In August of 2006, Lis and I got married, and the next day we hopped on a plane. Eighteen hours later we arrived in Sydney, New South Wales to begin our two-and-a-half week adventure in Australia.
- Day 1 - We started out by arriving in Sydney early on Tuesday morning. After dropping our stuff off at Tokyo Village, we went to wander the city. We took a train down to Circular Quay, dropping us off right next to most of the attractions of the central part of the city. We walked around for a while looking at (and taking lots of pictures of) the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, and then we hopped on a ferry across the harbour. On the other side we followed a short walking path through Sydney Harbour National Park, seeing lots of little lizards and a few large pelicans. Eventually we headed back to the hostel for a short nap that turned into a full-blown "I've been on awake for most of the last 30 hours" sleep.
- Day 2 - The next day we got up and prepared for a day of museums. After a short walk around Hyde Park, our first stop was the Australian Museum. Next up was the Art Gallery of New South Wales, followed by a trip through the Botanic Gardens. Heading west, we then wandered around in The Rocks area and climbed to the top of Observatory Hill to see, appropriately enough, the Sydney Observatory.
- Day 3 - Thursday started with a trip to the Powerhouse Museum to learn about science, industry, and design. After we had seen all we could, we had lunch in Chinatown and poked our way through a giant Asian market. Eventually we made our way to Darling Harbour, where we made a quick trip through the Maritime Museum. We then caught a ferry back to Circular Quay, giving us a good view of the underside of the Harbour Bridge. After lounging just inside the Botanic Gardens for a while we headed back to The Rocks for dinner. We then took some nighttime pictures of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and finally headed back to sleep.
- Day 4 - Friday was our last day in Sydney, and we spent most of it in Sydney Harbour National Park. But before heading over there, we stopped by the Botanic Gardens to give it a much more thorough exploration than we had previously. While there we saw the elusive Wollemi Pine, as well as the colony of flying foxes that roosts in the area. After walking out to Mrs. Macquarie's point, hopped on the ferry over to the national park. There we followed a walking path that took us up and down along the water's edge, showing us lizards, tidal pools, and a couple of kookaburras.
- Day 5 - Saturday morning was spent travelling up to Townsville. Once we got there we checked in to Globetrotters Harbourside Inn and then went off looking for some lunch. We then spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach, seeing the sights of The strand.
- Day 6 - The next day we got up, got holy, and then went to a Sunday-morning market that takes place each weekend. After seeing plenty of weird stuff for sale, we began the major trek for the day: climbing the path to the top of Castle Hill. From the top we could see all of Townsville and the hills of the area, as well as Magnetic Island off the coast. We eventually made our way back down the path, took some pictures of The Strand at night, and then headed off to sleep.
- Day 7 - Monday was spent at Billabong Sanctuary seeing lots of Australian wildlife in a very hands-on setting. While there we learned about koalas, wombats, alligators, lizards, snakes, birds, and turtles. Lis got to hold a koala after one of the presentations, and we were able to feed kangaroos and wallabys throughout the day.
- Day 8 - We spent all of the next day at sea, going on a reef cruise to John Brewer reef. Once we got there we went on a discovery dive, looked at coral and fish through the bottom of a glass-bottom boat, and snorkeled our way all around the reef.
- Day 9 - Wednesday was our first day on Magnetic Island. We started out in by taking the ferry from Townsville over to the island; once there we began a long walk through forests of eucalyptus, rocks, and bushy undergrowth. We eventually emerged at Geoffery Bay; from there we headed down to Rocky Bay and Picnic Bay before going back to Townsville for the night.
- Day 10 - Thursday was another day on Magnetic Island, this time spent mostly at Picnic Bay snorkeling around the reef. When the tide started to go out we walked around the beach looking at coral, little crabs, and a very old shipwreck. Eventually we went on a walk toward West Point before heading back to Townsville again.
- Day 11 - Our last full day in Townsville was once again spent on Magnetic Island. This time we spent the morning in sea kayaks paddling our way from Horseshoe bay out to Five Beaches Bay. After having breakfast there we hopped in our kayaks and paddled back, making an approximately 10km round trip journey. After lounging on the beach for a long time, we then went on the Forts walk, taking us up to some old World War II era military forts. Along the way we saw four koalas in the wild, including one baby one, as well as one rock wallaby.
- Day 12 - On Saturday we returned to Sydney for a night to pick up the stuff we had left at the hostel there and to sleep before heading up to Katoomba.
- Day 13 - On Sunday morning we got up bright and early, left some more stuff in the hands of the hostel, and hopped on a train up to Katoomba. When we got there we checked in to the Flying Fox and then went for a long bushwalk along the Federal Pass in Blue Mountains National Park. This walk took us down, down, and further down into the depths of the cliffs and rainforest that make up the park. The walk ended with a look at the Three Sisters rock formation. That night we played Scrabble and Boggle with two people from England. We all learned from each other just how weird our versions of the English language are.
- Day 14 - The next morning we went out for another day of walking through the Blue Mountains, this time following the Prince Henry Cliff Walk down toward Leura Cascades. That night we headed back down to the Three Sisters to see them lit up at night.
- Day 15 - Our final day in Katoomba was actually spent in Wentworth Falls with more bushwalking. We started out on Darwin's Walk, which followed a stream through a pleasant field-like area. Eventually the stream turned into a waterfall as it fell over a cliff face into the depths of the Jamison Valley. From there we followed the Undercliff and Overcliff tracks along the edge of the valley. When we had completely tired ourselves out, we hopped back on the train to pick up our stuff and return to Sydney for our last night in Australia.
- Day 16 - Our last day in Australia was spent packing up and heading to the airport. The trip was done!