Dine under the stars at the quietest restaurant on Earth. Sip champagne and listen to the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo as you watch a magnificent sunset over Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). When the sun has finally set, lanterns will be lit and a delicious gourmet barbecue served. After dinner the lights are dimmed to reveal a clear and bright, star filled sky. A resident astronomer introduces the magnificent constellations, stars and planets that make up the skies of the Southern Hemisphere. Truly a night like no other.
It was our 25th wedding anniversary and my 65th birthday and I had my eyes set on Australia and New Zealand. But what a headache I got trying to plan it solo. I lucked up on Karen at Australia 2000 and what a breeze it became.
It isn’t every day that you make plans and have an experience of ease and grace from a customer service perspective. And it isn’t every day that you find good people with a big heart like Karen and her staff that really care and bend over backwards to make your dreams come true.
It isn’t every day that every desire in your imagination becomes a reality, as you take in the beauty of another country – the warm people, the ancient customs, the cuisine, the nature, the Great Barrier Reef, sacred land of Uluru, kangaroos, camels, and wild birds, Sydney, clear blue waters and Ferg’s burgers of Queenstown, the Wearable World of Art in Wellington, fine wineries of Nelson, art, music, green stone, the snow capped mountains. Yes, we did it all! And, I tell you we enjoyed every moment of our 25-day experience.
We owe every expression of awe and beauty to Karen. And so I say with deep gratitude, look no further, if this is your destination. You will never find more dedication, more experience and wisdom, more spirit than Australia 2000.
Ronita & John
Surely most have heard of the 7 Wonders of the World and perhaps a lucky few have visited all of them all but did you know that there is a New7Wonders of Nature Campaign taking place right now? The New7Wonders Foundation is on a global search to recognize the 7 most wonderous natural sites as selected and voted on by the public and the winners will be announced on November 11, 2011 (yes, that’s 11-11-11).
In order to be considered sites must be clearly defined as a natural site, monument or landscape that was not created or significantly altered by humans. Of the hundreds of sites originally nominated the contest is now down to its final phase with only 28 selections left for consideration and both Australia & New Zealand remain in the running. Among the top 28 finalists are The Great Barrier Reef & Uluru in Australia and Milford Sound in New Zealand.
There are only 83 days left to vote so let your voice be heard and vote now for your favorite.
The Great Barrier Reef
The largest coral reef in the world, The Great Barrier Reef, is made up of 2500 separate reefs and stretches over 1250 miles in length and includes over 500 islands from Queenslands coast to the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. Its ecosystem supports the greatest concentration of life on this planet with its resident marine life includes 1500 species of fish, 350 different kinds of coral, 4000 species of molluscs and 10,000 species of sponges. This natural wonder also provides breeding areas for humpback whales, sea turtles and seabirds.
To vote for GBR, Australia http://www.new7wonders.com/archives/wonder/great-barrier-reef
Few people who visit Uluru, most commonly known as Ayers Rock, return unchanged. The rock and the surrounding land has huge spiritual significance for the Anangu Aboriginal people. It lies in Australia’s Red Center like an enormous, moody heart. At an enormous 348 meters tall and 5 ½ miles in circumference it’s hard to believe that more than two thirds of the rock remains hidden beneath the ground. Yet at its massive feet the icy-green and grey vegetation offer a refuge for wildlife. Arraying itself in a multiplicity of hues from black to purple, blue to brown, orange and red throughout various times of day and weather, Uluru’s sheer majesty outshines even the brilliant sunset.
To vote for Uluru, Australia http://www.new7wonders.com/archives/wonder/uluru
Grand, brooding, serene and wild, Milford Sound, located within Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island, draws visitors from all over the globe to cruise its length. Luxuriant rainforest clings to sheer rock walls washed with waterfalls line the shores of the sound and in the foreground stands Mitre Peak, a majestic presence dominating the skyline. On any given day you are likely to see dolphins and rare penguins or perhaps even seals sunbathing on the rocky shores.
To vote for Milford Sound, New Zealand http://www.new7wonders.com/archives/wonder/milford-sound
ARKAROOLA – SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Arkaroola is a 380 square miles privately owned wildlife sanctuary in the rugged Northern Flinders Ranges just to the east of the Gammon Ranges National Park in South Australia. The surrounding area includes spectacular arid zone mountain terrain, picturesque gorges, water holes and wildlife unique to the area. It is a truly fascinating region with dramatic, ancient hills where some of the rocks are estimated to be older 1,000 million years and marine fossils are being found from 600 million years ago giving proof to the fact that our Outback was once an inland sea.
BROKEN HILL – NEW SOUTH WALES
People used to say that you would find Broken Hill beyond the Darling River on the edge of the sundown, as if there was nowhere further to travel in Australia.
Perhaps it was the feeling of being confronted by an unspeakably vast space that looked like an inland sea rolling into the sunset. The desolate landscape surrounding Broken Hill is like driving towards a painting of soft mauve and sage hues. Is it any wonder the city has become known as a Mecca for artists? It is there that the magnificent clear blue skies and the magic light are much loved by film makers from Mad Max 2 to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
It is in Broken Hill that the big red kangaroos will run one hundred and twenty five miles in a night chasing a thunderstorm, and the unique Sturt Desert Peas bloom in dark red soils. The Tower Mulloch heaps around Broken Hill represent billions of dollars spent on mining that drove the economy of a fledgling nation. In this historic city it is easy to be reminded of the struggles of the pioneers. What greater adventure can there be than to travel to the Australian Outback via the Indian Pacific train where our special guide will meet you at railway station when you arrive in Broken Hill. You will be taken on a journey through the national parks to discover the Outback and the opal mining area of White Cliffs. There will be time to noodle for opals as you walk around in the old field At Lightening Ridge you will discover the true meaning of the word remote Here people live in houses built under the ground to escape the extreme heat of the Aussie sun.