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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : January 21st 2009
MB INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, January 22, 2009 35 TRAVEL Cook's tour ended here A crater in Volcanoes National Park on Big Island, Hawaii. Picture: DEBRA SOLOMON DEBRA SOLOMON THE red Mustang convertible made it obvious we were tourists to Hawaii's Big Island. Its soggy capital Hilo lies on the less touristy side where it rains 278 days of the year. We were there on days 279 to 281 driving roofless under sunny blue skies. Even the volcanic fog (vog) choking the news had wafted offshore. A 45-minute drive to Volcanoes National Park took us to the crater rim drive affording fantastic views of the sulphur- fuelled, white clouds belching from the island's intestines. Kilauea Visitor Centre has maps and historic information, including an account from the footloose Mark Twain who watched as the lava bubbled. Pesky bus groups and claustraphobics were hightailing out of the Thurston Lava Tube as we arrived. Complete darkness was overcome by the feeble light from our mobile phones. Across the road we walked half-an-hour to the centre of the 6.5km wide, 18m deep Kilauea Iki Crater. No surprises that its desolate, lunar-like expanse was used as a location in the remake of Planet of the Apes. The barren tarmac occasionally yields a puff of smoke from 70m below the surface; a few scrubby plants burst from the cracks. The long road down to the sea winds through an amazing ocean of black lava rock and ends abruptly where the lava flowed into the sea in 1983. Jagged lava rock now stretches into the deep ocean where its hardened mass extends the coastline. Even more impressive is the glowing red lava visible some nights of the year. North of Hilo, verdant sugar farms with pretty, white timber farmhouses run down to the spectacular ocean -- definitely Mustang convertible country. With the sugar industry all but dead many of these farms are up for sale. Along this scenic Hamakua coastal road the scenery changes rapidly. Think the top of the Harbour Bridge, and that's how far the Akaka Falls drop to the river below. Reached quickly on a 10-minute rainforest loop, the only challenge here was recognising which of the three red Mustang convertibles in the car park was ours. We passed by snow-capped Mauna Kea at almost 4300m, which is home to one of the highest lakes in the world. The view of the stunning Waipo Valley on the steep 1600m walk down, gives the Cote d'Azur a run for its money. Sheer cliffs plunge down to the brilliant blue ocean and white sands below, while a lush ravine supporting 200 taro farmers ribbons back from the treacherous coast. Undulating farmlands appeared as we headed west across the island into bustling, modern and well-serviced Waimea. Famous for the Parker Ranch -- the United States' longest privately-owned ranch -- it holds 35,000 cattle and has 850 miles of fence line. Them's a lotta post holes. We'd just missed a demonstration by the paniolos -- Hawaii's famous horsemen. South of Waimea the scene turns to jagged, black lava desert. It's here that tourists find the sun, man-made beaches, manicured golf courses, luxury shopping malls and five-star resorts, belying the devastating 1992 hurricane and inhospitable terrain. Arriving at the recently-refurbished Hilton Waikaloa Village was like finding an oasis. Its three towers are connected by man- made canals, making boating a fun way of travelling between room and lobby. A mini-train also links the 600 rooms, myriad pools, lagoon, conference centre and 12 restaurants. A highlight of the extensive complex is the signature restaurant, the Kamuela Provision Company where the delicious seafood is served with a serious dollop of staggering sunset. We were won over by the sea turtles swimming in on the tides in and out of the man-made lagoon; they nonchalantly let us swim within reach. A 45-minute drive south brought us to bayside Kona, famous for its coffee and the island's nightlife. I'm as patriotic as the next Aussie, but I had no idea until this trip that Captain Cook was killed right here on Big Island. The actual spot is Honokaa -- a great snorkelling place reached by a half- hour kayak from Kealakekua Bay. Kayaks can't be hired from the bay but must be brought down on roofracks. However, a few kind locals will lend you their kayak for a $30 donation. We resisted invitations from the young and the reckless to jump off the 15m cliffs, having heard that as with Cook, not all landings are happy ones. In any case, it was time for us to take off back to the mainland. The writer was a guest of Hilton Waikaloa Village. Hawaiian Airlines has many regular daily flights from Oahu. A dult services WANT LONGER LASTING SEX? Talk to the doctor at AMI about Nasal Delivery Technology Men Call 1800 429 473 1800 061 031 Women Call EUROPEAN Brunette 30 yo. Priv. 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January 14th 2009
January 28th 2009