See you in 2019 Australia!

Our last week in Queensland was fun filled with a highlight of our trip a 5-hour whale watch adventure with my Dad and the kids out to the ocean right next to Moreton Island. It was such a beautiful day with the sun shining and the temperature was around 23 degrees – just perfect! I made a video using my new Nikon camera as I couldn’t capture the whale action as it was too slow and I am still a newbie with the settings. The video worked a treat as the lens can zoom in and out effortlessly.

The whale watch high-speed luxury catamaran was a dream on the water and the added bonus is getting a lovely lunch of salad and fresh prawns with fruit for dessert. We paid for coffee at $5 and water for $4 but I had a stash of snacks for the kids which was a good idea as they were hungry within seconds when they got on the boat. The views were just stunning and to see Moreton Island again in all its sandy glory bought back so many memories of camping over there and the big one spending Schoolies over there with my year 12 schoolmates.

I was on a mission to photograph the flying foxes for a friend of mine here in the States, she absolutely loves them on her Instagram feed and shows me the most beautiful pics of the little rescue foxes. This camp of foxes is found at the Redcliffe Botanic Gardens right across the road from my school friends house. I was in awe of how many there were and how active they are during the day – apparently, the males are super frisky all the time and harassing the females when they are trying to rest! I was pretty excited to get some cute pics too of these little fellas who are a keystone protected species in Australia as they are pollinators of the native flora.

Plus the lunar eclipse was happening the morning we were leaving so we did not get up to see it, my camera caught some close-ups of the moon before the cloud came in. The backyard had the grevilleas in bloom and the honeyeaters and lorikeets visited every day. Each week we kept our Taco Tuesday tradition going until we left the country Saturday morning.

And my friend M came to visit, we spent a lot of time together in our 20s and had a blast at all the clubs dancing away. Now we just catch up and drink fancy lattes. I enjoyed a matcha latte and M enjoyed the beet latte. The lunch I had at Soul Harvest Wholefoods was divine with 3 salads and a vegan pumpkin coconut pattie with a mango chutney – such a wholesome feast for lunch.

Soon came time for our last walk along the beach, we cherished our time together taking in the sights and feeling the fresh air and watching the water gently roll onto the sand. I did not realise how lucky I was to grow up with such a beautiful environment close by.

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Then as we flew off on a 27-degree day it was time to go back on the 13-hour journey back to San Francisco. We nearly missed the plane due to logistics with the Sydney airport bus transfer and then security finding some water in my daughter’s backpack so I had to stand there and drink it. Mind you by now I was busting to go to the toilet! Anyway, we finally got through the drama and made it to the flight QF73 and there we were on the plane about to have lunch. The time passed quickly as I caught up on my readings for University and watched a couple of films and my husband’s recommendation Search Party which was fine to pass the time. Secretly I was wanting to miss the plane and stay in Australia, I was not ready to come back to California. Now I am back it is OK as I have a lot of studies to catch up on to keep me busy and out of pining for Melbourne and to be back with my family. Until we move back – know that we love you and miss you. The countdown begins with around 10 months to go!!

Family frolics

Back with my family in Redcliffe on Sunday as we took the train from the Sunshine Coast to the new train station at Kippa-Ring, it was very exciting and so picturesque with the pineapple fields and sugar cane. Very different from the slow Caltrain back in the valley. I have been eating a lot of fish and chips and my good food diet has gone out the window but hey I only visit here once a year and this food is so good!! The walk to the beach from the Air Bnb is only 15 minutes through the back streets leading to a beautiful boardwalk along the entire beachfront.

What I enjoy is visiting with my family when I am here – here is my aunty outside her place with us and the kids with their great aunt. Every time I go to my aunty’s place I check out her collection of retro housewares and she is happy to give them away, this time the glitter seahorse caught my eye!

The kids have been wanting to go for a swim at the lagoon by the beach so why not on a beautiful Queensland sunny winters day we took them out and enjoyed more chips and a delicious fava bean burger from the Suttons Beach Pavillion.  The playground was a lot of fun with a giant pink cage and the gran and grandad enjoyed spending time outdoors with the kids where they could see them in their element.

The weekend was a lot of fun starting with a big night Friday of big Australian wines, a Shiraz or two and a delicious dinner at home with the kids. Saturday we met some friends at a local handmade market and came back for a cuppa and biscuits at our Air BnB. The market was super cool with some wonderful local designers that I loved especially a woodworker who made these stools that fold and can sit together they were so functional and beautiful in design. I am on the lookout for furniture for our house in Melbourne but I will not know what we need until we build, my hubby and I are starting a Pinterest board of ideas for when the time comes. Oh and the added bonus of this market was the food trucks and they were both vegan, so I had a vegan sausage roll which was delicious – oh the food memories I am making on this trip. My sister’s man made a beautiful farewell lunch of potato rosti with poached egg and smoked salmon, sour cream and dill that I truly enjoyed! Until next time my friends.

And to wrap up our weekend we celebrated Christmas in July with the family which was so much fun and of course, I did not eat the roast but scored the grilled barramundi, chips and salad – oh those chips again! At least I know when I go back to California I will not be eating them as I do not like fries. I drank a couple of glasses of NZ Sauvignon Blanc and felt very happy but it was a sad afternoon as I said farewell to my sister, nephew and her cat Millie, until we meet again we love you all!

 

Back home by the beach

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The trip I have patiently been waiting for has arrived, and I am now back at home with my family. It is so good to be at home with everyone and being at a place where my feet feel firmly planted on the ground – this is the place where my roots feel the most grounded and somewhere I belong. It is funny when you go back home you really appreciate the depth of family love and experience that can never be replicated even by close friends. That is the hardest thing I find living miles away from my family.

I am creating experiences and memories for my kids with bringing them to this place we call home – a place where they can enjoy the freedom and the friendliness of this wonderful country. I have been enjoying walking along the beachfront every day and saying hello to the people passing by. This alone is something the children really love, and they ask me, “do you know that person”, and it is always a no, but here in Australia, people don’t mind saying hello to each other as it does not cost a thing. In the USA this was hard for me to get used to – being in a place where even in the same apartment complex everyone is way too busy even to say a Good Morning. I am used to it now after being there for 10 years, and you just acclimate to whatever is the norm of the culture you are living in – eventually.

Walking along the beach and the rocks with or without shoes have been just beautiful as it is so relaxing and quiet around here away from the rushed life of the everyday. The red cliffs of Redcliffe have such a variation in colour, and I am looking at them in a new light and enjoying the patterns and formations.

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The incredible food is one of my fave things when coming home and enjoying Smoked Tasmanian Salmon over a quinoa rice bowl with locally grown avocados and salad with the newfound seeds and flavours of Dukkah.

In my wanderings around the neighbourhood, I finally found some frangipani even though it is the middle of winter. The sunrise and sunsets have been absolutely breathtaking in the big Australian skies. And I found a cocoon of the case moth a caterpillar who travels with his cocoon wherever they go – I have not seen one of these for ages!

When we come here we enjoy going to the library to source out some new books, I found ‘This Changes Everything’ by Naomi Klein that I have been wanting to read for ages. No way will I be able to read this by the end of next week, but it has been fascinating. Next to the library is a gallery space and this time there was a quilting exhibition that I could not resist going to so I said to my Mum and Dad I will just be 5 minutes and 15 minutes later my Dad was saying its time to go now! They were with Missy who had said to them this happens all the time, my mum likes to talk to people and she was right, I really enjoyed chatting to a couple of the ladies who were part of the quilting collective, and we talked quilts and fabrics. Such a great opportunity to share information about fabric stores and sewing techniques and one day I will make my own quilt too! Afterwards, Mum wanted to go to the bakery – a real Aussie bakery complete with custard and neenish tarts, vanilla slices and fresh sausage rolls, that was worth leaving the exhibition for!

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I am getting used to the new face of Redcliffe with its cinder block base house construction, big window houses overlooking the sea. From what I can see the blocks of land are gigantic with a double block property a few houses down from this place currently for sale at over $3 million dollars. Though it is evident that the blocks of land are subdivided and smaller, taller properties are built and sold in a very contemporary house design that maximises space. Still, it is always good for inspiration to wander new neighbourhoods for ideas!

Farewell my Fine Feathered Friends

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Today I say farewell to the first part of our journey down under… We came to Redcliffe my hometown first to see my family and from here we are going up to the Sunshine Coast (a place where I also lived up at Peregian Beach). Then we will be going down south to feel the real winter of Melbourne and traveling over to Adelaide for a weekend getaway to see my husbands family. Whoa I am exhausted just thinking about it but time is flying by – only 11 days and I see my hubby again! Still it is always paced gently and generally centered around food with family and friends, which I like very much.

Thursday we travelled by train – a trip I know all too well when I used to work in the city and did the journey every day. This was when I returned home from a 2 year trip to the United Kingdom and need to save some $. Sometimes you wonder when will this day to day cycle ever end and it sure did with moving down to Melbourne, finding a partner, having a baby, buying a house, getting married and then relocating to the Northern Hemisphere. The finding a partner, baby, house, marriage and relocating happened in a mere 3 years!!

I digress, so back to our day trip to South Bank in Brizvegas and it was a sunny and warm winters day in Queensland. We visited the rainforest walk and the Nepalese Peace Pagoda from World Expo ’88 – such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship created in Nepal over 2 years transported from Nepal and assembled for the Expo. I remember going to the Expo in 1988 and visiting the Pagoda and it is wonderful to see that it is still here. The area of South Bank by the river is a thriving tourist hub and a very beautiful place to visit and I am sure in the summer it would be a lot of fun to go swimming at the man made beach. It looked inviting with life guards there at the ready for those brave enough to jump into the chilly waters.

We had a pub lunch at the Plough Inn that has been in South Brisbane forever – more beer battered chips, so good! The smoked salmon on rye bagel with the chips was a treat but my uncle who took us out for the day enjoyed his roast lamb that the pub serves every Thursday. How I miss pub meals. After lunch we needed a walk and took the kids to the museum to see the dinosaurs and the fantastic collection of taxidermy animals including lots of Australian animals. We finally saw a platypus plus and the kids enjoyed checking out the possums and flying foxes who we have been watching traveling the sky at dusk.

Friday was my last day and we had a farewell lunch at Pipel By the Sea and we ate at the cafe. The food was amazing and Mediterranean is one of my all time favorite cuisines. This platter of dips was divine with roast capsicum, blue cheese, olive and hommus with toasted pita bread. The desert was a lemon sorbet in a lemon skin outer with turkish delight and baklava with caramel and coconut – certainly a wonderful treat. I love eating new foods and I have certainly had a fair share of seafood since coming to Queensland, the shish kebabs I enjoyed with lunch were Lemon Myrtle Calamari and Garlic Prawns – my two favorites from the menu.

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The kids found it hard to sit and eat at the cafe so after they had eaten as much as they could they could go and play with the soldier crabs at the low tide. We could see them from where we were sitting and they had a blast digging out the crabs – it was probably a bit cruel! Then they relocated the crabs to a resort they built out of sand leading out to the waves with a pool for the crabs to swim in?!? That kept them occupied for a long time and with the weather at a lovely 21 degrees C they wanted to dip their toes in, so off went the shoes and in they went. I must say the water did feel a perfect temperature unlike the chilly waters of the Bay Area in SF.

My dad enjoyed taking some pictures of the silhouette of the monkey tree on the sand and the shades of blue in the water. It was such a perfect day. Soon it was time to say goodbye to the soldier crabs and head on back to the house for a cuppa and to FaceTime California.

 

There are a few things I discovered in the first part of this holiday –

The trees planted by the beach are called Norfolk Pines not monkey tail trees!

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Pic taken by Ash

These mechanical sounding birds are cool and called top notches by my uncle. Actually they are crested pigeons!

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My kids can actually smile for a photograph.

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More evidence of kids smiling in a photograph – this is the photo shoot we did with the kids when we went to the shops our first week here.

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I do really enjoy the beach and spending time there, it is in my genes and makes me feel at home.

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I also enjoy watching the sun set in the evenings – I can only can do this on holidays when I am being a slacker and not working in the kitchen making dinner!

Golden Years

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When visiting the place I grew up in and checking it out like a tourist you find interesting places that did not exist when you lived there. Like this cool wall of graffiti of ‘tags’ just down the road from where we are staying in Margate. Soon we will be visiting Melbourne and there is much more of this art around the city to check out on the walls and the laneways – I can’t wait as they are the perfect photo opportunity.

As part of the Redcliffe ‘homecoming tour’ I wanted to see places I had never been to in my life so we went to the Redcliffe Museum to learn about the history of Redcliffe from its humble beginnings as a convict settlement. As we walked in we watched a 13 minute short film on the history of Redcliffe and how when back in the day it was promoted as a beachside suburb to come and visit for R&R – one of the film stills of their promos in the pic above. Things do travel full circle and the city folks flock to Redcliffe on the weekend for their R&R, fish and chips and a walk by the beach. The weekends are generally busy here with families coming for day trips and it is funny how when I grew up here all I wanted to do was to escape but having kids and enjoying relaxing by the water it is a beautiful and relaxing place to be.

At the museum the kids got to check out machines of the past like the typewriter – I used an electric typewriter to learn to type at school. These were fully manual and it was funny how when you have not touched a typewriter for years you can still remember how these machines work. The kids enjoyed playing with them and thought it would be way more fun than using a computer!

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Learning about history on the icons of my childhood I found that this wreck of the gunboat the HMQS Gayundah was ran aground at Woody Point in 1958 to serve as a breakwater structure. All these years I had made up many stories of this boat in my mind as to how the boat got there – pirates, war and the like. We used to do photo shoots in the boat when we were younger and somehow we did  not read the signs about entering the structure – oh well, young and danger loving! This ship was launched in 1884 in the UK and traveled for 5 months to reach Australia. While we were at the Redcliffe Museum I found a model of the boat a model with the history and what a beauty she was.

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When we visited the wreck the other day it was amazing to see how over time the rust of the ship had transformed. I loved to see how the bow of the ship had fallen recently creating a fish head with nature in the form of weeds taking her place inside the mouth of the fish. I loved the shape of the stern as how it looks like a mechanical whale tail splashing out of the water.

Always many trees to climb here by the beach – this shady Pandanus palm is the perfect climbing tree for both the kiddos. And who did I find when we were heading back to the car – a lovely pink hibiscus flower in bloom in winter. Aloha Reddo!

The Rainbow Connection

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I love reconnecting with long lost friends after a long time when we come home. My friend Markus & I used to have such a fun time together going out dancing all night long back in the day. We were reminiscing about the fun times we had together and caught up with what our lives are now – we had not seen each since 2009! The great thing is about good friends is that when you leave and come back the connection is still the same.

We planned for a big day out to the Redcliffe show with my uncle and the kids – as we went in the plan was to track down the farm animals and the one thing I remember from when I was a kid going to the show was the pastel colored chicks! Here are some Frizzle chicks washed with wool mix and dipped in food coloring and then blow dried for extra fluff. Apparently their feathers take ages to dry!

Soon we wandered down to side show alley and found these crazy gangster bananas – who designs these things?!? There were plenty of clown heads and certainly plenty of photo opportunities! The highlight of the day was the pig races with these cute little piggies with sequin outfits on. They were not racing on who was the fastest pig, they had a little obstacle course and the first one to the feed dish is the winner! Of course in Australia you buy some raffle tickets for which pig will be yours and whether you win a meat tray – thank goodness our numbers did not come up!! I am a vegetarian who enjoys fish.

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After our lunch it was time to go on some rides – the Gravitron was there and we were saying it was the original from back in the day, complete with ripped vinyl inside. Thank goodness these days my stomach cannot deal with that centrifugal force, so we gave that one a miss. So we opted to go on the ferris wheel – it was hilarious, as we had to separate as a group to balance out the ride as no one was riding it! So Markus and I hopped in and held on tight making sure not to rock the cage as it went higher and higher. The view was quite lovely up there and we held on tight! There were visions of us going round and round all day and night as the ride operator watched movies on his mobile phone and left us circling. Soon it was all over, we survived and made it back down to earth in one piece.

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Markus commenting that this was higher than he planned to go!

There were lots of fun shopping opportunities though traveling for a couple of months makes sure that we cannot add more to the weight of the luggage. Ash enjoyed himself checking out the hats but the kids ended up with no show bag and found themselves with yet another stuffie – this time an ocelot and a rabbit from Minecraft. Minecraft is a big thing here too with the kiddos!

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Thursday we went on a walk from one beach to another along the shore. It was lovely to take the kids and share with them what we used to do when we were kids growing up by the water. Lots of old Queenslanders are still there but in a state of repair and next to them the apartment developments facing the beach selling for the thousands. Lucky there still is a height limit on buildings in place though it does make me wonder who is buying these apartments – maybe they are vacation rentals, who knows? I still love the big verandahs on the big old Queenslanders, they have such character and inside they are designed to be cool in the summer and great for entertaining. We walked back to the main beach called Sutton’s Beach in Margate and found this great place called Pilpel by the Sea and ordered some takeaway shish kebabs with mediterranean couscous and rice and sat by the water watching the kiddos play. It was perfect as I just love Mediterranean food and it looks like we will be going back for more later in the week when we bid Redcliffe a fond farewell.

Going home… back to Reddo!

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Our temporary home – the Air BnB house with a big back yard

Strange how when you grow up somewhere and then you revisit everything seems so different and familiar at the same time. I finally went back to the house I grew up in after about 8 years and the feeling of coming back home with memories from way back when come fleeting into your mind. I spent so much of my time outside enjoying the back yard with my sister and just like my son (in the pic below) riding my bike around the house for hours on end with the cat in my bike basket. Another favorite memory was rollerskating underneath the house on the newly poured concrete listening to my little tape player – in my own mind creating a rollerdrome at home. I love remembering super cute things like that rather then the time when I set the back yard aluminum shed on fire! What a way to learn about experimenting with fire, lucky for me the hose was close by. Afterwards I think we lost out privileges to the space as somewhere to hang out – I was OK about it, as it was full of spiders anyway!

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Riding around the back yard – what I used to do as kid

Visiting my parents cat was interesting too as he has no idea who we are as we have only met him a couple of times in his lifetime. The kids enjoyed patting him as he is super furry and very soft. I used to love when he gets shaved in the summer time to keep cool. He has only his tail, face and boots left and the rest of his body is furless, it is a very funny sight!

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Yeti the Himalayan Persian being friendly?!?

The excitement that has hit this little seaside town of Redcliffe was the opening of the Bee Gees memorial by the beach. It looked very cool with this great history of the Bee Gees and their connection to Redcliffe where they hung out before becoming famous. I love the Saturday Night Fever era on the dance floor!

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Checking out the Bee Gees in action

Super fun pics and fashions from my fave time with the Bee Gees!

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I love the captions for these pics and the golden suits!

We all took a wander down to the beach front shopping center as we used to call it and checked out the many cafes that have sprung up since the last time I checked it out. Everything is looking new and improved with lots of interesting shops to check out including a pop up shop where some department store used to be. There are always lots of $2 shops everywhere you go here with so much stuff that you wonder where does it all go in the end?!? I found a great little juice bar with my sister with a great looking food called the Kashmir Cafe that I will be checking out again.

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I found my chicks name ‘Ruby’

We also went to a place where we hung out & fed the ducks crusts of bread, when we were kids – not good at all & we did not know any better at the time!? Still we know better now… I took the kids and they really enjoyed seeing some new wildlife & I impressed the kids with my bird knowledge 🙂 I loved seeing the refurbished pond, the bridges & the lotus leaves and taking a good walk around to see the changes.

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A cormorant hanging out its wings

The trees were just beautiful I am used to seeing the giant redwoods and a great sign of being home is the flora and fauna. So when I saw these ghost gums, the kids enjoyed checking them out too.

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The kiddos and a ghost gum or two

The highlight was the new, fancy jetty with the whale watching boat ready to go out for the season. Check it out below – back in the day the railings were few and far between on a wooden jetty where you could see the water beneath your feet, now this great set up for fishermen and tourists, go Reddo!

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Taking a walk down the jetty – no jetty jumping today!