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Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber. Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet. Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little. I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dispatches from the Road: SYDNEY

“Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the 'Grass is Greener on the other side of the fence' syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence.”
― Douglas Adams

I seem to be the most productive writing on flights, or had you not noticed?

It's early Sunday morning. The 6th of April.

I am on the relatively uncrowded and pleasant Virgin Australia flight 1413 on my way from Sydney to Cairns, the northernmost true "city" on Australia's east coast. It's the second leg of e three week journey started last Monday evening with an equally enjoyable flight from LAX to Sydney. (Actually, the LAX-SYDNEY may qualify as the single most relaxing and enjoyable flight in my rather lengthy travel life. But more about that in a future column.

This trip, planned for more than a year as yet another aspect of my wife and my continuing No Opportunity Wasted lifestyle, is designed to give us our first taste of both Australia and, significantly, our first venture into the Southern Hemisphere. While we are both considered well-traveled, it has all been north of the Equator. And, as ventures go, we recognize this is a light toe into the water versus a complete plunge into the unknown.

But that doesn't prevent it from being a NOW event for us. Tomorrow morning we head out on a boat to spend the day snorkeling around three spots on The Great Barrier Reef. This has been something on our list for years, and nicely fits into the same glove as some of our previous ventures snorkling along Hawaii's Na Pali coast; whale watching in Hawaii, Alaska and among the San Juan Islands; a few days around polar bears in Canada; and swimming with dolphins in Mexico (more about this last category momentarily).

Since the vast majority of our travels find us, at one point or another, away from the Madding Crowd and usually off-road, the first visit down under also includes some day trips in rainforests (Queensland and New South Wales) and variations on small group tours for wine-tasting, sightseeing and other local and cultural events. We try to get a taste, unhurried and as untouristy as possible, of the area. In the case of Queensland we want to spend some time learning about the aboriginals and their culture, as well as getting out into areas not necessarily touched on or seen by the majority of tourists who happen to blow through.

Over the next few weeks I will be recounting some of our adventures along the way, from dinner out on a beautiful Saturday night in Sydney to days trip into the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley wine region, to adventures which are -- at this point in my voyage -- still to come over the next couple weeks. But when you, gentle reader, are seeing this I will be back at home and perusing the several thousand shots made during the trip.

From the vibrant city chaos of Sydney to the gentle lapping of waves in Paihia, New Zealand, I'll be sharing it all: my thoughts, some memories and recommendations, and a passel of pictures to bring it a little closer to home.

Stay tuned, and thanks for joining us.

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