Monday, March 29, 2010


Australia is the sixth largest country in the world and its largest island.
It is also the only island that is also a continent.
It is the only continent that is also a country.

Australia has no state religion.
It is the only nation that began as a prison.
It is home of the largest living thing on earth, the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia has the greatest number of reptiles in the world, over 755 species.
It has one of the most famous and striking monoliths in the world, Ayres Rock.

It has the longest fence in the world which runs for 5500 kilometers.
Australia is the flattest continent with the oldest, least fertile soils.
It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else.
Five of its creatures are the most lethal of their type in the world.

Its creatures seem to have evolved as if they have misread the manual.
And eighty percent of all that lives in Australia, plant and animal, exists nowhere else.
So, it is a place that simply MUST be seen!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Where have we been? - you have to guess from the photograph of the girls...there's not a lot we haven't done these last two weeks and we have had SUCH fun!

We visited some amazing temples (another clue)and made a lucky wish each with our incense sticks..

We've been up things on SkyWalks and cable cars and trains (which were almost vertical) and lifts and walked up and down more steps than my legs wish to remember..

We stayed in motels and in pubs, cabins and one gorgeous hotel where we had a room with a view and on one morning a triathalon taking place underneath our balcony. Every evening we watched huge bats flying up from the gardens across the road and past our windows.. have you guessed where we've been yet?

We did see some wicked creatures - for example this spider - you can get a vague idea of the hugeness of it (I was chosen to go and stand behind it!)One in particular - no photo I'm afraid - but I saw a dugong for the first time and a leafy seahorse!

There were lots of fountains, waterfalls, streams, brooks, waterfalls, rivers, canals, waterfalls, harbours, lakes and waterfalls..

The snakes were HUGE and I had a python round my neck at one point, but the girls kept a careful eye on me.. stroked an alligator, he was a bit snappy!

We went on ferries and boats, cruise ships and watertaxis, even in a submarine and on a warship called the 'Vampire' (which was appropriate after Jess being in Dracula)

We were somewhere close to the sea for a week and then somewhere mountainous for the other..

There was something about those spiders though!

If you haven't guessed yet, this should do it! Me and Roo! He wanted to come home with me but we thought Biosecurity might notice!

Here's the clinching icon (and yes, we climbed up the Pylon - all 600 steps!)

The tour around the Opera House was fantastic - but more about that on another blog, later..

The girls first proper fun fair in four years and they went on everything!

We got up close to koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, wombats, kookaburras and flying foxes.. both real and in teddy form..

Having survived two weeks in a country boasting the top ten most venemous creatures in the world - we felt relieved to get home!

Lots of tea times ( Australians can't make coffee!) on verandahs..

And wonders of the natural world in the Blue Mountains (they really are blue!)
Nice to be home - I'll blog more later!

Monday, March 15, 2010

We're Going To The Zoo...!

We spent the day at Auckland Zoo and took part in National Frog Day! All the animals were out and active and the tigers were especially playful - they are the cubs born last year, and they're huge now.

The frog population is in serious decline and New Zealand has the world's rarest frog which lives on Stephen's Island called the Hamilton Frog..there are only 300 left in the world!

In usual NZ style, the 4 types of native frogs that live here (3 went extinct last year) are unusual even for frogs. they have tails and nine vertabrae, they make no sounds, have no eardrums, and use chemosignals to communicate with each other. Even the frogs are odd!

The cockatoo at the zoo said 'Hello Mate" to me and chatted away to the girls, we have yet to find the talking tui!

We quite liked this sign on the blue penguin enclosure..

The lemurs and monkeys were out in force and one of them had a plaster cast on its leg..

So much to do, and so little time!

The giant toroise was looking well considering his most private part was on display in the museum..

And this meerkat is for our friend Emma! He was definitely on guard duty..

Sunday, March 7, 2010


We visited Alberton House, a romantic timber mansion with fairy-tale decorative balconies and towers, to partake of tea on the verandah..the girls love ‘high tea’ and this British pastime occurs very rarely here! So, we dressed up, donned gloves and hats and set out!

Sophia partaking of tea

The tea was delicious and served on tiered plates. Each teacup bone china. Last year the Hall ran an appeal for bone china cups and acquired a 1000 of them. They were so pretty!

reclining on the lawns

Historically, for those of you who are interested, and you’ll see how we miss the National Trust, this house began as a farmhouse in 1863 and then expanded to 18 rooms as more children arrived. For New Zealand, this is extraordinarily old!

The sewing room

Girl's bedroom

It was owned by the Kerr Taylors, a leading family in Mount Albert. Mr Kerr Taylor (they added the Kerr because Taylor was a common name!) was important, but his wife more so! His wife Sophia was an outspoken advocate of the vote for women, as well as a singer, gardener and mother of 10.


Greg at tea

In its day, Alberton was famous in the 19th century for its balls, hunts, garden parties and music. The girls who inherited were into racing horses!

Girls at the front of the House

Back of Alberton House

Girls at the Entrance

We had lots of compliments for our hats and the Morris dancers turned up and explained this ‘odd, pagan’ English pastime to everyone!

Dining room

Writing desk with quill pen

Tea consisted of layers of pastries and quiches, chocolates and tartleys, asparagus rolls and cakes, scones and sandwiches, all served with pots of tea or coffee.. we were full!

Beautiful teacups

Girls sat on the roof bench

Bedroom where 10 children were born

Bathroom with modern claw foot bathtub

Silly moment