Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

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Archive for April, 2008

ANZAC – AL Day!!

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 27, 2008

Two happy girls!We picked up the kiReleased from AQIS on ANZAC Day!!ds on April 25 – ANZAC DAY – Australian Memorial Day – and it became AL Day – Airedale Liberation Day!! They were so cute. Sue Forrester’s gift of Aussie flag bandannas were a hit. The kids did really well on the  2 1/2 trip back to Canberra. Bean Sidhe loved looking out the window and watching this new world pass by, Cooper just took a nap.

When we got to the house we let them roam around getting familiar with the surroundings. They aren’t use to fences at our home in Kansas but after being penned up for 30 days I’m sure the yard looked enormous to them. Cooper wouldn’t let Fergus out of his sight but Bean Sidhe was more interested in communicating with her new doggie neighbor on the other side of the fence.

After a short rest we headed out for a walk around the neighborhood. There are lots of parks and green-ways so we didn’t have to walk on the streets very much. There were so many scents and BS had to check them out, and so many bushes, Coop had to leave his calling card on each one so we didn’t get very far.

It wasn’t long before we managed to find ourselves at the pub where the sidewalk was over flowing with ANZAC Day celebrators. Our two guys were an attraction for many of them. We had a beer before heading back to the house. We all slept well that night being all back together again, finally!

Together again!!!The crowd celebrating AL...I mean ANZAC Day.

This is the one day of the year that people can drink and play a dice game in the streets. We couldn’t get close enough to see what they were doing. I’ll find out more about this and report back.


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A lot of hot air

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 20, 2008

This morning I got up early to see the take off of the hot air balloons. The Canberra Balloon Festival is a big thing – it leads up to ANZAC Day (Memorial Day) on Friday. Years ago Brother Bob and Cydni took me to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival – now that was a sight to see. There were hundreds (at least it seemed like it – I don’t know how many really) of balloons all shapes, colors and sizes. It was incredible. We even went to the evening celebration called “Afterglow” (I think – my mind isn’t what it use to be) where the balloonist fill up their balloons, and the burners make the balloons glow. It was beautiful!

Well, Canberra’s festival isn’t much competition for Albuquerque’s but it does have a GIANT Kookaburra. I hung around for a while but it never took off, I guess conditions have to be perfect for his odd shape to fly. It was very cool nevertheless. One of the better aspects of the festival was that parking was free and plentiful, there weren’t a bunch of hawkers selling crummy junk and there was a Jazz band playing great music that was broadcast throughout the area at a volume that one could enjoy while taking in the surrounding events. Well, done.

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Just For Fun

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 19, 2008

Here are some pictures we’ve taken that I haven’t added in earlier blog entries. Some of them Fergus took and fooled around with photo shop- guess which ones? – not the miniature villages those are real. Be sure to click on the pictures to make them bigger.

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Housing News!

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 18, 2008

If you want to skip Fergus’ long entry – I have news about our house hunting which I should have posted after his entry rather than before – I’ll get the hang of this blogging soon enough.

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Fergus’ Observations II

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 18, 2008

Some of you get these from Fergus directly but if you don’t here are his most recent observatons.

From the pen of Fergus Thornton…


Day 2 (of work)Less administrative stuff to do today and I actually started seeing patients with some of the junior staff (interns and residents). I did have session to learn how to access medical records; you know, one of those learning experiences where they pack 5 minutes of information into a 45 minute time slot. [And there’s always that one person in every group who has to ask questions which apply to no one but him/her and delay the conclusion by 15 min, right?]

I found out today that I will get an office (I’m jumping up and clicking my heels, “Yippee”). But I’ll need some help. You see, I’ve never actually had an office so I’m not quite sure what to do with one. I guess I have to decorate it. Maybe I’ll start with the requisite ficus tree. Some pictures on the wall of me shaking hands with the president. Since I’ll also have my own computer there I do have one idea. Instead of coming home and having Anne nag me, “you’re always on the computer. You never talk to me.”, I can call and say, “Sorry, honey, I’m tied up at the office”, and then browse to my heart’s content. . . . .Yeah, I don’t think it’ll work either.


Another word about the taxis: after the debacle on Monday, I called Monday evening to schedule one to Tuesday am @ 0730. He was there 5 min early! And they’re all so clean and smell great. No cloudy plastic windows with slots between you and the driver. None of that curry odor one gets in the big city cabs.

I was approached late this afternoon, rather timidly, by a resident who asked me to review an x-ray with her. While we talked, I realized she had a funny accent. I asked where she was from. Colorado! It seems that I’m already getting so used to the Aussie accent that an American accent strikes me. Still later, I met a “Senior Registrar” (about 4-5 years out from residency) who was from Georgia. He had been an ED Doc for many years there but emigrated 3 years ago due to his (similar to mine) disillusionment (dare I say disgust?) with American Medicine. He decided to go through with the Australian certification process (much longer than ours) and was in his last year of that. He agreed with me about the high prices and the taxes.

Hey, did I mention the taxes? Yikes!! For personal income, it’s $14,500 of the first $50,000, and then (ready?) it’s (are you sitting down?) 47% of the rest! Then they add on Social Security so essentially it’s 50% of income over $50,000. After hearing that, I spoke with the agency which retained me and the hospital admin and we may be able to re-do the contract so that I’ll get paid in the US and then just have some of that sent down here. I’ll lose something because of the failing dollar but gain a bit more by avoiding Aussie taxes. Also, there aren’t the usual deductions allowed in the Aussie tax code, i.e. house mortgage, dependents, etc.


Remember when I mentioned the lack of tips? I thought I was getting away with something. But after talking to a few natives and having a few more restaurant experiences I now have a different take on their system. It seems that “wait-people” make a pretty good wage; about $15-$20/hr. In America, as I understand it, they get a minimum wage and essentially live on tips. Not so here. But the upshot of this system is troubling and I think the principle is one I’m going to run into more and more in this partially socialistic country. You see, without tips, there is no incentive. The waiters aren’t tied to certain tables; they all take care of all tables so one might order from one waitress, be served by another, and order your second wine from a third. But there isn’t any drive to deliver good service and that’s been reflected in a few more recent experiences. If the service is bad . . . .well, too bad. I guess the same holds for taxi drivers but we haven’t seen it. Today, we had a ride which totaled $20.70; I gave him a twenty and a ten. He looked at them for a moment and turned to me and gave me the ten back and said, “let’s just call it $20.” I was astounded. Again, with a good wage they don’t worry about tips. [Anybody reminded of unions?]

While working in the ED on my third shift, I noticed a very obese woman waddle in. Similar to the resident from Colorado (with the “American accent“), I wondered why this woman’s appearance struck me. Then, after a bit of reflection I realized why. I just hadn’t been seeing the vast numbers of obese folks in Australia that I was used to seeing in the states and so she really stuck out here (no pun intended); she would go unnoticed in the US [Obesity as camouflage?]. And since that observation, I can confirm it on a daily basis. Very few obese folks down here.

A word about toilets (hope you’re not eating breakfast). Isn’t it strange how toilets differ around the world? I mean, the principle is the same but there are all these minor variations I find fascinating. The weirdest were in Germany where the “target area” (trying to be tactful and mindful of your next meal) is a large flat “shelf” with the exit way in the back. It was as if you were supposed to examine it before flushing. Now if worms are a concern of yours, then maybe this is the toilet for you. Australian toilets have buttons rather than levers and the tank is often built into the wall with just the button protruding. And the opening is gigantic. (maybe their diet has more fiber than ours?) But here’s the variation: many toilets here have two buttons. One for a regular flush and one which includes soap with the flush. For times when you need to erase . . . .well, you can figure it out.


Right now I’m writing whilst on the train from Sydney to Canberra; thought we’d try this in lieu of the plane. Have you ever taken a cross-country train? Not used much in US but here, as in Europe, used quite a bit. We’re seated in economy which is roughly like first class in a plane: wider seats, foot rests, and huge aisles. A few other differences which will take some getting used to: I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to buckle my non-existent seat belt. And, of course, huge, panoramic windows (which are washed after every trip!). Just hanging about in the train station was so redolent of all those late night, black-and-white, 40’s movies we’ve all seen. And it’s so quiet! I’m guessing we’re going about 50-60 mph (I really should say about 100km/h, shouldn’t I?) and we can whisper to each other. Another difference is that special car, two forward of ours called the “buffet car”; you can get a full hot meal (brought to your seat), all sorts of hot and cold snacks, and, wonder of wonders, wine! Since it’s a 4 hour afternoon journey, I suspect I’ll be ‘exploring’ this whole train (wink,wink).

We’re returning from our one week visit to see the kids. A bit of a disaster, actually. It’s only a 35 min flight from Canberra to Sydney but because of winds we were held in a holding pattern over Sydney for 2½

hours! So we got in at 1pm and needed to be at the quarantine station by 1:30 and it’s about a 90 min rail ride from the airport vicinity. Visiting hours, as I’ve mentioned are from 1:30-3:30 and we didn’t get there until three so we didn’t get much quality time with them. We brought them some tins of their favorite food which were devoured with great enthusiasm made somewhat difficult by the force of their wagging tails.

[Well I’ve just discovered one inevitability this train has in common with flying: the damn crying baby two rows in front of us. I may need that wine sooner than I thought.]

We returned to a B&B near the airport we booked on line and learned yet another lesson about this country and the dangers of assumptions. I don’t know about all of you, but when I reserve a room, whether it be a grand hotel or a motel six on the road, I (and maybe it’s just me) kinda expect a bathroom is included. Now, be honest with me, is this asking too much? I looked around the room, opened a closet door expectantly, then turned to the host and inquired. “Oh, it’s just up the stairs and down the hall,” he said as if I should have known. Well, excuuuuuse me! I’m thinking, good thing my prostate is still normal or I might be waking up more tired than when I retired.

After I stewed for awhile, we spoke with him about our dissatisfaction and he arranged for us to switch with another guest for a room “en suite” which, having taken German rather than French in HS, I’m guessing is Aussie for “with bathroom”. I’m not that particular, but I didn’t really relish sharing a bathroom with a dozen strangers, but if I did, well then, I’d hope they’d all use that second button!

The next day, we bought a “day tripper”, an all day ticket for the trains, buses, and, best of all, the ferries, for $16. Well worth it, and maybe the first thing we’ve thought that about since arriving. We got off in “The Rocks” area of central Sydney, so named because of all the prisons which were there in the eighteenth century. We explored a bit and then headed over to the famous opera house.

Now we’ve all seen pictures of this most iconic image of Australia but it is so much more impressive in person. Simply extraordinary! And the mathematics involved in the shapes (Don’t hit delete!! I’m not going there!) is equally amazing. Across from the opera house is the almost-as-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. As you’ll see in the photos which I’ll be providing soon, one can take a walk to the top of the bridge. Couple of problems, though. First, it’s a 3


½ hour walk up and back. And it’s $150 per. Also, they don’t allow you to take ANY possessions (not even a camera which kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?). And they dress you in a special one-piece monkey suit (think flight suit) and you are roped in to cables similar to climbers. There was also a poster there with exclusions: can’t go if you’re pregnant, have heart trouble, vertigo, out-of-shape, under 10yo, etc. If they’d had a line on a panel indicating minimum height allowed, I might have thought we were lining up for a ride at Disneyland. Why would I go through all that and not be able to take a picture? Ah, but these Aussies are no beginners operating tourist attractions. You can have your photo taken at the top by them. And for only $50! Anyway, we passed.




[Another plane-train similarity: extremely loud and strident announcements.]This is sooooo cool. Just walked up to the buffet car and purchased two small wines and a cheese & cracker spread for $15. The doors between cars are operated by a button mounted on the wall. When pressed the door makes a hissing sound; I swear, it must have been modeled on the sound from the Star Trek series.

Okay, I want you to know I’m not making this up: I’m leafing through those magazines similar to the ones all the airlines have in ”the seat pocket in front of you” (ever heard that phrase?) and there’s an ad for a product from Hyundai. No, nothing to do with cars. Again, I’m not making this up, folks. Here’s the big print from the ad: “IMAGINE that you are sitting on your toilet, and, with just the press of a button your toilet seat cleans you automatically without the need of toilet paper.” It goes on to say that “apart from cleaning you, it cleans itself and the toilet bowl.“ It shows a picture of a toilet which looks like a computer: full of buttons with a screen mounted on the side of the padded and warmed seat. You know, I really don’t want to know what the screen says nor what the options are. Sounds like something from the “Jetson’s”, doesn’t it?

So, back to Sydney. We took a ferry across the Harbour which is huge. Now I’ve been to several “Harbor Cities” (grew up in SF, been to NY, Seattle, etc.) but this one dwarfs them all. You could hide the whole SF bay system here and not notice it. Ending up in “Darling Harbour”, we went to a “wildlife center”, in the heart of Sydney which has many of the unusual animals found on this continent. Now, let me say this: I HATE ZOOS. I HATE WHAT THEY DO TO ANIMALS. I HATE SEEING THE POOR ANIMALS TAKEN FROM THEIR NATURAL HABITAT. Having said that, this was an utterly fascinating one-hour tour of examples of Aussie wildlife. In defense of our visit, it mostly exhibited insect and reptilian species, with very few mammals. As some of you may know (and I think I mentioned this) 90% of the most poisonous species in the world are found in Australia. So it was very instructive to view these under controlled environment before I run across them in real life. They had the famous, “Funnel Web” spider, and most of the poisonous snakes found here. (Photos to follow, I promise.) I have a picture of me holding an Aussie version of the walking stick, the insect which looks like a leaf+branch. Except, in contrast to what I’ve seen in the US, this one is about 20 inches long! They had delightful Koalas, munching happily on leaves. Wallabees (like small Kangas) hopping about; and they had the Cassowary, the second largest bird in the world (a familiar bird for crossword aficionados). Apparently very dangerous, too, with huge powerful, razor-sharp talons. I left there whistling that song from the early sixties, “Tie me Kangaroo, Down, Sport, . . .” We then went to an Imax presentation on ancient sea monsters; ironically, the whole story started with a fossil finding in . . . .Kansas! How nice to see pictures of Kansas down here (NOT!!!!).

Then, after a dinner of tapas at a Spanish restaurant, we ferried and railed back to the B&B (en suite!). And that brings us back to our train ride now.

One more item, just heard from the overhead announcer: “Next stop is Bowal. Those who hope to disembark please get ready to do so.” Hmmmm. One takes a chance getting off? Geez, we’re hoping to get off at Canberra; what are the chances? Could we pay more and be sure?


 So I can just picture 3 husky, macho guys in a garage: “Okay,” says one, in a deep voice. “Here’s the plan: we’ll finish mounting this turbocharger on the engine, then head down to Sears to pick up some Craftsmen power tools, then over to Sam’s for some beers. Sound okay?” They all nod but then he adds, “But first I gotta poo.” The other two guys would flee in the US. Never happen here. It sounds so childish to us. But the other day I had an attractive and intelligent 25 yo woman with abdominal pain. In answer to a typical question about bowel movements she says, with a straight face . . . . . with family and friends standing around . . . . “Well I “poo’ed” this morning and it was okay.” Typical American that I am, I was embarrassed. She wasn’t, and nor were the spectators.



First Drive.

Today, being Thursday, it was time for our visit to the kids in Sydney so we rented a car (don’t ask why; I’m still pissed off about the lack of a car which was promised me by the agency which hired me. The hospital is paying for this one.). This was my first opportunity to drive down under, on the left side of the road. Having a “Y” chromo, I was pretty sure this would be easy. There’s one rule to this that is universal: the driver is always closest to the centre of the road.

Now one thing which may not occur to you until you actually try driving like this is that when the manufacturer switches the controls to the right side of the car, they also reverse the column controls. But the fact that you’re driving from a different side doesn’t change your habits vis-à-vis the column controls. Does this matter? Well, for me it does. You see, every time I signal a turn, the windshield wipers go on. And every time the windshield wipers go on, Anne asks, oh, which way are you turning? At first, this was very embarrassing but after a while it became rather humorous. What’s really funny is when I actually TRY to clean the windshield on the freeway; she thinks I’m turning at 110kmph! For the first few hours of driving, each time we came to an intersection where I had to make a right turn (crossing traffic), she would unbuckle and say, “Let me our here. I’ll meet you across the street.” And no wonder: faced with a right turn at a big intersection, I’d sit there for a moment and rehearse where, exactly, I needed to end up. It’s great when it’s busy; I just follow the car ahead of me. But when I need to “solo” a right turn, it’s downright *******.

Fortunately, after leaving the rental agency, just two left turns (the easiest; think rights turns where you are) got us onto the main highway and then it was 2 hours without any turns giving me a chance to get used to the change. The speed limits are a bit lower than in the US and, as I’ve mentioned before, much more strictly enforced. The main roads (2-4 lanes) are usually 80 km/h (~50mph), and the freeway is 110 km/h (~65mph). A school zone is 40 km/h (24mph). All over there were signs referring to the speed cameras and the penalties if caught.

Now many jokes are made about road kill in the US; armadillos and deer are common with, sadly, the occasional cat or dog. Here, one sees wombats, kangas, and rabbits. Also, there are many signs giving a phone number to get someone out to remove the carcass. Speaking of phones on the freeway, as you approach a toll road, a phone number is flashed on the numerous electronic signs along the way; one calls this number to pay the toll so that when the “toll plaza” is reached . . . . . well, there isn’t one. Traffic just flows through. There are, of course, the ubiquitous cameras so you can’t really get away with anything.

The main roads are generally as good as those in the US although the cars, on average, are smaller (gas is MUCH more expensive). But get off the “beaten track” and you may have problems. The reason for the poor roads is the limited tax base; in an area close to that of the US, there are only about 25 million taxpayers so the money gets spread pretty thin. Because of this, SUV’s are more common here than in the US and many have the optional exhaust pipe which extends above the hood.

Every 10 kms or so there is a sign advising you to stop every two hours of driving: the slogan is, “Revive, Survive, Arrive.” They must have a lot of accidents due to sleepy drivers. That may be true because of the distances involved in driving through the empty outback. Once one leaves the coast there isn’t much in the way of civilization until one reaches the opposite coast which can be days. The legal limit of alcohol here is only .05%; in the US it’s .08% in most states, a few are higher. And they’re very serious about SB’s; even the taxis won’t depart unless yours is buckled. America could learn a lot from Aussie driving laws (no cell phones allowed in cars, remember?).

Now here’s an aspect of Aussie driving I DON’T want to see exported to the US: parking rates. Instead of parking meters, each block has a machine much like a vending machine; when you park either curbside or in a lot, you must go to this machine, deposit the appropriate coinage or scan your card, select the length of time you need to park, hit OK, and then get a receipt which states the expiration time. This is placed on your dash so the police can check on you. The cost is usually about $4 for the first hour; I’m not sure how it increases. We couldn’t afford to park longer!

Another aspect of driving here with which many of you may not be familiar is the ’round-about’ which are used (seemingly) world wide in lieu of intersections. In theory, this makes a lot of sense; the flow of traffic never stops, no lights to install (cheaper), and, since everybody is going in roughly the same direction, fewer accidents. In theory. Now there is one cardinal rule with the round-about: the car “in” the round-about has priority over any car wanting to enter and therein lies the rub. Traffic gets backed up waiting to enter. And once in, your troubles have just begun. You have a choice of three left turns to exit and you must position yourself (inside/outside) to be able to take your exit without either blocking another car or being blocked. The smaller ones aren’t too bad but the larger ones, with two or three lanes in the round-about can be a study in Brownian (random) motion. Remember the chariot scene in “Ben-Hur? Now you have the idea.

Now writing 2 days later: I’m getting pretty good with the right-hand turns, even solo. (I’m so proud.) But there’s one more danger I haven’t dealt with but did mention it above. GAS! Yikes! Regular is . . . you better sit down . . . .$6.40/gal! And you’re all thinking the price back home is high? Spare me the whining. So a drive to Dodge and back from Wichita would be about $130. No wonder the cars here are so small. The gas pumps don’t have slots for your cards as you’re used to but they do have a meter into which you enter the amount of gas you wish to pump and it shuts off automatically.



After a delightful 90 minutes with the kids, we struck out for the Blue Mountains, about 80 miles outside of Sydney. These aren’t really mountains as we think of the Sierras or the Rockies with sharp, angular peaks jutting upwards, but rather a series of ever taller hills rising to about 1200 m (~4000 ft). The “Blue” is from the blue haze which forms from the evaporating oils of the dominating eucalyptus trees. It snows occasionally here and this is one of the two most popular “refuges” for the 6M people in Sydney (the other being the south coast beaches).


Remember a while back I mentioned the high pay waiters and other service people received in lieu of depending on gratuities? And that without the incentive, perhaps service wasn’t as good? Well, perhaps there’s another side to that. We’ve noticed that people are very friendly here even when we’re not buying anything. And why not? They’re not dependent on us. A good example of this was today where we entered a booking agency (here one “books” rather than ‘reserves’) for B&B’s to get directions to one they didn’t even handle. They spent 5 minutes with us, giving directions, getting maps out, and chatting. They knew we weren’t going to be clients, yet took the time to help.



Posted in dogs, Fergus' Observations, food, Info, travel | 1 Comment »

We have a House!!!

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 18, 2008

We found a house today. It’s an older home near Canberra City Centre in a suburb called Turner. It has a nice fenced backyard for the kids. It’s old but clean and well maintained. There are three bedrooms – only one bath with a shower but it will do. Wireless internet (that’s important) cable TV and it’s furnished. It even has a fully stocked kitchen i.e.;pots, pans, dishes, appliances, microwave oven, utensils, glassware the whole shooting match. The beds have linens and blankets and bedspreads. There are two TV’s one in the living room and one in a spare bedroom. The house is brick so it stays cool in the summer, gas heating (not central but it’s a smallish place) one in the living room and one in the hallway near the bedrooms. After all the crummy places I’ve looked at it was unbelievable to find such a nice place.

The house is just blocks from a neighborhood shop area with an IGA (grocery store), post office, pharmacy (more like a drug store), an assortment of other shops, and our very own pub. Yet we are only blocks away from Canberra Centre, a large mall with all the brand name stores – three stories high and about four blocks long.There are parks all around us, Australian National University is across the street (the Theatre Arts Centre on campus is within walking distance) and there are main parkways (highways) in all directions to get around Canberra. The hospital is only about 15-20 mintues away depending on traffic.

We are under the shadow of the Telstra Tower, which sits atop one of Canberra’s highest hills – I’ll send pictures once we get into the house. I plan to start moving on Saturday. Fortunately we haven’t accumulated too much stuff since we got here and we haven’t unpacked all our boxes yet so moving should be fairly easy. The address for those of you who have been asking is: 68 David St. Turner, ACT 2612 Australia. Overseas mailing is expensive so don’t write, email instead – I’m especially talking to you, Martin Thornton!

Fergus and I have never lived in a neighborhood before – this should be an adventure. We went out to celebrate at a great Spanish restaurant called Legends – tapas & Spanish rice. It was very good. This is in Manuka near where we are staying now. Once we move we will have other new places to explore. As they say in Aussieland “Ta”, for now.  

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Airedales we have met

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 17, 2008

Our friend Ann Graham in Wichita, an Airedale human companion, told me about a couple in Australia who wrote a book about Airedales, Sue Forrester and Bill Molyneux – “Emma’s Journey” ( I emailed Sue before we left Kansas and she wrote back with lots of information about caring for dogs in the Australian environment and things to watch out for like snakes and such. Since we’ve arrived Sue has been a wealth of information. She has gotten us in contact with an Airedale club – people all over Australia who are companions and rescue families ( Cooper is a rescue dog – for those of you who don’t know our story about Cooper I’ll write as seperate entry in a couple of days).

One of our first mornings in Canberra we met Jag and his human – didn’t get his name- on their morning walk. I wish I had taken a picture because he was a beautiful guy- Jag, not his human. When Sue heard we were going to the Blue Mountains she emailed suggesting we visit Bryan and Denise Keith who own a B&B The Broomelea ( in Leura – a small town in the Blue Mountain area. They have four Airedales – one who was recently rescued. We headed to Leura for a visit. Bryan was at the B&B but Denise was at work. He was so gracious and we had a delightful visit with he and his ‘dales.  

We spent quite a bit of time with him mostly talking about our dogs, the differences in our countries and fun things to see and do in the area. Bryan suggested we take the hike down the canyon at Wentforth Falls. After our trek down to the Wentworth Falls (coming soon our at this location –  Wentforth Falls Adventure). We had a lovely dinner at a wonderful Indian restaurant before heading back to our B&B. Next time we will stay at Bryan & Denise’s place since they have a separate cottage that will allow dogs – Airedales only -I think!! 

I will add Fergus’ Observations II about our drive and his impressions of the Blue Mountains as soon as I can find it on the computer.

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Aussie Airedales

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 17, 2008

We visited the kids twice since my last addition to the blog. We saw them before we went to the Blue Mountains. We had gotten a car (finally) and drove up to Eastern Creek AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Station). We gave ourselves extra time to get lost. (See Fergus’ Observations II for the driving Our second experience). There is never enough time with them but see the pics and judge for yourself. Our second visit on Tuesday was a much more satisfying visit for us. We were able to take them to the exercise area where they had a grassy enclosure to run around in. We came back an hour 1/2 later and spent another hour with them before we headed back to Canberra.  On our next visit we will bring them back with us to Canberra. I hope to find a house by then. Wish me luck.

(I couldn’t figure out how to delete the duplicate pics of Bean Sidhe – sorry.)

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The Blue Mountains

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 17, 2008

After seeing the kids at AQIS (see Aussie Airedales entry) we headed west to the Blue Mountains. It was an easy and uneventful ride up to Katoomba the town where we booked a B&B for two nights. The Blues Mountains are breathtaking – the pictures don’t do them justice. The one thing you don’t get from the pics is the wonderful eucalyptus smell that permeates the air. The “Blue” comes from the vaporization off the trees leaves.

The Three Sisters has an aborginal tale about it – three sister were in love with three brothers from another tribe but were forbidden to marry. The brothers were going to capture them but a Kuradjuri (clever man) turned them to stone with the intention of releasing the spell once the battle was over. well unfortunately he died in battle and no one has been able to break the spell.



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Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 17, 2008

I found out that the white birds are sulfur crested cockatoos, the colorful birds are lorikeets. They are as common as pigeons or sparrows. The cockatoos are noisier than rosters in the morning.

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