Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I have no idea at what age normal people start dreaming about a trip to Australia. My daughter had an a emotional breakdown (Starting It All) at 12 when faced with the possibility of waiting until 15 to see Australia. For us, the parents, it was always somewhere in the back of our minds, someday we would come here. Twenty years ago, Ileana was studying Japanese, we thought it was hilarious how they say the names of different countries, and since then Osutoraria has been part of our family language.
Kakadu Wetlands

Please walk on the grass, smell the roses, hug the trees, talk to the birds and enjoy Australia!!!

Some of us got one step further

It is hard to describe how much I liked it here. As mentioned before (Happy Easter) I didn't like New Zealand that much, and it was an instant feeling of relief when I arrived in Sydney one Tuesday morning. It was a Pakistani immigration officer that welcomed us to Australia, she was relaxed and funny and suddenly I realized how much I missed some cultural variety.

Australia is huge and expensive, it has countless attractions spread over enormous distances and planning our trip here was not that easy. We wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef, the million years old forests around Cairns, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island next to Adelaide. We scratched those off early in our planning stages. I am happy with what was left on. At this time of the year, I think we couldn't have asked for a better match. We got the end of the summer season in Sydney and a bit of sun on Bondi Beach. We had the Easter in a Romanian Church. Melbourne is famous for its moody weather, but we were lucky to get five perfect warm days. In the Red Center we got unusually cold weather. It rained on us in Alice Springs, where sometimes it doesn't rain for 4-5 years at a time. It was cold, especially at night, but if we would have arrived later it would have been much colder and probably we would have had some freezing temperatures. Not that good for spending the nights in a tent. If we had come earlier in the year the temperatures could have been unforgivingly hot. We moved to the Top End on May 1st, when the Dry officially starts. I knew it was a close call, some years the Dry doesn't start when it's supposed to, but it worked well. If we would have arrived here a couple of weeks later there would have been more roads and plunge pools open, and we could have seen a bit more. You can never have it all, and lingering around was not an option. Our apartment in Alice Springs was fantastic, we could have stayed there for a couple of weeks, but at $180 per night that was not an option. That was much cheaper than motel rooms for the five of us, it was the cheapest possible option!

Overall, in Australia we spent around $300 per day. Half of that money was spent last July when I rented the apartment in Sydney and payed for the car rentals. I was still working, so it felt differently. Getting two rentals, one for a four wheel drive for the Red Center and one for the campervan to take us to Darwin was a smart financial move, it worked somehow to save a few hundred dollars. The cars are not that expensive but the insurance adds a lot and rates varied by the date. We spent a lot for the Diesel, the cost is up to $8 per gallon, but we saw amazing sites and it was worth every penny.

I also think that we planned our time right, six days in the Red Center was just enough, and eight days for our trip to Darwin and visiting the Top End worked fine for us. We didn't plan our days, just went to one place and moved on when we were done and I was happy at the end that we had a couple of days to spend in Darwin. It turned out that we didn't even need that much there. At 120000 people, this is a small place as far as cities go, but it's huge for the Northern Territory. The place was named in honor of Charles Darwin when the Beagle visited during a subsequent trip. Mr. Darwin never came here, but his shipmates honored him like that. The city was destroyed several times in its history, including in 1942 when the Japanese bombing was even worse than Pearl Harbor. Then on Christmas Day in 1974, Cyclone Tracy leveled the whole place in just a few hours. There were 30000 people here 38 years ago and most of them were flown out to other Australian cities. The city is rebuilt from scratch and, like Alice Springs, most of the inhabitants came for a day and stayed for the lifetime. We visited the esplanade and the museum, and learned a lot about their history. Our timing was great, because we also made it to the Mindil Beach Sunset Market, probably one of the most famous attractions.

Mindil BeachSunset Market

It was early Sunday afternoon, they were just starting. We got very expensive food, the locals consider it dirt cheap. It was the only time eating out while in Australia, everybody got what they wanted, plus the children shared a huge bag of "ferry floss" (the kids insist that I should spell it "fairy floss"), better known in America as cotton candy and in Romania as "vată de zahăr". We retired early and the last day we just wasted our time waiting for our 7.30 flight to Bali. We stayed as late as we could in the holiday park, than moved to the Charles Darwin National Park, where, according to the locals "there is nothing to see". We totally agree. We had one last lunch cooked in the camper, I dropped the family and the luggage at the airport and returned the car. I got back sharing a taxi with a couple of young Swedish men, they were finishing their seven weeks in Australia and were getting ready to go to Philippines.
Last lunch, Charles Darwin National Park (the kids saw it as a "romantic dinner")
 Everywhere in New Zealand and Australia there are five letters with special meaning: ANZAC. It's ubiquitous, to the point that you feel that you ought to know what it means. We didn't, so we learned. It stands for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, the expeditionary unit that participated in the First world war. Of course at that time both countries were just British colonies. They participated in the operation that was supposed to take Istanbul, most famously in the battle of Gallipoli. It started on April 25th, 1915, and it lasted for about 9 months, with heavy casualties on the part of the ANZAC corps. They lost the battle, many of their compatriots and their trust in the omnipotent British Empire. Gallipoli is considered the defining moment when the colonies started to develop their own national identity. Equally important, it is also considered a defining moment for Turks and the man who would become their hero, Kemal Atatürk. But more on that later when we visit Turkey. We saw many monuments for the ANZAC troops and we were here on the ANZAC day. It is a holiday in Australia, a day of national remembrance. But we were at Uluru and the only thing we got for it was Martha. Our very talkative ranger host, who usually is not let to take tourists anymore, but volunteered that day.
A statue to the widow and the orphans. Wow.
We took many pictures in Osutoraria and plenty of memories with us. We are now going back to Asia for a bit and then on to Africa.

False alarm - not yet Uluru

If your children get the jokes it's not my fault

There is a little guy down there taking pictures
Fire in Melbourne

It doesn't get better than this... or does it?

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