Our last couple of weeks in Queensland were spent with Geoff & Pearl in Robina on the Gold Coast. Fitting considering this is where we spent our first two weeks in Queensland. On 2nd November, Scott started with the new company and spent 2 weeks in training at their Brisbane branch. Which meant early mornings - we were up at 4.30am so I could get him to the train station by 5.10am. Scott thoroughly enjoyed those train rides - with his iPod and his Kindle - 3 hours of pure Scott-time. And with the stresses of the past months receding, it really was a welcome break. Queensland Rail are trialing a "Quiet Carriage" on the Robina/Brisbane line where the last carriage is the quiet carriage - no mobile phones, loud music, talking, screaming children, etc. For the most part, this system works - except on a couple of occasions when a group of drunk indigenous people boarded the train & started harassing Scott for pointing out that it was, in fact, supposed to be a quiet carriage. LOL! Talk about living up to the stereotype!
I thoroughly enjoyed Scott's early mornings 'cos I'd get my walking shoes on & head straight to the Burleigh beach from the station and spend an hour & a half walking walking from one side to the next & back again. I'd then head for Nook Cafe at the Burleigh Beach House for a great coffee which I'd take down to the park & drink while trying to read my Kindle. Not an easy feat when you have all those hot surfers going for their morning surf.... But I suffered through it all....
We had plenty of farewells with friends and family. Our last night in Moggill saw us having dinner & copious amounts of bubbly, white wine, red wine and Tia Maria with our wonderful neighbour Dearna. Wow! I haven't had a hangover like that ever! But with plans for Dearna to visit us in Canberra put into the diaries for mid-Jan 2011, it wasn't goodbye.
Time just flew over those last couple of weeks on the Gold Coast! Plenty of great dinners with Geoff & Pearl, the McGuickens and a couple of awesome sushi lunches with Doug at Coolangatta. And of course, our 'official' farewell at Geoff & Pearls' place with the McGuickens & the Gold Coast Wellssss. What a great memories to take with us on our latest adventure! And we've got the McQuickens thinking of a ski holiday our way next winter.... and Doug thinking along the same lines... Visitors most welcome!!!
Watching the Sharks whip some WP butt in the Currie Cup final! Go Sharks!!!
At Geoff & Pearl's were Scott, Kerry, Shawn & Mac
Kerry & I at dinner at Taboon - a fabulous Middle Eastern restaurant in Robina
At North Burleigh lookout - this is where the Miami surfcam broadcasts from
Taken on a Saturday when I took Scott walking with me - also North Burleigh overlooking Miami Beach all the way to Surfers Paradise
Looking back over Burleigh beach towards the Burleigh Heads
This is the spot I usually drank my coffee, read my Kindle & let my gaze wander...
The kids table at our farewell - Chris, Shawn, Jazzie & Megs
The grown ups hanging out in the kitchen
Shawn & Chris started up right where they left off last Xmas - playing in the pool
The cutest little munchkin!
Me with my brother, Doug & his dodgy mo' (in aid of Movember)
Munchkin busted on camera scoffing chips while the other kids were in the pool!
It was just too tempting.... Megs bending over at the side of the pool....
Coffee & choco cake after Pearl's awesome seafood risotto - Pearl, Kerry, Megs & Geoff
Our beautiful room at Geoff & Pearl's
Saturday 13 November we were up at 3.30am and hit the road at 4.30am. Wooohoooo! Canberra here we come! But first, a 2 night/1 day stop at Smiths Lake. Friends of ours, Ange & Michael have a house down that way. Unfortunately we happened to be there on a weekend they couldn't be there, but it was a perfect mini-break around the halfway mark. From Robina to Smiths Lake was 616km.
We thought we'd gotten a great early start.... only to realise that when we crossed over into New South Wales, we lost an entire hour! Instead of being 5am, it was 6am! Damn!
Gold Coast to Smiths Lake = 616km
Smiths Lake to Canberra = 557km
Total = 1173km
Us next to the Clarence River, Mclean, NSW
Us at the Ferry Park Cafe
Coffee, brekkie & my netbook - a quick email to update family on our progress
Then we hit a snag... There was a head on collision on the Pacific Highway & they'd closed the whole highway. Cars were backed up for kilometres! We tried to take a detour but came up about 2kms short. So we waited - luckily we had a spot of shade and we were just patient. There really wasn't much we could do without a 4x4, so we chatted to other people in the jam to pass the time.
Our little Astra just wouldn't have handled that fire track...
We made it to A&M's stunning holiday house at Smiths Lake around 4pm and just lazed about the back deck watching birds & drinking a toast to Dad with his favourite wine - a Groote Post Shiraz.
The back deck (click the pic to enlarge)
At around 5pm, the brush turkeys do a runner from the reserve to somewhere - it's the official start of happy hour!
Scott having a snooze on the daybed
Coming upstairs to watch the sunset
Scott sipping on his shiraz
Sunday morning coffee on the front deck
We did try and go for a swim but it was absolutely FREEZING!
Sunday night we had delicious pizza from Huey's on Blueys - scrumptious thin base with really inventive toppings! We even bought an extra one for padkos (food for the road).
Sunday night was very early to bed - ready to rise at 2.30am for a departure by 3.30am. Up we got, showered & hit the road at..... 4.30am!!!! I'd forgotten to change the time on my mobile phone! Bleh!!!!
Our first wee-stop - The Big Rock service station on the Pacific Highway - not very clear in the dark - see the pic below. Aussies have heaps of "Big Things" all over the country.
Nearing Sydney! Getting very excited!
My turn to drive again
Welcome to the Australian Capital Territory! We arrive in Canberra - our new home!
The apartment block we're staying in to begin with - a serviced apartment that the company rents for when they have larger contracts & need to bring in technicians & programmers from out of state.
Lounge/dining room looking out to the balcony
Main bedroom (with bedding changed to our own - see below)
And THIS is what I found in the bedside table..... to be fair, the company has only just rented the apartment, so I don't think it belongs to any of Scott's colleagues! Needless to say, I immediately stripped the linen off the bed & put our duvet cover on and new, clean sheets!
Pretty styling wrap-around balcony with a view over Lake Burley Griffin
Scott's first morning at work in Canberra
I took him into the office which is behind the airport - next to an air force base
One of the streets I parked in in Kingston while apartment hunting - very pretty
On our way up to Kingston village for a beer & a bite
Scott on the balcony at sunset
What a fiery sunset!
The hot air balloons take off just down the road from us at dawn
Heading out for a walk
Park at the end of the road
Scott getting in the way of the camera!
The camera got hijacked!
An jogger offered to take our pic - we're such tourists!
Scott becoming one with the tree
Scott branching out
Chatting to the swans which followed me all the way down the walkway wanting dinner
Scott wearing his new work shirt
When we arrived on Monday, we hit the ground running and went to our first rental viewing. I spent the next three days scouring the internet and running around looking at apartments. I came to two conclusions. 1. Real estate agents have magic cameras and are wizards on Photoshop because their photos bare very little resemblance to the actual properties. 2. Canberra is a damn expensive city to live in! The reason for this, I found out, is because of the exorbitant salaries the public servants earn - landlords can get more, so they don't accept less. So we had a choice - lower our standards and live in a dark, damp hole at a reasonable rent, or be prepared to spend more on living in a decent apartment. We chose the latter and I found us a great apartment very close to Capital Hill which is still within walking distance of all the cafes, bars & restaurants of Kingston and Manuka.
As I write this, it is only one more sleep and we move into our new home! Woopee! I collect the keys tomorrow morning and the movers arrive mid-morning. This is the part of moving I really enjoy - the unpacking.
The location of the two apartments
The Google street view of our new home
Very happy Scott with some sangria at our local Portuguese restaurant - Vasco's
Enjoying the sangria!
A delicious mixed grill for 2
And churros dipped in chocolate for desert - to die for!!!
Scott woke me up on Saturday morning to show me the hot air balloons!
Time for some exploring...
Scott making us brekkie before we head off
We spent the day driving and looking - getting a feel for the lay of the land
Our first stop was to have a look across at Parliament House & Capital Hill
Then up to the Australian War Memorial - the is looking back down towards Capital Hill
The War Memorial
Fountain at the War Memorial - we'll come back here - together with ANZAC parade, this is a full day's excursion.
Next stop, the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain - hopefully the car would start again!
We thought this would be a great way to get a bit of perspective on the size and layout of Canberra
Scott gearing up for some adventuring
The scale model in the foyer
360 degree views! Awesome!
The people looked like ants below
The city centre on the left and Lake Burley Griffin. The company apartment is right over on the other side of that smaller bit of lake left of centre.
The inside viewing deck
The outside viewing deck - Scott balls were twinging... That's a VERY low railing when you're 66m up!
One time I'm happy to be short - it made the railing higher!
We passed a rowing regatta (was told it wasn't called a race!) along the way. Tanya, Jamie - think you should move to Canberra - see, they row here!
We came across Coppins Crossing (Coppin is my Mom's maiden name) and just had to stop for a couple of pics
Looking through the crossing at what the last flood had washed up
Being tourists & posing for pics!
Scott had seen some white domes on a hill in the distance so we started heading in that general direction. It turned out to be the Australian National University's Mount Stromlo Observatory - or what was left of it after the fire storm of 2003 which destroyed 3 of the telescopes. They now have another facility at Siding Spring in NSW. It was really interesting walking around the ruins and I got some really lovely pics. I've also just found a walking guide for the area with all the info on the ruined buildings. Another spot to head back to!
The 74" Reflector which was damaged by fire in 2003
Scott in front of the 74" Reflector - they obviously re-worked the outside but the inside is a complete ruin.
Looking up towards the Satellite Laser Ranging Observatory - this is still operational
This is the Gwynvill sundial - you use your own shadow to tell the time - damn accurate too.
Some wild roo's in the gardens
Beautiful views from the Observatory gardens
The ruins of the 26" Yale-Columbia Refractor
Scott in the ruins
Scott outside the abandoned visitors centre
A panoramic view from the observatory
The ruins of the 9" Oddie Refractor
A perfect spot for a ham radio fundi to contact his mates - I bet Dad woulda loved chatting to this guy!
Looking across from the observatory to the Telstra tower (zoomed)
The stunning avenue to the Governor General's residence
Back in the city after our country drive, we turned into the suburb of Yarralumla to check out some of the embassies and high commission buildings from around the world.
USA - obviously with the most security!
We also took a drive around the new houses of parliament at the top of Capital Hill
That is one ENORMOUS flag!
The Captain Cook Memorial Jet
With it's inauguration in 1970 to commemorate the bicentennial of anniversary of Captain Cook's discovery of the East coast of Australia. This jet, when running at full capacity, can reach up to 174m. It was a beautiful day and there were a whole bunch of kids who took pedal boats out so they could get soaked under the jet. Think that's a great idea for a hot weekend - will put it on the list of things to do... the list is growing!
(send me your ideas for a caption to this one!)
First impressions of Canberra? Traffic is a dream - being the only planned (from scratch) city in the world, it certainly has the traffic congestion down to a minimum. Apparently all major roads have been planned with the capacity to be widened in the future. Good thinking!
There is SO much to see and do here. If you like outdoor lifestyle, this is a great place to live. Cycle paths are absolutely everywhere - most roads, when built, were built with cycle lanes included. Canberra is pretty with plenty of parks, beautiful oak tree-lined streets, sports fields and of course the lake.
It's by no means a bustling metropolis! The Kingston/Manuka area have fantastic restaurants, shops and cafes which is why we wanted to be in this area. But it's not a big city. During the day the wide streets almost seem deserted. But the village is all hustle and bustle from Monday thru to Sunday nights.
We're both looking forward to moving into our new apartment tomorrow. Unpacking our things is going to be like Xmas come early! With a weekend to settle in, we have our first visitor next week - Julian - a school mate of Scott's who lives in Sydney will be down here. And then it's not long before we head up to Sydney, my Mom arrives, Xmas, New Year, Dearna's visit.... Life is on the up 'n up!