On the road, there's adventure waiting every day.

Category: Australia (Page 1 of 4)

I spent almost 25 years in Australia, since 2018 I also blog about my visits there

Day of Farewells

Saturday morning started with a last-minute escape room which had just opened up – so it was a fitting farewell for the gang and me.  The rest of the day was sorting out how much I could fit in the suitcase to take along, check everything that remained and make plans for those things.  Oh, and help to setup for my farewell party which would be tonight.  I am super thankful that my parents arranged most of the party – I was running around like a headless chook that day!

The party itself was great, and I really appreciate how many people turned up for the evening. One of the nice side-effects was that I got to talking to Rachel and Dan: They are looking for a place, ideally down south, with 2-3 bedrooms….  Sounded like my place.  I suggested they could drop by and take a look sometime, to see if it would suit them. There was loads of fond farewells as I said goodbye to the last 25 years of my life. At some point, in the middle of the night, everyone had gone home and I dropped into bed too.

In absence

The next day it was already time for Manja and Doris to head back to Germany.  On Manjas last day we had a nice lunch with my grandparents, before all heading over to pick up Doris from my parents place.

Manja and Doris had a few kilos of “spare” luggage, so we packed some stuff which would be nice to have in Germany already.

I have to admit the farewell wasn’t as bad as it could have been – after all, Manja and I would see each other again a few weeks later in Berlin!

Plus, they had a nice flight back – Business class!  I’m just a touch jealous 😉

As soon as Manja left I had my work cut out for me: Pack up my life, sell off everything I didn’t need.  Say final goodbyes to everyone.  Oh, and sell the house.

All in 2 weeks.

It turns out that Facebook Marketplace became my best friend during this time as I sold off the vast majority of things I had collected over the past few years.  Monday and Tuesday the whole house was broken into sections to sort into “Pack and Take” or “do a photo shoot and sell”. I arranged boxes and packing materials for the breakables and vacuum bags for the fluffy things to save some space.

Then it began, with the easy things.  In the middle of summer, I didn’t need winter gear, so that was packed away along with all the clothes which I would not need in the next 2 weeks.

The days pretty much continued in this way: Pull every single item out of every cupboard and wardrobe, decide to keep or sell, and then pack or post it on Facebook marketplace or Gumtree.  My home became a constant coming and going of people buying stuff.  I was surprised how quickly I managed to get rid of things – including the couch and bed.  Half the people also made offers on other things, which was great. Things were moving.  All but one room was becoming empty, and that room was full of boxes ready to be moved overseas. The nights were spent with those nearest and dearest, my goal was to see a different person each night.

Monday night I headed back to the parents place to help them eat through the leftovers and discuss what they could still help me with in the process. Most of the work I would have to do myself, but they can help me move whatever remains next week.  They also offered to deal with my car and motorbike sale, as well as being the point-people for any belongings which weren’t sold by the time I left.  That took a massive amount of weight off my shoulders because I didn’t have to think too much about what to do with things which could end up being leftover.

Tuesday night I just spent the whole time packing.

Wednesday morning was more packing, but in the afternoon I headed to my old job to say hello to some colleagues.  On the way I  dropped off a few boxes of old books to Oxfam books, and in the evening I had dinner in town with Shane at one of our usual lunchtime places. After dinner we found this awesome little desert place called “Hey Jupiter” where they make the yummies! Highly recommend.  We chatted about the last 15 or so years working together, about the challenges of now and how far we had come, and what our plans would be for the future.  I also had a nice espresso, which gave me the energy to keep packing well into the night after I returned!

Thursday night Gabe and I caught up at the Grifsfor dinner and chats, about the “old old old times” when we were kids, about the “old old times” when we were teenagers and about the “old times” when we worked together.  And about life, opportunities and having to say “fuck it” sometimes.  A great night of memories and philosophy!

Friday afternoon I got to go to my nephew’s graduation because I wasn’t working for a change 😁. The ceremony was really nice – the older kids led it with support from the younger kids and occasionally the teachers. No photos from the event, but Silas was definitely a happy camper! Caspian watched from my shoulders and cheered real loud for Silas! With the ceremony done, we had afternoon tea with the family, who dropped by my place for a bit on their way home.  I showed them around what I had already done and what was left to do.  They assisted by taking along a few things to my parent’s place and buying a few bits and pieces which they could use themselves 🙂

Saturday afternoon the gaming gang got together to play games at Glens. This was something we used to do all the time – like at least every second week.  Tonight I learned to play “Root” which was heaps of fun, and we chatted about the future and the good old times. I will totally miss these nights and this crazy bunch of people!

 

Sunday morning I was a bit bleary eyed from lack of sleep, but went down to our traditional weekly family breakfast at the grandparents place.  As a little Christmas surprise I brought along some German “Stollen”  for them 🙂

In the afternoon I headed over to Niko and Anna’s place and chatted about life while watching the kids cycle and skate down the incline of the driveway. We talked about my plans in Germany and their jobs and their plans…. And to have Caspian have a go at riding my bike 😀

Monday and Tuesday were made up of a constant stream of people coming and buying my things as I packed up more boxes. I was really starting to feel the pressure of having to get everything finished this week, so I worked well into the night.

Wednesday afternoon I jumped on my motorbike for a last day riding around.  I caught up with Stef for lunch, where we chatted about life and moving countries – I’m doing the reverse of what she did a few years earlier, though I have the bonus of having a partner waiting for me.

 

In the evening I was invited for dinner by Amy and Drew for dinner.  We started at Godilavita, an Italian place on Unley road, where they cook pasta in a cheese wheel.  I parked my bike around the corner and headed in, where Amy was already waiting.  When Drew turned up a few minutes later he was kind enough to bring along my motorbike key, which I had LEFT IN THE IGNITION.  Drew was a lifesaver – I’m sure the bike would NOT have been there by the end of the night, and the last thing I needed at the moment was to deal with insurance!

The food was absolutely amazing, both in watching the preparation and in eating it! I’ve known Amy for a great many years, and we went through many, many, ups and downs together.  I’ll miss her particularly much, so it was great to have the time to chat properly, and it’s so nice to see her happy with a great bloke. I truly believe we both found our happy place after a good many years of searching!  After dinner we went a few houses down the road to this great desert place where I had waaaaaaaay too much sugar…  I SHOULD not have finished my brownie-in-a-pan, but I could NOT STOP. Eventually we parted ways – Amy and Drew would not be able to join my farewell gathering on the weekend because they had family commitments – in Melbourne – which I think is a fair enough excuse 😉

The evening air was perfect for my ride home too.

Thursday was “move day”.  All of the things I wanted to keep had to be moved to Ryan’s place, who had kindly offered to store it for me as long as it took. Everything that still needed to be sold had to go to my parent’s place.  We would have to do it in two stages – the first was to move everything to my parent’s place, then re-pack and drive the gear to Ryan’s place.

I got up early to pick up the truck, and then pick up my parents were kind enough to play removalists for the day.  We drove all the way back to my place and spent the whole morning packing the truck while someone arrived to pick up my bed and bedroom wardrobes.

On the first trip back to my parents place we dropped off the gym around the corner where someone had bought it and would pay me to transport it too.  Less than a kilometre and I had the truck anyway, so why not! We didn’t expect it to be pouring when we moved the weights into her house, but somehow that made it a bit of fun…. Exercise in the rain 😉

Because I have a motorbike, a car and now also the truck, we had to make sure we had a plan to get all the vehicles down to my parent’s place. Mum drove the car down; Dad the Bike and I took the truck. About 30 seconds before reaching our destination, the car’s rear window exploded…  We have a variety of theories on how this could have happened, but it was a real “what? really? now?!?” moment.  But we had no time to deal with it properly now, so we just parked it in the garage and covered the window with some plastic.

We headed back to my place, packed the second load and moved it down to their place. We arrived back at their place around 6pm, the day was getting on.

Next step: removing the stuff from the truck and re-packing the stuff that would go to Ryan’s.  By 19:30 we eventually made it to Ryan’s to unload again: Almost 50 boxes and a whole bunch of Gym gear which he would inherit 🙂

After that we were hungry, so we stopped for dinner at the local Indian place, where the parents played Pokemon. From there it was back all the way to my place – almost an hours drive in the truck – to pack up the last few things.  When we arrived back at my parents place, we left everything in the truck to unpack in the morning.

Friday was Opa’s Birthday, and Oma Inge was hosting a family breakfast for him. After dropping off the truck early in the morning, I headed over to her place where we had a great breakfast and chatted the morning away.  Oma and Opa were nice enough to lend me their car for the day so that I could head back, clean up and get the last bits of my things. I drove back to my place and cleaned most of the day, cramming those last few “bits and pieces” into the car…. But it didn’t quite fit!
By this time I had to head to town to meet up with the family for Opas Birthday dinner at Mings Palace, after which I would have to do one more final trip to get the last things. Luckily Niko was kind enough to offer to dump all the remaining rubbish in the bins over the coming weeks, as there was no chance I could make it all fit!

The birthday dinner was really nice, and we chatted the night away.  When the festivities ended, I dropped gear at my parent’s place before taking the final trip to my old house.  I had a strangely emotional experience as I left – it really had become home for me. I got back to my parents place around 1 am and dropped into bed.

SIXTY! PARTY!

We had a nice breakfast with Amy and Drew before heading over to the Mt. Lofty Botanic Gardens. Little did we know that there was some race in the hills, and half the roads were closed. So after detouring a couple of times we eventually gave up, taking the scenic route home instead.

Because Manja would be leaving the next day we needed to go through all my stuff to figure out what we would take along to Germany and what we would leave behind. With that done, we got ready and headed down to Dads 60th Birthday party. It was going to be a hoot. The last couple of days we had dropped by a few times and seen the awesome setup which Drew of Brite lite productions had created. It looked like the garden of Unearthly delights and even included a dance floor. Mum had also arrange a few classic arcade games and a virtual pinball machine, reminiscent of Dads youth. Over the past few days we had all taken to “testing” it out spending hours playing pinball.

With about as many guests as years being celebrated, the place was crowded in no time. Manja had her camera at hand, so we got some really nice pictures of the evening too.

Neatly combined catchups

The next morning we headed off to drop off the bus, before catching up with Niko and Caspian for a bit and checking out the local adventure playground.

In the afternoon we headed over to help Drew and Dad finish the setup for the big party.

In the evening we headed over to  Amy and Drews to catch up in Oz. We last caught up properly, as you may remember, in London. It was a really nice night which also included amazing pizza and chats into the night. Manja was particularly taken with Leo, Amys cat, as he looks very similar to her Odin in Germany!

On the hunt for Wine

Today we had planned a wine-and-food tour through the Adelaide hills, partially as a farewell trip with my family and partially to show Manja around a bit.  We picked up a 10-seater minibus at 8, swung by to grab the family and headed off the McLaren Vale, listening to old-school German pop songs which Manja had arranged to the delight of my family.

Mum made a sign for the day

Our first stop was the d’Arenberg Cube which I’m sure most of my Adelaide readers will be familiar with.  It’s basically a three-story rubrics cube, the bottom floor of which is an artistic museum which even includes a psychedelic surround wall projection setup. The second floor is a function space and restaurant and the top floor is a wine-tasting room of the establishment. Needless to say, after exploring the museum for a bit we spent a bunch of time tasting all there was to taste on the top floor.  Well, the others did…  I had to drive the bus!  A real highlight are the bathrooms…  You have to find the entrance first, and there is a lot of funny stuff in there.  Unfortunately it’s incredibly awkward to take photos of Toilets, so I just took two really quick photos in a few moments I had the space to myself.

 

Part of the projection installation

After we were d’Arenberg-ed out, we headed on over to grab some Fruchocs at the original Fruchocs store in McLaren Vale.  For those who don’t know, this is a company which basically puts good chocolate on…  well everything.  Famously on Dried fruit like apricots, but also gummy-bear like mint leaves.

After that we headed over to the Almond train, an institution which I had not visited myself before. But if you’re like me and like Almonds, definitely head over there sometime.  It’s a 1920’s train carriage converted into a shop, which sells almonds roasted and coated in all sorts of goodies.

By this time it was about time for some real food, so I took the group down to Red Poles where we had a beautiful lunch outside with a simultaneous craft beer and cider tasting.

 

Feeling well fed, it was time for another winery.  This time we stopped by Fox creek wines, which was lovely and the lady doing the tasting with us happened to speak German – which was fantastic news for the grandparents in particular.  Doris had been here many many years before, on her first visit ever, so it was a somewhat nostalgic moment for her.

The next stop was a bit further away, as we headed to Hahndorf to Buzz Honey and the Hahndorf soap factory. Both are some of my favourite local producers to bring souvenirs from.  While the family settled down for a coffee, Manja and I had a whirlwind tour of Hahndorf shops, which were unfortunately closing as we arrived.  Luckily the Hahndorf candle shop was still open, which remains one of my favourites.

As the stores and wineries were closed, we headed over to the Mount Lofty lookout as a final stop along the way.

At this point we were quite tired, in particular the grandparents, so we decided to call it a day.  We headed down the highway and we dropped everyone off and headed home for the night.

Coming back for Dads 60th!

We had to get up quite early to drop off the car, especially seeing that we expected that it may take a bit longer.  During our travels we had, at some point, received a rock to the windscreen and discovered a small chip.

The folks at Hertz were awesome and relaxed about it.  Our insurance was through a third party (long story), so we would have to pay for repairs in advance and I had to leave my credit card number with them.  They expected about $200 tops.

We were on our way only a few minutes later and checked in.  While waiting for our flight I received a phone call: The damage was considered pre-existing so my card number had been deleted.  Fantastic!

A couple of hours of flight….

… and we arrived back in Adelaide, where my grandmother picked us up and we arrived at my parents place in time for coffee and cake…  And for some giant 60th birthday balloons which we totally didn’t muck around with….

Eventually the cake was cut… Luckily all fingers stayed attached!

After catching up for a bit and having some dinner we drove home, because tomorrow would be an early start!

Long day on Green Island

Today we started early to catch the first ferry across to Green Island.

We went to the terminal and picked up our tickets, then waited in line for quite a while before finally being let on board, where we could borrow some stinger suits and snorkelling gear. The ride over was nice but uneventful. When we arrived we were greeted by this guy swimming just off the main pier:

First we picked up a baseball cap for me because it was hot enough to need one!  I quite like it, though I’m not usually a hat person:

The image of the rainforest heading to the sea as we arrived on the other side of the island was truly postcard worthy!

 

We snorkelled for a bit before deciding to head over to the other side of the island which was apparently much less populated.  On the way we passed a crocodile place which boast the largest crocodile in captivity….  we gave that a hard pass, seems cruel to just keep him in captivity in such a small space on such a small island, just for tourists to gawk at.

On the other side of the island we stumbled across a group of turtles, which we tried to swim with and capture on GoPro, but without success.  None the less, it was an awesome experience to head into the water with these magnificent beasts

After a short hike back we headed back to a pristine beach again for another round of snorkelling.  About 5 minutes in, Manja suddenly raced out of the water, and I was certain something had bit or stung her. When we got to the shallows she told me that there was a shark right behind me, and not a small one. I probably should have been freaked out, but honestly I was just annoyed that I missed it! We went and had some lunch to calm our nerves a bit.

As part of the tour we got to choose some extra activities, and we chose a tour on a glass bottom boat. It was really quite pretty!

When we got back we decided to spend some more time snorkeling on the other side of the pier. We narrowly missed out on snorkeling with a turtle, and it was still really pretty.

Eventually it was time to return.  To get all the tourists on board, the boat was allowed to do a fish feeding, which both the gulls and the fish seemed to love

 

After that it was time to enjoy the ride back into the sunset.

Back in Cairns we grabbed some dinner at a lovely and romantic restaurant. Tomorrow it would be time to fly back to Adelaide, so we celebrated the last night of this awesome trip before dropping into bed.

Unique Australian History

We started the day with another awesome tropical fruit breakfast, this time with perfectly complimenting poached eggs on salmon!

After eating way too much, we took a walk around the remains of the flower farm:

It was really humid! I was struggling!

Struggling Simon is Struggling

Soon after we headed off, todays trip would take us all the way to Cairns.  One of the things we wanted to do along the way was a visit to Tjapukai cultural center.

Picture in the entrance and waiting hall

We arrived in time for the morning tours, but several activities were cancelled because of the combination of really hot and humid weather and strong winds. The performers weren’t the only ones struggling, Manja saved this little guy from being stepped on in the entrance way:

The place wasn’t all that well organised, but we still enjoyed it. It started off with a performance supported by digital projections around a whole room – Floor to ceiling. Impressive tech and enthusiastic acting showed the story of the Aborigine dreamtime of the area. After that we were treated to an indoor dance ceremony – indoor because of the heat!

A traditional dance performance later, we were taken on a bush-food tour where I even sampled some ants! I’ve tried a lot of things before, but this was new – these sugar ants were really quite sweet. The tour concluded with some house-made jams using traditional bush ingredients, with tea and scones.

At this point the hot winds had calmed a bit, so the intro-show was re-done on the main stage, which we got to join.

And then there was a spear-throwing demo, after which we could try out the boomerangs… which we did of course!

After some boomerang throwing and souvenir shopping we headed off to check in at our Airbnb, where we were greeted by a not so calm dog, which proceeded to run out onto the street. The owner raced after him at a leisurely pace, obviously used to this scenario.

My favourite kind of dog. Little 😩

After he returned, dog in tow, we checked into our room where we were greeted by this little fellow

After a hot day outside we were pretty tired, but we had a kitchen!  So we cooked ourselves some pasta which we had to the sound of the frog serenading us, before dropping into bed.

 

Ornithorhynchus Anatinus

Today we decided to do a bit of a driving tour of the various waterfalls in the area. The day started with a fantastic fresh breakfast, including a home-grown tropical fruit salad. Soooo good!

Our first stop was Mungalli Falls, which is an outdoor education center. Unfortunately it was closed today. We walked to the mini waterfalls when we saw something move in the river…  I assumed a snake or a large fish, so we watched patiently for a while. We were about to give up when I noticed some tell-tale bubbles and sure enough a few seconds later a Platypus emerged! You can tell the difference a real camera makes in these images…  Guess which were taken on my iPhone 😉

I had never seen one in the wild, so I was super psyched by this. We must have watched him for 30 minutes before we decided to get out of the sun and head back to the car. We drove a bit further and stopped at a range of waterfalls on the Waterfall Circuit, one of which had a chicken walk across the entrance… Because, why not?

Eventually we stopped at the famous Curtain Fig in Yungaburra. It really is an impressive tree! There is no way to take a photo which does it justice.

After relaxing in the shade of this ancient giant, we drove over to Coffee world, which was a scenic drive and included a hay-truck. Oh, this is a place for a Simon. Simon loves coffee.

The first stop was a coffee tasting center, where we could taste a large variety of coffees. Amusingly, I didn’t much enjoy any of them. They also had spirits, which I tried:

After the tasting we walked off the coffee rush in the coffee museum, which was really cute. When it comes down to it, the centerpiece is a crazy collection of coffee machines from the various centuries from around the world. It’s like the collection of an eccentric coffee-machine fanatic, amusingly assorted and with an extensive audio guide. If you want to learn about brewing coffee and coffee history (for example, why do some countries have big cups of coffee, while others have smaller ones?), it’s worth a visit. There are even some sections which might keep the kids entertained for a few minutes while you browse…  providing they haven’t sampled the coffee 😉

We stopped at one more waterfall on the way back and noticed that my brother had apparently been here? We also found another cool bug. Thanks for pointing him out Niko!

Then we raced back, because tonight we really wanted to go and check out the glow-worms at our Airbnb. As it was dusk, we stopped at a place where there was a small chance to spot tree kangaroos. We walked for 20 minutes, but only saw some wallabies and turtles.

We couldn’t wait too long, because we needed to be back before sunset. We made it back just in time and drove our hired car, which was an SUV since our Airlie exchange, down the steep incline and waited for the sun to completely set. When it did, the whole area exploded in little lights – glow worms were everywhere. It really was amazing. We attempted to capture it on go pros and cameras, but with very limited success.

An hour later we headed back up to our Airbnb. We drove through the paddock, around the very steep corner and up the very steep and narrow track up…. and got stuck. F*#k!  I stopped quickly to make sure we didn’t get completely bogged.

It’s the middle of the night and we really don’t want to wake our host to tow us out. I got out and snuck around the car to take a look – there was a patch of mud we were stuck in, but the ground a few meters before and after looked solid enough. So I threw it into reverse and managed to use gravity to get unstuck and back onto solid ground…  Reversing slowly as far as I could before the bend, I raced up the hill to get past the mud. Manja was not impressed, but it worked, and it was (mostly) safe. A little stressed but happy we arrived at our accommodation a few moments later, only to find the most amazing glowing bug on the flyscreen. After a short photo-shooting session I decided to setup a moonrise camera to capture the full moon tonight while we dropped into bed.

High hopes

Day three at the Airbnb started much like day 1 and 2…  With a wallaby visited breakfast!

Unfortunately it was already time to move on to our next stop, so we packed our gear. Along the way we had to stop for a lizard to cross the road.  Leads me to a question – why did the lizard cross the road?

Along the way to our accommodation we headed to Mamu Tropical Skywalk. We made our way through the park slowly, following the audio guide. It was okay, but not the best skywalk we had done. If you’re looking for advice on what to see, I would skip this one. But we did see a cool bug, so we did a photo-shooting session with him.

Cool Bug. Unfortunately he flew away.

The view

We checked into our Airbnb, which used to be a flower farm and the accommodation was pretty nice and had a fantastic view.  Apparently they even have glowworms down the hill, we will have to check those out sometime!  We took a bit of a wander down the steep incline and had a look at the watering hole which was apparently safe for swimming…  Unfortunately the mosquitos didn’t make it that inviting today! We climbed back up to our Airbnb with a view, before heading over to a recommended spot: Paronella park.

This place was pretty much hand-built by José Paronella in 1929, using hand-made concrete which was not as solid as it probably should have been.  But over many years he created his dream space around the waterfall, into which he built one of the first hydraulic electricity generators in Australia. On the first introduction tour (Which is included in the admission, and totally worth it!) we saw this Ulysses Butterfly

By setting the camera to rapid-fire, Manja managed to get a shot of the Ulysses Butterfly with its wings almost completely open!

After the tour we explored a bit on our own, even finding a spot to feed some turtles.

We also took a tour of the generator, which I really loved.

Paronella Park was so pretty, we took plenty of photos. 

Even some artistic ones, of flowers and water…

And a grasshopper eating a leaf he is standing on…. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you….

We decided to have a light snacks while waiting for the guided night tour to start, which turned out to be completely worth it. We even got to see some micro-bats which decided to hang around the place. As one of the last things they put on this light fountain and music show, which was seriously pretty.

By the time we got back to the car it was not quite dark yet, so we headed out for some dinner.

The tour guide at Paronella Park had said that we could return to try and see some of the glowworms, which we did. We walked around a bunch, bud didn’t see many unfortunately.

That meant that we had to exit through the campground though….  And we had no idea where that was!  We explored for a while before we eventually found our way out.  A quick visit to the bridge and a few more photos of the surrounds, as well as the awesome looking bugs, later, we were on our way back to our Airbnb – luckily only about 5 minutes away!

Paronella Park really is awesome.  If you need to find an encouragement to dream, come and visit this place and get re-inspired.

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