April 26, 2009

My First Day in Australia

It was a long journey, but well worth the 21 hours it took to get here. I arrived in Brisbane at 11:00am on Saturday April 25th, gathered my luggage and looked for the shuttle bus driver who would be taking me to my new home for the next 3 weeks in Benowa, which is just an hour's drive south of Brisbane.

As we pull up in front of the house I am breathless when I see this picture perfect little house tucked neatly in a lush garden surrounded by several types of tropical plants, bushes and trees.

I am greeted by the sounds of numerous types of birds who are enjoying there afternoon in the trees. I love this! All I ever hear is the cooing of pigeons with the occasional chirp of a sparrow back home in Las Vegas.

I settle in and take a little tour of the house and from the kitchen I step out onto a veranda and I am looking out over the backyard which has a swimming pool surrounded by more incredible foliage.

After about 10 minutes or so I have guests arriving with a bottle of Champagne to welcome me to Australia. Josie and Cliff introduce themselves as the couple who will be joining Warren and Pamela in my home. While we enjoy a glass of Champagne Josie asks if I would be interested in joining the Bushwalkers Club for a hike on Sunday. Sure! So everything is set and I am picked up by Wilma, one of the Bushwalker Club members at 6:15am on Sunday morning.

After meeting up with some more club members we head out to Binna Burra in the Lamington National Park and begin our 12k walk to Daves Creek.

With camera in hand I am immediately taking pictures of all the different types of trees and foliage. Australia has plants and animals like no other place in the world. The tree that I am the most fascinated with is the "Strangler Fig". This tree actually wraps itself around another tree and literally strangles it to death.

There is a very peaceful calmness as we walk through this rain forest with only the sounds of the many types of birds that live here. I kept hearing this whipping sound, you know like a rope being snapped at something, and when I asked Maurie what that was his answer of course was "That is a Whipbird".

Up ahead the group has stopped to wait for me to catch up, (because you know I am stopping entirely way to much to take pictures) so that I can take a picture of a Pademelon that is standing right along the path. The picture turned out to dark, but you can try and see it at "Where's Debbie".

As we continue on I am enjoying swinging from the vines,

climbing up trees, crossing little creeks, climbing rocks and enjoying the views.

Our hike has come to an end and Maurie has invited everyone to have their lunch at his home. What a great treat this was! Now talk about paradise, his home is nestled in a wooded area not far from where we were and the views are spectacular!

After we enjoy our lunch an the deck we our treated to a tour of Maurie's property.

As we begin, our tour starts with Maurie showing us a "Bower". This of course is made by a "Bowerbird". This is not a nest but a little something the male makes during courtship of a female. What a guy!

I am anxious to see the garden but not because of the different types of squash or fruit trees, I want to see how a kiwi fruit grows! I am sure I'm one of the very few who doesn't know that kiwi fruit grows on a vine. You learn something new everyday!

As we head back up to the house I am treated by the chance to see a leech crawling up the pant leg of Maurie's wife. This of course was after the leech had just sucked some blood from the toe of a fellow hiker.

Then when I think the day just couldn't get any better a wallaby makes his way across Maurie's property!

As Helen, Wilma, Geoff and I head back to town we stop at a little dairy that sells unpasteurized milk and some other treats. We stop in and no one is around so we help ourselves to the refrigerator and pick out what we want. I decided on the fresh goat's cheese for $4.00aus. We put our money in the jar and continued on home.

My first day in Australia has been amazing! To walk through a rainforest and experience Australia's wildlife is something I will never forget. But best of all, I have made some wonderful new friends. In fact, they have invited me back for another hike on Wednesday!

If you would like to see more pictures of my day in the rainforest just go to "Where's Debbie" and click on the album "Bushwalkers Club Hike"

April 25, 2009

A Home Exchange on the Gold Coast of Australia

Another great opportunity has come my way for a home exchange!

I have been preparing for my 3 week exchange to Australia since July, when I was first contacted by Warren and Pamela of Benowa in Queensland. To read their description of their home and the area made it impossible for me to decline.

One of the reasons I am so excited about this exchange, aside from the fact that it's in Australia, is that it just so happens to be in the same area as the very first home exchange I had in December 2006 in Southport. Both Benowa and Southport are right at Surfer's Paradise, where the Aussies go to vacation!

On this trip I am looking forward to visiting the Great Barrier Reef along with a trip to the Currumbin Wildlife Sancturary for the chance to mingle with the kangaroos and hold a Koala Bear! And of course spending some time on those great beachs of the Gold Coast!

It's April 23 and I am now on my flight to the land "Down Under". I am flying with "V Australia, Virgin Airlines' newest addition. I was able to get a great airfare of $674.00 round trip from Los Angeles to Brisbane. I booked my fight seperately for the round trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles through Southwest for only $125.00. I've learned that it is much cheaper to do it this way when I'm flying because airlines are always offering low fares when you fly out of LA to places like the South Pacific or Asia, but when you try to book that same flight round trip from Las Vegas you will pay an additional $300-$400. So you can save yourself some money by booking your round trip from LAS to LAX separetely.

I am happy here in my window seat and I have already been sitting here for 9 hours....only 5 1/2 more to go! Well that gets me to Sydney and then I have another 1 1/2 hour flight to Brisbane.

Be sure to check back soon to see how I spent my first day in the land "Down Under"
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