December 1 our grandson, Thomas, turned 8 years old. Because we had not been home last Christmas, we asked if Thomas' baptism could be bumped to January so we could spend the holidays at home. The baptism was scheduled for January 6th and so we scheduled our flight to Melbourne for New Years Eve. The week before we left Jonathan found out that he had to go to Malaysia for work and so the baptism had to be done on Jan. 2nd. We arrived about 1pm on the 2nd. After a 1 hour drive from the airport to Jon's house, we had a few hours to freshen up and then headed to the church.
We had a very small group - Mom, Dad, brother, sister, 2 grandmas, a grandpa, the Bishops Counselor and Thomas' friend and his family. In Australia it was summer vacation time and most everyone was out of town. No matter, Thomas got baptized and the next day Jonathan left town.
Since we spent a month in Australia, we have a LOT of pictures. I have taken a few of the 400 shots to show our activities during our stay.
Since Margo's mother was also visiting, we did a little sight seeing while Jonathan was gone. The kids enjoyed feeding the birds.
I was actually quite surprised that Caroline let me hold her. This was shortly after we had arrived and she had not warmed up to me totally yet but she was more afraid of the birds than she was of me.
The pan of bird seed was actually hard to hold when the birds landed on it and so you see Lucas in the background looking at the pan he dropped. For someone so small it was a little scary when so many birds tried to get at your seeds.In the area where the birds were there are some really nice trails so we went for a little hike after feeding time.
After Grandma Martha went home, we headed to Brighton Beach for a little sun and fun.
They have a row of these cute little "cottages" along the beach. They are the size of a large shed and sell for around $250,000. We saw several open up while we were there and it is just a one room fancy storage area. People keep there beach chairs, tables, etc. in them. It does give you a shady area to sit in though.
While there, the chocolate pudding bandito made an appearance.
On the way back from Brighton Beach, we made a stop in St. Kilda. This is a cute little beach town with a long pier. We walked out to the end of the pier and back behind this restaurant there is a rocky walkway. In the nooks and crannies of the rocks were some surprises.
The kids spotted this little penguin. Since we were there mid afternoon, most of the penguins were out to sea hunting food. This was just a baby, waiting for Mom's return.
After we had been in Melbourne for about a week, we headed for the Great Ocean Road. This was our Christmas present from Jonathan and family. We took the train into the city and got on a tour bus for the day.
The major attraction of the Great Ocean Road (at least for us) is the Twelve Apostles.
Because of the wave action against the cliffs, water eroded the land and left twelve formations standing on their own. Some still stand as majestic as ever while several have eroded down to small bumps.
We had the opportunity to take a helicopter ride out over the water to view the Apostles. For someone with a fear of heights this was some ride!
Further up the road we stopped at Loch Ard Gorge. There is a sad shipwreck story that goes along with this area. Wayne hiked down to the bottom while I enjoyed the beautiful view from up on top.
At our stop for "tea" in the afternoon we sere surprised to find this offering at the ice cream shoppe. For those in the know, I think that you will agree that Vegemite is NOT a flavor I would want in my ice cream.
Our next adventure was a two day trip to Sydney. We stayed in a beautiful Marriot Hotel right near the Sydney Opera House. Our first afternoon there we just walked around the harbor area.
We actually walked up to the Sydney Harbor Bridge and walked halfway across. As we were walking, we saw several groups of people who had paid $200 a piece to climb up to the very top and walk across. They had to be clipped to a cable since it was so windy. I was just fine doing our free walk on the pedestrian walkway.
This is the picture of the Opera House that we took from the Harbor Bridge.
The next day we did a tour of the Opera House in the morning and then did the Hop On Hop Off bus the rest of the day.We got off at Bondi Beach long enough to take a picture and buy some lunch. This is a popular surfing area. It also appeared to be a popular sunbathing area.
When we were on the bus they would point out some of the interesting art sculpture that you find all over Australia. This car was actually one of the sculptures in the middle of a roundabout.
There are some beautiful old buildings throughout the city. This is the Queen Victoria Building which has been turned into a shopping mall.
Our last morning in Sydney we walked over to the Japanese Gardens for a very peaceful morning. Quite an amazing place right in the middle of the city.
We found Iguanas in the gardens.
The next week we took a trip out to Phillip Island to see the penguins. There are burrows in hills near the beach and after the adults have been out getting food all day there are hundreds who come in from the ocean to feed their babies. There are bleachers on the beach for people to sit and watch them come in. It was quite fun. We were not allowed to take pictures though so nothing to show for our evening there.
Before going to the island, we went to the beach to play until dark. Because a lady was killed in an accident on the road to the island, we were unable to get to the planned area. There were undercurrents and strong waves at the beach we did go to so there was no swimming but the kids had fun in the sun anyway.
There was one area that had a lot of rocks and it ended up being a good place for the kids to play in the water. There were some really interesting formations in the rocks from erosion.
One day, we took the train in to the City. We had planned on going to the Queen Vic Market but unfortunately, it was Wednesday and the market was closed. We had a good time anyway. We had a little shop we had gone to with Margo last August and we wanted to go there again but Margo was not with us. It was in one of the little alleyways that are all through the downtown area. We had an idea of where it was so we headed off in that direction. Surprise, surprise. We actually found it. Along the way, we also found an alley with some of the graffiti that the area is known for.Wayne thought he looked a lot like this guy!
A few days later Jonathan and Margo left for Thailand. We began 10 days of babysitting the grandkids. Since Jonathan has a company car, we were not able to drive so Wayne did a lot of walking to the grocery store and anywhere else he could find to go to. He learned the bus routes and we took the bus to church, he took the boys to the movies one day and he and the boys went to an area where they could hike to the top of a hill.
The day they did the hike, the boys wanted to go on the train also.Ice cream helped to pass the time. We also let the boys play their DS's whenever we used the public transit. It made them much more willing to go places.
This was taken on their hike. There are some really pretty places to hike which are not that far away. Wayne would take off several times a day and just walk for two hours. One day he decided to walk to the ocean. It was about 12 miles away and took him 6 hours or so to get there. Once he got to the beach he took the train and bus to get back home.
Our other mode of transportation - walking. This was the day before the parents returned. We took the kids to the miniature golf place. It was about a 25 minute walk. The kids did great.
Look closely and you can see the stick bug on the club.
The kids loved to make pig faces. This was the sliding glass door but we saw them doing it on the shower wall too.
No shrimp on the barbie but Wayne did get kangaroo steaks to try one day. He wanted to cook them while Jon and Margo were gone and I told him he needed to wait until they were back because I did not think much would be eaten. It is a good thing he waited because the kids and I would not try it and the rest of them took one bite and decided it was too tough and not good.
This is the way the boys spend most of their time. Their lego collection is something to see and they are very creative with all those pieces.
Grandpa and a walking buddy.
A picture of a picture. Jon and Margo had family pictures taken in the alleys in the City. They looked really cool and Wayne took a picture of one. We just hoped that the graffiti did not say anything offensive. It was a little hard to figure out.
We loved being with the grandkids and bonding but a month is a long time to be gone. We were happy to return and rest up for the next trip. It was good to be able to do a few tourist things this time and depending on what happens in the next few months we look forward to a return trip when we will check out a few more of the touristy things.