Sunday, April 17, 2011

FINALLY made it to Sydney!

 WELL it took 6 and a half months...but I finally made it to Sydney a couple weeks ago! I'm SO glad I ended up taking the trip down there; seeing the Opera House and Harbor Bridge was surreal. I also knew that I would get a lot of crap if I went to Australia but didn't stop in Sydney...... =)
We arrived earlier that day, checked into a UPGRADED at the hotel due to an electrical fire in our original room..then got to see how AMAZING the city looked at night! Luck was on our side so far...
Seeing the Opera House was amazing. I guess when I thought of visiting Australia, I thought of kangaroos, koalas, and the opera house. I think it just brought the entire trip full circle for me....

Opera house by day! The roof of the opera house is made of tiles! They always looked more like canopies to me.....

On the ferry ride to Manly beach. Manly is a beautiful stretch of beach in Sydney, however you have to take a ferry ride to get to it. Australia has so many beautiful beaches, Manly was just another one to add to the list :).

largest chess game I've ever seen. If you ever get bored of a game...just play a bigger version of it!!

We visited a convict museum!  Australia is where all of the European, Canadian, and African convicts were sent way back in the 18th c and 19th c. They were sent to Australia for anything from stealing bread to robbing banks to pick pocketing. We got to see the barracks where a lot of these folks were held! *There's my history lesson for this blog*

We even got to play dress up! This look is a little too realistic on Craig...

I tried to make it fashionable with the jeans underneath the.......short pants/capris?

They slept in these hammocks...I found them relaxing!

chatting with some cardboard cut out convicts...

It was a MAJOR goal of mine to find good Mexican food in Australia. Low and behold....I found it in Sydney! It's called Cafe Pacifico....and from my very first sip of my margarita and my very first bite of my burrito, I was quickly transported back to California. I seriously haven't tasted mexican food like that for about 7 months now! These guys must do a lot of importing because I know that those ingredients didn't come from oz...sorry Australia, stick with your meat pies!

The next morning heading towards Sydney Tower (the skinny looking unstable building)! Doesn't look that tall to me.......

View from Sydney tower of our hotel. It's the giant brown building on the very left...we literally moved from the 3rd floor electrical fire room to the 11th floor apartment!

view of the harbor! The opera house and bridge aren't in this picture but they're slightly to the left...

Spent a little more time at the opera house before our flight back to Cooly! Craig doesn't mean to be frowning..he had to deal with my, "lets take a self-photo of ourselves, the opera house tiles, AND the bridge!!" Can you blame me???!   

And..about that good luck that we had....we ended up getting upgraded to first class on our flight back to Coolangatta! Words of advice...approach that sweet looking girl at the guest services could get you into a very comfy seat!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

last minute trip up the coast to Noosa!

This is the Noosa coastline...The Aussie coastline definitely beats California's...most of it is completely undeveloped.

Looking down the coast...we ended up walking around that point up there to find some surf breaks for Craig..

He surfs.. I just go along for the adventure!

It often looks like rain in Australia...but most the time the sun ends up coming out!

I hung out on this private little beach while Craig did some surfing. Awesome sky! I like finding these secluded beaches, there's heaps of them in Australia!

Looking down the coastline a bit more, still searching for a good surf break. There didn't happen to be very good waves that day...I still managed to get a tan though! :)

This was the place we stayed at in the "hinterland" of Australia. This town was VERY similar to Solvang...lots of windmills and irish/dutch shops. Made me miss home! Oh and this place we stayed at was called "The treehouses". With the treehouses come lots of little australian insects too...helps to get the real effect! ;)

anddd our drive back home, we had to stop at Aussie world!! That big brown building is a huge pub/restaurant, and then there's a miniature theme park to the right. This picture is actually dedicated to Natalie; we stopped here after our Fraser Island trip and couldn't get a picture because both our cameras were dead. Cheers to the Ettamogah pub!


quick lingo:

"hey?"-  They basically just put "hey" at the end of any sentence. Most of the time it's phrased as a question. "It was hot today, hey?!" Admittingly, I've used "hey" once or twice..

Wine a very different area code!

 DD and I had to do some Australian wine we enlisted a sober driver ( Craig) and found another companion...and went on our way! Mt Tamborine has a very convenient little loop of wineries, a brewery, and a vodka distillery...we got a lot of research done!

SO..upon our journey to Mt. Tamborine, we discovered a Hawaiian doll in my boss's car. She had lent us her car for this journey, and we soon found out that Craig would have a sober companion on this trip!!! We named him Jerome.
Craig and Jerome settling in while the girls get started at the winery!

at the 2nd winery...this one had cheese and oil tasting as well as wine! Honestly, I think the three of us would've been satisfied if we had just tasted the cheese and oil...we didn't buy any wine, but definitely got some wasabi oil!
doing some tasting...notice Craig and Jerome getting comfy in the chair behind us....we were lucky to have such a great driver!

this was Jerome and DD at the to the CHEESE factory!!
Mt. Tamborine has incredible views like this one...

Craig letting Jerome have a little fun.....

The crew!! All FOUR of us :)

Awesome time spent with DD on her trip here! It makes so much of a difference having had visitors come out here to see and experience everything that I experienced. I don't think it's any coincidence that some of my best moments spent in Australia were spent with the awesome people that used the $$ and energy to come out to Oz! Thank you DD for making the journey out here, see you soon!

Ok so obviously I'm a bit behind on my blogging. I commend my sister, Katie, for being able to keep everyone updated with her blogging of Forrest and the fam. Me, being half way across the world, really do appreciate seeing the growing pictures of both Forrest, and Katie's belly! I'll try my best to update in the next couple of days! Only because my plane leaves back to Cali in about two days.....very bittersweet :).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

DD comes to OZ!

My friend and manager from Santa Barbara visited in Feb/March for about three weeks. It was a full house but a lot of fun during that busy visitor Alyssa, Chels, and I were "forced" to take time off work and did what people are supposed to do when they go on holiday.........TRAVEL!

One of the big trips that I've done while in Australia, was my trip to Moreton island with DD. Moreton island is the 3rd largest sand island in the world...and it is the island with the largest sand dune in the world! Fraser island (where I visited with Natalie), is the 1st largest sand island in the world! Here are some pics to tell the adventures of Moreton Island:

DD and I planned a group tour to Moreton Island. We had to drive from Cooly to Brisbane city so that we could meet our tour group and drive to the ferry that would take us to Moreton. DD and I BARELY made it to Brisbane in time. Being in Australia, I forgot about a little thing called TRAFFIC..........rush hour does exist here and the aussies hate it just as much! Nevertheless we made it....very late...

When we finally made it to the ferry, we got the group 4wd on the ferry, and made it to Moreton. Here are some shipwrecks as we were approaching the shore!

Both Moreton and Fraser island had the most amazing landscape of sand dunes. Moreton had some huge sand dunes, and the dunes are famous for tobogganing! So you can only guess what we did..........

Yep..the whole group (very diverse, might I add) attempted the sand tobaggoning... and we aren't just talkin a small measly ant hill- this thing was MASSIVE!

This is me trying the tobaggoning for the first time. That's our tour guide, Ezedra, who was nice enough to wait for DD and I in Brisbane so we wouldn't miss this tour!! He wouldn't let anyone NOT go down the dune....

DD on her first time down the dune!! You had to steer the tobaggon with your feet so you wouldn't stray off into any big deal.

our favorite part.....DD hoofin' it back up the dune!! This gives you a better idea of how huge this thing was! We both went down a couple times.....when in rome!

It was a PERFECT was raining in Brisbane, but PERFECT on the island.

Our very eclectic group of backpackers. They definitely kept us laughing. There are times to go your own way, and NOT choose the group tour. BUT THEN there are times when you should let someone else do the driving, and meet some very entertaining folks....

DD racing! She's already winning here :)

Visiting the "blue lagoon". This stop wasn't even on our tour, but Ezedra took us there because we had some extra time! It was a tea tree lake in the middle of the island. Never thought I would be going to two different tea tree lakes in australia!! We all went in the lake to cool off after the tobaggoning...played some ball...and got back in the 4wd.

DD soaking up the sun and the natural tea tree oil of the lake. It was a nude beach...JUST KIDDING!

We made it back to the coast of Moreton, and the group had some sandwiches. We hung out for a bit, and then got straight into snorkeling around the ship wrecks!

We ended up seeing a SHARK, several fish, and a hugeeee manatee! We explored such a small amount of the sea, and we saw the most incredible stuff, it makes me anxious not knowing what else is out there!! When the tour guide called out to us to let us know he had found a shark, we ALL went to the area where the shark was hiding, and one by one swam down to see it. Thinking back at that now, what in the world was I thinking????

Had to get one more picture of the group...I fully recommend group tours. Oh, and I also recommend sitting in the front seat of the 4wd......these guys got quite the beating on the dusty trail!!  

More pics to come of DD's time here!

Aussie Lingo-

Bludga- pronounced as "bluh-ja". Meaning an individual who doesn't work very hard, leans on the counters, etc etc. 

Bogun-pronounced "bow-gun" the local aussies that have lived in an apartment for way too long, drink beer every mon,tues, wed, thurs, fri, sat, sun night, surf on the occasion, work a part time job...etc etc.

Derro- A step below bogun, nearly homeless, but not quite. It's taken me awhile to really nail the difference between bogun and derro, but I think I've pretty much distinguished between the two! Basically, no matter where you are, every town has their boguns and derros!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recent travels!! (continued)

Here are some continued photos from Fraser island with my sister, Nat!

Natalie decided that even though dingoes LOOK like dogs...we were very warned that their behavior is not as friendly. So we continued up the Fraser Island Coast trying to find a camping we're taking a little break having a snack out of the esky (ice chest)

When we got back on the road , we soon came up to a US ship wrecked on the beach!

There's actually several of these ships wrecked on the islands off of Australia...this one has slowly been corroding because of the sand/salt water. Either way, it was one of the coolest things i've seen in Australia..

Our Suzuki Jimny next to the US shipwreck...

When we continued on our journey, we were lucky enough to find a shop off the coastal beaten path! We went up a road trying to find a campsite..............and came back with a 6 pack instead!

There were heaps of coconuts all over the coast line. Coconuts and (unfortunately) litter had made its way to Fraser due to a nasty storm in Indonesia...Nat and I took a nice long walk to investigate the trash, and discovered a few washed up cups of noodles and flip flops.

We found a campsite!! and in an attempt to escape the LARGE flies, we set up camp pretty quick and piled on the bug spray. I think they were called March Flies...they are RELENTLESS....

A view from the campsite...we had no neighbors. For Miles.

With enough bug spray, and of course, lots of sunscreen....we were able to enjoy a little sunbathing. We couldn't do much swimming as we were warned that this is a MAJOR shark feeding area. The creeks worked just fine to cool us off :)

Got back to camp and cooked up some chicken burgers! notice the wind block(table), the esky(ice chest), and our stove. Good thing the firefighter was with me...I think I would've been stuck eating crackers and hummus for dinner if she didn't get that thing started! We escaped to the fly escape (our tent) for dinner!

Woke up pretty early and made our way to the end of our route.....indian head!

While making our way into the sights and sounds of the bushland... we came across quite the dodgy little piece of road. Nat once had a jeep, so this was a piece of cake. NOTTTTTT!!! Keep in mind that if we weren't able to get across this bit of road, we would've had to reverse back about 1/4 mile.

   We made it to Lake Mckenzie! This is definitely the coolest body of water I've ever seen, and one of my favorite experiences while being in Australia. I think it was because this lake seemed less obstructed by people...oh and maybe because the waters were crystal blue and the sand was the purest white!! If you run your jewelry through the water and sand, it's known to clean your jewelry! Nat and I luckily had about 3 hours to spend at Lake Mckenzie...

In short, I'm very glad I made it to Fraser island! It was definitely an experience, and I'm very glad I had a sister with me that could operate a 4wd around a very unbeaten path :). I couldn't have chosen a better person share this little adventure with. It was a great visit with her, and I feel so thankful that she was able to make it the trek out to Australia. We didn't get to see Australia in ALL that it has to offer, but I guess that just means that we'll have to make another trip out here in the future! Thanks Nat for the visit!! "Well that's life isn't it!"

Aussie lingo:

If you weren't paying attention....Esky=Aussie brand of an ice chest/ice box. For awhile I thought the 4wd hire company was offering us a jet ski in our Suzuki Jimny! nope... just an Esky for our 6 pack.

Paw Paw- what we call the fruit, Papaya.

Capsicum- what we call, bell pepper.

Rock Melon- what we call, Cantelope.

^ Just a few things I've learned from working a juice shop =)