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Table of Content for australia:

More pages: January 2001 January 2003 January 2004 April 2005 January 2006 January 2007 January 2008 January 2009 January 2011 January 2012 January 2013 February 2013 January 2014 January 2016 January 2017 October 2017 January 2018




2001/01/18 My First Visit to Australia: Sydney
π 2001-01-18 01:01 in Australia, Trips
I had the chance to be invited for linux.conf.au 2001, and flew to sydney. Thankfully I had a few days to visit outside of the conference itself:






with coworkers on the beach
with coworkers on the beach






I took a day off to go visit Waratah Park, a nice sanctuary:






2003/01/19 Going back to Australia, in Perth
π 2003-01-19 01:01 in Australia, Trips




I went to see Perth Zoo:




Later I went to see Fremantle and Rottnest Island:




I went diving for the first time of my life in Rottnest
I went diving for the first time of my life in Rottnest


I then happened to be there for Australia Day, we watched the festivities from the park, and then walked into town to go party at night. The early flight back from Perth to Sydney was very tough :)

drive through bottle shop, an Australian specialty :)
drive through bottle shop, an Australian specialty :)











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2004/01/12 Visiting Adelaide, Australia
π 2004-01-12 01:01 in Australia, Trips
Back for my 3rd year of linux.conf.au, this time it was Adelaide. Like previous years, I had 3 days outside of the conference, to go explore.







I took a day to go to Cleland Wildlife Park since I like Australian Animals :)






yes, I'm a sucker :)
yes, I'm a sucker :)






Another day, went to see a beach and do some snorkling on a reef:








Then checked out Glenelg:






this wing should do :)
this wing should do :)

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2005/04/17 Visiting Canberra, Australia
π 2005-04-17 01:01 in Australia, Trips
4th year in Australia, since time in the nation's capital: Canberra:










As a speakers gift, we got a balloon ride at the ass crack of down :)






Canberra has a fair aomunt of museums:








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2006/01/15 Visiting Cairns, Australia
π 2006-01-15 01:01 in Australia, Trips
w Now that I was certified for diving, I figured I would go to Cairns to go diving (follow the link for diving pictures).

The flight to Sydney was about 13h, and thankfully I got upgraded to business with miles, so it was as pleasant as it could have been.

Before landing to sydney, I told my new watch to swap the display of the SFO and SYD timezones, and show Sydney on the main hands. They showed that I landed at 06:50, and my next flight was 09:15, so I thought "great, no rush".

I started being nervous when it took an extra 10-15mn for my laptop bag to show up at the carrousel (after my big luggage). This is one thing I really don't want to lose... but I got it in the end, just quite late. Note to self: deal with the morons in security who like to empty the bag each time instead of taking the risk of checking it in.

I then got nabbed by customs because of how I answered the pre-screening questions (I'm going on vacation in Cairns, diving, I have no idea what I said wrong). At the gate they say "we have a code 18" or somesuch, and I get my luggage opened up and questioned. Too bad for them, I had pretty much nothing I wasn't supposed to have.

Once out, I went to the vodaphone counter to get a refill for my Australian GSM SIM.
Then, I went to the United counter to get a paper for the damage they did to my luggage, again. And because they're skilled, out of 4 wheels, they always take out one of the two needed to roll the luggage while pulling it from the handle. Grr... That took a good 20mn.

Eventually, I made it to the Quantas counter, as it turned out that I was actually taking the first leg of an international flight to Japan to get to Cairns (took me a little while to figure that out, I was heading for the domestic terminal). I apologized for being a little late (usually, it's a 2H checkin for international flights), and the attendents looked a bit worried and made a special exception to get me on the plane. Mmmh, ok, it was like 07:40 for a 09:15 flight, but whatever.

I then went to duty free to find and buy a very overpriced battery for my underwater camera (yeah! I won't have to overly worry about running out of juice under water), and someone takes off with my boarding pass that was on the counter and leaves me his. Great...
Back to the checkin gate to get another boarding pass, through security, and direction the gate, where I was hoping to finally plug in my laptop and chill a little bit. Instead, I'm told "last boarding, hurry". Uh, it's barely 8?

Once in the plane, I hear some announcement that they're sorry the plane is late for departure. It's 08:15 for a 09:15 departure, I don't see the big deal...
I play with my phones to send an SMS :) and notice the time on my nokia which says Sydney: 09:20. Then, it finally downs on my that my watch had the Sydney timezone wrong and was one hour late (due to summer daylight savings time). Argh, argh, argh!

At that point, I replayed the last hour and a half and realized how incredibly late I was the entire time, and how I should have been running through the airport instead of getting my luggage inspected, buying SIM cards, camera batteries, and a huge tomblerone bar (homer voice)mmmh, tomblerone :)
I guess I got lucky on that one, and I now have a big tomblerone bar in my laptop bag. Yum :)


There is a fair bit to see around Cairns, both Kuranda and the rainforest tour. I started with Kuranda, a village in the rainforest that you reach by cable car, and can leave by train:








The next day, I did a draintree rainforest and coastal tour:










The evening, I went to see an aborigine show:



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2006/01/24 7kg carry-on limit on Australian/New Zealand planes
π 2006-01-24 13:25 by Merlin in Australia, Trips

Ok, it's so easy to complain about airlines that it's not fun, but eh, I had nothing better to do in the plane (at least all 3 took off, and on time even)

This is my 3rd and last flight from Cairns, Australia to Dunedin, New Zealand after a 4H night in Auckland.
It will have taken more time and effort and time to get from Australia to New Zealand, than it did to get from San Francisco to Australia :)
The highlight however was how Quantas and Air New Zealand actually seem to enforce their 7kg carry on rule when I had two carry ons (due to the laptop) around twice that weight. They didn't seem too willing to negotiate, so I had to use my emergency backpack, make it a second checked in luggage, offload my carry ons a bit, and put the rest of my carry ons on the floor out of the view of the attendant so that she could weight the almost empty carry ons (now 8kg or so), and I put them back in the bag as soon as she cleared them :)
This little ploy didn't work on my second flight though, they checked my carry-on weight and size, again, but right before the security checkpoint, where I couldn't be creative with the weight. I had to go back to the attendants, with whom I had already built rapport :) and made my plea, explaining that I was between two flights, my checked in luggage was not available to move things to, and that I needed help. Since I was only a few kilos above the weight by then, they gave me a waiver, and I was able to board the plane.
I was lucky though, they refused 8kg carry-on luggage from peers I met at the conference...

But seriously, 7kg carry-ons? My laptop bag has never been at 7kg or less in its entire life...
The reason they gave was in case the carry-on fell on someone's head from the overhead compartment. Grumble, another stupid rule that shouldn't apply to me but I get penalized on due to the stupidity of others (if I packed it, I can carry it, and I won't drop it because of the weight).
On the other side of the scale, so to speak, I understand that they want to limit the total weight per passenger and they don't like bozos like me who stuff 2 32kg suitcases, and then stuff all the extra weight in their carry-ons, but in this case I only had one piece of checked in luggage and was well under total weight.
Besides, to really be fair, they should just give a total weight allowance per passenger, including the passenger's weight, and make you pay extra after that. If you are skinny, you get more luggage allowance, if you're not, you get less. Of course, I know that would never work since 300lbs people would scream murder, but eh, a plane does care about that, a cessna 152 will not even take off if you weight that much, and bigger planes require more fuel for those people.

Besides, if your carry-on wasn't overweight when you started, it will be after you do the mandatory passage through duty free (I'm not kidding, you have to walk through the store to get to your gate). And well, tomblerone is heavy, and some might not be able to resist, you know who you are :)



Oh well, logic and the real world don't mix, I'll stop here :)
(yes, I got to Dunedin eventually after a 5h night layover in Auckland, as you can't easily get from Cairns to Dunedin on a monday)
2007/01/14 Visit in Sydney, talking at linux.conf.au
π 2007-01-14 14:59 by Merlin in Australia, Trips

It had been 6 years since I had been in Sydney. My last time and also first time in Australia, was when I got invited to linux.conf.au in 2001. It was nice to be able to go back, with Jennifer this time.





A couple of pictures from the Amp Tower

We also did the skywalk half scam, where you can't take your own pictures and only buy theirs, and while there is absolutely no chance of falling unless you climb and jump, you're connected to a harnest, like the bridgeclimb:




.




.
These common birds are more fun to have around than common pigeons





Chinese Gardens in Chinatown
















We got to see a brand new show from Stomp in the 2000+ main theatre of the Opera House




Yeah, so they have bats instead of pigeons :)









You can look at more pictures of Sydney here

Besides visting Sydney, the surroundings we saw were the nearby Blue Mountains (which are a 2H train ride away from the city center. Unfortunately, it was a rather short trip, partly due to a train operator denying us entry to a leaving train, and making us wait 1H for the next one. Bastard!
Anyway, Blue Mountain was nice, including the skyrail ride across the ridge, up from the valley, and the quite steep old mining cart ride down to the valley (used for coal back in the days)











For more pictures with green stuff, and mountains and blue and all, follow this link :)

We also used the opportunity to visit the local zoo (unfortunately, not a free roaming, petting zoo), but it was the first time I saw a Wombat that was actually awake and roaming, as well as some Platipus (aka errors in evolution), viciously attacking small crabs that were given to them as food.















See more pictures of Taronga Zoo

Last, but not least, we visited some famous local beaches: Manly, Bondi, and Coogee. We also used the opportunity to take some first timer surfing lessons at Manly beach. I only ever got up on the surf board for maybe 5 to 10 seconds, but considering that I had just recovered from being sick with a cold, I considered that good enough :)









More pictures of Sydney Beaches

Of course, I was primary there for Linux.conf.au 7, and to give my talk about disk encryption on linux.








One of the evening parties with fellow hackers



Jim Gettys, one of the creators of X-Window, and a prototype of the One Laptop Per Child Laptop


The conference went fine. It was quite compressed in time (they dropped the saturday, and only had a half day on thursday), but quite enjoyable as always
A few more pictures of linux.conf.au 2007
2007/01/20 Re-Visiting Cairns, Australia
π 2007-01-20 01:01 in Australia, Trips
This time, I took Jennifer :) This was after our trip in Sydney, and before we went diving on the spirit of freedom.

I took Jennifer to Kuranda too, but this time we got there a bit earlier, and got to see the animal sanctuaries (including very friendly birds, as well as butterflies):





hello :)
hello :)


this parrot liked me and just flew on me and stayed with me during the visit
this parrot liked me and just flew on me and stayed with me during the visit



the gift shop had another big parrot that liked my hat :)
the gift shop had another big parrot that liked my hat :)

nice nibble
nice nibble



Jennifer went to pet those very small kangaroos :)
Jennifer went to pet those very small kangaroos :)




After we were all done, we took the train back down:




The next day, we did a Draintree, Cape Tribulation tour, sadly it was raining quite a bit:









From Cairns, I was able to rent a plane, and we did a quick flight over the great barrier reef:

happy :)
happy :)





We then went diving on the Spirit of Freedom:




And that was it for Cairns, nice little town:

lots of bats sleeping in the trees
lots of bats sleeping in the trees

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2008/01/27 A few days in Melbourne around linux.conf.au
π 2008-01-27 01:01 in Australia, Trips
Jennifer and I did a quick visit of Melbourne before the conference. When we arrived, we just had a quick look at downtown, and Jennifer invited me to see Monty Python's Spam A Lot musical, which was quite entertaining.






The next day, to make things interesting, the next day we rented a car, and drove to the Healesville Sanctuary, where I was hoping we'd find some roaming animals, and have the chance to interact a bit with some of the animals (like feed/pet wallabies and emus), but the place felt more like a zoo.
Speaking of driving, I didn't find it overly hard, except for the following:

  • shifting with the left hand, I had a sometimes a hard time getting the right stick throw and would get 2nd instead of 4th gear or 3rd instead of 5th.
  • The turn signals are moved to the other side of the steering wheel. That was the worst thing: each time I tried to turn, I set off the windshield wipers
  • Also, I would tend to drive a bit too far on the left of the road due to my seat being on the wrong side.
  • All in all, it wasn't that bad though, and thanks to my Garmin GPS with Australian routable maps, we got where we needed without problems.







    We then went to the nearby Yarra Wine Country and visited 3 different wineries, which made Jennifer very happy :), and we finished the evening by driving up Mount Dandenon. It was only 2000ft high, but the poor little stick shift 60 horsepower rental I got, really had a hard time climbing us up, and I had to stick to 2nd gear :)




    Then, during one of the evenings, we went to Melbourne Museum , as invited by the conference, and amount other things, we saw the last first generation computer left on earth, on par with ENIAC. That was cool to see:



    In hindsight, we didn't have enough time to see as much as we could have, but better than nothing for this time. We'll fix that in 2016 when we're be back.

    2009/01/18 Visiting Tasmania, Australia
    π 2009-01-18 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    Like every year, I went to linux.conf.au for the yearly conference where I was invited to talk, and Jennifer came along to molest some native animals :)

    As soon as we got off the airport, I had a rental car lined up, and drove to St Helens/Bay of Fires to get there before sunset. This was the time when I drove the most on the left side of the road for a total of 600km or so. I actually got reasonably used to it, except for the part with the turn signal is on the wrong side of the car, where I would use the windshield wipers on the other side instead of the turn signal (to the point that it took me a while to readjust when I got home). The only part that was a bit tough was knowing exactly how far the right and left sides of the car were on a narrow road.


    Anyway, here are the picts:

    Our drive up from the airport to St Helens
    Our drive up from the airport to St Helens


    The next morning, we had a very busy day from an early hike around the Bay of Fires, a visit of the area, a hike to the top of the highest local peak (after a drive up a dicey road for a wimpy 2WD), a visit to Natureworld, a 2H visit/hike of Douglas Apsley national park, and then getting to see baby penguins by the beach.

    started the day with a quick hike around the bay of fires
    started the day with a quick hike around the bay of fires


    Bay of Fires
    Bay of Fires

    ok, it was a nice beach, sure. Notice no one in the water in full summer
    ok, it was a nice beach, sure. Notice no one in the water in full summer


    oysters everywhere, we just weren't sure if they were fresh
    oysters everywhere, we just weren't sure if they were fresh

    the trail up to south sister was definitely 4wd
    the trail up to south sister was definitely 4wd

    I got all the way up in our 2WD beater except on the little piece above :)
    I got all the way up in our 2WD beater except on the little piece above :)




    those were local geese
    those were local geese



    tasmanian devil
    tasmanian devil


    most those snakes were venomous and deadly
    most those snakes were venomous and deadly

    baby wombats were very cute and cuddly, albeit a bit porky :)
    baby wombats were very cute and cuddly, albeit a bit porky :)





    we went hiking to a gorge in Douglas Apsley
    we went hiking to a gorge in Douglas Apsley

    in Bicheno, we were able to see penguins at night
    in Bicheno, we were able to see penguins at night

    the parents come from the sea with fish to feed the young
    the parents come from the sea with fish to feed the young

    On the second day, we first went diving in Bicheno where we had spent the night, visited a couple of wineries on the way back, and stopped by a fruit picking place where we just had to stop :)

    Jennifer was delighted with picking fruit :)
    Jennifer was delighted with picking fruit :)

    The next 3 days, I went to the conference while Jennifer went to visit a few local attractions around Hobart, although in all honesty, there wasn't a whole to do there, and Jennifer hated the field trips with the slow people and screaming kids :-
    Came saturday, the conference was over, so we went to Eaglehawk Neck for a couple more dives (boat dives this time), and after that went south to Port Arthur (you basically get to see the ruins of the convict port), we continued to the south most portion of the Island to see the remarkable cave, which wasn't all that remarkable but had nice coastline, and I then tried to get back in time for a sunset from Mt Wellington (almost made it, it was dusk).


    Port Arthur
    Port Arthur


    I love this sign, the bridge is only wide enough for one car, you can't pass anyway
    I love this sign, the bridge is only wide enough for one car, you can't pass anyway




    View of Hobart from the top of Mt Wellington (4100ft)
    View of Hobart from the top of Mt Wellington (4100ft)

    Sunday, Jennifer was kind of suffering from a cold, so I went to Bonorong Park where she had been a couple of days earlier.


    little wombat is so cute :)
    little wombat is so cute :)




    the small joeys that can't quite fit in the pocket are funny :)
    the small joeys that can't quite fit in the pocket are funny :)

    this bird does look like a log, amazing
    this bird does look like a log, amazing


    that evening we had our last dinner on the rotating restaurant at the top of our hotel
    that evening we had our last dinner on the rotating restaurant at the top of our hotel

    All in all Tasmania was interesting to drive around, the roads were nothing but straight (although it's usually more fun for me in a real car :) ), and the 100kph speed limit was actually fairly warranted for the nothing but straight roads we went through. We saw a lot of coastline and nature, although neither, quite frankly had anything on what we have on california, but they were nice nonetheless. The highlight for us was definitely the nature parks with local animals, which were quite good in the home of the Tasmanian Devil :)

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    2011/01/21 Brisbane, Australia
    π 2011-01-21 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    Jennifer and I went to Brisbane since I was going there for linux.conf.au.
    Unfortunately Brisbane had just gone through the biggest flooding they had seen in about 100 years, so there was a fair amount of damage and cleanup they were still working on when we showed up 11 days later. Yet, we were there for the conference that was able to proceed despite the recent issues, so we went around the city.


    waterfront restaurants didn't do well
    waterfront restaurants didn't do well







    Shitty Wok, may I help you? :)
    Shitty Wok, may I help you? :)


    A few night pictures:




    On monday evening, we went to the top of Mt Cooh Tah for a nice view, but a somewhat poor dinner for the price paid (tourist trap):



    not so good overpriced dinner, but good company
    not so good overpriced dinner, but good company

    view was decent at least
    view was decent at least

    I took tuesday off from the conference, and we went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which was fairly fun:




    Sheep dog at work
    Sheep dog at work



    chicken tried to make a run for it
    chicken tried to make a run for it




    not quite a lorikeet
    not quite a lorikeet







    eating a mouse
    eating a mouse






    and we spent the rest of the day at the Botanical Gardens:



    On saturday, after the conference, we went to Mt Tamborine and had fun with a rope/exercise course in the middle of a forest. It was actually both challenging and fun. Even if you're supposed to be attached at all times (although you are responsible for that), I think stupid lawyers in the US would never allow that.








    We then had a little time left over to head out to their sister location, the Currumbinm Wildlife Sanctuary (after a drive through the mountain), and had about 90mn to go through the park before it closed (turned out to be just enough).







    tasmanian devils remind me of puppy dogs on occasion.
    tasmanian devils remind me of puppy dogs on occasion.

    those guys were roaming around everywhere
    those guys were roaming around everywhere



    feet are sticking out :)
    feet are sticking out :)



    yummy insect you're eating there :)
    yummy insect you're eating there :)

    We used the rest of the day to have a look at the Gold Coast:








    And that was it for Brisbane and surroundings. In hindsight we should have spent a 2nd day visiting the gold coast since Brisbane itself didn't have that much to see.

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    2011/01/30 Diving from Heron Island, South Great Barrier Reef
    π 2011-01-30 01:01 in Australia, Diving, Trips
    Since Jennifer and I were in Brisbane for linux.conf.au 2011, I figured it would be a good idea to go to Heron Island on our way back and do some diving there.

    To get to Heron Island, you fly to Gladstone, and either pay a lot for helicopter ride which isn't very useful for saving time since it can only carry 15kg of luggage, which is useless for a diver (the rest goes by boat, so you have to wait for it either way). The cat does go at 30kts, so it flies. It's however very pricey ($240 return per person) and the ride is difficult when the sea is rough (we had stuff flying off tables and people throwing up left and right).

    Gladstone has a single runway for the daily quantas turboprops
    Gladstone has a single runway for the daily quantas turboprops

    Qantas Bombardier Dash 8
    Qantas Bombardier Dash 8

    The high speed cat takes people back and forth to Heron Island
    The high speed cat takes people back and forth to Heron Island

    Those who can't deal with the sea, can get a shorter scenic flight
    Those who can't deal with the sea, can get a shorter scenic flight

    Heron Island

    In a nutshell, Heron Island is a small island (2.3km around, I jogged it in 13mn in the sand), it is is situated 2H by fast boat from Gladstone, south of Cairns and north of Brisbane. It is a bit expensive to say the least, the basic rooms with food for two go for $400 a night, and go up from there. Diving is extra at first $65/dive down to $45 a dive after a few dives (gear costs extra). That said, if you add it all up, prices are comparable to being on a liveaboard for a week, except that you get 3 dives per day instead of 5 dives per day. On the flipside, you get to stay on land, although if you factor in the mosquitoes, lack of AC in hot damp weather, and stupid very loud mating birds that made a lot of noise all night every night, it may or may not be a win :)

    However, I felt that seeing nesting turtles come at night, and baby turtles hatch at night and go to the sea, would be cool (it was). While I don't overly mind being on a boat for a week, it's also nice to be on non moving land and still go diving easily every day :).
    My quick review of Heron Island is that the staff was fantastic, the island was fun to walk around, and accomodations were not bad, but it was hot and humid at night without AC and having windows opened meant more noise from the birds :-/ (while basic accomodations are already expensive to start with, there are even more expensive ones with windows and AC). Since we had the more basic accomodations (reef room), I was woken up every night by stupid birds with loud mating calls all night (this was because it was mating season). The upside is that it was also trail of turtle nesting season and the start of baby turtle hatching season.

    A few pictures from Heron Island:

    an old boat that got beached on the reef
    an old boat that got beached on the reef


    our first reef room wasn't bad, just a bit far from the dive shop, so we moved to a closer one.
    our first reef room wasn't bad, just a bit far from the dive shop, so we moved to a closer one.





    yummy :)
    yummy :)

    we had many good meals :)
    we had many good meals :)

    The information center was quite good
    The information center was quite good



    going out of turtles at sunset, got us a few sunsets :)
    going out of turtles at sunset, got us a few sunsets :)

    Heron Island Birds

    those sea birds evolved to trees and make crappy nests out of dry leaves and poo, their efforts were cute :)
    those sea birds evolved to trees and make crappy nests out of dry leaves and poo, their efforts were cute :)


    Egrets (another name for Herons), which Heron Island comes from
    Egrets (another name for Herons), which Heron Island comes from

    The shearwaters which only come at night, sleep on the ground, and keep everyone awake with loud mating calls
    The shearwaters which only come at night, sleep on the ground, and keep everyone awake with loud mating calls

    The seagulls were very defensive of their eggs (and see the newboarn baby)
    The seagulls were very defensive of their eggs (and see the newboarn baby)

    Turtle Nesting

    Each night, big green turtles came out of the sea to crawl up the beach to a spot they chose to dig a nest for their eggs. The entire process can take around 5 hours, and one has to be careful at not shining light at turtles when they come up, or they dig as it will spook them out and they'll go back to sea without laying their eggs, which is bad.
    We saw a video of the whole process at the nature centre, and that waa very informative on what to do and not to do, but it's also a lot easier to see highlights of the entire process already filmed, than to spend literally all night to watch it yourself (turtles aren't known for being fast :) ).

    turtle watching: you're doing it wrong
    turtle watching: you're doing it wrong

    tracks from the nesting turtles
    tracks from the nesting turtles

    they come after sunset close to high tide
    they come after sunset close to high tide

    and spend hours to make big holes
    and spend hours to make big holes

    Lost Nesting Turtles

    Unfortunately, from time to time the village we were in tended to confuse the turtles as they were trying to get back to the ocean. One got stuck in the garden behind our condo, and one got stuck in the smiming pool, which is easier to get in than to get out for a turtle.



    trying to get back to the ocean (we helped it)
    trying to get back to the ocean (we helped it)

    this one was more stuck
    this one was more stuck

    took a few people to get it out :)
    took a few people to get it out :)

    and back to the beach
    and back to the beach

    Baby Turtle Hatchling

    Of course, the best part was the hatchlings. You had to be by the beach by sunset and be lucky: typically if you were at the right place at the right time, you may be lucky and see them come down the beach to the ocean but you had to be fast since it typically only took 2mn or so (it's easy to miss). In our case, we improved the odds a little bit by looking for holes that they were likely to come out of. Twice, we found an early hatchling that made it out outside but that looked stunned or not quite awake yet. From there, we were able to wait and see hatchlings come out of that hole.
    Normally, they make their way to sea without help, but we helped them by protecting them from seagulls, and used our own lights to steer them to the ocean

    this is what the eggs look like
    this is what the eggs look like


    aren't those things cute? :)
    aren't those things cute? :)

    to the ocean
    to the ocean


    you can use a flashlight to help the hatchlings to the sea
    you can use a flashlight to help the hatchlings to the sea

    another nest I found
    another nest I found

    once the top ones got out, it was a swarm
    once the top ones got out, it was a swarm

    watch the video to see how fast they go
    watch the video to see how fast they go

    watch the one on the left that flips over itself :) (light is in front of them so that they go for it)
    watch the one on the left that flips over itself :) (light is in front of them so that they go for it)

    by then, we found some lost turtles that were lured by the jetty light, we had to hand carry about 30 of them back to the beach where they could go to the water on their own. They weren't big, but they were squirly, it was hard to carry just 3 or 4 at a time since they tried to get out of your hands to fall back on the sand and run in the wrong direction :)

    hand rescuing turtles from the jetty lights
    hand rescuing turtles from the jetty lights

    yes, it's tempting to take them home :)
    yes, it's tempting to take them home :)

    Jennifer even managed to rescue one of them from an evil seagull, although we did see 3 more seagulls with hatchlings in their beak that we were not able to save :( (the sad truth is that their survival rate is actually one to one thousand from egg to not having been eaten by fish or sharks in the sea).

    Diving

    As much fun the Island was, we were of course there for diving.

    The diving, well, was ok but not great. We did get to see critters that we haven't seen elsewhere (including my 14 days diving the great barrier reef higher north), but there were a few issues:

  • 3 dives instead of 5 per day is probably not a huge deal to most, but still to note for the hard core divers who do 5 dives a day on liveaboards
  • they offered night dives every other day, but they were priced at $90 per dive, or double a regular dive, even when the night dive ended up being from the jetty because we couldn't use the boat the one night they did have a night dive with enough signups. Honestly, I think it's unreasonable and likely a reason why they didn't get many night divers the week we were there.
  • The diving visibility was poor more than 50% of the time, due to runoff from the island. It's apparently not always as bad for that season (which isn't the best one for vis), but for our week it was not great, and I heard the previous weeks were not much better. Some dive sites like Pam's point were quite good though, when you could actually see something.
  • The dive staff was a bit 'tense'. It's probably because they have to enforce what likely are the strictess diving rules in the world (courtesy of the state of Queensland which has become a bit of a nany state unfortunately). You're supposed to be back on the boat with 50 bars, and I've been sent back up with as many as 80 bars left :-/ (not that it takes 20 or even 30 bars to get back to the surface from 18 meters in good sea conditions). I'll put aside how they were so worried that I wouldn't be able to get to the 10 to 18 meter bottom without holding a line down in light current and even insisted once that I really had to take the rope down (it was totally unnecessary). If you add the fact that you had to follow the divemaster everywhere under water, it was a bit annoying compared to a liveaboard where you're trusted dive on your own with a buddy, and somehow find your way back up to the surface and the boat, even in current (!).
  • So, diving was a bit annoying at times with the extra rules and restrictions, and the vis being ok or good less than half the time, wasn't ideal. Yet, we still saw some nice critters as I said above, so it wasn't all for naught, pictures below should show that. Diving came up to about $1000 per person for 16 dives, and BCD/reg rental (on top of the $340/day to stay at Heron Island on a 'special' they were running).

    They had several weird sharks and rays we hadn't seen before, like the Wobbegong Shark, or the Shovelnose Ray, not counting some pretty huge (man size) cownose and cowtail rays.



    plenty of green turtles
    plenty of green turtles


    very nice big rays
    very nice big rays

    they were not scared
    they were not scared

    this one was 'not quite right' :)
    this one was 'not quite right' :)


    lunch was right there :)
    lunch was right there :)

    not too sure what those were
    not too sure what those were



    wobbegon shark
    wobbegon shark








    teamwork
    teamwork






    huge ray
    huge ray




    huge loggerhead turtle
    huge loggerhead turtle

    We also did some diving by the Jetty and found a few rays and sharks that like to hang out there:



    2012/01/14 Visiting Ballarat, Australia
    π 2012-01-14 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    One new year, one new Linux.conf.au conference. This time I was off to Ballarat for LCA 2012.

    As a first time ever, I was lucky enough to get a 1st class seat for a flight to Australia (actually I'd have been happy enough with business, but that was not available). I still don't think it's worth the 'list price', but considering the quite reduced price I was able to get it for, it almost felt ok :)


    I setup a little office I could work in :)
    I setup a little office I could work in :)

    So what is there to say about Ballarat. It's a former mining town. The town itself can be visited in an hour or so (count a day to see the nearby attractions). All in all, definitely not something you'd fly from abroad to go visit, but since Linux.conf.au, my favourite conference, was there, so so was I :)

    Downtown had a few old buildings that were kind of nice:



    Ballarat's birds were loud but pretty :)
    Ballarat's birds were loud but pretty :)

    but the town was pretty sad. On a saturday afternoons, shops in their main 'mall' had closed by 16:00. I remember walking in front of a sushi restaurant that was supposed to close at 18:00 (on a saturday again), and they were closing early at 16:30 while giving me a 'sorry' look. In the end, there were only a very few places that were open for dinner.
    Oh well, it was not a big town, I just had to know that :)

    They had an old observatory with vintage telescopes, we went there one evening to do a bit of stargazing




    After the conference, I went to visit what seemed fun to visit. Bird World was a grandma and grandpa 'shop'. it could have been a lot of fun, but unfortunately their free flight cage net was broken, so they had to put all their great parrots in cages. It was a bit sad since I could tell some were very friendly and would have loved to interact with me.



    this one was so friendly and definitely wanted to come say hi
    this one was so friendly and definitely wanted to come say hi

    Next, I went to Sovereign Hill. This is actually the highlight of this town, a recreation of what used to be this old gold mining town. They have shops and blacksmiths like 150 years ago, and people dressed in the style of the day. Kids can pan for gold in the river.










    Someone also showed how they make gold bars:



    They had authentic machinery using steam power:




    They then had a night show that was a recreation of the mini insurrection that happened there against the British taxation. Too bad they got squelched by the British and never fought back after that.


    After a ncie visit to Sovereign Hill, I went to see the local Ballarat Wildlife Park. What can I say, I'm a sucker for Autralian wildlife parks (which I much prefer to zoos). It's always fun to be able to pet a few unusual animals like a wombat, and hand feed kangaroos or wallabies.
    While I didn't expect too much, at the same time I've actually been pleasantly surprised by such parks in the smaller towns, and that turned out to be true there too. Their crocodile feeding was particularly impressive, their kangaroos quite friendly, and petting wombats was cool :)


    this was a very cool layed back kangaroo, nice claws too ;)
    this was a very cool layed back kangaroo, nice claws too ;)



    food, for me? :)
    food, for me? :)


    kangaroo was friends with wombat :)
    kangaroo was friends with wombat :)

    food comma :)
    food comma :)

    those things peck hard when you feed them, they don't know any better :)
    those things peck hard when you feed them, they don't know any better :)









    The crocodile feeding was quite impressive:

    this guy really had balls, even by Australian standards :)
    this guy really had balls, even by Australian standards :)


    I hope he gets paid enough for this :)
    I hope he gets paid enough for this :)

    While it was a small town, the places to visit still made for a fun day.

    See more images for Visiting Ballarat, Australia
    2013/01/27 Re-visiting Canberra, Australia
    π 2013-01-27 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    It had been 8 years since my first trip in Canberra, and thanks to Linux.conf.au 2013, I got to go back.

    This time, I was able to score a much nicer flight in 1st class, which definitely made the long flight more bearable:


    Straight off the plane in sydney, I actually took a bus to Canberra, which with 3H door to door, was simpler and just as fast, if not faster, than a plane while being faster. I dropped my stuff at the Uni accomodations and took my skateboard to Questacon to visit a few hours before they closed on that sunday afternoon:



    Questacon
    Questacon



    They had a really good robot playing air hockey:



    Next, I just quickly stopped by the Parliament for a later visit, and went by a few ambassies:




    Tuesday, I had a day off from the conference, so I went to revisit the National Museum of Australia, which quite frankly I had somewhat forgotten about:




    Rabbits spread out... like rabbits
    Rabbits spread out... like rabbits




    Next, I went to see the sculpture garden and the National Gallery of Australia







    From there, I went to the Old Parliament House:



    seeing the old equipment used up to 40 years ago was fun :)
    seeing the old equipment used up to 40 years ago was fun :)

    After the old house, which is now a museum, I went to the current/new parliament:

    it has a nice view on the old one and the war museum all the way down
    it has a nice view on the old one and the war museum all the way down



    Kangaroo and Emu, nice emblem
    Kangaroo and Emu, nice emblem

    cute
    cute



    And that was it for Canberra. There was a little more to see, like the war museum, but I had seen it years ago, and didn't have the time to go back with the conference schedule.

    Right after the conference was over, I went back to Sydney with Linus and Dirk for a flight to Lord Howe Island.

    See more images for Re-visiting Canberra, Australia
    2013/02/10 Sydney in a Day
    π 2013-02-10 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    Because we were coming back from a small island with uncertain flight service, so we opted for flying back home from Sydney a day later. As a result, we had a day to spend in Sydney, and since we had already been there in 2007 (and in 2001 for me). Turns out while we had a pretty full 24H, there was actually a lot more we could have seen :)

    Still, we did a good job. First a few pictures from the plane:






    I picked hotel by Darling Harbour, so this is where we started from, just next to Chinatown:




    it was chinese new year that weekend
    it was chinese new year that weekend


    We then went to visit Market City, it's huge:



    giant mango!
    giant mango!

    that would add nicely to the collection :)
    that would add nicely to the collection :)

    We then went towards the gardens:















    From there, we continued to a vista point for seeing the Opera and the bridge, and went through a park where you could feed wild cockatoos. They sure were more fun than pigeons, Australia rocks!





    We eventually got to the peak where we could take pictures:






    And we headed to the opera house itself via the government house gardens:





    circulair quay
    circulair quay


    We finished the evening at the rocks, before it started pouring rain:






    Since the weather had turned to crap, we went to see Sea Life Aquarium by Darling Harbour. Honestly I really expected the place to be kind of a tourist trap, and it was actually quite good, especially considering the constraints of the location. It definitely beats the aquarium by Pier 39 in San Francisco:





    nice pincher
    nice pincher

    the battle of the lobsters
    the battle of the lobsters

    The Australian Dugong sure looks like a Manatee, but it lives in salt water only
    The Australian Dugong sure looks like a Manatee, but it lives in salt water only



    By then, it was late, we were exhausted, and it was pouring rain, so we went back to our hotel:



    The next day, we had the morning to spend, before having to go to the aiport early afternoon:

    view from our hotel
    view from our hotel

    not a bad window view
    not a bad window view

    We went to check out the Darling Harbour zoo, which was also much better than planned:



    pretty birdie
    pretty birdie


    cute tasmianian devil :)
    cute tasmianian devil :)



    wallaby
    wallaby


    those remind me of what I've seen in Jurrasic park :)
    those remind me of what I've seen in Jurrasic park :)


    even their pigeons are colorful
    even their pigeons are colorful




    this really is a beautiful bird too
    this really is a beautiful bird too


    I tyipcally never get the tourist trap pictures in those places, but they so exceeded my expectations, that I gave them the money:





    and after that, we headed towards google, to go check it out and have lunch with friends:




    nice view from the google patio
    nice view from the google patio

    You can see more pictures of the Sydney Office.

    After lunch and fun at google, we went back to the airport, for Jennifer to enjoy her first class seat, and me my business one. We stopped by the airline lounge on the way there:



    Jennifer doesn't know the difference between lounge and wine testing :)
    Jennifer doesn't know the difference between lounge and wine testing :)

    business was not bad either, almos tas good as 1st class IMO.
    business was not bad either, almos tas good as 1st class IMO.

    See more images for Sydney in a Day
    2014/01/05 Perth Australia, Monkey Mia, Shark Bay
    π 2014-01-05 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    Thanks to Linux.conf.au 2014 in Perth, Jennifer and I got to go to Perth this year (second time for me after a first trip to Perth in 2003).

    Due to merely asking, and some super nice pilots in the B747 we were taking from SFO to Sydney, the captain not only let me sit in his chair, but even took the picture for me :)



    cute!
    cute!

    After a dinner and night in Perth, we took an early private flight to Monkey Mia and Shark Bay. Putting the price aside (flying in Australia is not cheap), the owner unfortunately used the flight to check out one of his pilots, so we had an extra person in the plane which does not have much room, and we did a long 3H-ish flight in the cramped back seats of a Mooney. It was pretty miserable, but we got to Monkey Mia eventually. Unfortunately we got there too late for the last dolphin beach sighting of the day, so having arrived there after missing the main attraction was a bit disappointing.

    I've flown the slightly faster version of this plane, I don't consider it a 4 seater
    I've flown the slightly faster version of this plane, I don't consider it a 4 seater

    but we had 4 of us inside, it probably stretched the allowed payload
    but we had 4 of us inside, it probably stretched the allowed payload

    downtown perth
    downtown perth







    this board told us that we'd likely be out of luck for seeing dolphins that day
    this board told us that we'd likely be out of luck for seeing dolphins that day





    the dolphins swimming close to shore, but not interested in coming to see us
    the dolphins swimming close to shore, but not interested in coming to see us

    so we had a very expensive $100 burger (pilot saying)
    so we had a very expensive $100 burger (pilot saying)

    actually we got lucky and saw some wild emus
    actually we got lucky and saw some wild emus







    Next, we flew to Hamelin Pool to see Stromatolites by Shark Bay. Those cool organisms are now believed to have created part or most of the oxygen on earth, some 2 billion years ago. Unfortunately they helped create most of the animal life that exists on earth today, and in turn the fishes apparently though they tasted good and ate most of them. The few surviving ones are there because they are in very salty water that most sea animals don't like, and that's the case in Shark Bay:








    this looks a bit dry, and it sure was hot and dry
    this looks a bit dry, and it sure was hot and dry

    this wild kangaroo didn't seem to mind.
    this wild kangaroo didn't seem to mind.

    After long flight back, I snapped a few pictures from Perth:




    Naval museum and Fremantle in the back
    Naval museum and Fremantle in the back


    Some pictures of Perth University:



    the women are not impressed, tough crowd
    the women are not impressed, tough crowd

    but they could be bought with food easily :)
    but they could be bought with food easily :)

    During the conference, one early morning, I went for a walk in the big park between Perth University and downtown Perth:










    As for Perth itself, I didn't have any time to go visit it until the last evening after my flight in the B747 Simulator at Perth Flight Experience





    I do have a few pictures from around the University where we had the conference, though:





    And the university:





    Jennifer and I walked around town a bit, had dinner, and got ready for our flight the next day to Christmas Island to see crabs and to dive

    2014/01/11 Visiting Xmas Island
    π 2014-01-11 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    Again, thanks to the Dirk and Linus travel agency, we elected to fly to Xmas Island after LCA 2013 since it was a better time of the season to go compared to Ningaloo Reef which is awesome, but very low season in January. The main reason was to go diving in warm easy waters with great visibility.

    As seen from the plane, Xmas Island is reasonably large, you definitely need a car to get around
    As seen from the plane, Xmas Island is reasonably large, you definitely need a car to get around

    Thankfully they have a real runway that allows full size jets to land (along with proper luggage)
    Thankfully they have a real runway that allows full size jets to land (along with proper luggage)

    Our hotel was called "the sunset", I wonder why :)






    Some dinners, we at in our hotel room with basic cooking facilities, others we ate in restaurants:


    The island had a lot of industry linked to phosphate mining:






    Unfortunately, people from other countries have figured out that they can just take boats to show up as refugees and flee to Australia:





    Anyway, back to visiting the island, we covered a lot of the island thanks to the rental car:

    This is the lovely 4x4 we got. It was full of dings and scratches, and that turned out to be a feature since we sure got a lot more scratches while driving between trees and plants and trying to avoid running over crabs that were everywhere.


    We used our beaten up 4x4 rental to drive around the island to some hikes, remote beaches, and interesting viewing points, and it was definitely worth it. While they call themselves "the other galapagos" this is over-reaching, but they do have lots of cool birds, many many kinds of crabs, boobie birds, and more.


    look at the webbed feet around the branches
    look at the webbed feet around the branches






    We also got to see flying foxes (bats):




    We also had many lizards and geckos:



    This of course does not count the diving which was quite good in warm easy waters with great visibility.

    After the dives in the morning, we used our rental car to go visit the Island, and it was a lot of fun to see so many crabs. From what we were told, the ubiquitous red crabs that are all over, including crossing the road everywhere, making driving interesting, aren't good to eat, but the robber/coconut crabs are, however they are protected. To be honest, I grew attached to those little red crabs, they are not afraid of humans, I've been able to give them food to their claw which they grabbed and ate slowly, and they do a great job recycling organic matter (animal or vegetal).
    I have so many crab pictures, it was hard to select a few:

    we missed the big crab migration, but some roads were still closed due to too many crabs
    we missed the big crab migration, but some roads were still closed due to too many crabs

    those little guys were fearless and all over, including the road
    those little guys were fearless and all over, including the road

    coconut crabs
    coconut crabs

    we found this coconut crab white driving back at night
    we found this coconut crab white driving back at night

    beauty
    beauty

    this little guy went hiding in the urinal during a rainfall, maybe not the best move
    this little guy went hiding in the urinal during a rainfall, maybe not the best move


    these guys were more shy
    these guys were more shy



    coconut crabs come in different colors
    coconut crabs come in different colors

    a beautiful blue one
    a beautiful blue one

    the path was littered with crabs
    the path was littered with crabs

    this coconut crab found in the rocks had eggs
    this coconut crab found in the rocks had eggs

    ghost crab
    ghost crab

    the ubiquitous red crabs eat all debris, vegetal or animal
    the ubiquitous red crabs eat all debris, vegetal or animal


    we were able to feed the crabs some leaves, which they were happy to take from us
    we were able to feed the crabs some leaves, which they were happy to take from us

    all shapes and sizes
    all shapes and sizes

    unfortunately, many get run over
    unfortunately, many get run over

    Many other pictures from driving around and hiking to beaches:


    blowhole
    blowhole


    we actually got to use the 4x4
    we actually got to use the 4x4

    Jennifer had to chase the coconut crabs I couldn't safely drive around
    Jennifer had to chase the coconut crabs I couldn't safely drive around


    remote beach we drove and hiked to
    remote beach we drove and hiked to


    the tracks are from turtles that came to nest
    the tracks are from turtles that came to nest

    Jennifer tried to channel her inner monkey to go get a coconut
    Jennifer tried to channel her inner monkey to go get a coconut

    I was able to shake one down for her :)
    I was able to shake one down for her :)



    these crabs can't swim, but they lay eggs in the ocean
    these crabs can't swim, but they lay eggs in the ocean










    they were underwhelming when we arrived, bad timing
    they were underwhelming when we arrived, bad timing

    A couple of late afternons, we went to Margaret Knol to finish the day. We got to see some birds and flying bats:





    See more images for Visiting Xmas Island
    2014/01/17 Visiting Rottnest Island
    π 2014-01-17 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    Arrival at Rottnest after being dropped off by our diving boat after 2 dives around Rottnest Island that morning.


    bikes are the best way to get around
    bikes are the best way to get around

    We went to our room first, and right away we had a hungry quokka came to our room. Thankfully I had some bird seeds that are ok for them to eat, whereas other foods can make them sick. They are the cutest marsupials:






    After that, we went for a bike ride for what we had left of the day:






    we saw more quokkas on the road
    we saw more quokkas on the road













    Quokkas are actually nocturnal, so we saw many more at night:


    we had to b careful not to bike over them
    we had to b careful not to bike over them

    The next morning, our little friend came back for more (we left some water for it):


    And we went back out to take the first ferry out:



    See more images for Visiting Rottnest Island
    2014/01/18 Visit of Caversham Wildlife Park and Fremantle
    π 2014-01-18 01:01 in Australia, Trips
    After being on Rottnest Island, we took an early ferry and a longish cab ride to a wildlife park north of Perth, Caversham to go mollest animals.

    It was a fun little zoo to visit:



















    I love those birds
    I love those birds










    good thing I had bird seeds with me :)
    good thing I had bird seeds with me :)






    Finally, it was time to go molest some kangaroos










    After finishing the zoo, we took a cab back to Fremantle to spend the rest of the day before going to the airport for our flight home:


    We had 15mn to visit the marine museum before it closed:







    the fast ferry to Rottnest
    the fast ferry to Rottnest













    After sunset on the beach, we had a good dinner before going to the airport for a hellish red eye to Sydney:




    2014/01/19 Sydney in a half day
    π 2014-01-19 01:01 in Australia, Trips

    After our successful Sydney in a day last year, we tried Sydney in a half day this time :)

    This was not really a plan to spend so little time in Sydney, but with our flights it worked out that way, we got a hellish red eye from Perth, and I figured it'd be more fun to spend 6 hours in Sydney than sit in the airport.

    We went to the botanical gardens after stopping by Google to drop our luggage:









    I had brought seeds to feed the cockatoos we saw last year. I love those birds:

    I finally found some customers
    I finally found some customers

    an interested customer :)
    an interested customer :)




    it brought a twig to exchange for seeds :)
    it brought a twig to exchange for seeds :)

    The video shows how one wasn't shy at all, but the two other ones really wanted the seeds, but were too shy to take them from our hands. Per Jennifer didn't get them to eat from her hand this year.

    These are Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and many have been tagged so that people can report sightings on this Cockatoo Wingtag facebook page. They're fun and intelligent birds from what people have been reporting.

    From there it was just a short walk to circular quay where we went to get a jet boat ride:






    The jet boat ride was fun and wet (I know, what were the odds? :). That boat had enough power to do 360 turns in the water. Cool way to see the Sydney harbour :)












    Last, but not least, we went to Google for lunch, and I got a few pictures from there, and then from the Sydney airport before flying home:






    See more images for Sydney in a half day
    2016/01/29 Visiting Melbourne Area, Geelong, Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island
    π 2016-01-29 01:01 in Australia, Trips

    We took a nice flight to Melbourne via Auckland, nice flight as always and very nice lounge in Auckland:



    Once we arrived in Melbourne, we got a rental car and first drove to the Royal Australia Air Force Museum, the oldest continuous air force base in the world (click the link for more pictures):


    Next, we went to Serendip Sanctuary, which was no frills, but ok to spend 90mn at before it closed:





    this bird is beautiful
    this bird is beautiful

    happy colorful birds
    happy colorful birds



    this pigeon looks like it's on drugs with bloodshot eyes :)
    this pigeon looks like it's on drugs with bloodshot eyes :)






    birds, goofing off
    birds, goofing off

    After sleeping in Geelong saturday night, I got up early on sunday to drive to Queenscliff and do 3 dives (follow the link) while Jennifer took a snorkling/marine mammal watching tour. After our respective tours, we drove around Queenscliff and the coast a bit;


    magpie bird
    magpie bird



    Geelong, the town where I had my LCA 2016 linux conference, didn't have much to see, but there were still a few things like the wool museum:






    jacquard programmable loom
    jacquard programmable loom






    After the conference was over, on saturday morning, we had a private tour to the great ocean road with Fran├žois, a nice english speaking French guide:


    semi wild kangaroos in a golf course
    semi wild kangaroos in a golf course






    I love cockatoos
    I love cockatoos



    kookaburra are awesome birds too
    kookaburra are awesome birds too




    wild koala
    wild koala






    Eventually, we got to the 12 apostles, very scenic even you don't get a helicopter ride (huge line for that):









    On the way back, our guide found a nice flock of birds, but they were not interested in my bird seeds :)






    After driving back to Melbourne, we dropped our luggage in the hotel and went to St Kilda Pier to see the few wild penguins that come nest after sunset (sadly it was only 2 or 3 penguins that came from the water after a 90mn wait, but it was still nice to see them:




    We found a few penguins nesting in the rocks, they were pretty good at jumping between rocks:



    one penguin coming out of the water
    one penguin coming out of the water

    nesting
    nesting


    The next day, we went to see some museums:




    We started with the Sealife Aquarium (on its own page):


    Next we went to the 2 NGVs (national gallery of victoria): local and international:















    some silverware my dad doesn't even have :)
    some silverware my dad doesn't even have :)


    We then finished the day at the Melbourne Museum, about aboriginals and more recent history of Melbourne:





    there were _many_ aboriginal tribes
    there were _many_ aboriginal tribes




















    By 17:00, all the museums are closed, so we headed towards a nice French restaurant and then went out to see the Chinese New Year celebrations and get pictures from Eureka Skydeck 88 around sunset:






    The view from skydeck 88 wasn't bad, but the reflections from the windows were pretty bad, hard to take pictures: [rigimg:1024:647*|skydeck had a "ride" over the void]





    confederation square
    confederation square








    It was also Chinese New Year:





    friends :)
    friends :)






    Our last day, we first took a tram to Queen Elizabeth's gardens to visit before our tour to Phillip Island:

    Melbourne does a very good job with public transportation
    Melbourne does a very good job with public transportation







    that's the cactus we have in our yard, gets big when left unchecked :)
    that's the cactus we have in our yard, gets big when left unchecked :)

    this one too I guess
    this one too I guess


    my bird seeds came in handy :)
    my bird seeds came in handy :)


    On the way out of the park, we hit the Shrine of Remembrance:










    At 11:00, we had a small bus wildlife tour to penguin island tour with the little penguin bus:










    I even found a wild echidna roaming around
    I even found a wild echidna roaming around

    don't shake the koalas off the trees :)
    don't shake the koalas off the trees :)

    While at the Koala center, I could hear a racetrack, sure enough there was a nice racetrack nearby, I was able to get a few shots:


    But there were wild Wallabies everywhere on our way to the penguin viewing:




    happily eating something :)
    happily eating something :)










    did I mention wild wallabies? :)
    did I mention wild wallabies? :)


    Then, we got the noobies, where you can see penguins nesting, and rabbits:









    And eventually we arrived to the penguin viewing location:



    we had premium viewing tickets in this location
    we had premium viewing tickets in this location


    the penguins come from the ocean and walk up this path
    the penguins come from the ocean and walk up this path

    general viewing area
    general viewing area

    So they have a no pictures policy after sunset, it's because they cannot trust people to take pictures without flash (I don't blame them) and besides most cameras and all cell phones would be unable to take any worthwhile shots. As a result, since I did have a camera capable of taking shots in full darkness, and without flash, I took a few shots when I could and without others seeing me so that they wouldn't get bad ideas. The penguins arrived in waves (they travel in numbers for safety), and walk up the path, sometimes up to 2H to the respective nests.





    they had a penguin arrival counter :)
    they had a penguin arrival counter :)

    And this was the end of our trip to Melbourne, the next morning, we flew home.

    2017/01/15 Tasmania Day 01-06: Hobart
    π 2017-01-15 01:01 in Australia, Tasmania2017, Trips
    Time flies, it was my 16tth trip to Australia and New Zealand for linux.conf.au.

    After a longish trip to Hobart, Tasmania, the next morning I started with the botanical garden, which I found out later, I had already been to in 2009 during our previous visit to Tasmania, and wasn't that impressive, but it was open before everything else, so I went there:

    of course I was up early, so I got to enjoy sunrise
    of course I was up early, so I got to enjoy sunrise



    I then went to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, which I had seen in 2009 too, but I quite enjoyed it, and I signed up for a couple of animal encounters, which were quite worth it:



    got to feed some tawny frogmouth
    got to feed some tawny frogmouth


    then, we got a baby wombat (they are cudly when they are small, but not when they grow up)
    then, we got a baby wombat (they are cudly when they are small, but not when they grow up)



    Then went to see the rest of the sanctuary, because it's fun:

    some kangaroos were very nice, even if you didn't feed them
    some kangaroos were very nice, even if you didn't feed them







    Next, I went to Mona, the local museum of modern art:






    very small pretty spiders
    very small pretty spiders

    this male was excited and showing off
    this male was excited and showing off

    and then the female spider gets conned :)
    and then the female spider gets conned :)



    they had an unusual wall of vagina plasters
    they had an unusual wall of vagina plasters




    I didn't take the ferry to museum since I arrived from the north, but I took it back to the town
    I didn't take the ferry to museum since I arrived from the north, but I took it back to the town

    where you can ride on sheep, because why wouldn't you?
    where you can ride on sheep, because why wouldn't you?

    The ferry got me back to Hobart downtown where Jennifer eventually met me fresh off her plane:


    Another evening, after the conference, we went for a nice dinner, and hiked down from a higher point in town, where we walked down and saw some wild wallabies:





    And this was it for Hobart. We had already been 8 years ago, so there wasn't that much we hadn't seen already. We however the next Saturday morning, after the conference was over, we took a bus tour towards the north of the Island.

    See more images for Tasmania Day 01-06: Hobart
    2017/01/21 Tasmania Day 07: Frecynet National Park/Wineglass Bay to Launceston
    π 2017-01-21 01:01 in Australia, Tasmania2017, Trips
    After a week in Hobart (mostly for the conference), we took an early morning tour bus from Hobart to the northern city of Launceston, but most of the time was spent at Frecynet National Park/Wineglass Bay on the way up.


    We had a quick stop on the way, showing an old sawmill:




    And we finally got to Wineglass Bay:





    beautiful rock beaches, like bay of fires we saw in 2009
    beautiful rock beaches, like bay of fires we saw in 2009




    and did I mention wallabies?
    and did I mention wallabies?




    On the way out, we stopped at a winery and eventually got to Launceston, where we met my friend Andy who had driven there, and did a nice walk around Cataract Gorge Reserve:











    We then enjoyed a nice dinner at Stillwater with Andy


    2017/01/22 Tasmania Day 08: Launceston - Mole Creek towards Cradle Mountain
    π 2017-01-22 01:01 in Australia, Tasmania2017, Trips
    After a night in Launceston, we left reasonably early to go to the nearby Tasmania Zoo as soon as it opened.


    Breakfast in our B&B
    Breakfast in our B&B

    Tasmania Zoo had fun animal encounters, so we did a couple :)
    Tasmania Zoo had fun animal encounters, so we did a couple :)





    the keeper picked up a female tasmanian devil for us
    the keeper picked up a female tasmanian devil for us

    I'm not sure I would put my fingers there though :)
    I'm not sure I would put my fingers there though :)




    Jennifer practised her wombat petting technique
    Jennifer practised her wombat petting technique

    cockatoos are awesome birds, they always love my sunflower seeds
    cockatoos are awesome birds, they always love my sunflower seeds


    we then got some pictures with meerkats
    we then got some pictures with meerkats

    they are very curious and fidgedy
    they are very curious and fidgedy


    From the zoo, we were originally going to stop at Trowunna Wildlife Park on the way, but given the limited time in the rest of our day, and the zoo we had just seen as well as the animal encounters, we were told that it would be a bit of a repeat, so I drove directly to Mole Creek Caves where we did their 3 cave tours. The first two had quite a bit of overlap but showed different parts of the cave, so doing both instead of one, wasn't an entire waste:














    The cave had glow worms, although they were picky about allowing us to photograph them:




    After the cave, we drove to Cradle Mountain and did some nice hikes in the evening, but those pictures are on the Cradle Mountain (next) page.

    2017/01/23 Tasmania Day 09: Cradle Mountain
    π 2017-01-23 01:01 in Australia, Tasmania2017, Trips
    We arrived at Cradle Mountain in the late afternoon and went for a couple of hikes after an early dinner to see animals around dusk, and it was an awesome plan that worked beyond expectations. We saw more animals in those few hours than the entire day after that.


    nice dinner at our hotel after we arrived and before a dusk/sunset walk
    nice dinner at our hotel after we arrived and before a dusk/sunset walk

    We found this little guy eating grass and totally unfraid
    We found this little guy eating grass and totally unfraid

    it didn't even mind being pet, which is unusual as adult wombats are usually not friendly
    it didn't even mind being pet, which is unusual as adult wombats are usually not friendly


    lots of wombats came out in the evening to go forage
    lots of wombats came out in the evening to go forage

    more wallabies than we could count
    more wallabies than we could count


    we were hoping for this water hole to be overrun, but it wasn't
    we were hoping for this water hole to be overrun, but it wasn't

    but we found some elsewhere
    but we found some elsewhere


    then I got super lucky and spotted this echidna
    then I got super lucky and spotted this echidna


    This was a great few hours out, the most wildlife we've never seen. After all that, we got some good sleep and got up bright and early the next morning for hiking the overland track all the way up to cradle mountain peak:










    Wild life was limited, most animals stay put during the day:








    The problem is that my hiking boots totally failed, the sole peeled off both of them:. I used the very limited amounts of duct tape I had, and then Jennifer's head band, and twisty ties, but honestly it barely held things together:



    this is the peak we climbed, it was very steep and rocky at the top, and very hard with my broken shoes
    this is the peak we climbed, it was very steep and rocky at the top, and very hard with my broken shoes


    the trail kind of disappeared
    the trail kind of disappeared

    and it got worse from here
    and it got worse from here

    finally got to the top
    finally got to the top


    I did an Arturo at the top
    I did an Arturo at the top

    Getting back down was not fun, especially with my broken shoes. It was actually kind of dangerous since I didn't know when my shoes were going to fail and slip, but eventually we got back to the trail, and finished the loop going towards the lake.




    we got back down to the lake
    we got back down to the lake



    We eventually got back to Rony Creek bus stopped and got a ride back to the parking lot, picked up our car and then I drove to Strahan for our next 2 days.

    See more images for Tasmania Day 09: Cradle Mountain
    2017/01/24 Helicopter Flight from Strahan, Tasmania over Western Tasmania to Queenstown
    π 2017-01-24 01:01 in Australia, Flying, Tasmania2017
    While in Strahan, we got a 30mn-ish, very expensive helicopter flight to Queenstown and back. While the price was not a great deal (price of helis being always much more), it was quite scenic.

    R44
    R44



    nice non straight road to Queenstown
    nice non straight road to Queenstown






    queenstown is a big mining town
    queenstown is a big mining town






    middle station where the steam train stop and can turn around
    middle station where the steam train stop and can turn around


    2017/01/24 Tasmania Day 10: Strahan
    π 2017-01-24 01:01 in Australia, Tasmania2017, Trips
    After finishing our long hike and mountain accent at Cradle Mountain, I drove to Strahan, a quick easy drive without traffic.


    Our merc was a pleasure to drive and got us through the twisty roads to Strahan
    Our merc was a pleasure to drive and got us through the twisty roads to Strahan

    After a quick dinner, we walked to Hogarth Falls but didn't get to see any Platypus
    After a quick dinner, we walked to Hogarth Falls but didn't get to see any Platypus

    Nice view from our room, the big boat was the one we took for our tour
    Nice view from our room, the big boat was the one we took for our tour

    Jennifer was happy with our premium cabin and unlimited drinks :)
    Jennifer was happy with our premium cabin and unlimited drinks :)



    the british built a railroad line that went to the sea to load ships more easily
    the british built a railroad line that went to the sea to load ships more easily


    we then made it to gordon river and its rainforest
    we then made it to gordon river and its rainforest

    we got out for a quick walk
    we got out for a quick walk


    Next we went to mariah island, where many convicts were kept under bad conditions. A ranger gave us a great story of what happened:






    Back on land, we had a look at a pine sawmill:




    Next, we went to sand dunes to ride an 4WD ATV, that was a lot of fun:




    we eventually got to the ocean dunes
    we eventually got to the ocean dunes


    our ATV guide
    our ATV guide

    I made it up the sand dune the first time (where others bailed and rolled back)
    I made it up the sand dune the first time (where others bailed and rolled back)

    Then, we got back to town to see The Ship That Never Was play. That was the biggest disappointment of the day, as well as waste of time. It was really silly and made for kids (only):



    Next (yes, long days), we went to another river where we were hoping to see a wild platipus, but we weren't lucky enough:



    And this was finally the end of our day. We had a sunset boat trip planned to see some mutton birds and penguins, but sadly it was cancelled, so that was it for our long day :)

    See more images for Tasmania Day 10: Strahan
    2017/01/25 Tasmania Day 11: Queenstown Steam Train and Drive Back to Hobart
    π 2017-01-25 01:01 in Australia, Tasmania2017, Trips

    We did the steam train ride between Strahan and Queenstown except since we were driving out anyway, and the rack and pinion train ride left from Queenstown, we did an early drive there, which despite the very curvy road, we arrived there in 30mn instead of the recommended 1h drive :)
    Since we had time to burn, we drove to a viewing point before finally going to the train, which left by 09:00:




    those steam trains were mostly used to move mining product to Strahan to get to ships
    those steam trains were mostly used to move mining product to Strahan to get to ships


    we got the premium cabin with drinks and snacks :)
    we got the premium cabin with drinks and snacks :)



    rack and pinion to go uphill and downhill steep grades
    rack and pinion to go uphill and downhill steep grades

    this is how it works
    this is how it works

    a few places allow an oncoming train to cross
    a few places allow an oncoming train to cross

    the little engine is thirsty uphill
    the little engine is thirsty uphill





    we had a few stops while the engine was getting more water
    we had a few stops while the engine was getting more water


    we crossed paths with the strahan to queenstown train
    we crossed paths with the strahan to queenstown train



    a tree fell on the tracks, but the engineers had a chainsaw to take care of that :)
    a tree fell on the tracks, but the engineers had a chainsaw to take care of that :)


    If you like steam trains, here is a video summary:

    When we got back to Queenstown, we got to pan for gold and went to visit the local historical museum:








    On the drive out, we went to iron blow lookout, of one of the mining areas:



    Then, we had the long drive back to Strahan, which we were able to do at very good pace though :)


    I stopped for a quick hike
    I stopped for a quick hike



    After that we got to the famous "The Wall" art gallery, a huge wood carving:





    And back to Hobart for our very early flight home the next morning:


    We had a good time and definitely got to see a lot more of Tasmania than last time.

    2017/10/07 Oz Day 00-02: Flying Air Safari over Western Australia, Brisbane and Prep in Toowoomba
    π 2017-10-07 01:01 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
    Jennifer and I first flew to Brisbane via Seoul, though 2 nice business flights we got from Korean Air via miles. It was not the quickest way there (12h + 9h), but it avoided the hellhole that is Sydney airport and its joke connection (or lack thereof from International to Domestic, and we got much nicer seats and amenities from Korean Air. The seats were got were actually first class like, only the food was ok not fantastic, however it didn't matter.

    We started by checking out the Amex lounge in SFO that Jennifer got access to (sadly on the wrong side of security for us, so we had to go through security twice):


    she liked the wine sampler/dispenser
    she liked the wine sampler/dispenser

    made it to Incheon/Seoul, and connected to Brisbane
    made it to Incheon/Seoul, and connected to Brisbane

    very nice seats
    very nice seats

    We then arrived in Brisbane around 06:00 to meet Clare from Air Safaris Int and the start of our tour. I have a few pictures on the Brisbane page.

    We then took a bus to Toowoomba, about 2h inland from Brisbane, and got some briefings on how to fly in Australia, as well as check rides from the club that was going to rent us planes for the next 21 days. I'll sheepishly admit that I kind of sucked during that check ride given how little sleep I had gotten, but I guess whatever I had left was enough to pass:



    On day #2, I was up before sunrise, fog to the ground, and then we got some very loud birds that all went off at the same time exactly at sunrise, despite the heavy fog:


    more planning with Oz charts
    more planning with Oz charts



    this was the C172 I was going to use for the next 3 weeks, with a slightly faster engine and a G1000
    this was the C172 I was going to use for the next 3 weeks, with a slightly faster engine and a G1000

    2017/10/09 Oz Day 03: Toowoomba to Charleville via Surat
    π 2017-10-09 01:01 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
    Our 3rd day in Australia/Toowoomba, was the day we'd head out. I was understandably a bit nervous about navigating on my own in a totally different ATC system that quite frankly didn't have much in common at all with the US system I learned in, but in the end it wasn't so bad, thanks to the training we had gotten the previous days.

    Two legs of just under 2H, the first one took us to Surat, a small deserted airport with no facilities:




    natural gas pipelines
    natural gas pipelines

    seems that our planes were all equipped with ADS-B, so I was able to see other planes from our group
    seems that our planes were all equipped with ADS-B, so I was able to see other planes from our group


    Surat
    Surat

    Our 2nd leg had a bit of convective weather, including this big rain cloud that shook the hell out of us when we had almost cleared the side of it
    Our 2nd leg had a bit of convective weather, including this big rain cloud that shook the hell out of us when we had almost cleared the side of it

    Charleville
    Charleville

    Once in town, we got a short guided tour:





    and then dinner
    and then dinner


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