Thursday, 27 April 2017

Our Australian Family Adventure

We're back from our whistle stop tour of Australia!
It's fair to say, its impossible to do such a huge continent justice in 12 days, but as our main objective was to meet up with family, we certainly achieved that, and much more!
We started on Phillip Island Victoria, staying with my cousin and family
On our first day they took us for a walk around the beautiful area called
The Nobbies
Seals live here, but we didn't manage to see any!
Every evening on Phillip Island, tiny "fairy penguins" come in to nest as the sun sets.
We had booked to see this amazing event that night, but were thrilled to see one or two earlier.
Next up was a visit to a local Koala park.
Whilst koalas are visible in the wild, to be sure we saw one, we thought this was the best way...and as it turns out, we didn't see any more for the rest of the stay.
It really was a thrill for all of us to see these familiar creatures in the flesh...but I was constantly reminded they are not "koala BEARS!"
The following day we were treated to a BBQ on the beach, further along the coast.
These stainless steel BBQs are readily and freely available all over Australia and make life so much easier.
The blue skies and sea were really a treat, and something we didn't get used to, every day we appreciated the constant "summer day" despite the fact it was their autumn!
We were driven up to a viewing spot, where we were searching for dolphins, we had been seen the day before....we didn't see them here, but as we were driving along on our way home they made an appearance....
...that really was special!
Hopefully you can just seem them mid frame.
Our next visit was to the grave of the Teens great, great, great, great Grandfather!
We were visiting for Grandma of course, who has taken a keen interest in her family tree, which her late brother had looked into for much of his retired years.
We knew a little about Great Grandad's life, but were taken aback when the music director of the church came out to see if we were descendants.
He was delighted to meet us and told us how choir boys were brought out to the grave to be told the life story of this inspiring man.
He is in the process of writing a book about this late relative of our family's and has promised to send us a copy.
It really was a most unexpected meeting and we knew Grandma would be thrilled to hear the story.
Next up, was roo spotting in the woods, it really was a strange feeling to see this very familiar animals, out in the wild!
They come out at dusk and blend perfectly into the background and are in incredibly quiet!
Finally we were driven up to a beauty spot to see Melbourne by night and then on for fish and cod or haddock here...."flake" instead, which I learnt was shark!
Our last full day with my cousin was a bit of a quieter day, starting off with a walk to see mangroves
Lunch was new to me...souvlaki, which I understand is from Greece and very similar to a doner kebab ( but having only had one in my life I couldn't be too sure!)
It was very tasty!
We did a few touristy things, checking out the local souvenir shops, an ice cream and then a walk along the jetty.
Before heading pack to get packed up, we were taken to a supermarket to buy some Tim Tams.
A big favourite to the Ozzies.
I suggested they were like our Penguin biscuits, turns out I wasn't far out...they are based on the original recipe, but have some subtle differences.
Whilst looking around the supermarket I was intrigued for a sign that said
Paper towels
Toilet tissue
What on earth was Manchester?
Turns out its the generic term for linens/towels etc!
There was time for one more walk down my cousin's road, with its lovely sea views....
we had had such a great time getting to know her Teens, it was going to be sad saying goodbye.
All too soon, we were heading back to Melbourne  (a three hour drive!) for the beginning of another adventure in Sydney.
Our adventure started earlier than we had expected, when a conversation with a police dog handler ended up with being asked to take part in some canine training.
Well it would have been rude to say no wouldn't it!
Some spent ammo was planted on Teen Two's case and a few minutes later the newbie was brought in to see if she could smell the week old bullets...
...she passed with flying colours and was rewarded with some play time with a rolled up towel!
After an hour's flight, we were met by Hubby's cousin, who did very well in spotting us straight away!
Meeting strangers is not how we felt, we instantly felt part of the family and it didn't take Teen Two long to make a new friend!
We spent the evening by the fire ( it was autumn after all!) catching up on family news and getting to know this side of the family.
Our hosts had a beautiful, open plan house ( always a favourite style of mine) with beautiful hand made quilts on our beds and embroidered items throughout the house, a real homely touch and one I knew FQ2FF would appreciate too.
I just knew I was going to feel right at home here, and get along famously with my cousin in law as soon as I said
"I have a favour to ask" within minutes of arriving, and she turned to me replying...
After a good night's sleep under that beautiful quilt, our hosts arranged a trolley tour of Wentworth Falls, in the Blue Mountains.
It just so happened the trolley driver was our cousin in law's brother, so we had a free ride and extra laughs along the way!
The views across the Blue Mountains were breath taking, and we learnt that they are so called because of the blue haze given off by the gum trees.
Half way through the tour, our hosts took us for a Devonshire cream tea, at a teapot museum, some might say this was "coals to Newcastle" taking English visitors for a typical cream tea....however we were delighted to be indulging in one of our favourite treats.
The scones were delicious and were slightly different to our English scones...slightly lighter and batch baked.
Hubby's cousin was a baker before he retired and used to provide the scones for this particular tea shop...needless to say they didn't come up to his standards!

After dinner we were taken to another beauty spot to see the sun setting...
...over Wentworth Falls.
We didn't have enough day light to get safely back from the Falls, so admired the view from here.
After another lovely night's sleep and attending church with our cousin's
we headed out for a three hour drive into the country to meet another cousin.
There were several stops along the way to admire the spectacular views.
We eventually made it to the farm and the start of another adventure!
And the adventures started straight after dinner!
We were taken out in the "yute" to go roo hunting.
Hubby and the Teens stood at the back, whilst I chose the comfier inside seat!
We weren't disappointed, there were more than we could count, but being rather shy creatures they always hopped away before we got too close.
It was such fun for the Teens, riding out there in the open air....not to mention bumpy terrain!
Who needs theme parks!
We spent the next half hour admiring the unspoilt view of the stars...which of course look very different from that part of the world!
After a peaceful night's sleep, we woke to this beautiful view from our bedroom window
After a hearty farmhouse cooked breakfast, our day was mapped out...starting with some cattle that needed moving to a new field.
The Teens took their now familiar places in the back of the yute and off we went!
The idea was to make ourselves as wide as we could, with our arms open, and then guide the cattle up the hill....thankfully they understood what was expected of them!
Teen Two was then invited on to the back of the quad 
(and didn't need asking twice!)
and pretty soon was promoted to driver!!
After what appeared to a worried mother, minimal instructions, he was off!!
Like a pro it has to be said!
"In his element" springs to mind!
We were taken to the four corners of the farm, where the views were breathtaking.
Our Farmer cousin, used to be an Opera Singer at the world famous Sydney Opera House,
and has since built his own house  and farm, so this really is a lifestyle change!
This bull (yes I did say bull!) was reared by Teen's cousin, seen here ( and also sharing the same name by coincidence!) but I was no less concerned about how close they were and the sheer size of him!
Turns out he really was a pussycat!
But I was much more comfortable with his off spring!
With our work in the fields done, and the sun starting to beat down on us, it was time for something less the handmade train track that surrounds the garden was the next port of call.
Meanwhile, Teen One turned out to be a regular little Action Girl!
Needless to say, Hubby had to give it a try to, whilst I preferred taking the photo's!
All too soon we were packing up the car again, for the three hour journey back, ahead of another flight the next day.

We arrived after sunset and our hosts suggested a quick trip out to see the Three Sisters floodlit.
We had seen them a day or two earlier in day light, but this was really beautiful.
Sadly my photo didn't come out so I am thankful for this one found online.
We had our final sleep in Sydney, and then it was a sad farewell to new friends made...
...and the car once again packed up, for a flight and new adventure in Brisbane.
This time we were staying in a motel, which was very well equipped, and for the first time in ages we watched some TV.....seems British TV is very popular over there, no small wonder I guess.
One of the highlights for me was, discovering not only did I have a little laundry room, complete, with washer, drier, and pegs to go with the four line outside....
this little cupboard was actually...
...a laundry shute!!
We popped to the local supermarket...Woolworths ( but alas no Pick'nMix) for some basic provisions, and I was mystified as to why these bananas had their toenails painted!!
Turns out they are dipped in red wax to mark them out as being organic.
We bought ourselves some real "Bush Tucker" with not a hint of a giant maggot or anything  else live ( or otherwise!) in sight!
We also tried out this local delicacy...very yum it was too!
Two litres was rather too much to get through for our short stay, so the Teens had the rest of it for breakfast on the last day.....apparently ice cream on toast is quite acceptable!

Our visit was of course all about meeting family, but we still were treated to some wonderful sight seeing tours, this time it was our first glimpse of the Gold Coast
The beaches were out of this world, with no one to share it with either!
The family had their first experience of paddling in the Pacific
I think Teen Two could have stayed there the rest of the afternoon, in those golden sands.
Next on the itinerary was meeting another cousin who is Teen Two's namesake ( we weren't very original in our baby names were we!)
Like his father, he is also a baker, so we were treated to some freshly baked scones...
...and a delicious fruit bread....yum!
Its fair to say, the six kids had no idea who we were or where we fitted in to their family tree, so we drew up a quick time line of who went where,  and hopefully they will remember their distant cousins from England visiting them.
Once more it was time to say goodbye!
Another day dawned and more new experiences, starting with a walk through a rain forest
(wish we had taken antihistamines in the bag....poor Teen Two suffered quite a bit here!)
The trees and plants were truly amazing and it was good to be in the cool for a while
Next up was the sights of these magma "mountains" left over from volcanic eruptions, a truly unique sight for us.

On our way back for a large family gathering ( with yet more cousins we hadn't yet met!) we stopped off at Montville, which was a very picturesque old town, with beautiful arts and crafts shops, a delight to wander round.
If money is no object, you have coffee or lunch here, with amazing views
(we enjoyed a picnic in the park!)
Before we knew it, it was the last day, with no chance to have tried the outdoor pool in the motel complex, however we had met everyone (and more!) we had hoped to, and had experiences to last a lifetime!
Before leaving for the airport, we had a few hours to fill, so met our cousin at the home of the late aunt and uncle we were so sad not to have arrived in time to meet.
I was taken with the cute wheelie bin logo!
It was rather surreal to be in their home, with all their possessions, and them not being there.
However we have brought a little of their life back with us!
Auntie had a humongous wool stash (this is a drop in the ocean!)
After some persuading, I agreed to bring back one of these bags full of pretty wool, for Grandma to use up.
Thankfully we had ample luggage allowance  so could easily have taken more, but it would have entailed buying a new case etc, so we just contended ourselves with using one of these large laundry bags.
I hope Grandma would bless rather than curse me for this "gift!"
With just a few hours left in "Paradise" we spent it on the beach
We had expected to spend some time in the water, and had borrowed towels for the occasion, but the warnings about shark and jelly fish somewhat dampened our enthusiasm!
So shell collecting....
...and writing messages in the sand it was!
Australia is certainly full of amazing experiences and creatures, ones we are more used to seeing in cages at home, so we never quite got used to see the beautiful wildlife all around us,
these sacred ibis were as common as seagulls...
...the pigeons had pretty little tufted heads...
...cockatoos fill the skies and trees like pigeons do at home...
parakeets fill trees at dusk, filling the air with their squawking, whereas at home we have starlings...
...and there just isn't anything quite like a galaa at home!
Each morning we were woken with the screeching and squawking of all these amazing looking birds,
but being back home now, hearing the gentle dawn chorus of our smaller and less colourful birds, has been a real treat and I do so love our English bird song....but then I am of course biased!
Our all too short 12 day adventure was truly amazing.
The kindness and warmth with which we were met by family that had up until last week, been just a name on a family tree, was beyond our expectation.
Everyone went out of their way to ensure our holiday was a memorable one and we truly appreciated how everyone put themselves out for us, being taxi's, tour guides,  and opening their hearts and homes to us.
We will never forget you and miss you all already!