Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today's Weather

Melbourne, Australia ~ 107.6 degrees
Dallas, Texas ~ 22 degrees, but it feels like 11 degrees
Salt Lake City, Utah ~ 22 degrees, but it feels like 9 degrees
Madison, Wisconsin ~ -1 degree

I don't know which is worse really, I mean there are only so many clothes we can take off, but all of you can put more clothes on. It is hot, hot, HOT!

Update: 29/1/09 weather topped 113 degrees.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Australia Day

We spent Australia Day (Independence Day) at the Australian Open watching tennis. We watched Serena Williams win her match when her opponent pulled out halfway through because of illness, we think that she lucked out because she was not playing well and her serve was off. Although it was fun to watch the game, it was equally entertaining watching Venus and Mama Williams in the stands. One of the highlights of the match was when Serena threw down her racket and said some not very nice words earning a warning. I always thought that nothing was funnier than hearing the players grunt when they played, I have since changed my mind...Serena's opponent actually made a bird like sound every time she hit the ball. That made the rallies that much more fun...grunting and cooing over and over again.

We were then able to see Rafael Nadal (ranked #1 in the world) beat Fernando Gonzalez (ranked #13) in a rematch of the 2008 Olympic gold medal match. The men were amazing to watch. So much more powerful and precise. It was a lot of fun to watch them play. In the picture of the two of us, you can see Nadal in the big screen behind us. There were a lot more challenges in this match which were fun and Gonzalez displayed frustration by hitting a tennis ball high in the air, hitting his chair during a break and finally earned a warning when he threw his racket to the ground.

And finally, here is John as chair umpire. He made a lot of tough calls, but drew no ire from the fans or the players, much to his dismay. We actually took this picture when we went to the Billy Joel concert last year. We were able to go down on the courts at that time and walk around. It was awesome.

Colin went to the opening round last Monday with some of our friends. He watched Andy Roddick beat his opponent, last year's winner Djonovik beat his opponent and the #1 woman's seed Jankovic beat her opponent (she has since lost). It was a day that he will always remember.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lake Mulwala

To celebrate John’s birthday we went water skiing as a family on January 24. We drove 3 hours to Lake Mulwala (border of Victoria and New South Wales) to spend the night and got up early Saturday morning to head out on the lake. Friday night we went into Yarrawonga (Pop. 512) for dinner and decided to try pizza down under. It was terrible, absolutely horrible. But at least the weather was great, wind was non existent, the air was warm and we thought we would have perfect skiing conditions the next morning. However, upon waking up we discovered that during the night we had experienced one of Australia's infamous dramatic weather changes. The wind had picked up and the air temperature had dropped significantly. When we arrived at the Lake our skiing options were limited to a small area along the shore or up along the Murray River (a 40 minute boat ride away).

As you can tell from the pictures, when they decided to dam the Murray River in 1939 they were doing it for the purpose of water conservation and did not consider recreation. The trees that lined the original river are still in evidence and give a new definition to "running the slalom course". However, once we decided to go up river the water was fantastic and much warmer than the air outside.

John enjoyed great runs with some gnarly cuts and one spectacular wipe out! (unfortunately we didn't get any pictures of the wipe out)

Jenny even got up, her first time since she was 11 years old.

Colin and Brooklyn both gave it a go and we hope to get them out on the river again soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mornington Peninsula

We spent Saturday, January 17 down on the Mornington Peninsula. It is an hour and a half southeast of Melbourne and has fantastic beaches on the bay side and beautiful surf on the Bass Strait side. We stopped for lunch close to Sorrento Beach. On the way to the beach, Brooklyn came across a large snake and quickly ran back to join us. John saw the tail disappearing, but wouldn't go and investigate, which was a good thing, because out of the 25 most venomous snakes in the world Australia is home to 21 of them.

We went out to Point Nepean National Park where we used the transporter service (a glorified name for a tractor pulling carts!) to go out to Fort Nepean and see the narrow channel where ships come into the bay. The views were amazing, but the flies were obnoxious.

In low tide, the shipping channel is less than 100 yards wide.
After our history lesson out at Fort Nepean we went out to the London Bridge, another rock formation with an arch that has been formed by the ocean. The surf here was spectacular (a very good place to land surf), but very dangerous. In fact, it is so dangerous that in 1967, Australia's prime minister went swimming here and is believed to have drowned although a body was never found.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Only in Australia

Australians care about the safe crossing of everyone. On the sign they look so young and chipper.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Torquay, a world famous surfing beach, has brought much fun and humour to our lives. It is here that you will find the "Butt Free Beach" and some very interesting lifeguards. Here where the water, during low tide, is so shallow that you can walk for 500 meters out to sea without the water touching your knees. And here, where Jared performs for large groups of people on demand.
John had a go with surfing and it was fantastic. He definitely needed the wet suit though. Colin was keen to have a go as well and is proving to be a natural. He insisted that the next surfing experience include a wetsuit for him.

Here is Jared performing for the crowds. He was brilliant with his acrobatics.

And while the boys played on the sand and in the water...the girls caught some rays!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tassie - Hobart

We opted to stay close to Hobart on this day because of how much we had been driving during our trip (over 15 hours so far). We headed up to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory for a tour of sorts. On the way we had a few minutes to spare and we pulled over to feed one duck that we saw along the road, our one duck soon turned into a dozen and as we searched for crumbs and crackers to feed the ducks the children were highly entertained as more and more kept arriving.

At Cadbury our tour consisted of a 30 minute movie about its history and the process of making chocolate. The most notable part was our tour guide, who kept telling us that they made a heck of a lot of chocolate...over and over again. We enjoyed our free chocolates that cost us $20.

That afternoon we decided to drive up Mt. Wellington, a mountain that towers over Hobart. The drive was beautiful. The views were breathtaking. It was probably one of our favorite parts of our trip.

On the way down the mountain we stopped at a natural spring and Colin sacrificed his dryness for a refreshing drink.
Our last day in Hobart was a busy one...which is typical for most of our trips since we have been here in Australia. We walked to Salamanca Pier, played at Battery Point park, had a bit of breaky, headed up Mt. Nelson (the other prominent mountain in Hobart). And finally, before heading to the airport,we went to the Hobart Aquatic Center to have a swim.