Wanderung 20

Australian Walkabout

May - June 2009



Some Wanderungs, like Wanderung 19, are carefully planned trips where every piece dovetails into a Grand Master Plan. Some Wanderungs, like Wanderung 18, grow like Topsy from some initial core travel goal or sighseeing idea, to which extensions and augmentations are eventually added. And some Wanderungs, I'm afraid, are a helter-skelter mix of spur-of-the-moment impulses, and Wanderung 20 turned out to be just that.

Monika and I had both put "Australia and New Zealand" in our Top 12 list of places to see after we retired, but the high cost of getting there, around $2,000 apiece from our home near D.C., prevented us from realizing that dream until Virgin Airlines opened up a new route from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia. Apparently a price war broke out, because suddenly Delta, United, and Qantas were all quoting round-trip fares from Washington, D.C. to Sydney for right around $1,000. Well, that brought the whole thing into a reasonable price range, so we booked a May flight over to Australia with a return in June, hoping that five weeks would be enough to see at least a good part of Australia. It turns out you need a visa to visit Australia, and we procurred one of those over the Internet on March 10, which at least saved us a trip downtown to the Australian Embassy.

Reasonable folks would probably have started to sketch in a set of things to see and do at that point, but we had already scheduled our cruise over to Europe with my sisters, so off we went for over a month of cruises and a bus trips (see Wanderung 19).


We always wanted to see Australia. I had checked airline prices several times, but a tag of $2000 to $3000 always deterred us. But now the prices had come down. I found some good fares for the end of November, but when I checked back a few weeks later (we had visitors in between) the good fares were only available for May and June. But we thought, what the heck, winter is not a bad time either. Well, we had booked our spring cruise with Lois and Phyllis already (Wanderung 19) and Beth and kids were coming at the end of June. So that left May and June. We decided we needed at least 2 weeks between trips, so I finally booked a five week trip from the middle of May to the third week in June. So now came the question of what to do. No interesting cruises were available. We thought of renting a car. But in Australia you have to drive it on the left hand side, and a car in a city can simply be a hassle. So I checked the trains and found a railpass that allowed us unlimited train and bus travel in New South Wales for one month. It also allowed us to go to Brisbane, Canberra, and Melbourne. That pretty much covered the southeastern coast of Australia, so we decided to buy the pass and let it take us wherever we wanted to go.

After buying a Frommer's guide for Australia, I discovered that we needed a visitor's visa, but that you get it online. So the next time at the library I signed into the Australia visa site, gave them all our passport information and a credit card, and voila, we had our visas. Now I just wanted a place to lay our weary heads after the flight. In hotels.com I found a relatively inexpensive Travelodge not too far from the central railroad station and booked us for the first three nights. With all of that taken care of, I could enjoy the cruises of Wanderung 19.


Arriving back in Virginia rather exhausted, we had less than two weeks before we left for Australia. That gave us just enough time to wash our clothes, pay our outstanding bills, put the house back in order, stock up on prescription medicine, finish writing a rough draft of the journal for Wanderung 19, and carefully download and back up all the pictures from that trip. I was especially careful to preserve all the wonderful pictures of our couple of days in Venice. After picking a set of pictures of the canals and bridges of Venice to email to our friends, I liked them so much that I took some time to make a nice picture calendar. It was all fun, but in retrospect maybe I should have spent more time preparing for the upcoming trip and less time celebrating the successful completion of the last one!


After coming home from Wanderung19, we washed our clothes and did other odds and ends. We also touched base with Lynn and Neville, a couple, that we befriended on our bustrip through Eastern Europe. They live near Sydney and generously invited us to spend the weekend with them after we got to Sydney, which we gladly accepted.

Copyright 2009 by R. W. Holt and E. M. Holt
Prolog Map of Australian Walkabout Epilog

May 2009
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June 2009
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