The "Counterweight Continent", as Terry Pratchett calls his version of Australia in the Discworld books, has always fascinated me, and I've always wanted to visit there, even though it's half a world away. In the fall of 2002, my dream was realized as Leslie and I spent three weeks touring Australia and New Zealand. We had a wonderful time and it is our pleasure to share some of our experience with you through these pages.
The trip was Brendan Tours' (no longer extant) "Koala and Kiwi Explorer", a 20-day "independent" (no tour guide) package. The figure at left is from Brendan and illustrates our route within the region. Our travel agent was Karen Kurta of Liberty Travel in Nashua.
Because most of the photos are rather large, I've split up the pages so that there are typically no more than three or four photos on a page. At the bottom of each page are navigational buttons and a drop-down list if you want to jump around. All photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot G1 digital camera, edited with Corel PhotoPaint. Please note - while I may have adjusted the color balance in some of the shots, I have not artificially changed colors. You may wonder if some of the colors are real, but trust me, they are!
I've attempted to describe things accurately to the best of my ability, but my memory is imperfect and I may have faulty assumptions. The opinions expressed are my own (except when attributed elsewhere, and then it's just my interpretation of those opinions.) If you have comments, need amplification on anything, or want to point out an error, please let me know.
After five months of planning, today is the day we begin. The travel package we are using is Brendan Tours' "Koala & Kiwi", a 20-day "independent" tour that has no tour guide, but has a planned itinerary and includes arrangements for accommodation, travel within the region, and an assortment of day tours. (See map above.) But first, we have to get there... Manchester, NH is our home airport, one of the nicest and least stressful airports I have ever encountered. I avoid Boston's Logan airport unless I have no other choice.
At present, you can't fly coast-to-coast from Manchester, so our United flight to Los Angeles involved a change of planes in Chicago. (A runway extension is under construction to allow heavier (loaded with more fuel) planes to take off from Manchester, which should allow for direct flights in the future.) We arrive at LAX at about 5:15 local time, and then have to kill five hours or so for our 10:45PM flight to Sydney, Australia. (10:45PM Pacific time - by our Eastern time bodies, that was 1:45AM!)
Our flights from and to the US were on Air New Zealand - I selected this airline based on recommendations from others and their claim to have seats further apart than on most other airlines (especially United.) The 747-400 had adequate legroom, but the seats were much narrower than I had ever encountered before. If we hadn't been able to raise the armrest between us, the 13 hour (!) flight would have been unendurable. As it was, it was "merely" painful. However, the service was excellent, including two delicious meals, continuous offering of ice water or juice, and multiple movies plus other entertainment. (Unfortunately, one of the movies was K19-The Widowmaker which United was also showing on its flights. Since I had taken a business trip the week before on United, this meant I was exposed to K19 at least five times, by my count. We also got to see Men In Black II at least three times!)
© 2002 Steve Lionel - - Home