Issue Number 13, 8 June 2000
Editors: Eric Lindsay and Jean Weber
In this issue...
Lake Eyre has water in it -- see it while you can
Australia's Bicentennial National Trail
Vodaphone Globalstar satellite phone service
New train from Sydney airport to city
Broome after the cyclone
Townsville, North Queensland
Lake Eyre has water in it -- see it while you can
Lake Eyre is a large (normally dry) salt lake located in northeastern South Australia. Although several river systems feed into the lake, they rarely get enough running water to fill the lake. This year's heavy rains have done the job, and the area has been teeming with plants and animals, including birds that have come from all over the country to feast on the fish and other creatures in the lake.
Tour companies rapidly organised tours by air or 4WD vehicle to see the lake before it dries out again. Here's one of those companies:
If anyone reading this knows of others, I'm happy to mention them.
This information is taken from http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bnt/welcome.htm
The Bicentennial National Trail is a 5330 km route through Australian bush, wilderness and mountain areas. It is suitable for horse riders, walkers and mountain bike riders.
The Trail is the longest marked trekking route of its kind in the world, stretching from Cooktown in tropical North Queensland to Healesville in Victoria. It links eighteen of the country's National Parks, and reveals some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia. It traverses tropical rainforests, rugged mountains, valleys and gorges, remote dry plains, alpine meadows, snowfields and wilderness and gives access to some of the wildest, most remote country in the world.
The Trail follows historic coach and stock routes, old pack horse trails, and country roads. Wherever possible along its length, the Trail has been designed to be a "living history" of our country, following the routes of our early pioneers and highlighting historic sites and artifacts along the way.
The development of the Bicentennial National Trail is co-ordinated by the BNT, a non-profit community organization. Without direct government funding, the BNT's only source of income for developing the Trail is through membership subscriptions, donations and publication sales.
The Vodaphone Globalstar satellite phone service was launched this year. With a suitable handset, you can access Vodaphone's normal GSM (digital) mobile phone network when you're in range, or be switched automatically to satellite mode when you're outside the GSM coverage area. This is a significant boon to people who live or travel outside GSM areas. The satellite service now covers 100% of Australia and up to 200 nautical miles out to sea.
(Considering that normal mobile phone coverage includes a fairly small fraction of Australia, that's a lot of country. Mobile phone companies like to say that their service reaches some quite large percentage of the people in Australia, and that's true because most people live in a small number of places. But geographic coverage is very limited.)
Of course, satellite convenience doesn't come cheap. Handsets, monthly call plans, and per-second charges are large compared to normal mobile phone service. Data services (at 9600) are available only in GSM mode, with satellite mode data services expected to be available later this year. For more information, visit http://www.globalstar.com.au/index2.htm
The light rail service from Sydney Airport to the city opened 21 May, well in time for the Olympic crowds. It costs $9 a person and will get you to Central Station from where you can catch other trains, walk or take a taxi, depending on where you're going.
For comparison, the Airport Express bus (which also goes to Central Station as well as other city destinations) is around $7 a person (less if you buy a return ticket) and a taxi would cost around $15-$20 (for up to 3 or 4 people) depending on the time of day.
Other shuttle bus services are available to popular parts of the Sydney area, such as Bondi, Kings Cross, Glebe, and some of the northern suburbs.
Bill at Kimberley Directions http://www.kimberleydirect.com.au reports about the situation in Broome, which was hit by a cyclone a month or so ago: "Echo Beach Resort south of Broome took the worst of the cyclone and I have heard that it may be out of action for a couple of months but best to check with the Broome Tourist Bureau for latest info... My understanding is that all other areas around Broome are back to normal and eagerly awaiting visitors. Most of the damage around Broome was to trees and so the town may look a bit bare compared with its previous tropical appearance."
Someone else reported: "At Cable Beach, the top few centimetres of sand were shifted out to sea and the stairs and dunes were damaged. The sand has now shifted back and the beach itself is as good as ever!"
Lately we've been making numerous trips to Townsville, a city about 3 to 4 hours drive north of Airlie Beach. It's the first place I lived when I moved to Australia in 1974; I was there for 2-1/2 years. It's grown a bit since then! One of these days I'll find time to write about some of my favourite places in Townsville and post an article and some photos, but in the meantime, you can read a bit about the place here:
and here: http://www.townsvilleonline.com.au/, which has, amongst other features, a searchable database of events.
Public bus transportation information is available here: http://www.sunbus.com.au/ - click on the Townsville link. The site has both timetables and route maps.
We haven't visited the Townsville Museum yet, but here is some information from this web page:
The Townsville Museum depicts the history of Australia's largest tropical city. The collection includes ethnic and cultural displays. You'll discover how Townsville was founded and learn of the lifestyles and interests of some of the city's first residents. The static displays are constantly updated to reflect the colourful history of Townsville. The Museum is located in the historic Magistrate's Courthouse. Built in 1877, it is one of the oldest public buildings in Townsville.
Location: 81-99 Sturt Street, Townsville, Qld, 4810
Opening Times: Monday to Friday 1000 - 1500 hours
Sunday 1000 - 1300 hours
Admission ... Adults:A$2.00, Children:A$0.50
Other interesting things in the same area include the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Aquarium (their web site has only a splash screen right now) http://www.reefhq.org.au/ and an IMAX theatre in the same building as the Aquarium.
© Copyright 2000 Eric Lindsay and Jean Weber. All rights reserved.
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