Monday, February 23, 2009

Healesville Sanctuary

One of favourite attractions close to Melbourne is Healesville Sanctuary. This was the first place we visited when we moved here and we enjoy visiting often. We love the animals and the Birds of Prey show. We took Jenny's parents when they were here in February. They had never seen a platypus and Tasmanian Devil in person and we were all fortunate to pet a wallaby. It is a brilliant place to visit.
The Birds of Prey Show

Only in Australia

A toll of $1.16? What's up with that? If the price of the toll doesn't seem strange enough by itself consider this, Australia doesn't even have a penny (all purchases are rounded to the nearest 5 cents) which makes this really bizarre.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Grandpa & Grandma Cook

Our next set of visitors showed up less than 48 hours after our first left! It made for a very busy, but fun February. Grandpa and Grandma Cook (Jenny's parents) were a hit with the kids and they loved showing them every aspect of their lives (including but not limited to school, parks, toys, books, tricks, and dance moves). They filled their vacation down under with a trip to New Zealand, a jaunt to Sydney, a day trip out to Healesville Sanctuary and finally a road trip along the Great Ocean Road. It was great to have them here. An item to note, Jenny's dad loves to take pictures and has his camera with him at all times. The pictures below are just a few of those he took during his trip.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Melbourne LDS Temple

One of Paul and Sharon's last requests was to go out to the Melbourne Temple which is about 40 minutes away from our place. It was so fun to have them here. The flag was at half mast because of the bush fires that had swept through the area a week before.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Only In Australia

As many of you know, Grandpa Norton has a huge sweet tooth and loves his milkshakes. He especially loves chocolate and banana ones. The entire trip they had been promising to take the kids to get a milk shake and so we thought one of our stops along the Great Ocean Road would be to do just that. Well, we did get a milk shake, but it did not turn out to be what we was just flavored milk that had been shaken up. Ummmm....yuck. When we stopped in Lavers Hill we were just going to get an ice cream snack, but Grandma saw that they had milk shakes for $5.50 and all except Jared opted to go that route. I thought that $5.50 was a bit steep, but since Grandpa was paying I was all for getting it. The guy behind the counter told us that we could get flavored milk for the kids from the cooler, but I told him that no they really wanted a milk shake (I mean really, who would want to substitute flavored milk for a milk shake). What came out was a 32 oz. cup filled with warmish milk that had two squirts of flavoring with bubbles on the top which indicated that it had indeed been shaken up! The moral of the story is when in Australia order Thick Shakes not Milkshakes!
Although this isn't an overly large edifice (which means that John doesn't classify it as such), Australians deemed it necessary to celebrate their milk that has been shaken up. These are found in Tongala, Victoria.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mt. Gambier

After leaving Kangaroo Island on a very rough ferry ride we drove 2 1/2 hours to Adelaide to have a play at the park and to take John to the airport. John had to get back to work. I decided when making the trip arrangements that it would be fun to drive with my in-laws, three loud children and one 2 year old back to Melbourne (911 kilometers)...John asked numerous times if that was indeed what I wanted to do and I kept saying that it was no big deal and that it would allow Paul and Sharon to see a bit of Australia. Well, as Australians would say...I learnt my lesson.We are renting a car here, which means that only John and I can drive it, so I drove the entire time. The kids are great, but even sometimes they have had enough of driving. Grandma and Grandpa are great, but entertaining children for 15+ hours is exhausting.
We stopped the first night at Mt. Gambier. Its claim to fame is an incredibly blue lake. Seriously, it is a really blue lake. As sometimes happens, we went on a cloudy day which didn't show off the amazing colour, but it was still brilliant. No one really knows why the lake is that blue. Each year in November, it mysteriously starts its colour change to the unbelievable turquoise blue. From March each year it gradually makes the change back to its more sombre winter blue which is still a magnificent sight.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kangaroo Island - Kangaroos!

Do you know why Kangaroos played a huge part in the naming of the island? It is not only for their presence on said island, but for their delicious taste. The founders of the island were hungry when they landed and kangaroo was their food of choice. Recently, John threw a little Kangaroo on the Barby and it was good, a little gamey but surprisingly did not taste like chicken.

During our trip we saw a lot of wildlife: koalas, goannas, seals, wallabies, Galahs and even a few kangaroos, but one would expect to see a lot of Kangaroos coming to an island of its same name. So on our way to catch the ferry, Grandpa spotted an entire field of Kangaroos. John quickly turned around and we all hopped (ha) out of the van to get a little bit closer. There were a lot of kangaroos close to the water.
But, John chose to hop (ha ha) a fence to see a lone was amazing to see how close we were able to get.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kangaroo Island - Admirals Arch

We had a fantastic time walking down to Admirals Arch along the coast of Flinders Chase National Park. The New Zealand Fur Seals were so fun to watch swimming, fighting and frolicking in the water. The weather was ideal which made the water gorgeous.
Just some cute pictures of Grandma and Grandpa taking a rest with Bella and Brooklyn.
The Cape du Couedic Lighthouse at the top of Admirals Arch.

Kangaroo Island - Bushwalk

One of the best things about being here in Australia is the many bushwalks. The sights are usually amazing and the walk is worthwhile. Our first bushwalk at Flinders Chase National Park was hot, dirty and long; so we stopped partway, took a picture and then turned around to walk back. We did spot some rather large crayfish in the brackish water behind us in the picture above. Paul and Sharon enjoyed their first bushwalk though and loved the scenery.
Here is everyone at the bridge happily posing for a picture. Isabella is the designated leader in the next pose, which is good for two reasons: Colin learns that he doesn't always have to be first and Isabella will usually walk the entire way without us carrying her.
The next shot of Jared and John is to show you the path that we walked and the aftermath of a major bushfire. Most of Flinders was burned in December 2007. The trees show how much of the area was affected, but the bushes close to John show how resilient the earth is and how quickly new growth begins.

The one highlight of our bushwalk. Can you spot the wallaby?

Kangaroo Island - Vionne Bay

We stopped at Vionne Bay at the end of our fun filled day bushwalking, spotting seals and koalas and climbing enormous rocks. It was wonderful to play in the surf and sand. The beach was gorgeous and the water was unbelievable. Have you noticed that there are never pictures of Jenny swimming in the water? She has yet to fully submerged herself in Australia, according to her the water is frigid. Wimp.
Grandpa and Grandma took the time to contemplate how beautiful Australia is...but really I think they were just enjoying being out of a car with four noisy children.

Kangaroo Island - Koala Spotting

Grandpa Norton became the island's official Koala spotter and took it upon himself to inform the location of each and every Koala to any and every one who appeared somewhat interested in seeing Koalas. He did a great job though and was even able to spot a joey.
We also spotted this wallaby in the bushes and were able to scare it out (can't imagine how that happened) and John caught this picture mid bounce.