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A brief account of what we are up to when not on GHOST, when we are landlubbers. For our "sea" based blogs, check out www.sailblogs.com/member/ghost The link below shows our most recent photos but for other photos go to: http://picasaweb.google.com/bradmcmaster1

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Camping Oz style

Well we left Suzy’s and Sydney on Tuesday to the sounds of coughing and fatigue. Poor little Alistair had been tested for whooping cough and we later found out that the test was positive and that Sammy had it too. Suzy was also ill but that was later found to be a form of cryptosporidium, a nasty parasite that gives you diarrhoea, which she had picked up from a swimming pool. We were feeling OK and hoping that we too didn’t have the whooping cough for fear of passing it on to mum.



We headed out of Sydney with expectation of getting to Canberra again for another dig at their great mountain biking parks and trails. Kat was slightly off colour and we quickly buckled and headed for the coast instead. On the coast we headed to a small bay called Pebbly Beach north of Bateman’s bay and a state park camping ground armed with chicken burger ingredients and some beers!



The campground wasn’t exactly as expected and the weather cooled off but it sufficed and the kangaroos on the beach, the chance to light a fire and a visit from a curious young Kookaburra and some Rosellas the next morning didn’t disappoint. What a perfect introduction to camping in Oz for Kat.



For more pics click here

The next day we drove further south on route to Eden, still on the NSW coast with a stop off at Mystery bay. This is a lovely little spot that Suzy and Michael regularly visit because dogs are allowed on the beach. It was here that we heard that Alistair indeed had whooping cough and hence we had fears that we too might have been infected.



We then spent a night at Eden an old favourite from my trip around Australia some 16 years ago but unfortunately the beach-side campground that I remembered was no longer. Nevertheless a walk on the beach, a quick swim (bit chilly) and another BBQ was all good.

Heading back into Victoria we stopped off in Lakes entrance and contemplated staying the night but decided to move one and head straight home. 550kms later we arrived, still feeling OK albeit a little tired. The high risk fire day on Friday thankfully didn’t materialise but a stomach bug did. It turns out that the pool we went for a swim at in Sydney was contaminated with Cryptosporidium so we’ve both been making regular trips to the thunder box! Thankfully we didn’t have whooping cough and hence a reduced risk to mum but it still knocked us around a bit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A hectic week in Sydney, with too much booze and rain

Well the drive up from Canberra was relatively short and it was great to arrive at Suzy’s house and see our nephews. They are so cute now and Sam is walking and getting into even more mischief, he seems to particularly like the dog bowl and dropping his milk bottle in the loo (putting the lid down now is a must!).

After a bit of time with the kids we headed off with Jo (my mate from school), Mark (her fiancĂ©e), together with some of their friends (all English) to go sailing in Pittwater (about an hour North of Sydney) where we had hired a catamaran for the weekend. It was a really beautiful spot but unfortunately the weather was just dismal – we haven’t had this much rain since we left England middle of 2008! Despite the weather, we think we want to sail/keep GHOST in such a gorgeous place.

As sunbathing was out of the question we consoled ourselves with an extraordinary amount of food and drink and spent a hilarious weekend playing various games and generally laughing until our sides hurt. It was great to meet some more English ex-pats and we really felt we had met some new friends. Sydney appears to have nosed in front of Melbourne again in the battle for our future residency!

After the sailing weekend it was time to help Lee & Sal with the wedding preparations and it was a very hectic week organising the various events. The first challenge was creating and running the treasure hunt stag do with Lee dressed as a gnome, but it seemed to go well even if he got lost with one of the clues and wandered the city centre in his outfit, effectively the same result!



Next was sailing the day before the wedding in Sydney harbour, with Sal’s family and lots of wedding guests, luckily with gorgeous weather this time! Though due to the recent shark attacks the swimming was fairly brief!



And the final challenge was with Brad as MC trying to help co-ordinate the wedding as there was a tight schedule to keep to and worse than usual Friday afternoon traffic out of Sydney didn’t set us off to the best start! The wedding was out on the Hawkesbury river north of Sydney, at a fantastic venue called Pete’s Bite which was only accessible by boat, with the most gorgeous views across the river. The weather cleared in time and the final approach to the venue was interesting/exciting with the boat load of guests racing the seaplane with the bride on board! The timing worked out OK, we got the guests ashore just in time to take seats as Sal flew in on a sea plane, looking absolutely gorgeous of course! The food and the band were great and all of the guests (including grandmas and a cardboard cut-out of Lee’s youngest brother Sam who couldn’t make the wedding) were dancing around enjoying themselves.



Since then we’ve been recovering and spending some more time with Brad’s family, taking Sammy for a swim on Sunday which was good fun. Soon it will be time to head back South where we plan to do some camping and biking on the way back to Melbourne.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Biking in Canberra

Well pretty cool day today with some biking at Stromlo mountain biking park just outside of Canberra. Great facility that recently held some world championship XC races. It is all custom built and has some great flowing trails, jumps and downhill (quite serious downhill actually that we started but bailed on!!!). After all the heat recently, our ride started with some rain but that soon dried up and the sun beat down again.



Kat saw her first snake in the wild, a decent 2m one, potentially a brown or something. Luckily she managed to cycle behind it as it slithered across the trail!



video

Above is a video - click to see my first see-saw!

We finished off early arvo and came back into town to shower before heading out again for a ride around "Civic" as the locals call the center of town. We then toured around the shores of Lake Burley Griffin and back via a supermarket for a couple of dozen prawns for the BBQ tonight.

Mountain bikes are so fab for exploring a city - you can just go anywhere! Canberra is a strange place, very well planned but quite sterile in a way. Tomorrow we're off doing the tourist bit.

Vic Fires

Well we have been keeping a low profile in the last couple of weeks since getting back from NZ. Just a couple of catch-ups with mates (Muzza and Claire and baby Delia have finally moved back to Oz), the occasional bike ride & run as we train for our very-mini-triathalon (only a 300m swim, 10km bike and 3km run), and generally getting ready to head up to Sydney for Lee and Sal's wedding on the 20th Feb.





We left Yesterday (Sunday) to drive up to Sydney via Canberra for a couple of days biking and hanging out with my cousin Phil. Sunday wasn't a happy day in Victoria with the worst fires since 1983 raging all over the state. Our intended route up through the Yarra Valley and through the Kinglake state forest wasn't to be with the town of Kinglake literally wiped off the map. Several highways were shut and even the Hume highway - the main road to Sydney - had detours. This is what it looked like driving on the Hume Highway by mid Sunday morning (and we were up-wind of the many fires).





We drove through the smoke for 200km, which may give some idea of the scale of the fires. It was enough to sting our eyes while driving and make our clothes smell like we've been standing in front of a BBQ all day. Fortunately we don't know anyone that has been directly affected, but I imagine that many of the people that I went to school with that lived out that way may have been. Pretty scary stuff, thankfully Mum and Dad got a few hours of rain yesterday down the Mornington Peninsula, which was an area that was on the high risk list for a little while and had a smaller fire last week near one of mum's sisters.

At least the weather forecast is only for the 20's this week which will be a relief after the 40's temperatures we've had in the last couple of weeks. We're off now to make the most of this cooler weather to enjoy Canberra's reputation as the biking mecca of Australia and do some sightseeing around "our nations capital"!

B&K