Well the days have been flying by and I've traveled and seen an awful lot since the Great Barrier Reef. My attempt to see some of east central Queensland by driving west from Mackay was scenic but five + hours in I came apon a flooded roadway with no other alternative away around to my intended destination. This part of Queensland has massive coal and iron ore mines and the overburden that is removed to reach the ore, etc. is piled up for kilometers on end. Most of these resources are shipped to China which is the main reason the mining industry in AU is simply booming right now. Australia has two economies, the mining economy and the regular economy and the mining economy is causing disruption of the normal economy due to the inflationary effects of the very large incomes being paid in the mining industry. Housing in towns near coal mine operations is becoming overpriced for the folks who live in these areas. Some I've spoke to figure things will slow down somewhat in the near term but for the long term the mining industry is not too concerned about the future industry prospects.
After finally getting turned around and heading south on the M1 highway I reach the Gold Coast which is south of Brisbane. I spend a few days in Byron Bay, the eastern most point of Australia. It is an eclectic, funky town and incredibly commercialized but a hugely poplar tourist attraction for the natives. I spend my first day relaxing and getting my bearings and take a long walk. The second day I go to the lighthouse and hike down to the ocean through semi tropical flora where the views are super. I also go down to the beach and enjoy the warm water waves. My attempt to go on a rainforest mountain bike ride is scuttled when the trip guide decides he'd rather surf than ride (only kidding) and the only other day available is later in the week.
I'm relatively close to Sydney at this point and decide to leave late PM to get some miles in. I get as far as Grafton and spend the night.
I arive in the N. Sydney area Wednesday, March 27 late PM and decide to stay there before driving into the center of Sydney. The next morning I drive into the Sydney central business district (CBD)traveling on the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. I spend a few hours walking around the Botanic Gardens (could have spent many hours more with the size of them). Note the size of the fruit bats in the photos. Giant bats to say the least and I was told there is an effort to move the bat colony out of the gardens. Good luck with that! I visit the iconic Sydney Opera House and take in the beautiful views of the harbour and the bridge and surrounding areas. I walk to the top of the SE bridge pylon for an even better view. I'm amazed by both the Opera House and Bridge and the amount of human effort that went into both designing and building them. They are impressive stories for sure. The Opera House took nearly fifteen years to construct, the bridge nearly eight years(which turned eighty years old in March). The pipe organ in the opera house took around ten years to build and two years to tune it. More later....