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Dauphin County Library System - Open for Discovery!

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Armchair Traveler | Dreams Down Under (pt 2)

Monday September 14th, 2020

After traveling through eight cities inside and outside “Down Under,” our dreams have been filled with noisy jungles of concrete and steel, and lots of people. Sweeping views revealed varied architecture, from the traditionally classic to utilitarian cutting-edge designs, helping connect us to the people of the past and the present in the South Pacific. 

Thankfully, all our dreams in these three countries will not come from the urban jungles. Not even close.  In the second half of this series, we’ll leave the city-hopping dreams behind and take some paths that have been less traveled. Since much of these three lands remains unspoiled by human use, taking in some of these dreams of natural beauty, grandeur and wonder both above and below sea level is certainly worth punching your ticket to see! 



A picture containing outdoor, swimming, water, reef

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"Snorkling in the Great Barrier Reef (Australia 2011)" by paularps is licensed under CC BY 2.0  

No visit to Australia would be complete without seeing the renowned Great Barrier Reef. The provincial city of Cairns, on the northeast coast, is one of the biggest departure sites for this aquatic adventure. A day cruise can turn into hours of diving or snorkeling among some of the most diverse underwater habitat on earth. If you’d rather view the reef and islands from above the water, a narrated flight by aircraft might be more interesting. (Don’t worry – you won’t need Dramamine on this 15-minute flight!)  If you prefer to stay onshore, you’ll want to trek to the nearby beaches at Cape Tribulation and see the waterfalls in the Daintree Rainfest and Paronella Park. 

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne to Peterborough 

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"Great Ocean Road" by mclcbooks is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  

Find a ride for a day, or a week, to experience the almost 150-mile length of the Great Ocean Road. Lighthouses, native wildlife (yes, including koalas), and seemingly endless scenic views lie around every bend.  Though even a heavily condensed video won’t do the trek the degree of appreciation it deserves, a 43-minute experience, complete with stops that feature interviews with local residents, might suffice.  If you prefer less talk and more scenery, this unnarrated trek is just what you are looking for. 

Melbourne Zoo and Koala Sanctuary 

If you don’t experience much of Australia’s wildlife on this trip, it’s not because there isn’t any to be seen! This virtual zoo stop through their website is filled with wildlife. Tour the Healesville Sanctuary (specifically for animals native to Australia), the main Melbourne Zoo itself, or the Werribee Open Range Zoo by safari or on their walking tour.  To see some wildlife “live,” check out any or all of their six live webcams to watch penguins, koalas, and more. If koalas are more to your liking than dingos or kangaroos, check out the live video feed from the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane. 

The Indian Pacific Train, Sydney-Perth 

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"2 Passenger trains in One" by Jarle D is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  

One of the best ways to singlehandedly experience a large swath of Australia’s natural beauties is to hop aboard this 2,600-mile-long east-west train that runs through the country’s southern regions between the Pacific and Indian oceans. (A separate and shorter rail expedition is on The Ghan, which runs north-south and splits the country nearly in half between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin.) Wind-swept coastal views turn into lush vegetation, then to the desert Outback, and back again in this fantastic trip, with several opportunities to stretch your legs and visit more of natural Australia. 

Alice Springs and Ayers Rock (Uluru) 

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"Uluru/Ayers Rock" by Corey Leopold is licensed under CC BY 2.0  

Whether you take The Ghan train, or just want to forego that idea since you were just on the Indian Atlantic, stopping in the heart of the Outback must be on our list.  Tour the town and experience some of the indigenous cultures as well as some of the surrounding countryside. An up-close walk would allow us to experience some of the Aboriginal art depicted on the massive sandstone outcrop. But a scenic overview of Uluru and the surrounding area might be easiest if we hitch a ride on a drone – hang onto your seat!  

On Your Feet Galore, Just About Anywhere 

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"spider walk, karijini np" by matthew.fuentes is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  

Exploring Australia on foot through the country’s national park system is an accessible option almost anywhere on the continent. (Interestingly, the system’s parks are almost entirely owned and managed by the territorial/state governments rather than at the national level.) The largest terrestrial park is Kakadu, covering about 12,000 square miles of the landscape in the Northern Territory, and is one of the country’s most diverse parks. In the western regions, the Tunnel Creek park allows visitors to explore expansive cave systems on foot. Karijini’s extensive trail system accesses an array of landscapes, from sharp mountaintop spires to secluded gorges and expansive plains.  If you’d like to give your hiking boots a break, take a boat tour in and around Cape Range park, just off the west coast, which has the second-largest reef system around Australia. It’s common for visitors to witness humpback whales and manta rays on a boat tour