Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Change Is In The Air

Monday, November 20th, 2006

So my journey in Australia has finally come it an end. Tomorrow is our last (full) day before we make our way to the airport and depart this wonderful place. It really is amazing how weeks first seemed like months to us and now time seems to have all flown by at break neck speeds.

Today we did our packing, cleaning, etc, all in preparation for vacating our final walk-around tomorrow (at 2:30) after which, some last few chores, and a farewell dinner at the D’Arcy Arms (thanks to Iris, our favorite Irish place).

We’ve (Kristen, Bryan, and myself) been busy trying squeeze in all our last minute adventures before time runs out, Sunshine coast, Byron Bay, shark swims, glow worm caves, night tours, etc. I’ll hopefully be able to post updates to my gallery within a week for ya to check out.

I really am going to miss Australia, I barely scratched the surface of this amazing continent. Before I came here, I had no idea that it was as large as Europe, or the USA, but with a smaller population (there are only 22 million people here, and that just accounts for the LA country area of California, can we say “Wide open spaces”). I was only able to visit up and down the Eastern seaboard, I still need to see the South, West and Northern Territories. I want to visit Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Uluru, swim the Barrier Reef again, and really visit the outback. Luckily, I now have many friends here that I can come and visit :-). I know I’ll be back, I just don’t know when yet.

Must Find Coffee

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Bleary eyed, I got up this morning for a second time (the first was around 4am to drive Bryan and Kristen to the airport), achieved a minor level of coherence through the liberal use of water and soap so I could head out to Harbortown and meet up with Jeremy and his family. I met them back in July when I was getting my free Thawte Certificate, but unfortunately we kept missing each other since. Well, luck was with me this morning and I finally caught them. We sat down over some coffee (yay) and breakfast and caught up with each other. They are moving to Washington state in a few weeks (just before we move back to California), so there’s a good chance we will be able to meet up again in the northern hemisphere. Rhiannon had just gotten her first digital camera and was having a great time playing with it. She and I dueled with our cameras and both took some fun pics. We all hope to catch each other one more time before leaving (crossed fingers).

Out For Dinner

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Saturday we were invited over to Ian and Renee’s for a dinner. When we showed up, we headed to the backyard where Renee was taking care of her chooks and planting some peanut and sweet-potato seeds into her garden. Ian was keeping everything hydrated (which is a task considering they are not allowed to use a water-hose due to the current water restrictions). Bryan and I helped out by moving the chooks back to their main pen.

There was some time to kill before dinner, so Ian took us for a ferry ride on the Brisbane River. We first rode the river-cat east, toward to ocean, going past the Brisbane Powerhouse, which is a converted power station that now happens to be a performing arts and culture venue (I’m hoping to catch that before we leave in a month). We got off at the end of the line and killed time sitting on a pier watching jellyfish float past before the next ferry came by to take us back toward the city. Once onboard, we headed west, toward the CBD, passing lots of people out enjoying a wonderful summer(ish) evening on the water.

We got off at the Southbank Parklands and wandered around for a bit. It was the “perfect” summer evening for me. The sun had just set, twilight colors played across the sky, evening lights were just coming on, people were out for walks and seeing the night life, there was a warm breeze flowing down the river, and the tantalizing smells of restaurant grills wafted through the air. (I could get used to this).

Afterwards, we headed back down the river to Ian’s car, passing the climbing cliffs (which is another spot I hope to catch before we leave).

Back at the house, Renee served up an amazing dinner with Fesenjan (pomegranate walnut chicken stew), saffron rice, and a salad complimented by fresh herbs from her garden out back. It was amazing! Shane dropped by to join us for dinner and then play some games afterwards. First we tried a new card game that Bryan had brought along called Ogre Bash, it was a bit simplistic for our tastes, so we moved on to “May I” which Kristen quickly dominated, and crushed any hopes we had of surviving (but it was still a blast, I even got to win 2 hands 🙂 ). Renee made a dessert of sautéed fruit and a chocolate sauce (yum). Shane gave us copies of a mini-movie he had made of our trip to the Hinterlands the week before (it’s about 1 Gig, so I’ll see what I can do shrink it before posting it up).

We had to end the night around 11pm because we (Kristen, Bryan, and I) had to get up at 4am(itstoodamnearlyish) so I could take them to the airport for their trip to Sydney.

Exploring The Hinterlands

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

This last Saturday, a bunch of us got together and headed up to the hinterlands. We first stopped off at an alpaca farm where we got to pet a few and admire the rest. It is amazing how cute they are, and how soft their wool is, but with price tags of upto $450 for some sweaters, we (gladly) avoided the local store. (geez)

We continued up to O’Reillys, which is part of the the Lamington National Park, and dropped by the local store to grab some bags of seed. In this area, the local birds are quite spoiled by a constant supply of gullible tourists, and as such this situation has granted them a absolute brazen attitude when it comes to getting food. Now stripped of any hesitation, they land, at will, on you to gain first access to the grains you have presented. Yes, we all became human perches with free food. (it was a blast)

After grabbing a bite to eat ourselves, we then continued up into the forest, walking the paths, up onto the skyway bridges, and at one point climbing two very steep sets of ladders to a lookout point giving way to the valley. We then continued along to the botanical gardens contained within the forest. Kristen and Bryan were lucky enough to spot (and photograph) a few lizards, while the rest of us enjoyed the fauna.

At one point we thought about taking the longer waking path, but decided against it due to the long drive back and the fact it was getting darker.

On the way home, the sky opened up and it began to downpour. I hadn’t seen that much rain for months, and I believe the local reservoirs were quite elated (while the spectators of the Indy 300, currently taking place, were not).

Back home, I cooked up a Beef & Asparagus in a Black-bean sauce for dinner which everyone seemed to like. We ended the night with a great game of “May I” accompanied by dark chocolates, cookies, and wine.

What a great day.

I found a Wocket

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

… and no, she was not in my pocket 🙂


So, a very long time ago (mid 1990’s) I met a friend (Wocket, aka: Renee) from Australia, via an online usenet newsgroup, but unfortunately we both got wrapped up in life and lost touch. Well recently, after some internet sleuthing (Google is my friend), I was able to track her down and surprisingly it turns out she lives here in Queensland (Brisbane even! Woot!). For those that don’t know, I just happen to be temporarily living in Australia (Gold Coast area) which is only a 45 minute drive from Brisbane. This was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so I got in touch and we worked out a chance to actually meet up.

I made my way up the coast toward the city, wound around the suburbs and eventually found her house. She was working in the back, and showed me around her wonderful garden, which hosted 3 chooks (chickens) and all sorts of veggies and herbs abundantly growing about. Afterwards we headed in for some tea and to catchup on each others lives. She had became a Creative Design Artist and worked heavily in the computer industry, but then shifted over to more fulfilling role as an Artistic Teacher. As she showed me around, I got to see a bunch of her work and I have to say she has some pretty amazing creative talents.

When we were chatting over email, I and mentioned that at some point I was planning to visit a local mountain/hill that had been suggested to me by some friends. Renee knew exactly the place that I was talking about and offered to show it to me when I came to visit. So we decided to head off to see Mount Coottha. Before Leaving, we passed by her glass workshop where she showed me how she uses a (1000 degree) torch to make artistic glass beads for projects. She gave me a demonstration and then offered to let me try once we got back.

We drove across Brisbane and over to Mount Coottha. At the top you have an unrestricted (panoramic) view of the country side and Brisbane’s CBD. It was absolutely beautiful. The sky was overcast, so colors were not as vibrant but I plan to return before i leave to see if I can catch it on a clear day. We hung about and had lunch before heading down the hill to the Botanical Gardens. While there, we ventured around the different sections taking photos left and right. Everything from native fauna, sub-tropical, tropical, rainforest, cacti, even a Japanese Garden. I even got to see the oldest ancestor of the orange tree that now populates the world.

After much wandering, it was time to head back. Renee took us over to where Ian (her husband) works to see if we could surprise him with a ride home, unfortunately he had already caught a bus and was on his way, so we hopped back in the car and continued on.

After we arrived, Renee sat me down at the glass workbench and went over how to utilize the glass rods, the flame and the metal rod that is used to capture/control the melted glass. She talked me through the process as I had fun playing with the molten glass (amazingly no one was harmed 🙂 ).

We set the beads to cool and headed back to the garden where I got to meet Ian, who currently works in IT and is going to Uni (university) for a technical degree. After geeking for a bit about computers, Renee invited me to join them for dinner and then had me harvesting herbs from the back garden. After some kitchen work, Ian and I enjoyed our selves shooting bazookas, launching kamikaze grand-ladies, and dropping explosive cows, in the hilarious mayhem called Worms (a PlayStation game).

Dinner was an amazing home cooked (and grown) meal of curry with chickpeas and then was finished up with a delicious homemade pear pie (oh my mouth drools just remembering it). The night wound down as we chatted about tech, Sci-fi, British Comedies, etc.

It was getting late so I bid them farewell, and headed home.

They are a wonderful couple and I’m looking forward to seeing them again before I have to leave. It’s a shame I had not contacted them earlier in my trip. (oh well, live and learn) 🙂

Jumbo Octopas Ball

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

I just got back from visiting a Japanese Culture event being held at the local Arts Center. They had quite a bit going on, two stages, kabuki theater, martial arts demonstrations, music and dancing, Japanese tea ceremonies, calligraphy, paper cutting and vegetable carving. I also came across quite a number of vendors, both food and goods.

I wandered around for a while, taking pictures, watching the shows, trying the food, and just enjoying a pleasant sunny day.

Murray and Krista Pop By

Friday, September 29th, 2006

This past week, we had two friends from the states drop by for a visit. Murray and Krista were on holiday in Australia and had just finished their first 4 days in Sydney and now were due to spend a few with us before moving on to Cairns and then back to Sydney.

Saturday I headed out to the airport to pick them up and then bring them back to a home cooked (Mustard Chicken) dinner courtesy of Bryan. We spent the rest of the evening catching up on life back home and a few of the adventures they done so far in Sydney.

The next morning everyone was up early because they were all heading out to see the Australia Zoo. I spent most of the day studying for my final test in the Wildlife Rescue Class and afterwards went shopping so I could cook dinner that night. Everyone made it back that evening, with lots of animal stories, Koala photos, etc. We finished up dinner and relaxed for the night.

Monday morning, Murray and I went for a walk around Southport, we picked up coffee and breakfast for Krista and headed back. After dropping everything off, we grabbed our gear and we headed down to the Gold Coast Airport. Murray had rented a single engine plane for us to fly around the area in. We met with the flight instructor and then headed off to the local supply shop to grab some airspace maps. After we returned, he went over the flight-plan with Murray and then we headed out to the plane. After the standard checks, and tower clearance, we were off. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, the sky was sunny and clear, while the ocean was a stunning (and inviting) blue. Luckily there isn’t much traffic in the area, so we were able to fly at about 500ft off the ground while going up the coast. This gave us some of the best views of the Gold Coast I’ve seen yet. Lots of photos were taken as we made our way up to “The Spit” at which point we turned West and headed inland over Southport and into the Hinterlands. We flew through some valleys, over a beautiful lake, passed the local mountains, and then turned back east to the ocean. On the way back, we got clearance to drop back down to 500ft and follow a winding river back to the ocean.

After we landed, we headed back up the Gold Coast Freeway and thought it would be a great day to grab everyone for lunch and then head out to the beach. After squeezing into the car, we headed out to Main Beach where we had burgers and then kicked back on the sand. I ran out into the waves to play around. Murray joined me for a while until he was exhausted by the ocean (those waves are quite a workout, you quickly realize you a quite small and insignificant compared to their unyielding power). I hung out for a bit longer before heading in. We sat and had fun watching the antics of the tourists playing on the beach.

It was getting later in the day so we headed home to clean up for a bit before going back to Surfers Paradise for some Starbucks. We met up with our friend Sergio and sat around drinking coffee, listening to stories and having a great time. Once night hit, we thought it would be a good idea to head over to the D’Arcy Arms for some Irish grub. Sergio, Murray and I decided to walk while Kristen, Bryan, and Krista all drove. Once we got there, Sergio’s friend Michael met up with us and we all had a great meal. Sergio was not feeling too well so we figured it was about time to head home.

Murray and I finished up the night playing around on our laptops and then finally crashing, though Murray was up for quite a bit longer due to all the coffee :).

The final morning, I took Murray and Krista to the airport to check in their main baggage, and then we drove in to Brisbane to kill most of the day. We wandered around Queens street, checked out the live performers, made our way across the bridge to the Southbank area (a sort of community/art center area). Murray saw a bearded dragon basking in the sun and took some shots of it. We made our way long the coastline, passed a Nepalese Pagoda, and then the man-made pool/beach area (with lifeguards). Eventually we found the dock for the Ferry that would take us to the far side of the city’s CBD area. As we rode around, we both snapped photos of the local artwork, the Kangaroo Pt cliffs, and finally the eastern shore of the city.

About this time we had to part ways, I had to make it back to Southport because my test was that night in Currumbin and Murray and Krista had to get back to the airport (via train) to fly off to Cairns.

It was really nice having them visit, and I look forward to catching up with them again when I return to the states.

Awww Man

Monday, September 4th, 2006

I just heard some really bad news. Steve Irwin (of Crocodile Hunter fame) just died from a cardiac arrest after being stung in the chest by a sting ray.

He spent most of his life working with wildlife, conservation, and education. He had a wild, entertaining, and engaging personality of which we would lovingly call “completely insane” as we watched him taunt a ginormous saltwater croc.

Steve, you will be sorely missed, rest in peace.

Somebody feed that owl

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

This week we were going over birds, but at the beginning of the class, Tracy took us into one of the back rooms to show us some temporary storage ares. After crowding into a small room we got to see their setups for snakes, lizards, and spiders. I got to see how they stored the pythons and blue tongued lizard from last week, plus we got to view a Huntsman with her babies and a Funnel Web Spider. Afterwards we were led to a cage area where I got to feed Mealworms to a pair of Sugar Gliders, and a Tawny Frogmouth (I cannot tell you how cute they were). In the same area we got to see a barn owl and a bush tailed possum.

During the class, Tracy brought out a Barking Owl which was throwing a tantrum because he thought he was going to get fed but she didn’t have any mice for him. Later on she brought out a Barn Owl who was better behaved (and a LOT quieter).

After going over the reading material, we all then headed out across the park to the food preparation area. I really liked walking through the park at night, you could hear all the nocturnal animal rummaging about, and there were no distractions from tourists. While walking along Tracy heard a wild Tawny Frogmouth making calls while perched in a tree above us. After a few moments of letting us highlight him with our flashlights, he took flight to a more private branch (being a night hunter, he is amazingly silent when flying).

We reached the food prep area and got to see the seed mixes for the different species, we found out about insectivore powers and mixes, live cricket breeding, storage for mealworms, etc. One surprising fact I discovered was that they were not allowed to kill food to feed the animals, so most of their raptor and reptile food (mice & rats) are purchased dead already (it is very surreal to see a plastic take-home container with frozen mice lined up like sardines). There was one exception to this rule (I forget what “food” animal) but when they had to kill it, they used CO2 gas (as the most humane option). Tracy noted that the live-feed industry was quite lucrative, a small (to-go) box of mealworms can easily run $7. But she also noted that it takes a lot of time and work to breed the live-feed. When she was growing her own crickets at home for some animals she was nursing back to health, she noted that she had to spend more time working with the “feed” than with the actual animals.

We wrapped up the evening and back to the front gates. While walking there, I struck up a conversation with Neel (Neal?) who was taking the class but was also a volunteer at the park. I found out that they get a lot of interaction with the animals and there are a number of different areas you can work. They are also quite flexible with schedules. I’m really thinking of signing up for my final months here. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Here are some photos: 2203

Next week are the mammals…

Need to get moving

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

Lately, with it being cold(er) (it’s winter here ya know), no visitors, and working on my laptop lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been getting out of shape. I did try going back into the ocean last week, and it wasn’t that bad after the initial shock of the water temp, but it seems to have been (low) enough to remove that “inviting” feel of the ocean (at least for now). So I’ve been interested in finding a way to get some more exercise into my routine. I’ve done some walking around the area, but there really isn’t much to see here (I get bored easily), and regular gym memberships are those (heavy) investment ones that want you to sign up for a year (yada, yada). Luckily, Kristen just told me about an indoor climbing gym (that her physical therapist told her about) just down the road. We’re going to check it out when she’s feeling better. I found their online site: Paramount Adventure and the pricing looks really promising.