Issue Number 39, 31 May 2003
Editors: Eric Lindsay and Jean Weber
In this issue...
So what have we been doing?
Trip to Brisbane, March 2003
Trip to Gold Coast, April 2003
Where to buy a new or used campervan or motorhome?
Mackay Airport secure parking
Perth Homestays and English language tuition
Seniors Business Card
Subscription and privacy information
Yes, it's been far too long since the last issue of this newsletter. We've been busy, but little of it has been doing the sort of things we report here. Of course, we have been collecting a lot of information, which we should have published before now, but... we've been busy.
We had a quiet Christmas and New Year at home, and then in January Jean had another cataract operation (her third, this time to correct a problem from the operation on her left eye). This operation was a complete success, we're happy to say.
Two days before the op, Jean bought a new car, a Subaru Forester all-wheel-drive, in which we plan to see more of the country, staying in motels, cabins, onsite tents, and other such accommodation as much as possible. We've already found that we cannot possibly fit everything we need into the back of such a small vehicle, so we've bought a luggage pod for the roof.
In March we took advantage of some super-cheap fares to Brisbane from Mackay on Virgin Blue, and spent a week seeing some of the sights of Brisbane. The weather was most cooperative and we walked ourselves to exhaustion, but still have many things left to see on another trip. Don't let anyone tell you Brisbane isn't interesting -- it most definitely is! A summary of our visit is here: http://www.avalook.com.au/eastcoast/brisbane03.htm
Meanwhile Jean was writing yet another computer software book, which she managed to finish just in time to get some copies printed for a professional conference on the Gold Coast. So in early April we drove from Airlie Beach to Broadbeach in the new car, visiting a few places along the way that we haven't seen before. We greatly enjoyed the Gold Coast this time, to our surprise. No doubt the perfect weather helped. More about that trip is here: http://www.avalook.com.au/eastcoast/gc03.htm
In addition to several magazines available at newsagents, you can find a lot of information on these and other websites. See also the list of new vehicle dealers (Swagman, Matilda, Winnebago) and used vehicle dealers on this page http://www.avalook.com.au/trans_l.htm#cvmh
Australian Camper Trailer, Caravan and Motorhome Network
Despite having sold our motorhome (and Eric's declaration that he never wants another one), Jean is still interested in them. Here's a site with lots of information, hints, references, clubs, insurance, associations and more. http://www.rv.com.au/
Buying? This site has for-sale ads as well as listing over 200 other Australian recreational vehicle websites, classified so you can easily find what you want, where you want. For hire, sale, parts and repairs.
Selling? Free classified ads with photos.
Here is another site, still under development but with listings of new and pre-owned motorhomes and campervans. http://www.australianrv.com.au/
We don't usually say much about the major cities, but I wrote the following quick summary in answer to a question.
I generally suggest that a first-time visitor take a tour or two, or at the very least take a harbour cruise and get a Sydney Explorer bus ticket for a day or several.
There are several harbour cruises of varying lengths, all leaving from Circular Quay.
The Sydney Explorer buses go around to a lot of the standard tourist destinations; you can get off and on at any of the stops along the way and see things at your own pace, or just ride around the loop and get an overview of parts of the city and its suburbs from the land side, as a contrast to seeing them from the harbour.
If it's a clear day and you don't mind heights, there are several buildings where you can go up to an observation deck near the top; many of these buildings have a bar and/or restaurant at or near the observation deck, if you want to sit awhile and enjoy the view. I think Centrepoint is one.
Normally I urge people to get out of the city and see some countryside, but you may not have the opportunity. Are you experienced driving on the left side of the road? If not, I don't recommend learning in Sydney traffic! But you can drive or take the train into the Blue Mountains, to Leura or Katoomba, and see some great countryside, either by walking or by taking a tour, or hire a taxi to drive you around for an hour -- probably the most interesting way to do it!
Taronga Park Zoo is definitely worth a visit; it's a stop on some of the harbour ferry routes and there may be a harbour cruise that includes a stop there too... I'm not sure. Sydney Aquarium is great; it's in Darling Harbour. Unless you can get well out of Sydney, there isn't much to do in the way of snorkeling anyway.
Museums and art galleries: there's lots of them. I particularly like the Australian Museum (in the city next to Hyde Park) and the Powerhouse Museum (near Darling Harbour). In addition to the Art Gallery of NSW, I think there's a good one specialising in Aboriginal art. You can pick up a copy of This Week in Sydney or similar (free) at your hotel to get the details on where things are, opening times, etc. You probably can't get into a performance at the Opera House on short notice, though you might get lucky. Some Sydney websites:
Museum of Contemporary Art, http://www.mca.com.au/
Art Gallery of NSW, http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/
National Maritime Museum (in Darling Harbour), http://www.anmm.gov.au/
Powerhouse Museum (by Darling Harbour), http://www.phm.gov.au/
Australian Museum (by Hyde Park), http://www.austmus.gov.au/
Sydney Jewish Museum, http://www.sydneyjewishmuseum.com.au/
Taronga Zoo (Mosman), http://www.zoo.nsw.gov.au/content/view.asp?id=39
Sydney Aquarium (in Darling Harbour), http://sydneyaquarium.com.au/
Other Sydney stuff: Dolphin Water Taxis claims they are the premier supplier of personal water transport on Sydney Harbour. Their site provides plenty of information, and includes a printer-friendly version. http://www.dolphinwatertaxi.com/
Secure parking (but not under cover) is available at Mackay airport. It operates out of the Virgin Blue area and costs $8 per night. Phone 07 49526422 to book. There is plenty of space but not unlimited.
Deleted June 1009 at owner's request; business closed several years ago.
Virgin Blue now flies directly between Sydney and Whitsunday Coast Airport (formerly Proserpine) once a week on Saturdays. Virgin has also increased its Sydney - Alice Springs flights to daily, and introduced an Adelaide-Broome flight with connections to/from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Get all the latest fares and other news from Virgin here: http://www.virginblue.com.au/
In Western Australia, Great Western Airlines now provides air services to Kalbarri and Geraldton and is soon to start air services into the Kimberley direct from Perth. For more information, see http://www.gwairlines.com.au/
Qantas has simplified its fare structure and is currently offering lots of cheap fares around Australia on their "Red e-deals". http://www.qantas.com.au/
Soon after Jean's 60th birthday in February, she applied for and received a "Seniors Business Card" from the Queensland government. This entitles her to discounts from any company that chooses to honour the card. There is another card for low-income over-60s and for anyone 65 and over; that card provides discounts on various government services. Other states have similar schemes. These are only available for residents, not visitors to Australia, but many businesses honour similar cards from other countries.
More information here: http://www.families.qld.gov.au/seniorscard. (Has links to similar departments in other States.)
© Copyright 2003 Eric Lindsay and Jean Weber. All rights reserved.
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