Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas!

Christmas was actually yesterday, but with all of the food we were eating, there was just no time to blog. Let me backtrack to Christmas Eve. This was spent in Byron Bay. It is a cute little hippie beach town about an hour south of the Gold Coast. Kate, you would absolutely love it here.

All around there were people in their bathing suits and Santa hats enjoying a swim at the beach. The weather was perfect and the water a bit cold, but very blue. After a swim and a bit of sunburn on some spots that we missed with sunscreen (I have a hand print on my back) we headed to the most Easterly point in Australia.

More to my Boxing Day BBQ


I have been in Brisbane or Bris-Vegas as it is sometimes called for about a week now. The first couple of days were spent recharging ourselves and all of the equipment we brought.

We also spent a day exploring the city and doing a bit of shopping. They have a whole street just dedicated to shopping! It is called Queen Street. After that, we took a ferry to the South Bank for a snack. It is right on the river, but there is also a pool and a beach there. It looks so funny being right next to the river.

After a snack at the Sardine Tin (actually really nice and on the water), we met up with Kylie after work to meet a couple of her friends. We had a chat and took the ferry back to Bulimba where we have been staying. There was an elementary school reunion/bbq going on in the backyard, but Kylie and I decided to forgo the fun and have some gourmet pizza up the street instead.

Another night, and I think this is out of order we went to New Farm Park. This is where the old power plant is, and it is also right on the river like many things in Brisbane. There was an awesome farmer's market going on while we were there. They had everything you could possibly think of and lots and lots of fresh mangoes. We met up with Damian and some friends of his to play some footie in the park. I sat and watched the sunset and about a million bats fly overhead. I have never seen anything like it.

For you foodies reading, Sam brought some Wagyu beef from his ranch in the outback for our dinner that night. Amazing!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Koalas and Kangaroos and Wombats Oh My!

I started the day with a brekkie at a place named after Mrs. Campos! They even had dog parking there, quite chic!

Today was what I have been waiting to do in Australia! We went to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Even though it was raining pretty hard all day, we still go to see all of the animals. The first stop was kangaroo feeding. They were such sweet and docile animals. They would come right up to you to investigate the situation. We got some food and then they flocked to us hopping all the way. We even saw a momma with a joey in her pouch. Its little feet were hanging out of the top. I could have stayed in there all day. They were so great. A couple of them got in a bit of a scuffle and I got a kangaroo scratch on my arm. They have really long claws! Their tails act as an extra leg and is super strong.

Next was the koala cuddle. Her name was Vinny and she was adorable. I had to stand very still like a tree to keep her calm. I wish I could take one home with me. Did you know that they sleep for 22 hours a day?

There were lots of different aged koalas all around the park and we saw a dingo, a wombat, and even a tasmanian devil. It actually looks like a giant rat with big teeth. yikes!

Once we were soaked to the bone, it was time to go home for a snack and a nap.

Tonight Kylie is cooking a traditional Australian meal of beef pies and mashed potatoes. Yummy! We are all going to have a quiet night in so we can get ready to explore the city of Brisbane tomorrow. 

A Nice Christmas Lunch

Today we got to do some traditional family things with Kylie's family on the Gold Coast. We had a traditional lunch with all the trimmings including bonbons that contained lovely crowns and toys to play with. We all had to wear the hats during the meal!

Later on, we got to see Brisbane at night and went to the apartment of some friends. It was quite stunning with views of fireworks and all the bridges leading into the city.

Pet Porpoise Pool

Off to Coffs Harbor! Instead of the beach, I found a lovely aquatic park in the guidebook. It touted kisses from various forms of sealife. Who wouldn't want to partake in such an event?

This Pet Porpoise Pool was fantastic. We started our visit with kisses from a seal and a dolphin what fun! Then on to the show where we saw some lovely tricks and an environmental lesson from a seal. Plastic is doing horrible things to the ocean. After the show, we were able to meet the performers and trainers and pet the dolphins and feed some penguins. Sea World would never let you do that!

Now it was onward straight to Brisbane to meet Kylie and Damien. We did lots of driving and arrived just as it was getting dark. The next leg of the trip has begun!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On the road again.

Hello again,

I'm trying to get caught up after those couple of days away. So when I left off I had just had a restless sleep at the 'Apollo.' So we didn't waste much time there, and before we knew it, I had taken a couple of pictures of some interesting things like the dual flush toilet and the price list of items in the room in case I was interested in taking the table lamp or remote control for the TV with me for a rediculous price of $80aus. After a good laugh we were back on the road headed for our destination of Port Macquarie.

Along the way, we saw some lovely sights and stopped frequently to take pictures. One of the places we stopped was called Seal Rocks. While we didn't see any seals on any of the rocks, the beach was beautiful.

We still hadn't eaten anything that day, and we were starving so we tried our next destination, Boomerang Bay. Another lovely location, but we soon found out from some locals that our idyllic lunch at the beach was not going to happen. Not only were there no places to eat on the beach, all the restaurants close between lunch and dinner time and we were at that unfortunate point in time. No food for us. On to a gas station to refuel and grab some snacks. Eventually we found another little town and got some fish and chips, but it was quite frustrating. We were on Australia time now.

Instead of having a repeat of the night before, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to find a hotel for the night. That decision to head straight for Port Macquarie led us to a slight detour to find a closed koala park and a sighting of some kangaroos in the wild. I was thrilled.

Shortly after, we arrived at the port and found a really nice hotel right on the water. Journey took a little nap and I got ready for my first real meal of the day. I looked through the hotel dining books and found the place that I wanted to go to. My hopes for a good meal, however, were soon dashed when we realized that in addition to closing between lunch and dinner, they stop serving dinner around 8. It was 8:30 when we found the restaurant. We ended up at the Hog's Breath :o( What a let down.

It's been awhile...

Hi Everyone,

I need to preface this post with the fact that I am unable to locate my camera cord at the moment. Therefore, I am unable to post the fabulous pictures of the events that I will be writing about.  I will try to post them tomorrow morning. So sorry.

On another note, I am very excited to learn that so many of you non students are following this blog including my Australian friend Richard who I ran into last night. If you have been following, but haven't commented yet, please feel free. Yes mom that means you!

So, the past couple days have been hectic and fun filled. We started out our morning taking a relaxing ferry ride to a nice little spot for brekkie. The name is escaping me right now but I had a lovely iced coffee and BLAT sandwich which consisted of bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato. Ha you can tell where my priorities have been. Food! More on that later.

Soon after, we began the rental car adventure without a GPS. The first mission was to navigate back to the Avis rental place and get the all important GPS. Normally, it is not a big deal to drive a short distance, but when you are in a major city and have to drive on the left hand side of the road, it can be a bit tricky. It proved to be downright difficult. Luckily I was the trusty navigator and only got us lost a couple of times. I was, however, able to read the map eventually and get to Avis.

On to the Blue Mountains to see the Three Sisters. Now, I'm not one for landscapes, but this one was quite amazing.  Journey really enjoyed the view and the hike to
follow. He was prepared for the heat of the day with his hat, the rest of us were not so lucky. After the 10 minute hike that lasted an hour, we ended up at a tram station to take us over the gully and past the waterfall. This tram had a glass floor and glided nicely into the station; not too bad. The next leg, however, was terrifying. We came upon the steepest railway in the world, and after talking to the guy who worked there, he informed us that we had to go and that he would just let us in free of charge. This was a fabulous savings, so we had to jump at the chance.  We sat in this train like vehicle with seats that were inclined back. As the train started moving, we entered a tunnel and emerged to be pitched at a 53 degree incline. See if you can figure out what that looks like. Journey loved it, but I was not very happy. The even bigger problem was that once I was at the bottom, I had to take it back up again. Luckily, it moved very slow and felt like an elevator on the way up. It was one of those experiences that you just have to do like taking a zip line through the Costa Rican rainforest. Well, we were not about to take another hike, so a bus miraculously appeared and only charged us $3 to go back to the other side where the car was parked. Worth every penny. Journey even made a new friend.

What do you think his name should be????

Now it was time for the car and the beginning of the trip up the coast to Brisbane. It was also time for a few wrong turns and for the GPS lady with the Australian accent, who I appropriately named Matilda, to get quite frustrated when we didn't follow her directions correctly. "Recalculating" was a very popular phrase for a while.

We drove, and drove, and drove, and finally decided that it was time to find a nice hotel on the beach. It never occurred to us that hotels are not manned 24 hours a day and that we would have some trouble finding a place. We settled on the only place that we could find that was opened: the lovely Apollo Resort. Resort it was not, and when we opened the outside door to let some air in, there was a chorus of strange creatures that I'm sure would have loved to come in and visit. Sleep did not come easily.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Day at the Beach

Hello again,

Day 3:

This afternoon (well actually I am posting this on Wednesday morning) we went to Manly Beach. We had to take a ferry for about 30 minutes. Fortunately, while on the ride there was a major sailing competition going on in the harbor. The sailboats were darting past each other seemingly only inches away. The ferry even had to blow the horn once because they were getting so close.

When we got to Manly, it was still pretty cloudy, but we decided to walk down to the beach anyway. On the way there, we came upon a gallery that had all kinds of traditional Aboriginal art. We met a woman named Mel and she told us all about what the different styles of art meant. For example, the pictures that are designed with dots are actually arial maps to show different locations. The less profound the dots, the more secret the map is. Also, if there are pictures of animals with hatch marks in different spots, that tells you what part of the animal is safe to eat. It also shows the internal organs and the most humane way to kill the animal. This is all told through art....amazing. I bought a book about Aboriginal art, and I can't wait to share it with you when I get back.

Out at Manly Beach, Journey had some time to relax and enjoy the beach life. He had to be careful though because there were some nasty rip tides.

When we got on the ferry home, the sun finally came out, go figure. After a rest at the beautiful hotel, it was off to dinner at a place called Wolfies right on the harbor with an awesome view of the opera house. The food was great and they even served their surf and turf on a huge metal stick hanging from a stand. So far the food has been very similar to food that you can find in the states, although I have seen kangaroo on the menu twice. I haven't been brave enough. Perhaps in Brissy.

That reminds me, I am headed into the Blue Mountains today and then up the coast to Brisbane to visit lots of friends. I will also be going to be celebrating Boxing Day with my friend Amy's family. What can you find out about Boxing Day so I can be prepared when I go?

I'm not sure how the internet is going to be for the next couple of days, but I will post again as soon as possible. Keep your comments coming, I love hearing from you all!

Ms. D

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Found Nemo

Hello All,

Day 2 and part of 3:

I began yesterday with a fabulous breakfast at Pancakes on the Rocks which was recommended by an Australian friend. After heaping piles of pancake goodness, we headed over to the ferry port to begin our next adventure. I felt that it was time to see some of the wildlife that this country is famous for, so I took a ferry to Darling Harbor where the Australia Aquarium is. The weather was a bit rainy and cold, but inside aquatic species abounded. We saw famous animals such as a platypus, crocodile, and tons of fish from all different types of water. There was also an amazing shark tank that surrounded you on all sides with sharks, rays, and sea turtles.
After the sharks, I found Nemo and friends swimming happily in their tanks. I also found out that Clown Fish and the anemonies that they live in are endangered because so many people are keeping them as pets and removing them from their natural habitats on the reef.

And for you Ms. B, I even found a hulafish!

After that we went to Wildlife World where we got to see some of the famous furries including koalas, a wombat, and lots of roos. I didn't get to feed or hold any of them yet, but I am hoping to when I get to Brisbane.

That evening, I had a relaxing time sitting outside the Sydney Opera House. They have a restaurant and seats along the wall where you can just sit and watch the boats and see the lights of the city. I truly felt like I was on vacation. 

Day 3:
I got up really early and walked across the Harbor Bridge. Did you know that people can climb all the way up to the top? I just walked across, but it was still a fantastic view of the city.

After changing hotels, and sorting out some things for the next couple of days, I am off to Manly Beach. Let's hope the weather stays nice.

Keep the questions coming, and if you have any recommendations of things that I absolutely must do, please let me know! Heading to the Blue Mountains tomorrow, what do you think I'll find there?

Ms. D

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm Finally Here!

Wow what an adventure I have had already. I got to the Orlando airport just in time to find out that we were delayed for over a half hour. This caused some trouble when we got to Los Angeles. We had to practically run down a VERY long hallway. We got to the gate just in time for our 14 and a half hour flight. This was after my 4 and a half hour flight I had already taken!

Journey and I settled in for some pasta dinner, a long nap, and a super long flight. I wonder how many miles it is from Orlando to Los Angeles and then from Los Angeles to Sydney? If you look at the TV screen that was in front of my seat, you can see how far I had traveled when I had 3 hours and 40 minutes left of my flight.

I know that Mrs. Khan's class has been trying to figure out why my plane had to cross the Pacific Ocean instead of the Atlantic. Any thoughts?

Australia: Day 1
After I got Journey through customs at the airport, we took a train into Sydney to an area called The Rocks. Can you find out what the Rocks was used for when Australia first became a country?

After our train ride, we walked around trying to find our hotel. On our way trudging our luggage around the Sydney harbor, we saw a couple of amazing sights: the Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Journey and I also made friends with a couple of Aborigines playing some music on the street. The long instrument that you see is called a Diggeridoo. I bought a cd of the music he was playing so we can listen to it when I get back. What can you find out about Australian music?

Oh and Ms. B, your $5 came in handy. I was able to help a man complete his Australian money collection and get a free ice cream at the same time. They no longer print that money, so it was a great conversation piece. Thanks again!

I am looking forward to your comments, now I am off to start day 2 and see some more great new things!

Ms. D

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All my bags are packed...sort of

Journey is very excited and ready to go. He is wearing his new travel outfit, and has his passport! Ms. Dowd on the other hand, has a bit of work to do. I have to make sure that I have everything that I need in order to be gone for 3 whole weeks. Can you think of anything that I just can't leave home without?

Iceberg right ahead?

Has anyone heard about the iceberg off the coast of Australia? "A large iceberg was spotted off an island about halfway between Antarctica and Australia, a rare sight in waters so far north, Australian scientists said Thursday." (AP, Nov. 11, 2009)

Locate where this iceberg was spotted.

What do you think will happen to it as it continues to travel?
How could this cause problems?

Click on the link below to help you answer the questions.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Last Weekend

It's the last weekend before I begin my long journey to the land down under. There is still so much to prepare, and so many things to do. One of those things is packing my suitcase. I am going to three different areas of the country, so I wonder what I will have to pack. Help me find out what the average temperatures are for the month of December in the following cities: Sydney, Brisbane, and Townesville.

Based on the answers you find, what should I put into my suitcase? What should Journey be wearing?