stick insect on a fellow tourist's ankle. We met this insect at a park near Alice Springs where we learnt about modern aboriginal life and culture.

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11.  

A pied butcher bird scavenging on the desert floor, near Alice Springs.

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12.  

Three aboriginal women displaying their artwork for sale.

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13.  

School of the Air. A mural on the wall of the School of the Air in Alice Springs. This small studio broadcasts to children spread over 1.3 million square kilometres of central Australia. Although originally radio, the School is now primarily Internet-based using a satellite for communications. We watched a teacher giving a lesson in the studio. It was curious to see the time delay in the signal going up to the satellite and back down again destroying the synchronisation between the teacher in the studio and the sound from the monitor outside.

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14.  

A wild grey kangaroo in the Blue Mountains National Park just west of Sydney. This photo illustrates what happens if one approaches a kangaroo normally.

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15.  

A wild grey kangaroo in the Blue Mountains National Park just west of Sydney. This illustrates what happens if one approaches a kangaroo on hands and knees. Apparently one is no longer considered a threat and its OK to keep grazing and even wave to the photographer.

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16.  

Noel was the greeter at the entrance to the Featherdale Wildlife Park, just west of Sydney. I thought Noel looked quite as interesting as the wallaby.

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17.  

A wombat at the Featherdale Wildife Park. Unfortunately, there is no scale in this picture but the wombat is quite large; I would guess about 30 cm (1 foot) high. With its furry coat and rotund shape I found it quite endearing.

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18.  

Koala. Koalas are nocturnal so this is the natural way to see one. Its amazing how comfortable it looks just in the fork of a tree.

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19.  

Koala. I couldn't resist a close-up of the nose resting in the crook of the hand.

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20.  

Kookaburra. Another unique Australian creature immortalised in one of those cute Australian songs: Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree ....

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21.  

Iris feeding a small kangaroo with the approved food at the Featherdale Wildlife Park just west of Sydney. The kangaroo's strategy was to knock the food out of Iris' hand and then eat it in peace from the ground.

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22.  

A duck-billed platypus. This weird animal was long thought to be a typical Aussie joke in London but this one looked awfully real.

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23.  

Bromiliad in Sydney Botanical Gardens.

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24.  

Grey-headed flying foxes in Sydney Botanical Gardens. Originally temporary visitors, these flying foxes (like very large bats) have taken up residence in the Sydney Botanical Gardens and multiplied to the point of causing a major headache for the gardeners.

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25.  

Hokitika Clock Tower. Hokitika is a small town on the West Coast of New Zealand. It was larger during the gold rush but has now settled down to arts and crafts, especially greenstone, and tourism. I believe this clock tower is also a war memorial, often a prominent feature of towns throughout New Zealand. New Zealand has sent many men to support Britain's foreign wars in remote parts of the world like Africa and Europe. The First World War, in particular, saw the loss of many New Zealanders on the far side of the Globe. New Zealand is more independent these days and has refused to commit troops to comabt roles in Iraq, although there are New Zealand troops there and in Afganistan in re-building roles.

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26.  

Franz Josef Glacier. One of the glaciers that flows down to the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

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27.  

Kea. A wild native New Zealand parrot near the Franz Josef glacier.

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28.  

Sunset over the Remarkables Mountain Range. We saw this display from the balcony of our hotel room in Queenstown.

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29.  

En route to Milford Sound. Fiordland National Park is well-known for its high rainfall. Note the typical small waterfall running down the mountainside. When it rains harder, these proliferate to cover the whole mountainside.

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30.  

Waterfall on Milford Sound. We saw this from a boat cruising the Sound, actually a fiord.

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31.  

Bridge over the Kawerau River near Queenstown. This is a bungee jump bridge, in fact the very first bungee jump in the world was made from this bridge which is still used for this purpose.

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32.  

Land Rover Defender fording a river near Queenstown. This was part of the Lord of the Rings Safari that took us to many of the places where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed.

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33.  

Road to Skipper's Canyon. This was part of the Lord of the Rings Safari like picture 32.

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34.  

Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

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35.  

Sir Edmund Hilary. This stautue at The Hermitage hotel in the Mt. Cook National Park shows this New Zealand hero facing towards the mountains where he climbed before his pioneering climb to the top of Mt. Everest. In New Zealand he is almost as famous for his good works in Nepal and elsewhere over his lifetime.

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36.  

Aoraki Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand and Australia, 3762 metres. The Maori name is Aoraki.

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37.  

Moon over mountains at sunrise in the Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park.

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38.  

Sunrise on Aoraki Mt. Cook..

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39.  

Kea on the balcony of our hotel room. Kea, the native New Zealand parrots, have developed into skilful and fearless scavengers and have found hotel rooms to be wonderful sources of intriguing finds.

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40.  

Sheepdog on a farm between Aoraki Mt. Cook and Christchurch. He rounded up some sheep for us and we watched one of them being shorn

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41.  

Hagglund vehicle as used in Antartica. Christchurch is the starting off point for much of the scientific travel to Antartica and there is an Antartica exhibition/museum near the airport in Christchurch. We went for an exhilarating ride in this Hagglund vehicle, including simulating breaking through the ice -- the vehicle floats.

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