March 2007

The next couple of days of newsletter and photos come to you via the wonders of Telstra’s NextG Broadband Wireless network. We drove down through the Namadgi National Park

to see where the submerged town of Old Adaminaby is no longer submerged – we drove around in it about 40 feet below high water mark and I think we parked right next to the church. The GPS showed that we were well and truly in the water.

Then continued on across the back roads to the main drag into Jindabyne, where the lake is also way further down than I have ever seen it, and on into Thredbo. Apparently I did good when I booked and we are glad that we have decided to accept the offer of a third night free.

Dinner was a combination of King Prawns and salad from the pizza place, with sausages barbecued on the outside BBQ by the only genuine Aussie in the group.

Friday – Sam very carefully put the dishes in the dishwasher and put in some liquid “dishwash detergent”. As we were about to walk out the door, we noticed large quantities of suds coming out of the dishwasher. Several towels later, after the floor was clean, we explained to him the difference between “dishwash detergent” (the sudsy stuff you use to hand wash dishes) and “dishwasher detergent” (the powdered stuff you put in the dishwasher). Sam stayed behind with Duncan while the rest of us went up to Eagle’s Rest on the chairlift for a look around up there. Julie is afraid of heights, so it was a challenge for her to go on it. We have a deal that we should always try something new at least once.

Julie is hanging on for dear life, and probably has her eyes closed.

Then it was off to the Alpine Bobsled for a few turns each, because it was something we wanted to do and we included it in the price. With the “tourist trap” prices here, that’s important. Once again, Julie tried it just once. Well done, kiddo.

After lunch, the boys took the opportunity to play the highest golf course in Australia while the girls went shopping.

Dinner tonight was spaghetti bolognaise, superbly put together by Mike.

Saturday – We took a drive down to the Murray River and looked over the river to Victoria. Hmm, didn’t look much different really.

 

And finally saw a small mob of kangaroos in the wild.

After lunch we decided that a visit to the swimming pool at the Thredbo Leisure Centre (which is also the high altitude training centre for the elite athletes) was in order. Great decision – the boys had a ball on the “Inflatable Mission”, a large inflated obstacle course over the water. Even the non-competitors had a go on it. Not to mention the waterslide and the full sized lap pool. We came back to the apartment and crashed.

I was also able to demonstrate the ability of gum trees to recover from fire by sprouting from joints in the trunks, if necessary allowing the extremities to die off.

Sunday – Early start and head for home. Good to see that we can all get moving in the morning when we have to.

The BBQ that evening at the house was a huge success – about 25 guests all had a great time. Stewart had managed to acquire an entire eye fillet, plus some excellent quality sausages, so the meat was just superb.

Monday – Whatever was wrong with me has turned into an infection, so I lasted only about an hour at Gold Creek before heading for home to get the antibiotic script filled and started, followed by quite a bit of bed rest. The troops enjoyed the day out there – the highlights being the Reptile Centre, the aviary (we have a spectacular variety of birds in Australia) and meeting the lady who made the Aussie quilt for Duncan when he was born.

It’s just amazing how gentle Datsun can be. When we feed him a treat, he just about takes our fingers off. When he is stealing food from Duncan, the difference is just amazing. Duncan, meanwhile, is pushing all sorts of boundaries that he wouldn’t dare do at home, like wandering into the kitchen or feeding the dogs. At home, the dog is referred to as a “dumb dog”, so all dogs to him are “dumdog”.

Tuesday – Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, where we omitted to collect a map on the way in and didn’t know where we were going. We did find the koala enclosure, but true to form, they were nowhere to be seen, at least not by untrained eyes.

Then on the the Canberra Deep Space Communications Centre, for a quick lunch before deciding that the War Memorial was worth at least a short look, so it was back to town to kill a couple of hours before it closed and then checked out the line of flags, one from each country that Australia has ties with, at Commonwealth Place.

There’s also a sub-plot in this story. One afternoon, Julie and I had Duncan all to ourselves and introduced him to an ice-cream. he made a massive mess of it, we cleaned him up, and April and Mike didn’t believe the story until we showed them the evidence.

Wednesday – Wow, the days have certainly been busy. Early start to get on the road, so that we could take in the Tianjara waterfall on the way to Sydney.

I had other destinations planned, but having to drive carefully on the dirt road meant that we had to skip them and bolt for Sydney in time to collect Paul from the airport. He has fitted in so well with everyone and now Sam has someone to talk to while we are walking. We’re staying in Manly, overlooking the harbour and it’s great to hear the sound of waves while I go to sleep.

Duncan has acquired even more scratches and bruises on knees and elbows. His latest trick was falling out of the stroller. He has also learnt (sort of) how to say G’day, which comes out out “duday”.

Thursday – a full-on day, starting with the hustle of getting the hire car back on time, which meant doing battle with the early morning Sydney traffic, which of course was just as I remember it, the only advantage being that we had 3 or more people in the car and were able to use the T3 bus lanes. Then it was on foot into the city, catching a train to Circular Quay to go and see the Opera House. The guided tours at $26 were considered to be too much of a rip-off, but we did manage to get early bird online tickets for the girls for Friday at $16, so tomorrow they peel off to do that and go on to check out Darling Harbour, while the boys take the car and go go-karting and whatever else takes our fancy. Meanwhile, we stumbled around the Rocks area for a while and walked around under the bridge to get an idea of how it’s anchored.

Friday – The girls needed to get up early and head off to see the Opera House, while the boys did make it to go-karting. It was a bit of a mad scramble at the end of the day to get to Sydney Tower on time for dinner – we ended up taking a taxi for half of us and the car for the rest. I hung doggedly behind the taxi through all sorts of bus-only lanes and went all the way around several blocks in the city to find a parking station just up the street. The view from the top was indeed spectacular, as expected, and dinner was expensive but thoroughly enjoyable. Then I brought the girls home while the boys went out partying, meeting up with Paul’s mate’s cousin and his sister at a local pub.

Saturday – a really late start after the previous night. Sam & Paul decided to head for the beach, while the rest of us headed into town for some more browsing through the Queen Victoria Building and Paddy’s Market, finishing with a quick walk through Chinatown and as usual, back home on the Manly ferry.

Meanwhile, at home we have gradually gained the confidence of the small flock of Rainbow Lorikeets in the area, to the point that tonight we had a couple of them inside the kitchen window (none of the windows in this place have fly screens on them) to nibble on some of Donna’s Christmas Pudding.

Duncan over the last few days has developed a fascination with the toilet brush from the bathroom , which is about 3 feet wide and nearly 20 feet long, nicknamed the “bowling alley”. After being scolded and patted on the bum numerous times, his stubborn streak still comes out. Hmm, wonder where he got that from? He also now says “G’day” better then Julie does, accent and all.

Sunday – A beautiful day out there and we took advantage of it. Went beach bumming and snorkelling. followed by lunch at the pub and a visit by some of us to Ocean World, which has an underwater tunnel that you walk through with fish and sharks cruising overhead. And the shape of the tunnel DECREASES the size you see by up to 20%.

 

By then we were all so hot and (most of us) burnt, that it was chill out time until dinner. Yes, those are some seriously sunburnt bodies sitting down to dinner!

Monday – Pack up and get to where we needed to be. Checked the Seattle weather and it’s just above freezing over there. Ech, rather them than me! We loaded up the car with everything, took the keys back, then parked it (which in downtown Manly is no mean feat) while we did the final bits of stuff, like getting bubble wrap for Sam’s didgeridoo, then loaded the international luggage and the boys into a taxi while we took April & Duncan in the car to the International Airport, waited until they were able to go off and check in, then took Paul to the Domestic Airport, dropped him off and headed for home.

That was a full day in itself. It’s good to be home and REALLY looking forward to sleeping in our own bed. April thinks that she will need to retrain her son after his holiday – we have to do the same for the puppies, who expect that there will be bits of food and other goodies being dropped on the floor regularly, for their pleasure and enjoyment. And of course all balls and other toys are now fair game!

This week, we have rested, gone to work and SLEPT.

I’ve also watched the video: “An Inconvenient Truth” – definitely worth getting your hands on it.

And the month ends with me coming off my bike AGAIN. Riding home on Tuesday night, I was watching too closely the car coming in behind me and looked up to see the car in front of me had stopped. Brakes and hard left, which of course is instinctive in a car and disastrous on a bike. Dropped the bike and bounced off the road. Thank God for the protective gear that Julie insisted on buying last Christmas. Results: Yet more scratches on the bike, nasty grazing on the left forearm from the inside of the jacket, opened up the left knee again, although not seriously, massive bruising on the left hip and a sore left shoulder. Obviously I landed on the hip and forearm, jolting the shoulder in the process. Good to be still alive though. But I keep using up my exit points! And the suggestion of selling the bike is now on the agenda.

Over the next few days, the bruising became much worse.

Julie didn’t miss out on the move at work, which had been scheduled for the time the kids were here. She has come home exhausted the last few days, from activities including lifting heavy boxes. Hmm, may have to work on the assertive behaviour a bit more. The company now occupies one whole floor of the new building, with a view to expansion in the future.