A Wander Down Under

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 Road Junkies 0 Comments

CHAPTER 1: IN WHICH WE FINALLY GET UNDER WAY 

Day 1:  Atlanta to Honolulu.  Like our recent trip to Newfoundland, a journey to Australia and New Zealand has been on our to-do list for several years.  When we saw a six-week window of opportunity that would take us down under for springtime, we began making plans.  The fact that we had some unused tickets from our aborted round the world journey last spring also provided the nudge we needed to get this trip booked.

Our wander down under will begin in Sydney, Australia, almost ten thousand miles from Atlanta.  To break up the long trip, we decided to overnight in Honolulu on the way, so tonight finds us in a newly renovated hotel on Waikiki.  (The reviews of the airport hotels were so dismal, we refused to even consider staying there.)  Just after noon tomorrow, we'll board an eleven-hour flight for Sydney.

With some experienced insight from family and friends who have traveled to the lands down under, as well as from our own research, we decided to spend two weeks in Australia and three weeks in New Zealand.  On the way home from New Zealand, we'll spend three days in Honolulu to accomplish a couple of goals we have on our agenda.

Size comparison of Australia and United States
Two weeks is a woefully short time to devote to Australia, a country similar in size to the United States.  What we're thinking is, if we survive this visit and like the country and have the courage to return, we'll come back later to see some of the many parts we will miss.  As we have been learning, Australia is home to the world's largest collection of deadly animals.  More than 50 venomous snakes call the country home, not to mention the box jellyfish, the most dangerous animal on earth.  And the saltwater crocodile, the largest of all living reptiles, whose jaws can crush the skull of an adult water buffalo.  Even collecting seashells in Australia can be life-threatening, if one makes the mistake of picking up a cone shell, whose resident snail will fire a dart coated with lethal venom.  We could go on about the world's deadliest spiders, shark-infested waters, and even a bird capable of dealing a fatal blow to humans.  But what would be the point?  All this danger didn't stop us from visiting Australia, and hopefully we'll live to tell the story.


Our limited Australian itinerary, though it still may be overly ambitious, concentrates in the southeastern part of the country. From Sydney, we'll drive to Canberra, the national capital, before flying to Tasmania for a few days and then back to Melbourne.  After taking in some of the sights of Melbourne, we'll leave for New Zealand.

Road Noise:
  • Thanks to our friends who visited Australia this summer and tipped us off about the 7 kg (15 lbs) weight limit for carry-on bags within Australia, we packed extra light for this trip, with Ken carrying a 32L backpack and me a 30L.  We each have small daybags as well.  When we loaded our bags into a taxi at the Honolulu airport, the driver asked if the airline had lost our luggage.
  • On our flight from Atlanta to LAX, the passenger in front of me, unable to recline her seat, asked a flight attendant for assistance.  The attendant's first response was to look at the back of the seat.  I assured her I had not employed a "Knee Defender," the device that has sparked flight-interrupting disputes between airline passengers in recent weeks.  Turns out the passenger today had simply failed to deploy the button correctly.

Daily Stats:
  • Miles traveled - 4,537
  • Security screening - 15 minutes
  • Carry-on bags that passengers had to check:  78
  • Wind farms on Texas and Oklahoma plains - 42
  • Free leis upon arrival in Hawaii - 0
  • Leis for sale at airport - 981
  • Hours gained from changing time zones today - 6