Tag Archives: Red Center

New Zealand’s Wild West Coast: Truman Track

Driving south along New Zealand’s famous wild west coast, beautiful natural landscapes surrounded us. On one side, mountains loomed high above. The contrast between their hard, rocky faces and the lush greenery that covered them highlighted how isolated and alone we were out here. It seemed like nature was untouched and untainted by man, and it reminded me again of why so many people love this country.

On the other side of us, waves pounded the shore for miles. Their strength generated a spray that covered the coastline in a foggy haze. The wind whipped the crests of the waves and surging white wash covered the sand. It reminded me of Oahu’s North Shore during the winter, but the oddest thing was that it was completely devoid of people. There weren’t any surfers, casual wave watchers, professional photographers or carloads of tourists making their way up and down the coast to catch a glimpse of Mother Nature. We were completely alone out here except for the rare camper van or tour bus that passed us.

We stopped at Irimahuwhero Viewpoint for a photo opp and the view was incredible. You could hear the surf hitting the sand below us and smell the salty sea air with every breath you took. The light shining off the water created dazzling crystal-like effects.

Farther along, we did a short hike at the Truman Track. At this point, we were racing against the weather as dark clouds were rolling in off the water. The Truman Track was an easy trail that led you from the road through a forested area to a rocky lookout. Here you were able to get an up-close and personal feel for the waves and the power they generated.

Being from Hawaii, I definitely have a healthy respect for the ocean and am more familiar with it than many of people with whom I traveled. It was really interesting to see how people reacted to the swells as they tumbled over rocky outcrops. Many were simply amazed by it all and couldn’t seem to take enough photos.

I, however, was more interested in watching the battle between the storm clouds and the sun. Just like in Australia’s Red Center, the sky here seemed to go on forever. With nothing to obstruct your view, the horizon stretched on for miles and seemed insanely far away. With this backdrop, I stood transfixed and simply watched the storm advance across the sky and prepare its siege against the happy sun.

Before I could really watch the action unfold, it was time to return to the bus and make one last stop before pulling into Greymouth for the night. So, with a heavy heart, I said farewell to ensuing battle between the sun and the storm.

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Filed under Attraction, Hiking, Nature, New Zealand, Travel

Toowoomba’s Hawaiian Connection

I awoke early the next morning and set off for the Greyhound terminal to buy a return ticket from Brisbane to Toowoomba. I was on my way to meet Yvonne, who was a friend of a friend. It sounds crazy to travel miles out of the way to visit someone you don’t even know, but these little detours are the best part about traveling.

During my last semester of college, I interned at the Hawaiian Humane Society under a lovely woman named KT. I really enjoyed the time I spent with her (and her dogs) and kept in touch after I graduated. When she found out that I was heading off to Oz, she put me in contact with Yvonne, who had lived in Hawaii for many years but had returned home to Australia. And now, after really short notice due to the fact that I didn’t have internet connection for a while, I going to Yvonne’s house for two nights.

The bus ride to Toowoomba was as fine as any bus ride could be, and before I knew it I was there. I was a little worried about finding Yvonne because I had no idea what she looked like. However, I was the most likely person to be from Hawaii on the bus so odds were that Yvonne would find me. And she did.

Yvonne was as sweet as she sounded on the phone. She was about my height with short blonde hair and a warm, welcoming smile. She took me out to the car where her brother-in-law was waiting, and they took me on a short tour of the town. Afterward, we picked up her sister-in-law and headed off for the western Queensland outback and lunch at the Brookstead Pub.

Authentic Aussie outback restaurant and bar

Authentic Aussie outback restaurant and bar

The Queensland outback was different from the Red Center because the land was mostly used for farming here. There were wide-open plains for crops and silos filled with grains. Every now and then, a small community of homes would pop up. After driving for an hour or so, we reached Brookstead Pub, a traditional Aussie outback bar and restaurant. It served as a gathering place for the people in the area, and we’d arrived to rousing games of lawn bowling and bingo. The four of us chatted over a delicious lunch before returning to Toowoomba.

Interior of Brookstead Pub

Interior of Brookstead Pub

Back at Yvonne’s sister’s home, we shared a bottle of wine and her other sister came to visit. It was extremely nice being away from the hostel environment. Even though it’d only been a week since I left Sharon’s home in Sydney, it felt like ages since I sat at a real sofa or around a real dining table. The company was also much more authentic than at the hostels and it was nice to see the banter among the family. There were no pretenses and jokes flowed naturally. Sooner than I would have liked, it was time to go and so Yvonne and I said our goodbyes and headed off to her home.

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Filed under Accommodation, Attraction, Australia, Food, Transportation, Travel

Hiking Kata Tjuta’s Valley of the Winds

We hit the road at 6 am this morning and headed for the Red Center and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. On our way, we crossed the border into the Northern Territory and drove through Erlunda, the center of Australia.

When we arrived at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, we stretched our legs by hiking to the first lookout on the Valley of the Winds track. Even though it was only a little over 1 km to the lookout, the trail was pretty difficult, and you had to climb cliff faces that angled more than 45 degrees. There were areas with loose rocks and others with extremely smooth stone faces. It was a challenge but entirely worth it when you got to the lookout. Midway through hike, Jason stopped us (so we could catch our breath) and taught us a little bit about geology and how Kata Tjuta was made.

After we did the hike, we hurried over to a couple lookouts so we could get a good picture of the Kata Tjuta rock formations. They were incredible in their own way. If you’re into geology, I’m sure you’d be even more fascinated by them. But I still can’t believe these rocks are a tourist attraction. I understand that religiously they are important to an Aboriginal people called the Anangu, but why would they be so important to us? What is all the hype about? Is it all a great marketing campaign? Maybe I’m just getting jaded after having seen so many rock formations on this tour? It’s difficult to keep the same enthusiasm I had on day one as I close in on the two-week mark. Still, I wouldn’t change anything if I could (well, maybe less hiking and bugs but that’s it).

Slide Album: Kata Tjuta

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Filed under Attraction, Australia, Hiking, Nature, Travel