Brendan’s head cold was worse last night, so very little sleep for all of us, but we soldiered on. We had a little bit of a sleep-in, this morning – when we got out of bed it was 7 degrees – much warmer than yesterday.
David’s Birthday today – woo hoo – happy birthday to you – kisses and cards were given before venturing downstairs for another buffet breaky.
Brendan took over David’s camera & happily snapped pictures of everything that caught his fancy – Brendan’s favourites were the different types of medals, David’s was the plane exhibits’, mine , well I am not really sure, I liked the dioramas of the war grounds for Gallipoli & also some of the old photos. We stayed for a bit over 2 hours making our way around the exhibits – soaking up the history.
We than left for the National zoo & aquarium – we had a date with a wild animal!
On arrival we had a sausage sizzle to fortify our strength before heading to the display of my most favourite animal of all time – the snow leopard….at least we could see them this time!. Both leopards on display were curled up a sleep not too far from one of the viewing area ‘s, it was actually a good spot for us to just look at them for a while – unlike the tiger who was right down the back of his enclosure.
Brendan noticed that the fur was not as grey as normal but had beige colours thru it – this is what happens during the warmer months, I also took note of the huge paws – you wouldn’t want to be hit by one of those.
Brendan was in charge of the map & in no time at all, we had seen all the animals on display – most were soaking up the sun & having a snooze though. Now it was time for our date. We were picked up in a golf buggy & driven to a new area of the zoo which isn’t opened to the public yet.
David & Brendan had the first encounter, they were bought out into an enclosure with a female cheetah. The cheetah was lying on the ground munching on a bone while the boys were able to pat her, you had to kneel with one knee on the ground, but be ready to stand up as soon as the cheetah got up. One of the keepers took photos , I was outside of the exhibit but had a really good spot to video their encounter. Once the cheetah had finished ( they don’t have sharp teeth so they cant break the bones only chew/ lick off all the meat ) the cheetah sat up for a few more pats then gave Brendan a quick rub/ nudge on the leg before walking over to where I was and jumped up onto an elevated platform, looking over at far away enclosures.
Next was my turn, as you can only have 2 people per session, I had a stranger with me. Unfortunately the keeper changed the area we patted the cheetah, I now had my back to David & Brendan & they couldn’t see anything to video, but I did get a few photos to document the experience. The keeper went over some facts on cheetahs while we were patting happily away, for example cheetah do not have sharp claws they are more like a dogs claw, they do not roar & they only live up to about 7 years old in the wild.
The cheetah was the same one, the boys had patted, so she didn’t stay put for too long, but I had enough time for quite a few pats which she must have liked ‘cause she purred a lot, it was just like patting a huge kitty – I want one!
I was a bit disappointed, with the money you pay for this experience I expected a little bit more, but can at least now say I have been up close and personal with a cheetah.
We were returned to the meeting spot to continue looking at other exhibits, one more look at the snow leopards to get my fix before we left to go home. Of course when we found one of the snow leopards it was coming out of a pen then casually walked down to a lower viewing area, we then walked around to have another look only to see the back end & tail swish by as she walked back up to the top ! I am sure she was doing this on purpose….you guessed it, we had to go back up to the top for another look – David then spotted the other snow leopard curled up about a metre from the fence sound asleep , we watched her for a while than made our way back to the car – only stopping for a certificate which proves we survived a cheetah experience, its now official!, & a few mementos.
We made it safely home .
We woke up & put the TV on – fantastic …it was minus3 degrees out side..holy moley that is cold…When we opened the blinds it was to find fog every where…hmm, not a great start to the morning…is this a bad omen
We went down stairs to the restaurant and had a buffet breakfast – there was a mixture of hot & cold breakfast favourites as well as plenty of fruit, cereals & breads – it was quiet a large spread – there was even a special chief to cook your own personalized omelettes..
We packed our gear up for the day, we had reservations at 10.00 for an hour Segway tour- we were all looking forward to this. It is now a barmy 4 degrees
We signed all the paperwork , donned our very fashionable helmets & watched our 5 min instructional DVD intently – yeah we could do this – ha , piece of cake – well maybe David & Brendan, I am not the most graceful at balancing..
We were individually helped onto the Segways & given a quick demo before being let loose on the practicing area, hey this wasn’t too bad, I can do this….before long I was manoeuvring around like a pro
David & I borrowed gloves – another fashion statement – they suggest this, as you can get a bit of a breeze – you can go up to 12km speed wise, I was now starting to regret my decision of not having my jacket on.
We followed the guide in single file, going back over the bridge, avoiding pedestrians and bicycle riders, crossing roads etc, we had the first of 2 free times on a grassy park – we had a few photos & tried to do a bit of videoing. We had another free time in front of the old parliament house where we saw the aboriginal tent embassy, after this the people who were only on the 1/2 tour departed & the rest of us continued on,we then went down to the lake foreshore, sight seeing such places as floriade – doing a neat loop back over the bridge again and back to the centre – the tour seemed to go really fast, but at the end we all had really cold faces, David’s & my feet were aching – from not moving them around, Brendan’s hands were numb .. and we all had huge smiles…….we all agreed that this tour was great fun and definitely worth the money.
Next stop the Royal Australian Mint – we stepped inside ..at least it was warm in here..the first thing that your eyes are drawn to it a cone filled with $100,000.00 of $1.00 coins – so pretty !. There are other displays of old equipment that has been previously used,as well as different coins- such as a $5.00 coin. We also saw a gold plated $100.00 & $50.00 note. As you make your way up the 5c steps( the faces of the steps are covered in 5cent pieces), you can view the working areas – but being Sunday no one was actually working. There are many displays of how the coins are actually made – from design to end product. There are also other displays of coins designs which were rejected etc, Olympic medals, even coins which have been made incorrectly
Only coins are made here in the ACT- notes are made in Victoria.
We decided to go to the war memorial & have lunch, once we got there & eventually found a park, it was a huge wait for lunch – seemed every man & his dog was visiting today..change of plans – find a McDonalds’, then back to the hotel , find a chemist & let Brendan have a rest.
This was a good plan except the GPS seemed to want to take us the long way everywhere, & when we found the chemist it was closed…we did find another one inside the mall, where we bought some cold & flu tablets – as well as some wine & coolers – maybe we could get a better sleep tonight… Once back at he hotel Brendan had a rest & then the boys watched the sharks take on the roosters – 2 happy boys – sharks won
We noticed a Mexican restaurant last night, while walking around, so we thought we would give it a try…bad move.. it wasn’t very nice. David had a chimi-changa which didn’t look too bad, but was dry, Brendan and I had burritos, which mainly consisted of rice & beans..sorry but we wont be going back there.
Brendan was actually feeling a bit off, this morning, with a headache & sore throat, but we packed our bags and headed for the Australian capital city for the long weekend even though it was going to be cold – how brave we were ….
We kept checking the temperature on the outside 13, 11, 10, 8 – oh no it was getting colder as we neared the ACT…thank goodness we packed some of the ski gear…I think we may need it..
Once we neared Canberra we decided our first stop would be the Deep Space Communication Complex as it was on the other side of Canberra & it was already midday. We found our way out to Tidbinbilla – after a few wrong turns – thanks to the GPS which had no record of any of the address we searched for! As you neared the facility you were asked to turn off any devices as they may interrupt communications. ( they might not be able to talk to E.T )
The complex is one of only 3 tracking facilities in the world responsible for providing vital 2 way radio contact with dozens of unmanned robotic spacecraft exploring the solar system.
There were many of large satellites to look at – from a distance – you couldn’t get to close to them, an actual piece of moon rock, a full scale replica, of the Mars explorer rover, which we actually have our names on- we have a certificate and all), rockets, space probes, space hardware, – astronaut suits, equipment etc
whilst we were viewing the large Radio Antenna just outside the back of the centre, we ran into an employee who was on a break, sitting in the glass viewing room – soaking up the some of the warmth of the sun. He turned out to be very chatty & was very knowledgeable – in between his many stories, he filled us in on a lot of different facts – such it takes 6 minutes for the commands sent via the satellites to actually reach the mars rover…- also about a poor bird who got in the way of a radio stream – there wasn’t much left of him to clean up – it was like having your own personal guide
it turned out to be a really nice afternoon – even though it was cold,so we ended up lunching on the balcony overlooking one of the large Radio Antenna before making our way back into Canberra, to the hotel
David seemed to be jinxed – we were stopped at every traffic light !
The GPS decided to play nice & we found the way into the Crowne Plazza Hotel without too much fuss – it only dawned on us as we turned down into the hotel that this is actually connected to the Crown Casino – hopefully it wouldn’t be too noisy
The rooms were quite nice and spacious & had everything we needed. it was only a short walk to the Civic mall shopping area – the area was lit up by hundreds of fairy lights in the trees at night. We had thought to walk to the local club but as Brendan was feeling worse we found a nice Pizza restaurant, APK, for tea. David had a chicken schnitzel while Brendan & I shared a pizza – 1/2 special BBQ meat + 1/2 tex mex (which had corn chips ,sour cream, chillies & beef ) this was really nice !
We took Brendan back to the hotel for a hot shower & panadol before bed – hoping he would be OK in the morning.
Place holder for our Korean Trip
As part of a school hosting program, Brendan and I will be travelling to South Korea this month, for 10 days.
It should be exciting!
We decided on a leisurely day, taking in a few of the sites Mildura has to offer before going back to the camp for nibblies & Brendan to have a play & run around.
We walked to the local bakery which is located behind the park, we had a nice breakfast consisting on either sausage rolls or cheese & onion roll, coffee & milk. As we walked back we stopped at super cheap for a few things – including a new CB/UHF aerial. We also stoped in at a large variety place called Cheap as Chips, this is similar to our reject shop but was a lot bigger.
We firstly drove out to a place called Woodsies Gem Shop, this is one of Australia’s largest gemstone cutting & Jewelry manufacturing complexes.We saw a display of the casting process of jewellery manufacture (The Lost Wax Process) and then the cutting, grinding and polishing of the gems, The Aladdin’s cave look of the shop gave a spectacular display of the crystals, fossils & carvings from around the world. Out the back is the Garden Crazy Maze which is one of the largest mazes in Australia covering an acre of ground, Brendan decided he wanted to try, he took around 45 minutes, he was told that this was a good time by one of the owners, Chris Woods. We purchased a few agate caves, (a bluish/ greenish & pinkish coloured) for Brendan to put with his collection.
We then drove out to Trentham Wine Estate for a wine tasting & lunch, as it was recommended by the staff at the caravan park. It was an absolutely beautiful spot, tranquil & picturesque. Situated right on the Murray river, with its towering river gums scattered along the winding banks. We tasted a few different styles the winery had to offer then sat outside alfresco on the balcony overlooking the stunning river view for our lunch. David liked the “Petit Verdot Tannat” and I liked “Noble Taminga”, so we bought a couple each. Then with lunch David had a glass of “La Famiglia Nebbiolo”, which David also liked, so he got a couple of them too! We had spectacular weather, sunny & nice n warm.
Later we drove along the river road, on the Victorian side of the Murray, which followed the banks of the river along the out skirts of town. We came to the port of Mildura Wharf, where the house boats & Paddle Steamers are moored. We saw a family of Black Swans slowly making their way down the river. We then drove to the lock and weir- which is Lock number 11, we were in luck the Paddle Steamer Rothbury was coming in, we saw the water fill the lock so it could then continue its way up the river. Then a small tinny came the other way so we saw the lock go down for him to proceed down the river, the process was much easier to understand in action rather than theory at yesterdays lock which was flooded.
Brendan braved the ice cold waters of the pool for a while,
David studied the maps & looked up on the internet, while we had breakfast, to check for road closures in the area. There were plenty in the area! Once we had decided where we were going to go today – we are very organised! we packed up and left Broken Hill at around 10am, it was already starting to get warm.
We travelled out towards the historical river port of Wentworth, sighting many Emus on the way but still no Kangaroos. We stopped at the Tourist information centre & got a few brochures & some local insight.
We checked out where the Murray & Darling rivers meet, you could see that the Darling was in flood as it was all murky, where the Murray was quite clean in comparison.There was a elevated platform which you could walk up to get a better view. And with the old gum trees offering many shaded picnic areas, quite a few people were there. We also saw a few small colourful parrots which looked similar to buggies.
We visited the Lock & Weir which is number 10 along the river system. David was explaining to Brendan about the different levels in the water & how the boats go into the lock area & the water drops so they can then continue on, unfortunately the river was in flood and the water level was all the same. Brendan was certainly getting an education – whether he remembers all this will be another thing !
We crossed over the Murray river once again, then stopped at Fotherby park – recommended by the TI centre, the toilets were locked & there was only 1 table available to picnic at and this was taken, you could see the old paddle steamer, but it was behind a mesh fence. This was definitely not a great area to have lunch, there may have been plenty of room to run around in but not for lunching! and we weren’t going to go back across to the other river area.
We arrived in Victoria once again this time at Mildura. We found the Big 4 camp ground at a reasonable hour for a change. We set up our home for the next 2 nights. Our site was looking over the pool area and were on a beautiful grassy spot, we had a lot of dirt/ dusty not so green grass areas previously…Once we were done with our chores we put our feet up & with a champagne & beer, as well as some cabanossi & cheese to relax, we watched while Brendan froze his little butt off in the pool – it was a hot day, but the water was cold.
We cooked our dinner in the camp kitchen, and cleaned up. After we ventured over to the local Woollies ( 5 min walk) and bought some ice cream for dessert.
An early night so we can have a good look around in the morning.