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Australian Eclipse

The outback a red desert, my home town in Devonshire shares the same red rock formations as Ayers Rock. This vast land it’s size rivals the USA yet its population is just over 18 million only 2 million more than Cairo.From blistering desert with no rainfall to high humidity rain forest home of rare species of plants and trees.

One in particular the fig strangler tree, and as the name suggests it kills its host tree by growing around it. A tiny seed is disposed of from a birds droppings which lands on a leaf high in the treetops as it then starts to grow from the top downwards its branches wrapping around the host tree, eventually the roots reach the ground and start growing outwards, the host tree dies and after time the dead bark in-cased inside is virtually invisible.

I had wanted to visited Australia for many years but something else had always been more important, I made a decision to go and see the Eclipse in 2002. I was planning the journey to travel on my own but a chance meeting with an old school friend and her eagerness to see OZ seemed the perfect companion.

We would be away for one month, we had not booked any hotels in Australia at all just took our guides with us and planned on seeing where we landed and would take things from there.

Cairns was our first destination, this was a humid furnace the heat inside the rain forest was scorching, we stayed in youth hotel accommodation at Cape Tribulation named by Captain Cook as this is where his ship the Endeavour ran aground on the rocks and all his tribulation started!

We visited Kurunda and went on the famous Sky Rail, cable cars reaching new heights above the tree tops, not a ride for the faint hearted it is one of the highest cable car systems in the world.

Sydney was the next stop and Darling Harbour it was 20 November 2002 what a city, it’s mix of travellers from every corner of the globe, most of which backpackers made this a multi cultural city, the Opera House was awesome and best seen from the river.
A trip to Australia has to include Bondi Beach my friend had pre-booked a room at a hotel near to the beach.

We arrived at Bondi and she couldn’t remember the name of the hotel but knew it began with R.
As we turned a corner there it was the Ravesis so we went in rucksacks and all, shorts T shirts to be met by a lady behind the reception desk who looked horrified that we were actually guests, to cut a long story short she could not find us on the arrivals list but it was so nice we stayed there anyway just to make her day!

Bondi lived up to my expectations bronzed Aussie men wearing swimming attire the size of a belt it was going to be hard to pull myself away from those sights.

A journey on the famous Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Adelaide was magnificent, passing by stunning scenery and rock formations in the sea called the 12 Apostles, there are only 9 left now due to sea erosion but it was a wonderful sight.

It was now 1 December 2002 and we arrived at the airport for a short flight to Kangaroo Island, this quaint little plane was waiting outside “Emu Air” and for the first time in my life the passengers were weighed before you could fly, lucky for me I had been on a diet all my life but I would see several passengers who were initially at the front of the queue strangely were last in the line, maybe the fact that the person weighing everyone made eye gestures at the scales every time any one a little large got on or off had something to do with it.

We landed on K.I and set off in a large jeep to go exploring hopefully to see some sleeping Koalas high in the trees and hopefully some Kangaroos.

We were in luck a few Koalas were high in the trees just waking up, they sleep for 22 hours a day and the other two hours are used for feeding, they only eat eucalyptus leaves and need to consume huge quantities withing the two hours to keep their energy levels up.

We spent one night on K.I and then headed back to Melbourne to join our outback tour taking us to the eclipse site.

It was a long journey and we travelled for 7 hours into this remote landscape.
This was a barren land no shops no doctors no nothing, most inhabitants had to rely on the Flying Doctor if they needed medical attention due to its remoteness.

We camped outside in tents that only took minutes to put up.
After breakfast we set off again for another 4 hour drive to the site of the eclipse not far from Ceduna it was 4 December 2002.

As we arrived at our eclipse site just a handful of us we learned that there were 30,000 people in Ceduna watching it and the view would not be as good as our secret location.

It was organised by the a man who is infamous in Australia for arranging any type of outback tour you require, his name Dave Burge. He is a real Crocodile Dundee with stories and adventures to make your hair stand on end, but he knows his land better than anyone so we felt reassured at spending another night outside in the bush. He got out of his truck some folding tables and some boxes, within minutes he had a ragging barbecue going with every type of meat known to man, Champagne the works.

It was almost 5pm and the sunshine was turning to darkness, the birds and wildlife were silent nothing moved time stood still, as the sky got darker and darker until eventually just a shimmering ring was seen as the moon and sun eclipsed it was a wonderful sight.

Almost immediately the sky started to illuminate it was over. This was a magical experience and one I will never forget.