Just made it back from the Easter holidays. Mom came up on April 10th and stayed 2 weeks. The first week I gave her the tour around Melbourne. The first day that she arrived I walked her around Uni. Then we headed downtown, looking at the Victorian State Library (which is like a museum), walking past mascots for Aussie League Football, stopping at the visitor's information center, going through the racehorse museum, watching the sunset over Melbourne from the Riolta Tower Observation deck, and ending the evening with a fabulous buffet at the Crown Casino. On Tuesday we rented a car a headed out on the Great Ocean Road. I was our trusty driver, expertly navigating on the left side of the road (I actually didn't do too bad and we didn't even get lost!) Our first stop was in Gelong where we visited the National Wool Museum. There we knit part of a huge hanging, saw a carpet weaving demonstration, and had a personal tour of the museum, seeing how wool goes from the sheep to our home. Australians are really into sheep. We had lunch at a pancake place and then drove on towards Torquay. Once in Torquay we toured the Surfing Museum, trying out some moves for ourselves. We walked down to Bells Beach where the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition was taking place. Unfortunately it was a calm day with no waves so we didn't see any surfers. But mom had her first chance to lay out on the beach. Then we went to Lorne for dinner. On the way we stopped at Airey's Inlet to see the Lighthouse. Overall it was a great roadtrip. On Wednesday Mom visited a Company owned by her work, General Mills, right here in Melbourne. She had a tour and was able to help them out with some financial stuff. Afterwards we were treated to a wonderful Italian dinner on Lygon St (great food). On Thursday we headed down to the Queen Victoria Market for some fabulous shopping. Then we visited the Melbourne Aquarium. I left mom there because I had to go to class. She had the chance to wander around Melbourne's Royal Botanical Gardens- she was quite impressed. We had dinner at a pub and then went to see mom's first footie game. St. Kilda beat the Western Bulldogs. Another exciting experience. Friday morning mom left to go to Cairns. I meet up with her there Friday evening. Cairns was wonderful. It was much warmer than Melbourne (around 30C every day ~90F). It also rained a lot because we were there at the end of the wet season. The rain was warm however and didn't spoil any of our many activities. On Saturday morning we planned our stay with the help of Lorita, the chocolate loving hostess at our hostel. She helped us to book all our tours and kept giving us chocolate Easter eggs as we were deciding what to do. We gave her a Cadbury white chocolate bar as a thank you. In the afternoon we went on a horse ride. We told them to give us the harder horses because most of the people in our group were beginners. I had a Brumby (I think) named Noddy. (after the British cartoon character). Mom was given a kicker and we were put at the end of the line. The ride was not super fast paced but the scenery was amazing- our first time in the rainforest. That evening we went to the Cairns night Zoo. We were greeted by a sulfur crested cockatoo named Crackers. He was a real ham- loved showing of and being pat. We then had a lovely meal where we met a family from Long Island who was visiting their daughter who was studying abroad for one semester in Perth. Then we went on our night tour. We got to see all of the nighttime critters. I had my first chance to pet a koala. We fed a pack of kangaroos honey covered damper while drinking billy tea. They took it very delicately from our hands. We also saw fresh and salt water crocodiles being fed- they were kind of slow b/c their metabolism is slowing down for the winter. Afterwards there was a bushdance and on our way out we got to pat a wombat. On Easter Sunday we woke up at 6 am to go white water rafting. It was an awesome time! Mom was somewhat scared at first but really got into it. I didn't know it was so dangerous until our guide started telling us stories about people breaking limbs and drowning. But have no fear- our whole group made it down the river with no problems. We were in grade 4 rapids on the Tully river. We were given helmets, paddles, and lifevests. Our guide gave us the commands- row, stop, slide to the left/right, everybody down!. We practiced falling out, swimming down the river, and getting back in. Our guide told us that both fresh and saltwater (the man eating kind) crocodiles lived in the Tully but they are usually scared of people because they remembered when they were hunted in the 70's. Just in case we slapped the water with our paddles to made a big gunshot noise. The rapids were awesome! I even fell out at one of them and was rescued by our trusty guide. It was a great time. -more to be continued...