Saturday, 22 January 2011

The sauna

Arriving in tropical north Queensland was like walking into a sauna; seeking respite in the sea was like taking a warm bath, and enjoying an ice cream on the beach at sunset was like feeding time at the mosquito farm - where you are the food. This January we tried an Aussie recipe for our holiday - we combined 80-100% humidty, a rainforest, a reef, a four-mile beach, some sunscreen and two whole cans of insect repellant, then stirred for 7 seven days at 30-plus degree heat. The result was a week of *heaven* in Port Douglas and we loved it!

Our accomodation for the week was an apartment at 'By The Sea' - which came highly recommended by Tom's sister & family and didn't disappoint. It was quite literally by the sea, and got a 10/10 on TripAdvisor from me because we didn't have a single spider in our room (that I saw)! We did have two rather significant outbreaks of ants, but I won't hold that against them because it was my fault for leaving a half eaten chocolate bar lying around.

After a colder than usual spring in Melbourne, Tom and I were so enthuastic about the warm weather that on our first morning we got up before 7am for a run on four-mile beach. I say 'we', but there was probably slightly less enthuasiam from Tom at that time in the morning, although he more than made up for it by running at least twice as far as me!

I was really excited to visit the Great Barrier Reef for the first time, but have never snorkelled before and I was more than a little bit aprehensive about this part. I *had* to do it though, because I'd spent $50 on my own snorkell (stranger's saliva avoidance tactic), and already opened the packet - so it couldn't be returned if I chickened out. We deliberately picked a snorkell trip where we could view the reef by snorkelling off an island (rather than just jumping off a boat in the middle of the ocean), and this was great for me. It was really exciting to see the colourful fish, vast coral and giant clams.

November to April each year is 'stinger' season in Queensland, meaning that the sea is laden with six-foot long poisonous jellyfish. As a result, we had to wear head-to-toe body-stocking type outfits in the water. They were highly unattractive but absolutely hilarious!

The night after we swam at the reef we watched an Animal Planet documentary about the stingers. It was terrifying, and it probably goes without saying that I'm glad we didn't watch it before our trip...

Writing this post retrospectively, it seems wrong not to mention the disasters that the people of Queensland have endured since our visit. Firstly unprecedented flooding, and secondly Cyclone Yasi, the damage and loss that many people have sufferred is horrible to think about, and Australia will be rebuilding the affected areas for some time to come. Luckily the regions that we visited were spared, and continued tourist trade to the state of Queensland will be crucial in keeping funds flowing and the rebuilding on schedule. In that case, I suppose I had better go and book our next trip right now.....

Obligtory croc show

Beware the Cassowary

Thornton Beach, more picturesque and it's more famous neighbour, Cape Tribulation

Obligatory jumping shot

Unfortunately they don't do weddings here!

Mossman Gorge

Can you guess what we're doing here?

Yes, we're in a cable car in the rain and mist!

Kuranda railway

Still looking out of the window

This is what the train looked like

New Years Eve!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Christmas Rhymes, Mistletoe and Wine...

Our Christmas hosts for twenty-ten
Were Sam, Lou and Baby Ben.
Joining the crowd with Katie and Tom
Were Tush and Andy - two more poms.
Into the mix, some Yanks maybe?
Welcome Pat and Amanda, and Charlie their baby!

Our day started early, with dishes to bake -
Stuffing, and starters, and meringue and cake,
Then off the airport we drove in our car,
To collect the honeymooners from lands afar.
Three days late due to snow at Heathrow,
Imagine the fun they have had to forgo....

Regardless of jetlag we started our day
By driving to Sam's to start the soiree
With presents and food and drinks in full flow
We had just one thing missing from our ex-pat Crimbo
A real Aussie perhaps, to bring local fun
Our closest is Ben, but he's only one!

I challenge you all, if you can compete
With our main course comprising three types of meat!
Duck, and chicken and pork no less -
No sign of a turkey in his Christmas dress.
With roasties and mash and vegies a plenty
We'll still be full up at Christmas 2020!

Tom's starter - prawns and smoked salmon

Sam and Pat carve the meat

Tom and me in the kitchen (I was really just in there for show)

Tush bonded with Ben

Amanda selects her Secret Santa gift carefully

Where's the turkey?!

Only in Oz for 4 hours and already Andy smells like a 'roo..

Looks like Lou was pleased with her gift!

Ben in his new Nike t-shirt!

The chaos of Christmas was too much for little Charlie

Sun-deprived Tush and Andy were soaking it up after lunch

The MEN (minus Daddy Pat)

Father and Son

The gang (minus me, taking the photo)
L-R: Tush, Sam with Ben, Pat, Amanda, Tom, Lou and Andy. (Charlie hidden in pram)

Cheers! Obligatory paddle in the bay...

Bathtime for Ben

Forgetting that we'd stuffed ourselves silly,
Tush and I continue to gorge on cupcakes on Boxing Day!