15 July 2014

Little Tallow Beach - the "Secret Beach"

On Friday, I took the kids to see if we could find the "secret beach". It's located in the Bouddi National Park, next to Tallow Beach, but the trail is not easy to find.  The beach is very small.  There is a small waterfall flowing down to the beach.  The peace of the place was only interrupted by the whirring blades of a helicopter searching for the missing 5 year old boy, who was swept off Pearl Beach the day before.

Little Tallow Beach from above

Tristan near small waterfall

Waterfall on "secret beach"

View of Little Tallow Beach

View towards Pearl Beach where
5 year old boy was swept away on Thursday

07 July 2014

Taronga Zoo on a Winter's Day July 2014

It's the NSW school holidays, so I took the younger children to the Taronga Zoo.  My plans to go last week were put on hold do to illness in the household.  First Zoe, then Tristan and finally Neo were each sick. Zoe required antibiotics and missed 3 days of school.  Everyone has returned to health, thankfully.

We endeavored to see different displays, and we were successful.  The highlight of the day was the QBE Free Flight Bird Show.  The California Condor, with a wingspan of 3 metres, flew directly over our heads (and quite low).  We also sat along the side where the white doves landed in the nearby tree.  Lovely.
Tasmanian Devil

Bilbys

Victoria Crowned Pigeon.
This bird is both beautiful, and large.


Sydney Opera House
as seen from the Taronga Zoo Ferry

Sydney Harbour Bridge
as viewed from Taronga Zoo



25 June 2014

Minke Whales migrating past Captain Cook Lookout


Minke Whales in close
Minke whales close to shore in Copacabana bay motivated Dave and I to go up to Captain Cook Lookout with the binoculars this morning to get a better look. We saw 6-8 whales. Some were further out and more difficult to see/identify. They were traveling north swiftly on this brisk winter morning. The ones closest to the Lookout were Minke whales. They seemed to be traveling in pairs. I managed to get a couple of snaps with my Iphone camera.

The Rip Bridge over Brisbane Water

This picture shows the "blow" -  which is what we look for

22 June 2014

Five Lands Walk 2014 - Photography Contest

5 Lands Walk Photography Contest
Secondary Student Winner
Clara Smith
Please allow me my bragging rights as I announce to the world that my daughter, Clara won the 5 Lands Walk photography competition in the Secondary School category.  This year's theme was "Dreaming" which Clara's photo captured according to the judges.

Clara with Federal Senator Deborah O'Neill
& her photo
It was a stunner of a day for the annual Five Lands Walk on Saturday 21 June.  Sunny winter day, perfect temperature.   The walkers were energized and moving well from MacMasters Beach to Copcabana when Neo and I walked with them.

Neo with his Chinese fish
Copacabana Primary School students performing
at 5 Lands Walk
Neo found his art work on display along the way.  Artwork created by students from Copacabana PS and Kincumber PS lined the beach walk.
There were 2 dance performances by students from Copacabana Primary School, and Neo took part in both.  Zoe was at her soccer game so could not join in.

In addition to the photograph at MacMasters Beach surf club, Clara had artwork on display at both Copacabana Surf club and North Avoca surf club.  Clara and her friends walked to North Avoca Beach (and back) to see her art.  Along the way they enjoyed the beach art on display in Avoca Beach and the kites flying over North Avoca.

Breaching whale
In the water, moving along with the walkers, were numerous whales - at the height of their annual migration to warmer waters.  

Kites over North Avoca


09 June 2014

Blackwall Mountain Reserve Lookout

On a gorgeous Saturday in autumn, the kids and I went to the top of Blackwall Mountain.  It was a nice trek, and great views.  Here's a panoramic video


Filtered views of Brisbane Water

The kids having a break

Towards Sydney with Lion Island in the foreground, and Ettalong Beach below.
Views of Lion Island from Mount Ettalong Lookout here.

Another view of Lion Island -
also check out Lion Island from the Box Head Trail off Sydney's Northern Beaches


The Rip Bridge over Brisbane Water

12 April 2014

New School Year 2014

It's a new school year.  Many changes from last school year.

Clara wearing her Senior Uniform
She's painting on the surfboard.
Evening of Excellence
for Top Ten Awards Night
Clara is in year 11 at Kincumber HS.  She is considered a "senior" and there's a uniform change.  Seniors wear white shirts (juniors wear blue shirts).  Seniors have additional priviledges on the school grounds, including certain bathroom and break areas.  In years 11 and 12, she begins preparing for the Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Clara was recognized as being one of the Top Ten GPA in her year from Year 10.  I was proud to be in attendance in February when Clara received her certificate and award for this achievement.
Clara's award for Academic Achievement
Clara @ Central Coast VISION
with her Winning Artwork
Clara's skim board was also chosen for Central Coast VISION art competition which was held at Gosford Regional Art Gallery.  It was a pleasure to attend the opening night with our artist.

Tristan started High School @ Gosford Selective.  This school is open by invitation only, so we are very proud of Tristan.  The commute is 45 minutes each way via bus plus 2 minute walk from the station to his school.  He leaves each morning at 7:30 and returns at 4:30.
Tristan wearing his Gosford HS uniform
Tristan and the entire Year 7 went on a 3 day overnight camp to Morisset.  It was a chance for the students to bond with each other and staff.  Tristan went on the giant swing, ropes course, sailed, swam, hiked and more.  
Tristan is taking English, Science (which he loves), Math, Woodworking, and Food Tech.  He is happy and seems to be thriving.

Zoe and her class told "Survival" Stories
Zoe is our other "Senior" as a Year 5 student in Copacabana PS.  She also has a uniform change from the full dress to a skirt.  Zoe seems to be doing well in school.  She is playing soccer with her team again this year and loving it.
Zoe entered a national art competition and was chosen as a finalist.  Her entry is below - or this link.

Zoe's artwork was chosen as a Finalist in National Contest
http://www.aussievault.com.au/vault/entry/15397/australia-is-fun
Neo was chosen to Present
during school Assembly
Neo is a lively and happy boy.  He is in Year 2 this year.  He's an independent reader and reading chapter books.  He is also playing soccer this year.  He is on a new soccer team this year made up of Copa school friends.




Zoe and Neo walking home from school
Because we live in MacMasters Beach now, Zoe, Neo and I get to walk home across the beach some days. It's a nice way to walk home from school.

Zoe's bunny, Silver
Storm

02 February 2014

Citizenship!

A long awaited goal has been obtained, we're dual citizens, Australians and Americans.

September 11th was our test day in Sydney at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.  After all the documents were approved, the remaining hurdle was the ceremony.  I had to make 3 applications: 2 online for Dave with kids and me; 1 via post because Clara had turned 16 and no online form is available.

Clara was fortunate to be called in for her citizenship ceremony in Sydney in December.  There were 40 people at Clara's ceremony.
Clara with Citizenship Document
This worked well for her travel to the US as our Permanent Resident visa for re-entry into Australia had expired.

The other family members' citizenship ceremony happened on Australia Day, 26 January - the National holiday. It was held at Laycock Theatre in Gosford (our local council).  There were 120 people from 21 different countries becoming Australians together.  The gathering included several political representatives and the families and friends of those becoming citizens.

Each new citizen was called up on stage individually, children included.  When a row of candidates were on stage, they said the oath together.  Then each were given a Lilli Pilli tree and an Australian Flag.

The ceremony lasted 2 hours.  Afterward, the enrollment board collected our registrations to vote (compulsory in Australia).  Even Clara is registered to vote, even though she cannot vote until she's 18.  There was a lovely reception.

With Gosford Mayor Lawrie McKinna

The local paper, The Express Advocate, interviewed me for an article - profile of a new citizen.

Later that evening, Zoe and Neo were in the Woy Woy lantern parade.  Then we watched the fireworks to complete the celebrations.