Monthly Archives: March 2012



A great name for a Sydney suburb. Very Aussie don’t you think?

Half an hour by daddy-ferry from the centre of the city and worth the trip. We make our way straight to the beach across the Corso blanking out the comely designer shops. This is because they are a) too cool for school – and therefore us – followed by b) über expensive.

It’s a short walk to the main event: the beach. The surf is indeed manly, pounding the beach giving the air a fully charged feel and misty tinge. It’s a bracing image, a lung filling breath. So what do we do? Why we make like Brits at Bridlington and eat a packed lunch on the promenade. Presently, the kids are digging holes on the beach and Dad is trying not to notice girls in micro-bikinis.

Time for a swim.

At length we find the tiny flagged area of the beach and leap into the surf.

And out again.

Bracing you might say.

It’s a beach full of rips and undertow which are all the more powerful in the 8′ swell that’s running. The roaring surf does not let up for a moment. Aussie bravado gives way to good sense in making the swim area manageable. Eventually, we – even Mrs B – are leaping over the breakers and flinging ourselves toward the shore for a spot of body surfing.

It’s a invigorating dip and the effect is completed by a warm shot blasting from the stiff wind. Ice creams follow. The perfect beach afternoon.

Sharks – it seems – are much less frightening if no one tells you about them. I thus choose to withhold Great-White anecdotes until we are home and dry. (In truth, fin sightings are a paper selling myth even here. Last shark fatality in this region? 1937.) Even then young Beers are not fazed. Although I admit to double-taking the whole time I am in Sydney harbour for some strange reason. (Blame Spielberg: Jaws still bites the imagination all this time and such a distance away.)

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As we ride back to Circular Quay on the ferry, a myriad of yachts – serious, expensive, dramatic big-boys-toys of 37′ then larger – are around and about. They’re not kidding either as they heel over, crews dangling over the rails as counterbalance. A joy to watch, when a thought hits:

Just your typical weekday afternoon round these parts I s’pose.




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Walkabout in Sydney

To my left: two children being taught. (Ordinary.)

To my right, Sydney harbour, the Harbour Bridge, that Opera House and the backdrop of skyscrapers that form the central business district. (Extraordinary.)

In front of me – next to the lapdog – a cup of tea. (Ordinary.)

On the deck, Mrs B – between setting tasks for her students – planking and stretching in the name of pilates. (Er, extraordinary?)

Its funny how tea can make things normal isn’t it?

From our living room window

When we were planning our jaunt in deepest, darkest winter, the views from the apartment in which I am now sat in seemed impossible. Yet, armed with a mug of tea it’s as if I’ve lived here all my life. We are situated in a block of flats on McMahons point. The flats are so very waterfront that a stumble outside the front door would have splashy harbour related consequences. Ours is a private jetty whose neighbour is the harbour ferry stop. (More of which in a moment.) We’re on the 11th floor in an immaculate condo that has a straight-from-the-brochure outlook.

So much so that last night we sat as a family in the darkness with the blinds and windows wide open watching the city just being. Ferries every few minutes, trains and cars across the bridge, helicopters buzzing, skyscrapers illuminated with aircraft beacons atop their dizzying spires. Flying foxes swoop by on their nightly hunt. (The term ‘bats’ doesn’t provide them the scale they deserve.) The glow of cloud theatrically polluted by light forming an orangey backstage curtain for the whole scene.

It’s a town that ranks consistently in the top placings of oOoooh-wish-I-lived-there lists. It’s easy to see how and why.

It is as the locals might say – in their accented vernacular – an effluent city.
Presently, it’s also heading my own un-coveted ‘quickest-drainer-of-the-wallet’ list. Mine good-gunter-bosch it is an expensive place. Fifty Aussie dollars seems to be the minimum cost of everything or multiples thereof. I hand them over like fivers back home. (I may well have been quietly sobbing at the time. The recipient of my hard-earned may well have been stifling a hysterical there’s-one-born-every-minute laugh as I walk away, but I can’t be sure.)

At barbecue with quite a view!

Get a grip now Beer. Suck up the financial punishment, enjoy the moment.
(A pause from typing and I am eyeing the smallest Beers wondering which internal organs are spare. Mine are all beyond redemption I fear, with little value other than to medical scientists. I regard my arm and leg wondering if they are soon to be lost to me. You need a sturdy, industrial supply of cash to live here. Gone are the good ol’ days when it was cheaper down under. Damn you mineral resources of the outback! Blast you industrial mining boom! Dashed 21st century global economics! And silly, silly Beers for touring the cheapest countries first: we have been inadvertently training ourselves to spend little and expect a lot. D’oh. Time to recalibrate.)

The McMahons point ferry stop is in perfect, distracting line of sight from my desk. The sizeable magnolia and green vessels – all individually named craft: presently the Scarborough dating from some years ago by the look of it – have the regularity of any other city public transport. They even queue up to berth on occasion, like buses waiting for a stop. (Scarborough I later note from aboard went into service in 1984 and can carry a couple of hundred commuters.) The ferries are not only a great transport solution for a harbour city, but offer unparalleled sightseeing on the cheap. Ha!

Then – happily – the next day Sydney becomes a more generous host. We hop on a ferry to Darling Harbour – Daaaaa-ling as a local might say – to see what we can see. As we dock, the National Maritime museum beckons, so we wander across Pymont Bridge to have a peek. Said bridge now carries pedestrians and supports a monorail. Clearly a more robust structure with a now redundant swivel section in its midriff for shipping to pass through. Were it an old man, you wonder, would he be embarrassed by a fall from grace, being reduced to tourist traffic or proud to be of service to a new generation in a world city?

Anthropomorphised bridges aside, the dramatic Martitme’ building welcomes us with kindly volunteer greeters. My smile lasts until I see the admission prices. Clearly our guide book – circa 2008 – needs an update. Chatting to our spritely greeter we get talking about Sale, Cheshire where he hails from and how a spell in Bolton caused him to flee to Oz some 57 years ago. Bolton an do that to a man we chuckle. As we are about to say bye-bye to the museum he whips out a free family pass with a wink.

Aglow from such generosity, we head for HMAS Vampire. Commissioned in 1959 and serving until 1986 this destroyer makes a fine exhibit. We wander the upper decks with Beertours serving as confident – yet clueless – guide, trying to capture young imaginations. We’ve been aboard many watercraft on out trip thus far, but this is the first one that was armed. I struggle to convey the seriousness of the ship, what it must’ve been like to serve aboard her.

I fail more on the submarine HMAS Onslow moored next door. To port even. (Smug seafarers look in my eye? Possibly.) We wander along the deck/top/roof of the sub’ and descend into the for’ard torpedo room. If I struggled to get across what Naval life on the ocean wave was, I lose my grip entirely as we try our best to explain life under it. Luckily there are volunteer guides who point at particular tubes/wires/valves/bombs/batteries/controls and explain their significance. Entering service in 1969 the sub looks (exactly) as old as I feel. She’s been on a bit of a journey too, after being built on the Clyde and serving out the cold war hunting Ruskies in their subs. It’s with pride we’re told that the boat never let loose a weapon in anger.

Explaining torpedoes to kids inevitably makes them sound like fun, which is hardly the point. When we come ashore to the housed exhibition and regard a beautiful scale model of a cruise liner the point is better made: “sunk by torpedo off Cape Town, 1942. 48 souls perished.” We shudder. Or at least I do. We also shudder at the prospect of being sewn up in a tin can for weeks at a time with 68 colleagues. Blokes. Sailors. Austraaaaalian blokes at that. Strewth.

Leaving behind the museum we head to a wonderful kiddies play park with the most intriguing of water features. So intriguing that Morgan fails to notice our departure. We walk off with him in plain view. At 100m we wait amongst the crowd for him to realise we’ve gone. Belatedly he does and utterly fails to panic. He hangs out until we go back for him. This causes a family argument that is only solved by noodles, Bento Box, fried fish and drinkies at a Chinatown foodcourt. Ah, the joys of family life.

In one branch of the family, we are told of the wince inducing “March OR DIE” approach to vacations. How we chuckled. So it is with some embarrassment I realise that we are in that mode right now. By the time I frog-march the tribe  as far as Hyde Park, there is a revolt and we take to the train. The novelty of a double-deck train takes the edge off things and we mosey out to the Opera House.

At this point I undergo complete memory loss. IE: At no point in my past has anyone in the Beers declared an undying love for Opera. Not once. Never. I refer to amnesia because the ladies insist that they are avid Opera buffs and simply must attend a performance of The Magic Flute the following evening. I accept my recollection fault, get out the (weeping) wallet and move us home for a quick barbie with a stupendous view.

We split for the evening. Girls to Mozart, boys to the park. I shall leave the former to JB and the latter to MB to describe. Suffice to say the bloke evening involved more japes, fart gags and running around. And flying-foxes.

We all arrive home both late and elated. The evening gone we are straight to bed only for the grown ups to be awakened by drumming blasts of gale force wind – although this might have been my kebab . We open the blinds to see flags rigid in the storm and huge fists of cloud bunching over the city. Our rings-ide seats offer a dramatic scene. One which is utterly lost on children the next morning. They slept through.

Our last day in the city starts with a lie in of sorts – see Sleeping Arrangements – and a school morning. We’ve errands to run, things to pack and items to post home. When you’ve been on the road for a while, your “last day” in a location turns less cram-it-in and morphs to sort-it-out.

Armed with ice-creams – a temporary cure for tired feet – we regard the city from the Observatory bandstand. I try to imagine a Victorian convict brass band playing a rousing march on this spot and fail.

Distraction is at hand though in the various shapes of  the fitness fanatics. Utilising public parks for their sadism, personal trainers – there must be a more appropriately derogatory term – push paying clients to the edge of cardiac arrest. One lady in particular is nanometres from barfing and her once pale skin amusing shades from pink rose to plum.

All in the name of… what exactly? In Sydney there are many places to sit and watch the world go by. Yet the world going by isn’t old ladies walking their poodle, it’s more likely a statuesque blonde (M/F) putting a class of willing, paying masochists through their Boot Camp paces.

Ten minutes in the Botanical Gardens and you’ll see sprints, squat thrusts, press ups, jogs, cycles, star jumps. The only strolling appears to be undertaken by tourists. Swooping on the other hand is the preserve of the Flying Foxes…

For Flying Fox, read fruit bat. Specifically, the grey-headed variety with a wingspan of around a metre. The colony camping in the Botanical Gardens have been the death of 57 rare and notable trees to date and the authorities are in a pickle. A protected species camping in a public park: quite difficult to shoo them off without upsetting someone/breaking the law. So whilst they are a tourist attraction and mighty impressive squeaking take-off show at dusk, 23,000 of them are more than a nuisance. Morgan loved them and they make quite a spectacle.

The ‘Gardens flora is delightful and also hosts all sorts of local and migrant birds. One particular tree has a flock of magnificent, deafeningly noisy white parrots. Sadly, all I can think of is a puerile gag ending with the line “you’ve clearly had a Cockatoo up there madam”.

Best end this post there methinks. Am rambling now.

Where in the world?

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Bat safari!

In Sydney my Dad and me (Morgan) went on a scary, noisy and fun…BAT SAFARI!!!

First we went on a ferryboat and then we walked down to the botanical gardens. After that, we walked through where they pooped the most then went into a garden where we saw a water lizard and lots of flying foxes (Big Bats!) hanging in the trees.

Hanging out!

There are 23,000 flying foxes in the gardens and their wing span is 1metre long. The people are trying to get rid of some of them as they are destroying the trees! It was very noisy because the big bats made shrieking sounds as they woke up.

Flying Foxes waking up.

I enjoyed watching them flying around with Dad.

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A night at the opera

In Sydney Mum and I went to the opera house to see “The Magic Flute” opera by Mozart.

Josie at Sydney Opera House

It was a real treat because the tickets were quite expensive! So when we got off the ferry we had tea (McDonalds) that was ten dollars, then we headed up to the opera house and after we’d had our tickets checked we went to wait. We were the first people there!!! So before it got too busy Mum bought a glass of wine which was the same amount of money as our meal (10 dollars!).

Once Mum had finished her wine we went to see the sun set. From the balcony, The Opera house seemed to come alive! All the lights came on and the city dazzled like stars, this was when it began to get busy so Mum and I went to look around. The opera house was massive! I felt like a queen! Even in the loo! After my royal pee we decided to go upstairs to our theatre. We took the lift instead of the stairs but there was no roof! So it looked like the ceiling was going to squash us! But it didn’t (luckily!)

Wine o'clock

So after our royal and frightening experience we went to find our seats. Once we’d found our seats the show began….. it was amazing! It was funny, dramatic and beautiful all at the same time! There were high singers, low singers, dancers , puppets and an amazing orchestra!

I loved it!!!

THANK YOU MUMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 girls ready for culture

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Toowoomba to New South Wales

An oh-five-hundred start this morning. As in oh-my-gawd-it’s-early. By five-twenty we are barreling down the road. And what a road! Ah, the views… to not share with anyone as wife and small Beers go instantaneously back to sleep. At least I am available for sunrise over Queensland.

To be in pole position for such glorious daybreak, we awoke in Toowoomba. That is to say Mr Beer awoke whilst the others became vertical and ready to go. And by “ready to go” I mean fully in character to be extras in a zombie movie. 

Note to self:

Next time one travels around the world, do remember to bring along a ‘morning person’ to keep one company. [Sigh]

You’ve not heard of Toowoomba? Where have you been dear reader?! TW is a lovely, leafy Queensland country town set out on a handy grid system. It’s still got a sort of yesteryear feel with disparate and unique shop fronts along its central streets with parks laid out in leafy suburbs whilst retaining full Aussie flavour (see piccy below).

Kookaburra sitting in an old gum tree. Really!

It’s also right at the apex of the Great Dividing Range. (This is geographically significant folks, so stay alert here.) Rain falling just a few streets east from Chris & Lea – our lovely, generous hosts – will, at some point after hitting the ground, end up in the Coral Sea and greater Pacific. Rain falling on their street will eventually find its way to another ocean. (The one south of Oz, can’t remember what it’s called, feel free to look it up. Oooh, I just have: it’s the Great Australian Bight.) Hence Great Dividing Range. Remember kids, it’s a major topographical feature not a huge cooker that people are of split opinion about. It’s a watershed. (This means you can swear on one side but not the other.)

I find this geography fascinating. The stupified-zombified-heathen-passengers couldn’t care less. (I know it’s early, but – bless them – they don’t seem to care anytime. For all I know you’re probably about to give up reading as well?) Anyhoo, the road sluices down 600m in short order to the lowlands. You start off on the plateau and tip over the edge. It’s fairly dramatic already before you add in the spice of fully laden mining trucks descending the same carriageway. To prevent runaways, they are in low gear with brakes on forming slow-moving road blocks. Whilst good, safe practice for them it’s hair-raising* when you round a corner carrying some sped to find a two-lane metal wall ahead. Through magnificent wheelmanship – they were asleep, it’s my words against theirs – we avoid doom and zoom along the highway toward the Gold Coast. The sun illuminates the skies, the bats – flying-foxes – head home and the feathered day-shift fills the skies. By six it’s light and we are experiencing the Brisbane commute.

For such a wide-open country, they don’t half set low-speed limits. 100kph (60mph) on the motorway in the middle of nowhere. There’s very little to plough into so it’s difficult to comprehend why – say – 130kph would be any more dangerous. As ‘local’ Chris remarks, a 5.7L V8 Holden is overkill yet they all drive them. The law demands they are driven SLOWLY. The only people on the move are the giant trucks which hustle their behemoths along at a tidy clip. I set the cruise at 120kph and join in.

Hickey Street: all rain here next stop The Great Bight


An airport and 90minute flight later finds us descending through the clouds over Sydney. Morgan spots the ‘coathanger’ – as the locals reportedly call the iconic Harbour Bridge – which he declares to be “just like I imagined.” Luckily, this is a good thing.

A treat to ourselves also involves the ‘Bridge. Our apartment is on McMahons Point with a lounge view advertised as the “best in the world”. You could argue that last bit, but it’s pretty special that’s for sure. It better had be, it’s a day and half of travel budget a night. Luckily, Sydney is dirt chea… oh, it isn’t. It’s REALLY expensive.


* Clearly I am employing a well worn cliché to convey the frightening sensation of encountering a big truck in the dark. However, since have no actual cranial hair to raise personally you’ll have to interpret the feeling in your own fashion. I was going to say “papped myself” but that’s not true either. I believe I may have ‘touched cloth’ during the moment, but no more than that. An underpants changed was not immediately required.

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A Room with a View by Josie and Morgan

From our window we see……

The Sydney Harbour Bridge standing giant and strong
The huge white shells of the Opera House reflecting the sunlight
Two trains trundling over the bridge
Bustling ferries on the shimmering sea
A beautiful city with the tallest buildings we have ever seen stretching up to the sky
Tiny people walking at the top of the big black bridge
Two Australian flags blowing in the wind
Colourful, chirping lorikeets walking through the window and into our kitchen!
A helicopter flying swiftly past with planes high above the city
Big birds with long, black, worm like beaks flying past our window
Cars driving in the distance like cockroaches scuttling
The sun shines over Sydney
It’s the start of a brand new day.
At night-time, we see….
Colourful lights reflecting in the water
The city sparkling like jewels in a crown
Flying foxes swooping across the sky
Silent waves lapping the shore
Flashing red lights on top of tall buildings
All is quiet at the end of the day in Sydney.

THE Opera House from outside our front door.

Harbour Bridge & Opera House by night from our kitchen window

Rainbow Lorikeets on our windowsill

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The Sleeping Arrangements

I warn you now, I’m a bit below par. Tired y’see.

When on the road one ends up taking compromises on the sleeping arrangements. This can be for reasons such as… what our friends/relatives have to offer, to budget, to commercial availability, to the sheer what-the-hell of it and because I’ve deliberately booked an overnight flight/train to save on hotel costs. Most of this can be taken in ones stride and enjoyed.

For example.

When in Kerala we rented a houseboat for an overnight tour of the Alleppey backwaters. Being India there was a hitch with the accommodations, an error in the deal done online from the UK, wrong star alignment or something. It matters not the reason. Suffice to say we ended up us all four in a tiny room with one bed. We bagged an extra mattress for the floor. Being southern India it was sticky, stinky, sweaty hot so the promise of aircon was alluring. So we all cram in like a little pride of lazy lions. (With proper Indian irony, the AC is broken and offers the binary choice: Arctic or Off. We opt for Arctic with blankets, sleep well and emerge to an outdoor sauna in the morning.)

In essence, the secret to taking sleeping arrangements in your stride is not being completely cream-crackered. Tempers fray when fatigue turns up.

Side bar:

Indeed due to sleeping arrangements this post is being typed stood up in the kitchen with the rest of the pride sound asleep. [Look away now if you’re sensitive. Too much detail approaching] I’ve never blogged in the buff, overlooking Sydney Harbour before, but I can now add to my catalogue of odd achievements. (It’s also a dubious treat for the locals if they are looking.) Howcome? Because MB is asleep in the living room, the girls have the main bedroom and apart from the windowless bathroom, I’m stumped. No clothes in any location that can be obtained without waking sleepyheads. At least the bathroom has somewhere to sit I s’pose. Ah, but no tea making facilities. So it’s the middle of my day (08.40 in this instance) and – as seems to becoming usual – I’m the only one awake. Too many Sydney late nights y’see. The English and hybrid Welsh/English not able to take the pace. (Did I mention Wales have won the 2012 Grand Slam?)

Side, side bar:

Tea making in ones birthday suit adds a frisson of danger due to boiling water and the proximity to parts usually clothed. Give it a whirl and use the reply button on the blog page to let me know how you get on? (At your own risk.)

Ahh, Gruppenfurher is awake and pokes her head into the kitchen. She wrinkles her nose at the wrinkled view and whispers a yelled command: “Kettle Boiled?”

How do I tell her without death ensuing that there’s a freshly made cup of Earl Grey with little milk – as default specified – on her bedside cabinet already? It is wise not to mess with she-who-must-be-obeyed first thing.

Still with me? Sorry about all that.

Anyhow, tired circumstance brings emergency measures. So last night we went for the boys room and the girls room. J was threatening bad things to M if he kept her awake – again – so the decent thing was done. This morning, M is refreshed, chirpy and ready for another day. J is still asleep and I presume G has found her tea. I am feeling slightly second-hand, with a careless previous owner. Awakening with a start doesn’t help. Forgive me, but I am not used to waking up to a mini-flagpole from someone else in the bed. It takes a second to realise M has his knee stuck aloft. Phew. As I get over this faux surprise, I recall the night movements… Man that boy can move around. Clearly there’s a roll-together effect on a sofa-bed but the lashing out in your slumber? No need for it, surely? The sleep talking? What’s all that about? (Okay, I do it myself and he’s my son, but still.)

If you’ve ever shared a bed with a hound – ohh, puh-lease, I am clearly referring to a mans-best-friend – you’ll be familiar with the following phenomenon. To be fair, babies manage it too. It’s where the smaller creature rearranges itself to take all the comfortable space. The larger creature maintains an area advantage, but the plots of available bed-space are inconveniently spread. It makes for a tiring night for one party. Hence the incomprehensible prose employed today.

That'll be most of the available area taken then.

This is not true for J. The girls – apart from some whistling Sydney wind [stop it] – had an excellent nights kip. Jealous? Moi? You betcha.

Another element to the sleeping arrangement involves, er, marital hugging. A commodity that has been in desperately short supply. (Clearly this is my own, singular point of view.) This – I am hoping – is principally due to the prevailing sleeping conditions and nothing more. Of course, when such hugs are deliberately withheld, menfolk are the last to be made aware are they not? Or so I am told. I shall round this cryptic, mercifully detail-free paragraph off with the thought that we are working on new methods which for now I shall label ‘stealth mode’. More research needed. Much, much, much more. [Younger readers: demand a grown up explain what on earth this writer is on about. Just to see if they can. Enjoy watching said adult’s squirming reaction. Be prepared not to receive the full story.]

Oops, there I go again. Must be lack of sleep.

The boys are never happier than going to bed when it suits – early – and rising when it suits – early again. The girls’ rhythm involves staying up until stupid-o’clock and then being demonic if awaking anything before 11AM. Suffice to say we are struggling to find a line of best fit here. What works to a point is M quietly playing early doors Nintedo whilst Dad goes out for a walk. (Pre-going-to-bed prep required here, which I failed to achieve last night. Hence the alarming kitchen scene this morning.)

Sleeping on transport has also been a challenge. A 5AM rental car ride to Gold Coast airport saw three-quarters of the party getting a couple of extra hours and then being grumpy for at least the following 48. (Testy denials are all the proof I need for my opinion to become fact here.) M won the best-night-on-the-train award in Karnataka, much to everyone elses chagrin. I am family champion on sleeping on planes, but it’s a hollow, crick-necked victory against some lame competition. (We’re still less than half-way, plenty of time to practice.)

The team great-night’s-sleep award goes to Singapore and the lovely beds in Damian’s condo: as we were all worn out from India. Conversely we had a sweaty night on four teeny mattresses in a hut on stilts on Pulau Mantanani and we all loved that too. Go – as the Americans say – figure.

I am not travelling toward a conclusion here, but will remark that travelling family sleeping arrangements are all about context. Now that everyone else is awake, I might find a quiet corner and nod off.


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Six Nations: Grand Slam joy as Wales beat France

Wales celebrate the Grand Slam with the Six Nations trophy

We were asleep in Toowoomba, Queensland when this happened.

In future years I will be proudly able to say…

And I wasn’t there.

Thanks to the BBC for the piccy.

Thanks to Chris & Lea for putting us up!

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Creature comforts in Noosa (by Gilly)

Well now I really feel like I’m on holiday…… White sandy beaches, clear blue sea, palm trees, tropical birds, ice creams and cappuccino on tap… you name it, it’s all here in Noosa (the holiday destination choice of many Aussies). Add to that a cool, laid back surf dude attitude and you get a pretty good picture of where we are currently staying.

Behold the Pacific Ocean!

I am feeling particularly tubby, spotty, poorly attired and uncool, as most females here are of the beautiful, toned, brown, barefoot, bikini clad type (and they can surf too)! My very practical and unfashionable wardrobe has served me well so far on this trip and I rarely bothered to glance in a mirror whilst in India or Borneo. However, here, I am seriously thinking of either a) buying new (overpriced) and somewhat more desirable clothing (“Think again” shouts Mr B from the other room), b) starting a strict diet and exercise regime (unlikely) or c) staying inside for the duration of our visit (too hot). I have already succumbed to having my rather hairy legs waxed!!! At least my grey roots aren’t showing yet and I can’t do much about my ‘butch lesbian’ hairdo, unless I have some extensions put in…… (apologies to any butch lesbians reading this).

(I can only thank Helen and Amanda for persuading me to buy the maxi dress I purchased a few days before we left the UK as it is the only slightly glamorous item of clothing I possess.)

The answer is, I decide, not to worry, not to look in the mirror and to get on with enjoying Australia! So I do.

Australia Zoo


We swim in the lovely sea, drink lots of lovely coffee, eat lovely ice cream, visit the lovely Australia Zoo and generally relax and chill out. All thanks to our lovely hosts (Karen, Phil, Kate and Adam) who put up with us for a week and feed us most nights with lovely home-cooked food like Spaghetti Bolognese and Kangaroo. (The latter being both cute and tasty.)

Next stop Toowoomba (yes, this really is a place!)

Chilled 'Roo

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Inventory of things (a month down the road)

As of 14th March we’d been on the road a month, time for a quick count.

Random & Incomplete: this is a list not an audit.

(If you expect a proper audit a) be disappointed and b) seriously? Look in the mirror. Take a lonnnng look.)

Beerwah, Queensland, Australia.

Modes of transport:

  • Aircraft, train, bus (single & double-decker), car, taxi, mini-bus, tuk-tuk, ferry-boat, power-boat, cable car, metro, moped (pillion), houseboat, cycle-rickshaw, elevator, escalator, travelator, elephant.


  • Months on the road X 1
  • Months left to go X 2


  • 1 x Scuffed elbow: falling out of Mantanani Island hammock
  • 1 x Skinned shin: failed attempt at climbing into Mysore Express upper bunk
  • 1 X Skinned foot: falling over in uber-cool Hastings Street, Noosa with a surfboard
  • 1 X Splinter: barefoot in the beach-side
  • 1 X Bruised chops: bleeding nose/swollen lip after being dumped by a wave in Noosa
  • 3 X Barfs: travel sickness in the junior members of the party.

Sense of Humour Loss:

  • 3 (2 X Ian, 1 X Gilly)

    Rosie & George at the Red Fort


  • Indian Rupees, Singapore Dollars, Malaysian ringgit, Aussie Dollars


  • Airbus (A340,A330, A320 & A319) & Boeing (777 & 737)

Sleeping arrangements:

  • 6 X Aeroplane seats, 3 bed apartments (X2), B&B (homestays), Hotel suite (Delhi, it was cheap & cheerful), houseboat, railway berths, 1 x desert island hut on stilts, 1 x Keralan summer-house, 2 x separate (budget) hotel rooms (boys in one, girls in t’other), 1 x all in one room on beds & mattresses at cousin Karen’s.

Rental cars:

  • 1 X Perouda Viva 660cc (dreadful)
  • 1 X Toyota Camry 2200cc (luxobarge)

The latter cost less per day than the Viva due to a) the more competitive tourist hire market in Oz and b) the rental company general incompetence in actually giving us the smaller car we’d paid for.

Laugh out loud moments:

  • Too many to catalogue


Serious sunburn incidents:

  • Zero.

Ian did get a red heed in India but it wasn’t terminal. We are being mighty careful.

Incidences of drunken disorderliness:

  • Zero. We are responsible adults travelling with children.

[YOU! There! Why are you laughing?]


Calls home:

  • Telephone X hardly any
  • Skype X LOADS!


  • 1 (Ian)

Cut-throat shaves by wild-eyed, shaky handed Indian barber:

  • 1 (Ian. Any other name here would have been interesting?)

Legs waxing by lovely professional Australian beauty therapist:

  • 1 (Gilly.) See above comment.
Places of worship:
  • Loads!

Meals cooked by Ian:


  • 2 (as planned)
Meals cooked by Gilly?
  • Hahahahahahahaha.

Animals gawked at in the wild*:

  • Orang-utans, macaques, Indian elephants, numerous raptors (including fish eagles, sea eagles, black kites), geckos, green turtles, monitor lizards, Nemo (clown fish)
  • Exotic birds of all shapes and sizes [Authour resists cheap gag opportunity]

*Ones we wouldn’t get at home.


  • Days home schooling X Heaps! (More than the kids would like eh chaps?)
  • Schools visited X 1
  • Educational moments: too numerous to count.

People gawking at Josie & Morgan:

  • India: thousands!
  • Borneo: dozens
  • Singapore: seven
  • Oz: zero

    Delhi School trip

Animals encountered in a way that makes you want to run:

  • 1 X Deadly spider.

(Walked into its web taking a short cut in the dark with the kids last night: panic all round. All spiders are out to get you here in Oz. General arachnophobia has ensued. Look out behind yoOoooU!)

Animals we’re waiting to encounter any moment now in the wild:

  • Koala, ‘roos, more deadly spiders.

Koalas cuddled:

  • 1 (Australia Zoo)

    Cuddle time!

Kangaroos massaged (which they seemed to enjoy):

  • 3 (Australia Zoo)

Kangaroos fed:

  • Many (Australia Zoo)

Elephants Ridden:

  • 2 (Kerala, India.)

Elephants Fed & Bathed:

  • 2 (Can’t do these things in Oz or pretty much anywhere else,need to go back to India. Now do you appreciate it kids? Do you?)

Spot the 'roos


  • Almost spot on (mainly thanks to Karen & Phil for putting us up in Noosa).

Days wearing a trouser;

  • NIL. (Shorts rule.)

Legs tanned:

  • None. We are still the whitest people on planet earth. This is no bad thing.

That is all.

(Like I said: Random, a list not an audit. We'll post more stuff as it wanders across our minds.)

If you’d like to see/hear other stats hit REPLY.

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