Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Well I've survived my first Australian holiday period.
We arrived in Cairns late on the 21st December and had a busy couple of days. The 22nd was spent with Glen's parents exploring the coast, going as far North as Cape Tribulation (gorgeous) and visiting Port Douglas.
We saw a Casawary although the only photos I got were blurry. It was a male looking after a chick (apprently the females wipe their hands of motherhood after laying the eggs) and every car on the road pulled over to take photos.
Despite the area being crocodile country, the current wet season means they are rarely seen. The river mud banks are swamped and so they tend to find other places to sun bath. We did see bats at Port Douglas and crabs and spiders in the rainforest though.
On the 23rd, we dived the reef. It was Glen's first time and he loved it. He's going to look into doing his qualification locally, so next time we can go off on our own. I think we went to a very 'used' area of the reef and so the colour was poor and a recent storm appeared to have churned up sediment. I still saw some reef sharks and turtles though, and my guide dressed up as father christmas which was great.
When we got back to shore, we ventured into Cairns lagoon - a manmade pool with false beachs and fish sculptures shaped like the state of Queensland - free to all visitors. It was lovely to cool off there after the day on boat.
OnN the first evening we went to one of the very nice restaurants in Cairns (there are a lot) called The Rattle and Hum. There are multiple menus meaning you can go to the pizza counter or the grill counter etc. Great food and good atmosphere. The next night we had planned to go out too, but before we found a restaurant that we fancied eating at there was a huge powercut leaving a few blocks of Cairns in darkness - we gave up and went home!
Christmas eve was a calmer day. We spent the morning in the cool fresh waters of Crystal cascades, and then had dinner at Yorkey's**** Boat Club (very nice, even if the suburb's name is a little... odd!). In the afternoon we finished our Christmas shopping and went home for the BBQ Glen's parents were hosting.
It was lovely to meet Glen's family, and the kids were full of beans! Jack was playing with his toys in the spa and 10mth Maddison tried to rearrange Roy's alphabetically-ordered CD collection. I assisted her in putting them back in the right place whilst chatting to her in raspberry language.
Christmas day started with champagne in the spa and then present opening. I got a lovely card from my chinchilla girls and their 'human pets' which meant a lot. It's great to know they're doing well and by the sounds of it they're being supplied with plenty of beer boxes to chew to pieces. Glen also got me a new ipod, which is great considering my 6-yr old relic 3G ipod needs to be plugged in to change a track!
Christmas day was spent at Glen's cousin Kim's and her husband John's, parents of Jack and Maddison. They had a pool which was great to cool off in and their recent air conditioning installation worked wonders. Lunch was salad and cold meats based - although I did contribute sausages-and-bacon. They didn't cook well as their oven was on the blink so a mini oven/microwave was all they had, but at least they were there! I missed my roast potatoes and gravy though! It really sunk in that I wasn't home with no Christmas roast - but next year we're going to host so it will be roast turky with ALL the trimmings - an everyone is welcome, so if you UK-based folk fancy a holiday...
You won't be staying at Glen' family home though:( After a chat with Glen's parents, we decided that as they would be selling it within 2yr at Roy's retirement, it wasn't worth Glen and I moving in and redecorating to our own tastes. By the time we finished we'd probably have to move out! So we're on the housing market again but will definately be settled before we have visitors - we'll make sure there's room for you all!
Boxing day - and we were up at 3:30 to catch a plane so Glen could be at work by 10am! I got home at about 11:30 and did the washing - excitement! Glen has since done 8 days in a row, and is looking forward to enjoying this weekend off!
I've loved having some time off, and spent the odd morning at the beach and explored the Boxing day sales. I have some interviews lined up for the coming week, and fingers crossed permenant work is on the horizon. I'm still going to do part-time work for my casual employer but having 4 day weekends means I'll be able to do more touristy stuff inbetween though - I've got a very long list of things to do, such as the Opera House and the Australian museum.
For New Year, Rachel came to stay. I was introduced to Rachel by Lou, back in July at Rachel's I'm-leaving-to-emigrate-to-Australia party. Since, we've caught up regularly to chat about our experiences here in Oz and the things we miss about England. It's been good to have someone to share our missing-home emotions with. She arrive on New Years eve, and I took her to the Entrance to watch the pelican feeding for the afternoon.
In the evening, we saw the Mariners beat Perth Glory (Rachel's first football game) and then saw the 9pm Gosford fireworks which were done from a boat on the water. Afterwards we headed to a hosue party themed by things starting with the letter 'C' - so we had cavemen, cabaret performers, Caesers and then Glen as a Central Coast Mariners fan (imaginative) and me as a cricketer and Rachel as a cowgirl. It was a calm night and a relaxing way to see the New Year in. We got home early as Glen needed to be at work for 7am! but meant Rachel and I were fresh to spend the day at the beach!
We toured a couple of beachs, went out for lunch and dinner and came home very relaxed - a brilliant way to spend the first day of 2009.
So that's a summary of my holiday period. It was big shock to the system with the huge difference to the UK, but it meant a lot to chat to family and friends from home. Now I've worked out the phonecard thing, I'll hopefully be able to call you all more often! In the meantime, love to you all and have a brilliant 2009! Hope to see you all sometime soon!