Posts Tagged ‘australia’

Snippets and quotes

October 28, 2013

We’re just home from visiting the grandparents in Australia. It was a lovely family occasion, with all of The Dad’s side of the family gathering at once, lots of cousins to run around with and plenty of happy meals together.

A few things the kids said and did during the week stuck with me…

Fainjin, to Babess, as they ran towards the water at the beach to paddle and play race-the-waves: “Remember, don’t drown!”

Babess, looking at the in-flight magazine with its glossy, expensive jewellery ads: “[Bulgari necklace] That’s pretty… [diamond watch] that’s very cool… [more glamorous necklaces & rings] those are lovely… [magnificent and huge Tiffany solitaire diamond ring] [in very hushed tones] That’s awesome!”

Pearl, headphones still on, eyes glued to the back-of-the-seat screen, on our third plane of the day, as everyone around her was standing up to leave: “Are we getting off this plane, Mum?”

Babess, stepping thoughtlessly off the side of the swimming pool and plunging in right over her head – right in front of The Dad, which was why he was in with the kids in the first place… she was shocked and unimpressed, but no worse the wear.

Building a sand edifice and decorating it with shells… “It’s not a sand castle, Mum, it’s a sand kingdom!”  Babess gathered the shells, proclaiming it “the perfect beach!”  Fainjin dug a dungeon then went to get water to fill it – I thought he was going to pour the water into the sand, but he told me “That would be ridICKAlous!” and he dug a hole for the water container (half a plastic milk bottle which we’d improvised into a bucket for beach purposes) and semi-buried it.  “Now the water will stay there, see?”

© UpsideBackwards 2013.



January 1, 2013
Wombat you looking at?

Wombat you looking at?

Since we were driving to and from Grandma & Grandad’s house and Brisbane this trip, we were able to take in some scenery and attractions on the way.

A major stop on the way home was a day spent at Australia Zoo.  The Dad had visited this place once before, way back in the mists of time when Steve Irwin was a teenager and his parents ran the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park.

It has changed a little bit since then.

Changes. I've seen plenty in *my* lifetime.

Changes. I’ve seen plenty in *my* lifetime.

Babess was mad keen to feed an elephant, and Fainjin wanted to see the tigers.  Luckily, they are close together.  Oh, and I should add that there is a “birthday club” – if your child’s birthday is within a week of your visit, they get in for free and the rest of your party gets a 10% discount.  Well done Fainjin for being born at the right time of year!  So anyway, we wandered towards the tigers, admiring various animals on the way, and made it back to the elephant feeding at exactly the right time to spend just a few minutes in the queue.

Babess was still mad keen to feed an elephant.  I wasn’t quite so keen, but took her in the line.  We were warned that if anyone hesitated, the elephants might get bored and wander off, ending the feeding session.  We got to the front of the line and were given a chunk of carrot each.  I held mine out, and Sabu took it neatly off my outstretched hand, leaving me with a slightly slimy palm.  Babess froze, her eyes wide and her hand clenched around the carrot.  “Hold it out!” I urged her, but she was fixed to the spot, staring at the 4-tonne hungry animal in front of her.  Fearing the reaction of the crowds behind us if the elephant decided we weren’t worth the effort, I grabbed the carrot and held it out.  Sabu took that one too, and we moved away from the feeding mat.

Babess was more relieved than disappointed, luckily, and we have some nice photos of her nearly feeding an elephant that she can show her friends at daycare.

We saw the Wildlife Warriors show with the Irwin family.  Pearl was breathless at the experience of seeing Bindi in real life.  Bob fed a crocodile:

Bob Irwin feeds a croc

Bob Irwin feeds a croc

And then Terri fed one too:

Terri's bigger than Bob... so is her croc

Terri’s bigger than Bob… so is her croc

Bindi wasn’t left out.

Bindi is just a little bit older than my niece... eeek!

Bindi is just a little bit older than my niece… eeek!

Of all the exotic animals in the zoo, the one the kids were most keen to see was… a pony.  They all had a pony ride, and we got some lovely photos from the zoo’s photographer (these are not those).  Babess got scared when her tiny pony moved, though, and had to be rescued without actually getting a ride.  We were offered our $5 back, which I declined – after all, we got the lovely photo, and it wasn’t their fault Babess baulked.  I was impressed at the offer though.




Pony rides!

In general, the customer service at the zoo was exceptional.  Any time we interacted with the staff they went just a little bit further than you might expect to make sure our day was a great one.  We saw a keeper walking a very large snake towards the “Wildlife Experience” photography studio.  He stopped so Fainjin could pat it.  I was very disappointed that the family had split up briefly, and The Dad had the girls with him – and the camera!

The kids got to pat a koala, and meet a kangaroo:

098 100

In short, a great time was had by all.

If you’re thinking of going, I recommend taking your own lunch – there are lovely picnic spots and this is encouraged.  The food in the food court is pretty good, but it all adds to the cost of the day.  Take plenty of water too.  Splash out on ice-creams or a photo session with a huge snake, instead of the basics.  Make sure you see the Wildlife Warriors show, and take the opportunity to feed an elephant or interact with the camels, or whatever other activities they have on the day.  And definitely take a kid who has a birthday within the week!

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Pre-birthday party

December 27, 2012

Since we first decided that we would be in Australia for Christmas this year, Fainjin has been talking about having his birthday party with his cousins.  In his mind, his birthday is immediately after Christmas (it’s about 10 days after), and he couldn’t think of anything better than celebrating with the gang of boy-cousins here.

So today we packed a cake (a bought one, horrors! but actually rather nice) in a chilly bin with lots of cold packs, some chippies, some lollies and plenty of cold drinks and met the rest of the Australian family at a local playground.

Presents were… presented.  A candle was lit, a song was sung, there was much feasting and then the kids all played on the playground and the parents and grandparents hovered, watched or ignored them according to each family’s age group and inclination.

“Is this a good party?” I asked Fainjin, just checking in to make sure we’d met expectations.  “Yeah,” he said quietly, and gave me a grin.  Babess, overhearing, was more exuberant.  “This is the best party ever!”

I hope she’s not planning a June repeat for her own birthday!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Holiday snaps

December 22, 2012

We’re on our way to see Grandma and Grandad – and uncles, aunts and cousins – for Christmas.  Usually we fly all the way, but this year we are driving from Brisbane.  We landed mid-morning Queensland time, but lunchtime in NZ, so as soon as we had picked up our rental car we headed for some food.

After lunch, we gave the kids quarter of an hour in the playground to stretch their legs.  I popped into the adjacent shop for some snacks and water bottles for the trip, and as I put them in the car I noticed the parking sign.

“We might be in a spot of bother,” I informed The Dad, who was supervising the kids at the playground.  He looked concerned, and I said, “We might have to stay a bit longer than we planned…”

Minimum 2 hours?!

Minimum 2 hours?!

Luckily, no-one tried to stop us when we left after only 45 minutes or so.

The drive is more than one day, so we have stopped for a couple of nights in a small town to recover from yesterday’s long journey and acclimatise a little bit.  The place we’re staying has a children’s programme, and the girls enjoyed making Christmas decorations.  Fainjin didn’t want to make an ornament, so he asked for some paper to draw a picture.  When he was done, he brought it to show me.

Fainjin's picture

Fainjin’s picture

“I decided to draw the water cycle,” he said.  “With a crocodile.”

As you do.  He even drew in some sunspots.  That’s the sun in the upper left of the picture – it does have rays, but the yellow is difficult to see.  He’s written “sun” underneath, in case of any doubt.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Sydney in a whirl

November 11, 2012

We’re just back from a 3-day trip to Sydney.  Quite the jet-set, you may think, but the reason was a sad one, a family funeral.  However, it was a lovely funeral for a wonderful man – a great-uncle to our children –  and a loving family gathering.  The children met second-cousins they had never seen (and some they had never heard of), and found things in common beyond looks and and great-grandparents.  The parents renewed old acquaintance (and made new) with cousins and cousins-in-law, catching up on several years of news that hadn’t made the Christmas letters.

In the brief period before and after the funeral, we enjoyed being in Sydney as always.  It was warm, and quite muggy, and we didn’t need to carry cardigans let alone warm jackets.  We sat outside to eat in a Japanese restaurant near our hotel, and the children were enchanted to find blankets provided on their seats.  The waitresses charmed and were charmed by the kids, particularly Babess, whom they sneaked up on to wrap her up in a bright red blanket, and to tickle the back of her neck just to hear her giggle.

We barely escaped being caught in a spectacular storm, dashing the last 30m or so to a covered walkway as the huge raindrops started.  We spent about 15 minutes on that walkway as lightning flashed and thunder boomed, shaking the ground.  Then the hail started, pea-sized lumps of ice pelting down.  Fainjin was delighted, rushing to pick up the hailstones which ricocheted into the walkway off adjacent building walls.  Babess was petrified and bawled, despite my best efforts to calm and soothe her with cuddles and words in her ear which she probably couldn’t hear over the roar of the hail on the iron roof.

We discovered that the Wiggles exhibition is still on at the Powerhouse.  We had seen it last time we were in Sydney, and the kids loved it.  The adults found it rather… overwhelming, after a while.  I had thought (hoped?) it was a temporary installation, but apparently not.  Fortunately for our sanity, this time the novelty was less and we were able to explore some other parts of the museum after only an hour or so.

We had a lovely picnic in the park with Grandma & Grandad, family photos, defending our lunch from encroaching ibis, and children running around with Uncle G to explore.

Three days was just enough for us to start getting used to the 2-hour time difference, and need to readjust now we’re home.  Getting everyone up and out the door to school and work tomorrow might be a challenge!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


Home again

October 6, 2012

We are home again, all thoroughly spoilt by our time in Australia.  We had (mostly) fantastic weather, caught up with several friends and some family, visited lots of fun places – including Questacon about 7 times! – and ate wonderfully well.

We got home after midnight last night, so it was a late wake-up this morning, especially because of the current 3-hour time difference between here and Melbourne.  Getting the children to bed on time this evening was an exercise in futility, too.  They went into their bedroom in their pyjamas at 7:30, but there was a lot of giggling, singing and playing until well after 10pm.  I expect tomorrow will be a late-ish wake-up too…

Today we have unpacked, done the laundry, and generally settled back in to being home.  The children have loved being back in their own bedrooms with all their books (Pearl) and toys (Fainjin and Babess), and had a good time riding their scooters in the sunshine and inspecting the garden with me.

The irises are opening up nicely, and there are even some ranunculus making a nice display.  The sunflowers the kids planted just before we left have sprouted – at least a few of them – and we have more seeds so will plant some more this coming week.  Of course, the weeds have appreciated our absence even more, but we’ll just keep working away at those.

I’ll miss the delightful creations at Brunetti‘s, but at least I have another week of school holidays to work them off by taking the kids for long walks!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Reasons to visit Melbourne: great food, trams, and your own bathroom

October 1, 2012

The children are enjoying being in Melbourne this week.  They are very enamoured of the trams, and Fainjin is particularly keen to ride on an “extra-long one that is blue”.  He must have seen one go past and decided it looks especially sleek.

We went out for dinner last night, or rather stayed out as we had been out most of the day.  When I suggested we feed the children in town before going home, The Dad started looking at fast-food sort of places, but I cried foul.  Melbourne is known as a foodie city, and I wanted real food, a bit of an adventure – nothing that would challenge the kids toooo much, but something a little out of the ordinary.  Pearl readily agreed to the idea of Chinese food, as she had enjoyed going to a yum cha with friends in Canberra last week.  Fainjin was more reluctant – no surprise there – but he will and does eat plain rice, and in the end he was quite happy.  We found a likely-looking place in Chinatown, but they had no table available, so we wandered a little further and found another one.  It was very child-friendly, and had lots of Chinese people eating in it (always a good sign).  It also had a window from outside into the kitchen, so the kids could watch wide-eyed as the chefs prepared meals.  The chefs smiled and waved at them – another encouraging sign.

The Dad and I shared a spicy duck dish, while the kids stuck to fairly plain fare of rice and pork dumplings, but everyone was happy.  Dessert was very large bowls of chocolate ice-cream for the children (none of them could finish it!), and The Dad and I shared a bowl of mango ice-cream and a plate of glutinous black rice in coconut jelly – absolutely delicious!

This morning Fainjin noticed that the master bedroom in our apartment has an ensuite bathroom, and exclaimed in disgusted envy, “Babess!  They have their own bathroom!  Again!”

Babess came running to look, and tsked in sympathy with him.  “We should come to Melbourne by ourselves, when I’m a Mummy and you’re a Daddy,” she said, “without Kate and [The Dad].”  “Or Pearl,” agreed Fainjin.  The Dad and I were heartily amused that this would be their motivation to return!

Today we spent most of the day at Melbourne Museum, mostly looking at dinosaur skeletons and playing in the playground.  It’s a great museum, but the biggest attractions for the kids were the set of oversized Lego blocks in the play area and the colouring-in activity in the upper gallery.  That was fine, it gave us time to catch up with the friends who were accompanying us.

Afterwards, they played in the gravel courtyard outside, bringing us “crystals!” (bits of quartz) with great excitement and staging running races for which they devised their own handicap system to accommodate the different ages and sizes of the several children present.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Canberra wrap-up

September 30, 2012

I’m back!  Our internet connection in Canberra was unreliable, so I was unable to post.

We had a lovely 10 days there, and the weather was wonderful for 9 of them.  The last day – when The Dad had the afternoon off and we had planned to go to Tidbinbilla so the kids could experience a bit of bushwalking and see some iconic Australian wildlife up close, and maybe call in at the Deep Space Communication Centre too – was pretty horrible, with thunder, lightning, rain and strong winds, so we stayed home instead.

We went to Questacon most days – we got a family membership so we could come and go as we pleased.  The kids loved it there, and every time we went we discovered a new thing we hadn’t seen or done before.  The staff are really great and love showing people how to get the most out of their visit.  One day they were demonstrating Mobius strips and knitting in one area; Pearl & Fainjin had fun doing some French knitting.  Babess wasn’t so keen, but I learned a new trick with Mobius strips which I’m looking forward to practising for my new party trick!

On Pearl’s birthday we rode on the Carousel in the middle of town, and lovely friends hosted a pizza party for her for dinner – complete with cake, gifts and even party bags!

The kids admired the views from Mt Ainslie, but they liked the outing to the Reptile Centre and miniature village even more.  We took them up Black Mountain but found the views from there weren’t great unless you go up the tower (we didn’t).  Babess was excited, later that evening, to see the tower all lit up in the dark.  “There’s Black Mountain!” she exclaimed.  “I know why it’s called Black Mountain – it’s because at night time, it looks black.”  She can be very logical at times.

Amongst all this sightseeing, we also spent a lot of time – but never enough – with some very dear friends, which was absolutely lovely.  I have a soft spot for Canberra, it is a great place and I’d be quite happy to live there for a while.  I hope we’ll get back again in the not-too-distant future.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

A Capital Destination

September 19, 2012

We flew to Canberra, Australia’s capital city.  We went to the car park to find our rental car.  “Can we just take any car we like?” Babess asked, surveying the rows of shiny new-looking vehicles.  “No,” I said, “we have to take the one they’ve given us.”  It is a nice car, though, and when we found it, I noted the licence plate and said, “Hey, it’s a Queensland car!”
Babess looked most concerned.  “Is it ok?  Can we get in it?”

“Yes, in you hop,” after a very early morning and a couple of flights I wasn’t feeling the sharpest.  “Doesn’t the Queen need it today?” Babess asked, and only then did it dawn on me why she was worried.  Not the Queen’s car, a Queensland car!  We sorted that out, and carried on.

The children are impressed with our accommodation, and raced around exploring their rooms and all the facilities.  Eventually Babess and Fainjin ended up sitting in the sunshine on our little patio.  “Canberra is brilliant!” Fainjin enthused.

Just wait until he sees Questacon.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Australia Fair

June 27, 2012

We were in the car coming home at the end of the day, listening to the news on the radio.

Babess exclaimed when there was a story about something happening in Australia.  “Australia!  That’s my fav’rite crunchie!”

The Dad and I shared a grin – his a rather smug one, I might note.  “Australia‘s your favourite country?!” I asked.

“Yeah!  Australia!”

“What about New Zealand?”

There was a short, considering pause.  “Nah… not my favourite.”

Australia it is, then, I suppose!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

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