We scheduled one month in Australia. Our first four days were at the Marriott Hotel in the Circular Quay area of downtown Sydney, part of a package we bid on at the Family Support Services fundraiser in Kona last year. We then moved to the Drummoyne Serviced Apartments, where the girls had their own rooms and we could prepare some of our own meals. Drummoyne is about 15 minutes outside of the downtown and well serviced by ferries and busses, so we did not rent a car. After three weeks we took the overnight train to the city of Adelaide in the south central part of the country. This train, the Indian Pacific, is one of the great trains of the world and connects Sydney and Perth. It was like going back in time, very elegant and meals were served in a lovely dining room. There is nothing like relaxing while kangaroos hop away into the sunset. In Adelaide, a charming Australian town which reminded us of Seattle, we met up with some of the Australian Holdcrofts, Tim and Linda Smith and their children, Georgina, Angus and Madeleine. After two fun days, we drove our rental car to Mildura, a small town about 5 hours in the bush from Adelaide where we reconnected with Maureen Holdcroft and her son Luke and his Jodie and their kids Caitlyn and Samuel. We had a terrific time getting to know the Mildura and Adelaide Holdcroft/Smith families and hope they will someday visit Hawaii. Driving home from Mildura, we visited the Barossa Valley, a wine area famous for Penfolds, Jacobs Creek and about 20 other great wineries. We stayed at BJís Country Inn, a motel made out of old train cars, interiors intact from the 1960ís and met a neat couple Craig and Jan Daly, who owned a fish & chips take-out restaurant in Adelaide. Of course we stopped by for some great food on our way before flying back to Sydney and on to our next country, Singapore.
Kona Moment: Going to the movies in Sydney on hot day.
Starbucks: Yes, all over the place.
Weird McDonalds Menu Item: McCafe, a trendy cafť for pastries and lattes attached to many McDonalds in Australia. The most recent CEO of McDonalds Corporation, Charles Bell, was an Australian. He died just before we arrived in Sydney of cancer. Because of this, Australians really like McDonalds.
Cultural Moment: Petting and feeding the kangaroos at Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide really made us feel like we were in Australia.