Saturday, January 30, 2010

Australia Day

Australia Day this year was celebrated on Tuesday. Depending on your social and political persuasion it is also referred to as Invasion Day or Flag Waving Idiots Day. I actually really like it, although I guess it's important to make a distinction between patriotism and nationalism.

Anyway we found ourselves in Commonwealth Park enjoying a traditional sausage sizzle. The prospect of free sausages brought Canberrans out in droves. I loved one of the official slogans of the Day, which rather than getting tied up in the politics, history and meaning simply read Australia Day - Barbecue like you've never Barbecued before. nice.

Being on a Tuesday Australia also recorded it's highest ever number of sickies on Monday, with over half a million people calling in sick and giving themselves a four day weekend. The Retailers Association labelled them 'un-Australian bums' with no concept of 'mateship' which I found pretty funny (I went into work by the way).

thousands queue for 30 minutes for an early morning free sausage in white bread.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day Trip to Kiama

On Saturday we took a day trip to the seaside town of Kiama. The town has a famous blow hole, which last time I was there was blowing sprays of water thirty feet or more into the air. Amy hadn't visited the town before, and so I was looking forward to showing her the natural spectacle, so we ventured down to the cliffs to see...a hole, minus any sign of spray.

The lady in the visitor centre told us (and probably thousands of other visitors) that the blowhole was a natural occurance and relied on a South Easterly wind (in other words, I had been lucky last time).

Despite the lack of blow in the hole we spent a really nice day on East Beach which was a really child friendly beach. We found a shady spot by the cliff and enjoyed a picnic before heading home. Here's some pics

self timer (balanced on the rocks) East Beach, KiamaMaking sandcastles
Eli sleeping after his swim with Dad

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Casuarina Sands

We took a trip to Casuarina Sands at the weekend. It's only a short drive out of Canberra and it's recently been subject to a big revamp with new toilet blocks, parking and a deck area. It's basically the closest that land-locked Canberra comes to having a beach.

There were lots of swimmers and inflatable dinghies in the water and we had a really nice picnic on the newly laid lawn in the shade. Here's some pictures;

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mount Stromlo Observatory

Both the kids were awake just before 5am this morning. Eli was laughing and smiling (when all we wanted was sleep) and his sister joined his awakedness not long afterwards.

Given the hopelessness of the situation I took the two of them kangaroo spotting at nearby Mount Stromlo which is only a 10 minute drive from our house. The place is noteable as it is the site of the Stromlo Observatory which used to have the largest telescope in the Southern hemisphere (the 4th largest in the World). It is still home of the Australian National University school of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Unfortunately the site was severly damaged by the firestorm that tore through Canberra in 2003 destroying five telescopes on the site and as a result much of the work previously done there has been moved to Siding Spring.

Despite it being so early in the day, there were already a number of cyclists who had impressively conquored the steep incline to the top of the Mount, presumably in order to beat the heat of the sun.

We were lucky enough to spot quite a number of kangaroos much to Audrey and Eli's delight making our quest a success. Eli flaked out in the car on the way home.

Early morning kangaroo spotting on Mount Stromlo

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Best friends (most of the time)

I (Amy) couldn't resist taking this photo today. This is the view I get most times when pushing Audrey and Eli around in the double stroller. So lovely!! No wonder I get so many smiles from people as they go past.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

On a bicycle made for two!

Braving the heat(!) Amy took Audrey on a quick bike ride round the block.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eli eating Vegemite on toast this morning

Like his sister, Eli is a big fan of Vegemite. Here he is tucking into some spread on toast this morning.

Ant Attack

Our back lawn is criss-crossed with ant nests at the moment, and I put down a fair amount of ant-powder this morning to try and repel them.

I managed to wipe out a Bull-ant nest which was right outside of our front door, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to wipe out some of their smaller cousins who seem to have taken over our lawn.

I do think there is a certain truth in one of Audrey's books though which says if you kill 200 ants then 500 more come to the funeral!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Eli on the carpet at home

Here's Eli not quite crawling aged 8 months...

Audrey playing with the sprinklers in Mildura

Water abounds in Mildura, and on a particularly hot afternoon Audrey had great fun in the sprinklers on Amy's parents lawn!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas and New Year in Mildura

" It's 800 kilometers to Mildura. We've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of licorice. It's dark and Audrey's wearing sunglasses"..

So began our road trip to spend Christmas and New Year visiting Amy's parents (Ivor and Wendy). Unlike previous times we've made the journey we completed our trip in one go rather than stopping in the (Hammer House of Horror) town of Hay. It took us around 11 hours both going and coming back, and the kids were excellent passengers both ways, which was a huge relief. Part of the secret seemed to be heading off early (4.45am) which meant that they were subdued for a fair amount of the journey. The Justine Clarke CD also got played a hundred times.

Driving long distances such as this is different in Australia to the UK. In the UK it's more a case of dodging the spray off the roads and avoiding over-tired lorry drivers. In Australia it's more of an endurance drive with long stretches of nothingness with no visible signs of civilisation from the road to the horizon. It makes you realise just what a huge continent Australia is.

We spent nearly a week in Mildura. It's a nice town, pretty much miles from anywhere set up originally by two Canadians who forged an irrigation scheme to make farming possible. The arrival of the railway allowed the town to boom and it's now well known for orange growing as well as the River Murray which meanders its way past the edge of town.

Amongst other things; we spent half a day on a beach on the edge of the Murray, visited Wentworth Gaol an historic gaol (built in 1879), had an interesting morning in the town's art gallery, had a couple of trips to the leisure centre for Audrey (ok Dad) to show off her swimming skills and I spent a morning fishing with Ivor, catching a Golden Perch.

Most of all it was good to see Amy's parents and for them to see how the kids had grown. Eli especially loved the extra attention and cuddles he got. He's a real sucker for kisses!

We returned to Canberra on Friday and the significantly more cramped confines of our ancient (in a bad way) kitchen and tiny bathroom.

Here's a few pics

Amy, the kids and her parents on one of Mildura's 'beaches'

Eli dipping his toes in

Audrey at the botanic gardens

Wentworth Gaol

Eli being disturbed in his bathAudrey escaping the heat by playing in the sprinklersMe with my catch!Balranald (famous for its frogs!) Amy in Narrandera on our drive home (kids in their pyjamas)