January 16, 2000 |
The Ghan is a 970-mile stretch of railroad tracks between Adelaide in southern Australia and Alice Springs, smack-dab in the middle of the country. By the time I finished my trip, a comfortable way to see the notoriously harsh interior of the continent, and inspected my destination, I'd made two life decisions in the 19 hours of the ride. The first came just a few hours out of the station in Adelaide, which sits along Australia's south coast.
April 11, 1995 |
A group of 75 Taiwanese tourists obediently standing in line and wearing orange identification discs on their lapels gasped with simultaneous pleasure as a huge rainbow trout gracefully rose to the food being powdered onto the crystal-clear water below. "New Zealand is so clean, so beautiful," said Judy Chen, a banker from Taipei. "In Taiwan we have so much pollution. Here the air is clear. People are not crowded. It is so different from our home. I love it here."
September 12, 1999 |
Before the gunfire rang out, the harbor lay pretty as a picture on a Sunday afternoon, boat sails snapping in the wind, ferries chugging under the tall harbor bridge and looping around the great white opera house. A few children lingered at the Double Bay wharf, scanning the watery horizon. Then bang bang bang. The staccato sound carried far and fast across the water.
September 19, 1993 |
It is almost dusk. Soon purple and gold will swirl across the tropical sky, and the ocean will change. Sunset means feeding time and a changing of the marine guard. Sharks and other pelagic predators step up the hunt. Moray eels with needle-sharp teeth slither out of coral crevasses. Lobsters and crabs scuttle from their holes. Even some plankton-eating corals, dull brown by day, blossom into brilliant yellow starbursts at night. I wanted to see it.
July 19, 1998 |
The surfboards strapped to the roofs of cars parked at the Cape Mentelle Winery were my first clue. That and the fact that the thundering sound I heard in the distance as I sipped a 1996 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc was the ocean pounding beaches just five miles away. Then there was the rural town of Margaret River, with its main street lined in an eclectic collection of hardware stores, wine boutiques, surf shops, craft galleries and a hemp store.
September 24, 2000 |
There's only one thing that could get a city slicker like me--one whose idea of a perfect vacation is sitting in a cafe--to sleep on the ground in some rural wilds. That one thing is a horse. I've been riding and loving it since age 6, spending summers as a kid on a New Mexico ranch. I never imagined that I could repeat the thrill of 20 years ago, when I raced across the Egyptian desert on a magnificent Arabian horse with the Pyramids as my backdrop.
February 28, 1999 |
Away in the outback, north of Nurrari Lakes and south of the Tanami Desert, lies a big red stone that some people call Uluru and others call Ayers Rock. Occasionally you catch a kangaroo waiting in its shade. At dusk the dingos sing, and tourist-bearing camels plod through the bush, single file. And each day, facing this marvel shortly after dawn, hundreds of travelers find their inner Edmund Hillarys yearning to be freed.
October 13, 1996 |
I've been going to australia almost every year for the past 15, but I didn't discover Adelaide until 1994, when I was invited to speak at Writers' Week, part of the biennial Adelaide Festival. Since then my visits to Australia have taken on a new pattern. As soon as I finish with business, I head for Adelaide for a bonza (good) time. Once there, I dine, shop and immerse myself in Australian art, culture and history.
August 12, 2001 |
Arriving in the Whitsundays on a Monday seemed like the right thing to do. After all, that's what Capt. James Cook apparently did when he discovered the islands in 1770. Cook thought he had arrived on the seventh Sunday after Easter--called Whitsunday, or Pentecost--so he named these 70 or so islands between the Australian mainland and the Great Barrier Reef the Whitsunday Group.