Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pictures Especially for Michelle Irwin

Bone-tired at 8:30 p.m.

A lovely creature at Alice Springs' Desert Park.

Bob in Brisbane's Botanical Garden.

I am so tired this evening that I don't know how coherent I will be. We were up at 4 a.m. to get on a plane to Sydney for a transfer to Alice Springs. Now Bob and I are both adept geographers and we know that wasn't the most direct route. However, we still were in Alice Springs by noon and that gave us time to do a tour of the Desert Park. From there we went to Glen Helen Gorge. Bob's friend Michelle Irwin had worked there at one time. It's very scenic as was the 125 kilometers out there. Supposedly we were driving through desert, but so much rain had fallen that everything was green and there was an abundance of wildflowers. The road had many places marked flood area but only one still had water on the road. The water must gush down the gullies for there were stones left near and on the road from the creeks.

I had a first sighting of my favorite bird on earth - the gallah - which made me very happy. I hope to see many more of them before we leave Australia.

Another thing that I should mention about today that was fascinating - at least to Bob and me - is that there was no cloud during our flight from Sydney to A.S. so we could look down as much as we wanted at the red center of Australia. It was mesmerizing.

Yesterday when Bob and I got back to Brisbane from Byron Bay, we went to the Botanical Garden. We were at a loss about what we were seeing since plants weren't labeled and there were no brochures anywhere about. It was a pretty walk nonetheless. After that we got on one of the river ferries and went to the end of the line and back.

Tomorrow we are driving to Uluru (Ayer's Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).

And now I need some help:

Does anyone know why I can't get the photos on this blog to insert where I want them. They go to the top of the entry.

Who can tell me who got the leads in the WCS musical?

What's the next book my book club is reading?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Don't Eat in Australia

Part of the garden

Ross with Max

Michael at Dish

Outside our breakfast cafe

Well, really you should eat in Australia because all of the food we have eaten has been wonderful. It's just that the prices have been a shock to our system. The Canadian $ and the Australian $ are at par right now so that we English teachers, who usually let other people do the math, can figure things out. Most of the coffee has been $4/cup with no refills. Today's breakfast in a very ordinary beachside cafe came to $55 for the three of us. The cheapest thing on the menu was a bagel with ricotta cheese for $12. We may have been paying for the view though as it was sensational; and, of course, the salty sea air has medicinal benefits so that may have been factored in. In any case, Bob and I will switch to our own cooking for awhile.

Now last night's meal at Ross and Michael's Dish Restaurant was like nothing we have ever had. It was beyond wonderful not only because of the food and drink but because we got to eat it with Ross. You all know I love Bob, but I love Ross too; we go back a long, long way. You can check out the website for Ross and Michael's restaurant at When you go to eat there, remember to say, "Brenda recommended this place."

Rob and Elizabeth, you will not want to read on as there is shocking information contained in the next few paragraphs.

First of all, I had a cocktail called a Byron Lush. Ross explained that "lush" means a drunkard, just as it does in Canada. Then Bob and I - I repeat - Bob and I - had wine with the meal. Bob was very sophisticated and he did not order milk. Of course, we both lessened our sophistication factor by letting Ross and Michael in on the fact that he does like milk with the meal!

Rob and Elizabeth, you don't want to continue reading yet because there is more shocking news to come. Our first entree (which actually means appetizer and not main course here in Australia) was raw, marinated tuna. Both of us ate it and it was tasty and beautifully presented.

My second appetizer (don't ask why we had two, we don't know; it was Ross's decision) ... was pan-seared scallops with carrot and cardamon puree, baby capers, pickled baby carrots and coriander. Bob's was tortellini of Fontana cheese with mushroom consomme and sour dough crout.

My main course was salmon fillet mignon wrapped in pancetta with red wine pearl barley risotta and broad beans. Bob had chargrilled Wagyu strip loin with king brown mushrooms, garlic puree, truffled peas and bordelaise sauce. There was also truffle mash (as in potatoes) as a side for all three meals. I won't detail Ross's meal for you but each of these meals would make you drool.

We were much too full for dessert, but I ordered coffee. Surprise! It automatically came with petit fours which were a little bit of figgy pudding (Elizabeth, think ten times better than that at the Scottish pavilion), a little cookie, a meringue, and pistachio biscotti.

Now all you Weyburnites, are thinking "just like any dining experience any night in Weyburn!"

Ross and Michael have a beautiful home with wonderful, jungly garden. Yesterday I happily roamed, taking photos of this lush vegetation we don't have at home. Today Ross mentioned an Australian python and another snake had been spotted in the yard within the last two weeks. Yikes.

I would tell you all that a cute kangaroo hopped across the road in front of our car today (which is true), but I will keep that news to put in a postcard to Sela.
We'll be moving on which makes me sad. Ross and I have talked and talked, but there is still so much we could say. I haven't had time to see photos of his home before he landscaped, I haven't had a good look at his 35 years of geneology research ... we have shared topics, opinions, and laughter, but we need more time. The only solution is for him and Michael to come to Weyburn for a few weeks! See you there soon, Ross.
What's new at home?

Byron Bay

Ross, my penpal of -gasp - 38 years picked us up in Brisbane and drove us down to his home in Byron Bay. What a fantastic tropical yard he has. I'll never be able to label my photos as I don't know the names of any of the vegetation. Certainly none of them were the poplars or Manitoba maples from back home.
We went for a long walk on the beach and I could picture where Elizabeth had done her ocean kayaking as there were kayakers out. The beach was very eroded due to the tail end of bad storm up north.
We ate at Ross and Michael's restaurant "Dish." You can all google it and be totally envious of the incredible food that Michael and his staff prepared. Yum.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunburned Face & Wireless Internet

I put on sunblock yesterday, but it didn't last the hot, humid day so I am red-faced this morning.

We figured out our Telstra wireless internet so I have coverage in 98% of Australia, I'm told. Somehow I am sure we won't be in that other 2%.

Pumpkin Pizza and Other Things

Here are some things I learned today:

(1) Rob and Elizabeth are right; Oporto is really good, especially so if you add avocado for $1.
(2) Pumpkin pizza sounds weird but tastes tasty. (Good use of English there, Brenda.)
(3) Walking regularly in flat Weyburn does not get you ready for walking in Brisbane.
(4) $5.90 to travel by river ferry all day long is a really good deal.
(5) $4.00 for a small cup (no refills) of plain, black coffee is a really bad deal.
(6) Brisbane must have grumpy people, but we have met only the friendly people.
(7) Brisbane must have poor, derelict districts, but we have seen only the upscale neighborhoods.

Today was a wonderful day in Brisbane. If Rob and Crystal and Elizabeth and James agree to move here, then we are staying. This morning friends picked us up and drove us up to a lookout where we could see for miles and miles. It was also interesting to drive through the neighborhoods as we had been seeing the city from the water. Chris and Gayle also took us through a wonderful garden. Tropical plants that we grow as houseplants are eight feet tall in their natural environment.

Gayle remembered seeing that there was a Craft Expo at the Convention Center so they dropped me there while Bob pursued other endeavors. I spent my allotment of quilt money very quickly and came away with some great ideas for next year for the Crocus Quilters.

Tomorrow we hope to have Teestra solve our problems with wireless internet so I can post photos. If I can't, I will be a very, very sad camper.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lost Luggage and No Photos

You probably won't want to read this post since it doesn't have any incredibly beautiful photos of this incredibly beautiful country. Maybe tomorrow. I can't get the wireless internet working on my netbook so am typing this at an internet kiosk where my time is running down quickly.

We left Winnipeg on the 25th on a flight that had no turbulence (my favorite kind!) However, it was running late so we had only half an hour in Calgary to get our luggage, go through American customs, and get on the plane. It didn't look like it was going to happen until a man came through the line-up of about a hundred people asking if any people were trying to make the flight to L.A. We, the Kings, said yes. Another couple, named the Royals, said yes. So the man rushed the Kings and the Royals through, the plane waited an extra 20 minutes, and we were off on another turbulent-free flight (might I repeat, my favorite kind!) Unfortunately the plane didn't wait for our luggage.

We had eight hours to kill in L.A. so we caught a cab over to a mall in the Manhattan Beach area and then walked the three beautiful miles to the ocean. Two walks everyday in Weyburn did not get me in shape for that walk as it was up hill and down hill, up hill and down hill, ad naseum. We ate at a happening restuarant named Momma D's. Check it out when you are down that way.

Qantas is my favorite airline and not just because it is a u-less q-word! On the twelve hour (turbulent-free!) flight we were given a midnight supper as well as breakfast. As well, they came around with water six times, offered us an apple snack, gave us a goody bag that contained toothpaste and a toothbrush (they must have known how much garlic Momma D's used). And then about two in the morning they gave us snack bags which contained a water bottle, cookies, M&Ms, a bag of mixed fruit and nuts, and lifesavers. We were pampered.

We missed the 26th completely because of the international date line.

Today, the 27th, we landed very early, got to our dockside hotel, and headed out in our smelly clothes to do some sight-seeing. We caught a river ferry and were lucky enough to have a young lady and her son sit with us and give us much good advice on what to do and see. She even went two stops past her stop to finish off her advice. The day was perfect with lots more walking up and down hills interspersed with ferry rides. We ran into the Royals who were also wearing smelly clothing as their luggage had taken a circuitous route too. When we got back to our hotel this evening, a man was just delivering out wayward luggage. Tomorrow we can set out clean, deodorized, and sun-blocked for another glorious Oz day. Friends are picking us up at 8:30 and taking us somewhere good - we just don't know where yet.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Well, I truly hope that we don't have trouble with ATM's in Oz, but here I am using ATM as an acronym for our trip: anticipation, travel, memories. I really shouldn't be sitting here anticipating, I should be checking my numerous lists so I don't do something silly tomorrow - like leave without my passport or my dog!

Anticipation means having spent some minutes of everyday for the past few months browsing websites, maps and travel books.
Here are some dates: March 26th - miss it completely so we apologize to friends who have
birthdays that day; your birthday doesn't exist for us
this year
March 27th - arrive Brisbane
March 29th - Byron Bay
March 31st - Alice Springs
April 2nd - Tasmania
April 5th - Melbourne
April 10th - Sydney
April 17th - Honolulu
April 22nd - Weyburn