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Sheena chill'n at the opera house

5 May 2005 through 5 June 2005

   This trip started with Eddie on a three and a half week TDY assignment to Alice Springs. The first thing you have to get used to is the fact that Australia is NOT an island, it's one big-ass continent, the size of the continental U.S. Alice Springs is located in the dead center of the continent known as The Outback. It is a desolate, sun-baked, dry region that extends for hundreds of miles in all directions. The second thing Eddie had to get used to was the fact that they make the worst coffee he had ever tasted!!!! The coffee out of the coffee machine on base was the best coffee ever found in Alice Springs!!!

    After the TDY assignment, Eddie flew to Sydney where he met up with Sheena for a week and a half vacation in Sydney and the Hunter Valley wine region. Hope you enjoy our photos.

Eddie and Sheena

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Alice Springs

   While Eddie was working TDY in Alice Springs, he had the opportunity to visit a few of the local gorges and gaps, do a little hiking and take a C172 for a flight. Not bad considering he only had 1 day a week off and had to share 1 car with 3 people.

  A view of Alice Springs from Anzac Hill.   Eddie and Spyros getting ready to go for a flight around the Alice Springs area.   An aerial view of Alice Springs.   Getting ready to come back for a landing. A 737 was in the way on the nice runway so Eddie had to land on the half paved half dirt runway.   Eddie found the Tropic of Capricorn!
  At Emily and Jessie gap   The caterpillar at Emily and Jessie gap   A view of Emily and Jessie gap from the air.   Starting the hike up N'Dhala gorge.   N'Dhala gorge
  Simpsons gap   During the dry seasons, some things just don't make sense.   Hiking through Simpsons gap was amazing and beautiful.   Looking back down into the gap from a hill at the end.   An aerial view of Simpsons Gap.
  On the last weekend Eddie was in Alice Springs, he and Spyros decided to visit Ormiston Gorge.   Spyros and Eddie took the Ormiston Pound Walk trail.   After cresting the ridge, the view of the baked outback was stunning. This is a view of the few trees that can be seen in the area.   Even though this was the low season for flies, they still covered Spyros's back.   Coming back into the gorge, the ground was littered with rock.
  Entering the gorge.   The gorge.     The rock walls in the gorge were a stunning red color.   No sign of water yet.
  The stone was very smooth and slick in the gorge.   Finally found a little water left.   Seriously! This looks like a penguin. No idea what kind of bird it is.   Again, things can look out of place in the dry season.   THIS is the outback! There's a reason the call it the fuckitall!


Ayers Rock and the Olgas

   Before Eddie left his TDY assignment in Alice Springs he had the opportunity to travel to Ayers Rock and the Olgas with coworker Spyros P. Having only 1 day a week off made this trip a challenge. The ride started at 5:00AM catching the bus and raveling the long distance to the rock. At the rock, Eddie had only 2 hours to reach the summit and return to the parking lot. Not as easy as it sounded. The summit was a labyrinth of steep ridges and valleys. There was no way to see the summit, but luckily the route was actually marked with dashed white paint.

   After leaving Ayers Rock, the bus continued to the Olgas which is a grouping of more very large boulders. However, due to limited time, Eddie was only able to make a short walk into the rocks. Afterward, the bus took the group to a nearby parking area where the group watched the sunset on Ayers Rock and the Olgas. After that, the bus took Eddie back to Alice Springs arriving about midnight in time for Eddie to show up at 5:00 for the start of work.

  The buttress up Ayers Rock that is used with the chains to reach the upper plateau.   Looking down the chains to the parking lot.  Looking down from the top of the chains.   Spyros reaching the top of the chains.   How the route is marked across the summit plateau.
  The Olgas from the top of Ayers Rock.   Eddie on the Summit.   The summit marker.   The Olgas   The trail up into the Olgas
  The Olgas at sunset   Ayers Rock at sunset   Ayers Rock at sunset  Yep, "This Was Me!" A Post Card from Ayers Rock   A NASA image of Ayers Rock



   After Eddie completed his TDY assignment in Alice Springs, he met up with Sheena in Sydney. While in Sydney, Eddie and Sheena were able to visit several sites including a Sydney Bridge climb on Eddie's birthday.

  View of downtown Sydney from the botanic gardens.   Eddie and Sheena in the botanic gardens with the opera center and bridge behind.   The Sydney skyline behind the ever so famous opera house.   Another view of the opera house.  Wandering the Darling Harbor area.
  Sheena on the RAN Destroyer Vampire.   Sheena in the bowels of the HMAS Onslow submarine.   The full size replica of Capt. Cook's Endeavour.   Sheena on the deck of the Endeavour   This Ausie is a serious model ship builder.
  One very unhappy little boy being terrorized by the birds.   The clock in the Strand Arcade. This was a beautiful shopping mall   Sydney China town.   The Sydney observatory. Sheena made reservations for an evening tour on Eddie's B-day before dinner at the Galileo restaurant.   A view of the Sydney bridge from the observatory
  The fox bats hanging out in the botanic gardens. These "bats" are actually the size of small foxes.   Looking out at Fort Denison from the botanic gardens.   You can see the small groups of people on the bridge trusses.  Birthday-boy, with Sheena on the Sydney bridge climb.   Birthday-boy, with Sheena on top of the Sydney bridge.
  Sheena on an evening dinner cruse around the harbor.   Sunset over Sydney from the harbor.   GOOD food and beer!!!! Eddie and Sheena at The Belgium restaurant eating mussels, frites and Belgium beer!   The Sydney skyline from the from the Taronga zoo.   Sheena at the Taronga zoo next to a koala.


Hunter Valley

   While in Sydney, Eddie and Sheena took a two day side trip to the Hunter Valley a short distance north of Sydney. The Hunter Valley is a popular Australian wine region known best for their white wines. In addition, many of the major Australian wineries have tasting rooms in the region that provide the opportunity to sample their wines from all the various regions around the country. To add to the excitement, this was the first time driving on the left side of the road since the short trip from Dusseldorf to Scotland in the 90's.

  Started with Rosemount Estates.   Next was Tower Estate   Pools Rock was next which included Cockfighter's Ghost wines that Eddie was introduced to in Alice Springs.   The Hunter Valley was full of beautiful fall views.   Next the Small Winemakers Centre of the Hunter Valley.
  The roses planted at the end of the vine rows have a long history with several tales of the reasons.   A stop at the Scarborough Wine Company   With more views of the Hunter Valley   Pepper Tree wines is one of the larger wine companies that is also popular in the US   The largest winemaker visited during the trip was to the ever popular Tyrrells Wine Company.
  While tasting at Tyrrell's, Eddie was challenged by the staff to answer knowledge questions that continued to bring out more wines that listed on their tasting menu. In the end, Eddie worked his way through 16 wines!   Time for fresh air in the vineyards around the Tyrrell's tasting room.   The highlight of the entire trip was when Eddie and Sheena decided to stop at a very small winery. At Piggs Peake Eddie had the chance to sample some of the most outstanding wines during the trip with owner/winemaker Steve Langham. After sampling through several wines, Steve took Eddie out into the winery to continue with barrel sampling! One of the most exciting moments in Eddie's wine adventures.   Lunch break in the Hunter Valley.   Eddie relaxing at the B&B in the Hunter Valley.


Blue Mountains

     The last tour from Sydney before the long flight home was a day in the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney.

  A beautiful overlook in the Blue Mountains.   Sheena on the trail.   Another beautiful view of a valley.   The think "blue" forest of eucalyptus trees. The trail is just visible in the trees.   Eddie and Sheena on the trail.