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Continent of Superlatives
Part 1

Text and Photos by Fred Vnoucek

More than twenty hours by aircraft are behind me when I enter Australian soil. This time I want to visit not only well-known sights like the Ayer's Rock, the Barrier Reef or Melbourne. Besides the main attractions the slogan is to also explore the less known Australia.

This contains the Kimberley's as well as the west coast of the continent, Cape York and Cockatoo National Park. The journey will be long and sometimes exhausting. Without indicating to much in advance I would like to say that each hour was worthwhile and there exists a country behind the generally known sights which is worth than only one journey.

Immigration is thorough however correct. I am glad to have no food in the luggage when I enter Sydney airport. Import of food of any kind is forbidden, equally it is not allowed to bring along anything which had to do with animals, as for example saddles or riding boots. My luggage as well as my visa are correct and shortly afterwards I'm in front of my hotel near the district 'the rock '. It's the former quarter of warehouses and pubs which is located near the harbour now a centre for restaurants and business. Most of the warehouses were renovated and turned into pubs or shops. The port bridge and the opera house, both landmarks of Sydney, are close by. The locals call the old-venerable port bridge unrespectfully 'coat hanger'. A walk in this direction ends in one of the numerous Scottish or Irish Pups which offer live music and draught beer. There are also fantastic restaurants and bars, in which all kind of sea fruits are offered. My personal tip: mud crabs in the restaurant 'Waterfront' which is directly situated at the water front. Just opposite anchors the originally rebuild 'Bounty' which was used for Hollywood films and now serves as a tourist attraction offering daily trips in the port of Sydney.

It is recommended to spend some days in the metropolis of Sydney in order to be able to only make the most important sightseeings. A port round trip with a ferry saves money and can be combined with a visit to the Taronga zoo which is located on the other side of the bay. Here you meet among others the heraldic animal of the Australians, the Emu, as well as the kangaroo. Besides there are Koala bears and different exotic animals of the remaining world. The beaches of the suburb Manly which can be reached by ferry as well invite to relax. To Darling Harbour you take a magnetic train which hovers over the roads of the city.

The Blue Mountains where some game parks are located as well are a hundred kilometres away. Koala bears and wombats can be observed in their natural habitat. 'Koala in the Tree' - is a decal information and means to have a look at the branches of the tree at which it is attached to. It is possible to select the common route through the country in order to visit the capital Canberra and Melbourne. I decided to select the coastal road because some lonely National Parks are located there before reaching Melbourne. A city tour leads among other things to Flynders Park, the tennis centre of Australia. The booms town Ballarat and the route along the coastal road to the Rock Needles (12 apostles) round off my visit to the surrounding area of Melbourne.

I have now had enough from civilization and take the next airplane to Alice Springs to the 'red heart' of the continent - the Outback. At the rental station I take over a 'bushcamper', an all-wheel-driven vehicle with camping equipment. Within the roof 2 persons can sleep. This and a fuel tank seizing one hundred eighty litres mean independence and are a good preparation for all ventures 'beyond' any supply. I get accustomed to the new driving feeling on the routes around Alice as the city is called by the locals.

Near by I visit some picturesque canyons. In Simpsons Gap rock wallabies which look similar to kangaroos can be observed. North of Alice Springs there are old age rock formations the 'Devils Marbles'. Now I feel well prepared for the route into the desert to the world-famous Ayer's Rock, the rock domes of the Olgas and the Kings Canyon. Almost each visitor of Australia comes to the monolith Ayer's Rock and to the domes of the Olgas. The Kings Canyon also counts many visitors. All three sights can be investigated best by foot. For the ascent to the 'Rock' it is however necessary to be at best health as the warnings at the beginning of the route announce.

From the centre of Australia it is possible to travel on stock routes across the uninhabited desert to west Australia or to the north. Those are however routes recommended for 'advanced' and not under any circumstances for 'beginners'. A proper portion of experience and good equipment are necessary. Since the rental car companies only give limited permission to use such routes any consideration is unnecessary under normal conditions. Since I obtained all possible permissions beforehand, I set out for the crossing of the desert which takes a few days and arrive safely to the tropical north of Australia.

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