Arrived in Perth (the most remote city in the world) on Thursday 5th November to 30 degree + heat and a ten-year-old suffering from sever jet-lag. The kids were too excited to sleep on the Tuesday evening before we flew, so a late night and early morning, coupled with a 17-hour flight was a bit much for Matthew. Instead of meeting our friends straight away, we headed for the nearest motel and crashed for the rest of the day.
Friday saw us head to Northam, about an hour and a half out of Perth, and meet up with Lee and Sheryl and their two boys, Jack and Alex, who moved from Rothwell to Oz a couple of years ago. They have just finished building their new house, and it’s fantastic. Shame on them for not having the pool dug out in time for our arrival, though!
We only had a short (but very enjoyable) time with the Matthies, in which we saw our first kangaroos and emu, just around the corner from their house. On Saturday afternoon we had a great afternoon in King’s Park, Perth, where we got our first taste of communal barbies (BBQ, not dolls!). Gas BBQs are just set up around the park for everyone to use – fantastic (just discovered this is common throughout Australia and NZ).
On Sunday we said goodbye to the Matthies and flew to Brisbane – 3,500km on the other side of Australia – where we stayed the night on the 11th floor of an appartment block overlooking the city and river – fantastic views! On Monday we headed for the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and met up with an old Aussie pal of Sue’s, Jeff Roots. Jeff’s a great guy and we had a really enjoyable day at the Sanctuary, where Matthew and Daniel both got to hold a koala, as well as touch a huge python and stroke a baby crocodile (a salty, too!). We headed back to Jeff’s for a bight to eat and he took us to a neighbour who looks after rescued animals, so the boys got to hold baby possums, and hand-feed a baby owl.
We left Jeff and headed down the coast to Darryl and Sarah Cobb’s house. Sue met Darryl on Operation Raleigh when she was 18, and we first stayed with them in about 1990. They live just on the Queensland / New South Wales border, at the top of a mountain with bout 12-acres of rain forest for a back garden. ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ is filmed just across the alley from them, so you’ll have some idea of what their garden looks like. The Cobbs (as always) were very welcoming, and we had a great time with them. Their house is about half-an-hour from Currumbin beach, just south of Surfers’ Paradise, and in the five days we spent with them we hit the beach a number of times, ate at the great Currumbin Surf Club (built out with the sea on three sides), ate at Surfers’ revolving restaurant (Daniel just had to sit on the window-cill and see how long it took to revolve around to us!), helped Darryl build a fire pit, on which we subsequently toasted marshmallows and cooked damper (seems to be a food theme going on here).
On Friday we all went to Seaworld, where the boys both got involved in dolphin training – Daniel in a 1-on-1 situation, and Matthew in a group of 3. They both got to stroke the dolphin’s tummy, hold its fins and get it to do tricks, such a jumps and flips, and chattering.
Wildlife spotting in the Cobb’s back garden was great – beautifile King Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets were regular visitors, and they have some resident possums who like to scrap every night! The boys loved the Christmas beetles (shiny gold coloured), but were grossed out when the the two dalmatians kept eating them!
Saturday 12th November saw us say goodbye to Darryl and Sarah and head back to Brisbane to catch a flight to Christchurch, New Zealand (although we did have a last minute reunion with Sarah, who chased us with the bag we had left at their house! Thanks Sarah!).
More to follow…
*** Update ***
How could I forget to mention the 6-foot python we saw on the road on the way back to Darryl & Sarah’s one night! And when I say on the road, I mean on the road – it was stretched from the white line in the middle to the far side. Wow!