We are getting excited about our upcoming travels to New Zealand and Australia.
I have been hearing about Australia since I was in elementary school. The teachers talk about the those big eared, standing upright creatures that look like rabbits on high vitamin diets or steroids that go off hopping. I can also recall the pictures of platypus that looks like an otter with a duckbill. Odd looking creature.
In a book I read in elementary school, it stated that Australia has many different kinds of snakes and most of them poisonous. I learned that they have 140 types of land snakes and 32 more that swim in the ocean. Now this is a place that St. Patrick should have visited. The story goes that he chased away the snakes from Ireland and I'm certain that his miraculous services would have been been welcomed in Australia as well. We will be visiting mainly urban areas so running into their snakes should not be an issue.
I am grateful that we attended elementary school at a time that we would draw maps, in geography classes, of locations and countries throughout the world. I recall drawing Australia and the island of Tasmania. I wondered why the word Tasmania sounded familiar back then. Then I remembered the Bugs Bunny cartoons where he deals with the short grunting creature with short crooked legs and a huge mouth filled with sharp teeth trying to eat poor Bugs. In time, we found out that there actually is such an animal as a Tasmanian Devil and they are carnivorous. They are only about the size of a small rabbit. I may see one in their zoo. We are not visiting this nearby island on this trip.
A discussion of Australia came up when I was in college. I started to scuba dive and those of us swimming together would sometimes talk about our chances of running into sharks. I really didn't give it any serious thought until the movie "Jaws" came out. The movie reminded me that the ocean was their domain and that in the ocean I am not at the top of the food chain. Somehow I assumed that white sharks with mainly in Australian waters. In time I discovered that I was wrong. Yes, they do have a shark attack problem, but it's not exclusive to Australia. White sharks can be found worldwide and I recently found out that perhaps the greatest concentration of these famous large sharks are found only a few miles north on the coast of San Francisco.
Another unique animal that lives in the northern area of Australia, but is not unique to the Big Island (common term for the continent of Australia) is the "saltie". That what they call these salt water (swimming in the ocean) crocodiles. They can also be found in eastern India and Southeast Asia. The males can grow up to weigh two tons. Boy, I feel sorry for surfers in those regions. They have to look out for large sharks and crocodiles! If they offer any excursion to try to learn to surf in Australia, I have made up my mind that I am definitely not trying it. The last thing I need is to run into one of these predators who has a special preference of tender and marinated Latino meat. I have traveled to many parts of the world and tried many unique sports, but this one I'll pass on it.
Our 21-day land trip will begin in Los Angeles. We will begin and be in New Zealand for eight days and then fly over to Melbourne, Australia. The island of New Zealand is near Australia but they are 900-miles apart.
Our direct 13-hour flight will first take us to New Zealand's capital city of Auckland. During the flight, we will be crossing the equator, "lose an entire day", and we will be immediately transfer into the opposite season from that of the northern hemisphere where we live. Thus, we will board our plane in Los Angeles in our winter cloths with our briefcases full of summer clothing.
We will be visiting three cities in New Zealand and then fly to Australia to continue our exploration trip to the land "down under".
I look forward to posting more articles on our trip and I am hopeful that I can encourage my readers to also take that step to see the world and enjoy the benefits of traveling.
I look forward to hearing from people who have traveled to this distant and exotic part of the world and provide advice on what to see and do while visiting.