Alright, so we have been in Australia now for a while. Living life and trip planning (Dave’s mom meets us in Barcelona in about two weeks and my parents are meeting us in Italy in April) has postponed my ability to blog. Maybe I need to make a New Year’s Resolution about blogging once a week. I will do the best I can.
We hated to leave New Zealand, but Australia continues to be a great trip down under. We really love it down in this part of the world. There are very few billboards on the roads, there’s barely even any freeways until you get to major cities. And there are no strip malls that are so prevelant in America. Each city and town feels like you are going back in time. The people and the vibe is very mellow. You can’t help but to relax and enjoy your time down here.
We got to Australia via a long couple of days of travel from Christchurch, NZ. We endured our first cancelled flight and got put up in a motel by Qantas – they made it easy with shuttles, free dinner, etc., but two days of travel takes it out of you. We had boarded the place in Christchurch only to be told that a window had shattered in the cockpit and of course the part couldn’t get delivered and installed in time. So it adds to our adventure. The girls actually got to spend a few minutes looking in the cockpit and talking to the pilots, so that was cool.
Once we made it to Brisbane, we got back to summer, and I mean shorts and tank top, swimming summer. New Zealand’s summer was more like a nice fall day in San Francisco – sunny and beautiful, but definitely pants and sweathshirts. Took a bit to get used to the hot weather again, but I think we have managed.
Brisbane was a good stop. We were only there a few days, but in that time we were able watch some tennis and visit a Koala Sanctuary.
Let’s start with some tennis. Dave was very happy to find out that when we were in Brisbane, the Brisbane Invitational tournament would also be there. I think he secretly planned this 🙂 He got tickets for a night match and we luckily were there to watch Victoria Azaranka – who went on to win the tournament – and Roger Federer, who unfortunately lost in the Finals. The venue was the perfect size so that even though we had seats towards the top, we were actually fairly close and able to see. This was good practice for the Australian Open coming up in Melbourne at the end of the month.
We were also lucky enough to go to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. After a rough start to the morning – it’s never easy driving in a car with these girls – we made it there and stayed until it closed. We were able to hold a koala bear, which can only be done in certain areas of Australia. A highlight for sure. We also fed kangaroos in an open paddock. There were probably 50 kangaroos that we were able to just walk around, pet, feed, sit down with and take selfies 🙂 What an amazing feeling to be there with them, with no workers. They were super relaxed and if they didn’t want to be fed or have you touch them, they just hopped away or turned their head. Not once did we feel unsafe. We went back twice and in the afternoon the kangaroos were just laying down and you could actually just sit with them for as long as you wanted.
By Claire – The koalas felt like wool and were heavier than I expected, but was still lighter than a bowling ball. The koala we held was named Nivea. We also got to feed and pet kangaroos in a free range field. They felt silky and their face felt like velvet. There was even a joey we got to see in its mommy’s pouch. This was super cool and I recommend it.
From Brisbane we rented a car and traveld north to Sunshine Beach. There are so many places to go in Australia and we can’t reach them all, so we chose to head here. We were so happy with our choice. It was super mellow with just a small beach town with a beautiful beach that connected to the Noosa National Park. Loved the stairs up to the park that I took many mornings – reminded me of the Lion Street Stairs in San Francisco. We didn’t do much here but relax and enjoy some down time. We ventured out one day to the famous Australian Zoo, which was a highlight and deserves its own post by the girls – coming soon…..I hope.
We have been so fortunate to meet some great people on this trip and we had some friends we met in Vietnam that live in Brisbane. Nikki and her daughter, Phoebe, drove up for the day to meet us for lunch. I think this is one of the best things about travel – meeting new people all over the world. We also met a family once Dave posted a picture on facebook that said we were in the area. My friend, Leo, messaged Dave and put us in touch with a girl who had lived with them in San Francisco for a few months this year. We met Brittany and her parents who were kind enough to have us over for dinner while we were in Sunshine Beach. How lucky we are!
So how is it going? Much better than when we first got to NZ. We have our moments. Something still happens when you get in a car with the girls – they go at it and it isn’t pretty. Let’s hope they get that under control before we are driving though Italy with my parents. We take days off where we do nothing but read, watch TV, play minecraft, etc. It’s hard not to have all of the girls “things” from home. They are really left to a deck of cards, books, some art supplies and their devices. And while we think that they should be able to entertain themselves for hours on end, it’s not that easy. So, that is a balance we are always working on.
The main thing we have figured out traveling with kids for this amount of time, or really of any, is that you can’t make them be on and do something every day. They don’t want to tour everyday, they don’t care how pretty things are every day. They are kids. They need down time. So, we have learned to balance it and add days for just relaxing and doing nothing. We like to spend more time in places so that we can do that. We will not see everything on this trip. A year is not long enough. Even a month in NZ and a month in Australia was not enough to see everything. People will be shocked when we say we didn’t see this or that, but we are okay with that. It’s not about checking the boxes, but just experiencing this as a family.
Wow – that took on a life of its own 🙂 We have much to tell you about our time in the northern part of Australia. We are now in Port Douglas and have been to The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Hopefully some of my sidekicks will add to this blog and help me out.