Tuesday, February 07, 2012

New South Wales: Albury

After an incredible few days in Australia and a very "magical" start to the day in princetown where we saw a field with a herd of kangaroos when we woke up we got on the road and continued our journey. This day was the 1st of a grueling journey to get to Sydney, we had 6hrs of driving ahead of us but we were in high spirits and were just happy to be in Australia. One of the great things about driving in Australia is the fact that there are tons of rest stops everywhere......at least in this part of Oz anyway. It was fairly easy to breakup the drive so we wouldn't go crazy. This makes for a longer day but at least you don't hate each other by the time you reach your destination. The bad thing about driving in Australia is that there is something to see, everywhere you look theres something cool to take a look at. So being the driver can mean a lot of multitasking, which is unbelievably exhausting and finally the one thing that i will never understand about driving in Australia is the speed limits. Australian authorities make a BIG deal about speeding and every 20 kilometers or so you see signs telling you "SLOW DOWN STUPID!!" "SPEEDING KILLS!!" or something along those lines. With all these signs i really could not understand how sometimes the speed limit would be 100 kph ( 62MPH) in unbelievably winding roads in the rain. May not seem that fast for many of you but i wasn't about to make our trip shorter by driving like an idiot. The day was largely uneventful, we drove, stopped, drove some more, stopped and stretched, drove, ate lunch..........you get the idea. My wife and i really did enjoy these drives as it gave us a lot of time to catch up and talk at a level and ease that is difficult sometimes living a busy life with full time jobs. After a full day of driving and lots of open country traversed we finally reached our destination......Albury. This really wasn't anything to write home about, Albury is just a tiny city along the highway but it served well as a place to stay for the night. I was about to discover that every place has its own charm, first though we had to find the stupid campground. One of the incredibly frustrating things about driving in Australia was their road signs or lack thereof, especially when it came to street names. Trying to figure out what the name of the street that you are on or thinking of turning onto is just about impossible and a true lesson in patience of which we quickly ran out of often. Google maps would say one thing, but google and reality would seldom meet so many u turns would be made on our journey. Seriously and i cannot stress this enough but the placement of street signs was just downright idiotic and completely arbitrary! Signs would be on the sides of buildings or maybe on a street light, or hidden behind a tree, NONE OF IT MADE SENSE!! To top it off you would finally find the right street and a little ways down the road it would turn into a completely different street and then into another, many times without any warning! Despite all this we found our way and after someone seeing that we were clearly lost they gave us directions and we found our campground for the night. After parking the van, we realized just how exhausted we were so we decided to just stay where we were and make dinner.......thats when i heard it. Parrots! EVERYWHERE!! At 1st i couldn't figure out where they were and then i saw a big flock of these beautiful red parrots flying around and then more would appear. It was incredible all these beautiful colorful birds..........AT A FLIPPING CAMPGROUND!! There were red parrots on the ground feeding, cockatoos flying in the air and other beautiful colorful parrots just coming out of the trees. The diversity of birds was absolutely amazing, I just could not believe it. well of course all that exhaustion that i was feeling before was now gone, so i went to the van grabbed my camera and my longest lens, sadly it would not be enough. There is a painful truth in photography, your longest lens is never long enough, nothing makes this painfully clear like photographing birds. Birds are small, skittish and incredibly paranoid, they are always on alert., all these factors make them extremely difficult to get close to and photograph. Having a really long lens lets you keep a good distance while still filling your frame. Also, photographing birds in flight is a skill all its own and one that i do not posses, so my hat goes off to all those photographers who can do it well. Despite all these factors i tried to make the best of it, i had beautiful light to work with and very lively subjects to photograph. I didn't get as many photos as i would like but i had a blast crawling on the road on my stomach just to try and get close. Plus we were able to experience some of Australias unbelievable beauty in a very very unexpected place. The sun went down and the light was gone, it was time to quit for the day. Jen had made some delicious Phad Thai for dinner, yes you read that right, there were many instances on our trip where she would go all out in less than ideal conditions, really reminded me just how lucky i am to have her. So we ate dinner and after preparing the van for the night we fell asleep watching finding nemo. Another great day in Oz, but we had to rest for the next day was another long day of driving on our journey to Sydney.

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