Friday, April 18, 2014

Perth Holiday - Part 4 AQWA, the Coast and Judi's

Elissa holidays......

We have a beautiful outdoor pool as part of our apartment complex. It is right on the grassed bank leading up to the river. This morning we decided that the kids and I would go and check out the pool. It was fun - a little bit cold but once we got swimming it was ok. After swimming we had fun briefly sun baking.

After cleaning up we headed for the coast. It was lovely to just drive along the beach, seeing the white sand and clear blue water. We had fun pointing out certain beaches and were Aunty Judi used to live. We ended the drive at Hillaries Boat Harbour about lunch time. We ate at the wharf - Adam had Mexican, Jayde and Seth had ribs while Jewel, Minori and I had Sushi. Then it was a brief window shopping at the wharf.

The next part of our day was something we were very much looking forward to - AQWA.  Each time we come back to Perth we go to AQWA and each time we love it. This time was no different. It was fun sharing it with Minori and showing her Australian sea life. There are lots of different aquariums, coral reef and a moving walk way under the ocean with lots of fish, sharks, stingrays and turtles. Brand new was an outdoor stingray pool which was amazing to watch them so close up. A favourite is also the touch pool.

The highlight of our day was next - dinner at Aunty Judi's and meeting her new husband Douglas. We sat outside and chatted and caught up before a delicious dinner. After dinner we took the kids down to the beach and they had a bit of a swim while the sun set - unfortunately it was very cloudy and we missed seeing it.

It was back for dessert after we had cleaned up. Judi had made a delicious Apple Pie. Then we had a very funny incident with Seth. Earlier Seth had bought a soft toy hammerhead shark from AQWA. While at the table we were talking abut various things and Seth decided to imitate a hammer head shark by holding two glasses to either side of his head. What he hadn't realised was that one of the glasses still had water in it. Jayde and I saw what was about to happen seconds before it happened. Everyone else was busy laughing non-stop at the expression on his face as the water hit his head and then all down his side. It was a priceless moment that he has been assured will be raised regularly during the next 10 years - leading up to his 21st.

By this time it was late and we think the children were tired and so headed home. Another great day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Perth Holiday - Part 3 General Conference & Dowes

Elissa  relaxes.....

Being Sunday it was a day for Church. Not normal church this week but General Conference from Church headquarters. I love General Conference, hearing from our Prophet and Apostles. I was hoping to catch up with some old friends at the Dianella Stake Centre when we went. However there weren't as many people there as in previous years as many people now watch Conference at home. I enjoyed conference and catching up w ithsome of the people there. I saw the Keels (my first seminary teacher), Brother Balfour (my old Bishop), Hazel and Peter Saxon (and there very grown up children).

Then we drove out to Ellenbrook. We first just drove by our old houses - our first house has just been sold again, the street looks very unkempt now, and they have palm trees in my garden - I had a native garden planted. Our second house looked good from the front - but several garden items that I had spent a lot of effort on were now gone. Street still looked good.

Then it was over to the Dowes for lunch. It was great to see them again. We had a lovely lunch and spent the afternoon catching up. The kids got along well and chatted and spent some time drawing together.

We went for a drive together as they showed us Paul's Gallery, as usual we were blown away by his talent. He gave Jayde a spare camera bag he had for her camera and lent Adam some really great equipment for use on the holiday, Adam was thrilled and nervous at the same time. Then it was a tour of the changes around The Vines and Ellenbrook. We built out here when it was very small - we knew how big it would eventually become then but it is still amazing to see how big it has become. We were amongst the first 200 houses in the suburb, whereas there are now over 35,000 people in the area.

Minori was then dropped off by Donovan and Alicia, she was very tired as they had apparently stayed up very late talking. Lunch then became dinner and the kids enjoyed watching the "Churchball" movie. It was very funny. Unfortunately the night had to come to an end as we returned back to the flat for the evening following our great time with the Dowes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Perth Holiday - Part 2 Fremantle Markets

Elissa falls in love again .......

We started the day out fairly early - we are still functioning on Canberra time. We drove to Perth city from our apartment pointing out sites and memories and changes along the way - and explaining them to the kids. Adam and I drove this road everyday together for work for several years. We all ahhed at Burswood and looked forward to having lunch there one day this week. Then we drove along Riverside drive (part that was still open) and up through the city (St Georges Terrace). They were all mazed at how beautiful it was and clean compared to Sydney (and not as busy - we did point out it was 9 on a Saturday morning). Then we drove down to the Swan river and drove along it to UWA (where Adam went to Uni). I got quite emotional at times - seeing how beautiful it was - wishing we could still live here and realising how much I had loved it.

By this point the kids were also in love. Two weeks ago for our Wollongong drive the kids kept saying this is where they want to live when they grow up. We then followed the river down to the Claremont driving through the suburbs of Nedlands and Dalkeith. Stunning views and houses, the kids loved it. We explained that these houses were some of the most expensive in Australia and we could never afford to live here.

Then we came to the Claremont Jett -, as a kid of 12 (Seths age) Adam would come here almost nightly when they lived close. As a dating couple we came here frequently, to walk, talk and eat pizza. It brought back such fond memories for me and the kids loved it. We watched the fish and jelly fish in the water. I remembered swimming in the Swan River as a kid and patting all of the jelly fish - they are big and harmless. Jewel then wanted to.

We then continued driving towards Fremantle - having fun catching our first glimpse of the ocean, looking at the big ships and old buildings. We drove to our old parking spot for the Freo Markets and found a space (amazed we could still park in old spot). The markets were just as we remembered them, first fresh food then on to stalls. Some cheap souvenirs, clothes and nitnacks some expensive souvenirs and clothes. Lots of different foods. Jewel and I bought some large cookies Choc mint and lemon merenge. Adam sat down a lot while we shopped as he was getting tired easily and it was hot. He instead enjoyed some old  buskers playing the Blues outside - and ended up buying their CD. Seth bought a trick torch and had fun zapping everyone for the rest of the day. I bought a delicious Honey cake to share with friends on Sunday.

We enjoyed a walk down the Cappuccino strip and watched everybody with their late breakfasts. We found some shops that were old favourites of ours "Pickled Fairy" - a shop fully dedicated to fairy costumes - very high quality fairy costumes, each one different - with prices to match. We were in love with the dresses and wished they had them in our sizes. Next was "Into Camelot" which had some beautiful 50's style dresses as well as some amazing medieval costumes. Needless to say I was in love and Jayde had to keep telling me off for touching everything (but I had to assess the material quality and how put together). We also found the Lolly shop and a place for Minori to try on Ugg Boots.

Then it was back to the car to drive to the fishing wharf to have Fish and Chips. We would usually walk this distance but Adam was struggling with the heat and the kids were also feeling the warmth (we were buying bottled water by the dozens all day). We fond parking not to far from the wharf and enjoyed an amazing fish and Chips at Cicerellos - it also included prawns, scallops, squid, crab and pineapple. We ordered too much and needed to get take away containers for the left overs (yummy breakfast next morning).

By now everyone was flaking - it was warm and we were all hot and tired - but had several hours till we could go to our next stop. Adam had a brain wave - ice cream. So we all went to Baskin and Robins (which was air conditioned) and picked an Ice cream each. Mum - Critus blend, Dad, Chocolate and peanut butter, Jayde Chocolate chip cookie dough, Minori - Rocky Road, Seth choc mint and Jewel had Fairy Floss. It did the trick and we all left feeling refreshed more energised. We drove off to the maritime museum and searched the "Welcome Walls" for Adams parents names. They were found and then a quick wander past a "Tall Ship" before back to the car. Adam then dropped me off at the shops while he did laps of Freo until I was done with some supplies.

We then navigated our way to Donovan and Alicia's (with our new $40 street directory - when did they get so fat or expensive). It was wonderful to see them and meet their kids for the first time in over 4 years. Our last trip was to see the Twins born - now they are active 4 year olds. First we had to learn to tell them apart - they are not identical but meeting for first time and learning their differences (and taking into account how bad I am with names).  They were very shy with us at first but slowly warmed up to us. Taylor and Seth were joined at the hip for the rest of the evening, the same with Jewel and Matilda. The twins picked a big girl each and both Jayde and Minori had a shadow for the rest of the day/night. Jayde and Minori loved it and played with them, did their hair, let the girls do their hair, danced with them and read and cuddled with them.

All of the kids jumped in the pool at one stage. It was fun but cold (the water). There were lots of splashes and water fights. The twins are amazing swimmers for their age and the girls had fun playing with them. Us adults enjoyed catching up for several hours. Grandma and Grandad eventually turned up and dinner was started. Adam at this point was feeling absolutely exhausted and rested quite a bit. Jayde started complaining of a headache and after some panadol and a heat pack went to bed in the spare room. I kept checking on her and making her drink water (worried about de-hydration from earlier in day when so hot).

We had a lovely dinner and talked quite late and then it was time to round our kids up. Minori was staying the night. Alicia had been a Japanese exchange student and so wanted to spend some time with Minori. She understands the language and culture. They had plans on taking her shopping at some Asian supermarkets to get her some things that she misses. So we woke up Jayde, said our goodbyes and headed back to our apartment, exhausted but happy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Perth Holiday - Part 1 Previously On the Amazing Race

Adam writes up:

Two Teams left Canberra, heading for Perth, Western Australia. Team one consisted of Elissa and Minori. Departing at 11AM, their flight went via Adelaide, scheduled to arrive in Perth at 4:30PM. Team two consisted of Adam, Jayde, Seth and Jewel. departing at 12:55PM, their flight via Melbourne, was scheduled to arrive in Perth at 5PM.

Well, those were the plans at least. The doctors had worked hard with Adam and had dismissed him from hospital on Thursday afternoon so that he would be able to fly out with the family on Friday to Perth. Unfortunately for Elissa, not only had she been stressing at home about Adam over the preceding week, but also doing all of the last minute holiday preparation that Adam would normally have been doing.

We all got to the Airport fine on the Friday morning, with Adam initially taking us all down and checking everybody in to their respective flights, before taking the car back home and being taxied back by Kerrilee. Elissa and Minori got onto their flight OK, but by the time Adam and the kids flight was due a large storm  hit Canberra. In addition, there were storms down in Melbourne, and their aircraft was late.

Elissa and Minori got to Adelaide OK even if the flight was n a small propeller plane with no inflight entertainment system. They had fun playing around in the Adelaide airport for 2 hours, discovering that both English and Japanese use the words "pom pom", pretending to eat giant Easter Eggs, and generally killing time. When it was time to board their plane, they ended up with a 30 minute delay before eventually flying off to Perth.

In contrast, Adam and the kids' flight left over an hour late from Canberra, and included a school group with 81 year 5 and 6 kids on their way back to Hobart. Our kids weren't overly concerned about the delays and noise though when they discovered that the flight to Melbourne was using individual iPads as the inflight entertainment system. By the time they landed in Melbourne, their flight to Perth had already departed, and they had been rebooked onto another flight leaving two hours later. Adam sent off some texts to Elissa and her parents (who were meeting us at the airport) to let them know what was happening. So, following a trip to one of the gourmet chocolate stores in the airport complex, and running around trying to find where jayde had left her water bottle, we eventually boarded a plane for Perth many hours later than originally planned.

We eventually got into Perth around 6:50PM, but there was no-one to meet us. the kids had obviously sweet talked the hostesses as they were given two bags full of cake, cheese and crackers and tim tams (leftover handouts from the flight) to take with them when we got off the plane. When we got into the airport I got a text from Elissa stating that they were at our hotel, and that I should pick up our hire car and come down. That was easier said than done. We got to the car hire counter to pick up our car and there was a young "in love" couple who were umming and aahing about getting a car and EVERY single decision about what to get. After 15 minutes we finally got seen to and picked up our car - a Kia Carnival. Nice and familiar vehicle :)

As soon as we left the airport terminal, the kids immediately noticed the warm weather. We'd left Canberra in 16 degrees and storms and got into Perth on the end of a 35 degree day. We drove down to our hotel - the Ascot Quays Apartments and met up with Elissa and Minori. The apartment was really nice - three bedroom apartment, kingsize beds, Foxtel TV, and a balcony overlooking the Swan River and Perth CBD skyline.

It had however been a long day, and the shift in timezones meant that everyone was tired, and after a quick KFC meal, ready for bed. It was good to be back "home", but dinner on the South Perth foreshore would need to wait for another time when we weren't feeling so wasted.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Elissa's Birthday - The Incredible Lightning Storm

Adam shows off:

Well, when this post goes up, we'll have just landed in Perth and have commenced our 3 week WA holiday. Hopefully, we'll be able to post up some entries about our holiday as we enjoy our time back home.

In the mean time, here's the final piece of my write up of our Sydney road trip for Elissa's birthday. I previously wrote about the thunderstorm in Part Two, and here are some of the photos I managed to capture of the storm itself.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Elissa's Birthday - Wollongong, the Long Way Home

Adam continues the travelogue:

The travelogue of our first half of the trip has already been documented in my last pre-sickness post.

On the Sunday morning we packed and cleaned our accommodation before being ambitious and deciding to drive to Sutherland Ward for Church. We had decided that we would go home via Wollongong rather than the freeway. After a wrong turn we made it to the chapel about 10 minutes late, and got to hear most of the Sacrament meeting. It was obviously an older chapel as it had a large ornate pipe organ. We saw a member we knew - Steve Rackham and chatted to him, afterwards, before changing into more casual clothes for the long drive home.

We decided to head down the cost via the Royal National Park - we drove through, but didn't stop anywhere in the park itself. There were some pretty parts of the drive including some lush rainforest areas, and the Hacking River crossing near Audley, but from the road it wasn't that spectacular until you got near Stanwell Tops and the Bald Hill Lookout. There we joined many other tourists admiring the view down the coast towards Wollongong and the coastal towns in between.

We then headed down the coast drive to drive along the Sea Cliff Bridge.

 We drove along the coastal strip to the town of Bulli and ended up grabbing lunch at a cafe on the beach mainly consisting of a fisherman's platter and fish and chips washed down with milkshakes. It was actually a decptively warm day in the sun and Elissa got sunburnt whilst we ate lunch.  Minori was excited to be near the beach and I had to explain not go into the sand. I didn't want her getting sand into the car for the long drive home as it would have made the trip uncomfortable for her.

 As we ate we were able to watch motorised paragliders flying up and down the beach, with sometimes as many as four in the air at one time.

After lunch we continued down the coast trying to find the Bombo Headlands. I wanted to check out the old quarry which looks something like this.

Photo by Alison Secombe - Original photo from
Unfortunately we got mixed up, and followed signs to the Cathedral Rocks. Because it was high tide we weren't able to get to see these either, although we did have a quick walk out onto the rocks and Minori was enjoying being close to the ocean again. Hopefully we'll get back to tour the Bombo Headlands one day.

We headed on down to Kiama to check out the Kiama Blowhole, a major tourist spot near the centre of the town. Waves crashing onto the rocks below cause a rush of wind up through the blowhole, and if the circumstances are right, you also get a fountain of spray as well. We explored the area and were dutifully rewarded with several large fountains of water sprayed out from the blowhole.

It was time then to leave the coast and head inland to the freeway, however the first hour or so of driving would be through lush picturesque farmland of Jamberoo. These eventually gave way to the lush rain forest of the escarpment as we wound our way up the escarpment to the Southern Highlands. I had spotted a reference to Carrington Falls - a waterfall that we hadn't yet visited that would be along the way, and decided to detour out to see it, and it was definitely worth the detour.

The falls were a large 50 metre drop from a mellow Kangaroo River down into a pool before continuing along in the dense bush below. Looking closer, we could see people at the top of the waterfall, so naturally went to investigate it closer.

It turned out that the walk trails led you to the river  just before the waterfall, and you could wade through the river and explore the surrounding rocks as well. Elissa and the kids were all excited to go check it out. I put on my grumpy face - concerned that if somebody fell over and was carried with the water that the cliff's edge and waterfall were only 10-20 metres away.

Panoramic stitch of 4 photos showing the ongoing path of the river to the left and waterfall to the right - Click to Enlarge

Well, nobody fell over and was washed over the waterfall and they all seemed to have fun. Minori told us that she had never seen a waterfall before, so this was certainly a fun first up experience for her.

Next we settled back into some country and freeway driving before heading into Goulburn, where we stopped for Minori to have an obligatory photo with the Giant Merino. We then went in to the Paragon Cafe and had a delicious dinner of pizza before once again, getting into the car and another long drive, except this time back to Canberra.

Normally, that would be the end of the tale, however, over dinnertime it had become dark. Upon leaving Goulburn, we could see in the distance a large lightning storm. It appeared almost stationary but was incredibly intense, with one or two lightning strikes every second. It was an enthralling site. We pulled over to a layby, and with several other cars sat there for several minutes just admiring the spectacle. We continued on past Lake George, at which point I realised I had my tripod on board, and we pulled over to join about a dozen other cars at the Weerewaa Lookout above the Lake. We stayed there for about 10 minutes so I could get some photos. I also took some video footage which should be below. The video wasn't that great, but gives an idea of the intensity. In contrast, even in my own not so humble opinion, some of the photos I got were awesome, but I'll schedule them to post up separately rather than include them here. We could still see the storm going as we entered into Canberra, having now watched it continually lightning strike for over an hour as we drove. most impressive.

It was an absolutely lovely two and a bit days - the temple, The Lion King, yummy food, lookouts, the Sea Cliff Bridge, the Kiama Blowhole, the Carrington Falls and the incredible thunderstorm all made for a great celebration of Elissa's birthday.