Monday, January 26, 2009

Catch up

All is good. Busy busy, as usual. My office moved to a new location this week and I have been a bit buried in all the work that comes along with that.
Dan arrived home safely to the Great White North after a great 7 week visit Down Under. We loved to have him here, and it was a bit sad once he was gone.
Jonathan has been working without stop since before Christmas on a big courts project. It's finally finished and life is going back to normal.
Today is Australia Day, and that means a long weekend, and a day by the Harbour with a picnic and friends. Looking forward to that!
And just to mark the date, this past Saturday, the 24th, was the hottest day on record in 3 years. It reached 108f. In the shade.

The Twelve Apostles

I promised more photos of these amazing sights - and here they are. Nothing prepared us for the huge-ness and grandness of these rock formations. They were simply breathtaking. We splurged and took a helicopter tour over the coast and got to view them from above as the sun was setting. Definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip. Really spectacular.
In truth, there are only 8 'apostles' and they are disappearing bit by bit, as they are eroded away by the tides. In the bottom right hand photos, you can see where an apostle used to stand. It fell over just a few years ago. Sad to think that one day the entire lot of them will be gone. At the same time, crazy to think that at one point, the cliffs extended out that far!
This sight is - in my books - one of the wonders of the world.
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Great Ocean Road

Well, I am definitely late posting, but better late than never, as they say.

On December 25th, I left Sydney on a 6 day road trip with friends Natasha and Tracy. We flew to Melbourne and drove round the southern coast of Australia to Adelaide. We took our time, covering 1220km/750miles over 5 days and saw some of the most amazing scenery and wildlife.

Day one started with a short flight to Avalon airfield outside of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria. We were pretty tired after the previous evening's Christmas festivities, and only planned a short drive the first day. We were staying in the coastal town on Lorne that night, and found our way there by noon, first passing the famous surfers Bells Beach. After a restful afternoon of napping, we walked to dinner at the posh Grand Pacific Hotel, where we celebrated Natasha's 28th birthday.

Day two was pretty amazing. We awoke to find a flock of sulfur crested cockatoos on our balcony. They sat there eating cookies like little old men smoking cigars. We were so excited, I think we have a hundred photos of them betwen the 3 of us. After breakfast and a brief walk through the shops, we were off into the rainforest in search of Erskine Falls. We happily skipped down the 800 steps to the bottom and took some great photos... only to realise that we still had to climb back UP the steps. After the falls (and not a little perspiration) we were on the Great Ocean Road and heading toward Kennet River. While we had heard about this place, nothing prepared us for the reality of it. Kennet River is home to one of the area's largest groups of wild koalas. You can literally rock up, look up in the trees and there they are! We spent a good hour just watching them hang out. And, thanks to a kindly old guy, we fed birdseed to a flock of parrots.

Then we were off to Apollo Bay, driving through Otway National Park. It's rainforest as beautiful as it comes, with giant ferns and ancient trees, filled with sleeping koalas. We happened to drive through a massive thunderstorm that cooled the temperature considerably and made the entire forest smell like eucalyptus. As we left Otway, we followed some nauseating twists and turns over Lavers Hill and down the mountains into Port Campbell National Park. This is the home of the famous Twelve Apostles... ancient rock formations carved by the sea out of the rock cliffs. They are simply amazing. No words can describe them. (More photos to follow). After several hours spent at the Apostles, we headed into Peterborough for dinner at a dodgy pub, followed by a drive to London Arch, where we say one of the most stunning sunsets ever. We ended the day watching the penguins waddle their way onto shore for the night. An amazing end to an amazing day.

Day three we headed towards Port Fairy, a sort of rough little town with charming shops and markets. We got a good long walk in to stretch our legs before the driving portion of the day. We were heading into dairy country and for hours we passed field after field of cows. We stopped briefly at Cheeseworld (not recommended) and then were on to Portland, our destination for the evening. Portland happened to hold the worst hotel of the entire trip (really really bad) but also gave us the best meal of the entire trip. Maybe the best meal of my life. Seriously. After a brief walk on the pier, we were all ready for some sleep.

Day four we drove from Portland to Coonawarra. As it was Tracy's 35th birthday, she had gotten to select the itinerary for the day. We drove most of the morning (Natasha drove for the first time EVER in Oz!) and we arrive in Coonawarra by lunch time. We'd crossed into South Australia at this point. Coonawarra is a famous wine region known for it's cellar doors and gorgeous vineyards. We visited about a dozen cellar doors over the course of the afternoon. I spent my time reading the history of each vineyard and snapping photos, while the girls sampled the wines. I also ate cheese. After checking into our (NICE!) hotel, we took a walk through town and then a nap before dinner at the Shardonnay Lodge. Definitely the winner for 'best dessert of the trip' - Natasha and I shared a cheesecake with berry coulis and fairy floss. Yum! After dinner we drove into the vineyards in search of roos, but were disappointed. Still, a very good day.

Day five was the day of driving. We had allowed ourselves plenty of time to explore up to this point, and on day five, we had to make up some driving time. Thankfully, it was a rainy day and we plugged in the ipods and were on our way. We stopped briefly in Robe, our last coastal town, and did some exploring. It was really interesting to follow our route in a guide book and learn the history of each town as we went through. Some great stories of the way the towns came to be. After leaving Robe, we drove for several hours through the emptiness of South Australia. There wasn't much to see - salt flats, scrub, cows, sheep, a few emus, and dry grass as far as you could see. After the lush green of Victoria, South Australia seemed like a different world. We finally arrived in the suburbs of Adelaide, and stopped in Hahndorf, a small German village. It was so quaint and we were so tired, we decided to check into a hotel and stay over. After a walk through the village and dinner at a traditional German pub, we were more than ready to call it a day.

Day six was our last full day on the trip. We started out with brekkie and a trip to Petaluma, a gorgeous cellar door converted from a flour mill. The grounds were stunning and I again spent the morning taking (way too many) photos. Then we were on to Adelaide and surrounds. A brief stop in Glenelg and then checked into a hotel in the heart of the city. At this point, all I wanted was a pedicure, so Natasha and I spent the afternoon reading and having our feet pampered. We met up with Tracy for a fantastic Indian dinner and walk through Rundle Street to end the day. Great way to end the trip.

On day seven we flew home to Sydney from Adelaide and spent the day recovering before heading downtown for New Years Eve celebrations. We joined about a million of our neighbours for the fireworks over the harbour. All in all a fabulous trip. Good photos, good friends, good food, and great memories.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Dream Job

I think I am going to have to apply.

Australia offers 'best job in world' on paradise island

SYDNEY (AFP) – An Australian state has launched a global search for candidates for "the best job in the world" -- earning a top salary for lazing around a beautiful tropical island for six months.

The job pays 150,000 Australian dollars (105,000 US dollars) and includes free airfares from the successful applicant's home country to Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland's state government announced on Tuesday.

In return, the "island caretaker" will be expected to stroll the white sands, soak up the sun, snorkel the reef, "maybe clean the pool" -- and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates.

The winner, who will stay rent-free in a multi-million dollar three-bedroom beach home complete with plunge pool and golf buggy, must be an excellent communicator and be able to speak and write English.

"They'll also have to talk to media from time to time about what they're doing so they can't be too shy and they'll have to love the sea, the sun, the outdoors," said acting state Premier Paul Lucas.

"The fact that they will be paid to explore the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, swim, snorkel and generally live the Queensland lifestyle makes this undoubtedly the best job in the world."
Lucas said the campaign was part of a drive to protect the state's 18 billion Australian dollar a year tourism industry during the tough economic climate caused by the global financial meltdown.

While the campaign has elements of some reality television shows, a candidate's looks will not be a prime requirement, Tourism Queensland chief executive Anthony Hayes told AFP.
"No, I don't think beautiful is what we want, I think charismatic is what we want," he said. "The reality is we are looking for a fantastic communicator.

"What we want this person to do is travel throughout the Great Barrier Reef and just try every experience, every adventure they can find and report back via blogs and video to tell the world why Queensland is a great place to come for a holiday."

Tourism Minister Desley Boyle said some people might question whether it was risky to let an unknown person become an unofficial tourism spokesperson for the state.

"I think the biggest risk will be that the successful candidate won't want to go home at the end of the six months," she said. "This is a legitimate job which is open to anyone and everyone."

Applications are open until February 22. Eleven shortlisted candidates will be flown to Hamilton Island in early May for the final selection process and the six month contract will commence on July 1.

Job-seekers can apply on

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Please Stand By

New post coming about my road trip and all the fun stuff we did on our vacation. Thanks for your patience. I am back to work this week and won't have time to sort through all the photos until this weekend. But I promise that a big fat update post is in the works!

Happy New Year!