Nicaragua Round-Up

Red Dancer No. 1As many of you know, I recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua (with brief stops in a few other places).  Eventually I’ll post some actual information about by trip and experiences, but for now I’m using this post just to gather links to both the videos and photos that I’ve posted around the net.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to my trip fund!  They helped fun some extra excursions to:

Notre Dame

Montreal

Arrivals

Toronto

Relaxation

And Costa Rica

Where we went to a restaurant to watch Costa Rica’s last World Cup 2014 game.

Of course, the main purpose of the trip was Nicaragua, where I participated in a Photography Workshop organized by The Giving Lens and working with Empowerment International.
I took photos in and around Granada, and so many portraits that, surprisingly, I loved shooting!

We played with Pinatas

and so many other things!

Check out all my photos on Flickr and check back for more info!

Portraits:

Other photos from Nicaragua:

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Loading the Polaroids

This post is basically just a picture dump of some snaps I took while loading up the film in my Highlander and Swinger Polaroids.  Both of these cameras take roll film that is like a double roll – one small black end is the negative and the other, the prints. There are about 8 pictures to a roll and I’m sure I will waste the first two or three of each.  I think I either pulled the leader either too much or not enough so… that’ll be fun.  Luckily I’ve got three rolls of the Swinger film and four of the Highlander in my stock, so it’s not a big deal if I even waste the entire roll.  Hopefully I don’t though :) Check out the ‘Camera Collection’ link at the top of this page to see them all.

Highlander

Swinger

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Unboxing My Childhood

So, when I was a kid, I had this camera that I always played with. I always just assumed it was a toy, as did my parents.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, we were convinced it was a FisherPrice camera. Or maybe Playskool. It was a toy, but I always knew that it could be used as a real camera if we had the right film. I don’t remember when we got it, or when it disappeared. When I got my Holga, about five or six years ago, and saw the size of the film (120) I was convinced that was the size used in this ‘toy’, from what I remembered of the spool. I was curious about that camera. I had to play with it!  I kept tearing apart the toy room at the parents’ house but could never find it. We still have about 90-95% of all our toys from when we were kids.  Sadness.  I decided to look for it online but even Google was no help.  I didn’t know that was possible!  I could not find a toy camera that matched what I remembered it looking like.

Then, one day a couple of weeks ago (Monday, 9 June, to be precise), I was sitting in a coffee shop randomly searching eBay. I’d had bids in on three cameras that morning and didn’t win any of them. Still in the shopping mood, I decided to just randomly search for ‘vintage camera’ and see what pretties showed up.

Half way down page five, I squeed, very loud, right in the middle of TAN. Thankfully I knew the person sitting next to me!  There, in the back corner of a large lot of brownies and other cameras, was… my camera! It didn’t look like the picture I had in my mind, but I recognized it the moment I saw it and instantly even remembered what the back and top looked like even though it wasn’t shown in the photo.

I remembered the CLUNK-clunk of the shutter, flipping the black latch and pressing the blue button in the back to open the camera and ‘change the film’.  The feel of the smooth molded plastic, that really does remind one of a child’s toy, and wrapping the plastic strap around my wrist and spinning the red knob even though I didn’t know what it did. Even though I had cameras with actual film in them that I used all the time, I still loved to play with my ‘toy’.  To me, it looked like a camera a professional would use. I could imagine shooting some fashion magazine cover or capturing the perfect shot for a National Geographic spread.

But I still didn’t know what the camera was. The eBay auction was due to end in about two hours and was only at about $60 – a good price for the lot, but still more than I could afford.  Even if I placed a low bid, I was certain I would get outbid. After I settled down from my discovery, I sent the seller a message asking for more information about the camera. Specifically – what the heck was it?  While I waited for an answer (which, by the by, didn’t come until about a week or more later) I went back to window shopping.

On page six, there was my camera, all by its lonesome!

Turns out, my parents bought me a Polaroid camera made for Swingers in the 60′s. Needless to say, I did tease them for an entire weekend about it when I was there for Father’s Day weekend. Mum thinks they must have picked it up at a garage sale some time, because it never belonged to my parents. That, of course, made it all the more funny. Who knows who they bought it from?  Just think of the… germs… that were on that thing while I was playing with it. It’s totally hilarious!

Anyway, so I spent the next two or three hours searching through the dozens (hundreds?) of listings for the Polaroid Swinger Model 20. Comparing prices, making sure the latch on the back was black, like mine, and not white, messaging sellers to make sure it came with the spool… By supper time I’d bought one.

And… it arrived today!

(along with couple of packages of Polaroid Type 20 (for the swinger) and 32 (for the Highlander) film)

Unboxing

DSCF4368The camera came with instructions, a case (with the original box), flashbulbs and an empty film box. It was all in very good condition, although some batteries were left in the camera. Don’t know how long they’d been there but luckily, although the batteries were clearly dead, their death did not make a mess of the camera.

It was also exactly as I remembered it!  I learned a new thing: There were AA batteries back in the ’60s!  The stack of three boxes of film were purchased on eBay separately but arrived at the same time. How convenient! I have one more box of film for this camera on its way.

Specs:

Polaroid Swinger Model 20
Year: 1965-1970
Film: Polaroid Type 20

To see other cameras in my collection, check out this post.

Unboxing Polaroid Model 20 SwingerUnboxing Polaroid Model 20 Swinger Unboxing Polaroid Model 20 Swinger Unboxing Polaroid Model 20 Swinger Unboxing Polaroid Model 20 Swinger

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Twin Lens Reflex Build Photos

Photos I took while building my Recesky Twin Lens Reflex camera kit.

The kit

The kit

Innards

Innards

Shutter mechanism

Shutter mechanism

Then I got bored, and also tired and just wanted to get it done so I stopped taking photos.

Here it is completed.  Check out my camera collection post for more of my cameras.

Recesky

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Anchor

If you enjoy this little piece, and my photo, perhaps you’d like more! I’m raising funds for my trip to Nicaragua, where I’ll create all new shorts and photos.  I hope you’ll join me for this project.

AnchorThe weight of the news crushed Amy like an anchor crushing a fragile piece of coral. Perhaps that was fitting – she’d been Amy’s anchor for as long as she could remember. She was the only one who understood; the only one who had been there next to her, through everything.

And now she was gone, her mother, killed in some random accident on some random street, running some random errand.

And there was no one left for Amy to tell; no one to hold her as she cried; no one left to stop her from drifting off into the abyss.

Written for the 5 Sentence Fiction Challenge “Anchor”.

Lillie McFerrin Writes
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My Camera Collection

I thought I would share my camera collection.  New additions are at the bottom!  Each set includes a photo of the camera with an unedited sample photo (if available).

Total Cameras: 16 + two extra lenses

Updated 12 August: Added: Kellogg’s Microcam and Nikon N80


PrinzflexPrinzflex sample

  • Prinzflex 500E (SLR) (This was my mum’s camera. :) )
  • Year: Late 60′s
  • Film: 35mm
  • Played with this a few times, though not recently and not since its been cleaned. Looking forward to it!

FujiKingstec

  • Fuji Finepix E900
  • Year: 2006 (Bought new as a college grad pressie for myself)
  • Film: Digital 9mp + video
  • This is my carry-everywhere camera it goes in my bag or pocket whenever I leave the house, unless I take something better. It’s what launched me from taking snapshots to being more artistic.  However, it’s seen better days and I think she’s on her last legs. I need to replace her, but the alternative (Nikon D40) is too big! What to do…

Nikon D40Icebergs!

  • Nikon D40 dSLR
  • Year: 2006 (Bought new in 2007 to go to Iceland/Greenland! Sample photo is from Greenland)
  • Film: Digital 6mp
  • This has been my workhorse for 6+ years. I’d love to just carry it around everywhere with me, as I mentioned above, but it’s kinda big. You know, for a pocket.

HolgaKesX3

  • Holga 120N + filters
  • Year: 1980s (Purchased new in 2007. It came with me to Iceland)
  • Film: 120mm
  • (Sample photo taken with one of the filters.) Played with this quite a bit. Even today, actually! I love this little guy. The photos are actually better than ‘promised’… which I was kind of disappointed at. Why use instagram when you can use this? This is classed as a toy camera. I want more of these. Actually, I’ve been trying to find the one I had as a kid, but I can’t find it at the parent’s house and I’ve never even been able to find a photo of it online. :( I never thought to put film in it back then, but I know now that I could have! I want to play with that OMGSOBAD! Have a toy camera you want to get rid of? gimmie! :)  Scroll down for an update!!

LensbabyLensbaby experiment

  • Lensbaby 3g + aperature filters
  • Year: 2006 (I think I got this as a Christmas present in 2007)
  • Film: This is a lens, people. It doesn’t use film. (But actually, it goes on my Nikon cameras so… digital)
  • I’ve played with this a few times, but I’m horrible with it. The sample pic is the best/only good thing I’ve shot with it. I’m actually thinking of getting rid of it.  Any offers?

OlympusScot's Bay beach

  • Olympus Infinity 80
  • Year: 2006 
  • Film: 35mm
  • I’m considering replacing the Fuji in my bag with this camera. I like it. The sample photo (scanned negative) doesn’t do the camera justice. I like the photos it produces. They’re okay for a point and shoot film camera. For the most part, this would do just as well as the Fuji for the kinds of photos I take while just walking to work or going to the store

Voig

  • Voigtlander Vito Automatic 1 Rangefinder
  • Year: c.1963
  • Film: 35mm
  • Bought this a couple of years ago. No sample photos yet as the first time I loaded film in it, I didn’t load it properly and got nadda. (That’s always been a challenge for me! lol) There’s film in it now and I hope to shoot with it by the end of the summer.

GoPro cameraTurtle Turtle

  • GoPro Hero3 White
  • Year: 2012
  • Film: Digital 5mp + video
  • I purchased this camera for my trip to Australia. I wanted an underwater camera for the Great Barrier Reef. I also wanted to bring a video camera with me, just in case, but didn’t want to add even more to the gear I was taking. I chose this in particular for some of the other features like time lapse.

d3200Night Diamond

  • Nikon D3200 dSLR
  • Year: 2012
  • Film: Digital 24mp + video
  • I got this camera just last Christmas. I went in to buy a new 18-55mm kit lens to replace the one for my D40 that broken and came out with this D3200 (with the 18-55mm kit lens I needed), a 50mm f/1.8 lens, and Lightroom 5. Oops. :) I love this camera. BIG upgrade from the D40. Night shots on this are amazing, even handheld. (side note: The Tamron 70-300mm lens was purchased with the D40.)

Recesky

  • Recesky Twin Lens Reflex (Kit)
  • Year: ?mid-late 2000s?
  • Film: 35mm
  • This is a ‘model’/kit that I had to build. I actually bought this a couple years ago and the kit sat in my closet until last weekend when I had a whim to finally build it. It took about 3 hours.  I plan to take this out and play with it after my trip to Nicaragua. I put a few shots of the build at the bottom of this post.  Check out photos of the build here.

Brownie Brownie Guts

  • Six-20 Target Brownie
  • Year: 1941
  • Film: 620
  • I just bought this camera last weekend!  (It could be what spurred me to build the TLR above.) I’m SO looking forward to playing with this!  Need to buy the film first. I’ve been wanting a Brownie for a long time and finally got one. Was so excited I called my mum as soon as I walked away from the flea market table because I was alone and didn’t have anyone else to squee to.

Unboxing Polaroid Model 80

  • Polaroid Model 80 “Highlander”
  • Year: 1957-9
  • Film: Polaroid Type 32
  • Just received this eBay purchase today. Good deal! Came with case, flash, bulbs, and a package of film, though it’s for cameras several decades younger than this. Film on the way. Can’t wait! I did an unboxing video, a loading-the-film photo gallery.

DSCF4368

Dial 35

  • Bell & Howell / Canon Dial 35
  • Year: 1963
  • Film: 35mm
  • Interesting half frame camera. I need to find a battery for it and them I’m interested in playing with it! (If it still works. I’m always afraid when looking at vintage electronic cameras).

Polaroid

  • Polaroid Land Camera OneStep
  • Year: 1977
  • Film: Polaroid SX-70
  • Now this is the kind of Polaroid I remember from my childhood (that I actually knew was a Polaroid!). I never actually owned one of these OneSteps… until now!

Nikon N80

  • Nikon N80 SLR
  • Year: 2000
  • Film: 35mm
  • While it’s not my first SLR (actual film SLR), it feels like it. Maybe because I technically do have multiple lenses for it, unlike the Prinzflex, as I’m able to use my digital lenses with it.  Only downside: It’s so similar to my D40, I can imagine picking up the wrong camera. I’ll have to put them in different places!

Microcam

  • Kellogg’s Promo Microcam
  • Year: 1990′s
  • Film: 110
  • I decided I wanted a 110 camera again. (My first camera was a 110 camera and broken decades ago.)  I searched through eBay and found loads of those skinny, rectangular cameras so much like my first.  The others were just regular looking old cameras.  Boring.  Then I saw this one.  I do like interesting things.
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My Trip Down Under – The End

31 October – 3 November, 2014 – Sydney

I was excited to wake up and explore Sydney on my first day in the city.  Sad too, though, because it was my last stop on this whirlwind tour.

I spent the first morning getting lost exploring the area near the ANZAC Bridge and made my way toward Darling Harbour.  They have a lot of touristy things there.  There was a Maritime Museum with an interesting photo exhibition but I didn’t go.  There was a lot of things I wanted to see in the city and didn’t really have time.  I did take time to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Have to go whenever I’m near one!  I actually almost spent a couple of nights in Surfer’s Paradise just to go to the one they have there… then realized that was just stupid.  The store was not well stocked.  I still need to email the manager to get my regular HRC things!  The place was decorated for Halloween, which I hear isn’t really a big thing around there.  There is also a small ‘zoo’ in this area, which I had originally planned on going to while in the city.  Maybe even to have breakfast with the Koalas!  But, after seeing them in the wild in Melbourne and even seeing one in a small enclosure in the main foyer of the ‘zoo’, there was no reason to spend the time or money to visit the attraction for real.

The Sydney Opera HouseAfter that, I made my way to Sydney Harbour and the Opera House.  I was taking a tour and then had tickets to the Symphony after (Dvorak’s New World Symphony).  Some interesting facts: They have several halls with about 2500 events each year.  The roof of the Opera House is made up of about 1, 005, 556 tiles.  A few days prior, they actually had Beethoven’s 9th performed here.  I knew that before and actually considered rearranging my vacation to be there for it, but didn’t.  Dvorak was amazing though.  The music wraps around you like a blanket.  Two days ago (February 1st), I went to my first symphony since returning, at the Rebecca Cohn in Halifax.  I’m definitely happy there were a few months in between the performances.  As it was, the music felt almost claustrophobic in the smaller Halifax venue.

The next day, I ‘photographed’ my way to Hyde Park, where I stopped for breakfast before making my way to “Lady MacQuarrie’s Chair”.  This spot is the popular viewing spot for the Opera House and Bridge.  After that, I headed back to the Opera House and a nearby restaurant where I met up with a bunch of Aussie writers for a meal and drinks and then back to the hotel.  Lots of walking, but a nice relaxing day!

(Un)finally, it was my last day in the city.  Still so many things to do!  On the list: the beach, a museum or two, the observatory.  First stop: Bondi Beach.  Some backstory: There were a lot of bush fires burning near Sydney since I arrived in the continent – up to 72 at one time, I heard.  In New Zealand, it was all over the news.  Once I arrived in Australia, it was like there was no such thing as fire.  One could imagine it there had never been a fire… Until the morning of the 2nd.  The air, especially at the beach, was heavy with smoke.  At one point you couldn’t even see to the other end of the beach.  Horrible but… it smelled good!  This was also good because, you know, I generally hate beaches, but because there was no sun, it was quite enjoyable and spent a lot of time walking up and done in the surf.  The wind changed and the smoke lifted around noon.  The sun shone bright so I headed back into the city.

I didn’t have time to do a museum and the observatory before suppertime.  I had to choose.  I figured that I’d already seen an observatory in Wellington and the museum was a convict barracks museum.  I decided on the museum because I figured learning about that part of the country’s history was a must-do.   Besides, I could go to the observatory at night, right?  The museum was definitely worth it.  I was great and I got some good photos.  It deconstructed part of the building, which I enjoyed as someone who like architecture.  Of course, the museum was focused mostly on its convict history, but also the other uses of the building.  I was there until I was ‘kicked out’ at closing.  I could have stayed at least another half hour.  Maybe longer.  There was a dorm with hammocks strung that visitors could get comfy in.  I could have fallen asleep!

The crowds

Saturday crowds at the Opera House.

After that, I headed to the observatory in the area called ‘The Rocks’.  In the half hour I was in the area, I saw six different wedding parties having their photos taken.  It’s clearly so popular that even if I wanted my photos taken there, I’d try and be more creative.  It was an amazing spot for photos though.  As for the observatory… I could have visited at night… but only if I bought my ticket during the day.  Sigh.  Not to worry.  I took the opportunity to head back to the Opera House look out and photograph it during sun set.

BatsI wanted to hang around for the fireworks that the city was putting on in my honour, to see me off puts on each Saturday, but I would have had to wait about two hours.  It was a dark, secluded park and I had nothing to keep me busy for that time.  If I’m ever back in the area, I’ll be more prepared!  Of course, the bats made for great entertainment.  Big bats!  Big bats but blurry photos. :(  Once again I made my way back to the Opera House and arrived just a few minutes before the fireworks started.  They were awesome, even if the location for photographic composition was not.

I hung around as long as I could, just enjoying the atmosphere, until I headed back to the hotel for my last night of sleep of vacation.

Thanks for joining me on my little trip!

Wrap-Up

Impressions: Sydney was great!  I’d love to go back and explore more of the city.  I hated leaving, but of course, that meant I was also leaving Australia.  :(

Daily Casualties: Just myself a couple of times, on the first day and then also on the trains.  Those are confusing!  Definitely not the London Underground. Also ‘lost’ the stuff I left behind on purpose to make room in my bag. :)  I did come to realize why I kept forgetting stuff or losing stuff… I was upside down!  Of course things were falling off me. ;)

Walked: About 28 miles.

Just so you know, the widget I use to capture my flickr photos usually leaves a few out of the gallery.  If you really want to make sure you see all the photos, check out my flickr stream. 400 photos.  Sorry y’all.  I suck at self editing.

The Rest of the story:

Aurora Announces her trip!
Aurora’s Australian Pre-planning
Working with a Travel Agent
My Trip Down Under:
Day 123 - The Journey
Day 4 - Auckland
Day 5 - North Island Culture
Day 6 - Rotorua
Day 7 - Wellington
Day 8 - Wellington
Day 9 & 10 - South Island Scenery
- Day 11 – Queenstown
- Day 12 – Middle Earth
- Day 13 – The Last Day
- Day 14 – Great Barrier Reef
- Day 15 – Alice Springs
- Day 16, 17 & 18 – The Outback
- Day 19, 20 and 21 – Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
- Days 22 to 25 – Sydney and the End
Down Under Assignments

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My Trip Down Under – “Assignments”

While I was in New Zealand and Australia, in addition to just enjoying myself and seeing as much as possible, I gave myself some ‘assignments’ and projects to work on.  Some were successful, some I need to work on, though nothing turned out horrible.  All were fun.

Night Photography

During the Australian portion of my trip, I spent two nights ‘camping’ in the outback.  Hello dark skies!  I wanted to try some straight night sky photography as well as try a star trail photo.

Outback Milky Way

Southern Star Trail

The star trail could be better, and the trails longer, but I ran out of battery!

Here are some other semi/successful shots from the trip:

Cuba Night Lake Wakatipu at Night Sydney Opera House at Night Sydney Harbour Tail Lights Opera house Works

Panoramas

In the past, my version of a panorama was to crop a shot down.  I have plenty of opportunities to practice on some magnificent scenery on this trip.  I do need to try using a tripod, and perhaps shooting portrait to give me more wiggle room to crop but… I think these are good first attempts.

Cook Strait Panorama
Queenstown Hill - Full
Queenstown Hill - Half

GoPro Video / Underwater

I shot a bunch of videos and photos while checking out the Great Barrier Reef.  I combined the best videos into the clip below.

GoPro Time Lapse

My GoPro has a timelapse feature on it and I thought “what better way to try that out, then on all these sunrise excursions I’ll be doing in the outback?”  Well, perhaps that wasn’t exactly the best place to try it.  Or maybe I need more practice.  I think that is definitely the case for the time lapse more than any of these other projects.  Here’s a couple anyway!

Postcard Book

Long before leaving for my trip (before even starting to book things for it), I came across a blog post somewhere about a very neat idea. (I tried to find the post to link to, but couldn’t find it).  It was an idea for people who:

  1. Enjoy receiving real mail that’s not junk or statements
  2. Collect stamps
  3. Collect postcards
  4. Enjoy documenting travels

A postcard book! As I enjoy all four of those things, I had to do it.

It’s pretty simple: Everyday, I bought a postcard.  (Well, I bought one for this project, plus extras for funsies).  I wrote a brief message about what I did that day, put a fun stamp on it, and mailed it.  In New Zealand, I bought the stamps all different.  I also sent a few postcards back home to friends and family and carefully chose the appropriate stamp for each person.  (I kept the best for myself, of course!).  In Australia, I just bought a sheet of stamps that were all the same (there weren’t many options in the place I bought them). Even though my trip was over three weeks long, it was about a week after returning home that I received the first one.

The last part of the project is to hand bind/stitch all of the cards as a book.  Of course, I haven’t done that yet and, knowing me, I’ll probably get lazy and just put them in the binder with all the other postcards.  There was a place around here that did neat workshops like book binding and I thought I’d take the next book binding workshop to work on this project.  They closed. :(

I wasn’t smart with all of my postcard purchases, however, and they’re not all the same size.  Also… don’t get me started on the New Zealand postal service with respect to stamp collectors… unless you want me to rant.

The Rest of the story:

Aurora Announces her trip!
Aurora’s Australian Pre-planning
Working with a Travel Agent
My Trip Down Under:
Day 123 - The Journey
Day 4 - Auckland
Day 5 - North Island Culture
Day 6 - Rotorua
Day 7 - Wellington
Day 8 - Wellington
Day 9 & 10 - South Island Scenery
- Day 11 – Queenstown
- Day 12 – Middle Earth
- Day 13 – The Last Day
- Day 14 – Great Barrier Reef
- Day 15 – Alice Springs
- Day 16, 17 & 18 – The Outback
- Day 19, 20 and 21 – Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
- Days 22 to 25 – Sydney and the End
Down Under Assignments

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My Trip Down Under – Days 19, 20 and 21

28 – 30 October, 2013 – Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road

The Great Southern HotelI left Alice Springs on the morning of the 28th and arrived at my hotel in Melbourne around supper time.  It wasn’t the greatest hotel in the world (not very clean and very old, although they have started renovating the place) but I picked it because the architecture looked really interesting and I wanted to photograph it!  I didn’t waste much time there before I headed out to explore the city.  I had two famous signs that I wanted to photograph that were outside the main area I would be exploring later so I did that first, then found out where I needed to meet my coach tour early the next morning and found something to eat at a yummy Italian restaurant.

KoalaThe next day, I was up bright and early to catch that coach tour and I spent the day travelling down and exploring the Great Ocean Road.  It is a tourist road that was built by ex-servicemen after the war.  It was very cool and I would love to go back!  I even spotted Koalas in the wild!! I wasn’t able to get a good shot of one, but that’s okay.  The 13 hour tour was very rushed, but we had a lot of miles and stops to cover.  And we watched a Mr. Bean movie on the way back to Melbourne.

The next day was my chance to explore Melbourne.  This is a city of bridges and I tried to photograph as many of them as possible, as well as a lot of architecture, as well.  The most interesting bridges to me were the Webb Bridge for it’s design and the Southgate Footbridge for the “Locks of Love“. Looking back at the photos, I’m amazed at how much I was able to do that day.  I had to be back at the hotel by suppertime to catch my flight to Sydney!  It was a whirlwind couple of days, but I did love the city and I will definitely go back if I ever return to Australia.

Wrap-Up

Impressions: For the first time since arriving in Australia, I found a place I want to come back to!  If I ever did come back, and I was with someone who drove, I could see spending another few days in Melbourne and then taking up to a couple of weeks driving the Great Ocean Road and then up to Adelaide.  There are so many picturesque towns and villages along just the portion I travelled on, not to mention all the hiking trails at all the scene spots we rushed through!

Daily Casualties: Nothing!

Walked: About 17 miles, mostly on the 30th.

The Rest of the story:

Aurora Announces her trip!
Aurora’s Australian Pre-planning
Working with a Travel Agent
My Trip Down Under:
Day 123 - The Journey
Day 4 - Auckland
Day 5 - North Island Culture
Day 6 - Rotorua
Day 7 - Wellington
Day 8 - Wellington
Day 9 & 10 - South Island Scenery
- Day 11 – Queenstown
- Day 12 – Middle Earth
- Day 13 – The Last Day
- Day 14 – Great Barrier Reef
- Day 15 – Alice Springs
- Day 16, 17 & 18 – The Outback
- Day 19, 20 and 21 – Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
- Days 22 to 25 – Sydney and the End
Down Under Assignments

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My Trip Down Under – Day 16, 17 &18

25 – 27 October, 2013 – The Outback

On the morning of the 25th I was up early to meet my two night tour at 5:45 am.  We had a five hour drive ahead of us to our camping spot on night one at the Ayer’s Rock Resort.  We were barely out of town before we saw a dingo running along the road.  Excellent.  Another animal-in-the-wild crossed off my list!  Over the next two nights I was awoken by loud camels, but no dingoes, which was disappointing.  I’m sure they were by the campsites, but I probably just slept through them.

We made several stops along the way at outback cattle stations for pit stops, and scenic photos stops.  One of the stations we stopped at covered 1 million acres.  We even stopped at a camel farm!  In my original planning, I’d thought of going on a camel ride.  The place I was going to go through offered hour (or two) long camel rides out to sun set/rise viewing spots.  I was totally into that!  Mostly because, when I’d been to Egypt, riding on the camels was NOT advisable.  At this camel farm, however, we had only a 20 minute stop for rides and pit-stopyness and at this place the camel ride was more like those kids pony rides at the zoo.  I passed.

Our campsiteWe arrived at our campsite around 1 pm and had a great lunch of pasta salad and camel burgers.  After that, we drove to Uluru Rock for our first day’s walk.  We stopped first at an Aboriginal Cultural centre.  It seemed like a really great place, with a lot of information, but it was crowded and we didn’t have a lot of time so I didn’t really get to see much.  For our walk around the base of the Rock, we could do the full walk or half walk.  I did the half walk because those who did the full one pretty much just had to walk and not stop and enjoy the scenery.  I’m glad I did that because I arrived at the end only a few minutes before the full walkers!  And I wasn’t walking slow.

After that, we headed to a viewing area where we were treated to champagne and a cheese plate while we watched the sun go down.  Not too shabby, huh?

Supper was Camel sausage, kangaroo steak and salads as well as some Australian wine.  We didn’t enjoy a campfire or the beautiful night sky because we had a 0330 wake up call!  Sleep for sure.

Hiking Kings CanyonWe were up early for two reasons: to view the sun rise and get an early start on our hike of Kata Tjuta.  Our walks progressed in difficulty.  Uluru was completely flat; it may have even been wheelchair accessible, it was so easy.  Kings Canyon would be the hardest, but definitely worth it.  Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon have their trails close by 0900 on days with a forecasted temperature of 36* or higher.  This early in spring, it was already due to happen today and tomorrow.  I’m thinking there’s not very many days in the year that one can hike at any time of year.  There are also water bottle filling stations and emergency radios at a few stops along the trails.

We were done our hike and back at camp by lunch time.  After lunch it was time to head to our next camp site near Kings Canyon.  Again, we watched the sun set, headed to the campsite for supper and turned in early.  There were little gecko/lizards crawling all over the outside of the screen walls of our kitchen but (as far as I know) not in our tents (thankfully!) I did do a bit of night photography before turning in this night, though.  You know, we didn’t have to get up until 0430 the next morning.  All kinds of sleeping in!

Outback Milky Way

My favourite photo of my entire Down Under trip.

Southern Star Trail

There was no sun rise viewing this morning, but we did arrive at the start of the trail at that time and were finished our four hour walk around 1000.  After that, we had lunch and then headed back to Alice Springs.  That night I found a steak house and finished off my Aussie Food list with some crocodile spring rolls and emu salad! I’d asked out outback guide, Mel, if all these meats (camel, croc, roo and emu) were actually eaten by Aussies, or if they were just for the tourists.  She hemmed and hawed but said that the camels were eaten most by the locals, because they were such pests.  If you’re interested: camel just tasted like your basic sausage, roo was quite yummy, croc tasted like seasoned chicken (as expected) and the emu was quite strong and, while it wasn’t bad, was definitely my least favourite.

Wrap-Up

Impressions: Great hikes, awesome scenery.  Glad I went, but I probably wouldn’t go back… although that dark sky was awesome.  Maybe I’d go back for that.  The half hour I spent shooting (for the) stars was probably my favourite part of the entire mini trip.

Daily Casualties: Nothing!

Walked: About 10 miles.

The Rest of the story:

Aurora Announces her trip!
Aurora’s Australian Pre-planning
Working with a Travel Agent
My Trip Down Under:
Day 123 - The Journey
Day 4 - Auckland
Day 5 - North Island Culture
Day 6 - Rotorua
Day 7 - Wellington
Day 8 - Wellington
Day 9 & 10 - South Island Scenery
- Day 11 – Queenstown
- Day 12 – Middle Earth
- Day 13 – The Last Day
- Day 14 – Great Barrier Reef
- Day 15 – Alice Springs
- Day 16, 17 & 18 – The Outback
- Day 19, 20 and 21 – Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
- Days 22 to 25 – Sydney and the End
Down Under Assignments

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