Wednesday, December 31, 2008


On our way home from Kangaroo Valley we stayed in Goulburn (middle of nowhere) for a night. And right there off the side of the road in the middle of nowhere is this random 5 story high Ram monument, the kids insisted that we take a picture. Seems kind of strange right? The interesting thing is that these massive animal monuments are actually fairly common and apparently pretty popular among the locals. They build these monuments in small towns, put a little gift shop in the base of them and somehow they become tourist attractions. We know of monuments to the kangaroo, wombat, wallaby, platypus, koala, shark and even a giant earth worm (Australia has an earth worm that can grow up to 15 feet long, I guess a 15 foot worm probably does deserve a monument).

Day 5 - Kangaroo Valley

We left Jervis Bay and headed inland through Kangaroo Valley. It was one of the prettiest drives we have done with towering cliffs, an amazing waterfall and lush rain forest. The views were spectacular and Jenny couldn't stop taking pictures from the front seat of the van as we rushed by...some turned out way too blurry (okay a lot turned out too blurry), but some were magnificent.

At the top of the mountain we stopped at Fitzroy Falls and took a short bush walk to a platform directly looking down over the sheer cliffs onto the waterfall. Jenny freaked a little bit about the height and the fact that there was a grate where you could look straight down. The kids had no problems though...Jared immediately started swinging on the bars with his feet going through the slats, it's amazing we didn't lose a shoe and Isabella had her very own Marilyn Monroe moment.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 4 & 5 - New South Wales - South Coast

We left Sydney and headed south to Kiama. We spent the day on the beach and enjoyed playing in the sand, boogie boarding and laying in the sun. It was absolutely beautiful, but unfortunately we didn't take the time to take pictures! A memorable moment was changing in the van for our romp in the ocean. We went up to Wollongong to spend the night and had some fantastic Thai food. The dinner was the only good thing about Wollongong, besides the name.

The next day we headed further down the coast to Jervis Bay. Nothing quite prepared us for the beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise water, and amazing views at Murrays Beach. We enjoyed digging holes and making faces in the sand, John went snorkeling and we all enjoyed being there...after three very busy days in Sydney, it was nice to just relax.

We stopped at Hyams Beach on our way out of town and John and I ran down to see the beach that is reported to have the whitest sand in the world. John took a picture to show how white it was. It was so soft and fine.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sydney - Day 3 - Evening Entertainment?

We went to dinner at a great Lebanese place, walked back through Darling Harbour and enjoyed some gelato to celebrate John's birthday. On our way back to the hotel, the kids enjoyed playing in the water getting quite wet in the process.

And then we got sucked into watching a street performer (y'all know it happens to you too!) As we pondered whether to stay and watch the entire performance, the guy called out to the "very American looking fellow" and asked him to join the act.
Here is John being a willing (?) participant. For those of you who have heard the mime story...enough said! Colin even got into the act throwing an unlit fire baton up to the performer, who would eventually stand on his bike, 20 feet in the air and juggle a chain saw, apple, knife and fire baton. Colin grabbed the wrong side and had very black hands for the rest of the show, but he made the toss on the first try. One of the funniest things of the night (aside from John being forced to hug an Asian man who claimed to be from Chicago and laying on the ground just because the performer told him to) was the woman that was supposed to throw the apple up to the performer disappeared halfway through the act and took the apple with her. Fortunately, there was another woman in the crowd that had an apple she was willing to share. We have Colin to thank for this unintentional humourous moment...we found out after that he had been waving his hand and pointing at John when the performer asked for volunteers.

Sydney - Day 3 - Manly Beach & Downtown Sydney

We celebrated John's birthday by going to Manly Beach and putting our boogie boards to work. Manly Beach is the second most popular beach in Sydney behind world famous Bondi Beach. The girls and Jared played in the sand while John and Colin went out into the ocean (which was still too cold for some of us lesser mortals). We got in a few hours of sunshine, one of us got a sleep, some of us built a huge pile of sand and then we left when it started to rain.

In the afternoon we wanted to go to the Sydney Aquarium but the line was at least 90 minutes long just to enter, so we went on a walk through downtown to John's office in Sydney. The views of the Habour were amazing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sydney - Day 2 - Ferry Ride & Sydney Opera House

We stayed in Darling Harbour and loved how easy it was to explore Sydney. We took the ferry early in the morning and rode to Circular Quay (pronounced key). Along the way we were awed by the many amazing sights that seeing Sydney from the water afforded. Here are just a few of the shots we got from the first leg of our day.

Ships at the National Maritime Museum and Luna Park

Anzac Bridge, a pirate ship in the Harbour, view of Sydney's Central Business District

After arriving at the Quay we walked to the Opera House. It truly is a magnificent building and the ambiance continues inside as well...even in the toilets (which is how Australian refer to restrooms or bathrooms)! Most of these pictures were taken while we were on the ferry arriving in Circular Quay.

Unintentional Humour

While the kids were playing at the Darling Harbour Tumbalong Park, we engaged in some people watching and found a family that provided some serious unintended comedy. Keep in mind that it was only about 105 degrees outside with 95% relative humidity. As this family was preparing to leave, the women loaded one of their children into a "bubble boy" backpack. And in a nod to equal rights, the gentleman wrapped a cloth around himself and loaded their 4-year-old into his MANsupial pouch. We thought that a call into child protective services might be in order, but got caught up in discussion of whether the family was more likely from Queensland or Tasmania. See in Australia all of the "news of the weird" seems to come from one of these two states. John actually thinks that they should start a game show called "Queenslander or Taswegian". Contestants would score points by correctly identifying in which of these states a strange news event occurred. The US equivalent, although not quite analogous, would be "Mississippian or Northern Idahoan".

Sydney - Day 2 - Taronga Zoo & Darling Harbour

We hopped back on a ferry and rode across the harbour to Taronga Zoo. We rode on the Sky Safari to the top of the Zoo and as we walked down to the bottom we were able to appreciate the views of Sydney over and over again. It was a hot day, but we loved seeing the amazing views and the animals.

After we rode the ferry back to Darling Harbour we had a bit of a break at the hotel and then walked to Tumbalong Park, a fantastic play area that included all things that children love: sand, water, and climbing apparatus. The kids had a great time and we didn't even mind the huge amount of sand that came home with them.

After the park, we decided to take one more ferry ride to Circular Quay. Upon arriving we realized that the return ferry would not leave for an hour, so we took a walk over to the Royal Botanic Gardens. However, when we returned we were told that the ferry had reached capacity and that we would have to wait until the next ferry (another hour away) to go this time it was 8:15 pm and we knew that the kids wouldn't wait that long, so we headed to the train. The kids loved the train. It was a great day. We saw many amazing things and had an incredible time exploring Sydney. It really is a lovely city and now we actually feel that we live in Australia.