Monday, 31 January 2011

The Australian Museum ...

The extinct Tasmanian Tiger in the 'Where are they now?' section of 'Surviving Australia'

Yesterday, C and I took my two students to the Australian Museum in the city.  Our purpose of the visit was for six year old R and I to visit the 'Surviving Australia' exhibition as part of her studies into animal adaptations.  While us girls did our 'school' work, the two boys headed to the display of winning photos in Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.  The best part about the first exhibit was the extremely cool interactive table where museum goers were 'bitten' by all sorts of dangerous Australian animals before learning about the first aid needed for such a 'bite'.  It amused adults and children alike.  I also managed to get a quick peek at the wildlife photography but I'm keen to head back to spend longer because the photos were simply stunning.  Given such a grand title of 'Australian Museum', I did expect the museum to be slightly bigger with more on offer, but the quality of the displays that were on offer was pretty good.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Twilight at Taronga ...

C.  arrived on Saturday morning and in an effort to keep him awake and jet lag-free, I took him to see 'Beatnix', a Beatles cover band, at Taronga Zoo.  It couldn't have been a more perfect evening - wine and a picnic dinner with the sun setting in the beautiful location of Taronga Zoo.  The band were a lot of fun and it was great to see such a range of ages in the crowd.  Perhaps most fun of all was watching the oldies work up a sweat as they danced along to the songs of their youth!  Twilight at Taronga was the first of the many touristy things I have planned for C's visit over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Ocean swimming pools ...

Since I'm lucky enough to be living in Manly for 5 months of the year, I feel like it's important to take advantage of the beautiful location.  I'm not really a beach kind of girl, but I'm learning to love it.  One of my favourite discoveries in Manly has been the ocean swimming pools that are generally found at most beaches.  The one pictured is at the Queenscliff end of Manly beach and it's where you'll find me a couple of evenings a week and over the weekend.  Swimming laps of breaststroke while doing a spot of people watching is the best way to spend a non-intense exercise session.  It's also fun watching the kids hang off the railing at the end of the pool and get hammered by the waves that come crashing into the pool on a wild day.  I only have 7 weeks till I go back to Canada, where I'll be taking advantage of the mountains, but until there, it's all about sun, sand and surf.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Central Australia from the sky ...

On the flight back to Sydney, I had a window seat and spent most of the flight mesmorised by the vast desert landscape.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Australia Day ...

Australia Day.  Ah.  A day for us to be proud to be Australian.  A day for the masses to converge in public places, proudly sporting their Southern Cross tattoos, their Australian board shorts and bikinis whilst drinking VB and chanting 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!'.  Yes, a day to feel proud to be Australian.

Enough of my cynicism.  I enjoyed a lovely morning celebrating Australia Day with R. and the kids.  We caught the 7 am ferry into the city to head to the Botanical Gardens to watch the Aboriginal celebrations.  It was brilliant.  And a timely reminder that it wasn't us white, boganistic people who 'founded' Australia, but the indigenous people who lived here for thousands of years before us.  Time for me to crack open a VB.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Central Australian wildlife ...

There was plenty of wildlife to see in Alice Springs, especially birds and lizards.  In the waterholes, there were many tiny fish swimming about, enjoying the benefits of the recent rainfalls.  I was thrilled to spot a herd of wild brumbies, but disappointed not to see any wild camels!

Lizards everywhere

Spot the black footed rock wallaby

Wild brumbies

Crested pigeon


Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunrise in Alice Springs ...

On my last morning in Alice Springs, I convinced Mum and Tom to get up at 4.45 am to watch the sun rising over the desert.  By 5 am, we were on top of ANZAC Hill with a flask of tea and dozens of gigantic moths.  Over about an hour, we watched as the night sky transformed into daylight, going through an extraordinary range of colours.  It was quite spectacular and a wonderful way to begin the day.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

An early morning climb and an evening BBQ ...

Mount Gillen

Day 2 in Alice Springs began nice and early, with a 5.30 am start.  We were on the walking track by 6 am, watching the sun come up as we trudged through the foothills and headed up Mount Gillen.  This particular track is a popular one, with many locals making a weekly walk up to the summit to admire the view across Alice Springs in one direction, and the far reaching desert in the other direction.  We were back down the mountain and in town by 10 am, where we spent the rest of the day resting at Mum's place and mooching about in the mall, trying to stay cool.

Mum on the track

The track up the mountain

That's where we were heading

Lush green desert

Spot Mum ... as she makes her way up the rock face

On the summit

The rock face (not the one we climbed)

Track along the top of the mountain

Looking down into the town of Alice Springs

In the evening, we met up with one of Mum's friends for a BBQ at Telegraph Station (where we walked on day 1).  Here, we enjoyed bubbles with our kangaroo steaks while watching the sun set over the desert land.

Telegraph Station (with the moon in the sky)

The girls sit around drinking ... 

... while the man cooks the BBQ

Sun setting over Telegraph Station

'Catfish' ...

Last night, I went to the first Australian preview for 'Catfish' at the Palace on Oxford Street.  After seeing the trailer twice, I was curious.  If you've seen the trailer, you'll know that you just have to see the movie, it's just so intriguing.  As was the actual movie.  'Catfish' is a documentary about the development of a relationship over facebook.  It's funny, sad and scary all at once ... and very, very well made.  Following the movie, the three filmmakers (who are also the stars of the movie) came into the cinema for a question and answer session, where they explored some of the controversies surrounding the movie.  I'm not going to give too much of the movie away, so if you get the chance, make sure you see 'Catfish'.

Monday, 17 January 2011

West Macdonnell Ranges ...

On day 2 in Alice Springs, we headed out on the road heading towards Uluru, following the Macdonnell Ranges.  Along the way, there were many places to stop to look, walk or swim. We mainly stuck to swimming in the very full and beautiful water holes since it was so hot.  It was a wonderful time to be seeing the desert ... an unusual amount of rain has meant that the water holes are full, the landscape is green rather than red, and there is wildlife everywhere.

Simpson's Gap

Simpson's Gap

Standley Chasm

Picnic at Ormiston Gorge

Preparing the lilo 

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

Beers at the Glen Helen 'Resort'

Lush Glen Helen Gorge

Ellery Creek Big Hole

Ellery Creek Big Hole

Swimming in the water hole

For those of you who are interested in where we actually visited, here is a map of the area.