Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Canberra- The Capital City

In about 18 weeks my life is going to be completely taken over by a helpless, crying newborn (it's a boy!). For a few months at least, we'll be in no condition to travel, sight-see, or explore this amazing country. So we've decided to try to see and do as much as possible between now and then. First place on the list: Canberra, the capital of Australia.

It was a whirlwind weekend, trying to fit in everything, and I think we succeeded. Canberra is an easy 3 hour drive from Sydney through rolling country side speckled with lots of cows, horses and sheep.

After a quick stop at our hotel and a bite to eat we headed for the National Gallery to view the Masterpieces from Paris exhibit. This exhibit is hugely popular and at peak times people are queuing up for 3 hours to see it. Thankfully, my dear Aussie friend, Lou, gave me the best advice: head to the museum 1 hour before it closes. That's what we did and we did not have to wait AT ALL! So for any of you thinking of making the trip to see these amazing works of art before they head back to the Musee d'Orsay, plan to go late in the day- I am so glad we did! The Little Princess loved the kid's audio tour, and was quite captivated by the Van Goghs, Monets, and Gauguins on display.

Saturday morning we headed straight to Questacon, an awesome hands-on science museum. Some of our favorite exhibits included a cool shadow screen where you could "freeze" your shadow, a light harp, and an exhibit showing caged lightening.

Check out the picture perfect souvenir the Little Buddy found in the museum shop! (Notice the matching t-shirt he happens to be wearing).

Next we went to the Royal Australian Mint to see where all those Aussie coins are made. The kids each got to mint their own gold $1 coin and we enjoyed seeing the robots and machinery used to make the coins. They also had an extensive display of historical coins and medals (including the Olympic medals from the Sydney games).

Our last stop of the day was the Australian War Memorial.

This was the most architecturally beautifully building we saw in Canberra. It was a stark contrast to all the 1960s boring architecture seen throughout the city. The Memorial features an extensive museum, including a hands-on area for kids. It also has a beautiful reflecting pool and a wall of remembrance honoring those who have fought and died for Australia.

Inside a Vietnam era helicopter.

A cold-war era submarine replica.

Sunday we decided to check out the National Museum of Australia. Here we learned a bit about Australia's story. Our favorite exhibit featured the last Tasmanian Tiger. It was sad to realize that this animal became extinct when the last one died in the Hobart Zoo. There was also a large exhibit dedicated to aboriginal Australians and a kids area where we got to envision a future world and take part in the making of a 3-D movie.

Our final stop in Canberra was Cockington Green. Surprisingly it was the most crowded attraction we visited on our trip! Cockington Green is basically a garden filled with miniature houses that appears to have been inspired by Disneyland's Story Book Canal Boat ride. There is also a little steam train ride that circles the garden, a small kids playground and a patio featuring several doll houses to play with. The kids enjoyed it, but we were all ready to head for home after our stroll through the gardens.

On the way home we played our favorite road game; Spot the P-Plater & Ute. Even the Little Buddy is starting to get into the game although he is at a significant disadvantage since his view is rather limited. We also drove through the most intense (and short lived) rainstorm I've ever seen! Fortunately, we made it back safe and sound.

Crossing Canberra off our Aussie to-do list. Now to unpack, do the laundry, and re-pack for our trip next week . . . .

Monday, March 29, 2010

You- Yes, you!

You know who you are. I just wanted to tell you that you are not a stalker. I'm thrilled that you read my blog and I'm willing to overlook the fact that you have never left a comment or sent me an email. ;)
We need to have coffee again so I can learn as much about you as you already know about me.
Don't you just love it when world's collide?
Your new friend,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bicentennial Park

One of the things I love about Sydney is that there is no shortage of fun, family friendly activities. Last weekend we decided to check out Bicentennial Park, part of Sydney Olympic Park. It was the first time we had ventured out there- but definitely not the last.
We hired bikes, including one with a child carrier for the Little Buddy, and set off exploring the miles (I mean kms) of pathways. We rode through marshlands filled with mangroves, a bird refuge, and past Acer Arena.

After a couple hours we returned the bikes and headed to one of the many kid's playgrounds located in the park.
Looking forward to going back to Sydney Olympic Park to check out the aquatic centre soon!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Half Way There

When we signed up to come to Australia we agreed to stay for 2 years. It's hard to believe, but as of this week, we are half way there. March 9th will mark our one year Expat Anniversary!

One year ago we loaded our little kids into those comfy lay flat business class seats and prayed they'd sleep on the plane. We arrived in Sydney with all those suitcases and relied on the kindness of airline employees to help us get it all through customs. I remember the van driver giving the kids little koala keychains and the excitement of seeing for the first time our beautiful apartment all set up and waiting for us.

In the year that has passed between then and now we have changed so much. Our kids have made that long haul flight across the Pacific 5 times. I've done it with them by myself and we've done it in coach and we all survived! I feel confident I could travel anywhere with them, and I won't let fear of a long flight stop me from showing them the world.

When we arrived in Australia we knew no one. It seemed like such a grand adventure for the four of us. But it didn't take long to find friends- real friends. Other expats, coworkers, classmates and even a few true Aussies. I couldn't imagine this experience without them.

There has not been one day during the past year that I woke up and regretted coming to Australia. Sure, I miss "home", our American friends and family, and Boar's Head turkey from the Italia Deli. But I am so thankful to have this opportunity to live in another country, meet new people, immerse myself in another culture and see this amazing part of the world. This coming year we plan to TRAVEL! There is so much we want to see and do before we leave this beautiful country.

This week also marks another important half-way point for us. I am now half way through my third pregnancy. Our "tie-breaker" baby will be born right here in Australia in early August. The adventure continues!

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