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Friday, October 29, 2010

1 day in Canberra

1 day in Canberra.....  and we realize how close we are to more than beaches, Blue Mountains and Sydney.  David and some friends had a business trip in Canberra, so Cullen skipped school and we hitched a ride to Canberra for a nice evening and a packed day in the capitol of Australia.

Just a 3 hour drive (nothing for us Texas/Wyoming folks) from our place in Springwood to Canberra.  The highway was great.... nice construction and very safe.  The drive reminded us of the rolling hills in Texas hill country.  Pastures surrounded by manicured hedges mixed in with tall evergreen trees now and then with a few mountain passes along the way.  Kangaroo crossing signs are taken very seriously but luckily the only kargaroos we saw were grazing in the grass pastures.

While David and friends met with famous isotope scientists from the Australian National University, Cullen and I drove around town grabbing introductions the War Memorial (for sure want to go back there) the Australian Museum (for sure want to go back there) the Old Parliament Building (very cool ... want to go back there) and the Botanical Gardens (for sure... want to go back there!).  We are planning another trip there when all of the kids come... and again when our parents come.

It was a wonderful day.  We realized that next time we'll stop by the fruit stands and buy some mangos  and strawberries and also visit a few merano sheep farms and maybe enjoy hiking around the lake in
Canberra and head back via the coast and do some beach combing.  

Australia is becoming one of my favorite places in the world... one of those places that is hard to explain because it is so unique!    Every day is better and better but it's nothing like we've ever seen.  It's a stramge mixture of European civilization and Dr. Seuss creativity... I just love it!!!

Enjoy the pics and I'll try to catch up on the blogging....  so much to write!!

Cullen and our Kookaburra

The view from War Memorial, Canberra

Old Parliament Building, Carnberra

Entrance to the Australian Museum

Arrows made with coke bottles/European glass by Aboriginal people

Tired boy

I LOVE the Aboriginal art... created with fingertips

Coolest plants ever!   Botanical Gardens, Canberra

Lizards at Botanical Gardens... friendly and hanging out.

More to come!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Living and loving Australia!

Living...... in Australia.  How lucky are we!  But now what???

When we first arrived on August 26 we just landed with 2 suitcases each filled with our summer clothes and our favorite pillows.  It was been so exciting to explore our little town and the mountain, find the right school for Cullen, find a car and beds and fun cooking tools and ingredients we haven't had before etc. 

Now that we've been here for almost 2 months, we've adjusted to making a "life" here.  We still love to take pics, but not of each and every moment (Cullen is glad about that!).  We're used to the little possum on the roof at nights and the beautiful parrots and birds that come visit... we even know their routine.  Check out this recent photo of the cute possum in our backyard every night... it's amazing that this little guy can make such a thump on the roof at night!

Now that we have a routine in our lives, there is a new pace.  We don't  go to see the sights every day but we are LIVING and enjoying the rhythum of this sabbatical.  Now that we're living here and have made the transition from "tourists" to "residents" there are definate strengths.  We have been introduced to so many areas, neighborhoods, parks and hikes that we've realized that there is more than 7 months worth of exploring to be done just in our state of New South Wales.

And yeah... then money is also an issue.  Obviously things cost money... but the most amazing experiences don't cost a dime so we're looking for those fun things and our list is getting longer.  Sunday is for Sydney and the coastal beaches since it's just $2.50 for each of us to have unlimited train, ferry and bus transportation anywhere we want to go that day.   We're learning more and more about the local secrets to saving money in everyday living.
Cronulla.. south of Sydney

The Blue Moutains where we live, are reached via car/train along the Great Western Highway that goes up the moutain from Sydney through about 20 little towns that are so close together they are really stuck to each other.  We are one of the main towns on the highway and are in a great spot, so we don't really need to go to Sydney for fun because there is a ton to do here.  Our mountains are actually a tourist destination because the eucalyptus trees, rocks, waterfalls and hikes along with the birds, kangaroos and animals make this area awesome and the weather is cooler than down the mountain.

Here's a little map of our area:

Live is good... and new... and we are lucky for this opportunity.  We love hearing from our friends and family and others that are exploring Australia, so keep in touch!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sounds of Sydney

The Sounds of Sydney...  you never think about when seeing the beautiful pics of the harbor, ships and the famous Opera House, but listen to this.....

(sorry it's sideways... )

The Circular Quay is the heart of Sydney and this is where the ferries and trains merge.  When we take the train from Springwood and the Blue Mountains, we arrive at the Central Station and then hop on another train just a few stops away to the Quay (pronounced "key").  Artists, musicians and strollers all hang out here for a ton of entertainment.   Somehow the Didgeridoo is integrated into so much of these performances and of course we love that!

This weekend, there was so much to see in Sydney.  Cullen has been wanting to visit the Aquarium since we arrived, so we finally made time to do that.  Here's a few pics of that visit.  It's not so scary to think about the sharks and snakes here... the rumors are always worse than reality so when you're here and educated about the chances of death and injury, it's obvious that compared to Europe...this place is crazy... but compared to Wyoming (bears), Arizona (rattle snakes, scorpions), Texas (tons of insects) and the USA... it seems very calm here... at least where we live... so far!

Here's a couple of pics we took of some of the sharks and other cool wildlife... btw... there is not documented killing of a human by this type of  shark... so don't be scared!

Here's the most venemous fish in Australia... but it isn't lethal to a human.  It's a Rock Fish.  Just sits there looking like a rock!

Rock Fish.... looking like a rock.

Blue Starfish.... I want to snorkel with these beautiful fish!


After visiting the aquarium, we walked across the Darling Harbour bridge to the other side and heard the sounds of a live latin music festival.  We visited the free Maritime Museum and it was amazing.  An entire section was donated by the U.S.  

We enjoyed walking around and eventually decided to find some cheap food in China Town.  Just as we arrived at the edge of China Town, we passed a restaurant with a line of about 20 people outside the door waiting to get in.  Being very smart tourists... we knew we were onto something.  Of course, we previewed the menu to be sure this place was in our budget... because not many restaurants are!  YES, this was great! 

Once our spot in line was closer to the front window, we could see through the viewing area.   Expert cooks were hand tossing what looked like tortillas but flinging and twirling them like pizza dough  (roti).   COOL!  We quickly moved up the line and were shocked at how quickly we were sat and just a few minutes after we ordered, our food came out hot and fresh.   Here's the link to this great place... Mamak!

their website...

We slept all the way home on the train.  It was a good day!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Awesome Australian Garage Sales

Garage Sales are AWESOME here in Winmalee!  Not sure if that's the case all over Australia, but we learned so much from our new garage sale friends about living in Australia. 

At one of our first and favorite garage sales was so great.  The men were out grilling at 9am on the "barbie" and were making these amazing sausages on the grill and then we learned that the griddle part of the grill is necessary to make the best grilled onions ever!   The woman of the house brought out fresh buttered bread for the sausage sandwich and onions to be made.  BBQ sauce to put on top of course. 

While shopping around and waiting for the sausage to cook, someone at the garage sale asked us where we were from.  When we said USA / Wyoming then someone asked, "What's the capital of Idaho?"  Someone else chimed in, "It's Boise!"  We were so impressed at their knowledge of that and more of our country.  Many of them had visited the USA and one man really liked Elvis Presley music and collected music from the 50's/60's from USA.

We've found camping gear, cots and so much more cool Australian stuff for just dollars, while the new stuff would be hundreds for sure.  Just chatting with these folks and the entertainment factor is so great and worth getting up early on a Saturday morning.

At another favorite garage sale... David smoozed the cute women that were putting it on.  We had such a great time wheeling and dealing with this family! Thank goodness we brought our camera this time to capture the moment  (ha).  David got the best grill he's ever had and we found 2 beautiful wicker chairs and some awesome concrete pots for our herbs, douvet covers, down quilts...

If you see tons of cars lined up on a Saturday morning, follow the people because something is going on!  We found an annual sale with raffles galore, homemade food and books... all to benefit a home for aged folks..... The Buckland House.

After a nice morning of sausages, coffee and garage sales, it's nice to end the day with a nice hike!