Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kingston Bus Depot

Kingston is the suburb of Canberra where we first lived when we were in the hotel.  Every Sunday there is a large market held in the old Bus Depot (hence the name).  This is a great venue for an assortment of things - food, drinks, alcohol, furniture, art, clothing, various crafts, etc.  Basically a little of everything.

This first picture is of the plant and herb sales section. We now have our own little herb garden! We're super gourmet. Especially since we figured out the last tenants in our house grew a giant wild onion and oregano patch on the side of the house. Herbal high five! What a difference fresh herbs make.

 We go here first, buy some of his Lemon Honey Ginger Tea or Spiced Cider or Mulled Wine. It's amazing. He also makes fresh squeezed orange juice, but we're too busy drinking everything else we haven't actually tried it yet. That's why there's a giant orange over his stand.

Okay, you can't see him, but on the right we found this guy who sells the flat out best juice in the world. Or the very least the best juice on the two continents that we have lived on. There might be some dude in Nigeria who makes better juice I guess. Anyway, its amazing. There's mango, black currant, pink guava, and orange. Fantastic stuff.

Hey Olivia, check it out! This is where we will be buying all of your desserts. A delicious selection of gluten-free treats just for you!

In other exciting news, our furniture is scheduled to arrive (finally!) this Wednesday (Nov 3).  We are VERY excited to have our stuff back with us.  Maybe then we will not feel like we're squating in someone else's home.  Also, our house might be less echoey which would be cool.  So, soon to come are photos of our home because there is no point posting photos of an empty house since you would all think, "Yep, that looks like an empty room.... wonder how big it is and what it will be used for?"  Wow, you have so much to look forward to!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kitties & Magpies (not together)

When we brought the kitties home from Quarantine they were, understandably, quite nervous.  They started out hiding in the closet, then moved to under the bed, and then for some reason Luna decided our bathroom sink was the perfect comfort zone.  No idea why, but whatever, she seemed happy for the next couple hours.

Simon being his usual helper-self.  We imagine him saying, "Hey what're you doing in here?  Is there something interesting?  I'll come help you investigate."  Both kitties have since calmed down and seem very happy in their new home.

Our neighbors warned us that it is a good idea to befriend the local magpies.  Apparently they remember who lives there and if they see someone they don't recognize or decide they don't like they will swoop them.  Repeatedly.  We decided to bribe them with some deli ham since they love meat.  We instantly attracted several of the neighborhood watch committee who were very excited about our gift.  Fighting and warboling ensued.

The next day when we openned our bedroom curtains, they gathered in a line in front of our windows and just stared at us.  It was more than a little creepy.  We decided it best not to give them more ham for a while.  They have started leaving us chicken bones in our driveway.  We are only assuming they are chicken bones.  They are disturbingly large.  Not sure whether this is a good sign or not, but neither of us has been swooped thus far.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Plethora of Roos!!!

This is Pebbly Beach. It's one of a hundred little beaches along the coast of southeastern Australia. It just happens to be about a two hour drive from Canberra. Perfect! Its a beautiful beach, but best of all are the kangaroos. Some guy lives on the property and has spent the last fifty years feeding, caring for, and ultimately taming the local kangaroos.  It's one of the few places (non-zoo) in all of Australia where you can approach, sit with, and 'roos. No zoom required for these pics!

Cute Alert: Mama kangaroo with joey!! Cue the awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww's.

Apparently, kangaroo pouches are far roomier than we thought. We're just saying, those are GIANT feet sticking out of that pouch. And he's sound asleep, and the mother doesn't mind. Pouches are weird. 

Next are some scenic beach photos to show you a bit more of the area.  It is absolutely beautiful!  However, while walking across the beach and taking these pictures, we apparently walked a little too close to some ground-nesting bird's babies.  I only assume this since we were suddenly swooped by a large bird multiple times that seemed intent on chasing us to the far end of the beach.  That'll get your adrenaline going.  However, we did notice that it didn't swoop anyone else walking through that same area, so maybe it was just offended by our strange accents... or Greg's bright shirt.

Magpies! This guy badly wanted our picnic lunch. He kept circling us, hoping we wouldn't notice. We did. Poor hungry magpie.

Laurel apparenty smells better than I do. She got nuzzled by them and got to pet them. This is even a mama with a joey in her pouch- might be hard to see. They all stayed a healthy quarter-meter (more metric!) away from me. I'm assuming they were intimidated by my rugged masculinity.

This is a kookaberra, yet another of Australia's unique birds. They are freaking huge. Seriously, it looks like someone took a gorilla and converted it into a bird. Australians say they are the king of the jungle. They do what they want, when they want, and no person or animal is going to tell them any differently. This was evidenced by the kookaberra below flying from his post (picture 1) to a branch (picture 2) nevermind that Laurel's head was in the direct path. No matter he just went about an inch from her head. Laurel literally felt it brush past her neck. Two near bird deaths in one day. Not bad.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fyshwick Markets

Canberra has two primary freshfood markets- one is in Fyshwick and one in Belconnen. Like most things in Canberra, one is in the north and one is on the southside of town. There seems to have been a big emphasis on making sure that people on one side of town had the same attractions and amenities as the other side of town. This is incredibly convenient for us. Fyshwick happened to be about 3 kilometers (please note that use of the metric system) from our hotel so we decided to check it out one sunday morning.  Essentially, its a big, central parking area completely surrounded by shops, food stands, and markets. You can buy pet supplies, Persian Rugs, fresh vegetables, exotic meets (kangaroo! alligator!), and a full variety of fish. Some of which are still alive in tanks, so you can point and say, "I want that one. No, the one that's staring at me funny. I'll eat him. That'll teach him to give me the fisheye."

Fruits and veggies galore! Mango is always in season, and all of the Asian fruits are readily available as well. We haven't had the guts yet to try a Durian. Heard about it? It's supposed to be really good, but when you cut it open it smells like a gym bag crossed with seventeen day old cabbage. It's the stinkiest of fruits. If you try to do a google search, google will have guessed what you are looking for after you only type "stinky asian..."  We know, we just tried it. And yes, the preceding sentence taken by itself does sound kind of racist.

The meat section with a full butcher's section in back. There was no butchering going on when we were there.

The fish!

Funny story. Fyshwick is known for two things- 1. Delicious food markets, which we have experience with. 2. Readily available prostitutes, which we do not have experience with. We learned this because we texted Laurel's Australian friend, Alex, that we were going to Fyshwick, and she was more than a little confused. Moral to the story- if you tell someone you are going to Fyshwick, be explicit about what you are going there for. Unless you are actually going to get a prostitute, then... your call.

Friday, October 15, 2010

News Headlines

We thought we'd share a few news clips we heard earlier that were entertaining.
"Katy Perry dropped from Seseme Street.  Elmo duet considered 'too saucy.'"

And in a story by the Sydney station about Sydney losing one of it's 5 star restaurants bringing it's city total down to 3, "But it's not all bad news, Melbourne only has 2." (cue hot newscaster smirk)
Clearly that Sydney-Melbourne rivalry still exists.

It's been interesting that not only is the Australian slang prevelant throughout everyday life, but it is commonly used in the news by the newscasters, not just the people they interview.  For example, "This young family was devo by the damage caused to their home by last night's storm."  Devo = Devastated.

And as a random side note, we are currently drinking lemonade made by an Australian company called "Thirst Crusher."

Australians seem to love for all words to end in O or E.  Sunglasses = Sunnies, Breakfast = Brekky, Afternoon = Arvo.  Another big story here lately is about the Pokies, meaning the Poker/Slot machines.  It's really funny to listen to old people discussing "the pokies."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Floriade is a month long flower festival that runs from the middle of September to the middle of October. At first I figured they did it just to welcome us, but apparently it's every year. It's a big deal in Canberra, and they import and plant thousands of flowers, as well as having craft fairs and carnival rides. The flowers are arranged in various designs that when viewed from above are probably quite striking. However, they didn't have any elevated viewing platforms so I have to take their word for it. They offer hot air balloons to go over, but we didn't take one. This picture is supposed to be the artist's cavas- note the paintbrush prop. It's "painting on" the flowers.

This picture is mainly to prove that we were actually there and aren't just total posers with other people's pictures.  We've noticed that we have a tendency not to take pictures of ourselves. Also, we are exceptionally good looking no matter what continent we are on.

Sunset in Canberra. Looking over one of the pillars that jut out from one of the many bridges in Canberra. Canberra is built around Lake Burley-Griffin, and uses the lake as a design feature to enhance the beauty of the city.

Another landscape view of Canberra. It really is a beautiful area. On the left is the bell tower. I have no idea what is on the right.

Hey look! It's the Kennedy Center . . . wait a minute . . .
I believe it's Australia's National Library. Some would call it plagarism, but we would like to think of it as a tribute. Apparently, the architect who designed Canberra was from Chicago. Which explains why the layout is very reminiscent of Washington, DC. Canberra is 100% a planned city, and Australians are quite proud of that. Like DC, Canberra was built to be the nation's capital. When Australia became independant, both Sydney and Melbourne wanted to be the capital, since clearly each was Australia's premier city. To forestall a fight, they split the difference, and built the capital, Canberra.

In the background is Parliament with a giant flagpole above it. Like DC, the city is designed so that the flagpole is the highest point in the city. Think the Capital Building.  This is actually New Parliament. There is an Old Parliament directly in front of it, both of which were in the original city design.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Arrival Pictures (finally)!!

Well we've finally gotten around to posting our arrival pictures.  Hurray!!

This is the delicious Italian Hot Chocolate (think liquid chocolate in a cup) we had one of our first days here.  Apparently the Aussies love European style coffee shops, meaning lots of versions of esspresso but no drip coffee.  Fortunately we are fans.

Thank you to Elena & Steve for the delicious fruit basket!  What a tasty way to celebrate our 5 year anniversary.  <3!

Check out the Australian money - so colourful and plastic!  Did you notice my extra U is color?  Nice, huh?

This is our new car - 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer.  Perfectly good, basic, simple.  Perfect since learning to drive on the left and remember that the blinker and windshield wipers are switched is hard enough!

We drove up to visit the kitties in Quararantine a few weeks ago.  The place we stopped for lunch was a combo restaurant/bar/gambling/hotel/dance club/gas station/drive-thru liquor store.  Yes, all of that.  It was bizarre.  And the food was surprisingly good.  Laurel had swordfish.  Here's a pic of the drive-thru liquor store.  Yes you can actually get your beer to go without ever leaving your car.  Think NC Brew-Thrus.  So far this is the only one we've seen, but still...

The US Embassy arranges a variety of events that we can participate in.  One of which is the monthly hike.  These vary in location and intensity.  The one we went on was at a campsite called Nomadgi National Park, which is right outside of Canberra.  4 hours and 700 meters later (somehow most of that was up) we were done.  We might need to get in better shape before we do another one.


After the hike we had a bbq lunch at the campsite.  All around us kangaroos were hopping around.  They must be used to people be there because they didn't seem phased by any of us.  Look how cute the joey is in her pouch!

We'll have more pictures soon!  Miss you all!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Greetings From Australia

Hey everybody.  Its taken us forever to get this started, but better late than never right?  I blame the lack of reliable internet access- seriously, there is no such thing as internet by the month- its all paid for by the megabyte of usage. Do you know how long it takes Skype to burn through 3 GB? We do- its about 44 minutes.
Anyway, our lives are starting to look normal.  We got the cats out of quarantine and moved into our house last week. It is giant- we have a four bedroom house, so anytime any of you want to come and visit, you don’t have to worry about us having enough space.  Its also very white.  We are looking into getting permission to paint, because as you can all guess from our last place, we are fans of color.  We live in a suburb called Franklin, its relatively new, there are new houses still being constructed around us, and its about a 15 minute drive from the City Centre.  To most everyone this is an eternity away, but come on, we just moved from the DC area. You can’t drive anywhere in 15 minutes. And there is no such thing as traffic. I think we’ve died and gone to commuter heaven. We really like the house- now if only they will hurry up and inspect our furniture at customs in Sydney, so we can have our stuff.
The birds here are crazy.  Magpies are crazy aggressive- the embassy handed out a two page document on what to do when they swoop at you.  Mostly its because you are near their nest, but it can also be because they don’t like you. They remember people who have treated them wrong and will attack them every time they see them, or people who look like them. There are about seven or eight who live near us, and they are apparently great neighborhood watch since they get used to who lives there and will go after any new-looking intruders. We watched one literally run down a woman who was holding a piece of bread it wanted. Flocks of cockatoos are everywhere and while quite pretty are really loud and sqwauky. Most unique are the giant ravens- which sound exactly like a screaming, dying baby. I don’t know what is more disturbing- the sound they make, or that we are starting to get used to it.
Two weekends we drove to the coast and Pebbly Beach, a small little beach alcove on the southeastern shore of Australia. It was beautiful, but best of all, there is a guy who lives there who has spent the last fifty years taming the local kangaroos.  So, we petted kangaroos, and watched them hop around, and their little joeys wiggle in and out of the surprisingly roomy pouches.  You know nothing too exciting or adorable. Facebook pictures coming soon.
Contact info: Our address is 32 Daniels Street, Franklin ACT 2913. For mail though, its probably better to use our post office box at the Embassy- PSC 277 Box 52, APO AP 96549. No international mail! Our phone at the house is 6242-9601.  To dial from the states it would be 011-612-6242-9601.  We are currently 15 hours ahead, but as soon as you guys lose an hour (silly northern hemisphere, going into Autumn) we will be 16 hours ahead. I think that will put us roughly two and half days ahead of Hawaii.
We miss all of  you, and the hardest part about this move has been moving away from you guys.   Stay in touch and we will try to do a far better job at sending updates now that we have our blog!