Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

Follow the Adventures of Anne Marie, Fergus, Cooper and Bean Sidhe in Australia!!

Archive for June, 2008

Sydney Symphony

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on June 27, 2008

We went to Sydney to the Opera House to see Emmanuel Ax play Mozart. Wow, what a place. The Opera House has several venues. The concert hall isn’t the biggest but it is BIG. We had some unusual seats – right behind the orchestra. I’ve never been in an orchestra so it was treat for me to watch the conductor straight on. I could see his facial expressions, the movement of his eyes and the sweat on his forehead. The conductor, Robin Ticciati, was very young (in his twenties), handsome and energentic. The baton flickered in his hand like a magic wand. During a piece by Meale two brass horn players were holding back the giggles -so funny to see two grown men trying not to laugh.

We were with the Moore’s on this trip. We dropped the dogs at a really nice kennel in Queanbeyan just outside Canberra on Saturday morning. The drive to Sydney isn’t too long especially when someone else is driving. After we dropped our bags at the hotel in Sydney, we headed out to explore the area. There was really great street market – I need to go there again. After spending the afternoon exploring the area we went back to the hotel before going out to dinner and then to the Opera House. It was a fun evening.


The next day after breakfast we took the ferry to Manly Beach. It was a bit cold and windy but you could see what a great place it would be in the summer. (Remember it’s the middle of winter here). Fergus and I decided to go to Darling Harbour to see the replica ship HMB Endeavour.  Pat and Britt had been there before so they hung out around Manly. Some of the houses around the harbour are magnificient – if we win the lottery this is were we would live. It’s like San Francisco, New York and London all rolled into one, only the climate is like San Diego and the landscape hilly not flat – outstanding!!!

The Endeavor is the ship that Captain James Cook sailed. It is worth reading about Cook’s unbelievable voyages. I am currently reading a book – ” Farther Than Any Man – The Rise and Fall of Captain Cook” by Martin Dugard. And I about a month ago Pat Moore loaned me a book called “Into the Blue: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook has Gone Before” by Tony Horwitz. It’s an interesting book because the author visits the important places that Cook explored. He also sails on the replica ship and describes the ship as it was in Cook’s time.The ship carried over a hundred people.

The replica does voyages along the Australian coast and in the hull they have a modern kitchen, toilets and showers and diesel engines as required by law, and sails with about half the number of people. The living quarters in places are only four foot tall – Cook was over 6″ tall. It is hard to believe that these men travelled in those conditions for months at a time without a break. We had a short visit to the nearby Australian Maritime Museum before heading back to the hotel and then dinner.







On Monday morning we checked out of the hotel, a light breakfast and then we were on the road back to Canberra.


On the way back we stopped in a little village cafe for sandwiches for a picnic at the Encarpment. I’ve included some pictures so that you can see how beautiful that area is. We had a wonderful weekend.

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Do you Zoo?

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on June 25, 2008

We, as a rule, don’t like to go to zoos. We hate to see animals in cages. But we found ourselves letting a glorious day slip away from us and decided to do some local animal watching. Fergus hadn’t been to the Botanic Garden so we went over there for a late lunch and some bird watching. I found a new bird to check off in my Australian Bird book – I’ve spotted 24 different birds in this month.

We then drove over to the zoo and aquarium. The aquarium is more like huge fish tanks rather than a Sea World or Monterey Bay Aquarium. There were some amazing fish: colorful, large and scarey. They also had some tanks with reptiles but I’m not that interested in snakes and such.

The rest of the zoo was okay. Again it’s hard not to compare the setting once one has been to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. We enjoyed seeing the Australian animals up close: little penguins, kangaroos, emus, wombat and dingos. The zoo also has bears, monkeys, lions and tigers. We were fascinated mostly by the giraffes. The observation deck at the giraffe enclosure puts you eye to eye with the giraffes and only feet away from their faces. They have the most beautiful eyes with eye lashes “to die for”.

Zoos provide an important function, besides giving us an opportunity to see animals that we might never have the chance to see live they can teach us about the need for the protection of these animals. I learned that of the eight species of tigers, only four continue to exist in the wild.  It is so sad to know that they only way that these wild animals might be able to exist is in a zoo somewhere thousands of miles from their nature environment.

I was looking for photos to add to this blog but alas we only took a few at the Botanic Garddens and none at the zoo.  Look for the next installment- Sydney!

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Wild Australians

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on June 1, 2008

No Kelly, I’m not talking about those Aussie hunks, I mean real WILD ANIMALS!!! We went to TidbinbillaTwo emus Nature Reserve yesterday with Pat and Britt Moore. We saw mobs (yes that’s what a group of kangaroos are called) of roos, amazing birds, two real koalas but sadly no platypus (at least not this trip). It was probably one of the best days we’ve spent here so far.

The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is miles and miles of hills and valleys protected for the native vegetation and animals. It’s only 30 minutes from Canberra. Now the reserve is not really the wild because some of the areas are fenced to keep “predator” animals out. There are pathways for easy walking and specially designed wetland areas to attract some amazing birds.

Our first encounter was two emus grazing along the side of the road. They are so big maybe three to four feet tall, I’ll have to research that, but they were big. The funny thing is that as they started to walk away from me they made these cute little grunting noise more like a pig’s snort rather than a bird sound.

Koalas are difficult to see. They are almost the same color as the tree bark and they sit in the crook of the branch in the tallest of trees hidden by the leaves of the eucalyptus. They hardly move so you need really look hard. Britt and I tended to do more talking than looking so our fearless koala hunters pointed them out to us. I got a couple of good pictures – by luck I must admit. Koala in a tree.

Koala hunters!









Black swan familyWe came across a Australian Black Swan family – a nesting mom with a newly hatched baby and an egg waiting to pop any minute. The male swan was  doing a little home maintenance by adding reeds to the sides of the nest – very cool!

In the nest




We saw a two huge pelicans and a heron – so beautiful but the pictures we took didn’t come out. We also saw many unusual ducks – some with blue bills and one with a black waddle.


We wanted to see a platypus – the lady in the visits center said quite a few had been seen in the past couple of days but we never found the right pond – we will be back. I just finished reading an interesting historical novel called “Love and the Platypus” about the man who went to Australia in the 1800’s to determine if platypus laid eggs or had live births. Having finished the novel the night before really peaked my interest to see this awesome animal in a natural environment.

We ended this beautiful afternoon picnicking on top of ridge as the sun moved behind the far hills. In the Britt, Anne, and the roos.valley below we could see kangaroos grazing. We walked in a large meadow where they were feeding – at one point I counted fifteen kangaroos of various sizes. Britt and I walked as close to them as they would allow us. They were curious about us but they didn’t try to approach us.

I could see their eyes and the twitch of their ears. Their short arms (or are they called paws?) pulled at the grass as they balanced on their rear legs and long tail. They are truely an amazing animal to see. I am truly “Not in Kansas any more” but in the land of Oz.

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