Australia 2002!

Not Australia...not even an island...YET!  This was spotted from the plane at 40,000 feet at a ground speed of over 400 mph.  A beautiful reef that will be an island one day.
The "3 Sisters" in the beautiful Blue Hills of eastern Australia outside of Sydney.  These "sisters" were alleged to have been turned to stone to protect them from a villain...the sad part of the story is that when the danger was gone, so was the magic stick that was used to cast the spell, and until it is found, the sisters remain as stone.   The "Blue" in Blue Mountains comes from the haze that rises up from the eucalyptus trees that fill the valley.  It smells like a cough drop and the oils emitted by the trees cast a blue vista throughout the valley.  Oh, and these aren't mountains either...it is a flat table land with a billion years of erosion from rain water washing away minerals.  A grand canyon of sorts without a river doing the work. 
Blue Mountain cliff faces...steep, rocky and beautiful. Eastern Grey Kangaroos in a Blue Mountains Park.   They were calmly feeding along this waterway among the ghost gums and other amazing Aussie trees.
All ABOARD!

This mama kanga had quite a load when this joey decided it was time to take it easy and go for a ride in the comfort of his mom's pouch.

Bearded Dragon!

Lizards were EVERYWHERE it seemed.  I took every advantage of chances to get my hands on Aussie reptiles.  

The state flower of New South Whales.  This magnificent and HUGE blossom was found along the roadside near the garden homestead of a gracious couple that gave us a tour. The collection and bower of the Satin Bower Bird.  The bird was elusive and we only saw him from a distance.
Iconic Sydney Harbor 

Yep, it looks just like the postcards!

As close to going to the opera as I have ever been.  
The infamous Sydney Harbor Bridge, or as Aussies call it, the Coat Hanger...Climbed to the top on the outside of the span that night.  Oh yeah, the view was amazing.  I highly recommend the "Bridge Climb" experience.  If you look closely there is a group of climbers you can see in this picture on their way to the top.  Get reservations in advance and DO IT! Fireworks in Darling Harbor on my second night there.  I am sure they weren't for ME, but you know, I would still like to think that was the case!
Uluru

Previously known as Ayer's Rock...the huge monolith in the Red Center of the continent.

As the sun rises on Uluru the colors change giving it the sense of having magical powers...
These color changes are called the "Moods of Uluru" and they are truly spectacular!  Don't miss a pre-dawn trip out in the dessert to watch one of the most awesome sun rises of your life.
   
Creepy Crawlies abound.  This spider was found in the pitch dark during a night hike in the COLD Red Center outside of our lodgings. Spinifex Grass is spiny and animals won't eat it.  When the clumps overgrow and get too close together they present a terrible fire hazard in the dry heat.  Fires are common and can be devastating.
Camels , although not native to Australia, thrive there.  The dessert habitat is perfectly suited for them.  These feral beasts are captured, used as beasts of burden to carry tourists around on tours, and some are eaten as well.  I have to say...delicious! Sunsets in the Red Center are as beautiful as dun rises.  Can't beat 'em.
The Olgas...cousins to Uluru, these smaller rock formations are very nice to tour through...Have I seen them in an old episode of Star Trek?  Looks familiar and alien all at the same time.
One of my all time favorite photos.  This White's Tree Frog was staying at the same hotel we were.  Ok, he was outside on a misty rainy night at the Ritz Carlton Darwin...but I was THRILLED to meet him!
A nice shot of my new friend and I.  He didn't mention his name...I did ask though. A Darwin Harbor Sunset.
Feeding Saltwater Crocs in the top end was cool.  Swimming in these waters would most certainly end in missing something important... This big gal was awesome as she slid through the mud along the bank of the Alligator River
Merten's Water Monitor swimming in a Top End water hole.   The rocky escarpment of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory.  Natives call this area Kaka-don't.  I disagree.  It was an awesome wildlife experience even though there were a few flies...okay a few MILLION flies.  Welcome to Australia.
Aboriginal Artwork on the rock walls of the escarpment.    I know the one on the right is a turtle. The one on the left??  You decide.
Totally buff version of me with a lizard I caught along the sidewalk in Darwin. Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef...yep, it is this beatiful.
SCUBA diving the Great Barrier Reef about 75 feet below the surface.  All color disappears as you go deeper, but it is still breathtaking. Who needs Nemo??  
On the trail of something big?  A tractor?  No, a Green Sea Turtle. Green Sea Turtles were nesting every night we were on Heron Island.  It was one my greatest wildlife experiences to sit for several hours one night while this girl dug her nest and laid her eggs in the sand just as her ancestors have done for millennia.
Her eggs filled the nest hole as she was in a trans of sorts...then, when she was done laying her clutch of eggs, she covered them with sand and returned to the ocean. Black-tipped Reef Shark

They only get 4 or 5 feet long, but this was the first shark I have been in the water with...a bit nerve racking, but I wouldn't change a thing about the experience!  Well, maybe I would get a better picture of it!