Friday, December 31, 2010

How clean is your house?

One of our new digital channels has offered up an enlightening new show. We watched an episode last night that immediately prompted me to clean our spa. If you enjoy other people's filth you will love this show and you'll feel a whole lot better about your house straight away, I promise.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Summer in Qld

Normally I hate Summer, especially the humidity. This year has been very different and we are in the midst of the coldest Summer I can ever remember. Much of our state is in the grips of major flood and all it's done for weeks is rain.

Today the sun finally came out! Suddenly we all felt happier and I decided to get stuck into a few household jobs to spruce up the place for the new year. I have done many, many loads of washing and they have dried nicely today in the sun and wind. By some miracle it was warm but not humid so I scrubbed the kitchen cupboard fronts and mopped the floors.

What are your plans for getting your house into shape for the new year?

 Summer in Qld, you can't feel the lovely breeze or hear the birds but I wanted to take a picture to remind me anyway.

 Shining and clean

One of the best things about Summer - stone fruit. Note the 'mouse' nibbles.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Day Ten- Barron Falls

After we visited Birdworld we then followed the signs to Barron Falls. Because it had rained a lot the weeks before we visited, the falls had a reasonable amount of water in them which made for great viewing.

To get to Barron Falls we had to walk through a rainforest for about 15 mins. I have a massive phobia of snakes and so Mark kindly stood obstructing the view of this fake snake until I was on top of it. He moved, I screamed, many people laughed. Great times.

The walk was peppered with lookouts and sculptures. This is a preying mantis.

The view was worth the walk. Barron Falls is breathtaking. If you squint hard you may also make out the stupid people playing on the rocks!

The falls are a lot fuller now than they were when we visited. I've added a video that was taken yesterday (Dec 27, 2010) for comparison.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Day Ten- Kuranda

After working for three days I was very keen to start exploring more of Cairns. Day ten was a huge day and I just realised that on that day alone I took 127 photos. I've tried to select the best to share here but here's fair warning- massive photo share ahead!

Day ten saw us travel to Kuranda which is described as the 'village in the rainforest.' There are many ways to get to Kuranda, including the Scenic Railway and Skyrail. Both of these options are expensive and we decided that we would just drive up and take in the sights once we were up there. 

Despite being in the rainforest, Kuranda was damn hot! We started the day by eating lunch (we had a late start) and I was hoping the food would placate the heat-induced crankiness.

Hot, hungry and cranky

'As above'

After our lunch we headed across the road, bound for Birdworld. Tiny Girl just adores birds and Birdworld boasts the 'largest single collection of free-flying birds in Australia.' Basically Birdworld is a huge aviary filled with birds.

On the way to the aviary we spotted a crashed aircraft and we were enthralled with it until we read the sign and realised it was purchased and placed there :-( We thought there would be a fabulous story to tell but alas it's just a tourist magnet.

 the largest single collection of free flying birds in Australia (some 500 of them!)

Aircraft poking out of the rainforest

The inside

Once we were inside Birdworld we soon discovered that all the birds are in fact tame! It was simply amazing to touch such large and majestic birds and we were all enthralled.

A Maccaw - these guys are worth around $8000 each

As soon as we arrived this bird flew onto Mark's shoulder. We soon learned that his has no name but he is known as 'The Little Girl Bird' because of his love for small girls. As soon as he spotted Tiny Girl he flew to her and wouldn't leave her side until we left.

A bird on the shoulder is worth three in the bush

Little Girl Bird had a ride around the aviary on Tiny Girl's shoulder

She walked very carefully so he wouldn't fall off

We fed this bird peanuts and sunflower seeds. He/she was huge and hopped onto me to eat from my hand. Being the fearless person I am I was of course terrified.  I kept imagining it would fly in my face and attack me.

That look in my eyes? That's fear people!

Poor Big Boy didn't have a lot of luck getting any of the bigger birds to come to him so the lady at Birdworld grabbed this one for him. He said it was heavy and the claws hurt his shoulder.

When it was time to leave the guide had to capture Tiny Girl's bird to get him away from her. They shared a final kiss goodbye and we were sad to leave. If you are ever in the area make sure you check out Birdworld, it's well worth the money.

Holiday Day Seven, Eight & Nine- Cairns

The main reason we decided to travel to Cairns in the first place was so that I could go to work and the kids could have a holiday. So I spent days seven, eight and nine in an air-conditioned building being served food at pre-arranged intervals. It was such a hard few days....

Meanwhile Mark had the kids to entertain and I'm really not sure who had the hardest three days. The first day he had a hard time and we decided to hire out these bikes in the afternoon to keep the kids busy.

Three people enjoyed the ride...

One person did not....

So on the second day Mark took the kids somewhere cool (an indoor play centre) so that they would be happier in the afternoon. Apparently Tiny Girl just HAD to have this dress (I can imagine her batting her eyes at daddy to get him to buy it.)

My work in Cairns involved consulting to the Department of Environment and Resource Management and I was so happy to see that they are practicing what they preach in the design of their new building. These three photos (sneakily taken on my phone) show their lobby area. It is open, airy, full of plants and makes the most of the natural environment. Such a change from the dimly lit, ugly buildings I frequent in Brisbane. I wonder whether their staff feel happier to work in such a nice environment?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Day Six- Cairns

After finally arriving in Cairns we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. The trip up wasn't bad by any means but four people in one van for five days became a little overwhelming at times. Thankfully we had booked into what has to be Australia's best caravan park and we quickly settled into a routine of resting, eating, enjoying the park and sleeping.

Because I had to work on days 7, 8 and 9 we tried to cram a lot into day 6. First we visited the local shopping centre where I destroyed the local women's wear section of Target. For some reason they were selling all their work-wear for bargain prices and who can resist a bargain right? (Julie, don't read that OK!)

Thankfully the big guy was at the centre and they 'allowed' us to take our own pictures after buying a picture from them. Our picture is better than the professional one but it didn't really matter because this little visit then provided me with weeks worth of threats reminders to the kids that they had better not fight, pick their noses, annoy me, run away etc etc because Santa would be watching them.

After visiting the shops we headed for the Cairns Esplanade and were greeted by extreme humidity and loads of sunshine. I hate the sun so I convinced Tiny Girl she did too and we enjoyed an ice-cream while the boys walked down the jetty.

We then walked back down the esplanade and Big Boy spotted a strange fish lurking in the water. It turned out to be a mudskipper which is a pretty interesting character- they are fish that can walk on land. Big Boy was chuffed he had 'found' it and we watched it for a while until we spotted a helicopter ready for take off.

Although the day was hot and humid it seemed to instantly cool down around 3pm. We enjoyed watching the helicopter pilot do his pre-flight checks and then take off into the air. The helicopter safety assistant gave us some advice on local beaches so we then headed off to see what we could find.

The Qld coast is such a wonderful place to visit, but it's also very dangerous and there are many things visitors have to be aware of. In the Cairns area there are two main dangers, crocodiles and Irukandji Jellyfish. Both are able to kill a person pretty quickly and thus, although the waters are beautiful, you can't swim in any of them unless you are in a patrolled area. So instead of dicing with crocodiles and jellyfish we elected to play in the park instead. Mark fished (unsuccessfully) for a while before we called it a day and headed back to the caravan park.

I can't say enough about the Coconut Caravan Park, it's awesome. The whole park is family friendly and the facilities made it really easy for all of us to enjoy it without anyone feeling like they had missed out. Our routine  each night involved visiting the large pool for a swim with the kids and it's something I've been missing since we arrived home to what must be South-East Qld's coldest Summer on record!

A pool, a kids area, a spa and a whale slide - the caravan park had it all in spades

Holiday Day Five

There were two highlights of day five. The first were these fantastic fish and chips and the second was our arrival at our final destination- Cairns.

En route to Cairns we decided to stop by a little town called Murdering Point. The actual story behind the place is quite sad however the area itself is lovely. The fish and chips were the best we had on the entire trip, so if you happen upon Murdering Point make sure you head to Kurramine Beach for a sample.

As the parent of a toddler I spend a lot of time pushing swings. The view from this swing was glorious.

Tropical paradise- isn't this scene picture perfect

And finally, after 2000 kms, we arrived in Cairns! Here we are at the Cairns Coconut Resort were we spent the next week.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day Four Revelation AKA Won't somebody think of the children!

I've just added our day four entry. I have another photo to share, but I thought it deserved a post all of its own. I've thought long and hard about sharing this but look, if you can't laugh at yourself then life isn't worth living.

Back at home I take Tiny Girl to swimming lessons once a week. Because she's so little I have to go in with her and I have been for maybe 18 months, perhaps a bit longer. So each week I hop in the pool, swimmers on, surrounded by many other kids, parents and people watching from the sides. I always wear the same swimmers and I'd recently noticed that the front was a little worn, nothing too extreme though.

Fast forward to our trip.

After our swim we walked back to the camper. I downed my towel and stood, with my back facing my family. That's when the laughing started.

See it seems that my swimmers had worn a little on the front and a LOT on the back. So much so that they were see-through, right across my bum. There was in fact extreme crack exposure. (Yes it's crass, but it's true.)

Of course I didn't believe them. So I made them take a photo to prove it. And there it was in all its glory.

For months and months no-one told me. Not the parents at swimming, not the teacher, not even a kid with a snide 'hey I can see that lady's bum!' Oh the horror of it all.

So the moral of the story is, check you swimmers every time you go, if there's wear in the front make darn sure you check the back. And never, ever rely on the sisterhood to have a word in your ear......

I've edited the photo so you can share my horror in a G rated way. Scroll down if you dare.

The further down it went, the worse it got......

Holiday Day Four

If you want to read from the beginning it all starts here

Day four saw us back on the road again, this time en route to Townsville. For some reason I expected the country to be flat, but it is actually incredibly hilly. It was also very green, which again surprised me. (The last time we travelled to Rockhampton was in the middle of a drought so my other northern Qld experiences have featured loads of brown scenery.)

Along the way we were overtaken by a B Double (very long truck) in an orchestrated move. We were stuck behind a horse float which in turn was stuck behind a B Double. Behind us was another B Double. In a move (which Mark had to explain to me) the truck behind us radioed the truck in front. The front truck braked suddenly, causing the horse float and us to slow right down. Then the truck behind us overtook everyone on the wrong side of the road and the two trucks then sped off together. Scary stuff indeed.

B Double overtakes us on the wrong side of the road - fun was had by all

We then arrived safely in Townsville and we quickly changed into our swimmers to escape the humidity. The pool had a great waterslide but was quite cold. I opted out early but the kids persevered a little longer.

The splash at the end of the slide is Big Boy in action

We found our first 'Christmas Beetle' of the season on the road. 

The park we were staying in has a blow up jumping cushion which both the kids loved. Big Boy decided he wanted to wrestle and chose this child as his partner. It's hard to tell, but said child was quite a bit heavier than our boy. Needless to say Big Boy ended up on the ground a lot but he persevered and apparently he won in the end by outlasting his wrestling partner. Sigh. Boys.

Tiny Girl loved jumping. She also loves looking cute.

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