Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Mum's Visit Nov 2006 - Part 3

Mum's Visit - Part 1
Mum's Visit - Part 2
Mum's Visit - Part 3

On Tuesday we flew to Uluru (Ayers Rock) (7), got picked up by a “safari” outfit along with 12 others and headed off to the rock. It was very hot, about 45 deg, so we just did a gentle walk around the base before heading off to watch the sunset change the colours of Uluru. Turns out I’d found a rather, ahem, budget outfit, so we got to watch other tour groups sipping champagne from crystal while the 14 of us shared 2 bottles in scruffy plastic mugs! That kind of set the tone for the rest of the evening (rather blah dinner and no booze to be had), although we had the bonus of our own tent/hut with light and fan when most of the group bunked down in dark dorms. We were the only English speakers in our group, then rest being mostly young Germans and a couple of Japanese – pleasant enough but we didn’t exactly click!

The next day we woke before dawn and set off to watch the sun rise over Uluru and the Olgas (a nearby mountain outcrop sort of similar). We did a walk in the Olgas, through amazing deep red mountains and rock outcroppings. It was hot at 8am, and by late morning when we left the safari and checked into our room in the resort it was scorching! We gratefully collapsed in our en-suite air-conditioned room with a bottle of cold wine and two fresh fruit salads and had a much needed nap, before going to sit in the shade beside a very welcome swimming pool for the rest of the afternoon.

On Thursday we lazed around the resort until midday when we flew to Sydney airport, met Milord and flew immediately to Brisbane (8) to spend the night with his mum. She is in the middle of a chemo course (she has lung cancer) so was very ill, but managed to stay up quite late chatting to us, and our mums were pleased to have met each other.

Friday we flew to Townsville (9), near Cairns, and spent the afternoon in a pub/restaurant on the beachfront. It was so pleasant there that we had lunch, stayed for more drinks, and when the kitchen reopened we had dinner there too! Then boarded our dive boat and headed off to sea… It’s a somewhat slow boat so took 8 hours to get to the first mooring, through some rather heavy chop and swell. Mum gets seasick, so had dosed herself up for days to deal with it, but lying down in the corkscrewing dark was all too much and she ended up bent over the rail in the darkness with waves breaking over the deck for all 8 hours! When I found her in the morning it was all she could do to sip a glass of water, and she skipped the first dive of the day and instead had a bit of a snorkel.

Luckily the weather and waves were kind from then on, and mum recovered enough to get her appetite back and join us on the rest of the dives. It is definitely the best diving I have done in Australia, reasonable visibility and lots to see. We also did a night dive, which was not as creepy as I expected, and also not as interesting as most of the fish are asleep! Our final two dives were on the wreck of the Yongala, which has been in 25m of water since 1911 and is so overgrown with coral that she looks like a wreck-shaped reef! It’s an excellent site and we’d like to go back, but maybe on a faster boat for a daytrip ;-). We had a nice crowd of 10 other divers with us, from Sweden, America, Oz and England, and the crew were excellent. A bit no-frills, but I can certainly recommend them!

We spent a glorious night back on dry land in big beds that don’t rock with en-suite and air-con in Townsville on Monday night, and flew back to Sydney on Tuesday 28th where we collapsed.

The last few days were very relaxed as we were all exhausted. Poor Milord had to go back to work, and mum and I did some gentle sightseeing for the last couple of days including climbing up one of the Harbour Bridge pylons for amazing views. We had a mob of people over on Thursday night for a barbie to meet the parent ;-), and mum flew home on Friday night.

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