Thursday, December 10, 2009

V8 Supercar - Hot Lap

For anyone who has an interest in car racing at some point you would have dreamed about doing a hot lap around a racetrack. Yesterday, my dream became a reality when I was guest at the ‘888 Vodafone Racing Team’ sponsors day. At this point I must thank my very good friend for the invitation.

With the recent crowning of the drivers championship going to 888 racing there was a certain buzz in the air as we arrived at the track. I was a little naïve to what happened at these functions but when I seen people suiting up in race suits I had to wonder if my dream would become a reality. Sure enough, I was to get that lap.

After wandering the pit garages checking out the various teams offering their sponsors the same deal I was soon filling out the necessary paperwork and being fitted for a race suit, gloves and a helmet.

Time seemed to stand still as I waited for my turn but eventually it was my turn. Butterflies, anxiety, adrenalin and excitement all seemed to describe the way I felt. Here I was, being straped into the passengers seat of Jamie Whincup’s V8 supercar. After a few last minute instructions, we were off. Entering the track the first thing to hit me was the heat, with no air being channelled in my direction it quickly became hot and stuffy. Next thing was the acceleration and braking capabilities, its flat-out or stop in these cars and no sooner did we negotiate one corner, we were preparing for the next. The car is loud, very restrictive in personal movement and very quick. It took 3-4 corners before I had time to realise this boyhood fantasy was really happening. After that, I had time to have a look around, as best I could. I couldn’t see Jamie, I could only see his hands on the wheel, the shift changes, his legwork and the small telemetry display and obviously the view straight ahead.

As we roared around the track my senses were working overtime. The temperature, the smell of ethanol, the G-forces and the view seemed the make time now go so fast. The ripple strips were thumping under my seat, the lack of body roll is incredible and then theres’ the rush of speed as we thundered down the main straight. 250km/h is apparently how fast we were going, but with nothing to gauge speed against we could have been going more or less.

No sooner did my lap start and it was time to peel back into the pits and my 2 laps were coming to an end. After shaking hands with Jamie and thanking him I dragged my sweaty body from the car. “What a rush” but how do they do it, lap after lap.

A dream became a reality, thanks Rod.

Monday, December 7, 2009

V8 Supercars - Sydney

I’ve always been a fan of the V8 Supercars and on many occasions have made the trip to Bathurst or Eastern Creek. This year however saw the inaugural Telstra 500, held at Olympic Park, Homebush.

Looking at the schedule, Saturday looked like the best day to go, if we weren’t burnt out after a days car racing we could hang around to watch Cold Chisel. So with this in mind we arrived at Olympic Park nice an early on the Saturday. Great weather and big crowds were already present.

We soon heard the noise of the first cars roaring around the track and quickly took up a vantage point. The atmosphere of the event quickly sucked us in. This was exactly what Sydney had been looking for. After making our way through various pavilions we found a good spot on turn 1 to watch some racing. Here we could see the cars kiss the wall or opt out down the escape road.

In the afternoon we checked out a few more vantage points before settling on turn 2-3. This turned out to a crucial part of the track where drivers often out-broke their opponents into the dogleg corner.

After 74 laps Garth Tander was crowned the winner of the inaugural race. Our day ended watching a few more races and a walk through the merchandise tents.

A real Xmas tree

In my 40+ years of celebrating Christmas I’ve never had a real Christmas tree, that was until this year. Leonie's been suggesting for a few years now that we should get one, she grew up having them and recons they provide a welcome change.

With this in mind we headed off in search of fresh Christmas tree. The Santa Tree farm at Albion Park was the obvious choice. We soon had our bow saw in hand and were searching the row upon row of trees for our very own tree.

After debating the shape and size, the kids and I set about cutting it down. This is one of those times where you’ve never seen the kids happier. They both had a go of the saw and it wasn’t long before we stood proud atop our tree.

Back at home, the tree quickly found its new home and within a few hours it was decorated with lights, balls and decorations.

I must say, ‘it does make a welcome change’. Something we’ll have to do again next year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

National Medal for Service

Who would have thought that when I joined the SES back in Oct 1993, that 15 years later I’d be receiving the National Medal for Service. Well I’m proud to say that I’ve achieved this honour.

Like anything volunteer organisation, you get out of it what you put into it and the SES has been very rewarding for me. I hold the ranking position of Rescue Officer. I’ve been to a wide and varying array of tasks and activities, but my highlight would undoubtedly be when myself and 5 of my friends were crowned “National Rescue Champions” at the 2003 Rescue comp in Tasmania.

I would recommend the SES to anyone, the friends I’ve made will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dog Rescue

Its always good to be part of a ‘good news’ story. Yesterday (Monday 9th Nov) after many frustrating weeks there was a happy ending to a story that at times seemed quiet bizarre.

Gypsy the dog was in desperate need of being rescued from Bevans Island, which lies within Lake Illawarra. After many failed attempts a trap was set in an attempt to lure the dog into a safe location so she could be removed from the island.

Yesterday morning the trap was set and by 3.00pm the dog had been snared. A joint operation involving the RSPCA and the SES then set about retrieving Gypsy from the Island. In little over an hour the operation was complete. It involved 3 boats, RSPCA and SES members and a camera crew who captured this good story all on film for future viewing on the Animal Rescue show.

The dog, which was showing the affects of having been stranded on the island for almost 10 weeks is expected to make a full recovery.

A media story on this dog can be found here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dust Storm

Waking up this morning we witnessed one of the eeriest scenes I’ve ever seen. My first thought was the neighbours had changed their light bulb that shines into our bathroom. Upon closer inspection we noticed the skies were a blood red colour and the air was a thick soup of dust.
The ever-increasing drought coupled with some extreme wind conditions, whipped up the worst dust storm I’ve ever seen. The dust was so thick it had the density of a thick fog you could taste it as you walked outside. What made it worse was some overnight rain, which had allowed the dust to settle on vehicles and roadways.
The dust played havoc causing Sydney Airport to close, while a health warning was issued. As the morning progressed, the southwesterly winds increased which thankfully aided in disbursing the smoggy dust.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Navrescue 09

The annual Navrescue event hosted by Wollongong SES has once again been run and won. This year’s event was held in bushland at Belanglo State Forest. Some 24 teams from 17 units participated on the day.

As with previous years there were the 4 activities that tested teambuilding, first aid and radio work along with 15 or so checkpoints dotted throughout the bush. An unseasoned hot day made the walking and bush navigation all that bit harder with many teams doing it tough.

Southern Highlands Bushwalkers eventually won a close contest, followed by Baulkham Hills and Parramatta SES.

SES loses one of its best

On Sunday 13th September the SES lost one of its true heroes and many of us lost a good friend. Greg was out enjoying one of his many passions when his life was tragically cut short.

In his role as the Deputy Commissioner of SES I had the pleasure of getting to know Greg as a comrade and over time as a good friend. We shared some fun times together, like abseiling from a building in Martin Place, as a competitor in our Navrescue event and on many SES operations.
In a fitting tribute Greg was farewelled by almost 1000 family, friends and colleagues at St Andrews Cathedral in Canberra, the very place where Greg and Jenny were married.

Greg, you will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thurat Spires

The Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness area has always been an area that’s intrigued me. Its rugged mountains, steep gullies and striking cliff lines make this area absolutely beautiful.

Part of this area is Thurat Spires. In terms of distance its not very far from the Kanangra Walls lookout, it rises up from the valley floor like two pimples on a rocky ridge. At its highest point it would be 950m above sea level and some 600m from the valley below. It has a knife-edge ridgeline that runs the length of it, sheer cliffs either side and in parts is extremely steep.

On Saturday 15th Aug a group of us set out on a walk in an attempt to reach the 2nd Spire in search of a geocache. We left the Kanangra Walls carpark at 6.00am with blue skies and very cool wind blowing through the trees. The sun had even touched the area as we made our way out onto the plateau. After 1 hours walking, some through recently burnt vegetation we reached a point just west of Craft Walls where we left the track and headed down towards Kanangra Ck. Once again we walked through burnt vegetation, the steepness of the slope and lack of undergrowth made our descent quiet slippery with each footing disturbing many loose rocks.
After a 45min descent we reached the valley floor and after a bit of rock hopping we were across the creek and looking at the challenge that lay ahead. We soon started heading up and up, the steepness and loose under footing was the first thing to catch our attention. Each step had to be checked and large rocks rolling down the hill was a constant danger.

Slowly but surely we made our way up, each step would reveal more and more of the spectacular views that behold this area. The knife-edge spur becoming more prominent as we ascended the ridgeline. As we neared the top of the 1st Spire the exposure and steepness of the climb hits you (literally). With the adrenalin pumping and a few shaky legs we finally made it to the top of the 1st Spire. After catching our breath and filling our stomachs we looked at what lie ahead and collectively agreed that the 2nd Spire was beyond our ability.

After taking in more of the vista we turned and commenced our descent. Once again we were reminded of the exposure as we headed down some very steep rock faces. At times we had to take cover, as a large rock would go whistling past us. On 2 separate occasions members of the team took heavy falls, both occasions reminded us of how vulnerable we can be to the elements when out in the wilderness.

Just over an hour after leaving the top we were sitting at the junction of Danae and Kanangra creeks enjoying a late lunch. Our bodies craving to be filled, but they soon would be screaming at us as we took on the final climb back up to the plateau. After one and half hours of uphill climbing we eventually made it up onto the plateau and headed back towards the car. Once again the Spires seemed so close, we stopped to take a few final photos as the Spires faded into the shades.

Eleven hours after starting our walk we were back at the car. Our Thurat Spires walk had been a very physical challenge but also very rewarding. Its beauty will keep bringing me back here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

State Rescue Comp 09

This years State Rescue Comp was held within the confines of the Bombo quarry. Teams from all over the state came to enjoy the 2 days of competition. For the first time there was a night component to the event which ensured all the teams were on their toes.

I was a judge on the lifting and stabilising stand. Here teams were confronted with the scenario of having to retrieve a deceased who’d been crushed under a number of very large boulders. What added to the scenario was that fantastic cas-sim which added that touch of realism to the situation. Our manikin who was pinned under a number of 1-tonne blocks had a pigs head, beef mince and blood added to him to give the real affect that he’d been seriously crushed.
Teams had to preserve the crime scene while endeavouring to remove the deceased as quickly and as safely as possible. Each team was assessed on their leadership, teamwork and extrication techniques. Amongst the 7 teams who did our stand there were a vast array of techniques used.

At the conclusion of the competition Waverley-Woollahra was crowned the winner of the “State rescue comp” for the first time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Navshield 09

After our success of last year we were quietly confident as we headed into this year’s Navshield. We’d retained the same team as last year and with the knowledge that this years event was to be held nice and close we were looking forward to a good walk.

Clear skies, cool nights and mild days lead up to our departure on the Friday night. We only had to travel to Glenbrook, in the lower Blue Mts so we chose to leave late having a nice Italian dinner before heading out to the ‘hash house’.

After setting up camp and marking maps we set about planning a winning route. Our plan was simple, an anti-clockwise loop around the course and if that failed we could easily comprise to ensure we got back on time.

Saturday, and on que we were underway. Not too many seemed to share our plan which had us brimming with confidence, but alas our navigation didn’t seem to fall into place. We hit our first checkpoint but an oversight had us miss the next one and this took the wind out of our sails. While we pressed on it was never with the perfection of last year and it’s this perfection that’s required to achieve a high result.

By the time we passed through our second radio checkpoint, Mick was feeling the effects of some bad knees, which in turn had slowed our pace. As night fell we were still a few km’s out of base but Mick was still keen to push on. Armed with good headlamps we took on a few more checkpoints. However, time was starting to work against us and as we searched for our last checkpoint there was only 15min of time remaining and we were still along way from home. Eventually we had to cut our losses and head for base. Regrettably we arrived back at base 6min late, which incurred us with a 60 point penalty and an 11th place overall.

While our day hadn’t been what I’d expected, it was still a very enjoyable and memorable day. It taught me to ‘be never over confident’. Over confidence is your worst enemy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Long weekend

The June long weekend in our household was a most enjoyable time, spent mostly with family. While Leonie had to work Saturday and Sunday I had promised the kids that we’d go camping. Just Dad and the kids for a night camping at Carrington falls. I don’t know who was more excited, them or me.

After they each packed their own bags we headed off about lunchtime on Saturday, the idea wasn’t to go far but to just be in the bush and it wasn’t long before we were setting up camp. The kids each made their own beds before taking off in search of adventure. We rode our bikes, played by the creek and in general enjoyed the outdoors. I had a fire going as night fell which in itself was fun for the kids. We ate dinner around the fire and it wasn’t long before they were mesmerised by the flames and soon fell asleep.

Sunday was a cool morning, but the kids were up early enjoying being out in the bush and were soon off running around again. While they entertained themselves I packed up and we headed for home. In the afternoon we attended a local caching event. It was the annual Odee’s dog birthday event and once again the kids had a great time playing with everyone while I got to catch up with a few friends.

On Monday we all headed off for a days 4x4ing with a few friends from SES. Our closest playground is the bushland around Yalwal and as always we had a lot of fun exploring the endless tracks that cover this area. No-one had any real damage to report, which was good, but there were a few fun moments where others struggled with various rock steps etc. It truly was a good way to cap off a good long weekend.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wave-FM Breakfast Challenge

Some months ago one of the local radio stations contacted us (Wollongong SES) asking whether we could assist them with their breakfast challenge. The request fell to me and after making contact with Wave-FM the challenge was made clear. As it turns out the 3 breakfast presenters are often challenged to undertake some kind of crazy stuff and this time they wanted Wollongong SES to help. It was quickly decided that an abseil from the SES State Headquarters building would be a fitting challenge.

Months of planning were crammed into 10 days when it was decided to combine ‘Volunteers Week’ with the breakfast challenge. Administratively and logistically things slowly fell into place. The day before the planned abseil we met with the 3 presenters for a safety briefing. Jade and Dave were very excited about the challenge while Greg was unsure of just what he’d got himself into.

13th May was jump day, could that be an omen! Time would tell. With many of our VR operators on hand and a few other members helping fly the orange flag we headed to the roof of SHQ. It’s amazing how a 6-story building can look so high from the bottom or likewise from the roof. In actual fact the abseil was probably more like 8 storeys once the basement and roof were included.

A tricky rigging system was required to ensure that 3 abseilers could simultaneously abseil from the building. But soon enough our 3 broadcasters were precariously hanging from their ropes ready to take the plunge. No sooner did they start and Dave was flying to the ground, soon after, Greg touched down and after a small hiccup with Jades excessive friction she too was on the ground. Next to go was the Director General of SES, Murray Kerr. He too showed great skills and was soon on the ground.

After the formalities of the day were complete most of the SES team on hand also shared in the spoils and abseiled from the SES building. What a great day and thank you to my fellow SES members for your assistance.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What a week

Its school holidays and that means a week spent with my eldest daughter. We had planned an action packed week. Everything from a trip to the zoo, to some local outdoor activities. Culminating in a weekend camping trip to the Watagans with some friends.

The week started out well, our trip to the zoo was a family affair. We caught a train, had a ride on the ferry and a bus. Most of it as the heavens opened up on us, but that didn’t reduce our enthusiasm, the kids loved seeing all the animals as we wandered around the zoo.

AJ and Sam started swimming classes on Monday morning, but it was Ethan who had us occupied. He’d developed these excruciating pains in his lower tummy. Eventually they become unbearable and we took him to emergency, but some 5hrs late r we were home with no real diagnosis.

Tuesday was my day with the kids and it was none stop go. Swimming first, the Putt-putt golf and then a few caches to find. Plus my parents were at home doing some odd jobs around the place. But once again it was Ethan who stole the show. His stomach pains were back and as strong as ever. Leonie once again took him to emergency, this time we had a slight improvement in the service and diagnosis we received. However some hours later we were told to go home as it would be all-right.

Wednesday started with the usual swimming lessons for the girls. Ethan’s tummy was presently behaving itself. Oh how that would change. The family enjoyed a relaxing day till late afternoon when once again Ethan was screaming the house down. A 3rd trip to emergency was decided, but I could only think that we’d be sent home again unsatisfied with the outcome. Leonie had other ideas and finally we were seen to by a senior doctor who immediately admitted Ethan to the childrens’ ward. While we were no closer to a cause we were thankful that now we may get some proper attention.

Leonie and Ethan spent Wednesday and Thursday night in hospital where Ethan was diagnosed as having a lymph node infection which was restricting bowel movement. Don’t ask me where kids get these things from. Anyway these 2 days were busy with hospital visits, AJ having a sleepover at her friends house and me entertaining the remaining child who hadn’t deserted her Dad. We had dinner out (McDonalds) and then roughed each other up as we played around the house.

Friday was meant to be the day we left for camping, but with Ethan in hospital and possibly only due home today, camping was cancelled for us. The girls both went to swimming lessons where they both graduated to the next level. As a small prize we went to Time-Zone for some fun on the arcade games. The best news of the day was that Ethan was discharged from the hospital, only to come home and once again complain of a sore stomach. Thankfully though, he’s still at home.

Ah! Saturday, and it was my birthday. I think the kids were more excited than I was. It must be something to do with getting older, but each year seems to just flow into the next. I had a lovely breakfast and then took the kids out for a bike ride, which turned out to be a 4WD bash. That we had a few friends over for a BBQ and a few drinks. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.

AJ’s last day of holidays and we had a very early start. Not having gone camping I’d decided to attend a caching event at Oberon. The day was bitterly cold and on 2 occasions we experienced a light shower of snow. The event was a great day, which involved finding brand new caches. In total we found 21 caches for the day, 8 of them were FTF’s. After that we dropped off AJ and then headed for home. Which completed “what a week”.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tuff Truck 09

Once again we (Ryan, my father and myself) headed off to Tuff Truck. This is the hardest short course off-road 4x4 competition held in Australia. If your truck doesn’t come away from the weekend without some damage or a scratch then you haven’t driven it hard enough.

Milbredale, near Singleton once again hosted this year’s event. 42 of Australia’s best 4WD vehicles were pitted against each other as well being judged on ‘show n shine’ ‘engineering’ and 8 of the hardest individual events I’ve seen. These vehicles include features like; 4 wheel steering, 42” tyres, hydraulic pump-up suspension, plus lots more.

Arriving early on Friday we were surprised at the size of the crowd that had already made this area their home for the next few days. Crowds over the weekend would swell to over 10,000 by the weekends end.

A split field sees half the trucks head off to a mystery night stage on the Friday night while the other half tackle the mud event. This is reversed on the Saturday night, thus giving all competitors a far go at each stage. During the 2 days competition each vehicle must complete 6 gruelling tracks. Many trucks at one point or another had to be recovered from a point where they no longer could drive. Some even had to be returned to the ‘right way up’ before they could be recovered. Parts were breaking a phenomenal rate. CV’s, trailing arms, pinions and body panels were no match for these near impossible tracks.

By the end of the weekend less than half the starters would be remaining, it was simply that demanding on machinery. The eventual winner, with one of his best performances ever, was Pete and Taz in their new 40 series Landcruiser.

I cant wait till year.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mid North Coast Floods

Catastrophic fires have ravished Victoria, massive floods have inundated far Nth Queensland and now flooding hits the mid north coast. Talk about climate change!

I played a small part in helping those affected by the floods that impacted on the Port Macquarie area last week. We’d had a heads up about severe weather in the area and had already deployed one member to be part of a management team overseeing operations. On Tuesday 17th Feb I got a phone call, “Can I be at Albion Park airport ASAP, you’re off to Port Macquarie”. An hour later I was sitting in the RFS commissioners plane heading north. Di Gordon and myself were being tasked to Wauchope to assist with potential flooding around the town.

Once at Wauchope the full extent of recent rains could be seen. Paddocks were lakes, creeks covered roads, the Hastings River was rising and still the rain fell. With some further intel and reconnaissance a plan was hashed on what could be done to reduce the impact on residents of Wauchope. Regular visits to the river gauge showed how quickly the water was rising. Predicted water levels were of concern, but just when it was thought that evacuations might be necessary upstream river heights began to steady. Some low lying farmers self helped themselves to higher ground, but as the night drew longer it was apparent that expected levels would no longer be reached.

The following morning, the major threat had passed and our work at Wauchope was done. After a visit to see the new Port Macquarie LHQ we headed down to Taree for further tasking.

My next task proved to be very enjoyable. “Dave get yourself on a helicopter and start organising resupplies for the Kempsey area” were the words that rung through my ears. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I was on an RFS Bell 212 helicopter that had been tasked to the region. 30min later I was in Kempsey stocking up with food supplies for out lying stranded residents. Being airborne quickly made me appreciate the devastation caused by the floods. Everywhere we looked rivers had burst their banks, cattle were huddled together on small islands and roads were cut. We had small ration type bags of food onboard, that we started dropping off at isolated farms. The residents were so grateful to see us and welcomed us wherever we put down. Often I had to stop and pinch myself at how much fun can one have when helping the community. Hours spent flying around in a helicopter, doing what you love and getting to see plenty of unforgettable sights. The floods around Crescent Head were that bad that in some cases we had to winch food bags into the resident as the floods had totally inundated their properties.

Alas all good things must come to an end and we eventually run out of daylight and had to return to Port. The following day, with more of the same planned were about to take to the skies when our plans were cut short by political red tape. A few hours later my helicopter crew had been released and they were heading for home, likewise I was returning to Taree for further tasking. As it turns out this was to be my final field task. After a few hours spent tidying up loose ends at Oxley region, Di and myself were on our way home.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Swiftwater Rescue

The SES is moving into the field of ‘Swiftwater Rescue Awareness’. Yesterday I had the opportunity to be part of a course held at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium. This was my first visit to this Stadium, sure I’d seen it on the T.V as part of the Olympics but my first impression upon seeing it for real was how big the place was. The actual course itself was empty so we got to see how and what makes the rapids etc. Soon enough the 5 huge pumps kicked in and the course came alive. Some 14000 litres/sec of water is pumped around the course.

Our awareness course involved a few hours theory where whitewater terminology, personal survival and rescue techniques were all explained. Soon enough we hit the water. Nerves soon gave way to excitement as practiced a few defensive and offensive swimming techniques. With the basics complete we did a few laps of the course, we simply bobbed up and down in the whitewater like floating buoys.

With little time to rest we undertook further rescue techniques like human triangles for negotiating swollen creeks and rope recoveries, these both proved to be fun and hard work. Our afternoon activities involved more recoveries and dealing with strainers. A strainer is a partially submerged log or shopping trolley that traps victims while allowing water past…. After getting a demonstration on how to negotiate a strainer it was then our then. One of our team members got it all wrong and came nursing a bloody nose. “That’s not how to do it” was his words as he was lead off for some first aid.

Our final activity for the day was to have a bit of fun in the inflatable rafts. Using 2 rafts we had a few laps of the course, each time adding a bit more fun and excitement into the adventure. As always, when more risk is added it ultimately ends in a big crash and on our last lap we had a big crash. All of us were ejected from the raft, once in the calmness of an eddy we regained our composure and seats before finishing the course.

What a great day, I wish all SES courses were like this one.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Samantha starts School

I think every parent says it “My little girl or boy is growing up way too fast”. As our little girl headed off to school for her first day we as parents echoed those same words.

Sam had already gotten a taste of what school was like when she did a year of prep last year, but yesterday was her first day at ‘big’ school. In the weeks leading up to the big day she’d gotten very excited as she accumulated all the necessary items. A new dress, shoes and bag were all among the items that she had for her first day. I must say "she looked great".

Once at school there were parents and children everywhere, some crying, some nervous but most were excited. Sam took it all in her stride. A kiss goodbye to Mum and Dad and she was off. It was as though last year simply rolled into this year.

Her class is ‘K Banksia’ and Mrs Blass is her teacher. Sam instantly made a new friend and hasn’t stopped talking about what she does at school. Lets hope she’s blessed with more brains than her Mum and Dad.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Christmas Holidays

Christmas in our house always involves family, this year we went to QLD to be with Leonie’s family at Noosa. We towed our caravan up there, one for accommodation while at her brothers and two so we could have an extended trip home. Getting there took us 2 days, we chose to go up the inland road thus having different scenery both ways. Our first night we stopped on the side of the road. We simply pulling into a roadside off shoot where we setup and kipped for the night.

Once at Noosa there was the usual hectic pre Christmas shopping to do and preparation for the big day. In between the hype, which is pre Christmas, we took time out to take the kids to “Australia Zoo”. The kids loved it here, they got up close to a lot of animals they’d seen in books. Regrettably Sam didn’t get to see Bindi but we did catch a glimpse of her Mother, Terri.
Christmas day was a typical Queensland scorcher, great for sitting on the deck drinking bourbon and watching the kids play with all their toys. As always we over indulged with food, but it wouldn’t be Christmas unless you didn’t stuff your face.

Soon enough it was time to start the rest of our holiday. We headed down to my parents place for a few day where we spent some relaxing time by the pool. Next it was off to “Brooms Head”. This small hamlet is on the coast east of MacLean. It has a general store and a handful of holiday houses, but Christmas time the place is packed with campers. We had a quiet New Years here (as you do with little kids). The days were full of swimming, long walks and its here that Sam learned to ride her bike without training wheels.

Our next stop was Port Macquarie, this has always been a favourite spot of ours and this time was no exception. We stayed at Lighthouse beach where we took the kids for a beach Camel ride. We visited the Koala hospital, which was a very interesting place. Once again there was plenty of time spent in the pool and the kids on their bikes. The only disappointment was having to pack up in the rain.

Our final stop was Raymond Terrace, it was suppose to be Nelsons Bay but we couldn’t even get a powered site anywhere in the bay. The out of town location didn’t bother us as we still spent to the bay each day. We spent most of our time out around Soldiers Point where the crowds were a little less intrusive. At one point we took a drive around to Fingal bay only to make a hasty retreat due to volumes of people.

Eventually all things come to an end and holiday did that. 4 weeks away had just flown, but it was one of those holidays where I can say I actually had a relaxing time. To complete our holidays we’ve just had a week with Aleesha Jayne.