Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday - Tangalooma Resort

From tangalooma
Unfortunately, the last whale watch in Moreton Bay was October 31 and Linda arrived November 3rd. (Keep this in mind if you are planning your visit!) As an alternative Kevin and his mom decided we'd go to Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island. I was very excited about this. On Tangalooma you get to feed the dolphins!

Like everything so far, and I hope this doesn't discourage you, we needed to be up early to catch the 7 AM ferry across the bay to Moreton Island. I'm not sure if there were dolphins or whales to see while we crossed the bay. I fell asleep. We arrived just in time for the pelican feeding off the pier.
From tangalooma


We stopped by the resort "fish pool" to "watch" the fish feeding. (I saw plenty of prawns and fish and squid being cut into pieces and tossed in the water but not so much eating or even fish. Ah, the trials of being under-tall.) However, it was at this experience where we learned something that would prove to be quite useful. Starfish have a tendency to wash up on shore. If they aren't the delicate legged "brittle stars", it is appropriate "to Frisbee" them back out into the water.

There are many activities at the resort - snorkeling, kayaking, jet skis, tobogganing down the dunes. We chose to go fish feeding out by the sunken ship reef. That, and feed the dolphins - but that is done at sundown. We aren't there yet. (See? Plenty of new fun activities you can make us try! Including archery. But we won't talk about that. Kevin might cry.)
From tangalooma


From tangalooma

After lunch we played in the water though not all of us were willing to get our hair wet. (Names withheld.)
From tangalooma
Then, Kevin and I walked up the beach toward the dunes and the wrecked ships. This is when we experienced the in rushing of starfish onto the beach. Fling! Fling! Fling! We suspect there is currently under construction a starfish shrine in our honor.
From tangalooma

From tangalooma

Finally, as the sun dropped the dolphins started coming in. After getting our instructions we formed 5 lines and waited our turn. I expected I'd be knee deep in water, but I found that it was impossible to roll up my shorts high enough to avoid wet pants. I had a wet seat - but it was worth it! We were each given a small (dead) fish and instructed to hold it by the tail like an ice cream cone, shove it head first under the water, and LET GO when the dolphin grabbed it. Ah! A guide accompanied every guest and recited the instructions again. Then, reached into his bag and handed out more fish for us to feed. Photos were taken. Photos that I would probably have paid $45 for - except that immediately upon completion of the feeding we were hustled back onto the ferry and setting out for home.

After this

I went back to work: Wednesday and Thursday.

Sydney Day 3 - The North Shore

From Linda's visit to Australia
Once upon a time Kevin lived in Sydney. He lived north of the city in a little, quiet suburb called Balgowlah. It was him, a small underground mall (though Kevin says it wasn't really underground) with an "indian-esque" totem out front, a bowling alley, and a very, very, very nice harbour walk to Manly. Since Linda had not been to visit Kevin during this point of his history, she had to go see the old home now. Now, when the bowling alley has been demolished and the mall and totem replaced by a very upscale shopping center/condo/apartment complex. The walk, however, remains just as beautiful and pleasant.
From Linda's visit to Australia


We ended our Sydney visit with lunch in Manly and then caught the ferry back to the city.
From Linda's visit to Australia


From Bill Bryson's "In A Sunburned Country":
Before you the spangly water is crowded with the harbour's stout and old-fashioned ferries, looking for all the world as if they have been plucked from the pages of a 1940s children's book with a title like Thomas the Tugboat...


P.S. Everyone is encouraged to read Bill Bryson's wonderful book about Australia. We love the book, Bill, and referred to it often as we made our own trek around the country in 2002.

Syndey Day 2 - Opera House and more

From Linda's visit to Australia

Monday. We had a lunch date with our friend Pat and so needed to create a schedule. Opera House and Royal Botanic Garden before lunch. Sydney Tower and ?? after.

It has been a couple years now since we last went on the tour of the Opera House and they've shaken things up a bit. Now, you can have your photo taken in front of the Opera House and the delivery van that is parked in front of the Opera House while waiting for the tour to begin. At the end of the tour you can pick-up that photo and take it home with you - for $45. An AMAZING price, I think. Even for Australia. (I thought that all morning until I learned you can get a photo of yourself/your party posed in front of a placard at the Sydney Tower for the same $45 price. Now the Opera House/delivery truck photo seems like a bargain.) The tour itself has changed in good ways. Now, they give everyone head phones so you can hear the guide very easily. And, the history of the design and construction of the building has been recorded. Three short video segments projected onto various walls. I couldn't understand how the sails of the Opera House were "lifted" out of a hemisphere until I watched the demonstration. (Not that I could describe it here nor re-create it - probably even if my life depended on it. Probably.) Anyway, I thought the videos were a very nice addition. Finally, I learned that Utzon's inspiration for the breathtaking (pun intended) stair to the opera house was from the temples of the Aztecs.

Kevin and I love the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Gardens. I take the same photos every visit. It always feels like a great new find.



After viewing Sydney from the top of the Sydney Tower, it was time for a rest. Kevin and I went looking for the bus tickets we'd need the next day while Linda read in the room. We stumbled upon an excellent pizza deal and brought dinner back to the room. Later, making use of the bargain tickets we'd purchased at the tower, Kevin and I then explored the aquarium at Darling Harbour. I only seem to go there at night. I recommend it. Wandering through the rooms and glass tunnels inside the large tanks while everything is still and dark is magical.

South to Sydney! Day 1

From Linda's visit to Australia

As aghast as Kevin and Linda had been about our Friday Bruce highway plan, an even earlier wake up and departure was required for our flight to Sydney. The weekend weather was still grey and a bit rainy - even in NSW. We took a taxi from the airport to our hostel at Darling Harbour: The Woolbrokers. Very nice. (I had stayed there before with Carroll, Karen and Cruz.) And, very convenient to seeing things in the city - which is what we commenced to do.

We saw the "usual":

Queen Victoria Building

From Linda's visit to Australia


From Linda's visit to Australia


Darling Harbour
From Linda's visit to Australia


Hyde Park
From Linda's visit to Australia


St. Mary's Cathedral
From Linda's visit to Australia


We discovered something new and very cool. An underground moving sidewalk - a very fast moving underground moving sidewalk - filled with interesting murals and going to the parking garage for the Domain. Not that we had a car nor any desire to see the car park. None the less, totally worth checking out.
From Linda's visit to Australia


From Linda's visit to Australia

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Linda's Visit - Traveling North!

From Linda's visit to Australia
Our first group outing was a big one. We pushed HARD to see The Glass House Mountains, Australia Zoo, and the Mary Cairncross Rainforest Reserve. Pushing hard involves setting out before 8 AM while it is drizzling and going, going, going.

Initially I was concerned about the rain, but it ended up being an ideal day. Only enough rain to prompt us to buy ponchos. Then, the sun came out...but it stayed comfortable. Fabulous.

First stop - after a bit of being lost...The Glass House Mountains! While I've enjoyed seeing them before, I think they've never looked better than they did that morning shrouded in the mist. Doesn't it feel cool? Cool as in both comfortable and mysterious...
From Linda's visit to Australia
From Linda's visit to Australia
From Linda's visit to Australia


On the way down from the lookout, a kangaroo hopped out in front of our car. This is always cool - just like when you see deer at home - as long as there is no collision with the car! I'd like to say the photo is supposed to look like this to capture the feeling of movement, but you know better.
From Linda's visit to Australia


Next stop - Australia zoo. No photo of Kevin and I in our fashionable Australia Zoo ponchos, but in the photo of the American Alligators you can see the rain. And, a very brave water dragon.
From Linda's visit to Australia
From Linda's visit to Australia
From Linda's visit to Australia
From Linda's visit to Australia
From Linda's visit to Australia


Finally, back to the rainforest. Kevin and I are very impressed by this little place. We've decided everyone must go. It was an overcast day, as I've said. Not the intense sunshine we had last visit and so too dark for good photography (with my equipment.) No snakes this time. I don't think Linda was disappointed. We did find pademelons, however. Yay.

Linda's visit - Introduction

From Linda's visit to Australia
Gee, when I look at the sidebar it is obvious that October was a very, very busy month. And, so too, the first part of November. I'm finally getting something of a breather. I'm blessed with NO SICK ANIMALS in the hospital today and so our trip to Mount Cotton to see the B-52's will only be challenged by sun burn, heat stroke, dehydration, mousquito bites, and just plain sore bottoms from waiting for 6 or 7 hours for the show to begin. Yay!

But, that wasn't supposed to be the point of the post. (See title.) Two of these last weeks were spent with Kevin's mother. It was her first visit to our home and to Australia. This required travel time and touring. Yay! We love showing guests around. Unlike Flat Stanley, Linda was able to take her own photographs, so I only have about 200 new ones. Don't worry. They won't all appear here.

Kevin took his mother around to see things in the city - Fortitude Valley (China Town), City Hall (Clock Tower), Queen Street Mall, Mt Cootha lookout... Those days I worked. (He is the one with the "generous" vacation package. Mine was pretty much already consumed by two trips home in the last 12 months.) The point of this is there are absolutely no photographs.

I did take off the two weekends and the Monday and Tuesday of her visit. Therefore, I got to also enjoy the Glass House Mountains, Australia Zoo, Mary Cairncross Reserve, Sydney(!!), and the Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island(!!!). What follows is a brief review.

Follows, that is in separate posts.

From WORDLE- http://www.wordle.net/

title="Wordle: Flat Stanley"> src="http://www.wordle.net/thumb/wrdl/1365152/Flat_Stanley"
alt="Wordle: Flat Stanley"
style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd">


This is from Wordle. Very cool. Kind of says it all... though at this time you have to click on the link to see it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tomorrow! At last!


Coming to Brisbane - well almost - and we'll be there! Sweating. Tomorrow!

The wait is over!

Flat Stanley is back in Ohio!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh no!

From Flat Stanley
Flat Stanley is MIA. He hasn't arrived yet though he departed almost 3 weeks ago! I suspect the 3 extra friends we sent along were not just going along for the ride but had an agenda of their own and have hijacked the shipment!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flat Stanley - The Rest of the Story

From Flat Stanley


Flat Stanley was sent to us from a second grader in Massilon, Ohio. He came with instructions (but no dietary restrictions). We were to take him around where we lived, take some photos or collect some postcards. We were to collect a few. We kept Stanley for about 2 weeks. Well, ok, three weeks. But during the last week he stayed in his envelope and we spent our time getting his story put together and the photos printed and the box prepared. A few photos came out to be almost 80 with about two dozen postcards. We aren't sure if the teacher will love us or hate us.

While we had a great time, it wasn't all fun and games for him. Stanley had to brave the local spiders - who were much, much larger than he expected
From Flat Stanley

And, he had to help out with the shopping
From Flat Stanley
and with chores around the house.
From Flat Stanley


But, through it all Stanley kept a smile on his face and his sense of fun and adventure.
From Flat Stanley
From Flat Stanley


He was, in all, a very good guest. And, we're missing him.

Now, don't you want to schedule YOUR Australian Adventure??

Flat Stanley's Australian Adventure! Part 4: A Whaling We Will Go!

From Flat Stanley


The drive to Redcliffe was short and only made interesting by the nearly empty fuel tank. The little community was bustling with people out for Sunday breakfast, for walks on the beach, and for the big market. Ann, Kevin, and Stanley hurried quickly down the pier to the waiting boat, the Eye Spy.
From Flat Stanley


“Do you remember the whales we saw at the museum?” asked Ann. “Those were humpback whales. That is what we are going to see today.” Then, Ann passed around some little pills. “Nobody wants to be sea sick.”

After an hour the boat slowed and an announcement was made. “We’ve seen our first pod of whales!”

“Like a pea pod?” asked Stanley.

“Not exactly,” said Ann. “That just means a collection. Like a herd of cows or a bunch of bananas.”

“Or a murder of crows,” continued Kevin mischievously.

Everybody got out of his seat and crowded to the front of the boat.
From Flat Stanley
“There! At one o’clock!” announced the guide. And, there, at one o’clock, rose a large black mass with a small triangular fin. Everyone sighed.
From Flat Stanley
From Flat Stanley


“We’re turning the boat around. We’ve seen some whales breaching back behind us!”

Stanley looked at Kevin questioningly.

“That means they’re jumping out of the water,” Kevin explained.

And the announcer continued by saying they rise up to look around or to try to splash the barnacles off their skin.

“I want to see this!” said Ann as she turned to once again see only a very big splash.
From Flat Stanley


“At eleven o’clock! Tail smacking!”

“At two o’clock!” A pod with two calves and the babies seemed to be competing for the biggest splash. They’d dive down then push themselves up to the surface with their big tails. They’d lift their entire body out of the water, twist, and then fall back with a big, big splash.
From Flat Stanley


By the end of the cruise everyone was windblown but happy. They’d seen at least 10 pods of whales and LOTS of breaching.

“Did you enjoy your Brisbane adventure?” Kevin asked Stanley as they were driving home across the big bridge and under the resting pelicans. But, Stanley was sleeping. And, smiling.
From Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley's Australian Adventure! Part 3: To the Sunshine Coast!

From Flat Stanley
“Where to today?” asked Stanley.

“We’re going to drive North along the Bruce Highway – headed for the Sunshine Coast!” said Kevin.

“Yes. And, we’re going to see the Glass House Mountains!” exclaimed Ann.

“Are the Mountains made of Glass?” asked Stanley as he pressed his face against the windscreen and watched the trees whiz by.

“No. Captain Cook, who is credited with discovering and first exploring Australia, saw the mountains from his boat in 1770 and thought they looked like the glass factories back in his home country of England.”

“Does that mean they smoke?” asked Stanley.
From Flat Stanley


“Only when they catch on fire! They were formed from volcanoes, but that was a long time ago. They are also very important to the original people of Australia, the Aborigines. The mountains were named by them: Mt Beerburum, Mt Coonowrin, Mt Ngungun, Mt Tibrogargan”
From Flat Stanley
From Flat Stanley


“Neat,” said Stanley as the car turned off the highway and onto Steve Irwin Drive.

“Do you know who Steve Irwin was?” asked Ann.

“The Crocodile Hunter!” shouted Stanley.

“Let’s stop at his zoo and say hello to the animals,” said Kevin and he pulled into the Australia Zoo.
From Flat Stanley


The Australia Zoo was a very cool place. Stanley reflected as they left. “It’s not like other zoos. No lions or bears or wolves.”

“Nope,” agreed Kevin. “They really emphasize Australian animals. Kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats…”

“And miles and miles of crocodiles!” Ann teased. “What did you like best, Stanley? The snakes? The Tasmanian devil?”

“Feeding the kangaroos,” Stanley replied decisively.

“Hurry,” Kevin urged. “We have more to see!”

And so they all piled into the car and headed down the Glass House Mountains tourist drive in search of the Big Pineapple.
From Flat Stanley


“Blackall Range tourist drive,” mused Kevin as he came upon a brown road sign. “We haven’t been there before.” And a new adventure was afoot.

“Look! Look! Look!” pointed Stanley. “A rainforest!”

“Oh! And a CafĂ©!” exclaimed Ann, who was hungry.

Kevin turned the car around and pulled into the Mary Cairncross Reserve. After sharing a sandwich and picking up a few postcards, Ann, Kevin, and Stanley entered the information building.

“Have you been here before?” asked the curator.

“Not me!” said Stanley. “I’m here from Ohio!”

“Keep your eyes open. You’ll probably see some padmelons…”

“Is that like a watermelon?” interrupted Stanley.

“No. They are little wallabies, which are like small kangaroos” continued the ranger. “You might also see some snakes!” and he extended his arms out to demonstrate the snakes might be very large indeed. “But, don’t worry. They’d be carpet pythons and they won’t hurt you.”

Ann looked dubious but the three set off through the building exit and into the rainforest.
From Flat Stanley


“Look at the enormous roots on that tree. And, how the vines climb up the trunk.” Ann was feeling more comfortable in the cool, green forest.

“But, Ann,” Kevin corrected, “that vine is a snake!”
From Flat Stanley


“Ewwwww.”

The walk continued peacefully, with the trio appreciating the big trees and the beautiful bird songs. Suddenly Ann stopped everyone, pointing and whispering, “Look!” It was a little padmelon – not much larger than a rabbit and sitting in a pool of sunlight.
From Flat Stanley


“Oh, this is even better than the zoo because this is REAL,” mused Stanley.

As the rainforest trail ended, Kevin suggested they retrace the beginning of their hike to check on the snake. There was a cluster of people gathered at the tree. The snake wasn’t up in the vines anymore. It had moved down close to the roots and was slowly swallowing a mouse it had caught!

It was starting to get late so the decision was made to push on to Nambour. Initially Kevin, following Ann’s suggestion, pushed on north when he should have pushed on south, but eventually they pulled into a parking lot and there sat a very large pineapple, indeed.

“Cool,” they all said at once.
From Flat Stanley
From Flat Stanley


It was too late to take the train around the plantation
From Flat Stanley
so Ann took Stanley to the edge of the fence and showed him a field of small spiky plants.
From Flat Stanley
“Those,” she said with authority, “are baby pineapple plants. Pineapples don’t grow on trees,” and she glanced at Kevin. “And they don’t grow underground like potatoes. They grow upside down from the center of these plants. But, only when they get much bigger,” she added. “I’ll show you a picture at home.”

Stanley was very tired after his big day and fell asleep in the car on the way home. Ann had to carry him up the last walk to the lookout station on Wild Horse Mountain where they could see both the Glass House Mountains and the ocean (and on a clear day, Brisbane.)
From photo a day


“Kevin. Stanley. We have to get up early tomorrow. We’re going to see the whales!”

And, even though he could hardly hold up his head any longer, Stanley replied, “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep. I’m so exci…” and he fell asleep.



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