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Australia Family Madness 2014

a travel blog by Groovespook

For the first time since Quinn arrived, our gorgeous almost 2 yr old son, we are traveling overseas! Visiting family and friends the entire time in my old stomping ground, South East Queensland.

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Preperations? who needs em! (FYI: we do)

West Orange, United States

Maria's birthday.

The early morning sun is blasting through the city streets of New York. From my 17th floor office I see a wall of hotel room windows with increasing flickering lights and disturbed curtains as tourists are slowly getting their act together as they prepare to go into this megatropolis of bustling life. Massive corporations open their doors to the myriad workers bees like myself as we swarm about the streets and clock in to keep this silly engine running. I quietly sip my coffee and stare at 3 huge monitors filled with numbers and progress bars and emails and XMLs and PDFs for the last time in 4 weeks.

4 long, relaxing, quiet, stress-free weeks in Queensland. In the middle of nowhere. The Outback (with no Steakhouse).

We have been thinking and preparing to prepare to pack for what seems like weeks and yet tonight and tomorrow morning - hours before we fly out, is when all this is going to come together. Packing for us is easy, packing for Quinn, well, that is a different story, one that Maria has been researching for quite some time, her mothering instinct and general awesomeness has us pretty much ready to go, except none of the stuff is in suitcases and "carry-ons" yet. Fun times!!

"Ahhh Queensland, beautiful one day, perfect the next" That is actually the official slogan of the tourist industry there. And it is pretty much true, barring poisonous snakes and spiders and droughts and floods and intense sunburn and stuff. Thankfully we are going in spring so the weather should be lovely and mild.

My parents and sister moved to Coominya, just under 2 hours directly inland from Brisbane a year or so ago and have some acreage near an enormous reservoir. The property is filled with dogs and birds and yes, some poisonous snakes and spiders and droughts and floods and stuff and is regularly visited by roaming koalas and the odd lost cow.

Although this is less of a "travel and discover" trip like the Philippines was, we will still be seeing some sights and experiencing a fantastic part of Australia that I want to share here.

We fly out tomorrow. 20 hours in airports and airplanes with a 2 yr old boy eager to see more of the world. Usually flights excite me anyway, but this one a little more so as I am getting a chance to see the wonder and spectacle of it all through the eyes of a small child. He is going to LOVE it.

This is going to be a blast.

permalink written by  Groovespook on October 17, 2014 from West Orange, United States
from the travel blog: Australia Family Madness 2014
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West Orange, United States

permalink written by  Groovespook on October 17, 2014 from West Orange, United States
from the travel blog: Australia Family Madness 2014
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The trip.

Coominya, Australia

We started off in high spirits. Our arrival to Newark airport was painless (thanks J and T) and check in was actually friendly and efficient. To anyone who has been to Newark airport, or checked in to virtually every national carrier in America, this is a rare treat.

Of course, I blame Quinn for the fact that people are now nice and friendly to us, he has a winning way with people.

The flight took off at about the same time Quinn would normally go down for "night nights" so we thought we may have this in our favor.

We did not.

Being in an airplane is nothing like being in a crib, in a silent, dark room. Quinn figured this out fairly quickly and wriggled and writhed for most of the 5+ hour trip. Finally exhaustion took over and he slumped on top of me, like a comatose bag of coffee beans. Which coincided with our descent into LA.

So sleepy, grumpy Q and Maria and I and far too many carry-on bags navigated our way from one terminal in LAX to another on a shuttle bus, then on to customs. Customs was pretty much a horror show of an enormous line up and pat down and we made it into the terminal with about 20 minutes to spare. Fairly nerve wracking.

Qantas are pretty consistently awesome, in my opinion, and despite a wee fricassee with our stroller (it ended up about 5km away from where we needed it when we arrived in Brisbane-forcing us to walk with Quinn and ALL of our carry-on luggage to the enormously overcrowded customs center), the flight was pretty good.

Of course, the flight itself is 12-13 hours and, as it takes off at 11pm Saturday and arrives in Australia at 6am on Monday, for almost all of the passengers it can be counted as 1 good night's sleep.

We and our toddler-carrying neighbors, who I think may have been the only other people on the plane with a "little tacker" (Australian for small child), managed to dispel the "good night's sleep" option for at least the 12-16 passengers anywhere near us. Quinn and Monte fell into a synchronous ritual of melt-downs on a seamless three hourly schedule. Thankfully Quinn was a little more reserved than Monte so his street cred was slightly higher with our disgruntled neighbors.

The food was pretty good (that is coming from Maria who is the toughest critic - being one of those vegetarian types) and the service was cool too. I did get a kick out of a steward with a torch asking us if "everything is alright?" during a Quinn melt-down, which I found particularly interesting, as if he might have some magic way to stop a child from crying?

Finally we arrived and walked the 5km to the customs chaos (see earlier note on "fricassee" regarding our lack of stroller) , then on through the declaration arena where a dog nearly cost us $66,000 in fines for illegally smuggling an apple into the country.

And then on through the doors and there they were, grandma and grandad, overjoyed to see us and us them.

A great start.

permalink written by  Groovespook on October 20, 2014 from Coominya, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia Family Madness 2014
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Coominya, Australia

I really do not know where to start now that the vacation has actually started.

Just catching up with the family is beyond awesome and capturing the emotion and the togetherness that just instantly spills out between us all is just too much to describe.

The interactions between Quinn and Grandma and Granddad and the family are just gorgeous to witness and the idiosyncrasies between them a dream to be a part of.

Quinn is at that magical age where he is picking up more words every day, chatty and grappling with pronunciations which, in Australia, is a hoot. “Gidday Maaate” he has down. Love it.

But where we are, Coominya, is also a slice of Australia you cannot buy in any package tour. The landscape is parched from a long lack of decent rain which seems to only keep the termites happy. Dotted throughout the gum tree tainted scrub are great mounds of glued dirt, as firm as a concrete slab and as big as (and often mistaken for) kangaroos.

My parents, Sarah and Sharon live in a sweet house on 10 acres of bushland. Compartmentalized into about eight or so fenced off areas with varying degrees of sheds and aviaries and kennels and ponds with (draws a deep breath) 9 puppies, something like 7 fully grown German shepherds, I can’t count the amount of beautifully colored birds of varying species, a couple of lizards, frogs, and, oh yeah, the poultry.

The poultry. A never-ending clucking and cooing brood of 20chickens, 4 ducks (actually 5 but the fifth is convinced it is one of the 20 chickens and lives almost permanently in a roost with the chickens laying eggs, oblivious to the other little cluckers), and 4 (I think, they move fast) guinea fowl.

I nearly forgot the 2 guinea pigs (not related to the guinea fowl). And yesterday, inconspicuously and allegedly based on a threat of rain, 7,000 ants in the kitchen. Though they did not last long. ;-) As I type this, Ella is oozing out of the stereo as mum and dad punch their iPads and chat about the day and a very cool, fresh breeze flows in.

Despite the menagerie of animal life, the place is as peaceful as rural Australia can get. I laughed at the first car that past our property at 8am (I was on the porch since 5.30am with poor, tired Q boy, still adjusting to having his idea of night and day turned utterly upside down whilst being flown halfway around the world a few days previous).

Since we arrived, Quinn has been face to face with kangaroos, wallabies, tree frogs, horses, all the afore mentioned creatures that live with us (yes, even the ants) and the unfathomably rare koala with attached joey that literally walked right past us, stared and nonchalantly dissed our humanity and casually climbed a tree at an empty, silent park overlooking Wivenhoe Dam. The damn is a body of water the size of Sydney Harbor about 10 minutes from the property. Dotted with Pelicans, Cormorants and soon-to-be-caught fish that hopefully include Bass, Yellowbelly, Perch, Murray Cod and “shit-loads” of other fine fresh water scaly things. Not to mention the Redclaw Crayfish which we intend to harvest in the coming few days on a small convoy of boats and kayaks.

As we drive down to the damn we pass an abattoir where Sharon works. Fields of cows awaiting shrink wrapping in much smaller pieces sit in fields that my father affectionately calls out to when we pass… “five days left,” “three days left” etc.

Tomorrow the extended, immediate family all congregate for a weekend of animal adoring, boating, fishing, Motorbike riding, barbecuing goodness as we all catch up and just live life to the fullest together as only we know how to do.

permalink written by  Groovespook on October 23, 2014 from Coominya, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia Family Madness 2014
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