Summer 2017 Australia bound! Trip report!

Grifdog22

Barking Mad!
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Adventures in chaos - Our pre-day and day one that wasn't.


This is the only negative posting and does not deal with the actual ABD portion of the trip, but only our bad start. For a trip report, jump to day two.


So we began our trip to Australia by going to a Marriott near the airport for their Park Fly and Sleep program. We can leave our car for the whole trip, they shuttle us to and from the airport and at our return time (if American Airlines can successfully get a plane off the ground) at midnight, we crash at the hotel on return. We were going early for a pre-day. We were due to leave on Thursday June 15, 2017 from Baltimore Maryland (we live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia) but we had seen AA cancel a lot of flights on Wednesday, with no weather problems, so we thought we would try to get an earlier flight. We arrived at 7:00 am in Baltimore for a 6:35 pm flight out; the Marriott people were great, shuttled us over, made sure we had a call number for return, and promised to take care of our car. We arrived at the airport four flights before ours was to leave, three were substantially overbooked, and one had four seats! It was about to depart - but AA would not let us move up our flight to an earlier flight, without paying $500 per person. It left with four empty seats. In hindsight, we should have paid the extra $2000.00.


Our flight was delayed, delayed again, and again. No weather issues, no rhyme or reason. We repeatedly hoped for a mechanical issue on the big plane from Dallas to Sydney, so it would be delayed enough to catch it. Nope. We missed the connection from Dallas to Sydney by many hours. So after waiting patiently for AA “customer service” to tell us that they could not rebook us, our baggage was forwarded to the international terminal and it would be 4-6 hours before we could retrieve it, and no hotel assistance or anything – just get out of their way. We watched what could easily have turned into an angry mob scene with the really nasty presentations of AA as there were lots of other flights like ours. It's now about 1:30 am, having been in an AA terminal or plane for 18 hours (lucky us!). I quickly called a Marriott and they picked us up within minutes, to hit the hotel at 2 am while the rest of the flight was still getting screwed by AA. Thanks to this board, we found great trip insurance which covered our pre and post and activity days. I called, they advised everything was covered, and immediately emailed me a claim form (THANK YOU Say Hello!) At 3:00 am online I was able to rebook for the next flight with Qantas but perfectly awful seats in the very back. I also called the ABD 24 hour hotline, and within an hour I had an e-mail to Suzanne and Amber, our guides, and they told us to relax, they would be in touch.


AA had told us that we would have to "reclaim" our luggage not later than 8 am the next morning as we had no flight scheduled as we had missed ours (with no help from them fixing their booking partner's flight). So we arrived at the terminal after four hours sleep only to be told we would have to wait "awhile" to take care of that. Awhile in Texas means 12 hours.


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Nevertheless, that evening we hopped aboard this massive A380 double decker Qantas plane. Remember that mechanical issue we were hoping for? Yep, we got our wish. Our re-booked plane had mechanical problems. Two hours and the mechanics still working on it, and the flight crew starting to time out for dispatch. All we could hear in the way back in the steerage section where we were squatting was multiple drills going and going…not a good or comfortable sound!

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So yet another night trapped in Dallas; however Qantas treated us very nicely. Hotel, food, everything. It was a full 24 hours before we departed (with two Quantas A3-80s now scheduled to depart the same time….) Again, an update to "Suzamber" who told us they would have a car waiting when we arrived late.


We had tried to leave Virginia Wednesday morning with pre-days scheduled and arrived in Sydney Monday morning just in time to pick up day two of the ABD trip. We missed surfing at Manly Beach, great tickets for the Sydney Symphony in the main hall at the Opera House and spa treatments for all at the Shangra La, swimming in the Olympic pool and a bike tour through Sydney. That’s all the bad we’ll say on this trip report - End of the negatives as there is no way in HELL we will ever do business with AA again, so no worries in the future, right?

Here we are flying 17 hours across to the other side of the world, and grateful for the warm inside...versus the temperature outside!

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And then landing...this is a picture taken by a camera mounted on the tail of the plane, broadcast to the inside the plane of the plane as it is landing...
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Grifdog22

Barking Mad!
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Pre-Day and Day One. We missed it. See our mini report called Adventures in Chaos above.

Now on to the trip! This is our fifth ABD trip - we take one every few years. My son started with us but at 28 is long gone, and the twin DD just graduated high school a few weeks before this departure. While we have posted a lot on the Disboards, this is our first real foray into a trip report, and this is far more difficult than we realized. Hooray for Say Hello who has made this an art.


Day Two. Now having missed our first two days, we arrived right on time in Sydney after 18 hours in the air. We cleared passport control and baggage and headed to the gates where lots of people with signs were waiting. Just not for us. After about 30 minutes everyone cleared out. The way our last three days had been, we heard Scooby Doo say "Ru Roh." Another call to the wondrous Suzamber ABD guide team who called us right back to say the courier was stuck in traffic, take a cab. So we got into a cab line. While he was loading the bags, the three Darling Ladies climbed into the back seat. I walked around the side of the cab for the front seat and sat down…in the driver's seat. Oops. Cars really are backwards here. The Cabbie was good-natured, laughed and entertained us all the way to Shangri La hotel.


When we pulled up front, both guides were there to greet us. They were lovely and waiting with open arms for hugs from our very difficult journey to get there. It was nice to finally arrive and the hotel was just what we were hoping for. Once in ABD hands, all our bad luck ended. The guides promptly got us up to speed on everything, including tickets for the zoo that we missed, and suggested breakfast. We headed first to the room, took all took a quick badly needed shower, and promptly fell asleep for a quick nap.


Within about 90 minutes, we were up and headed to breakfast. What a breakfast buffet! Something for everyone. This was our first introduction to Flat White coffee…oh my. An Aussie on the long trip from Dallas to Sydney told us all about this - espresso made with steamed milk, so no foam. Starts out "white" on top and gets darker as you drink.


They had a menu to order from, a hot bar where they made things to order, a fruit buffet, a breads bar, oriental foods, and Vegemite. We stuffed ourselves, with Eggs Benedict, wondrous Apricots, crepes, French toast, meats and toasts. Ooofff.


So the ladies needed to go shopping in this short remaining OYO time…and Australia is famous for many things. This was OpalQuest. Opals Opals Opals. We had heard from some Disboarders about a store called Rockhounds at 141 George Street in the Rocks. The guides also recommended two others. We looked each up and decided those two were too fancy for us, and visited the one close by. The ladies' lament was not enough time to comparison shop. There was way too much to choose from, lots of price ranges and selection. My three ladies were treated like royalty trying on necklaces and looking at earrings. All the ladies selected necklaces, from a cross, to a teardrop to a double stone. Beautiful. The sales folks were helpful, not pushy and packaged everything up to avoid the VAT. They were clear - do not open the bag again until we clear customs. Good advice that we followed, but later at customs on departure saw and heard from others who did not follow that direction, at their peril. The five star level of service, attention, and simply "nice" disposition was a recurring theme we encountered from Australians throughout the trip. Even now, five months later, the novelty has not worn off - the family is unanimous on probably this only thing - Australians ROCK. The people make this the best choice to visit, and ABD obviously agrees, on their update to this trip…more to follow on that point. Back to the trip, or really, back up the hills to the hotel. The Bellman greeted us by name. (Okay that was a little weird, but he continued to remember us through the stay. Apparently being the "lost travelers made us infamous). This was a posh, comfortable and terrific hotel that was easy to find as we navigated over the next several days. Remarkably quiet. Still overstuffed from the biggest breakfast of our lives we waddled off to meet the ABD crew in the lobby.


We met up with the group in the lobby and were introduced with a flair emanating from Suzamber that never failed throughout the trip. These two guides complemented each other in so many ways. They both took care of everything, but we soon realized that they also divided things up very well. Suzanne was the logistics and activities person, with every detail attended to, in the ways that make an ABD trip a true vacation. Amber would regale the group with songs, tales effervescent glow and paid very close attention to the little ones. ABD found the perfect team between these two.


Down to the circle Quay for our harbor ferry fest.

A large buffet awaited us inside the boat, but the true feast was for the eyes ears and nose outside as we toured the harbor. Perfect weather, lots of history and stories. Sydney is full of stories, and we were rapt with attention to hear them. The kids all continued to mingle and meld on deck, and the guides were everywhere at once. We saw more in this short tour than I think we could do in a day. The harbor tour for us began as the foundation and anchor to the “story” of modern Australia. We could not have gotten all the basics without this tour, from the harbor islands to the observatory and story of the cannons sounding, to seeing the modern cruise ships and beaches. It made the reading we had done come alive.

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I joined the Captain as he docked the ferry, marveling at the ease in which he set the boat into a very busy Quay as if he were spreading Vegemite on toast. Smooth!

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Well planned, complete and just what the doctor ordered for us.


As we landed, off to the Sydney Opera House with headphones to hear our native guides. Words do not describe this facility, and we had an Abo (Aboriginal) as the guide. A bit of history, but much more of just the operations of the facility. Seeing pictures is one thing, but like much in the ABD tours, physically being in the concert hall, the foyer, the stairs, the opera theatre is a complete experience that a photograph simply cannot capture. (A good thing too, since they really don't let you take many photos inside).
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We were released to have dinner on our own. We were too tired, too stuffed, too jetlagged, to strung out from the delays to do much. We wandered the city briefly. Notice anything missing in this picture?

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We did - even a transportation hub was clean. No litter, no garbage, no cigarette butts at a stoplight. Aussies are a wonderful group of people who take a LOT of pride in their nation. We saw this throughout the entire trip.



Now we were headed back to the hotel for a long overdue rest. What a perfect hotel.


I used to think hotels were just a place to sleep. ABD trips have totally changed my perspective. Places like the Shangri La hotel have a personality all their own. We became very good friends with this wonderful lady during our short stay, and will visit her again.

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Grifdog22

Barking Mad!
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Day three. Dad in charge - up and at em! It is, after all, the family rescheduled father's day. This morning was the bridge climb so we got up early and had another wondrous breakfast. Three flat whites for me, two orders of eggs benedict with fruit and yogurt, Vegemite on toast and I was roaring to go. One of the young men in our group sat beside us and wanted to try the Vegemite. The guide Amber gently suggested lots of butter on toast, and a light spread of Vegemite for his first taste. Being a boastful lad, he lathered on the Vegemite thick like jelly and chowed down. We watched him scrape his tongue for the next fifteen minutes trying desperately to remove the last vestiges of Vegemite. It is an acquired taste.


We walked down to the bridge for the first climb of this winter day - 9:00 am. We were the first to check in. We wandered around the waiting area, and decided it would be best to all do our bathroom business now rather than endure an issue over the next four hours. All that coffee, and the thought of having to "go" while 440 feet in the air…well it was time well planned. Several other folks from our ABD group joined us. The bridge climb folks were professional and thorough; from outfitting us in jumpers to checking our breath for intoxication…and off we went.


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DW is afraid of heights. She reluctantly came along. She was clearly nervous, afraid and concerned, especially as we climbed ladders and could see traffic moving a very far distance below, and even further below the tiny dots of people on boats crossing underneath the bridge. Our guide's enthusiasm and patience turned the tide and you could see DW's confidence by midway up as she charged up the arch. On the other hand, as we got higher, the wind got stronger, with some breathtaking wind gusts (I do mean that they took your breath away). It was celebration central when we hit the top. The way down flew by and before we knew it we were done.


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After the climb we ended up buying the pictures we swore we would not purchase and headed back up the hill toward the hotel. LUNCH the now hardy bridge hikers exclaimed. Within sight of this feeding call were two awesome fellow ABDers settling in outside at a pizza pub. We asked if we could join and promptly ordered my first Australian pint and pizza. The food and company were delicious, and this Dad/son team became one of our favored travelling companions on this trek. We together returned to the hotel, the bellman again greeting us by name to wash up and change for the afternoon adventure to the Sheep station.



We missed the Zoo...but we finally saw a little wild life at the SHEEP Farm. When we pulled up, there were sheep dogs milling about. And sheep. The kids took pictures and patted them. The dogs were friendly and the kids all loved them-- until they were called onto sheep duty. With a whistle the dogs were called to action! Sheep stations are a large part of Aussie early history and we were deep into the story. Total immersion! This was so much fun!

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We had no idea what a working dog meant until we saw those guys run. Like an ocean of sheep and they were the ones steering the crowd! They would even leap on top of a meandering sheep and press them forward.

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After the sheep were all rounded up, we had a snack-- Disney is big on snacks. This was Boy Scout dump cake and coffee, but with an Aussie sheep station flair, story, and it was fantastic - all cooked over open fires, which is traditional sheep driver fare and fast and tasty. My DW ate 2. All the kids hung together and the cowboys -- errr " sheep boys" were great hosts. But the DW had no idea how much work went into making her sweaters!

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Then the Head Sheep guy demonstrated whips and sheep control. They had a whip show--- amazing control. Then they let the kids try the whips-- NOT amazing control. In fact only one kid was able to make the whip "Crack" which the sheep man did every singe time-- and sometimes twice. Everything looks so easy until you try it yourself. Don’t get cocky, kid! This was fun, and as the trip progressed, there were several more opportunities for practice - and nearly all the kids (but not the adults) managed to master this art. This type of patient, hands on activity is what brings us back to ABD time and again. We become a part of the story. Next, we watched them shear a sheep. Too much work for DW. They had a kid try to help them, He was a really good sport, but there was too much wiggling for a kid that size.

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Then they set up a dinner. Lots of enthusiasm from the hosts, but no lamb chops. We had steak, which was good but not great - no sheep on the menu? I gotta tell you, after watching those sheep, I was thinking "Hmmm- Leg 'o Lamb." Now I figure that lamb is primarily for export. They served a nice steak-- but it was anti climatic. And I really wanted lamb chops.

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And then we went back to the hotel, still not adjusted to the time change and fell asleep within seconds.
 
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  • Grifdog22

    Barking Mad!
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2008
    Day Four

    Alas, my last incursion to the Shangi Li breakfast buffet. Can you tell breakfast is this Grifdog's favorite meal? We ate like starving refugees. And that was a good idea because the forthcoming lunch was something totally to miss. Back on an airplane. This was way too soon. When we left, in the airport, we saw this omen on airport on a shop before we left- I swear, Disney did not put it there! If it were Disney it would have said, "Adventure is out there!" But, either way-- things were looking UP.

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    When we got to the airport at Uluru, DW went to use the ladies' room and quickly figured out that the area was going to by very dry and dusty. Ask me how I knew---

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    But, we could handle that, right? I mean do we'd be a little dirty-- no problem. Then I saw the sign near the men's room:

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    I'm glad they warned all the French, German and Chinese visitors-- But who was going to warn the dingoes about us? Fortunately we never saw a dingo--- but then we were careful not to leave our food scraps around-- we simply ate everything that we were offered, except maybe the box lunch for today. Even the dingos wouldn't eat it. We all would have preferred airline food enroute.
     

    Grifdog22

    Barking Mad!
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2008
    Uluru. This was something I had waited a lifetime to see. Ayers' rock was as magnificent as the pictures are of it online. The colors change. A lot.

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    My DDs on the other hand were more interested in how shocking it was that the dirt was red. Our bus stopped and we got out to take photos in front of this beautiful rock and receive fly nets because there are many of them out in Uluru.

    There is one thing people don't tell you--- FLIES! We were fortunate enough to arrive in a "no fly zone." But they provided us the same mesh hoods as they do to the fly season people. Wear it. It isn't pretty, but neither is people waving their hands about… Remember-- dingoes like people waving their hands's about and the sign specifically said not to wave or run! As we discovered on this trip, there are more things in Australia that are beautiful and will kill you than anywhere else you will travel, except maybe the Mideast.


    Besides, it can be a fashion statement, as seen by our lovely twin DD -- By this point in the trip both our girls had a fast friend group-- who they still keep in touch with today. Indeed, the young man carrying her about came to visit a few months later

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    They say that Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock is one of the most exclusive and remote places on the planet. They say it is the largest single rock on earth. They also have their own Ozone hole, so bring your sunscreen.
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    Unlike other places on the trip, the indigenous people keep themselves apart from strangers in their personal homes. This area has a sacred site with great cultural and spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people, so do exactly what your are told--- stay on the paths and only go where the guides let you. We had a wonderful older guy tell us all about the area. DO NOT TRY TO CLIMB ON THE ROCK. People keep trying to do this (not Disney folks)-- it is dangerous and disrespectful. Disney is extremely concerned with respecting the Aboriginals, but many are not. Disney will show you all in and about the area, you'll see plenty, and I assure you!
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    The walking tour around portions of Ayers Rock and hearing about the many tales with the amazing painted drawings on the rock from ancient aboriginals was incredible. Dinner and the hotel were nice, but we were waiting for night.


    The night sky. At Uluru was spectacular. We were blessed with a clear night. ABD had a wonderful talk on the southern constellations and pointed them out, including the Southern Cross! They also set up telescopes and brought us up close and personal to Saturn's rings and many other stars. It was cold! One of my daughters ended up getting a great photo of Saturn and its rings through the telescope. After looking at the most spectacular view of the night sky that we had ever seen we walked back and headed to bed. These photos are courtesy of one of our fellow adventurers who graciously sent them on to my DD after she pestered him - he is quite the photographer. IMG_18861.jpg

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    Grifdog22

    Barking Mad!
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2008
    Day five. Next morning, before dawn, we went for a sunrise camel caravan! There were capes for folks who felt a bit chilly--- and here are our 2 "little red riding hoods" on their camel!


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    We rode into the desert at dawn-- and the ever changing remote area was seen in a different light-- the dawn's early light!

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    The colors constantly changed, and the red rocks appeared to actually glow as the sun struck them. The camel ride was awesome.

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    And Uluru and her sister change color with the rising sun. You can't get this sort of immersion without seeing it in person. Magical.


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    This isn't even our best picture, but it was the only one I could insert from our photos this morning.

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    After the ride, we went into a cozy warming room/Shoppe-- and all had hot chocolate and tea and hard biscuits that is good even if you aren't chilly. It was here that DH decided on his first (and favorite) souvenir-- an outback hat for all! DH is very big on chapeaux.
     
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    EllinK

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    Wow, what an endurance test to leave the US. My hat if off to you that you were able to put all your travails behind you and move on to have a good time. The trip looks amazing! I am looking forward to more...
     
  • Grifdog22

    Barking Mad!
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2008
    Day Five, continued.

    Next was a return to the hotel for breakfast, and a terrific walking tour of the sister rock - Walpa Gorge at Kata Tjuta.

    The hike!
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    We had a late lunch which was delicious and had some surprises I won't spoil. You won't leave hungry!


    Next it was off to Cairns, and wrestling with airports and planes again. "Adventure is out there " even if we leave the outback!
     

    acndis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2012
    Loving the report! Your pictures are amazing! Keep it coming. I am getting so excited for our departure next month.
     
  • Grifdog22

    Barking Mad!
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2008
    Loving the report! Your pictures are amazing! Keep it coming. I am getting so excited for our departure next month.
    Honestly, the people of Australia totally upstage the amazing scenery and experiences. We got such a kick from them. We were told that now nearly 20% of the population is Asian, 2% are Aboriginal, 6% are Chinese. But no Australian will apparently tell you that. They say, "We are Australian first." I would want to claim that title too if I lived there. They are generous but laugh at Americans as a melting pot of people "gone bad" as they say - too hung up on individualistic entitlements and titles rather than proud to be a citizen of a country.

    Adam Efimoff chimed in a little bit ago - what a lucky man to be Australian. Makes me want to sing that old Men at Work song about "Land Down Under." By the way, the official music video for that song isn't so good, but there is an amazing remake of it on YouTube that shows some pretty spectacular scenery, much of it you will see. But no Kangaroos eating the red licorice Twizzlers like in that video. (It was made for the movie Kangaroo Jack by - 1990RST
    Published on May 25, 2011 if you are looking on youtube).
     

    Grifdog22

    Barking Mad!
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2008
    Each day you will have a chance to visit local stores, not just tourist stores. Australia’s ties to Great Britain remain – so every grocery store and convenience store has real Cadbury chocolate bars, something not to be missed. You can also pick up a nice jar of Vegemite and other treats. The lunch break on Day 5 gives some great opportunities for this – but there are so many options and things to do every day on this trip. DW and DD and I split this up – one of us would always go explore, while the others may linger over that fifth serving of - (nope – not going to spoil it – you’ll have to go on the trip.))
     

    mindeola

    Mad About the Mouse!
    Joined
    Jan 19, 2011
    I can't believe your bad luck , and treatment, on the first couple of days. SO glad it was all up from there.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Wow! Grifdog, I think you're giving me a good run for Trip Report professional! Loving your report and photos!

    I'm *SO GLAD* I was able to help you with the trip insurance, and that it ended up being such a help!! I cannot *believe* how horrendous your first few days were (make my worst travel days pale in comparison!). But I am EXTREMELY GLAD that it appears to have in no way affected your enjoyment of this amazing trip, and maybe seems to have enhanced some of the enjoyment of what you did experience! :thumbsup2

    (PS, I've pretty much given up on American Airlines, and your story has just cemented that feeling!)

    I finally get to see what the Grifdog family looks like! :D

    I am *SO* glad your DW agreed to do the Sydney Bridge climb, and enjoyed it. I'm afraid of heights, but that climb is *high* on my list of must-dos when I make it to Australia!!

    Your shots of Uluru, the night sky, the camel ride, everything is gorgeous!

    Honestly, the people of Australia totally upstage the amazing scenery and experiences. We got such a kick from them. We were told that now nearly 20% of the population is Asian, 2% are Aboriginal, 6% are Chinese. But no Australian will apparently tell you that. They say, "We are Australian first." I would want to claim that title too if I lived there. They are generous but laugh at Americans as a melting pot of people "gone bad" as they say - too hung up on individualistic entitlements and titles rather than proud to be a citizen of a country.
    That is so cool to hear! I definitely plan to go to Australia as soon as I get another week of vacation in a couple of years! :) The country and it's people sound outstanding!

    Looking so forward to more of your report!!

    Sayhello
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    Thanks for taking the time to post! So sorry about your pre trip debacle :mad: We are planning an Australia/NZ trip in 2020 and I keep debating which airline to fly. So far I'm not sold on AA.
     

    AdamEfimoff

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 29, 2015
    You know I think Australia is just so expensive. I have paid on more than one occasion more than 150 dollars for a meal for just me. And no just for three courses. I love my food but still. This is all high end places. This is why I laugh when I see Americans talk about 60 dollars being expensive! And the meal included drinks but sans alcohol . Everything in Australia is expensive .
     

    Grifdog22

    Barking Mad!
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2008
    Thanks for taking the time to post! So sorry about your pre trip debacle :mad: We are planning an Australia/NZ trip in 2020 and I keep debating which airline to fly. So far I'm not sold on AA.
    We originally also planned on seeing New Zealand while there. Our family was primarily interested in what they had to offer on the South Island. For us, travel would be during our summer, which is their winter. Not a lot of daylight on the South Island in late June/July - we saw trip reports here from others that visited Australia when they went to Tasmania, and it was good and dark by 4:30, with a very late sunrise. For us, the weather was the limiting factor. We were looking to book things like a glacier walk, horseback riding, and a river tour. But if it snows like it snows on the south end of south island, it may be a day before the roads clear. We found little organized assistance and were uncomfortable with the idea of getting stuck. (We had no idea we would indeed get stuck - just in the USA). From this we decided to add to the Australia tour on both ends instead, where the weather was not as much a factor. If you are planning on going during December/January you will not have those issues, but then places like Uluru are going to be extremely hot!

    Qantas as an airline was really quite a ride. While I was pretty unhappy with the mechanical delay, they could not have been more accommodating and helpful. While on the plane awaiting departure, the stewards were booking to bring folks like us in the steerage section complementary drinks, cold moist washcloths, etc. and when the flight was cancelled they had organized charter buses to take about 425 of us to various hotels across Dallas. They called names, handed us luggage, and we took off. Meals at the hotel were covered, and every few hours there was an update. (Originally the delayed 10:30 pm flight was to leave at 7:00 am. They still couldn't get it fixed and we were postponed several times until finally it was again a 10:30 departure). However, they extended the use of the hotel rooms, provided meals at the hotel and advised of things to do wherever we were. I believe they had to use about 12 hotels to put us all up. Again, on the flight, it was a great flight. No issues once we were in the air. I would rather have the single long flight, as long as it is on a plane like an A380 where we can get up, walk around, and are not "trapped." I have issues with connecting flights in the past, as we had here, and prefer to limit the risk of delays. I want the long haul travel over with as quickly as possible, and breaking up a trip risks missed connections, lost luggage, and lots of time in airports. I have had 12 hour layovers, and went exploring, only to be stuck in unfamiliar traffic and nearly miss the flight. I would rather stick pins in my eyes than sit in a terminal for hours.

    Good luck planning your trip!
     
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    MakiraMarlena

    It's a big black fish to you
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2005
    I did this ABD back in January 2009. Itinerary appears to be backwards - we started in Cairnes and ended in Sydney. The fly nets are the same. Good to see Amber still guiding!

    I bought a hat too. doesn't everyone? It came in handy on my South Africa tour last month.
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    We found little organized assistance and were uncomfortable with the idea of getting stuck. (We had no idea we would indeed get stuck - just in the USA). From this we decided to add to the Australia tour on both ends instead, where the weather was not as much a factor. If you are planning on going during December/January you will not have those issues, but then places like Uluru are going to be extremely hot!
    Thanks-we are looking at spring 2020 for the weather issues as well as hopefully DD will be safely into her sophomore year in college. I have a good friend who did the 20 day tour of both with Tauck this April and her trip was amazing...we'll probably do the same or a cruise around the countries.

    Qantas as an airline was really quite a ride. While I was pretty unhappy with the mechanical delay, they could not have been more accommodating and helpful.
    Quantas sounds awesome and I have toyed with flying with them versus my usual Delta. We'll see in spring 2019 how the airfares compare :)

    I would rather stick pins in my eyes than sit in a terminal for hours.
    LOL- I believe you and I travel in completely opposite fashions..I love wandering the terminal; of course that may be adaptive since I'm always laying over in ATL.
    As for pins in my eyes, I believe you live close to NoVA/DC which is my idea of purgatory. I'll take hours in the SkyClub over DC traffic any day!

    Good luck planning your trip!
    Thanks! Right now it's just a matter of 2019 rolling around so I can plan our flights and pay for the tour. I had considered a cruise but the dates might not work, I'll have to wait and see.

    Thanks again for the photos, definitely reinforces my desire to go!
     

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