Monday, February 28, 2011

The lake

So, I know, we have become increasingly unrealiable when it comes to blog posting. Olivia, as our most devoted reader, I am sorry. Please accept this post as a most sincere apology. I'm reaching into the wayback machine for this one!

These pictures are from back in December. Before the Queensland floods, before Cyclone Yasi, before the Christchurch earthquakes, before the Queenbeyean flood (good lord there have been way too many natural disasters since we've moved here), Canberra got a ridiculous amount of rainfall over a two week period. It wasn't a disaster or anything, it just completely overwhelmed everything. Roads got shut down from sinkholes developing, a bridge collapsed (no one was hurt, thankfully), and from one particular flash flood, a large amount of trees and debris floated downriver into Lake Burley-Griffen, which Canberra is centered around. When the weekend came it was beautiful outside, so we decided to go down to the lake to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful December sun. I think all you guys were suffering through another epic snow storm at the time. Australian December rocks. This is probably the best picture we got of stuff floating in the lake.

This is just a nice picture of the lake with the bell tower in the background. Note the boat, more on that later.

Once again, all these picture were taken in December, shortly after Movember, thus the proto-beard Greg is sporting in this picture. Also, those stylish Ray-bans came from someome leaving them at our house over Thanksgiving. We only had like 8 people over, yet no one claimed them. Sweet! Free stuff for Greg!  More importantly, Laurel is adorable in her hand-made hat she bought at the Old Bus Depot Market.

Back to the boat. This has to be some kind of booze cruise. There is just no other explanation for it. Everyone on it was dressed as pirates. No clue what was going on, so we took pictures.

Now, this is the single weirdest thing about Australia that we have come across. All the swans are black. There are no white swans. The first time Greg went for a run down by the lake, he saw one swan, and was like, "wow, you don't see that every day," and then turned the corner and say thirty more. Why would the swans here all be black and in the States they are all white? Did the British round up all the Black Swans and send them to Australia as prisoners, too, back in the day?

Cuteness alert! Baby swan! He's so grey and fuzzy!

My favorite thing about this picture, aside from how ruggedly handsome Greg looks, is that the way the two swans are positioned behind Laurel's hat, it looks like one ridiculously long swan. Lochness Swanster?

We were never actually able to get a picture of it, but the geese were constatly biting and holding on with their bills to each other's tails. Which I guess is where the term "goosing" someone came from. Who knew?

This guy was nice enough to pose for us.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cockington Greene

So, Operation Publish the Last Posts on Tasmania in as Short a Time as Possible can be declared a failure. Blogging on weekdays is apparently not our forte. With a nod towards that, I thought we would take a small detour from Tasmania and show you something else.

Gold Creek is a cute little area full of specialty shops, restaurants, tea houses, museums, and gardens. Tucked away in the back is the Cockington Greene Gardens, which is made up of miniture models of houses and life in the English villiage and countryside. Most of the buildings are no taller than a foot and a half so you get to feel a bit like Gulliver. We're giants! Below is the electric train makings its rounds.

Whoever came up with the idea for the Gardens really had a fun time putting it together. Look! Its Stonehenge!

This picture is of the hedge maze from a raised platform overlooking the Garden. You are supposed to use your eye and try and look your way through it. It's absolutely impossible. Not because the maze is particularly well designed (it might be), but because there is no way I could keep my eye along one individual path. It got confused pretty quickly. Still kind of cool though, and I would love to walk through a real one of these someday.

At one end of the gardens is the "International Section." Over there is where small models of national treasures and important buildings have been built from all over the world, each one sponosered and donated by the local embassies. There are about 30 of them in all, from all over the world. Sadly, the States have apparently not chosen to sponsor a model yet. I was hoping for a mini Mount Rushmore or Washington Monument. Here is Petra in Jordan.

And here is a little shout-out to Adam and Rachel in Korea. We miss you guys!

Now this was phenomenal. Its a Buddhist temple on the island of Java in Indonesia. The real temple is made out of molten lava rock from a volcano eruption.  Sounds incredible.  This picture doesn't really do it justice, but the level of detail is just amazing. We'd never really thought about going to Indoensia while we are here, but now we are giving it some serious thought. We'd love to see the real thing. Add one more place to the list . . .

Here is Tenochticlan in Mexico. It occured to us that this is actually a really good place for travel research, since these are the sites that the country itself has chosen to showcase. We took a bunch of pictures of the signs explaining each model to remind us of all the super-cool places we need to go to around the world.

Lastly, this is a castle, I believe, in Croatia. We thought it was especially pretty with the way they had used the plants as well. Actually, a disproportionate number of the models came from Eastern Europe. Not sure why that is unless those countries saw this as a relatively cheap way of advertising the local tourism. Regardless, it was a lot of fun, and actually a lot cooler than we thought it was going to be.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tasmania- Wineglass bay

On the day we were going to drive from Hobart to Launceston we had planned on taking the long way and driving up the east coast of the island so we could stop at Wineglass Bay. Located in Freycinet National Park it is consistently ranked among one of the world's best beaches. Can't pass that up right?

I presume that one of the reasons for its rankings, aside from the amazing scenery is that Wineglass Bay isn't accessible by car. There's a carpark, but that's a good hour hike from the beach. And it is a hike, taking you up and down very rocky terrain. We got our stair workout that day, and I think it came out to about an 11 kilometer round trip.  This picture is from along the trail and a cool rock outcropping that we envisioned as a particularly good hiding spot for a monster. Beware!

Also along the trail was this funky bench, which seemed an ideal spot for a badly needed water break. It was near the top of the hill at the lookout point. They call that the easy hike, where you don't actually go to the beach but you can get a great view at it. Lame. We didn't come this far to say we got within eyeshot of one of the World's Greatest Beaches. Press on!

That's a lot rocks.

This is the view from the lookout point. Beautiful, huh? As we were walking up we heard an older man coming down complaining about how crowded it was up there. What he meant was Australia crowded. So there were maybe 15 people up there, and plenty of space to sit and enjoy the view.

After that we descended down to the beach and started to have a sense of dread. Not because we were concerned we wouldn't like the beach, oh no. It was because for the entirety of the thirty minute hike we did nothing but descend down "stairs" (more like uneven, unstable rocks trying to pass as stairs). To get back, we were going to have to go up all those stairs. Uh oh. Nothing we had to worry about yet though, so best to enjoy Wineglass Bay. Here it is from the sand-level view.

Absolutely breathtaking, and as you can see from this picture hardly anyone else was there. Amazing.

As we were getting ready to leave the beach we saw two wallbies had made their way down from the trees to the edge of the beach. This little guy was particularly interested in one hiker's backpack. Actually managed to stuff most of his face in it trying to get at whatever food was in there.

Laurel and the wallaby are friends. She apparently smelled nice.

This sign we saw on the drive to Wineglass Bay. We have absolutely no idea what it means? Beware of aerial bombing? The best part is that we saw it right after the sign telling us we were approaching "Friendly Beach."