Monthly Archives: August 2017

Sydney & Swimming

Sydney, Australia

The reason we decided to travel to Australia this summer was because of the nice invitation from our friend Jo to stay in a cabin at her Mom’s house outside of Sydney. Jo is my friend from the Ojai masters swim program. She then creatively thought about inviting more of the swimmers to a “Pool & Pub” tour. I couldn’t believe that six other people decided to join this crazy adventure. I didn’t really think we were going to be swimming that much, but boy was I wrong. We swam practically every day, from the Swimming Centre in Bowral and the Oasis YMCA in South Windsor, to the Nepean Aquatic Centre and the North Sydney Olympic Pool. We also traveled to some mighty cool pubs, including the oldest pub in Sydney, the Fortune Of War, and the oldest Irish pub, The Mercantile, as well as the historic Boiler House at the iconic Hydro Majestic in the Blue Mountains and the Briars Country Lodge and Historic Inn. We also managed to visit the Two Figs Winerey in Berry and Tertini Wines in Mittagong, as well as the Eden Brewery.  We had a nice little van that we called the “White Wombat” that could fit all 9 of us and our luggage and we hit the road. We traveled not only to Sydney and explored the Blue Mountains, but also took a road trip to the Wombeyan Caves, where I was able to mountain bike alongside a mob of kangaroos, to the beach of Bendalong, where we experienced an epic sausage sizzle. We were amazed with Jo and her families hospitality and the crazy wild parrots,  that were everywhere. While we still managed to hit the main tourist sights that were truly impressive, I think the highlight was having a local show us the ins and outs of where she grew up that was so special.

Bendalong Point Wild rainbow lorikeetsA flying friendDingo PuppyFitzroy FallsFish and Chips in UlladullaOur bathroom guestHeading to my streetKate and Natalie on a hillThe beautiful libraryThe Pool and Pub crew at the Jersey lookoutMountain ViewNear the Wombeyan CavesNatalie at the Hydro MajesticLooking CoolOn our way to the rocksFamily FunLoading the White Wombat at Jo's Mom's housePub Time at the Nepean Rowing ClubFortune of War pubArtsy RoofSurfs up in BendalongThe swim crew at Tony O'Brien's houseSwim TimeThe Sydney Olympic PoolThe 3 SistersHiking in Jo's backyardThe Pool and Pub CrewSydney Olympic Pool The White Wombat at Two Figs WineryWallaby sniffing Natalie's hand.

Beautiful Brisbane

Brisbane, Australia

After Port Douglas, we drove back to Cairns and boarded a flight to Brisbane. In Brisbane we explored the city and the Night Noodle Market. Once again, we were blown away with the public parks and pools. This time they had man made sandy beaches and little walkways through rainforest vegetation and around tiny islands, near the huge childrens playground that had a crazy slide that was 3 stories tall. We also were jealous of their amazing libraries. We took a ferry ride to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and saw a ton of Koalas, Kangaroos, a rather fat wombat and a cute little platypus.

Our Boat CaptainCrazy Cool CassowaryChillin with a kangarooAll SmilesA very sleepy wombat





Port Douglas Paradise

Port Douglas, Australia

We drove the hour long scenic coastal road from Cairns to spend a week in the little town of Port Douglas. We were a bit apprehensive about enjoying the beach after we were told about the salt water crocodiles that could be swimming in the ocean or sleeping on the beaches. We didn’t splash around in the ocean but did still brave the beach and actually enjoyed our evening sunset strolls along the almost deserted oceanfront to see the cool bits of art that the crabs would leave behind. Natalie loved traveling at 50 knots in a jet boat to get out to the Great Barrier Reef and explore one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. The reef did not disappoint Kate, with lots of beautiful fish, rays and turtles. Natalie did find the water a bit chilly at 72 degrees and was happy to get out and cruise around on a glass bottom boat while her parents continued to explore the ocean depths. We also tried the local seafood and ended up loving the Moreton Bay bugs (lobster). We also drove to the Daintree National Park and toured the rainforest. We were blown away by the variety of palms and odd trees and mangroves and especially liked the large bats that were quite active even in the daytime. The weather was quite warm and a bit humid here and we were quite thankful that our condo had a nice little pool that we could cool off with in the daytime without constantly worrying about crocs and stingers. There was a ton of activities to do in this little town, but somehow it really made you feel relaxed and slow down a bit . . . like you had actually stepped into a bit of paradise.

Huge Bats in the TreesBeach TimeA bit nervous about the boat tripCrazy Crab ArtRainforest FrondsAnother Beautiful ViewFood Feast with BugsLighthouseRainforest SmilesRainforest ViewLuckily wrong season for stingersNatalie planning her crocodile escape routeA Walk in the Woods




Crazy Cairns and the Crocs

Cairns, Australia

The entire family really enjoyed the city of Cairns, Australia. Our hotel was situated right across from a massive park that had everything from a restaurant and zip-line, to water features and work out equipment. Our place also had a great balcony and view of the bay and the boats. We walked the trails alongside the water, listening to all the tropical birds and were able to catch the market and listen to Natalie’s favorite new band, “The Geckos” live, featuring 5 children ages 8 to 12 years old rocking all the newest pop hits. We splashed in the massive public pool situated right alongside the ocean and bay, since the city wanted a safe place for folks to gather and the tidal area could have possible salt water crocodiles that may make things difficult to explore. It reminded me of college in Santa Barbara (without the crocs) where everyone was sunbathing, picnicking and listening to different local music performers. Natalie loved making friends at yet another park that featured a giant fig tree and treehouse. We also discovered great fish and chips as well as an extreme zip-line course located on the top floors of a casino that featured traveling over a huge 14 foot long live crocodile. I’m not sure how our next stop in Port Douglas will be able to top this.

Low Tide without CrocsThe Giant Public PoolFig Tree ParkOur First KoalaPark FunRopes CourseNatalie Climbing HighWalking Cairns