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Our last day in Australia was, as the others had been, hot. Every day we slathered on the sunblock before leaving the hotel. I also put on bug repellant, which unfortunately didn’t discourage the hungry bugs nearly as much as I’d hoped. Australia has some mighty tenacious bugs, damn their miserable, rotten exoskeletons.
Leo met with a group of his readers that morning while I did my share to stimulate the Australian economy at some of the local gift shops. Then we walked over to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which offer a really nice view of the harbor and Opera House as well as interesting flora. We really liked the various fig trees in the Gardens. Their roots and branches looked perfect for climbing and just lent the trees more personality. I especially liked the plumeria trees with their fragrant blossoms. The formal gardens of the Government House were rather disappointing in that there weren’t many things blooming, and of what was blooming, most things I was already familiar with. I was hoping to see something really tropical and exotic.
It was too hot to stay outside in the sun, so we walked to the CBD again and hung out in the food court where I once again had the wonderful yogurt with a fruit salad. It was a very busy place, filled with folks from all over, which made people-watching a lot of fun.
The next morning Leo drug me out of bed all too early for our flight to Queenstown, New Zealand. Good thing I wasn’t the one doing the piloting, or it would have been a really interesting flight. As expected, it was indeed a very scenic flight, especially as the mountains of southern New Zealand became more prominent in the landscape. We flew along a river valley, between two sets of mountains, to get to Queenstown. I can see how flying there during foggy weather would be more than a little unnerving – those mountains did seem awfully close to the plane at times.
The lucky folks of Queenstown are blessed with an incredibly gorgeous place to live, between the clear blue-green waters of Lake Wakatipu, the green foothills and the Remarkables (portrayed as the Misty Mountains in one of the LOTR movies). The air is so clean and clear, it just seems like a place as yet untouched by all the pollution that people inevitably bring. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, or ever hope to see.
Our first afternoon, we walked around the very warm town, finding to our surprise multiple Sequoia trees. We thought we’d left all those behind in California, but the Queenstown area has a fair number of those friendly giants. We noted the very abundant number of both ATMs, and liquor stores – apparently Betty owns several of them, whoever Betty is. Queenstown is quite the party town. During the day, the tourists fling themselves off mountain-tops via paragliders, bungy jump off the Skyline tower, parasail on the lake, risk getting skin cancer on the beach, or ski if it’s winter. At night, the survivors party at one of the many bars or restaurants, or visit one of the many liquor stores for their favorite libations.