there have been a couple of things i have been wanting to blog about forever and other things have taken precedence.  so, since i am caught up on big trips/happenings, i am going to share some randomness. 

first, the snakes here.  have i seen them?  yes.  have i seen a lot of them?  no.  

when going to the lagoon (the pool right outside of our apartment), you see all kinds of signs like this:

and here are the conditions of entry (beware of snakes):

now, don't get me wrong, these signs are good precautionary measures, but when i first got here they scared the s*** out of me!  when one comes to australia you are acutely reminded by EVERYBODY YOU TALK TO of the deadly snakes here, which leave you with this sense of i don't know if i am going to survive australia!  

this is completely unnecessary and false!  yes, i have seen snakes.  two.  in ten months.  and i have been in the rainforest lots of times and in the bush when i was working at the mine.

in other words, there is no need to worry.  funny story is, i actually saw a snake on one of my trips HOME IN STL!   the snake was sitting in my parents' window (the outside of course) of their house and i don't think it was deadly, but my point is that there are snakes everywhere.  don't let snakes scare you from coming to australia.

next piece of randomness:  australian pelicans.  so, when jim and i returned from our july trip home, i noticed some very large white birds in the river outside of our apartment.  they hadn't been there before so they peaked my interest and i googled them.  sure enough, they were australian pelicans.  they are gone now so they must just come here to nest for a couple of months, but i really enjoyed them while they were here - gorgeous birds and fun to watch.  here are a couple of photos:

we actually saw these in tasmania.  i was able to get pretty close to them!

and continuing with the bird theme, we have lorikeets that fly around outside our apartment every day.  these birds are BEAUTIFUL but incredibly loud.  in fact, most locals consider them a nuisance, but being from america and not having birds like this to look at every day really made me appreciate them.  they look like miniature parrots and there are hundreds of them where we live.  

that's all the randomness i have for today, but to give you a little update on our lives:

jim's last full day of work is today!!  tomorrow, we will wrap up some things around here and pack.  then, saturday we will leave for phuket, thailand.  we will be in phuket for 4 days and then we will head to bangkok for 2 days before heading back to brisbane.  when we get to brisbane, we will have two nights there before we wake up to catch our flight to AMERICA.  words cannot express how excited we are to get back to the country we know and love.  australia is great, but home is where the heart is.  looking forward to seeing you all soon!!!



if you can't tell, i really like brisbane!  and i like the people that live in brisbane.  so, when connie mentioned that i should join her for a week when i don't have much going on (pretty much every week) i decided to take her up on her offer.

last week i spent monday through friday hanging out with connie, her husband pat (when he wasn't working - yea, he actually has to do that) and connie's friends she has made whilst living there.  it was FABULOUS!  it was so great having people to hang out with during the week.  i get a little lonely in mackay with jim being away monday through friday so i was so happy just having a friends around.

i think connie has inspired me to join a tennis league when i get back to the states.  i joined connie on tuesday and thursday for her ladies matches and had an absolute blast.  it was so great playing with and getting know these wonderful ladies.  plus, i loved the challenge of not knowing a player's style and strategy.  jim and i play so much that we know each other playing strategies pretty well.

the mass transportation in brisbane is inspiring.  i wish so badly st. louis could implement something like this.  the metro is a great start, but how great would it be if that extended further out into the suburbs?  also, we have this beautiful river that flows through our city and we only (sort of) appreciate one side of it.  why can't we completely renovate east st. louis and make downtown something worth seeing and experiencing?  brisbane's river is it's focal point of the city and they have a ferry that runs throughout the city and into the suburbs, allowing for an excellent source of mass transportation.  plus, they have biking/walking paths EVERYWHERE!  it's quite encouraging to find an alternative route to work that doesn't include a vehicle.  okay, that's my rant... now do something about it, right? ha ha!

on wednesday, we headed out to stradbroke island, which is about an hour away from brisbane.  it was absolutely gorgeous.  connie, connie's friend {cathy (who is also a peabody expat employee wife)}, and i had a great time.  here are some photos from yet another gorgeous location in australia.

{connie & cathy - had so much fun with these lovely ladies!} 

{gorgeous walking path} 

 {i love how australia always leaves nothing to the imagination}

on thursday, we headed to ikea!  yet another reason brisbane is so good.  it was hard to be there, seeing all the cute stuff and buying NOTHING!  well, okay... not nothing... i did get two $3.50 bags for our upcoming phuket trip (since jim is making me carry on - so not nice).  ha!

i am so glad i took connie up on her offer!  we had so much fun.  thanks again, pat and connie, for all of your WONDERFUL hospitality.  love you guys and will miss you!


golf and penguins - the perfect combo.

so, in yesterday's post i forgot to mention why we were traveling back up to the northern part of tasmania.  in all honesty, it's what brought us to tasmania in the first place.  take a wild guess.  golf!!  jim, at some point in time, found out that australia's number one course and the world's 7th best public access course was located in tasmania - called barnbougle dunes.  so, we woke up bright and early to head a couple of hours further north to meet our tee time!  

but first, a popular tourist attraction happened to cross our paths and we couldn't pass it up.  plus, we still needed breakfast.  it's the pyengana dairy company and i would definitely recommend going there if you are in the area.  it's a very charming farm with an adorable store and restaurant.  the cheese is fantastic.  plus, you get to see things like this as you are approaching... classic!  

as we continued our drive we saw more and more great scenery... look how green it is!

then we arrived at barnbougle!  jim's parents aren't golfers so they took the car to do a little exploring of their own while jim and i squeezed in 9 holes.  the course really was BEAUTIFUL, but man was it windy!  i thought we were going to blow away.  here are a few photos for your viewing pleasure:

just walking from one whole to another while enjoying the view:

we were approaching our balls when we saw a dark little blob on the green.  here is what he looked like from far away:

but then he let us get REALLY close!

and i found his limit... see ya!

the most impossible bunker... but jim hit it right out!  so proud.

view from the last whole, approaching the club house.

jim and i hadn't golfed in quite a few months so we weren't sure how the day was going to go, but we had a great time!  the course was challenging, but it was very attainable even for me.  we had a fabulous time.

then we hopped in the car to get to our next destination.  low head, tasmania.  we found out, in bicheno, that there are penguins in tasmania that come ashore during this time of the year to nest, breed and moult.  we found a tour in low head that had some openings so off we went.

this is the beach where the penguins come ashore - they come in where you can see an opening between the rocks in the photo below.

we quickly found out there is a group of wallabies that hang out around that beach, including this little guy.  isn't he cute??

we had to wait for the sun to set for the penguins to come out.  our tour guide shone a light on the penguins so we could see them in the dark.  apparently, the light doesn't phase the penguins (they said they have done the research to know which lights do and do not bother them).  the tour company really knew their stuff and i was so impressed at the knowledge they were able to pass onto us.  if you are in the area i would definitely recommend low head penguin tours.

here was our first little group.  the guide said that just one or two come out of the water first to ensure that the area is safe from predators.  unfortunately, that means the first one or two are slightly suicidal, but it's really sweet when you think of their friends lives they could be saving.

they come onto the shore and head to the back of the beach in this woodsy area to find their burrow and, ya know, do the hanky panky.  here are two coming down the path; they walked right in front of us.  so cute!

another little group making sure the area is safe:

here is one in it's burrow.  if it looks thorny it's because IT IS!  they have little hallowed out areas that they fit perfectly into for their little home.

it was so cool seeing these little guys in their natural environment.  pretty much the cutest animals i have ever seen!  here are a couple of videos as well.

this is a group of penguins heading out to find their burrow:

a single penguin on his own, looking for his home:

here are two as they are heading out of the water.  i think they went behind the rock for a little "privacy" - if ya know what i mean.  "wink, wink!"

that pretty much concludes our trip to tasmania.  we had such a great time and got to do and see some really unique sights.  we are so lucky to get to experience places like this. 

jim's parents headed back to mackay with us and had one day of rest before they headed back home.  we had such a great time with them here and we were so sad to see them go.  thanks for coming to visit us, anne & tom, and thanks for letting me tag along throughout your journey - i really enjoyed our time together!  we will see you in a couple of weeks when our feet touch the ground in st. louis.  can't wait!