SO... I checked the most recent blog to see where we left everything and was SHOCKED to see our last blog was just after arriving! Here is the scoop since I last blogged...
New Year's Eve was spent at Docklands in Melbourne bringing in the new year with fireworks set off from a barge in the harbour while we were also able to see the other three sites along the skyline from which the fireworks were also set off. It was a great atmosphere and a great start to 2013 - we wanted to do something memorable with the kids and this fit the bill - especially with our trek home after the fireworks as we had about 20 minutes to the train, an hour on the train and, as there were no late busses or taxis (and we still didn't have our vehicle), a 30 minute walk home! We arrived home at 2:15 am, crawled into bed and all woke up at noon the next day!
As the day progressed, it became clear that Brad was getting pretty comfy just hanging out and I feared we'd be stuck at #1 Loddon Court for the remainder of our summer holidays... I decided we had to rent a car ASAP and head towards Brisbane (no seat sales worth our time) so, while Brad rented a car with the help of Carmel (Greg's mom), the kids and I cleared about 20 of the most ripe lemons from the tree in our backyard so we wouldn't lose them while away. Once Brad arrived home with the rental, we used our newfound freedom to open a bank account, change out the SIM cards in our unlocked phones and hit the road!
Day one of driving brought us to Albury, day two brought us to Wollongong - on the way Eoin began his "handstands across Australia" - his homework given by coach Karen (the jist of it being that whenever the kids from trampoline go to international competition, they do handstands in front of landmarks) so, in Holbrook, we came across a giant submarine embedded in the ground (a HMAS Otway S59 to be exact - a new twitter follower of Brad's who knows submarines tweeted that info in) so this began his handstands across Australia... This was followed by supper at the beach in Wollongong and time for the kids to run around. Day three brought us to Coffs Harbour which was interesting as we almost ended up near here the previous year for exchange. We switched things up a bit and stayed in a hostel here. This was way cleaner and less freaky than some of the hotels in which we previously stayed but it was HOTTER THAN HELL so we all spread out on the bunks provided and blasted the fan as we slept!
We wrapped up Coffs Harbour with coffees at Gloria Jean's (Brad and the kids had non-coffees - Tim Tam iced chillers - I think of my S-I-L Krissy everytime I see these) and headed 1.5 hrs up the road to Yamba on the recommendation of the hostel guy in Coffs Harbour. The YHA at Yamba is great - lots going on, great atmosphere, good food, happy hour, band playing in the evening - we made the most of what this hostel had to offer MOST ESPECIALLY the ceiling fan in another ROASTING HOT room but we loved Yamba and had a great day there at the beach, spending most of our time in the water and with minimal sunburns!
On our way to Brisbane from Yamba, we made a pitstop at Bay Kebabs, getting a photo outside with our treasures which, according to my cousin Paul, makes us full-on Aussies (not sure if everyone would agree but we are good with whatever)!
We arrived in Brisbane and my cousin, Paul was here to meet us... A delicious supper, good chats and so nice to have family here! My other cousin, Cara, and her hubby are in Ireland for Christmas and are back later in the week, my aunt and uncle return from their holidays next week. For the moment, we have some day trips planned for around Brisbane and then we are heading north to Bundaburg to see the turtles hatching and moving to the sea from where the eggs have been laid on the beach. Following this, we are spending time with dolphins and continuing on to Fraser Island to return to Brisbane when Bren and Jan are back so we can visit with them before returning to Melbourne... The end of January means school will be beginning again soon so I have the orientation for those on exchange and then am at school getting organized for the kids to begin their classes!
It has been great to have had some time to check out Melbourne a bit and to have had the chance to hit the road as we start to explore the diversity of Australia. Brad and I have been lucky to have been here before but it is been more fun now, with the kids, and they are really enjoying it! The beautiful beaches, warm ocean, new surroundings and friendship of family here has kept us busy! So far the only wildlife we have seen from the highway have been horses, cows, some sheep and two dead wallabies (sorry, had to add that!!!) but we have a lot planned for the next few weeks and to continue to make the most of our summer!
Hope those who are at school have a good start up as they return from Christmas holidays... I have been thinking of you lots and hope things go well with the wrap-up of the semester! Hana and Eoin say hi to their Canadian friends and classmates and hope you will be able to keep in touch!
Btw - our twitter account is @wolfesdownunder incase that interests you.