Crocodiles and Cairns

Adventures can be had anywhere in Australia and when you make it up to Queensland it is the best place to exhibit your curiosity for crocs.  In fact, Cairns has also been referred to as the croc capital. You don’t want to see them at the beach, but it certainly is possible, so be very careful if you plan to swim at the beaches here.

To understand the life of the crocodile we chose the safest place, Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, where it was easy to view and take pictures of salt water crocodiles and fresh water ones.  The experience was incredibly intimate as we got on a boat and cruised through the lagoon filled with crocodiles.  You can spend a full day at this adventure park as there is a full days worth of wildlife and scheduled shows to see and learn from.  If you only have a half day, that is still enough time to get a fulfilled experience too.

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A salt water crocodile is the largest crocodile species, which can be found in Northern Australia and throughout South east Asia.

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The fresh water crocodiles have a narrow more elongated snout.

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The boat tour is scheduled for every hour and lasts about 20 minutes.
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The koala bears sleep about 16 hours a day. They are adorable even while they are resting!  We learned that they only eat eucalyptus leaves and because they have toxins and are highly fibrous it takes a long time to digest the leaves, therefore requiring more sleep. 

 

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This Kangaroo had her baby in her pouch. 

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Lebanese Food in Melbourne

We were craving Middle Eastern Food so we decided to check out Tiba’s Restaurant after hearing people rave about the quality of their food.  Tiba’s is located in Brunswick, the multicultural area of Melbourne with many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean retail shops and restaurants.

Right when we entered we were given the option for take away or dining in.  The grill behind the cash had me salivating for everything from chicken to kebabs to quail. We took a quick look at the menu and got seated quickly at a table.  The food was excellent and well priced.  They do have a variety of options for vegetarians as well.

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One chicken kebab and one shish kebab with rice, hummus and tabouli.

See Penguins for Free

If you are looking for a place to see penguins in Melbourne and you don’t have time to head out to Phillip Island, I highly recommend visiting St.Kilda beach in the evening.  Just as the sun was setting, the penguins were swimming back to the pier after their day of fishing.  Fortunately, these penguins come out every night in Melbourne, so you should be able to see them no matter what time of year you are there.

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You’ll see this sign as you approach the pier along with more signage to give you more history on St.Kilda beach.
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Everyone waiting patiently for the penguins to swim back to their home along the pier.
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Beautiful view as we watch the sun set.
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After the sunsets, the penguins run across from one breakwater to the next.  The Environmental staff along the pier enforce that visitor keep their camera flash off as it is harmful for the penguins.  For the safety of the penguins moving along their territory, the staff will shine a red light that will not frighten the penguins and also help us humans get out of their way.

 

Kangaroos in Australia

We rented a car from the airport in Cairns, Australia and the fellow at the car rental company let us know that we can see kangaroos in an open field just off the Captain Cook Highway heading towards Port Douglas and just near Trinity Beach. Just about 30 seconds off of the highway we spotted the kangaroos in an open field near a bowling club.  We were so excited to see these little cute kangaroos in what seemed to be their undisturbed natural habitat.

 

An Alley with Spice

Spice lovers in Sydney need to head down to Sydney’s Spice Alley.

From what I heard this place mimics a street right out of Singapore.  Fellow travelers who love spicy food… consider this your food corner in Sydney.  I was looking forward to this place, when it was first mentioned to me and it completely met my expectations.

Tucked away in the must visit, Chippendale district, you will find yourself drawn to Kensington Street for shopping, food, drinks, and possibly accommodations at the unique designer hotel, The Old Clare Hotel.

Where to Eat

There are a plethora of restaurants to choose from with a street style or you can choose surrounding restaurants with more of an enclosed formal dining style.  We ordered the pad thai and the fried rice from bang luck thai.  The Thai/Vietnamese fusion flavours with wonderful colours and aroma were perfect and it was evident that the chef is working with authentic recipes.

 

 

Entertain Your Soul Through Travel

Take a vacation that is good for your soul.  If you want to rest and allow your mind and body to be in peace, check out the all inclusive trips in the Caribbean and Mexico.  I reckon spiritual and yoga trips as well, although I have yet to experience this sort of trip.  Most of my adventures in the past two years have totally been to entertain my soul in cities by discovering authentic foods, hidden vibrant streets, cafes, art galleries and having conversation with locals.  Sometimes your soul needs to connect with other people or maybe even with animals around the world.  It always feels good to connect with nature and God’s beautiful creatures.  I took this photo while hanging out with these adorable koalas in Cairns, Australia.  Staring at an animal sounds boring and I typically don’t agree with visiting zoos.  I justified this experience because I didn’t know any other way to see these cute and cuddly animals in their native land.

Fun Fact: Did you know that koalas sleep for 16 hours a day? They need more time to digest the leaves they eat.

Entertain your soul to feel more alive in this journey we call life.

Coffee and Cake

All over the world people crave coffee as a drip, espresso, latte, macchiato, cortado and the list goes on.  Traveling through South America, drinking coffee more than once a day was a usual thing for me.  Actually, in every city that I visit, I usually like to try a local coffee spot and if I’m feeling kind of sugary…I’ll have a doughnut too.

In Australia, I had a hard time finding drip coffee.  First on the list was espresso or cortado.  If you absolutely, need to have drip coffee you will have to go to Starbucks. Even McDonald’s doesn’t have the drip coffee, it’s all about McCafe and the baristas are off to their own special corner to make a specialty coffee for you.  I don’t like going to North American places when I’m not in North America.  The whole point of travel is to experience something new! 

After having lunch in the Spice Alley, we found this cute Korean cafe, 85 Degrees, which we later realized is a chain throughout Australia.  The coffee and cake combo was a must after our spicy thai lunch at spice alley.

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Target Stores: Same Name and Branding, but it is a Different Store

As you travel, you will discover brands that you won’t find back home. This is part of the joys in discovering new places. What you think is cool back home might have another story in a different country. I have always loved Target stores, even when they came to my homeland, Canada. Although they didn’t survive, the excitement of Target stores entering Canada will never be forgotten…and sadly neither will their exit.

Even with a weaker Canadian dollar, Canadians have always loved shopping in the US to get deals on clothing, electronics, and even cars. When Target came to Canada everyone expected it to be filled with quality products at low prices.   The bargains they were used to getting in the states were far off from what they remembered when shopping across the border. Target did not survive in Canada and as far as I knew, Canada was the only country this company had tried to penetrate market share. To my surprise, while exploring the streets in Sydney and Melbourne, I saw Target stores many times. After seeing it so many times, I finally decided to check it out. The merchandise seemed the same and everything about the store was like the US version. I didn’t want assume anything though because I was in a different country, so I had to ask the store clerk, “Is this the same Target that is in the US?” Her response was, “No it is not the same company.”

I walked away wondering which store knocked off the other or was that employee completely off. I did a quick search and to my surprise, while the branding and the name appear to be the same, they are in fact completely different companies, with different owners, founders, and history. They were never the same company.  I’m still surprised that the two companies look the same.

What do you think about their similarities? Have you run into a similar experience on your travels?

 

The picture on the left is a Target in Australia and the one on the right is a target in the United States.

I’m not a fan of fast food, but we saw Hungry Jacks everywhere in Australia too. Since it is local to the nation, I decided to give this place a try.  Which fast food place does this remind you of?

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Hungry Jacks at South Cross Station in Melbourne

I was pleasantly surprised with Kmart Australia.  The women’s apparel was like shopping at H&M or Forever 21.  I picked up some tops, denim cut off shorts, and a wide brimmed hat.  I don’t remember Kmart being that awesome in Canada or the US.  Kmart Australia is an independent entity operating in Australia and New Zealand and was actually previously part of the American stores.

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Kmart in Australia. (Photo courtesy of wikipedia)

What I have learned is that while we are so different from country to country, we are the same.

Just Say Hello

Ola, Hello, Bonjour, Kia Ora, Salam, Akwaaba, G’day and so many more greeting across this wonderful globe.  Greetings to each and every one of you.  Every place I visit, I try to connect with locals.  By simply greeting someone, you are welcoming a conversation. Striking a conversation with a stranger doesn’t have to lead to a super intense or long discussion, especially if you are on the go with a tight schedule.  All of my trips have been short and sweet, so I usually have limited time to capture as much as possible, but I always have moments to make an attempt to learn about local life. I appreciate their life, their land and their perspective.  If they want to know about me, I’m happy to share too.

All it takes is a quick greeting and if the individual is open, you can carry a conversation.  While visiting Australia, I wanted to connect with the Indigenous community outside of the museums and touristy sites.  One early morning in Cairns, my husband and I went to the Palm Cove Beach to watch the sunrise.  We did some meditation and then we took a walk along the beach.  There was a couple sitting along the edge where the beach meets the grass and right before reaching a shady woods area.  We started with “hello” and the hand gesture wave.  They responded with welcomes and had we a brief chat with them.  We learned that they were on a short and sweet trip too.  They had pitched a tent right behind them and planned to be there for 2 days as a getaway from their family.  They needed a break from their hustle and bustle.  We had an intimate moment, as the man told us that all the land belonged to them and that unfortunately there is no work so he is currently unemployed.  We also talked about going for a swim at this time of year and the dangers associated with the marine stingers and crocodiles.  We had read in the National Maritime Museum in Sydney that the crocodile is sacred in their culture as they believe that they embody the spirits of important people. The couple had no fear of going for a swim and confirmed what we had read in the museum.  They are both descendants of the Yirrganydji and maintain their spiritual connection with the land.  They proudly shared that they know how to spot and avoid the crocodiles and get of the water safely.

Speaking with them taught me to remove all judgement.  Prior to saying hello, I thought they would not want to talk to a tourist.  I took the risk and said hello anyway.  I believe if you put out love, you will receive love, so that’s what I did and they welcomed me.  We had a good chuckle, listened to a bit of music and then said our best wishes.  We snapped a pic for memories, however out of respect, I have only posted their shadows as we were on the beach and they were in their swimwear.

Thank you God for introducing me to more people and sharing pleasant moments across your globe.

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Palm Cove Beach, Cairns, Australia (Queensland)

A Journey that Ends with a Beach

There are over 10,000 beaches in Australia and to be exact the University of Sydney has counted 10, 685 beaches.  I would not be surprised if there are more in hidden places that man has yet to walk.  My trip was short and sweet and I only had a chance to visit a few places.  I never get tired of visiting the beach, even though my purpose is not to tan because I am blessed with dark skin.  I love the sun and for its rays to kiss my skin giving me the dose of vitamin D that my body needs for good health.  I love listening to the sounds of the water and feeling more connected to the earth.  When I get to the beach it is my moment of peace and calm from all the chaos and pollution in any city.  This post is to highlight one beach in Northern Sydney.

Palm Beach, Manly, Sydney

The journey we made to this beautiful beach took us about 90 minutes and we started with the Manly ferry from Circular Quay.  The ferry ride is about 20 minutes and boasts spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Once we disembarked from the ferry, we walked to catch a bus to Palm Beach and that bus ride was about 60 minutes. I like taking the bus so that I can view the city as the locals do everyday.

The long bus ride is worth it and you will realize that as you begin to approach this affluent area where the median home is selling for $2.6 Million.  A little fun fact for you: the long running Australian tv show, Home and Away is filmed here.

Palm Beach is along the Tasman Sea, within the South Pacific Ocean.  I was there on a December afternoon and the sky was a bit overcast, but there was enough sun to lay out and veg for more than a couple of hours without the risk of getting burnt.  The tide and temperature of the water was perfect for riding the waves and as we frolicked with every wave. The surfers were nearby catching the bigger waves outside of the swimmers boundaries. Let me remind you that when visiting the beaches in Australia, you must stay within the yellow and red poles, which are marked as the safe zone monitored by lifeguards on duty.  The waves can shift and mother nature can be violent at any time.

There is also a public pool at the end of the beach which we noticed wasn’t busy.  In that area, you can take a walk along the huge rocks and admire more of God’s creation.

Palm Beach is one my favourite beaches in the world.  I still have more to see!  As always, thank God for travel!

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Take bus 29 to and from Manly.

 

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sitting on the rocks at Palm Beach

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