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North, north, to the tropics! (CAA 1201)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | Thomas Ritt | Pacific

On our 11th riding day we finally got wet. But only a little, up in the mountains north-west of Brisbane, and the rain was actually quite welcome because it kept the temperatures at a comfortable level and it made the Eucalyptus trees release their full aroma.

The volcanic crags in the background behind Abdullah were named Glasshouse Mountains by James Cook, who sailed past this coast in 1770. It's a beautiful view despite the clouds.

The Kenilworth Hotel is a popular weekend destination for riders from Brisbane. And a popular lunchspot for us.

Maryborough is the birthplace of TL Travers, author of "Mary Poppins". Ingo, Walt and Heinrich were thrilled to meet the famous figure.

We spent the night in Bundaberg, home of the distillery that makes the rum of the same name. We had a look around, but unfortunately we couldn't sample it because we still had some distance to cover on our bikes.

Under the watchful eye of Bundy R. Bear Abdullah glances longingly at the rum display. Patience, Abdullah, tonight you can sample it...

It took us three days to ride from Sydney to Brisbane, capital and largest city of Queensland. Vineyards, orchards and rainforests lined the curvy roads of the hinterland and the sun was our constant companion.

Wild and beautiful Diamond Beach, where we spent the first night after leaving Sydney. Well, not on the beach, but in a logde next to it. Armidale is a city high up on the New England Plateau. The numerous brick buildings and churches create a very british look. The soft grass and cool shade were irresistable to Henry and Walt, so they "powernapped" for a while... 700 foot-high Wollomombi Falls are among the highest in Australia. Unfortunately they were a mere trickle when we were there, but that's the price we paid for 10 days of beautiful sunshine and not a single drop of rain. It's easy to get in touch with the locals and some of them are real characters... On our way to Grafton we passed by the Old Coaching Station. The bar looked great and Uwe positioned himself in a strategic location, but we still had to ride another 50 kms. Too bad...

One of the highlights of the next day was Nimbin, a small community high up in the mountains. And "high" does not refer to the elevation! Hippies rule in Nimbin, the air is thick with incense (and something else), and there are more psychic readers per capita than in any other place in Australia.

Nimbin Museum The famous "Bringabong" shop The next highlight: the famous Edelweiss picnic. We brought the flatbed trailer specifically for this purpose! Then we crossed the border to Queensland. As you can see, rabbits count as illegal aliens in QLD, so the tour members reluctantly gave up their beloved rabbits. What a shame! Q: how do Aussies know it's Easter? A: When Bunny is on duty over at McDonalds

Brisbane awaited us - of course - with beautiful warm weather and blue sky. The group didn't go for a ride, but went sightseeing instead. Here we see the local Burger King, in a beautiful Art Deco building:

Fast food in Brisbane Henry, Erich, Abdullah, Walt and Franz went for a sightseeing cruise on Brisbane River. And when the full moon rose over Brisbane, we knew the rest day in this beautiful city would slowly come to an end.

Australia's highest mountains are called the Snowy Mountains, because they receive plenty of snow in winter. During summer they are great for motorcycling, which is what we did, on our way to Canberra.

Abdullah and his Harley on their way to the Snowy Mountains The road through the Snowy Mountains

View of Canberra from Mount Ainslie The Parliament Building and it's 81m-high flagpole are a nice backdrop for our bikes.

From Canberra we headed north to see the next mountain range, the Blue Mountains. Just an hour away from Sydney they offer untamed wilderness and dramatic scenery. We stayed on paved roads, though.

Ingo enjoys the spectacular views from Govett's Leap. The Three Sisters are the most famous rock formation in the Blue Mountains.

And then: Sydney. Australia's oldest and largest city, world famous for its climate and lifestyle and for the bridge and the opera. Sydney would justify a rest-month instead of just one day, but we managed to make the best of our short break. Here are some impressions:

Randy, Uwe and Erich embarked on a discovery trip. Here they pose in front of the skyline, seen from Darling Harbour. Old and new buildings stand side by side throughout downtown. Erich and Uwe see the world through pink glasses... The viewing platform of the Sydney Tower is 250m above street level and offers a spectacular 360° panorama. Believe it or not, even Angelina herself was here on the tower today! Sydney's landmark No. 2: the Harbour Bridge Sydney's landmark No. 1: the Opera House Darling Harbour and the skyline of downtown Sydney The end of an unforgettable day in Sydney.

Yesterday we headed inland, to the gold country. The city of Ballarat became filthy rich after the first gold nuggets were found in 1851, a wealth that is still reflected in the numerous Victorian-era buildings in the city center.

The next day we made it to the mountains, and some great motorcycle roads waited for us there. And the views, did we mention the views? Those from Mount Buffalo were especially captivating.

On the first riding day of our "Best of Australia" tour we were already heading towards its first major highlight: the Great Ocean Road. The starting point is the city of Torquay, the place where surfing was basically invented. From here this amazing road follows the coast of Victoria for about a hundred miles, hugging the cliffs and cutting through the rainforest. Come and share the experience!

This is where it all started: the Surf City of Torquay Torquay's famous surf bench. Here you can put your skills to the test before you head out to the waves. The outlet stores of Rip Curl, Billabong and Quicksilver are hard to resist, even for well-traveled Germans Julie and Carl from Ohio can prove it now: we were here, in Australia, on the Great Ocean Road! Abdullah, Tom, Ingo and Walt at the memorial for the workers that built the Great Ocean Road The 12 Apostles are the most famous attraction along the Great Ocean Road. They are defenitely a sight to behold! Ingo, Uwe and Tom are enjoying the amazing view.

Melbourne, capital of Victoria and second biggest city in Australia, is the center of a metropolitan area counting more than 4 million people. Downtown Melbourne is a beautiful, bustling place, dominated by old heritage buildings, modern skyscrapers and the Yarra River that cuts right through the middle of it. Here are some pictures to get you in the mood to follow the upcoming "Best of Australia"-tour.

This bar in the middle of the Yarra River is a popular hangout for locals and tourists alike.

Saint Paul's Cathedral is one of Melbourne's most famous landmarks.

Beautiful heritage buildings, like the Oldefleet, are in stark but picturesque contrast to the glass-and-steel skyscrapers. Banks Arcade is one of the beautiful old arcades that can turn your shopping experience into a real "retail therapy" This famous art installation at Melbourne Docklands depicts a cow, stuck in a tree after a massive flood.

The year 2006 saw the completion of the Eureka Tower, Melbourne's highest building. It takes 38 seconds (and 17,50 Dollars) to ride the express elevator up to the 88th floor and enjoy the amazing views across city and bay. It's well worth the money!

Melbourne's highest building transformed the skyline on the South Bank. The 88th floor of the Eureka Tower is the highest viewing platform in the southern hemisphere, 297 (975 feet) metres above street level. As you would imagine, the views from up there are just awesome! "The Edge", a glass-bottom cube 300 meters above ground, is not for the faint hearted! You feel like you're closer to the clouds than to the ground.
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Alex
Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 14:13

Fantastic pictures! In fact, there's nearly no need to book this trip when we can see this pics at home ;o))

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