May 1, 2011
We made the trip to the "Land Down Under" during the kids Easter break from school. Consequently that song would not leave my head the entire time. We had come to the conclusion that visiting Australia while living in Hong Kong would be easier than while living in the States. The time difference is only 2 hours and the plane ride if you go direct is about 9 hours.
We chose Brisbane for our destination. One of our main reasons for choosing Brisbane was that we knew people who lived there. We met The Hooper family Stephen, Jenny, Owen and Toby here in Hong Kong. We were disappointed when we found out they had planned their vacation to visit their families in the UK at the same time as we were coming to Brisbane. The Hoopers generously offered us not only their house as a place to stay but the use of their car!
One of the possible side effects of raising kids in HK is the sterile environment, concrete paths and cushioned playgrounds. Kids don't often get opportunities to be barefoot, get their hands dirty etc. We spend a good amount of our time hiking and out in nature here in Hong Kong and still the kids were hesitant to be barefoot and play freely in the back yard. Geckos were to be seen everywhere and the trampoline was a hit.
Nathan took to driving on the "wrong" side of the road very quickly. He did often turn on the windshield wiper when he meant to turn on the blinker, but as it rained on and off while we were there it worked out most of the time. With the help of the GPS system we managed to get around quite well. The kids were quoting the GPS all week.
The voice was a loud, deep throaty-what we called -Australian pirate voice. " Come Along Ginger turn right, pip pip! "
Corinda is a suburb of Brisbane and we were about a 8 minute walk from the train station. We only took the train one day, the cost is not quite as economical as the Hong Kong MTR so we didn't use it very much.
This bridge, we were told by a local, actually has people live in it. It is government housing and there is a waiting list to get a spot. He remembered a classmate living there and said it was really loud.
our trip was over Easter Holiday and the Australian Holiday of ANZAC. Australian and New Zealand army corp. I think it is safe to compare it to the US Memorial day. What we thought was really patriotic and interesting was that service men and women from young and old wore their uniforms. They got to ride free on the train that day. The ANZAC parade features different military units. There weren't floats or clowns, just people marching, or in vehicles. We purchased Aussie flags and waved them as the people passed. Unlike living in China we could blend into Australia - until we opened our mouths of course.
Thankfully the other family that we knew lived in Brisbane were around during our trip.
Our friends the De La Portes are leaders at the YWAM base in Brisbane and have been in Australia over a decade. I met Darcie when we were teenagers at an outreach that was for all Michigan Youth. We have stayed in touch ever since. Gary and Darcie showed us all around and took time from their schedules to be with us, it helped make the time really fun and special.
A visit to Australia would not be complete without seeing the kangaroos and koalas. We visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which provided us with an opportunity to feed kangaroos, and other farm animals. Jane named the goat she fed cuddles. We also saw a tasmanian devil and a platypus.
We drove up to the Glass House mountains and while there we spotted a wallaby with a joey. To see one in the wild was exciting. The baby kept popping out of the pouch.
Jane commented," I thought they had pockets they kept the babies in, not holes." It is true the drawings and animation of kangaroos all depict a pocket like front part for the babies and it doesn't quite look the same in person.
A beautiful drive to Springbrook National Park and the Natural Bridge led us to the cave that is home to glow worms They look like tiny LED lights, It was loud because it was so close to the waterfall.
The maritime museum featured the boat of Jessica Watson the youngest person to sail around the world
We had a BBQ at the YWAM base where we tried Kangaroo. Jane tried it as well. I thought it was really good and would have it again.
There was so much more to see and do. The rain or threat of rain kept us away from the coast. We needed more time and better weather. It was a really beautiful country and it was a nice break to be in a place where everyone speaks your language, well relatively. I would like to go back to visit the Great Barrier Reef and to actually spot the Southern Cross in the sky. We didn't really attempt to find it until our last night.
highlights of the trip from the kids..
Jane--seeing the Wallaby in the wild- having a TV in the house
Elliot- feeding the Kangaroos- having a TV in the house.
Mom- The wallaby, and when the De La Portes took us out for "Devonshire tea" there was a kookaburra (pictured above) that sneaked a fry from the table next to us. He amused everybody walking around having this big fry sideways in his beak.