Day 29 – The Footie

Today was Matt’s dad’s birthday, we were all invited out for lunch to celebrate, but I woke up feeling like complete and utter crap. So, I bowed out and decided to stay home and rest up. For some reason I always seem to get sick at the end of vacations. Mind you, that’s better than getting sick at the beginning I guess; but naturally I’d prefer to not get sick at all. So, at home with a headache, sore throat and cramps, I wasted much of the day on the internet, and texting Scott while he was at work, conveniently working nights!

In the late afternoon we headed down to The Gabba, Brisbane’s cricket and AFL field, to see the Brisbane Lions take on the Western Bulldogs. I asked “Western where?” and they said they are from western Melbourne. The very first goal was by my new favourite player, Daniel Rich. I noticed him more on the reply over the big screen, what a cutie!! Haha! And apparently I made a good pick as my favourite because he is kind of a super star, really good player! This was my first (and probably only) Aussie Rules football game, and I gotta say, it beat the heck out of Canadian or American football – WAY faster paced. They don’t stop for ANYTHING! Two Bulldog players hit head to head, knocked each other unconscious, and everyone just kept playing around them! I’m shouting “STOP THE GAME! STOP THE GAME!”. Eventually they realized there were two unconscious people on the field so it stopped for a bit, but geez! They’re tough sons of bitches!

A couple things to note: instead of hot dogs, which is our staple at most every sporting event, here they eat pies. Meat pies. So, I had one (as it’s been a recurring theme on my trip; Fernvale, Yatala…) and it was good except for two things. 1, it was beef. 2, I’m pretty sure it had lamb in it too. All that said, it was fun to blend in with the locals wearing my scarf and eating my pie! Another thing to note: I was completely distracted by the photographer in front of us. We were in the first row, and on the field right in front of us was a photographer, shooting with a Canon 1d, and a 200-400mm lens. It was massive!! Not as big as the other guy’s 600mm lens, but whatever. I got lots of pics of it! hahaha!! Zoom envy….. The last thing to note: They let people rush out onto the field after, and play footie with their kids! It’s amazing! So we walked across the field at the end, which was convenient because we needed to go out of the gate across the field from us anyway, it was a timesaver. Just be careful of flying footballs – they were everywhere!!

With the help of my spirit gear (scarf!) and changing my profile to the Lions logo, and Daniel Rich, WE WON!!! 100-93!! And, I’m proud to say, this was the last Lions home game of the season, so I’m really glad we took part!! 🙂 Fun fun!

High/Low

High: The Footie!!

Low: Feeling like death warmed over.

WOD: Piker. Someone who backs out of social commitments, like I did today. I was called a piker…. I was piking…. sorry John!

Day 28 – Laundry and documenting “Day 17 – The Missing Day”

It’s laundry day today, we’ve been gone to the Blue Mountains, Sydney and Uluru for a week now, time to chillax for part of a day! Which brings me conveniently to my next topic. The Missing Day – Day 17″.

We all got into a heated discussion about how Lori refuses to let me miss ANYTHING, no days off, keep it moving people! I said I had only had one day off (see Day 9), but she insisted I’ve had 2. I said “I can prove it, I’ll look at my blog. I’ve been religiously and meticulously documenting EVERY DAY.” As it turns out, I did miss blogging a day, but it’s mainly because it was a day off and I largely spent it loafing on the couch and getting my nails done. Ok, so way back on Day 17 – August 13th…. *cue time travel music from Wayne’s World*

Matt and Lori had an appointment, so I asked to get dropped off at the mall so I could get my nails done, and have a wander around. They had a really cool Bali/Indonesian shop with so much awesome stuff I wanted to buy it all!! But, I refrained as A) I’m in Australia and I should be buying Australian things 2) I don’t have enough room in my luggage and D) (for Pat) the lady who worked at that shop was so annoying! She assumed I was American (I get that like…….. A LOT) went was like “Oh, it must be cold in Toronto right now” and I said “Well, no it’s our summer. It was like 40˚ not too long ago” Then she went on to tell me at GREAT length all about how her family is going to the UK for two months, and her son is only bringing a jumper (sweater) and thinks that will be warm enough and blah blah blah. I literally started backing away from her until I was far enough away that her talking to me across the store didn’t make any sense. At least you can’t say she wasn’t friendly!

So, got my nails done, went home then we headed out to downtown to get some night shots with my camera. I love Brisbane, the skyline and river and bridges (particularly the Story Bridge) are all beautiful. Sydney is very iconic and was lovely as well, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge is huge, however, all said and done I think I prefer Brisbane. Got some great evening shots of the bridge – including selfies and that was Day 17!

Another thing I keep meaning to mention is how Aussies shorten words and add an o at the end. For example, here they call liquor stores “bottle shops” or bottle-o for short. Afternoon is shortened to arvo, registration for your car is rego, and they have travelling fish mongers that they call fisho, and you’ll mainly find them at the servo (service station). So go out, hit the  bottle-o, then spend the arvo with the fish from the fisho at the servo, but not until you’ve paid your rego.

Tonight *cue music to travel forward to Day 28* we are heading out to a GHOST WALK at the Toowong Cemetery!!! If you know me, you’ll know this is my jam. I love ghost walks. I did one for a birthday, my bachlorette was a haunted walk, so I’m pretty excited! We’re told that close toed shoes are mandatory! Don’t know why but maybe I’ll find out — perhaps they have a ghost with a foot fetish, wouldn’t want to get them excited! It was a good ghost walk, full of interesting stories. One of the participants was a physically/mentally disabled girl in a wheelchair. Props to her dad for wheeling her around some of the biggest hills I’ve ever walked up! The thing that threw me was, she was the groaning type; if you’ve ever worked with the developmentally disabled you’ll know what I mean (Karen & Mom!) and that not only added to the ambiance of a haunted walk, but took it up a notch really. Sweet girl, always smiling (I think, it was dark), but MAN did she send shivers up my neck a few times. I’m saying to Matt, “was that HER? Or something else?!”. Awesome!

High/Low

High: (for today) Ghost Walk

Low: (for today) it’s only 3 sleeps til I leave 😦

Day 27 – Ayers Rock Pt. 2

We had a very early start today, up at 4:30 for all of us to shower and get ready for a 6:00am pick up for our Sunrise Breakfast – including bacon and egg sandwiches and damper (see WOD below). We drove up to sand dunes to watch the sun rise in the east across the desert. The guide Eric was very knowledgable about all the flora and fauna in the area. Which I’m surprised to learn about myself, I actually do want to know what flowers and trees are called! And I’m so grateful that we got to see the desert in bloom!! Apparently they had a lot of rain in July and the desert has woken up and blossomed. A very early spring I guess 🙂 later on (like December) it will be 46°c in the shade he claims, and 20° at night whew!! For months! No reprieve!!

After that we went for a walk around the base, and got some really great photos. Such a beautiful place!! We also saw a waterhole (yep there was water!) and some aboriginal drawings in a cave area, where they would have taught their children their stories of creation.

Now we are wrapping up our whirlwind tour and flying back to Brisbane via Sydney. Gonna be a long travel day again, probably won’t get right home until 10pm or so.

High/Low
High: seeing Uluru up close & learning about the vegetation
Low: more traveling again so soon? Lol
WOD: Damper. This is a traditional bread typically made in the outback on coals by drovers and swagmen.

Day 26 – Ayers Rock

We said goodbye to Sydney this morning for a 10:30 flight to Ayers Rock. Lets talk bucket list for a moment shall we? The big bucket list item was of course coming to Australia. But if we break it down into subcategories, Ayers Rock is FIRST on that list, with stars around it, flags flying nearby and a rousing march by DeSousa playing in the background. I’m hoping you get the point. And I’m here now….nuff said.

My first view of Uluru was getting off the plane, which was exciting! I kept tearing up just thinking about it, especially when we were waiting at the airport for our plane. We checked into our hotel, and 2 hours later were on our sunset tour and BBQ! There was a lot of build up about crying here, and I actually didn’t. I think the difference between this and swimming the reef, is here I had all my gear and a job to do. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to get this shot, so I didn’t want to mess it up, I was focused and remarkably unemotional. Who knows, we still have a breakfast tour tomorrow!!

So after sunset pics we had a BBQ at the cultural centre, outside among the stars. They had steak, chicken, shrimp (prawns), kangaroo, sausage, potatoes, salad. It was all so good — and YES I tried kangaroo. It was ok, reminded me of beef (chewing it forever – which is why I don’t eat beef), with a hint of gamey, but not bad. They can’t cook it rare or medium though apparently, it has to be cooked well through, so I found it kind of tough, I’d probably like it in a stew much more, as I will eat a beef stew if its nice and tender and fall apart. So, if you like beef, you’d like roo.

After the meal we did a bit of star gazing as there isn’t a town for 450 kms so the skies are über clear! I got a picture of Scorpio, the moon which was full last night so pretty bright tonight still, the southern cross (which doesn’t contain the south star, as that doesn’t exist!), and it on the Australian flag (and New Zealand, New Guinea, ams Brazil as well we learned!!). Then on the way back to the hotel we listened to a few songs like “Rain on the Rock” and of course “Waltzing Matilda” which is about as Aussie as Stompin’ Tom’s “The Hockey Song” is Canadian. It was great to hear everyone singing along and feeling good; my smile was a mile wide!

Ok…off to bed now.

High/Low
High: duh….. the Rock of course!!
Low: it’s going too fast 😦
WOD: itchy grub. a caterpillar (the processionary caterpillar to be exact), their hairs will actually make your skin itchy, sometimes for days!!

Day 25 – More Sydney

We started the day visiting the Queen Victoria Building, it’s a beautiful old building building that was completed in 1898, and restored in 1986. I asked what it was originally used for (as its now like a shopping mall, but way nicer and more quaint), and it turns out it was designed as a big shopping centre! I don’t think I’ve been in a mall that old before! It’s so beautiful! Inside there’s a hug clock called the Great Australian Clock, it has a little ship that sails around it, through different tableaux’s of the places Captain Cook sailed past when he first discovered Australia. It also has other depictions of life here pre and post occupation. Including ‘the taking of the children’. Kinda gruesome. It also has a big arm that will show you the date.

After the QVB, we went to Vaucluse House, an old homestead that was used from 1827-1862. It has beautiful gardens around it with walking paths all through it. The house is only open for tours on the weekends, so I didn’t get to see inside which kinda sucks, but still walking around the place was nice. Much different architecture here than Newstead House in Brisbane, this place was all stone compared to wooden structures up north. Which goes the same for all the houses, lots of stone and brick, as well as some beautiful sandstone, all designed for a bit cooler weather.

On our way to our Captain Cook “Highlights” cruise, Lori and I happened to stumble upon my favorite Guylian shell chocolates, in the form of a CAFÉ!!! Brilliant. Chocotastic!!! Moving on… So we went on a nice harbour cruise and saw all the Sydney highlights, some of which I’ve already seen myself on land, Circular Quay, Royal Botanical Gardens, Mrs. Macquarie’s chair, Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour and of course all the multi-million dollar homes all around the harbour (upwards of 30 million, plus!!).

As we were walking back to our hotel, which is on the closest pier next to the bridge, we walked through the oldest area of Sydney called “The Rocks” as most of the buildings were made of local sandstone (I google all of my grand assumptions first). It reminded me a bit if Old Town Quebec, with stone cobble streets and really gorgeous old buildings. And chocolate cafés. Yes.

High/Low
High: gotta love the Queen Victoria Building – so ornate!
Low: the diesel stink on the cruise. It actually reminded me of a dinner cruise we had our last night in Cairo – and not in a good way 😖
WOD: Budgie smugglers. What we would call “speedos”‘ or a banana hammock. Lol!!

Day 24 – Sydney!!

One guess what my High is for today!! And I felt a little teary with Tabby on my shoulder and Lori freezing her ass off with me…. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We drove about an hour into the city. Our first stops on the tour were Watson’s Bay and Bondi Beach. There’s a cliff to climb at Watson’s Bay that show you the North Head (from the South Head), the rock formations that Captain Cook sailed right past, and landed on Botany Bay (makes me think of Star Trek). Lots of climbing to start my day, and my first views of the Sydney skyline off in the distance. Next stop was Bondi Beach, which Lori doesn’t like much (she thinks it’s small), but if I grew up in Summerland I’d probably think it’s small too!! But it’s one of the more popular beaches in Sydney and couldn’t be missed. They had this really long wall covered in graffiti art – very cool.

Next stop was our hotel, which is right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge!! Then I dragged Lori out with me to get some shots of the bridge and the opera house. It was an amazing walk, and we stayed out til dark freezing our butts off getting my “iconic” Sydney shots that I’ve been planning for months!! You’ll have to wait and see those ones, but even the iPics turned out pretty good!! So there you have it – amazing moment #2 where I wanted to cry!! I’m happy to be here & feeling blessed again.

Oh, and it’s a week today when I’ll be on a plane coming home. So crazy sad. We’ve been trying to come up with ways that Scott and I can immigrate. So far we’ve decided Brisbane needs a double decker tour bus, and I’m licensed now, and Lynda is called Lyndapedia for a reason, so she’s my wing-man, and Lori and Matt are in charge of buying the bus. Makes sense to me!

High/Low
High: Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House
Low: Leaving a week today! 😦
WOD: Povo. Short for poverty or impoverished – like a Povo wedding (meaning a cheap ass wedding). Not sure I’m spelling that right lol.

Day 23 – Bathurst & Leura

Today we took a drive out in the country, further west toward Bathurst. Apparently it’s been known to snow in those parts. Being in a new state, I’ve noticed a big change in the landscape as well, trees are much more dense, and they have more deciduous trees that are leafless due to the colder weather. You really can notice how much it feels like winter here. Not OUR winter, mind you, but winter nonetheless. And it’s a good reminder of the saying about Queensland; beautiful one day, perfect the next! SO TRUE! Not sure what the saying for New South Wales is, but I do find myself pining for summerland up north!!

The weather was a little bleak today, and we thought we may see snow, but didn’t. We did however see big things!! I got pictures of a big gold miner, and we also passed a big miners lantern.

Once we got back to town, we stopped in Leura. It’s similar to a Niagara on the Lake type place, lots of neat little shops, cafés and restaurants, just a small little place nestled in the blue mountains. So quaint! We ate at a neat little cafe called the Wayzgoose, I had pumpkin soup, toast and peach iced tea – yummy, and such an autumn like meal.

Oh yes, and as we were settling in for the night, it snowed briefly! Wet snow, as it was hovering around 0°c. Didn’t last long, but it was neat to see. Amazing that I was up at the Great Barrier Reef last week snorkeling among the coral!!! Goodness!!

High/Low
High: Leura – quaint place!
Low: seeing snow! Brrrr I’m not ready!!
WOD: Quince: a type of fruit that grows here (and lots of other places like Nova Scotia I’m learning!) that is shaped and smells much like an apple or pear, but is too butter to eat raw. It’s generally used in jams and sweet treats 🙂

Day 22 – Blue Mountains

Today we headed to the Three Sisters, a rock formation with three distinct…..formations? There is an Aboriginal legend about them that goes something like this:

Three sisters from the Katoomba tribe fell in love with three brothers from the neighboring Nepean tribe, marriage between the two tribes was forbidden. The brothers were not happy about this law, and decided to use force to capture the sisters. A battle between the tribes ensued, and an elder from the Katoomba tribe turned the sisters to stone to protect them. The problem was that elder died in the battle, and no one else could turn the sister back.

Moral of the story? Don’t resort to violence to get women. Or, don’t trust old men who threaten to turn you to stone, as they might die before they turn you back. Sheesh, I mean really!!

We went to Scenic World which is a place with a funicular railway, the steepest in the world!! 52° incline wow it was steep!! They also had the Skyway which was straight across on a cable, much like the Whirlpool cable car in Niagara Falls. And there was the Cableway which is another cable car incline that goes down the face of the mountains to the forest floor, where you can walk trails, but we didn’t. Lori actually rode on this one with me, despite her very strong feelings on the subject! Good on ya!!

Yep, pretty much everywhere you go here there’s something to see. The towns of Katoomba and Leura are quaint and full of cute little shops 🙂

High/Low
High: Actually smelling the eucalyptus in the air today! Mmm And the views!
Low: it feels like fall here, which I like, I’m just not ready for!!
WOD: “He knows what side his bread’s buttered” means they know what’s good for them.

Day 20 & 21 – Travel Days to Sydney

These two days have been relatively uneventful considering the rest of my trip, but some interesting sites were seen along the way. It is over 900kms from Brisbane to Sydney, and we left after EJ finished school, so we had to stay overnight in Coffs Harbour – roughly half way. Just getting started was slow, lots of traffic (Friday afternoon) and ‘roadworks’ (construction). We didn’t get into Coffs until around 10, so we got there and crashed. We stayed at the big windmill comfort inn, quite fitting with our big things tour!!

Along the way I’ve been getting familiar with Shaun the Sheep thanks to Bam-Bam, I think I’m a fan, but I actually have to watch a couple episodes to know for sure! Same people who make Wallace & Grommet and the movie Chicken Run. I’ll report back!

Before we left Coffs Harbour, we visited the big banana! And on the road we stopped at a truck atop shaped like Uluru. I also passed signs for Merrimac (which made me giggle, waddap GreatBigSea), and Toronto!! Which apparently is a burb of Sydney. They also have these really cool koala bridges here!! They’re like rope bridges that go across the highway to keep all the little critters like koalas and possums safe while crossing the freeway! See the pics, in case you’re wondering what those are.

We are now nestled in our home for the next three sleeps. It’s noticibly colder here than Brisbane, going to 3*C overnight and I’m wearing socks, hiking shoes and a thin sweater – all for the first time since I landed July 29th, it IS winter here you know! I’ve been so spoiled!! *flashback to Whitsundays*. However, I’m cozy, the heater is on, the vodka coolers are warming my tummy and I’m snuggled under a blanket, spending time with all you good folks!! Could life get ANY better? I’m just calling this “Barrie Autumn Practice”, so far I’m nailin’ it!!!! Oh, and word up to 96.1FM The Edge in Sydney. Thanks for all the good tunes (then she hears Justin Beiber…ugh). Sorry Australia for that kid, don’t know what to tell you, except don’t let your kids post stuff on YouTube or they’ll become famous. Good night all 😉

High/Low
High: The Big Banana, of course. Way exciting!
Low: Leaving summer land….. Brrrr
WOD: Cuppa. Slang for “cup of” coffee or tea etc. “Stoppin for a cuppa”

Day 19 – Spider Day & Botanical Gardens

We are basically getting ready for our trip on Friday to the Blue Mountains (just west of Sydney) so it’s been a ‘stay close to home and do laundry’ day really. Big thanks to Lori and Lynda for that!! So, it was spider day. Not real spiders or I would, of course, have nothing to do with it, but it’s in Lori’s big book of things so we had to cross him off the list. It’s essentially a gigantic redback spider that is crawling over a dunny. This is ironic for a couple of reasons 1) redback spiders are actually very small, and 2) 80% of reported spider bites happened when someone was out in the dunny. Uhhh, another thing that separates us from animals (right after shoes); indoor plumbing. Take this time to thank the God of Indoor Plumbing for bestowing us with such luxury. Spiders are bad enough, but I certainly wouldn’t want to come close to death with a redback sticking in fangs in my ass. Frig that. The spider and his dunny are located at a local garden centre called Redback Landscaping. There’s a test later btw.

After the spider we took a trip to Jurassic Park (as Lori calls it), more commonly known as the Botanical Gardens. We briefly walked through this on one of the earlier ‘orientation’ days but I wanted to go back as they were so lovely! I’ve never IN MY LIFE seen poinsettias growing OUT OF THE GROUND. In greenhouses yes, in pots yes, never in a garden. This was the southern hemisphere equivalent to Lori being freaked out that everyone in Canada has Christmas trees growing on their lawns, well not everyone but you know what I mean – we have forests of them, literally. So at said Botanical Gardens we met up with a bunch of lizards – Eastern Water Dragons technically. One of them “charged” Lori…she isn’t fond of reptiles of any kind – much like my spider hatred. So our leisurely walk through gorgeous gardens was happening while Lori was at Defcon 5 Lizard Watch. At one point we were sitting on a bench, and I pointed and gasped as I saw what looked exactly like a robin, but it was all grey with a yellow beak. Pretty cool I thought, until Lori jumped out of her skin yelling “WHAT?! WHAT?!”. Probably not a good idea to get overly exited about birds during a Defcon 5 event. My bad Lori….

Aside from mini dinosaurs and grey robins, I saw lots of huge bamboo which was so fascinating, and lots of other tropical plants that we buy from Ikea and put on our dining tables or in the dark corners of rooms to brighten them up. I love bamboo, and now that I’ve sat in a mini forest of them, I can assure you they make the nicest sound in the breeze, with the rustling leaves and the bamboo stalks clacking together. Very cool.

After the gardens was some urban shopping at the Queen Street Mall – it’s on Queen Street – keep it simple!! And we strolled along the Brisbane Arcade – not a gaming arcade, but a row of shops that were simply too expensive to even go in. I did see a very nice 20,000 solitaire diamond ring though, perhaps Scott can bring me back for our 10th anniversary?

High/Low

High: the botanical gardens – it was a perfect day!

Low: freaking Lori out unnecessarily by pointing at birds.

WOD: jumbuck. a sheep (heard it in Waltzing Matilda – I could create MANY MORE Wod’s from that song…)