Saturday, October 28, 2006

You want flies with that?

I finally found something I don't like about Australia! It's fly season in Sydney and are they annoying. They seem to enjoy flying into any available facial opening just for the fun of it. No nasty bite like the black flies in cottage country. Just persistent annoyance.

The End - Whew!

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip up the NSW and QLD coast. It's especially fun when you get to spend time with friends and family along the way. This was our third and final "big" trip in Australia. Each trip offered something different and special and showed us how diverse Australia is. Our final "big" trip will be to New Zealand over Christmas time and we've already begun planning! Can't wait.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Part 13 - "When am I going to see Molly?"

Finally, we don't need to hear "When am I going to see Molly?" coming out of Charlee's mouth. Molly Paton and her family (dad Rod, mom Tracie, Annabelle, and Matilda) were on a teaching exchange to Canada three years ago and Molly was in Charlee's grade 1/2 class at Holy Family in Oakville! Matilda was a grade nine student at Holy Trinity and even babysat for us one night. We knew they lived north of Sydney near the coast but we were having trouble contacting them as we had little accurate information. I googled each of the family members names until "Annabelle Paton" popped up with the Woolgoolga Netball Association. I sent a message to Tracey Schmidt (who works with the Netball Association) and pleaded with her to help me contact the Patons. She was very obliging and eventually contact was made and plans were set to reunite Charlee and Molly! Needless to say they were very happy to see one another.

Adam felt a bit left out until the Paytons invited a few boys over! Boys will be boys and they were soon getting into trouble like they'd known each other for years.

The Patons live in a beautiful part of NSW with a small lake across the street that feeds into the ocean. Rod took Dave for a sea surf to a rock island a short distance out from the beach (and Dave's back never forgave him!)

The next day the Patons organized barbie at a nearby national park next to the Newfoundland State Forest where we saw Brumbies (wild horses) grazing near the road.

Later that night we enjoyed a get-together with some friends of the Patons that involved some tasty Thai food and several games of ping pong.

We were having such a good time we decided to stay an extra night. The Paytons were wonderful hosts and a super family. Rod is now teaching high school after several years at the elementary level. Tracie works at a pre-school in Woolgoolga. Matilda (hiding behind Annabelle) is currently writing her final high school exams and is planning to take next year off to work before heading to uni. Annabelle, the netballer, seems much more mature than most year 8 students I've taught. Molly is the cutest thing - just the way we remember her from a few years back.

This will be a memorable visit for Charlee and Molly. Hopefully, we'll keep in better touch with the Patons and possible convince them to return to Canada for a visit!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Part 12 - Wet 'n Wild 'n Broke

We were able to keep the kids away from the amusement parks on the way past Surfer's Paradise the first time but we gave in on the way back down. The area is home to Dream World, Movie World, Sea World and Wet 'n Wild - all fun but not really why we're in Australia. Rather expensive considering we could do Canada's Wonderland and its spash park for about the same price. Nonetheless we all had a great time splashing around!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Part 11 - Brisbane Day 2

Day 2 in Brisbane allowed us to check out the city in more detail. The city, although not too far from the coast, thrives around the Brisbane River as both sides are lined with parks, office buildings, universities and shops. It appears to be a very active city with running and biking paths going in all directions. We couldn't keep the kids out of the water on the manmade Southbank beach so we hung out here until meeting up with Cousin Nancy who has just recently settled into her new digs and nursing job in Brisbane.

Adam was fascinated with the old navy ship in drydock. All the action takes place near the river.

Beautiful trees in full bloom and Kookaburra's laughing at Nancy in Brisbane's Royal Botanical Gardens.

Story Bridge in the background.

Adam tests the hardness of the bamboo trees and gets caught in the act of picking his nose!

We drove Nancy out into her neck of the woods, enjoyed a delicious Thai meal, checked out her new aparment and met her roomie before saying goodbye. Nancy's going to love it in Brisbane. It's a wonderful city that's full of life without the touristy feeling you sometimes get in Sydney. Hope to see you soon Nancy!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Part 10 - Brisbane

We made a pit stop at the Ettamogah Pub on our way down to Brisbane. This pub was actually based and built upon a successful cartoon that used to appear within an Aussie magazine which had its heyday back in the 70's. Click on the images to read the words on the side of the pub....

Brisbane is a beautiful city with heaps (Aussie word) of interesting things to see and do.

On our first night in Brisbane we went to visit Jo and John, friends of Marika (Heidi's friend from ORC where she teaches aerobics back home). Charlee and Adam had a great time with Jas and Gabby.

The Neo-Classiscal City Hall (completed 1930) is home to the largest city council in Australia.

Adam loved the Curtain Fig Tree in Brisbane's Botanic Gardens!

Part 9 - Fraser Day 2

Our second day on Fraser Island took us to Lake McKenzie - the biggest and most popular lake on the island. The road to McKenzie is quite bumpy but our CRV did well to get us there. Since it was overcast when we arrived, we decided to trek around the lake. At one point you can take a short cut but you have to tread through water (see below). On the bumpy return trip to the resort Adam lost consciousness - only a child can sleep like this!

We stopped in our hotel to refuel and found this friendly gecko hanging out in our room. One more hike, this time around Rainbow Gorge, and a drive along the beach before we called it a day.

Next morning we left early to catch the ferry at Hook Point at the south end of the island. We thought we were in the clear once we got on the ferry but probably the most treacherous driving was at the beach back on the main land. We had a huge sigh of relief once we hit asphalt. Fraser was a super experience - a very friendly place to visit. We only got bogged twice and within a couple of minutes people would come to the rescue without a second thought.