Theo in Australia

4 posts by 2 authors in: Forums > Off Topic / Other
Last Post: June 6, 2005   (RSS)

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By Luke - May 16, 2005

Hi everyone,

Theo, our project manager, is on vacation right now in Australia. He sent us an update and we thought it would be great to share his experiences with you.

We're hoping to hear more updates from him, but we really don't know what his computer access will be like.

I've posted his most recent update below. Please feel free to say hi or leave him a comment! :)

May 13, 2005

Turns out Australia is real after all. I had my doubts. The 14-hour flight from LAX to Syndey started off as a real trial, but after about 12 hours you get used to it.

After we arrived in Syndey and cleared customs, we took a train out to Epping (one of about a million suburbs) to stay with some friends of the family. Well, first we took the train several miles in the wrong direction and had to backtrack. We're lucky we didn't end up in the mountains.

Epping is quite lovely. The subdivision we're in is surrounded on three sides by bush, and the parks connect up to the National Parks, so there are a lot of lively birds and critters - I woke up to a Kookaburra laugh think morning, and we've been peering into the backyard at night, hoping to see a Ringtail or two.

The first day was pretty quiet. Yesterday we were driven around to a bunch of the beaches and were nearly sick from all the winding roads.

Then we were dropped off at the Zoo where we got a good look at a lot of Australian wildlife. Some of the animal habitats have no barriers to the visitors, so we were menaced by Emus on the trail and buzzed by birds in the aviary. The nocturnal displays were amazing, and I could barely tear myself away from the platypus.

Breakfast is ready, so more later.

Theo Wiersma

Luke Holzken
Product Development

Re: [Luke] Theo in Australia

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By Luke - May 24, 2005

Hi Everyone!

Theo's updated us again with his latest from Australia. Please feel free to read it over, say hi, or post your comments. :)

Theo writes:

Turns out it rains in Australia after all. Everyone keeps saying that it hasn't rained in months, but it seems like they're just making excuses (oh, the weather was beautiful *just* before you arrived).

Apparently they need the water pretty badly, though.

A few more words about the Toranga Zoo...we fell in love with the Tasmanian Devil. It's incredibly cute, even when savaging a filthy old bone (yick). It looks like a cross between a piglet and a rat, but cute.

It was cloudy and sometimes rainy in Sydney the whole time. We visited some museums on our second day, including the Hyde Street Barracks. I've been interested in the convict transportation for a while, and the museum at Hyde Street has a lot of history and artifacts. We also visited the Australia museum. It had pretty much nothing about Australian history, but a lot of wildlife and anthropology displays.

We walked up to the botanical gardens, a huge, stunning park right in the middle of downtown. At one point in our wandering, we came across a tree with several flying foxes (a large fruit bat). We thought that it was amazing, and tried to get some good shots. We had medium success at first, but as we looked around and walked a bit further, we kept seeing more and more of them until every tree had thirty to a hundred of them.

Needless to say we were pretty impressed, but when we were relating our days events to one of our hosts, she had nothing good to say about the bats. Apparently they used to have them in their backyard, living in a tall palm tree. They'd eat their mulberries and cover the car and driveway in purple guano (i.e. bat poop). I guess I can see how that would turn you off bats a little, but we still thought they were awesome. She also didn't care for the Tasmanian Devil, so her opinion didn't carry much weight for us.

Sydney restaurants were EXPENSIVE. We had a really great meal in a noodle house called Wagamama ( We took some photos of our meal which I will post when we get back. A HUGE bowl of ramen soup, some lovely gyozas, and some breaded chilli-spiced squid.

On our last day in Sydney, we went out to Bondi beach. We were there for all of 2 minutes - the intense Sydney traffic left us with less time to get to the airport on the way back than we'd have liked. On the way to the airport, we were delayed by traffic going to the Rugby stadium. We got there in time, though, and headed off to Merimbula to visit with Kate's family.

A great view of the clouds on the flight down. Merimbula is a cute little town, we spent a lot of time driving to beautiful viewpoints of coastal waters. We stopped to look at some wild kangaroos (eastern greys). They were mostly just lying around (apparently they're most active near dusk and just after dawn), but one of them had a good hop for us.

Kate practiced driving on the wrong side of the street - the biggest challenge was her 73-year-old aunt giving her driving tips and not letting her go over 60km/hour (the limit was sometimes 100).

Apparently she was worried that we'd hit a wallaby, but we didn't see any. We've rented a car (or "hired" as they say) to drive when we're in Alice Springs. All the relatives have warned us about how dangerous it is in "the Centre" - in fact, after her cousin Libby talked to Kate for a while, Libby called back specifically to warn Kate about how dangerous it can be. I'm not sure who really needs to be warned "don't pick up any hitchhikers" these days.

So now we're in Adelaide, a lovely city with beautiful old buildings.

We're off to Kangaroo Island tonight to see the Fairy penguins and the Remarkable Rocks (everyone agrees that they're pretty remarkable). We also hope to get a chance to hold a Koala, which is apparently illegal in New South Wales, but we're in South Australia where apparently they don't like being told who they're allowed to cuddle.

That's all for now. Talk to you soon.

Theo Wiersma

Luke Holzken
Product Development

Re: [Luke] Theo in Australia

  • Archived  

By Luke - June 6, 2005

Hi Everyone!

Theo's back now but he did send us one final update which I posted below.

Theo writes:

Kangroo Island (KI) was a wonderful part of our trip - I honestly wasn't expecting that much, so it blew me away even more because of it. Even a lot of the Aussies to whom we mentioned our destination asked us why we were going there.

The drive to the KI ferry was a couple of hours over beautiful rolling plains and hills. It reminded me of the western praeries, like the Peace River country, but with the brown grassy fields right rushing up to the edge of the ocean, or to a cliff overlooking the sea. We were warned about the rough seas, but the crossing was brief and calm.

After dark the first night, we saw the fairy penguins. They dig little burrows in the hills by the shore (and under people's houses or in their yards) where they have their chicks. They're cute as heck and sleep standing up (just like Luke). The penguins are doing well on KI since they've gotten the feral cats under control and educated the residents. Feral cats are one of the biggest threats to wildlife in Australia, so they mainly have dogs as pets on KI, and it's understood that if a dog kills a penguin, it will be destroyed.

The next day, we went on an amazing bus tour of KI. We saw large Kangaroos that are unique to the island (kind of like the Eastern Grey, but brown) and the Tammar Wallaby, extinct on mainland Australia (which KI residents refer to as "the North Island"), mainly exterminated by feral cats. One little wallaby kept sniffing the camera (and ruining the shot) when I crouched down to take his picture, then grabbed my hand in his little black paws (looking for a handout, no doubt). We also saw koalas and seals, then walked on the beach with sealions. We got as close as 4 metres to some of them, including a large bull that might have been 350 kg's (about 800 lbs or so). We saw the Remarkable Rocks, which actually are quite remarkable - crazy formations created by an odd combination of volcanic stone and wind erosion.

After KI, we spent another day in Adelaide before zooming off to Alice Springs. We hired (rented) a car and drove the 450 km's to Uluru (Ayers Rock). Anyone going to the Red Centre, some words of advice - GET A FLY HOOD. The flies were insane and persistant, and our first day we had no fly hood.

Uluru was amazing, but we were even more awed by Kata Tjula (the Olgas), a group of 30 domes of red stone near Uluru. The shapes and valleys are quite captivating, I only wish we'd left more time to spend there exploring.

The terrain of the deserts is truly amazing, it seems to change every quarter of a mile, from short scrubs and grass to strange tall, narrow bushes that look like bushy cat's tails. Amazingly, in the over 1000 km's we drove in all, we didn't see any wild kangaroos (alive that is - plenty of roadkill). But we did see many camels and several wedge-tailed eagles, the largest bird in Australia. Now that is a truly impressive sight!

Back in Alice, we went to the Desert Park, which recreates all the different Australian deserts with plantlife and animal habitats. There we also saw several Australian birds of prey - unrestrained, in an open-air auditorium! Very hard to photograph a hawk when it's charging a "lure" at high speed...

After the desert park, we went to the original telegraph site (Alice Springs was originally established around a telegraph station). After a bit of history, we went for a bit of a hike and saw our first wild 'roos in the Northern Territory! They were lounging around in the sun, and didn't mind us or the nearby wallaby. It was a lovely short hike, and we would have done more but we were badly equipped ("Tourists go missing after daftly wandering in the desert with no water...").

So then it was off to Cairns and the Rainforest. I'd tell you more, but my beer is getting warm and I'm almost out time! 30 seconds left...

Theo Wiersma

Luke Holzken
Product Development