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Daily Life Destinations Family & Friends

Australia Day 2013

We head out a little later than usual this year. David wanted to stop in the city and get a new camera bag, he has grown out of his older bag.

Another Australia Day means another trip to Geelong, it has kind of become a tradition I guess. But this time our usual third, Kathryn, couldn’t come along. She’s just started a new job and had to work. So this year we dragged Sue along for the trip.

It seemed a little low-key this year. The crowds were there, the stages and performers were there, everything seemed to be the same, but it just seemed less than the last two years. Maybe it was just that the performers weren’t as dynamic as previous years.

Sue and I rode the ferris wheel, that was pretty cool, I don’t think she’d ever been on a ferris wheel that goes so high. We took some photos while we were up there and cheered every time we passed entry point, on our way to another loop.

And of course the beach volleyball was on again, it was by far the best part of the day. So we spent a bit of time there capturing the action. I do have to admit that perhaps we were obsessed with a couple of the players. They were the best on court, it was easy to get decent shots from their action.

We called it a day around 4pm, missing the Roulettes and the fireworks display… maybe one year we’ll stick around for the fireworks show and try and capture them.

I’ve processed the photos a little differently this time around, but present them here.

Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong
Australia Day 2013 Geelong

Categories
Daily Life Destinations Family & Friends Photography Sydney

Taronga Zoo

It has been many, many, many years since I’ve been to Taronga Zoo. This week, while in Sydney, we spent a great day at the zoo with Mum, Greg, Jacob and Maygen. It was great because of the people we were with, not so much because of the weather, which couldn’t seem to decide how it wanted to go; rain, wind, sun, rain, wind, sun, repeat…

We must have all looked like a bunch of shutterbugs, all with cameras shooting away at the animals.

The differences between Melbourne Zoo, my home zoo, and Sydney’s Taronga are few but significant. The biggest being the massive entry fee of $44 for an adult for Taronga compared to Melbourne’s $26. I like Sydney’s layout for the Snow Leopard enclosure, though it could probably be a little bigger and its lion and tiger enclosures are just sad looking. Melbourne’s primate enclosures seem much better and having multiple zoos in close proximity is a bonus for us down there too.

I do love that at Taronga, which is on a hill, you can start at the top walk down the hill seeing all the animals and then catch the sky lift back to the top of the hill.

Another thing Taronga has over Melbourne’s zoos, we don’t have any chimpanzees in Melbourne. Sydney’s Chimps were a little aggressive on the day and one saw fit to let the humans know he wasn’t happy being looked at and high-kicked the window of one of the viewing areas. He was quickly chastised by the alpha male via a very loud call from the other side of the enclosure.

I think I’ll forever been conflicted about having Chimpanzees and Gorillas in Zoos. The expressions and the seemingly looks of understanding they have are just a little too human to be comfortable with the idea of them being locked away for their lives. There was one female chimpanzee who was holding a baby, brushing her fingers through his hair before bending her head forward kissing him gently on the forehead. It was a beautiful moment.

Taronga Zoo Map

Maygen & Jacob at the Zoo
Koala

Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee

Jacob & His Family

Gorilla

Lowland Gorilla

Bird Show

Jacob and his wingspan

Maygen shows her wingspan

Bird Show

Bird Show

Giraffe

Barbary Sheep

Himalayan Tahr and the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Tortoise

Elephant

Penguin

Seal Show

Seal Show

Seal Show

Jake & his Fennec Fox Ears

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

Lioness at Taronga Zoo in Sydney

Categories
Daily Life Destinations Reminiscing

The road most travelled

Our drive to Sydney was pretty uneventful. It’s almost a straight run now with only Holbrook remaining as the last little town to be bypassed. The Tarcutta bypass seems to have opened since last year and what was once considered the halfway point on a journey from Melbourne to Sydney is now a mere blip as you fly passed on a motorway.

Of course while we see these little towns, where we were often made to go from 110kph to 50kph, as annoying obstacles — and often speed traps — I do have to wonder what all the folks living in these towns are now doing for a living? As the “halfway point” I’m sure Tarcutta used to see a lot of folks stopping in town for a well needed rest. And now that respite is found at a service centre featuring a McDonalds, KFC or Hungry Jacks (AKA Burger King for American readers).

I was reminiscing on the drive, back to the days when; as a family; we’d take the drive to Coffs Harbour or Tamworth to visit family.

Back then mum would make sandwiches and bottle up some cordial for the trip. Rest stops would be made at designated town. There were no “service centres” along the way. Service was provided in a small township, petrol was put in the car by an attendant at the petrol station and our packed lunch was taken in a local park.

A lot of the majesty has been removed from the road trip. It really is now all about the destination and getting there as fast as we can. We no longer enjoy the journey, if we ever did.

I remember there was a lot of fighting on road trips. We were a family with four kids. There’d be a fight before we left over who was going to sit up front in between our parents on the car’s bench seat. There’d be fights as the three in the back, most often the three boys, would jostle for their space. Drawing non-existent lines with our fingers to designate “our spot” and chastising a brother should he even think of putting an ounce of flesh over that line. Of course there’d also be the deliberate fingertip placed over the line, just to get a reaction. These incidents would be met with the obligatory “If you don’t stop we’re turning the car around and going home!” and “Do I have to put you out here and make you walk the rest of the way?”

Back then, there’d be games of “I spy“, “punch bug” and constant animal imitations as we passed them in abundance.

Now we pass cars with kids in the back watching DVD players, wearing headphones. I think it’s a shame to see. I firmly believe the road trip isn’t just about going from one place to another. It really is about the experience of the trip and the experiences we gain as children through the interaction with our parents. I can’t recall a single conversation on these trips, not that they didn’t happen, in fact I’m sure they did, but I’m just getting older and those memories evade recall. I’m certain that interacting with our parents and our environment during these trips helped form us into the people we are today. I really don’t think staring at the back of our parents heads watching “Toy Story” for the 1,000th time would have seen us be the same people we are now.

I only have one firm memory of a road trip, for the most part they are a muddled bunch of snippets in my mind, but bear with me as I remember one particular trip to Tamworth to visit our Aunty Cheryl.

My sister, Jennifer, was just a toddler. It was near Christmas (I think just after) and just us kids and mum made the trip. I distinctly remember having to stop on the way home because we in the back had fed Jennifer a bunch of lollies and she had puked them up all over the place. I have this memory in my head of the smell and of us standing at the side of the road while mum used bottled water to clean the mess. And not only was there the puke, but we had been given plasticine by our Aunty, it was in a pack with instructions for making a Smurf figurine. One had been made and had obviously been held by Jennifer. In the heat of the summer it had melted in her carseat. I remember mum getting a little angry as we couldn’t say with absolute assuredness that Jennifer had not in fact eaten any of the plasticine and if that was a contributing cause for her being sick.

So yeah part of the trip yesterday was reminiscing. Feeling a little nostalgic and a little sad for the kids of this current generation who listen to iPods and watch screens, disconnected from their parents, their siblings and the world passing by their window. Another part was watching my partner, David, driving or sitting in the passenger seat. Thinking how lucky I have been these past 14 years to have someone beside me who still makes me smile just by being there.

I also played with my iPhone 4S, taking photos and testing time lapse apps. I’m thinking of making a time-lapse of the trip home. So here’s a few pics from the trip and the video at the end.

IMG_1123
IMG_1128
On the road
Travelling food
Beetle
IMG_1194
IMG_1201
I remember the days when this didn't exist and mums packed lunches for road trips. I must be getting old, or nostalgic. Maybe a little of both?
IMG_1245

Categories
Daily Life Destinations

Have You Ever Had a Ladyboner?

Last night was the latest in a week of late nights. With the Melbourne Ukelele Kollective on Sunday night, staying around at work to cover the Brownlow on Monday night and Camera Club on Tuesday night keeping us busy.

So yeah, it was a little hard to go out yet again, but I’m glad we did.

We started with dinner at KL Bunga Raya where we met up with Trudy, Saimon, Ben and Nikki for some Malaysian cuisine. I ordered honey chicken and if I’m to be honest, I have to say it was a little light on the honey, a little heavy on the salt.

After dinner we ventured next door to the Lithuanian Club where Lisa-Skye’s show “Ladyboner” was to be performed as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Lisa is a stand-up comic who does a wonderful job at making the audience laugh at some of the most awkward things in life. She recounts tales of her time working as a screener for a phone dating line. The life of a married couple living in her Greek grandmother’s “wog house” and an all round, somewhat revealing account of what gives her a lady boner.

At times the laugher is nervous as we’re challenged to accept and reflect on the ideas and desires of another. The nerves easily lost as what started as a titter at the start of a joke, becomes a full on tear inducing laugh but the time the section of jokes have come to an end.

It was a great show. Sure we went along because we have friends in common. But it is a reminder that as a city Melbourne puts on some awesome festivals, letting its citizens open their lives to those who care to attend. All the shows are incredibly inexpensive and I really should kick myself in the butt and get out and see more.

To find out more visit the Melbourne Fringe Festival website or Lisa-Skye’s own site and you may also want to know what a lady boner is.

Photo not mine, taken from the Melbourne Fringe website.

Categories
Daily Life Destinations

Ghostly Saturday

We had a great night Saturday night, even though we were a little sad we were one down in our party with Kathryn being ill and having to bail out.

Pellegrini's Frontage

David, Sue and I met with Sandy and Rob at Pellegrini’s (66 Bourke Street, Melbourne) for an awesome dinner. From the outside the place looks like bedlam. People packed in at two long bars down either side of the tiny little restaurant with barely enough room to squish ourselves down to the tiny kitchen in the back, which is where we sat at a long table.

Pellegrini's Kitchen

All of the cooking is done on a tiny little stove, feeding the entire restaurant packed with people. And the food was great and relatively inexpensive, not cheap by any means. It seems like it could be hard to get a large group in, at 5 we were only just accommodated. And they don’t take reservations so it might be hit and miss getting in.

Dinner at Pellegrini's

After dinner we headed over to the Haunted Bookshop to wait for our Melbourne Ghost Tour to begin. We got there a little early on a nippy night and huddled together trying to stay warm as many other tour participants arrived.

At 8:30 pm the doors to The Haunted Bookshop opened for us all to go in and buy our tickets we then met outside again for the tour to begin. I recorded the tour’s 7km walk on my iPhone’s “Trails” application so I have it plotted out on a map, just have to figure out how to get that on a Google Map at some time.

The Haunted Bookshop

It was a great talk and walk led by our guide Drew Sinton. To find out we have ghosts all over our city is amazing. It’s great. I can’t wait to get to some of the locations again to check them out in my own time. In particular the ghost who apparently inhabits the State Library in the atrium near the newspaper section. According to our guide there used to be a two storey building on the site and the ghost used to live there and now walks the second floor which extends into the atrium so she appears to float as she walks along a floor that is no longer there.

The other amazing thing to find out is that under a very popular, and Melbourne’s oldest park, Alexandra Gardens, there are thousands of bodies buried. Bodies that were never moved because in the olden days the wooden grave markers were stolen for firewood by the poor parts of the North Melbourne community. So there they lay, below a park that many frequent and many bask in the sun with their lunch in the summertime.

Ghost Tour Guide

Melbourne’s other old and now gone graveyard with over 10,000 bodies in it now resides under the Queen Victoria Market (a very short walk from Alexandra Garden), of these 10,000+ bodies when the redevelopment came to take place to create the market only about 900 were relocated as only their graves could be identified and their families requested they be moved. All of the other bodies remain under market to this day.

It was a great night and an interesting walk with great friends. I recommend it to anyone. It was only $20 per person, a steal.

Categories
Daily Life Destinations

US Trip: Day 1

Our flight to the US

What a mad and very long day our first day was. Friday June 4th was almost 48 hours long for us as our flight from Australia to California, USA took us across the international date line.

To avoid the dreaded jet lag we stayed awake all of Thursday night, the hope we’d simply sleep on the plane when it was night US time and wake up refreshed Friday morning. It didn’t quite happen though cause while you have a tiny bit more room on the plane, and I do mean tiny, the seats go back a little further.

I’m more polite than some and for the most part refrained from putting my seat all the way back. The people in the seats in front however didn’t mind not only putting their seats back ALL THE WAY they also didn’t mind doing it at high speed, not concerned about where my legs (which are quite long) were or what the contents of my tray table may be.

I became a little less polite after this and when they had raised their seat to eat their first meal of the flight they found they couldn’t go back quite so far as my knees were firmly placed in their back should they try. They tried to force the issue by rocking back, never once looking behind, nor turning to speak with me.

So the 15 hour flight wasn’t all that fun. We did however have a great bunch of movies to watch in-flight. I watched “The Blind Side” (it was beautiful) and “The Lovely Bones” (less beautiful). Also watched a Pam Ann stand-up show which was funny as hell.

Being a vegetarian (mostly) you tend to get served before everyone else, well anyone with a special meal order does, diabetics etc. At one point I think I was served an hour before David was, the only bad bit being you don’t get your tray cleaned until everyone else does. So I’ve eaten and am left sitting with my dirty tray for quite a while. I probably could have asked them to take it away, but they all looked so busy.

My in-Flight Vege Meal

At the end of this flight we arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It was really not at all what I was expecting. What I thought we’d see is a lovely airport, nice clean, shiny. What we got was a rundown dirty looking airport.

The staff at the airport were amazingly helpful, always smiling and ready to assist. Even actively approaching you to help out. If airport transfers is what you need, astepabovelimo.com is always ready to help you. Just call 704-605-1108 for reservation. The same can be said for most other Americans we’ve come across. David almost laughed out loud when an African-American employee yelled out across the foyer “Damn girl! You gonna…” it was pretty cliched but I guess one that is true.

We had our first meal on American soil, Burger King. It was massive. But my vege-burger was kind of hard around the edges, guess there aren’t many vegetarians in the US and it had sat in the tray for a while.

Our First American Meal

Our second flight of the day was from LAX to San Jose. This one was aboard a tiny little plane that was just three seats across. Coming from a massive A380 that’s a big difference. At first I was a little scared about the idea of flying in something so small, but once we were in the air it was all good. There was even cabin service during our short 1 hour flight and I managed to get a little bit of a nap in.

Tiny Plane
Flight to San Jose, USA

On arriving in San Jose we had to catch a bus to the Car rental panama. I’m guessing San Jose airport is considerably newer than LAX, it’s cleaner and more well put together and it’s massive. It probably took a good 20 minutes to get from the terminal we arrived at, to the car rental place on the other side of the airport.

Our transportation

After getting our car we decided to head to the hotel in the hope they’d let us check in earlier than their listed 3pm checkin time. David’s first time on the other side of the road was a little harrowing, more for him than me I think. To me it seemed like he was doing fine. It was still quite sureal to look at cars and see nobody in the driver seat, only to remember it was in fact the passenger seat.

We’re staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cupertino, home of Apple (Cupertino, not the hotel). Pretty good as far as hotels go. Our room is great, the service is great. No complaints.

Hilton Garden Inn
Our Hotel

As we arrived at the hotel at 2pm we probably should have had a rest before we decided to to anything. But we’re not quite like that, plus we thought it might enhance any possible jet lag if we let our bodies sleep at the wrong time.

Our Room at the Inn
Our Room at the Inn

So instead of a sleep we unpacked then jumped back in the car and headed to San Fransisco.

The Road to San FransiscoOn the way to San Francisco

A massive city.

We were on the hunt for a small camera for David to take to WWDC but I’ll be buggered if we could find a camera store. Apparently in San Francisco you buy your camera from a souvenir shop. And every souvenir shop we went into had the “best price we’d find” on any camera. But we remained unimpressed and didn’t make a purchase.

We did however walk around heaps, visited the Apple store (not as big as I expected), Macys, Bloomingdales, Nordstroms, Westfield, lots of stuff. We even saw “The Cheese Cake Factory”. We wanted to go there for dinner for the kitsch value of eating at the same restaurant on “The Big Bang Theory” but when we got up there (it was on the 8th floor) it was very busy and didn’t look anything like the one on TV so we decided we’d skip it. It would have been geek cool if we could hae gotten a pic in the same sort of setting as the one we see on TV (which yes I know, is more than likely a set but still).

Westfield
Nordstroms
the Muni
Ceiling at Westfield
More Muni
The Muni

We were also pretty damn tired and decided to head home to the hotel. I started nodding off on the way home, thankfully David stayed awake. We hit bed a little early but slept all the way through.

San Francisco Pride

Categories
Daily Life Destinations Photography

A Day at Serendip Sanctuary

Mum and Bub Brolgas

Last Saturday the awesome foursome (as Kathryn has come to call us) went on a little photo shooting trip. David, Kathryn, Sue and I went to Serendip Sanctuary at Lara in Victoria. Sue had bought her camera just the week before, a Sony Alpha A350 with dual lens kit.

We try and get out every now and then but it has been a little bit of time since our last outing and Kathryn found the perfect place, right in our own backyard (as they say).

Serendip Sacntuary is about a 20 minute drive from home near Lara on the way to Geelong, in the shadow of the You Yangs Regional Park. It’s an expansive park with wetlands, grasslands and a couple of averies with native birds. And the best bit is entry is free.

We were lucky to see that there was a baby brolga at the sanctuary, and as you can see from the photo above they are so cute. I started to call the little guy “fluff on a stick”.

Kathryn not only drove us there, she also provided lunch an awesome picnic of chicken Caesar salad, ham, baked chicken and Russian potato salad. It was all delicious and followed up with a cheese platter and banana bread that David made.

The photos here are just the ones I took. David and the ladies took many great photos of their own and when they have posted them online I’ll make a point of updating this post.

Little Blue Bird

Bird at Serendip Sanctuary

Father Brolga

Bird at Serendip Sanctuary

Tawny Frogmouth Owl

I know the video is a little lame, I promise to make a better one next time I’m there.

You can see more of the photos on my Flickr photostream. Find out more about Serendip Sanctuary on the Parks Victoria site.

Categories
Daily Life Destinations

Mega Update

It has been so long since I’ve put anything of substance on this site, but then I’ve had very little time to do so. What with work being so hectic for the last month or so, then organising our leave and trying to find someone to take care of the pets while we were away and all, it was a very busy late November, early December for David and I.

As most will know I now work at the same place as David, have done so for almost a year. In the final weeks before our Christmas break we had several sites to finish and launch. One for a Stockbroking Company, one for a horse auctioneer and another for a well-known horse trainer in NSW. On top of these we also had changes to our internal sites that needed to happen before we took leave. It was a mad-house in those last few days.

To be honest the work didn’t stop there. For a couple of days David had work to do, then on the 23rd I had work to do, on Christmas Eve David was working and again today he is working. It’s madness. Of course the work that I had to do was stuff that should have been done weeks ago. But I got wrapped up in one of the other client sites and forgot to finish off the internal work.

Oh and I forgot the trouble we have had with our car. Just going on two years old and the little bugger gave out on me, in the middle of Melbourne city at 10 am. The clutch went and wouldn’t recover. After a tow to the Ford dealership and them having it for two days, repairing it under warranty we were told it is a known problem and one they had now fixed. They lied.

On Christmas Eve, while David was working, Jennifer, Mum, Alek and I went out to see some of the local Christmas lights in Hurstville only to be driving up to the first place and have the clutch go out AGAIN. I was furious and worried about what we would do given that it was late at night and that the Ford dealership wasn’t going to be open for two days, plus we would need a tow again AND we would have to alter our Christmas plans which we weren’t happy about.

Fortunately Jennifer had left her keys at home and David was there working so he was able to come pick us up and share in my panic. At 10.30 pm he called his folks to see if they wouldn’t mind making a 50 km detour to come check on the car. His dad, Peter, is a mechanic and he agreed to come check it out.

In the interim he did some research on the Internet and found that this is a very common problem with the Ford Festiva and in Europe there has actually be a recall on the unit due to the issue, something they haven’t done here in Australia yet. He also found that it is relatively easy to fix. Essentially there is a shaft under the dash that the clutch piston fits into and it is too short and at times the two slip apart. How annoying. Peter showed David where it all was and how to fix it, he then applied what is basically a permanent fix, two zip-ties! After Ford having it for two days and it breaking again the fix is a couple of zip-ties. Crazy.

So anyway. Other than the work and the car trouble, we’ve been having a great time with the family. Enjoying the festivities. The killer for me is Jacob and Maygen’s new trampoline, it is MASSIVE. I had to have a jump on it and man does that damn thing wear you out a lot faster than I can ever remember a tramp wiping me out before.

The kids were doing all sorts of tricks. Jacob’s lack of fear both amazes and worries me. Just as he is on his bike, he is on the tramp. Willing to try anything.

Today we went shopping with David’s Mum and found the present she has been hanging for, a Nintendo Wii. It was looking like it would be hard to get until we went to the GAME shop at Lake Haven shopping center where we secured the Wii plus an additional game for $388. Sharon also bought Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City, the game she bought the Wii to play.

We bought them WiiFit for their new Wii as a thanks for coming and saving our poor stranded car and saving our plans for Christmas day.

Tonight we’re off to dinner in Belmont and tomorrow out for a family day in Sydney where we’ll finally visit the Apple Centre in Sydney. Later in the week we’ll be going to the movies with my Mum and visiting my friend Andrew.

We’re wrapping up our visit on New Years Day when we’ll pack up the car and drive the ten hours home.

I also have an update on a photoshoot I did the week before we left, but I still haven’t even had time to go through the photos yet…