26 April 2009

Mt. Ettalong Look Out and Waterfall near Pearl Beach

Overlooking Lion Island and Pearl Beach - at a typical lookout - no railing!

Dave took 2 days off of work to spend some time with the family during their Easter break. Unfortunately, Dave was sick with a cold over his 4 day weekend - as was most of the family. It also rained and/or was overcast the entire time. So we laid low and recuperated.

On Monday, 20 April, Dave was back to work. A 5 day week after 2, 3 day weeks. It was a difficult week. He was scheduled to have training that week, but it wasn't scheduled properly, so was canceled. (Amazing, the paperwork was completed, the training approved, but no trainer allocated!)

Pearl Beach from Mt. Ettalong Lookout

We took Monday to do some preparations for the week - groceries, etc. On Tuesday, 21 April, we planned to go to the Taronga zoo - but it was overcast and more rain expected.

Lion Island (notice the storm clouds brewing)
Lion Island can be viewed from Blackwall Mountain Reserve Lookout

Ettalong as viewed from Mt. Ettalong Lookout

Instead, we went to the Mt. Ettalong Look Out. The views were amazing.

This Lookout actually has a railing!

At this place, there was a sign with notations, in miles, not kilometers, of the distance to other locations.

On the walk back to the car, it began to sprinkle. That was fine because we were warm from the walk. But with 50 meters to go, the clouds opened up....and we ran for it!

Sign on the road to Pearl Beach - what it doesn't show is the grade - it's a steep decline. There's another sign further down the road that indicates "changing road conditions" - an exhilarating drive!

We were wet but in good spirits. So we drove to Pearl Beach, ate lunch in the car and prepared to go explore the waterfall near Pearl Beach.

Small waterfall near Pearl Beach
Somersby Falls is another waterfall in the area

This was really a bush walk! The path was over grown and fairly steep. I warned the kids to stay on the path and use a stick to make noise in front of them - to warn snakes to get out of the way.

We found tadpoles here too - they are different then the ones at Somersby Falls - larger - but not more developed

Tristan at the lower part of the Pearl Beach water fall. He was the only one to go down here because it's fairly difficult to access.

I noticed the rain clouds coming our direction again, so we high tailed it to the car - but not before the showers caught us, again!

Beautiful wildflowers blooming, even in fall

Koala Video

Koala Video
Originally uploaded by tiger222_97

Whenever we've seen Koala's in the day, they've been asleep and very sedentary. I was surprised to see these were awake. I was even more surprised to see them jump! I was fortunate enough to get this recording. Sorry it's sideways, I cannot seem to flip it.

Sydney Aquarium

Neo in front of the aquarium wall, with the fish over and on either side - a viewing tunnel

On Wednesday, 15 April, we went to the Sydney Aquarium. We again bought the DayTripper Family pass from the Woy Woy Train depot. We rode the train in to Sydney....but this time it was standing room only! We were able to board the train in the doorway of the last car. Every other car was packed - no room for another person to enter. We stood in the entryway of the train for about 1/2 the trip. Then we had the good fortune to sit. Most of those on the train got off at Strathfield exit - so they were on their way to The Royal Easter Show - which is not unlike the Wisconsin State Fair meets Summerfest. We had no problem taking the Circle Train then Wharf 5 on Circular Quay for Darling Harbour.

I took a few pictures during our ferry ride across Sydney Harbour. I thought this water taxi was cool

The Aquarium had long lines for admission. There were examples of aquatic life from the Murray Darling River Basin. I was intrigued by this area since Kevin Rudd's stimulus plan was passed by 1 vote - after a generous contribution to engineer a solution to the Murray Darling River Basin problem.

One of the main attractions to the Aquarium was the Dugong - a creature related to the Manitee. There are only 5 dugongs in captivity and the Sydney Aquarium has 2 - 1 male and 1 female. The story goes that the Sailors mistook the dugongs for mermaids. That's why the Aquarium had "mermaids" at the entrance to the dugong pool.

The largest tank areas of the aquarium appears to be a large boat anchored to the harbour floor. To enter the area, guests walk across gang planks and go down a ramp to the floor of the boat. The viewing area is from the ocean floor. The fish swim overhead! It's a really cool way to view the fish.

Diver cleaning the glass of the viewing tunnel over Clara's shoulder

There's a please touch rock pool area for kids to feel some sea creatures. There were some very large glass areas where the sharks reside. It was really well done, and a different perspective from other aquariums I've visited (Boston and Chicago).

One of the things I learned at the aquarium is that the jellyfish we saw in Queensland were not blue bottle - instead they were Box jellyfish. The instructions for dealing with these stings was vinegar then seek medical attention - can cause death. So that girl that was stung when we were in Queensland should have been seeking medical assistance. Blue bottles are much smaller - and there are many of those here.

18 April 2009

Sydney Walk About

Harbour Bridge from Circle Train Platform

It's Easter Holidays. In fact, most of Australia closes down to observe Good Friday, so Dave had off from work. Dave also had Easter Monday as a holiday from work. During this time, we saw the aboriginal drawings and went on other excursions near our home.

The kids have 12 days off school. So we are taking this time to do some exploring. We looked into having some time away from the area, but there's a minimum number of nights required and a premium for overnight bookings, so we're going to stick to day trips.

On Tuesday, we bought a DayTripper transportation ticket with the Family Deal. The Family Deal is 1 adult can take up to 4 children for the price of 1 adult fare plus 1 child fare. Neo is under 4, so he is free. The DayTripper one price with unlimited rides on buses, trains, and ferries. For the cost of a return train ticket to Sydney (which means round trip ticket), we could also ride the ferry.

Bronze Plaque

We arrived in Sydney's Circular Quay at 10:45. There's a great view of the Harbour Bridge from the train platform (see picture). It was the children's first time in Sydney. On the Quay, are bronze plaques commemorating individuals. Also markers where the original Circular Quay was - before the most current.

Harbour View of the Sydney Opera House

We walked by the Sydney Opera House at the end of the Circular Quay and across from the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Zoe at the gate of the Royal Botanical Gardens

We had packed a lunch and drinks, so we decided to dine in the Royal Botanical Gardens. A couple of ibis birds kept us company while we ate. Neo enjoyed chasing one around the park for a while.

Harbour Bridge from the Royal Botanical Gardens

Near to where we ate was a wonderful view of the famous Harbour Bridge. If you look closely, you can see people climbing up the arch of the bridge - it's a sight seeing trip. One we won't be taking.

After lunch, we walked around the Government House, which is inside the Gardens but fenced off. The grounds are available for touring daily. The interior has tours on the weekend. As we walked through the gardens, we noticed a large colony of bats roosting in the trees.

Tristan on one of the stones

Outside of the Gardens, we found this interesting Art display. It apparently is unique pieces of a building that once stood.

Zoe playing on the stones

Zoe and Tristan outside a restaurant in Darling Harbour

We walked back to the Circular Quay and took the ferry to Darling Harbor. Darling harbour is a tourist destination. The Sydney Aquarium is there. There are many hotels and restaurants.

Crane water fountain

We walked past many water features.

We walked past the Chinese Gardens.

Wall of Water, water feature

We walked on the outskirts of China Town, and the Paddy Markets, on our way to the Central Train station, so we could catch our train home. We arrived back in Woy Woy about 45 minutes before Dave.

15 April 2009


A quick note about Easter. Since there were no white eggs to be had, I wasn't too keen on dyeing eggs. We stopped off at a boot sale that the Kincumber Uniting Church was hosting. (A boot sale is where people bring car loads of stuff to sell in a parking lot - and they pay the organization for a space to display their wares from the boot a.k.a. trunk of their car)

The church was offering a craft of painting Easter eggs. I asked the woman running it where she found the white eggs. She said she looked everywhere but in the end, she painted the eggs white!

Zoe and Neo painted these eggs. Then we found some ceramic eggs and paint - which Zoe and Neo painted at home. Notice they were painted and not dyed!

There are Hot Cross Buns available everywhere you look weeks before Easter. You can have traditional - with raisins, plain, cinnamon, chocolate chip. I don't see many Hot Cross Buns in Madison - I remember looking for them one year - but had to go to Scott's bakery to find them.

Toffee Apple cut up - they come in red and green. The topping is hard - but melts.? A little weird - but tasty

Terrigal beach in early morning light
Easter morning, I went to a sunrise service on Terrigal beach. The service was a combined church service. It was very moving....yet relaxed. We sang some wonderful hymns.

Later on Easter Sunday, we went for a bush walk with Dave down to Lobster beach. The kids and I had been to Lobster beach previously, but Dave had not. When we were there before, Tristan had found a snail that was as large as his fist. He was eager to show Dave.

The beach is difficult to access and in a cove - which makes it ideal for boaters. They were out in droves due to the Easter holiday. Dave prefers beaches without so many people.

Aboriginal Drawings - Bulgandry

A couple of weeks ago, the girls and I stopped at a site that has a public viewing of aboriginal drawings. It was very interesting. The artwork was difficult to make out on the day we were there since there was standing water.

On Easter Monday, we took Dave to see the Aboriginal site. He really enjoyed it. It was dry, so the drawings were easier to see - but still don't photograph well.

I found this knife sharpening place very interesting.

The view from the path was gorgeous.

A beautiful wildflower along the path.

09 April 2009

End of Term 1

Today was the last day of school for term 1. The children will now have Easter Holidays from April 10 - 28. Some achievements of the year so far:

Zoe is now a reader. They have been working on sight words and bringing home readers - 2 per week. Zoe is now at reading level 1. She also was the first student in the entire school to receive 20 Copa Blues - a reward system. She received a pencil from the principal. Normally, she would be honored at the school assembly on Friday, but school dismissed on Thursday this week, so they presented her with her reward in front of her class.

Tristan is doing well. He has reached reading level 21...which is very good considering they tested him as being 14 when he first arrived - but amended it to 17 early in the term. He received 4 out of 5 stars for a presentation he did on the sense of smell.

Clara loves her school. She also did a presentation for her teacher on a country. She chose the United States. She was then asked to present at the all school assembly to celebrate "Harmony Day" a few weeks ago.

Clara was chosen to represent Copacabana school at the Brisbane Waters Zone Soccer trial 3 weeks ago. There were three girls from Copa selected. Out of the many girls that competed, Clara was chosen to be on the Brisbane Waters Zone Soccer team. There were 14 girls and 9 schools represented on the BW zone team. Last week BW zone had a game trial against Woy Woy zone. While the girls played, judges determined the best players to create a new team - the Central Coast zone. Clara was chosen to be a part of the Central Coast team based on her skills. On April 30, she will play soccer with this team in a day of competition. She could play as many as 6 games on that day.

Clara was chosen to represent Copa school for soccer because she is a player on the Kincumber Kangaroos Club team. She has been enjoying practice with these girls - from many different schools in the area. There have been some trial games, but the season will get underway in earnest after Easter.

Over all, the children are very happy at school and are making friends. Zoe has been to 2 birthday parties. Tristan has had 2 play dates at friends houses and 1 here. Clara has enjoyed walking home from school with school chums.

07 April 2009

Palm Beach, New South Wales

Barren Joey side of Palm Beach - sheltered bay

Palm Beach NSW is home to many famous, infamous, and wealthy people - according to the Sydney Morning Herald. On Sunday 22 March, Clara, Zoe, Neo and I set out via ferry to explore Palm Beach. Tristan and Dave had a day with just the guys. Tristan enjoyed that very much.

We drove up the scenic road to Wagstaffe to catch the 10:50 ferry. We were surprised to see friends arrive minutes later. They also live in Macmasters Beach and their youngest daughter is in Zoe's kindy class.

Our ferry at Palm Beach Wharf

The catamaran ferry was good sized. It had a view deck on the top and an enclosed lower cabin - with windows all around that opened and the back deck was open too. Clara sat on the back deck. We sat behind the glass to be spared the sun - and the splashing waves.

Neo in front of an interesting tree on the streets of Palm Beach

The ferry crossed from Wagstaffe to Ettalong Beach - where a long line of people was waiting to board. From there, it went tp Palm Beach. The boat was only briefly in open ocean, but even during that brief trip, with the boat fully loaded, the waves really tossed us.

We arrived in Palm Beach in time for lunch. We enjoyed our fish and chips meal at this cafe with outdoor seating.

Palm Beach is a suburb of Sydney. It's the furthest point of the peninsula. On one side is Barren Joey with it's lighthouse and bay. That's where the ferry dropped us off. On the other side is Ocean Beach - a beach that faces open ocean.

Barren Joey side of Palm Beach - as seen from the trail

When I suggested a walk about in Palm Beach - I imagined we would do some "city" walks. What I didn't imagine is a "bushwalk". When Clara and Zoe asked to go to Ocean Beach - I asked a local about the steps going up the side of the hill. I was assured that it was only a 15 minute walk.

Despite our climbing 386 steps on a steep hill and through the bush, the trail put us out on a road with a sign that did not lead us to another path. We asked a passing motorist for assistance and they assured us the path to Ocean Beach was difficult to find from the road and was a far way yet. The recommended we retrace our steps. So we did.

Ocean Beach, as seen from the road

This sign was a warning to us as we set out. Classic Australian sign!