Subject: Australia
Hi Ziners,

Just returned from Australia and I want to thank many people who have written about their experiences - which contributed to my sister and me having a great time.

First are Gavin, Sharon, Josie, Ian, and Cheryl who met with my sister and me for dinner the evening we arrived in Sydney. We rented a four berth campervan from Apollo in Darwin and drove through the heat and humidity (just 1/2 day ahead of a cyclone) but were able to see parts of Kakadu National Park - the Yellow Waters Tour was very interesting.

We were able to see Katherine Gorge, but the rain started while we were setting up camp that afternoon, and we were pretty much rained in for the balance of the day. Camped at Wycliffe Wells just south of the Devils Marbles which were really impressive. Got into Alice Springs bringing humidity with us. Coober Pedy was interesting, but unless you have a good reason to go there it wasn't high on our list to see again.

Port Augusta was where we finally got to see the sun all day, and from there on the weather was great. We drove through the Wine Country with my sister buying wine for her son, and me adding to my wine glass collestion (glasses from wineries with their logos). We drove through the Clare, Barossa, Eden, and Coonawarra valleys.

South Australia has some beautiful wine country, I highly recommend visiting this area. From there we drove along the Great Ocean Road and saw some magnificent cliffs including the Twelve

Apostles. East of the 12 we ran into heavy traffic and left the coast at Lorne, heading for Geelong and Melbourne.

In Melbourne we met up with a Ham Radio operator I had met online and he escorted us to a wonderful aviary and animal preserve, the Healsville Animal Sanctuary. Thank you John! It was great to see so many Australian birds in large flight cages where they are protected, but can live a close to natural life. There are also kangaroos, wallabys, and emus all over the park, and large areas for platypus, echnidas, and wombats. This park permits a close to 'natural' space for animals.

Canberra was great - we both felt it was the big city in Australia where we both could live. The National Museum of Australia has a magnificent collection. Also high on our list was the Botanical

Gardens where we were blessed with our own docent who walked us all over and was very knowledgeable. Questacon also known as the National Science and Technology Centre, was reminicent of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, but with a decided Australian twist and significantly larger. Canberra was also fairly easy to get around, and parking at the museums was easy for us with our campervan.

We finished off our three weeks in Sydney where we got lost or turned around several times. We were able to use the public transportation system - all three components - rail, bus and ferry. The only problem we had with public transit was understanding the conductors announcing stops on the trains. That was easily solved by getting off and going back one stop. The bus drivers were very nice about announcing stops if we asked them when we boarded. We did a Blue Mountains tour and were unimpressed (perhaps by the foggy weather that made the views of fog rather than the Three Sisters). The Taronga Zoo was good for a picture with a sleeping koala, but rather sad with a blind dingo who ran in circles. We also drove around the Olympic Park Complex and it's wonderful but seems underused. My sister did the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb, and I toured the Opera House our last day. Both hits in our books.

While the weather was HOT and sometimes very humid, Australia is a wonderful place to tour any chance you get. This is a nation with friendly, helpful, and wonderful people who are rightly proud of their country. Next time I'll visit the Gold Coast, Sydney, and south from there on a rented motorcycle.

Thanks to all who had suggestions. We had a great time!

Mary Meyer