The land of Kangaroos and Koalas – Australia

This country was in my list, the moment I had fascinations to see Kangaroos in its native land. And it would not be wrong if i had to say that my to do list also had Sky diving which I had decided that I would do it here. My bucket list had Australia from quite sometime but then I would be visiting it so soon was all possible only because of my cousin Nisha. She was all set with the invite letters for me and mom, the moment I started planning about the trip. Not to forget to mention the quick service of the VFS, Australia in Bangalore which made me get the visa’s in just a day. Happy me. And we were all set to visit my 16th and mom’s 14th country. Wow…sounds so good and feels even better πŸ™‚

We left on a friday night and reached Sydney by next day evening. I knew that September would be the start of spring in Australia but still it would be so chilly, had not expected that. My cousins had come to pick us up from the airport and it took around 30-45 mins to reach home back. We were so happy to see Prafulla aunty (mom and she are first cousins) at home away from home. Never had my mom or she expected to meet each other and stay together in another country…hmm. We got settled there and took some time to relax.

Next day we were all set to visit the iconic Opera house, the Sydney Harbour bridge and the Manly beach. We left the house and reached Circular Quay from where we got our first view of Opera House and the Harbour bridge.

This is also the place where we get in ferry’s to reach the Manly beach. The modes of transportation in Sydney is very easy till you purchase an Opal card and keep topping it up with money. These cards can be used in buses, rails, light rails and ferry services. We left in the ferry to go to Manly beach. The ferry takes around 30 mins to make you reach the destination. It’s a beautiful place with shops, restaurants, night clubs and bars in the town. DSC_0729It was late afternoon and we all were so hungry. We hopped in a Domino’s take away and got some yummy pizza’s, filled our tummy’s and then laid back ourselves on the shore playing with sand and water. Did a sand man too.. πŸ™‚ .

We also saw few bikers on the roads with their expensive bikes.

My love for travel and few loved ones was etched in sand again and again.

We left around in the evening back to Circular quay hoping to see a sunset from the ferry but looked like we were late. We took some more shots of the beautiful lighted Sydney skyline and got back home before it could turn out more chilly. Basically me and mom were the only two who felt a little more cold than the rest as we never thought it would be that much as the wind makes the weather more chillier than it is. The rest were probably used to this.

The next day we (mom and myself) had to depart to Queenstown, New Zealand. I had planned my vacation in such a way so that I utilize my weekdays to visit places which I intended to visit and not wait for Nisha who is working and her brother (Prasanna) who is studying, as I could not afford them to take leaves for me. So, the next day myself and mom left to NZ and came back to Sydney after 6 days. You can read my next post on New Zealand in my blog.

After reaching back to Sydney on Saturday, my cousins rented out a car for our Sunday ordeal with the Blue Mountains, Three sisters and few lakes on the way. My cousin brother drove the car the next day morning to Blue Mountains National park which is say 1 hr from Sydney. It’s a beautiful drive all the way. The Blue mountains are a mountainous region that comprises of a range of mountains. The Greater Blue Mountains Area was unanimously listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO. Then you have the Three sisters, which is one of the region’s best known attractions. The Three Sisters are an unusual rock formation in the Blue Mountains. Their names are Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m). The Sisters were formed by land erosion. The sandstone of the Blue Mountains was eroded over time by wind, rain and rivers, causing the cliffs surrounding the Jamison Valley to be slowly broken up. Few highlights of this place include the three Sisters walk, the Echo point lookout and the Wentworth falls.

Prafulla aunty had prepared vegetable Pulao in the morning that we had packed and got it. By afternoon, once we finished our eyes feasting on the mountainous range, we decided to have our lunch in the National park. We parked our car under a tree and savored our mouth watering lunch. We then left the place to go ahead with Evans lookout. There are varied view points in Blue Mountains National Park and this was one of them. You need to do a small walk to reach till here after getting out of the car. Here we spotted a parrot also.

Took some pics here and left to Wentworth falls lake. This lake was so beautiful and had a huge walk way covering the circumference of the lake. There were people bustling around in the evening for a walk along with their pets, kids were playing in the garden and there were people who were enjoying just sitting there. The water was so cool, the moment you immerse your feet underneath it, you just relax even more as though the water had just absorbed all the tiredness from your body. We did spend a good amount of time here and then left for the day.

The next day we had our flight to Melbourne. I have two more of my cousin sisters over there and I had planned only to visit them. I earlier had thought about visiting the 12 Apostles too but it is minimum of 6-7 hour ocean road drive and I had very less time to accommodate that. I even tried booking to one of the packages but was too late to do it so I basically scrapped the plan. I reached Mel by evening and took a Skybus from the airport to Southern cross city. It’s takes you to the destination in say around 30 mins. Then my brother in law, Arun had come to pick us up from there. We reached to my cousin sister’s place in another 40 mins. It was such a delight to meet her(Namratha) and her family after so many years. So I was telling her that when we stay close to our family we take them for granted and never get or take time to visit each other and look now it’s like i am here to meet her in another country. So they are basically 3 sisters out of which 2 of them stay in Mel (Nam and Ranjitha) and one in Mysore (Ramya). And I had not visited my sister’s house who is in Mysore(which is so near) till date. My bad !!! Nam greeted us with some yummy vada’s and masala dosa’s.

Aira, (Nam and Arun’s daughter) is such a darling. Had fun playing around with her in their house. Did loads of talking. Reminded me of my childhood days when I used to visit Mysore during my summer holidays and stay with my cousins. It used to be so much of fun. Then the next day evening, my other brother in law, Manojith along with Adi (Ranjitha and Manojith’s son) came to pick us up and we left to Ranjitha’s house. I had earlier thought Manu was very reserved and talks less as I never had got much chance to talk with him except for one or two functions till date but to my surprise I was wrong. He talks and we probably spoke to him the max during the drive to home back. Then when met Ranjitha and I had the same emotions running all through again. Adi is such delight to speak with and the most obedient and well behaved boy I have ever met. I had some special delicacies (roti’s, aloo palak, akki roti etc) prepared by my sister waiting for us and we relished all of them thoroughly. We spent a good amount of quality time in talking as usual πŸ˜‰ . The next day afternoon we had our flight back to Sydney. Well spent days in Melbourne though it was very short.

I had 3 more days left in Sydney out of which one entire day was booked for Sky Diving activity in Woollongong beach on the Saturday with my cousins. So we decided to finally see the Kangaroos and the Koala’s which are native to Australia and one of my reasons to visit Australia. Myself, mom and Prafulla aunty left to Taronga Zoo the next day and it took almost 45 mins to reach through a cab. We entered the zoo and started with the Koala’s. Now a Koala sleeps as much as 20 hours a day and with no much surprise we did encounter a few which were in their best poses that we could think about.

Then we entered the reptile section of the zoo which had different variety of snakes, chameleon’s, frogs, dragon’s, tortoise’s and more stuff.

Then on the way we also saw a Wombat. Now a wombat is also native to Australia and is famous for digging extensive burrow systems with their rodent like front teeth and powerful claws.

We then headed towards the much awaited Kangaroo section. The zoo allows you to just walk over the path way just near to Kangaroo’s. The area was also shared with few Emu’s which were roaming here n there. There were 5-6 Kangaroos that we figured out and most of them were sleepy and lazing around in the hot sun. One of them was a little active when we were walking past him and it started walking and I could see well standing kangaroo. They basically have large powerful hind legs than the front legs. Kangaroos have a unique three-stage walk where they plant their front legs and tail first, then push off their tail, followed lastly by the hind legs. I took lot of pics here and then picked up some souvenirs and went ahead to the Sky Safari.

The sky safari is an easier way to reach out the ferry that picks you up and drops you to the Circular Quay which is again a central point to do your other activities like shopping… πŸ™‚ . We got down there and were really hungry. It was already 2pm by then. I searched for a subway and packed some Falafel wraps for myself, mom and aunty. Once done with our lunch we got into a train to Central station and from there went to Paddy’market in a light rail which is similar to a tram as it runs on the road. Now Paddy’s market is one such place where you can find anything and everything at affordable prices. I finished all my course of shopping from here. Once done we headed back to home as it was getting dark and dark means it’s going to be more chillier than the day.

The next day we decided to just have a walk, say a km, to the near by Woolworth’s to do some more shopping. I made mom to wear a punjabi dress for the first time outside India. Now, not that she wears those quite often in India but she has very few times when she has worn one. But outside India, this was her very first time as she always prefers wearing her favorite attire, the Indian Sari. She is the most comfortable in that. We went out, finished our shopping and came back before 5pm. I was full excited about our next day venture with the Sky diving. I was just waiting for it. My cousins had already rented out the car for the next day.

We left for Woollongong at around 8.30 am and it was a 1hr 18mins drive to the place. We were supposed to reach there by 10 am and we exactly were there at the required time. We made mom and aunty sit there near the beach as we went to the Sky Diving Info center. The beach side was very windy as well as sunny too. We tried to check in after completing the required formalities and we were given the 2.45 pm slot that belonged to the 16th group. We thought of coming back at the scheduled time after finishing our lunch. Now before you do a sky diving, it is not recommended to be in empty stomach or rather fill in your stomach completely. So 12.30 pm was an apt time to finish our lunch. My cousins went and got in some falafel burgers this time and we were all set to experience our Sky dive.

We left at 2.30 pm from the beach and told both the mom’s to wave at us while we land on the beach. We were given instructions from the Sky diving crew and harnessed appropriately for the dive. The one who harnessed us was coincidentally from Karnataka and he was more than happy to converse with us in kannada, my native language but he cut short it, as it was against the protocols as a crew member. Then our instructors, the trained tandem jump masters, came along and introduced themselves and had a chit chat with us just to make us comfortable and to shoot a highlighted video(that comes along with the package)Β  with their Go pro’s.

Then we all hopped in a bus that takes us to the airport and it took almost 30 mins to reach there. Again, there we were given some instructions and we boarded the aircraft that is going to drop us. There were totally 15 of us that included, 7 instructors and 7 harnessed one’s who are going to dive with them and one more person who was responsible for the dedicated video for the one’s who had opted for it. Within no time the aircraft took us to a height above 15000 ft and the door opened. Slowly, one after the other, the pairs started dropping and next was my turn. I mean I was nervous but at the same time was excited about the whole thing. I just was in my dropping position from the aircraft and the next moment was pulled away by the wind. It was a drop from 15000 ft at a speed of 220 km/hr and you have a free fall of 45-60 secs. During the free fall, you are supposed be in a instructed position that looks similar to Dhanurasana(one of the exercise in Yoga). That adrenaline rush….I just cannot explain it. Feelings that words cannot express. You have to live that moment and you cannot compare it with anything else. After 60 secs, the parachute opens up and you are in another instructed position. My instructor Mick, was showing me all the major view points from the top and he allowed me to maneuver the parachute also say for 5 secs by giving the control to me. Once the parachute opens up, we have 5 mins before landing on the beach. The view from top above the sea is so beautiful. The sea looks greener near the shore and turns to become blue and even more darker as it gets deeper. The combination of falling over the water and landing on the beach was the best part of this Sky Diving. By then we were almost ahead of making a landing and I saw mom and aunty on the bench near the shore. We all waved at them. And then I was instructed to be in the landing position and there you go. I had completed my sky diving and one of my to do list activity. It was such a dream come true.

After a long day, we headed back to home. We had our flight next day to Bangalore and I just cannot tell you all that how much I enjoyed this vacation of mine. I never felt that I was in a country so far from India, home away from home.

 

 

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