Thursday, June 13, 2024

Australia Day 11 - Paddy's Market and Sydney Opera House

19 May - Morning was spent walking to Paddy's Market to purchase some Australian nuts to bring back Singapore as gifts, after which, we made our way towards the Sydney Opera House for some photos, passing by Hyde Park, which bring back memories of our previous visits to Sydney in 2009.

The same old Archibald Memorial Fountain at Hyde Park

Rainbow at Archibald Memorial Fountain

Sydney Opera House in the afternoon sun

Sydney Opera House with Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Opera House at night

Faces of Change Light Show (24 May - 15 Jun)

On the way back to our hotel, we caught the Faces of Change Light Show shone on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. *OEE* didn't want to leave until seeing the show X (I lost count) number of times!😂

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Australia Day 10 - Outlet Shopping & Darling Harbor Fireworks

18 May - There are only 2 main plans for today. First half of the day will be spent at Birkenhead Point Outlet mall shopping for discounted items, while the second half of the day will be spent at Darling Harbor for their weekly Saturday Fireworks Display. This round, we chose to visit the Birkenhead Point as it is slightly bigger and nearer to our hotel, compared to the DFO Homebush Outlet Mall that we went in 2009 (15 years ago!). In the end, we did managed to pick up some good deals.

Birkenhead Point Outlet Mall

Went back to our hotel via Uber and rested for a while before having a quick dinner and making our way to Darling Harbor in the late evening. Reached the venue just in time before the firework starts!

The calm before the fireworks display

Fireworks Display at Darling Harbor

Fireworks Display at Darling Harbor

Fireworks Display at Darling Harbor

Fireworks Display at Darling Harbor

Fireworks Display at Darling Harbor

*OEE* seems to enjoy watching the live fireworks for the very first time and wanted more even after the show ended. Have to convince him that the show is no more and the next one will be 1 week later.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Australia Day 9 - Canberra Day Tour

17 May - Booked a day tour to Canberra as we have not visited the place before. The flip side is that it will be a 3.5 hours drive from Sydney, so the actual time spent at Canberra will not be much. Met up at the pick-up location at 8am at Holiday Inn Darling Harbour after a quick breakfast along the way. 

The tour stopped for lunch when we reached Canberra which we have a very full 8 dish Chinese meal (included as part the tour). After lunch, it was a full packed itinerary to visit locations after locations.

Fountain with rainbow @ Lake Burley Griffin

Parliament House

Parliament House Interior

Parliament House looking towards Red Hill

Red Hill Lookout

Before visiting the Red Hill Lookout, we also spent about an hour at the Australian War Memorial, which showcases the history and artefacts of World War 1 and World War 2. Personally, I did not find much interesting things there, so there is no photos for it. We reached back Sydney at about 8pm, found some Thai restaurant along the way to settle our dinner before returning to our hotel room to rest for the night.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Australia Day 8 - Sunrise at Imalung Lookout

16 May - Catching the sunrise means waking up at 5.30am to reach the Imalung Lookout by 6.30am. We made it and today will be the last day at Ayers Rock Resort before we depart for Sydney. Watching sunrise is such a beautiful sight to immerse yourself in, marveling at the works of God. Since it is cold in the desert morning, the hoard of flies are hibernating! 

Break of dawn @ Imalung Lookout (6.32am)

Sun rising over the horizon @ Imalung Lookout (6.37am)

Sun rising over the horizon @ Imalung Lookout (6.41am)

Sunrise @ Imalung Lookout (6.45am)

Sunrise @ Imalung Lookout (7.30am)

Pretty much nothing for the rest of the day as we checkout and depart for Sydney. We are back again after 12 years. New developments have sprung up, but some things still remain the same. As it is pretty late in the night, plus we need to rest early for a Canberra Day Tour tomorrow, we settled on a Japanese restaurant for dinner.

Nothing beats a devil spicy ramen on a cold day

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Australia Day 7 - Ayers Rock Resort

15 May - There is nothing plan for the day, so its just chill, relax and take time to explore the resort. It's only now that we realize the profile of the tourists - 70% are actually retirees! Took our time to venture out to the Uluru lookout after breakfast, battling hoard of flies along the way. Glad that we have our phone for navigation so that we don't walk any extra route. 

Kata Tjuta seen from Uluru Lookout

Uluru seen from Uluru Lookout

As the sun continues to rise, the temperature is becoming unbearable, much worse the mental torture made by the hoard of flies buzzling around us. We didn't stay too long before retreating back to explore the Ayers Rock Resort City Centre. We found one supermarket which is selling overpriced products (due to the ulu-ness of this place), one postal center and many crafts and souvenir shops. Took photos of the Geckos Cafe menu to KIV for dinner before returning back to our room for a short nap.

After resting for 2 hours, we ventured out to the Imalung Lookout for more photos, before returning back to Geckos Cafe for our dinner. Made an agreement tomorrow to come back to the Imalung Lookout in the morning to catch the sunrise before leaving the place for good.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Australia Day 6 - Ayers Rock Field of Lights Sunrise & Uluru Sunset Tours

14 May - AAT Kings seems to be the specialist tour operator around the Red Center area. After looking through Klook, we decided to book 2 tours from them - The Field of Lights Sunrise tour and the Uluru Sunset tour, all departing from Ayers Rock Resort. Staying at Desert Garden Hotel has its advantages: it is usually the first pickup and drop off points along the route. You get to choose the best seats on the bus.

Woke up early in the morning at 4.30am to get ready for the 5.30am sunrise tour, which did not disappoint. Looking at the lights against the break of dawn - simply breath taking. Never have I seen such a beautiful sunrise such as this.

Field of Lights @ break of dawn

Field of Lights @ break of dawn

Spectacular Sunrise

Uluru in the background

At the same time enjoying the sunrise view, we are treated to tea, coffee and hot chocolate at the sunrise viewing area. Tip: Just go for the hot chocolate. It is one of the best I have ever tasted. Shortly after the sun has risen, we are transported back to Ayers Rock Resort and this marks the end of the Sunrise tour. 

As we are still feeling energetic after the hotel buffet breakfast, we decided to take some time to explore what the resort has to offer.

Passing by a swimming pool and a lawn with human size game set

Cultural Center

We did not stay out too long in the sun for a very good reason. As temperature rises, the hoard of desert flies come buzzing around you. I am not kidding, I mean hoard of flies.... Tip: Do get a fly net to shield your head if you cannot stand flies coming up your nose or their buzzing sound around your ears. We came during the late autumn and it is already bad. Summer is much much worse (I cannot imagine the horror). We went back to our room for a short nap before joining the Uluru Sunset tour at 2.30pm.

Uluru in the afternoon sun

Entering Uluru

Our guide talking about the history and myths of Uluru

Ancient carving by the indigenous tribes

Waterhole where the water is still flowing. Stay absolutely still and you can hear the trickling sound of water.

Last look at Uluru

Sunset at Uluru

A toast for showing us such a beautiful sunset sight

Admiring the stars without the light pollution

Admiring the stars without the light pollution

Monday, June 03, 2024

Australia Day 5 - Melbourne Flight Delay to Ayers Rock (MEL -> AYQ)

13 May - The 9 hours of flight delay at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport was quite dramatic. We are glad and thank God we didn't have anything planned for the day so we didn't suffered any loss except our chill time at the resort. Initially, all went well until we took off, where 1 pair of oxygen mask suddenly dropped from the ceiling.

The problem that signaled the start of our 9 hours flight delay

As Jetstar did not have anyone who could do the repair at Ayers Rock Airport, the decision was to return back to Melbourne to get the issue accessed and fixed. As the plane is too heavy to land, we need to circle the air for another 1.5 hours to burn off the extra fuel to reduce the weight. Upon assessment by engineers after landing, the decision was made to use another aircraft to send us on our way.

Unfortunately, the replacement aircraft was then impacted by a bird strike on its way into Melbourne. According to the pilot who was doing the safety site walk physical check, the dent found was around credit card size. The original crew then reached their regulated duty limits. Another replacement aircraft (flying in from Gold Coast) and crew were arranged for our departure around 6pm.

After all the dramas, we eventually reached our hotel (Desert Garden Hotel) around 9.30pm. Went off promptly to sleep as we have a 5.30am Sunrise Tour to catch the next day. At least...everyone reached where we are supposed to travel to safely.

Desert Garden Hotel by Accor

Post event: Insurance Claim for the flight delay is so troublesome. So many document to submit...Just remember, always buy a travel insurance when on holiday. You will never know when you might need it.