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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas

Christmas

Where were we? Oh yes. Remember that little thing about catching a plane to Adelaide? Well we nearly never made it! it's probably the only time I have been stressed as such on this whole trip so far. 
Despite being up in plenty of time, making it to the airport  initially with plenty of time I was still borderline for making the plane. A quick explanation. Car hire drop off point was a pain to find. Brisbane airport is undergoing major revamp, no doubt in time for some games or other they have just been awarded!!!! Then I realised tank wasn't full so a U turn to find the nearest garage. BIG mistake. It was 10 mins away. Right back to the car hire, dropped the car off, loaded myself with three bags (I have acquired another bag since Surfers!) a buggy a 4 year old and a shoulder bag. Then Mollie proceeds to cry. No, not cry - howl! Says she wants carried!!!!! It is 5.40 am, we have been up since 3am and check in closes in 5 minutes!!!!  I really didn't need it. I did think of lying on the ground and joining in but we would defo have missed our flight so I decided against it. Quick flutter of eyelashes to man behind car hire desk and we are sorted. He is carrying a bag, I have Mollie on a hip and I'm heading for check in. The old man directing people to check in desks who looks a bit like mr Burns in the Simpsons scowls at me when I say I'm on the Adelaide flight. We made it just. There was a man just behind me giving abuse to 'Mr Burns' That could have been me. It was like a scene from that Airport programme! Anyway, we made it and 3 and a half hours later we are landing in a very sunny Adelaide. 
Over the next few days we decorate my aunts Christmas trees which mollie thoroughly enjoys, we visit various coffee establishment to try the local brand of coffee. All are good! I try and fit some Christmas shopping in. My aunt drops me at a shopping mall called Westfield which is open till midnight on Thursday before Christmas and open ALL NIGHT the Friday before Christmas!!!!! Eh?! I am there on the Wednesday which is only open til 9pm though and it is already 7pm. I then have a full 2 hours of child free shopping. I last one hour. Forget it. I can't find anything and it is very warm. I  get a taxi back to the house. Never mind my aunt assures me that Rundle Mall will have everything and she should be able to arrange that for me by the end of the week. Cool. I'm waiting on a parcel arriving from the UK so even if it doesn't arrive I still have time to nip to the big toys r us in Rundle Mall to get the much sought after Sylvanian Family stuff that were nearly the only thing on Mollies Christmas list.

The parcel doesn't arrive and I find myself jumping on a tram on Friday afternoon at 1.30pm in 27 degrees to go in to Adelaide CBD to get the much wanted Sylvanian family stuff. Stress! The Toys R Us is closing down and it's chaos inside. I walk in and promptly walk out - it's way too nice to be doing Christmas shopping!!! Focus! I do eventually find some in a huge department store and I'm able to sort Mollie and other family members out. Good! Coffee then tram home. As I was going round the shops I could almost see people foaming at the mouth whilst shopping inside. And it was getting warmer. Does it feel like Christmas with all the decorations and Christmas music? Nope and I would have to be here a VERY long time before it ever did. When you are brought up with cold Christmases, that's how it is!! It does feel mighty weird - but I'm not complaining.

Saturday reaches 39 degrees which as I quickly discover is not good for doing much. Mollie starts to whine and get really tired so she is inside the cool lounge on the settee with a DVD and I try and brave it outside with my aunt but it is so warm that seats and tables become too hot to sit on or touch. Eeeeek! It could be too hot for Christmas. Anyway, what do Aussies do when it's too hot? Head for the beach. My cousin Greig arrived mid afternoon and so he took us down.  It was fab. The beach was soooo busy and there were so many people swimming. Lush

Christmas day; I can't believe it is here and we are spending it in Australia. Santa has been and found Mollie!! Tony (family friend) had arranged for santa to deliver a letter to mollie in australia saying he knew where she was and that she was at the top of his nice list as she has behaved so well. She   was delighted at this letter. She has asked me to read it a few times. We both had a lovely time with family. Mollie knows we are travelling  and she understands that money is going on other things at the moment but I do wish I could have given her more on Christmas morning. She did really well though. A couple of dresses, lots of girly pretty  things, a mini laptop oh and of course the Sylvanian Family stuff which lit her face up no end on Christmas morning. Well worth the stress. 

After breakfast the routine is (as long as it's dry & warm) down to the beach for a swim  so off we went. On Christmas morning we were on Glenelg beach swimming and the water was warm. Mollie had great fun with my cousin Greig jumping the waves and crashing into them by clinging on to his back. It was so nice to do and to see so many other people doing it too. There were many families coming down to the beach set for the day. Santa must have been busy on the cricket front as there were loads of  sets being played by the young and old. 

Back to my aunts for Christmas dinner which was a typical christmas dinner (except for the prawns on the barbie) with my cousin, his girlfriend and her family who are all out at the moment. It was a fab day and Mollie had loads of people to keep her entertained. I gave Mollie a dress as part of her pressy. It was white with red cherries over it and she decided to wear it for the day. She looked lovely. Very grown up. She is changing so fast.

Sadly Greig and Karen had to leave on Boxing Day so we waved them off (with a bag and buggy of mine) before heading out to a place called Henley for coffee. A very up and coming area. Beach of course! But it has a French Connection, Nine West and a couple of Australian designer shops. I managed to squeeze a run in later on in the day which felt good up until the return journey back to the house and the heat suddenly hit me. It must have still been around 24 degrees. Hmm lovely to walk in but blooming hard to run in. But nevertheless, a big part of the feel good factor. 

My aunt is heading to Melbourne for New Year to see Greig  and Karen so on the 27th Mollie and I are heading on again. We have had a very relaxing time in Somerton Park and I'm thrilled that we were able to spend Christmas with family. It makes a big difference. But time to hit the road again. though we get lots of down time in between it is very tiring unpacking and repacking a bag or two. I have tried to off load a few things and I have successfully but I seem to have acquired more!! 

Next destination couldn't be more different to Glenelg. Mollie and I are heading to a place called Mypolonga out by Murray Bridge. It's rural so can expect to be at least  2degrees hotter than Adelaide. Oh boy. 





 

Christmas

Christmas

Where were we? Oh yes. Remember that little thing about catching a plane to Adelaide? Well we nearly never made it! it's probably the only time I have been stressed as such on this whole trip so far. 
Despite being up in plenty of time, making it to the airport  initially with plenty of time I was still borderline for making the plane. A quick explanation. Car hire drop off point was a pain to find. Brisbane airport is undergoing major revamp, no doubt in time for some games or other they have just been awarded!!!! Then I realised tank wasn't full so a U turn to find the nearest garage. BIG mistake. It was 10 mins away. Right back to the car hire, dropped the car off, loaded myself with three bags (I have acquired another bag since Surfers!) a buggy a 4 year old and a shoulder bag. Then Mollie proceeds to cry. No, not cry - howl! Says she wants carried!!!!! It is 5.40 am, we have been up since 3am and check in closes in 5 minutes!!!!  I really didn't need it. I did think of lying on the ground and joining in but we would defo have missed our flight so I decided against it. Quick flutter of eyelashes to man behind car hire desk and we are sorted. He is carrying a bag, I have Mollie on a hip and I'm heading for check in. The old man directing people to check in desks who looks a bit like mr Burns in the Simpsons scowls at me when I say I'm on the Adelaide flight. We made it just. There was a man just behind me giving abuse to 'Mr Burns' That could have been me. It was like a scene from that Airport programme! Anyway, we made it and 3 and a half hours later we are landing in a very sunny Adelaide. 
Over the next few days we decorate my aunts Christmas trees which mollie thoroughly enjoys, we visit various coffee establishment to try the local brand of coffee. All are good! I try and fit some Christmas shopping in. My aunt drops me at a shopping mall called Westfield which is open till midnight on Thursday before Christmas and open ALL NIGHT the Friday before Christmas!!!!! Eh?! I am there on the Wednesday which is only open til 9pm though and it is already 7pm. I then have a full 2 hours of child free shopping. I last one hour. Forget it. I can't find anything and it is very warm. I  get a taxi back to the house. Never mind my aunt assures me that Rundle Mall will have everything and she should be able to arrange that for me by the end of the week. Cool. I'm waiting on a parcel arriving from the UK so even if it doesn't arrive I still have time to nip to the big toys r us in Rundle Mall to get the much sought after Sylvanian Family stuff that were nearly the only thing on Mollies Christmas list.

The parcel doesn't arrive and I find myself jumping on a tram on Friday afternoon at 1.30pm in 27 degrees to go in to Adelaide CBD to get the much wanted Sylvanian family stuff. Stress! The Toys R Us is closing down and it's chaos inside. I walk in and promptly walk out - it's way too nice to be doing Christmas shopping!!! Focus! I do eventually find some in a huge department store and I'm able to sort Mollie and other family members out. Good! Coffee then tram home. As I was going round the shops I could almost see people foaming at the mouth whilst shopping inside. And it was getting warmer. Does it feel like Christmas with all the decorations and Christmas music? Nope and I would have to be here a VERY long time before it ever did. When you are brought up with cold Christmases, that's how it is!! It does feel mighty weird - but I'm not complaining.

Saturday reaches 39 degrees which as I quickly discover is not good for doing much. Mollie starts to whine and get really tired so she is inside the cool lounge on the settee with a DVD and I try and brave it outside with my aunt but it is so warm that seats and tables become too hot to sit on or touch. Eeeeek! It could be too hot for Christmas. Anyway, what do Aussies do when it's too hot? Head for the beach. My cousin Greig arrived mid afternoon and so he took us down.  It was fab. The beach was soooo busy and there were so many people swimming. Lush

Christmas day; I can't believe it is here and we are spending it in Australia. Santa has been and found Mollie!! Tony (family friend) had arranged for santa to deliver a letter to mollie in australia saying he knew where she was and that she was at the top of his nice list as she has behaved so well. She   was delighted at this letter. She has asked me to read it a few times. We both had a lovely time with family. Mollie knows we are travelling  and she understands that money is going on other things at the moment but I do wish I could have given her more on Christmas morning. She did really well though. A couple of dresses, lots of girly pretty  things, a mini laptop oh and of course the Sylvanian Family stuff which lit her face up no end on Christmas morning. Well worth the stress. 

After breakfast the routine is (as long as it's dry & warm) down to the beach for a swim  so off we went. On Christmas morning we were on Glenelg beach swimming and the water was warm. Mollie had great fun with my cousin Greig jumping the waves and crashing into them by clinging on to his back. It was so nice to do and to see so many other people doing it too. There were many families coming down to the beach set for the day. Santa must have been busy on the cricket front as there were loads of  sets being played by the young and old. 

Back to my aunts for Christmas dinner which was a typical christmas dinner (except for the prawns on the barbie) with my cousin, his girlfriend and her family who are all out at the moment. It was a fab day and Mollie had loads of people to keep her entertained. I gave Mollie a dress as part of her pressy. It was white with red cherries over it and she decided to wear it for the day. She looked lovely. Very grown up. She is changing so fast.

Sadly Greig and Karen had to leave on Boxing Day so we waved them off (with a bag and buggy of mine) before heading out to a place called Henley for coffee. A very up and coming area. Beach of course! But it has a French Connection, Nine West and a couple of Australian designer shops. I managed to squeeze a run in later on in the day which felt good up until the return journey back to the house and the heat suddenly hit me. It must have still been around 24 degrees. Hmm lovely to walk in but blooming hard to run in. But nevertheless, a big part of the feel good factor. 

My aunt is heading to Melbourne for New Year to see Greig  and Karen so on the 27th Mollie and I are heading on again. We have had a very relaxing time in Somerton Park and I'm thrilled that we were able to spend Christmas with family. It makes a big difference. But time to hit the road again. though we get lots of down time in between it is very tiring unpacking and repacking a bag or two. I have tried to off load a few things and I have successfully but I seem to have acquired more!! 

Next destination couldn't be more different to Glenelg. Mollie and I are heading to a place called Mypolonga out by Murray Bridge. It's rural so can expect to be at least  2degrees hotter than Adelaide. Oh boy. 





 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

No Armbands Required - EVER!

I wrote this a few days ago whilst Mollie and I were in Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise but only now getting a chance to post it.
I just had to write today because it was one of those magical days that I don't want to forget but funnily enough also at the same point we normally are when I write - the bags are packed and we are ready to move on again :-(
On Wednesday we packed up and headed to Cleveland which is just outside of Brisbane to pick up a hire car. I booked a category C car which would be a Hyundai something or other but when I arrived I was given a category F car! A purple, Ford Falcon, 2 litres, dark purple with a wing on the back! Great! Just what I need for heading down to Surfers Paradise.
(In all fairness I'm not doing too badly with all of these upgrades)
I had decided to return to Montego Sands which we just loved before. I made the right decision. The days have been filled with a bit of Christmas shopping (my first Christmas shopping experience this year and it was relatively painless) walks along the beach, a trip to Sea World which was thanks to many friends who gave us gifts before we left. We also had lots of time playing in the many parks along the beach area and having fun.
Today we were meant to pack up and head to the airport but Brian our charming and kind manager told me about the Christmas concert being held tonight down at the park. There was to be singing, face painting and and fireworks. It was the face painting that swung it so quick call to car hire company and and we were sorted for another night. I am so glad we did.
We started off at the beach this morning but it was too windy and the sand was getting everywhere so back to the motel. Mollie was in the pool like a shot. She started out with one armband but quickly found the confidence again to throw it to the side. For the last wee while she has been doing 5 or 6 strokes and then stopping. Today was the day that she didn't stop. She started at one end of the pool and didn't stop until she reached the other. Yippeeeeeeee. I don't think my heart could have gotten any bigger. She is thrilled with herself  today and I am delighted for her and so so proud. I suspect had we been at home I wouldn't have seen this for probably another year, maybe more. She has been so determined and any opportunity she has had whether it was the sea or pool Mollie has been in it trying to swim. She is now like a wee fish and there will be no stopping her. By the end of the afternoon she was jumping in and swimming to the end of the pool. That's my girl :-)
The Christmas concert down at Kurrawa Surf Club yesterday was amazing. There was sooo much going on and it was all free. Mollie had her face painted as a butterfly, there was a clown wandering around cracking jokes and doing balloon shapes and the concert was magic. There were also girls from the local gymnastics club performing in a steel ring suspended about 9 feet off the ground. We didn't make the fireworks as sadly they were running late and by 8.30pm they still hadn't commenced and I still had a room to pack up and of course get to bed for the  drive up to the airport tomorrow morning *groan* But staying here for another night has all been worth it. Fantastic hosts and new friends,  a fab few days by the beach and of course that all important swimming achievement which I will forever remember and will be able to tell her in future years where exactly she learnt to swim :-)
This has been another area that I am sooo sad to leave BUT I definitely couldn't afford to live here - I checked lol! Apartments here go for anything from $600'000 upwards. Most of them are in the $1m range. Not on a teachers wage anyway!
I need my beauty sleep if we are to catch this plane tomorrow. Next stop, Adelaide. Oh and Christmas in the sun! How weird will that be? Hmm I wonder how that snow in the UK is doing lol
x

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Macleay Island

Macleay Island

Well, it's that time again. The bags are packed (sort of) the house has been cleaned and we are ready for the off again. We are off tomorrow morning on the 11.15 boat and we  will be very sad to leave here. Mollie and I have had a fantastic time. The only thing we have grumbled about are the sand flies and we won't miss them!!!

Let's see, what have we been up to? Well Macleay is a small island off of the coast of Brisbane. I think it comes under the Stradbroke Islands. There are around 3000 folk on this one and accessible via a car and passenger ferry. There is nothing really to do on the island leisure wise or work.  Most of the people on the island work on the mainland and get this - they leave at 5.30am!!! There is no daylight saving in Queensland so the sun comes up at 4.30. Most of the locals prefer to get work done in the morning and are home by 3pm. BUT they are the most laid back people I have met and I can understand why now. Mollie and I are certainly very chilled. 

Anyway, back on track. The house we are staying in is basic but in a lovely location. The beach is at the bottom of the garden with gum trees and palm trees at the side. What are in the trees? Lorikeets, Kookaburras and Minor birds which also wake up at 4.30am! I had an alarm call from them for the first couple of mornings and then that was it "phew" The weather was actually really nice when we arrived on 30/11 but turned wet and cool a few days later (I'll refrain from saying cold as I'm aware that Scotland is currently in single figures and snow!!) 

When Mollie and I arrived on the island our first stop was the chemist for midge repellant and then to the Spar for fresh fruit, veg and shopping. On both occasions I bumped in to a young lady Claire with a wee boy and both times we started to chat and have a laugh. She invited Mollie and I to the "mums and bubs" group at the local cafe, The Blue Parrot on Monday. That meeting has been the crux to the success of this part of the trip. From Claire I have met the other mums on the island who are just lovely, been over to the mainland shopping with her and been introduced to the way of life here. I actually feel as if Mollie and I have been living here for years! Claire runs her own name jigsaw business. She cuts out the letters, decorates them and then makes them into jigsaws. On the Wednesday after the mums and bubs group Claire was a bit stressed. She had something to the tune of 75 orders to get out that week. Not too many you may think but when you are a stay at home mum with two kids and a husband working away it's stress. So the girls all mucked in and we spent a great day making jigsaws up (it's ok she didn't let us near the sharp tools!!) I was going a bit round the bend by the end of the afternoon. But at the end of it we had helped Claire out hugely and had a great laugh in the process. One I will remember for a while.
Mollie and I have had the chance to spend some quality time together which has Ben fab. Having the beach at the bottom of the garden has made this trip. We have spent mornings and afternoons in the water playing on wee paddle boats that the owner has in his shed, swimming in it and of course Mollie can now officially swim. That was such a fantastic moment. She was so determined to do it. She has now taken to throwing the arm band in the water and then swimming to it. She originally started out just doing two or three strokes but now it is nearer 7or 8 strokes. Such a proud moment but sad all rolled in to one.........
The last few afternoons the tide has been out and well out at that so Mollie and I have been down on the sand investigating. We have chased crabs, poked them, played with sand eels, found a jelly fish, watched ibis birds getting the eels out the sand, been spat at by crabs and so much more. I don't dispute that we would probably find all of this on Lossie beach or Cullen beach but this has been OUR beach to explore together and it has been so much fun. This morning we had a kookaburra sitting on the verandah. The owner told me two weeks ago that the previous people were giving it meat and so Mollie threw some cooked chicken to it. Well it took it, shook it off the floor to break it even smaller and then swallowed it. This continued for around 10minutes before it decided it had had enough and flew off! He will get a shock if he pitches up tomorrow morning. In fact he is probably miffed that we hadn't spotted him before. I will leave a note to the next people and make sure they leave him some tasty bites.

The main social area on the island seems to centre around a cafe which is located down in the main shopping area. It is called the Blue Parrot Cafe and is run by Dave. It is where the mums meet up, the local old dears meet for their weekly gossip and I even witnessed some business meetings going on so it is a pretty cool place. The food is fab too. Well Dave decided to host a 7course sweet dinner on Friday evening which Mollie and I both went to. What an evening!!! I took pictures of all 7 courses but didn't eat all 7. Mollie did help me out on quite a few. It was a fantastic evening and of course I had the chance of chatting to more locals. 
Well the weather in the last few days has been a good indicator as to what it can do over here. The temperature has been hitting 30 since Saturday. It is too hot to stay out in and so you do have to seek shelter or air con (Blue Parrot has good air con) Mostly people hit the beach and the sea which is exactly what Mollie and I did.

So Macleay hasn't been about running around booking excursions or trying to see things, it has been about Mollie and I and what we can do together (that's way too philosophical for me at this time lol) We have had a bundle of fun.

So what is next? Well we have three days spare before heading to Adelaide for Christmas. I had these days free in case we hadn't managed to do the Whitsundays or the Australian Zoo but we have so I had the chance of picking somewhere new or going back to somewhere that we have been and I have chosen Surfers Paradise which of course we were in a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I pick up a car and head down there. It is school holidays so I don't expect it to be quiet!!!

Pen xxx

Friday, 9 December 2011

Wanted Down Under

Right, let's bring this blog up to speed as alot has happened and I'm missing a few important bits.

Where were we? Oh yes, on my way to Airlie Beach airport which I may add consists of 2 check in desks and 2 very chilled check in ladies.  Thankfully she didn't seem too bothered about the 7extra kilos I had in my bag. Oops!  The departure lounge not to unlike that of Inverness. In fact I think Inverness is way bigger but the departure lounge and the runway are right next to each other. You get the idea though. 
I still hadn't organised accommodation by the time we reached the airport so after a couple of frantic calls I eventually sorted out a super duper deal by playing a couple of hotels off of one another. We ended up at The Ibis in the centre of Brisbane. It was a good location and the hotel was comfortable. Sadly no pool. Mollie quite miffed at this but Brisbane does have a lagoon in the centre which I said we would try and get to. (we never made it )

We literally had one and a half days in Brisbane and soooo much to see and do. The hotel lobby was full of ideas of things to do but the main one has to be Australia Zoo. Crocs Rule!!! So I booked us in for the following day. ANOTHER early start. Down in reception for 8am on Tuesday 29th November Mollie and I head to the zoo which is a good hours journey north of Brisbane. 

In order to get into the festive spirit because I can assure you it feels NOTHING like Christmas over here, I decided to keep Mollie up later on the Monday in order to see the Christmas lights in Brisbane centre. We headed into the town from the hotel which was 10 minutes walk. As we hit the central square there in front was a huge Christmas tree covered in lights - ahhh! That's more like it. It was stunning. It kept flicking on and off however. Apparently they were testing it. The official turning on wasn't for another few days. Never mind. Mollie was chuffed to see it. We then wandered into town to get something to eat and luckily fell upon an outside area but upstairs which overlooked Brisbane with live entertainment AND families!!! . It was fab. Very cost effective. Let me explain how they keep costs down. You get seated and you are directed to the board and the menu. When you want to place your order you go to the desk. Check. Pick up your cutlery check. Pickup your very own pager which beeps and vibrates when your meal is ready. Check!!! What?!! I was presented with a handheld pager which summoned me back to the order desk when my order was ready. You can do it for drinks as well. It cuts down on the need for staff. The place was jam packed so it was obviously good. Mollie and I sat out under the stars and ate fish and chips and sang along to the music. A really good evening but a late one. Alarm!!! I need to be up at 7.00 for tomorrow so I set my iPhone and alarm clock just in case..........

01.40 Quack, quack, quack, quack......eh? My alarm on my phone is going. Nope hold on, it's the phone. Hmmmmm who the beep is calling? 
Me: Hello? 
Caller: Hi, is this Pennie Stewart? 
Me: (gggggrrrrr if this is O2 I will shout at someone) yes! 
Caller: Hi Pennie, my name is Jesse from the Wanted Down Under programme. Im one of the researchers on the show. We really liked your application and wanted to discuss interviewing you to see if we could get you through to the next stage.......

Eeeeeeeeeeek! Haha well that was a turn up for the books. I actually wrote a letter to them last year which got me the official application. I then completed the application back at the start of the year and submitted it not thinking anything of it. It has taken them nearly a year to respond. The conversation didn't actually last very long as I had to explain why I was sounding a bit groggy at 15.40 GMT Sadly because I am in Oz already they aren't allowed to take people who have been there within  the last year so we have been ruled out. Could I get back to sleep after this call? No! I kept going over it in my head and feeling like I had missed out but thinking carefully about it and the person that I am, could I have gone through with it had I gotten to that stage? I suspect not. It's taken me a long time to get to where I am in my time and to have things raked up again and even other people knowing my business? I suspect not.......maybe I have  had a close shave. Besides, I think 6 months is way better than one week!!!! 

Anyway, we made 7.00 am for showers and breakfast and we were both ready and waiting in the reception for the bus at 8.00am.
We are duly picked up at the hotel for 8.10. Mollie and I had already been out and about and at 7.30 it was 18 degrees. It was going to be TOAST! the bus was heading to a wee place called Beerwah that has actually grown in size because of the reputation of Australia Zoo
We arrived at the zoo after an hours bus journey. It was quite nice to be sitting and taking things in instead of concentrating on traffic and roads and which turn off to take. Brisbane is a city on the back foot of Sydney and Melbourne. It's a lot more laid back but I get the feeling that it is expanding and growing in popularity. The road network was undergoing huge expansion when we were there but there wasn't alot being worked on I may add! 
Back to the zoo! The zoo just sort of creeps up on you. The bus took us out on to the freeway for a bit and then turns off onto the Steve Irwin road which I think is cool. All along this road and indeed the freeway there are big boards of Steve up with crocs and the word 'Crikey' across them advertising Australia Zoo. When we pulled off of the road the bus took us into a small track road and then up to the front of the zoo. It is a very underwhelming entrance for something so famous but as it was pointed out when Steve's parents had it, it was a fraction of the size it is now. So, anyway not to gloss over Australia Zoo too much but we did have a fantastic day. As soon as you enter it the people and zoo tries to educate you in everything from crocs to snakes to elephants. It is a fantastic experience. Not cheap! But fantastic. We were given a couple of badges when we entered with 'CrocsRule' on them. Mollie put several holes in herself trying to put hers on! The first show started at 11am and was a Croc show in the 'crocoseum' I was an avid watcher of Steve Irwin and it was quite surreal to be sat there waiting for the croc show. In alot of his later shows he uses his crocoseum and other parts of the zoo to talk about the crocs. Anyway, the show commenced and to say the least it was pretty cool. I got the feeling the staff try their hardest to carry on Steve's beliefs and they do a really good job but the energy that Steve had isn't there. It's hard to explain but the enthusiasm and 'oomph' wasn't there. But it was still a really good show. I watched Mollies face as she focused on the crocs and the elephants and the black parrots that they brought out. 

The day was non stop in temperatures hitting 27/28 degrees! We saw loads of animals and had a chance to take in lots of shows. Mollie had the chance to stroke more koalas, feed more kangaroos and chase bearded lizards round the zoo. Theres loads of wildlife which just wanders round the zoo. Its brill! We ended the day up at the new addition to the zoo, a Safari section. It was whilst we were walking back down that I spotted Terri & Bindi making a new advert for the zoo. The tv crews had been wandering around the whole day taking pictures and videos before filming up at the back of the zoo. It looked like they were trying to promote the new section of the zoo. 

We returned to the bus for 4.30pm which had air con. Bliss! Mollie fell asleep 5 minutes down the road from the zoo. Peace!! It was a cracking day and highly recommended to anyone out this way. 

Tuesday night was pretty quiet. Mollie was exhausted as I was and we also had to get ready for making our way to Macleay Island.  Bags packed and ready to go...........

Two whole weeks in one place. Can't wait. 

Pen x

Monday, 5 December 2011

Whitsundays

Whitsundays

Well Sunday morning ( 27/11) it was. 7am outside reception for our pick up to for the trip.I was shattered. I put my key in to reception and we departed. 
I won't bore you with the boring boat bits (I wasn't too ill this time but I did spend the journey outside)  Mollie and I met more friends. A young couple called Evelyn and Ricardo. They currently stay and work in Brisbane though he is Portuguese and Evelyn is from Belgium. A lovely couple and more friends to add to the Oz list. 
The trip we were on entailed a drop off on Hamilton island for a couple of hours. This island is very exclusive. It does have accommodation which any Joe Bloggs can book but it also has a 6* resort which is literally for the very wealthy and possibly even famous!! Well with my tv near miss that could have been me!!! Lol more about that later. 
People get around the island with wee golf buggies  its such a cool idea  i wanted to hire one but sadly i didn't have credit card or driving licence with me.  Bummer. Evelyn and Ricardo very graciously allowed us to tag along. It was brill. We stopped at a beach which I think was called Catseye Beach. You must google it, it's stunning. Anyway, there was no one in the water as it's stinger time! Such a shame having a gorgeous beach and not being able to get in without a stinger suit. But then these things are nasty. They could seriously impair your holiday. There was still a lagoon type area behind the pool which kids and adults were free to use. Mollie was in it in a flash. It was lovely and warm. Mollie is almost there with the swimming. She has already been told that the arm bands are not coming back to Scotland. 
Anyway, more touring of the island and lots of lovely pictures. It really is a stunning place. The water is crystal blue, the scenery is like nothing you could imagine with little islands off in the distance. One of those "pinch me" moments. I would love to think that I would return in a more independent manner in the future. 
Back to the harbour for 11.30 and the boat picks us up for our onward journey to Whitehaven Beach. This beach is one of the most photographed in Australia. The guy on the boat, as we were approaching the beach  gave us all the statistics about it but I can't remember any of them. I was busy looking for sharks in the water!! No seriously it's pretty stunning. Anyway, we boarded the tin tray (seriously it was a tin tray) to get us from the boat to the beach. We are then literally left to our own devices. I wanted to do some snorkelling so Evelyn & Ricardo were appointed chief sandcastle builders. Me and my smurf outfit headed into the water. Did I see any fishes? Not one smurfing fish! Hmm is that because there is something larger in the water?!!!! My mind doesn't half wander when in these Aussie shores.
Anyway, Mollie and I had a great afternoon on the beach. Lots of hilarity about what was lurking beneath (and smurf outfits)  A wee baby black tipped shark did make an appearance which was nice. Anyway, the return trip came round too quickly. I couldn't believe where we were and yet it had all come to an end so quickly. Another visit is definitely on the cards. 
Dropped off at the hotel just before 6pm. I had had less than 4hours sleep so i was struggling  As I entered the hotel I was approached by the young receptionist from Glasgow with a new room key!! A suite overlooking  the harbour with a jacuzzi bath! Why do people keep giving us these gorgeous rooms that we can hardly use?!!! I was informed that due to the trouble I had experienced the previous night they hoped that this would make up for it! 
The room was lovely. A stunning view and a jacuzzi bath. Mollie wanted to try the bath so I let her. We had a quick change into dresses and then downstairs for dinner. I had arranged to meet Ricardo and Evelyn downstairs in the resteraunt for a drink as it was our last night. They live in Brisbane and so were full of good ideas for accommodation and things to do. I had yet to book accommodation but that's not a problem. There is bound to be somewhere to stay!!!! 
Mollie and I had booked transport to the airport however we didn't expect the limousine that pulled up at the front the following day. Mollie was non plussed I may add. 
Before we knew it we were at the airport ready to head south.  We had been as far north as I was going to go on this trip and seen some spectacular sights. I am very relieved not to be driving back down. Funnily enough the Avis guy wasn't surprised when he heard about my change of heart. In fact he laughed and said "we get that alot up here!!" but I am quite sad to be leaving this part of Australia. Graham and I made it to Cairns and Port Douglas 4years ago and part of me wishes that I had organised that into this trip but maybe some places should just be left for memories? 
Anyway, I can't recommend north Queensland enough! It's been fab!