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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Oahu and Molokai, Hawaii

Twenty years have gone by since I was last on Oahu, it was the first Hawaiian Island I had ever been to. (since then I have visited all of them) On the first trip my mom and I did a lot of the typical tourist type of stuff, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the aquarium, the zoo, the Dole Pineapple Plantation, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, and hiking up Diamond Head.
It was a short, fun trip, but I did not see that much of the island, and I have an uncle who lives there and I wanted to meet him, so it was worth a revisit.

Kualoa Beach.

I stayed in an Airbnb in Kaneohe instead of in Waikiki where most people stay. It turned out to be a good location, and although it was a small studio, it had everything I needed. The people that own the house live upstairs, but they have several attached apartments that they rent out.

My Airbnb in Kaneohe.

I was situated on the way towards the north shore, which is in my opinion the nicest part of the island, it is more laid back, with lots of pretty beaches, where the big waves happen that Oahu is know for.... a surfers paradise. Not that I surf, but it's fun to watch!

Chinaman's Hat, you can kayak over and explore this small island.

The sea arch at La'ie Point.

An empty beach on the northern tip of Oahu.

A Monk Seal.

There are a lot of feral cats in Hawaii, but I had never seen so many in one place, as when I stopped at a state park right near my Airbnb.

Just a small portion of the feral cats I saw at He'eia State Park.

Hiking is always a main reason to go to Hawaii for me, and Oahu does have quite a few hikes. Most of them are pretty short but then there are also a few that are either very long and/or treacherous to the point of one wrong step and you could fall to your death. I feel like I have already done my share of treacherous hikes on Kauai, so I thought I would skip them this time around.

My two favorite hikes on Oahu: Kaena Point, once you reach the farthest tip there is a bird nesting area and there are albatrosses everywhere. You can walk through the area and see them up close, but you have to stay within the fenced trails.
The Maunawili Trail is a long one at 9 miles one way, so I just did a section of it. I ran into some boar hunters out there, only four men but they had at least twenty dogs with them that I was happy to pet as I passed by.

Oahu isn't known for it's waterfalls, they are not very tall, and although I hiked to quite a few of them, most were lacking in water flow.

Kaena Point.

An albatross at Kaena Point.

A fairly typical Hawaiian trail, this is Cardiac Hill.

The Maunawili Trail was one of my favorites.

Likelike Falls was a short hike.

Underneath the Koko Crater Arch.

Botanical gardens in Hawaii are always pretty great, and Oahu has a plethora of them, most of which are free. All in all I went to five of them, although there were a couple more that I skipped because they didn't rate as high in my guidebook's description.

At the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens.


The cactus section of the Koko Crater Botanical Garden.

A Shingle Plant at Waimea Botanical Garden.

I loved these trees at Waimea Botanical Garden.

Pearl Harbor was a two day experience, it takes eight hours if you actually want to see everything. On the first day I saw all of the free stuff, you can enter the area and wander through a museum, all around the grounds, and also see the USS Arizona Memorial for free. The museum is very interesting and has a lot of different videos playing of both survivors and civilians recounting their experiences on that fateful day. You used to be taken out on a boat to see the Arizona Memorial and were able to walk out on it, but while I was there it had suffered some structural damage, and so we were just driven past it instead.
Even though it is free to see the memorial, they only have so many tickets per day that they issue, and usually it takes a little work to get the tickets, it involves standing in line very early in the morning, but while I was there tickets were a dime a dozen. I'm not sure if it was just a slower time of year, or because people aren't as interested now that they can no longer walk onto the memorial.

The USS Arizona Memorial.

On the second day I toured the battleship USS Missouri, then the Pacific Aviation Museum, and lastly the USS Bowfin which is a submarine.
You cannot bring any bags into Pearl Harbor, so I had to carry my phone, keys and a water bottle. You can have a camera around your neck, but not in a bag, so I left it behind and just took pictures with my phone. To get to the Missouri and the aviation museum you get on a shuttle bus, and they take you over to Ford Island.

On the deck of the USS Missouri.

On Ford Island, this is the area where the first missile hit.

Inside the USS Bowfin.

I spent some time in downtown Honolulu, driving through Chinatown, checking out the Punchbowl Cemetery, the statue of Kamehameha The Great and the Lolani palace. I also went to the Bishop Museum which has two demonstrations daily where they heat cinders at over 2000 degrees for two hours and then "voila" they show you how lava is made.

In Kaneohe I visited a replica of a Japanese Buddhist temple, and in Central Oahu there is a sacred site where they have birthing stones. Apparently royal women used to go there and give birth in front of a bunch of men, and then the men would snatch the baby up and take it away, and the woman would not see it again until it was an adult. There weren't any other people there, it's not really a well know tourist spot, and as I was looking around, a couple of wild boar ran out of the bushes across the grass in front of me. They can really move!

Honolulu from a lookout at the Punchbowl Cemetery.

The statue of King Kamehameha the Great in Honolulu.

The replica of a Japanese temple.

The Kukaniloko birthing stones.

A boar goes screaming by as I am taking pictures.

At the Dole Pineapple Plantation.

One of the locations where they filmed the show Lost.

After 13 days on Oahu I took a flight over to Molokai, which is a fun experience all on it's own. I used Mokulele Airlines which is in a different terminal from all the other big airlines. This is a very laid back experience, you check in around an hour beforehand, there is no security to go through, then you sit around in an open air lounge area, and wait to get onto the itty bitty plane with nine seats. They weigh you while you are holding your carry on, and there are no boarding passes, they just assign you a row. My pilot friend says these Cessna's are very reliable, but it is a pretty wobbly plane while taxiing and during take off and landing. Both my landings were pretty smooth, but I talked to a girl who said often the landings can be quite bumpy, for example touching the ground a few times before actually staying put.
Once there I collected my bag, they unload them and hand them to you on the tarmac, and then I went to the only car rental place they have and got my vehicle since you can't really see Molokai without one.

The nine seater plane, a quick baggage unloading process.

The main grocery store is closed on Sunday, my arrival day, but I knew that ahead of time, so I had brought a few food items with me. They had a very small mini mart that was open, and I stopped to buy some overpriced beverages. Hawaii just in general is expensive, but on Molokai you can pretty much count on doubling regular Hawaiian prices for accommodation, the rental car, food and gas.
I only had 2 and a half days on Molokai, but that was enough. The island is small and you can literally see all of the main sights in one day, if you are not hiking. But if you want to explore more, take advantage of a less populated laid back kind of place to relax and spend time on the beaches, you could certainly stay a lot longer.
The main town of Kaunakakai is small but has enough restaurants and a few other stores to keep tourists happy. Molokai is called the "Friendly Island" and I did find everyone to be quite nice. I saw more tourists than I thought I was going to see, but it certainly wasn't a crowded place to be.

I stayed in a VRBO condo this time and although it was really cute and in a great location on the west side of the island, I did have a few problems with it while I was there. No hot water, no cable, the oven was on the blink etc. etc... I contacted the owners to make them aware of the issues, but it did make my stay a little less comfortable. There are a few hotels to choose from as well, but it seemed like the vacation rentals were pretty booked up.
The condo's I stayed in are privately owned and in working order, but there are a lot of other condo's in the same area that are owned by Molokai Ranch and are boarded up and shut down, due to a bunch of problems that happened in the past. I read about it in my welcome booklet, and it is a pretty convoluted story. It was kind of interesting to wander around on the paths past all the abandoned buildings.

The condo I stayed in on Molokai.

Sunset on Molokai.

The Molokai Forest Reserve.

As most people probably know Molokai is known for it's leper colony, also know as Kalaupapa.
My main reason for visiting the island, was to go on the tour they offer of the colony. However, that did not work out. Although I called multiple times, at all times of the day and night, for over a week, no one ever answered the phone at the tour company. After further digging around I found out that there was a dispute between the landowner and the operator of the mule rides, which is the main way to get people the three miles straight down into Kalaupapa. I never intended to ride the mules anyway, it is far cheaper to hike down, but since the mules were not taking tourists, obviously the tour is not getting a lot of business, and just may not be operating right now. So after awhile I gave up on being able to see it up close, and instead I drove to a lookout where you can view it from above.

Kalaupapa from the lookout.

The cliff I would have been happy to hike down to see Kalaupapa.

A close up of the town at Kalaupapa.

What I learned fairly quickly is there are only two other well known hikes on the island, besides Kalaupapa. There is one into the Halawa Valley, and one into the Kamakou Preserve that you need a 4x4 to be able to drive to. There is also a very short hike at the same parking area as the Kalaupapa lookout, which takes you over to Phallic Rock. Of course I had to check that out.

Phallic Rock.

Information about Phallic Rock.

The Halawa Valley hike/tour is on private land, so there is a fee for that as well. I did pay online ahead of time, but I was informed that no one else had signed up on the day I wanted to go, and that they need a minimum of 2 people to do the hike. So I did not end up doing this either, although I did get my money refunded. Instead I drove over to the valley where the road dead ends, and looked at it from afar, and also checked out the bay. This is the lushest part of the island, as most of Molokai is actually fairly dry.

The Halawa Valley.

Halawa Beach Park.

Since I did not have a 4x4 for the last hike option, I was left with exploring, and trying to see what else I could find. On the west side of the island by my condo is where most of the bare land is located and there are dirt tracks that you can wander around on, not classified as actual hiking trails, but with a little research there are a few destinations you can find.
The first one I did was a shoreline hike to La'au Point. On the way I came across another abandoned area that was once run by Molokai Ranch. There is still a dilapidated main house and then there are 40 small weird structures with a bathroom and a deck. I looked it up online and these were called Tentalows, a tent used to be set up on each deck and people would pay big bucks to camp there.

Although I have come across a lot of red dirt in Hawaii, the trail to La'au Point has especially fine dirt, that got into my hiking shoes, stained my socks for life, and has remained in my shoes ever since.

I also went to Papohaku Beach which is within walking distance of my condo, and at three miles, is one of the longest beaches on any Hawaiian Island.

A deserted beach within walking distance of my condo.

On the hike to La'au Point. The red dirt is still with me.

The abandoned Tentalows on what was once the Molokai Ranch.

Papohaku Beach is three miles long.

To sum it up, although Kauai is still my favorite, all the islands are very unique and have different things to offer. What they all have in common though, is warm weather, ocean breezes, beautiful flora and a feeling of having visited paradise, if only for awhile!


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Cairns, Queensland, Australia

For me Australia ended up being more of a learning experience about all the wildlife, plants and trees than anything else. As we were traveling around, every bird flying above our heads or insect on the ground or plant we were passing by, was something we had never seen before in our lives. We were constantly saying "wow" or "what the heck is that".

Wallicher Falls.

The flight is of course, rather long, but I was lucky and was offered an upgrade which made the trip over much more comfortable. My mom flew in from another location, and we met there. Australia is pretty strict on what you can bring into the country and they definitely don't want any foreign fruit. I filled out my immigration card and mentioned that I had plums with me, I had not gotten a chance to eat them on the plane. They took them from me and that was it, but my mom was detained for awhile at customs while they searched her bag and found an apple core, which she had not claimed. They were convinced she was a drug smuggler or something along those lines, and questioned her for awhile, but finally let her go, sans apple core.

Driving is on the left, and I had never done that before, so it was something I had to figure out ASAP. We got into our little Toyota Corolla rental car at the airport and off we went. The most awkward part at first is having the steering wheel be on the right side of the car, and having the turn signal on the opposite side of the steering wheel. I ended up turning on the windshield wipers instead of signalling, a time or two before I got the hang of it. I got us to our hotel without any mishaps, but I did think that driving on the left was going to be something I would constantly have to think about while I was there, however after a few days I was an old hand at it. It's just a matter of retraining your brain. In fact I did so much driving, that when I returned home I had to readjust and remember where the turn signal was in my own car, and not to go left in a roundabout! 
Signage has different wording, for example yield is called "give way" and passing is called "overtaking". Some are very specific, instead of just Wrong's Wrong Way, Go Back. Gas is very expensive, it averaged $1.60 a liter which is $6.40 a gallon. But there were never any parking fees anywhere that we went, even on city streets, the first two or three hours were free.

Interesting fact: Some of the trucks have snorkels on them, and that is what they are actually for, in case you end up driving in deep water. But it's also supposed to improve the fuel efficiency and power of the vehicle.

Our little Corolla parked by a row of Jacaranda trees.

Kangaroo crossing signs are everywhere.

The very first thing I noticed about Australians is how helpful they are. They are not as outwardly friendly and chatty as Americans, but the minute you look confused, distressed or in obvious need of help, they are immediately there for you. I noticed this on the plane before I even got into the country. I was on a huge plane and could barely reach the overhead bin, but I didn't really need to, because another passenger had already noticed and was assisting me. Everyone is very polite. As we toured around the various attractions where the employees see all of us tourists constantly, and have to tell everyone the same things over and over, day after day, they were nothing if not completely cheerful. I also enjoyed their humor which is similar to British and Canadian, a type of dry wittiness which is what I am accustomed to, being from Canada originally. They seemed to think we had an accent, one lady said my accent was "smooth". Most of them actually assumed we were from Canada, and most of the time I just went with it. The first time I stopped to fill up the car, I was looking at the pump trying to figure out which gas to use, and I noticed there was no way to pay at the pump, however in no time at all, the lady that worked inside was outside asking me if I needed assistance. To sum it up, I thoroughly enjoyed everyone I met, and their hospitality.

On our first full day we drove just a few miles, over to the Cairns Botanical Gardens, which was really interesting, and as it turned out, it would be one of the only attractions that was free.

At the Cairns Botanical Gardens.

At the Cairns Botanical Gardens.

An Ibis at the Cairns Botanical Gardens.

We stayed in the same hotel for the entire two weeks we were there. My room was only cleaned once during that time, and if I needed more soap or toilet paper I had to go to reception to get it. Reception had very limited open hours especially on weekends, so we had to plan ahead and make sure we didn't run out of anything. The room was nice and had a few extras, like plates and cutlery. The internet and my computer did not get along, and so I was offline the entire time, which made it a little tricky to do research. When I asked about it once, the lady said quite a few people have had trouble with their internet.

Interesting fact:
They still have payphones, a lot of them, and the phone booths have free WiFi if you are a customer of that particular carrier.

Cairns is a tourist mecca, a lot of other Australians come to the warmer tropics, and of course to see the Great Barrier Reef. Consequently there was no shortage of tourist type things to do, but some were totally worth it, and some were not.

Paronella Park was heralded as the number one tourist rated attraction in the Cairn's area and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. It’s quite expensive, and I think if it had been a lot cheaper, we might have felt better about it.The story behind how the park came to be, is actually quite entertaining, but what you see while you are there is a dilapidated building they are calling a castle, a waterfall, and some turtles and fish that you can feed. 

The dilapidated castle at Paronella Park.

Kauri Pines at Paronella Park.

Mamu Tropical Skywalk is close by Paronella Park so we went there on the same day. Also if you pay for both at once you save a few bucks. It has an elevated walkway and there are some towers and paths, so if you are not a hiker, and don’t plan to actually walk on any of the hiking trails, which they call walking tracks, doing this is worth it to see some pretty nice views.

On the Mamu Tropical Skywalk.

Views of the rainforest at Mamu Tropical Skywalk.

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures is a "must do", it's cheaper than a lot of the other attractions and very informative, you can spend the whole day there easily. There is a schedule with times when they are doing different talks and demonstrations, for example Crocodile feeding, and learning about snakes. In between you can walk around, see all of the other animals and pet and feed the kangaroos.They really care for their animals and the amount of information I learned there in one day was enormous. I was like most people that have never been to Australia, and I didn't really know that much about their wildlife. I think most people think that since there are so many dangerous species, that your life is in danger constantly, but this is totally not the case. The most venomous snakes in the world do indeed live in Australia, but they are very unwilling to spend time with humans, so if you are out in nature, the chances of seeing one of them are slim to none. They feel the vibrations of your presence and want nothing to do with you. The cases of people being bitten by snakes are usually snake hunter type of people who are deliberately out looking for different species, and trying to catch them. I saw one of these snakes in the wild, because occasionally they do what snakes do and soak up some sun on a road. I was driving along in the middle of nowhere and as I was passing by another car, I saw the other car swerve to try to avoid the snake. I got out of the car and hurried over to see if the snake had been hit, it slithered away and looked ok outwardly from what I could see, but then it turned itself upside down and was looking uncomfortable, so I think it may have been injured.

Koala feeding time at Hartley's.

Watching a crocodile demonstration at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures.

At Hartley's Crocodile Adventures.

One of the crocodiles at Hartley's.

Kangaroo's at Hartley's.

One creature that can be dangerous is a Cassowary which is a large strange looking bird. I saw a couple in captivity, but also once on a hiking trail I ran across one with it's baby. If they feel threatened they can get aggressive, and if they start beating on you with their feet, just by gravity alone, their claws will end up shredding you.

Beware of Cassowary signs are at trailheads.

A Cassowary in captivity.

Crocodiles attacks are very rare, but yes they do indeed want to eat you, and will, so if you are stupid enough to swim in water with crocodiles, you’ll get what’s coming to you. They can’t run faster than people on land, but they can outswim you so.... stay out of the water! There are warning signs at every possible water source that crocodiles live. The attacks that have happened have been predominately 40 something year old drunk guys showing off to their friends and doing really stupid things. 

Croc warning signs are everywhere that crocs live.

At Eubenangee Swamp National Park.

A crocodile in the Eubenangee Swamp.

Neither of us was a big fan of Australian food. They have similar restaurants as in the US, that serve similar sounding dishes, but what you get will likely taste a lot different then what you are expecting.
Breakfast eggs are good, they serve a hot tomato with it, but the bacon is a really fatty version. In one restaurant I asked for both eggs and pancakes and the guy was totally taken aback, had never heard of such a thing, so I settled for just eggs.
All the Asian types of food tasted just like at home, but Italian and Greek were definitely different. The pizza all tasted exactly the same everywhere, I had it three different times, it has very thin crust and is not bad, but not great, even at Pizza Hut, which did not stick to their recipe. They serve traditional Australian food as well, which is crocodile, kangaroo etc. We did not try any of that.
In restaurants the wait staff was friendly,  but they are not overly quick or on top of things, since they are not working for tips.
We shopped at grocery stores for snacks, breakfast and lunch items. I am health conscious and I found it almost impossible to find healthy items. They have outlawed flimsy plastic bags, so you can buy a very sturdy plastic bag for 15 cents while shopping, or bring your own.
There are recognizable chain stores and restaurants, but the Target store carried no food items at all. There was a restaurant with the same logo as Burger King but it was called Hungry Jacks. But truly the same everywhere I've ever been was McDonalds!

Interesting fact: Most restaurants no longer use plastic straws, they either try to get you not to use a straw at all, or they have paper straws. Although I thought the paper straws were weird to drink from, I am not against the idea of replacing the plastic.

The Atherton Tablelands is a large plateau at a higher elevation from Cairns, you have to drive up some long and winding roads to get there. There are many small towns, lots and lots of waterfalls, and plenty of other things to see and do.
The waterfalls are probably a lot more spectacular once the rainy season starts, but we were there just as the dry season was ending.

On the hike to Emerald Falls.

Barron Falls.

The Curtain Fig Tree.

Millstream Falls.

Hiking to Wallicher and Tchupula Falls.

A termite mound.

One of the towns in the Tablelands is called Yungaburra and they have a platypus viewing area at a creek near town. Although we stopped there once we did not see any, they supposedly don't venture out much, other than at dawn or dusk. I also found another viewing area another day in a different town but I still did not see any, and figured I was not going to. BUT on my way home one day I stopped at about 3:30 in the afternoon and instead of gazing down into the water with all the other tourists, I took a walk along the creek for awhile, and sure enough I spotted two right away. They are smaller than I would have thought, and really cute, but hard to get pictures of, they dive down underwater a lot, or swim by really fast.

A Platypus at Peterson Creek.

The Great Barrier Reef is obviously one of the main attractions in Cairns. In order to see it you need to get on a boat. There are many different boating companies to choose from and our hotel had a lot of brochures so I just went through them all and picked the Ocean Freedom. It isn't cheap, ($215.00 a person) but everything is included and it's a whole day trip with snorkeling, and/or diving, they feed you three times, ( I did not enjoy the lunch buffet ) and they took us to two different locations on the reef. They also have a separate glass bottomed boat to take you out in, which is nice if you aren't a swimmer. All in all, it was an amazing experience, I swam with a barracuda and several sea turtles, there were reef sharks swimming below us, and giant clams on the ocean floor. Also we were near a cay, so you could swim over and although we were miles and miles out to sea, you could stand up on the sand.

Our boat The Ocean Freedom.

The black dot on the left of the boat, is a person standing on the cay.

As I mentioned before, the different types of animals I saw was astonishing. From Kookaburra's and other interesting birds, to very large centipedes, to leeches that crawl on you while hiking, (this happened to me once, but I picked them off of me before they could attach themselves) to green ants....funny story about them: An Aussie guy told me that if you bite off their hind end it tastes good, like a lollipop, I decided to take his word for it. There were water dragons at a restaurant hanging out under our table while we were eating. The plant life is also very interesting, and in some hiking areas you have to be careful what you touch, as some of the species are toxic. Also I noticed a lack of creatures that I am used to seeing at home...I saw no deer, chipmunks, squirrels, crows, robins etc.
One of my favorite things every day as it was getting dark, was to watch the giant fruit bats flying over my hotel, on their way to their evening activities. Walking along the boardwalk in Cairns one night they were up in the trees above us, munching on fruit.

Three Kookaburra's sitting in a tree.

This guy was about 6" long and pretty wide.

Green Ants, they will bite.

Water Dragons at lunchtime.

Warning sign at a trailhead.

National Parks are not like in the US, there are no big signs, gates and a fee. Sometimes there is a tiny sign and a trailhead at the end of a dirt road, or a river with a popular swimming hole, a hike to a waterfall, or sometimes just a pullout on the side of a highway somewhere and the surrounding land is a national park. 

Daintree National Park is one of the main attractions, it is a bit of a drive from Cairns, but it is a less populated area with the oldest rainforest in the world, at an estimated 180 million years.
Daintree is a little different because you have to take a ferry to get to the Cape Tribulation section of it, it takes less than ten minutes to cross a river, but they charge you $28.00 return.
There are lots of beaches, some boardwalk hiking trails through the rainforest, and a few other tourist type things. One place we went is the Daintree Ice Cream Company. They give you four flavors of the day in a cup, they make it from fruit on their property, and it was delicious. Our flavors were Mango, Coconut, Wattleseed, and Black Sapote.

Mossman Gorge is also part of the national park, you drive up to the visitors center, then they shuttle bus you into the area where you can hike. There is no actual big gorge as the name suggests, just rainforest and a swimming area.

On the Dubuji Boardwalk in the Daintree National Park.

Daintree National Park.

At Cow Bay Beach in the Cape Tribulation part of Daintree National Park.

Jack Fruit at the Daintree Ice Cream Company's orchard.

There are a lot of beautiful beaches to walk along, but no one is actually swimming, because there are too many dangers in the sea to contend with, including salt water crocodiles and jellyfish. There are designated swimming beaches like in Palm Cove and Port Douglas with lifeguards on alert, and vinegar stations in case you get stung. But there are plenty of popular fresh water swimming holes in rivers and lakes that are safe. One is called Lake Eacham and it actually has a crocodile living in it, but it is a freshwater croc, they do not bite and are very timid, apparently this one has been in the lake for 20 years.

At an overlook of the Coral Sea.

Lake Tinaroo is a very large lake in the Tablelands.

Babinda Boulders in Wooroonooran National Park.

We also visited the Crystal Caves in Atherton. This is a man made cave that you walk through, and there are crystals and fossils throughout, including one of the biggest Amethyst Geodes in the world.
We also went to Kuranda which is a cute town with a lot of tourist shops. They also have Birdworld Kuranda, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and the Kuranda Koala Gardens. If you pay for all three you get a better deal. Koala Gardens was not really worth it for us, but only because we had already been to Hartley's, and seen all of the same animals. But the birds and butterflies were fun. In Birdworld you can feed them, and they will land on your head or shoulders. 

Also in the Tablelands is a place called Mount Hypipamee Crater, which is a volcanic pipe. It is 420 feet deep, including the lake in the bottom, which apparently has shrimp in it.

The Empress of Uruguay is 2.5 tons.

The Birdwing Butterfly.

Mount Hypipamee Crater.

On my very last day I wanted to go on a longer hike, and so my mom stayed at the hotel and I picked the Goldfield Trail in Goldsborough Valley. I started off with cockatoos and bright iridescent blue butterflies flying around above my head, and a kangaroo bouncing it's way through an open area right near me. I hiked about 6 miles which is about as far as I could handle in that kind of heat, and then on the drive back I ran across a herd of Brumbies. I had no idea they had wild horses in this area, so of all the hikes that I could have picked, I really lucked out. 

The Goldfield Trail in Wooroonooran National Park.

Brumbies in Goldsborough Valley.

A Brumby in Goldsborough Valley.

We just visited a tiny part of this huge country. but it was an amazing time and I would highly recommend Australia, especially if you are a nature and animal lover. We were there in October, which is their spring, and it was HOT. It's the humidity that got to us. But the summers are even hotter, so it was a pretty good time to go, all things considered.