Loving the Land Down Under

Hello from Port Macquarie (Port – as the locals call it).  Approximately four hours north of Sydney.  This little picturesque town lies right along the ocean.  There are beaches upon beaches scattered with huge rocks and colorful shells.  This town also has great swells nearly all year, so this is a surfers paradise.

We landed here one week ago today.  We knew from the moment we pulled into town that we would love it here and want to stay a while.  There are many reasons that this town is special to me.  The views of the ocean are so beautiful and the waves are constantly rolling in.  The roads that are along the ocean have pull off spots that allow us cook our meals or watch the sunrise or see dolphins jump and play through the waves.  The local beach (Town Beach), is where we park the van and fall asleep listening to waves crash into the beach.  The sun rises at 5:30 am and illuminates the entire sky.  I am not sure which I love more sunrises or sunsets, each are equally beautiful in their own way.

Before we arrived here in Port, we stopped at The Blackbutt Reserve Park in Newcastle, NSW.  This was about one hour south of Port.  The city itself wasn’t impressive to me but the reserve was special.  The animals that were there had a very natural environment to live in.  We had our first glimpse of the Kangaroo, Koala and Emu – well known Australian animals.  We had the opportunity to pet a koala, feed an emu and kangaroo.  In NSW, it is illegal to hold/cuddle a koala so for now we got close and were able to pet him.  When we get to Queensland (new state), holding/cuddling koalas is allowed, so we will have another opportunity to get even closer. There are also parrots and lizards living here.  I am so fascinated by the animals and plan on taking many more pictures as I go and reading and learning about them.  So plan on many more posts including animals.

Beautiful sunrises and colorful sunsets, stunning ocean views and friendly people make it very difficult to leave to leave this city.  We have met two really nice couples that we have become good friends with, who are also doing exactly what we are doing (one couple even has the same van as us)!  The first couple Mona and Chilli (from Belgium) are adorably cute and funny.  They make me smile and laugh with their jokes.  The other couple Jayke and Tahjlia and their dog-Alvy, are musicians and surfers.  They play beautiful music and Tahjlia sings.  Alvy is very smart and snuggly, its fun to chase the waves with him.

Chilli has a longer surf board (which is better for learning) and let Jeremy borrow it one morning.  The waves were good for learning and Jeremy was able to stand up twice (which is really good your first time) and had a lot of fun.  Jayke and Tahjlia gifted us a body board which is going to be what I will learn.

Jeremy’s 26th birthday was on Sunday.  Our friends surprised him on Saturday night with a cake and sparklers, licorice and chocolates.  Then on Sunday we went downtown to watch the Australian IronMan 2012.  It just so happened that this event was going on while we were here.  The competitors swim 3.8 km, bike 180 km and run 42.2 km – in that order.  We watched 70 competitors sprint through the finish (out of 1,500).  This included the top three women, all of whom came in under 10 hours. The race must be completed in 17 hours to qualify for the points which allow you to race in other Ironman.  We stood in the finish alley hooting and rooting on the finishers.  It was really cool to be part of such an amazing race.  Athletically inspiring!

After the race we went to the local observatory.  They have a large telescope which allowed us to see Saturn and its moons.  We also took a look at the moon.  Since it was a full moon they told us not to look through the telescope for a long period or it could damage our eyes since it is so bright.  Being down under, we cannot see the north star, and the Little Dipper is upside down to us.  But there are constellations that we have here in Australia that cannot be seen from the States.  Such as the jewel box or the Southern Cross, which is on the Australian Flag.

After the observatory we went back to the beach and celebrated Jeremy’s birthday with Chocolate cake.  Yum.  Good friends, good times!  We plan on heading north mid-week after we enjoy some local fish and chips and then perform at an open-mic night in a local pub.

Wombats & Wallabies

After almost 2 weeks in the Blue Mountains we decided it was time to head east.  The first two weeks of traveling were quiet memorable.  The autumn colors were starting to decorate the trees (red and orange colors).  The color change in April was so different for me — as in April back in Michigan I am anxiously awaiting the blooming trees and flowers (and the warmer weather).  The weather was cooler (50-60’s day/40’s night) but not too cold. We met some wonderful travelers while in mountains.  Shumi and Lili (from Germany) and Damien and Lauriane (from France).  Its very neat to met people who are doing exactly what you are doing and are able to offer advice or answer questions etc.  We shared food, stories and warms fires at night.

Before leaving the mountains we visited a few beautiful areas.  Govett’s Leap is a lookout area with spectacular views of the Grose Valley and a beautiful waterfall.  Jeremy went for a 1 hour hike to the bottom of the waterfall.  I did not have the proper footwear nor did I want to get wet from the falls.  I wish the camera could capture how magnificent The Blue Mountains appear to me, but its impossible to put all that beauty in a photo.

Another area that we visited is Evan’s Lookout.  This area also overlooks the Blue Mountains.  It is not as busy with tourists or buses.  We were on a little walk when heard a strange bird song.  I quick grabbed my camera and followed the sound.  It turns out that it was the Lyrebird.  This Australian bird reminds me of the look of a  peacock.  However, they are very different.  This bird has an extraordinary mimicking ability.  It wasn’t making any specific song, just very different.  Check out this video of the lyrebird on youtube.  I had watched this video many years ago and thought, “I hope that I get to see that bird someday”.  Who knew?

On our way out of the mountains we decided to make a stop at the Wollemi National Park.  An area just north of the Blue Mountains.  The Wollemi area was renamed just a few years ago after finding wild species of the Wollemi Pine, a species that was thought to have become extinct nearly 30 million years ago but was discovered there in 1994.  We camped at a very quiet campground that blessed us with wallabies bouncing by our van in the morning, a wombat wandering around and parrots singing at dawn.  It was awesome!  Then to top the day off we went on a 8 km hike (roundtrip) up the mountain that took us to a special tunnel that had bio-luminescent glo-worms.  There are few places in the world that you can see such creatures.  We brought our headlamps because the tunnel was about 1/2 mile long and very dark.  The sign out in front of the tunnel said to keep lights low and be quiet as the glo-worms will “turn off” their illumination and it will be difficult to see them if we are noisy or bright.  So we whispered and stumbled through this magical tunnel of sparkly glo-worms.

At the moment we are staying in a city named Richmond.  On Friday morning we will head east toward New Castle, a beachy little town.  Loving every day.  Missing all my friends and family.  xoxoxoxoxoxo

PS: We renamed the Van — as we learn more Australian lingo we really liked how this one sounds.  Dinky Donga — Dinky = Tiny & Donga = Transportable building or rooms.  Hence the new name….we like it anyways :)

As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are.  Otherwise you will miss most of your life.  —Buddha

Into the great wide open…

After two weeks of hard work preparing the van for the big trip around the continent we said goodbye to Romani and off we drove..into the bush. We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into.  Australia is just a little bit smaller than the USA and our plan…to drive around the whole darn thing.  Seems like a big undertaking but there are so many beautiful things to see, places to visit and people to meet…I bet we will run out of time, before we get bored.

The last week we have camped in the bush near the Megalong Valley River, its a little area just south of The Blue Mountains.  Completely away from electricity or running water.  UNPLUGGED!!!  Everyday was beautiful.  One of my favorite things to do was yoga outside.  It is so peaceful and relaxing.  The weather was about 70 F.  We cooked meals for morning, lunch and dinner.  Good meals too, I might add.  The stars at night in the outback are so stunning.  The sky is overflowing with magnificent glowing stars.  I can’t put into words how beautiful it is.  After a few days Jeremy took a bath in the river.  The water was about 50 F.  There is no way I was about to do that.  Jeremy gathered wood so that we would stay warm after the sun went down.  It got dark around 6 pm so that made for an early night most of the time – unless we were hanging out with other travelers or singing songs around the fire.  On one of Jeremy’s trips to gather wood, he came across a Wallaby.  He followed it for a while – he said it was magical.  The other night while I was cleaning the dishes I noticed something move and then it climbed into the tree.  I grabbed my headlamp and the camera — it was a Common Brushtail Possum – cute little thing.  He stole an apple from our composting pile and ran up the tree with it.  It is really the first wildlife I have seen out here.  There are many many different kinds of parrots that fly overhead everyday.  This is magical to me.  We have seen the Gang Gang Cockatoo, Sulfur Crested Cockatoos, Rose Breasted Cockatoos, Red Eyed Crows, Crimson Rosella Parrots, Magpies, Rainbow Lorikeets, etc.  I didn’t realize that there were so many parrots here in Australia.

One day we drove into Katoomba.  This is a little mountain town west of Sydney by about 100 km.  It is home to Echo Point (where the landmark “The Three Sisters” is located.)  Here is the link to the legend of the Three Sisters.  It is a stunningly breathtaking view.  There are millions of trees for miles/kilometers.  There is an area where you can hike down to the waterfalls or to the first rock of the Three Sisters formation.  It is quite a steep set of stairs and then a bridge over to the stone.  I have to say that I was a bit nervous going down but it was worth the journey.  There is more to see but requires 5+ hours for a specific hike.  We might try that later this week.

There is a rainforest by our campsite down in the Megalong Valley.  The temperature dropped approx. 20 degrees upon entering the forest.  We decided to take a hike because it looked so green and lush.  It was very wet and muddy back along the trail.  There were waterfalls, big curly trees and lots of ferns and green fuzzy plants.  I love exploring!

This weekend Jeremy will be busking in Katoomba and I will be exploring the city and preparing the van for our travels into the northeast coastline.  We are headed toward the beaches and warmer weather.   We will try to get to cafes and libraries once a week to update our blog.

I am going to love this adventure.  The van may be where I sleep and how I get from place to place but the earth is my home now.  Everyday I am blessed with new reasons to be happy and to have gratitude for everything I have been given and have been taught.  Lots of love for all my family and friends.  Peace and Love!

Check out the Photo Gallery to see new posted pictures!!

Visit Jeremy’s Blog @ jeremyarndt.com

Saying Goodbye to Sydney

After seven weeks in Sydney we are finally saying goodbye.  A lot has happened while living in this gigantic city.  We started out by CouchSurfing with some amazing people (Stephen and Cass).  Slowly learned how to get around the city using public transport (via Train/Bus).  We met our roommate Romani and have enjoyed living with her for six weeks.  Went to all the best beaches in Sydney — Coogee, Manly and Bondi.  Practiced Yoga and played music at House of Yoga.  Played music with Jeremy at Lululemon (Downtown Sydney).  Played Music at House of Yoga in Coogee Beach with Jeremy.  Went to an amazing Concert by Australian Musician Xavier Rudd.  Learned how to make meals – patiently and with love.  Many of my meals at home were rushed or on the go.  This has been very refreshing for me to spend quality time in the kitchen experimenting with spices, flavors and ingredients.  We also met a wonderful family (Jaime, Lisa and Tane) who graciously took us for a day of sailing on the ocean aboard their Sailboat “The Wild Goose”.  This was incredibly beautiful.  I have never sailed before so I wasn’t quite sure if I would get seasick or not.  Well, it turns out that I kinda get that nausea feeling, but it wasn’t too bad.  And last but not least we finally bought a van.  This van reminds me of the van my Dad owned while I was growing up.  As a teenager I was very embarrassed to ride in it, so I would hide on the floor in the backseat.  We called it the “Space Mobile” and I was so happy the day he sold it.  Well it turns out that 99% of the campervans look like the Space Mobile – so Dad, I have been humbled.  It is challenging to remember to drive on the left hand side of the road, and shift with my left hand.  There might have been close to 20 vans that we had looked at.  The vans in our price range had high kilometers and were just beat up.  Our van has low kilometers and was never used by backpackers (which means it isn’t as beat up).  It was owned by a courier service in the Airport.  It is very clean and seems well maintained.  It is small, but that just will help with the gas costs.  It is $1.55/liter of petrol.  Which means about….$5.86 a gallon.  We will also be doing our own maintenance, because a simple oil change costs approx.  $88 dollars.  Yikes.  We are in the process of “outfitting” the Van with all the necessities for travel.  Propane grill, Power inverter, GPS, tools, cooking supplies, sleeping stuff, cabinets for storage, etc.  This will ensure a good sale of the Van when we are ready to leave Australia.  I will post more pics and stories as I am able.  There is not free Wifi readily available here in Australia, like there is in the states.  So whenever I find free internet I will update my blog and or Facebook.  Goodbye Sydney — you were fun, but its time to head North and check out all the Beaches, Parks, Forests and the Outback – The plan is to circumnavigate the entire continent.  Peace and Love to all!!!!!

Check out the new pics added under March 2012!!!

 

One month in Sydney…

As of today, I have been in Sydney for one month.  It doesn’t seem like that much time has passed by.  I have enjoyed Sydney and its beauty.  The people here are friendly and warm.  For instance, if you look lost, there will usually be someone who will stop and ask if you need help or directions.  The weather has been good.  We have had an enormous amount of rain but I will take that over snow.  Our average day here is sunny and 75 (23 Celsius) (Although I hear that Grand Rapids is having 78 degree days (25 Celsius).  The weather here is transitioning into Autumn but you wouldn’t know it.   Sydney definitely doesn’t get cold like Michigan, but maybe more like Alabama or Georgia in the winter.

My typical day usually consists of Yoga, a walk, photography, reading, cooking and searching online or going downtown to look for a Campervan.  Autumn is a great time to buy a Campervan because summer has ended and all the travelers are going back home.  We have looked at a few, most have had oil leaks or need new tyres (sorry, I am starting to use Aussie terms).  There are all kinds of rules and regulations that are very different from the USA.  So we need to be careful when looking or when we are about to purchase.  I am hopeful that we will find one soon.  The transportation into city is very tiring for me.  I walk to the train (20 mins) and then take the train or bus into the city (another 30/40 mins).  It is time consuming and just wears me out. That’s almost an hour each way!!  I want to be free to drive and see what I want, when I want. I love Sydney, but I might be a small town girl….at heart!!!

After one month into this journey…. I have to say, that I am so grateful that I took this step into the unknown.  Everyday has so much opportunity for growth and change.  I try to make each day special and better than the last.  To recognize something different, and to try not to think about the past, or worry about the future.  Everything happens the way it was meant to happen……

Red Backs and Rain – Life’s a Beach

The last few weeks have proved to be quite rainy here in Sydney.  This is the most rain they have had in 30 years, very dismal and dreary. 111 mm of rain in February (4.3 inches) So I have spent some time watching movies, cooking delicious food, organizing, reading and researching places to go and things to see once the sun decides to shine.

There have been three days in the last ten that we were graced with the presence of the sun.  Yay!!! So on those days we took full advantage of every minute. We did Yoga in the park and there were Cockatoos and parrots flying overhead (I am still not used to this yet). We also practiced yoga at House of Yoga (Studio) and played music. Yes, I accompanied Jeremy on a few songs.  It was fun and everyone enjoyed it.  House of Yoga also has Sydney’s first Anti-Gravity Yoga classes.  This practice was founded in New York City.  During practice you are able swing and hang from a Anti-Gravity Hammock which allows you to feel supported and also decompresses your spine (while performing inversions).  I was able to practice on Saturday – It was a lot of fun and made me laugh more than anything.

 

There are so many beautiful flowers on nearly every tree or bush.  I have been taking my camera with me on my morning walks and learning how to take pictures with the natural light.  My camera is quite complex so I am still learning.  I think this will be a life long learning process.  Jeremy has been taking photographs for many years, so he has been very helpful.

The flowers are so colorful and brilliant.  There have been so many flowers that have fallen off the trees and I quickly pick them up and put them in my hair.  After I give them a quick look over to make sure there are no spiders or bugs of any kind.

 

 

 

Speaking of spiders…there happens to be a very poisonous spider here in Australia, that we found on a bag that Jeremy brought home.  It is called the Red Back Spider.  It is a very small spider, but when/if it bites you, there is an anti-venom that is needed.  Scary stuff.  Crazy facts for you: Australia has 10 of the most deadly animals on the planet….#1 Box Jellyfish #2 The Taipan Snake #3 Saltwater Crocodile #4 Blue Ring Octopus #5 Stone Fish #6 Red Back Spider #7 Brown Snake #8 Tiger Snake #9 Great White Shark #10 Funnel Web Spider.  No worries though, as we take precautions before we walk on the grass or go in the water.  You just have to be “careful”.

 

 

Last Friday night, Romani had a dinner party and invited some friends over for dinner.  Items on the menu: Zuppa Toscana (Italian Soup), Spinach pies, Garlic Bread, Couscous salad, Bean Salad, Dinner salad, Chicken.  Dessert:  Macaroons, cupcakes and cheesecake. Lots of fun and laughs.

 

 

The latest beach adventure was to Coogee Beach.  A very clean and laid back beach.  The waves were about 12 feet tall and the undertow was extremely rough.  I have never seen waves this size.  There were people all over in the water, surfing, body boarding, riding the waves.  Jeremy borrowed a body board from an Irish guy.  He was able to ride one wave after about two attempts.  I will try body boarding eventually but not on waves like that.

There are new pictures in the Photo Gallery also – so be sure to take a peak !!!! Also – Subscribe to receive an email when I post a new Blog or Photos!

 

Birthdays, Birds and Bridges :)

 

On Sunday it was Romani’s birthday, so we went for Thai food at Thai Pothong.  It was lovely.  They gave her balloons, Coconut Ice Cream scoops with a candle and a sparkler and sang her Happy Birthday.  The meal was probably the best Thai food I have ever had.  The Pad Thai was amazing, the Red curry vegetables and Green curry vegetables were also some of my favorites.  The restaurant also had a neat little gift shop with things that were from Thailand.  Neat lamps, necklaces and trinkets.

 

She has two lovely sisters and a girlfriend, who treated us so kindly.  We had so much fun talking about traveling and Australia! What a great group of ladies! Romani also made a decadent chocolate cake topped with mousse like frosting and finished with pomegranates and pistachios.  It was amazing.

 

On Monday we went to Manly Beach.  We had to take a Ferry to the beach from Circular Quay (which is right downtown in the harbor). The Ferry ride showed spectacular views of the city, the harbor, the bridge and the Opera House. The ride took approx. 30 minutes or so.  The beach was beautiful.  It was very clean.  The waves were huge and we decided to go jump into them and ride some of the waves :) It was fun.  I need a body board soon! I can’t be riding the waves on my belly all summer long!

After the beach, I walked to the Botanical Gardens to see the Flying Fox and Cockatoos flying in circles at dusk.  It was so incredible to hear all the birds and the Bats swarming in the sky harmoniously.  I almost had tears in my eyes.

Cute Cockatoo – Royal Botanical Gardens – Watch this adorable video of my first close encounter of a wild cockatoo eating berries from a tree.

Flying Fox and Cockatoo’s in the Royal Botanical Gardens – This video shows the bats and cockatoos in the sky above me :)

 

 

I also spent the night walking the beautiful Sydney Harbor .

 

 

 

The Opera House and Bridge were beautifully light up and just glowed.

 

 

 

 

My first real close up of a Kookaburra.  They sound like they are laughing … it is the cutest thing.

Arrived and Settled…in Sydney

Wow, I can’t believe its been 10 days since I wrote anything on here. The flight here was very long and tiring. The flights only took about 20 hours all together.  Not too bad when you think about how far we traveled.  Within an hour of boarding our flight to Fiji from LAX there was a man that was tackled in the rear of the plane by three very large Fijian flight attendants (this area was 10 rows or so behind us).  The man was handcuffed with zip ties and then zip tied to the seat in the back.   Apparently he tried to open the emergency door during our flight — they claim that he was mentally disturbed! I was a little worried while they were tackling him – I wondered “what if this guy is trying to kill himself or others on the plane”.  Just one more adventure we can write about :)

The time has gone by so fast.  The last week and a half have been busy, fun and tiring.  Sydney has so much to offer and so much to see.  Upon arriving we took a taxi to a suburb of Sydney called Ashfield and were greeted by Cassiopee’ & Stephen- Our Couchsurfing hosts.  They graciously took us in to their home. We stayed a week with them.  Cass is Stephen’s daughter and she is funny and adorable.  She and I had loads of fun together.  We had wonderful conversations with Stephen and he cooked us a delicious Madagasar Meal (as this is his home country).  I have so much gratitude for their openness to us.  What a great way to begin our adventure here in Sydney.

Our first day here I was so happy because there were parrots flying freely in the sky.  There were Rainbow Lorikeets, Cockatoos, Magpies, Kookaburra and others that I couldn’t identify.  It literally sounded like I was in a rainforest.

There are many things that we have done in the little time that we have been here.  Cass and I took a ferry around the Harbor to see the Opera House and the bridges and Luna Park – which is an Amusement Park on the harbor  It was beautiful to be on the water and to just take in the size of the city from afar. It is very large, but reminds me a lot of Chicago.  It is very clean and the public transportation is very simple and easy to use.

Jeremy, Cass and I also spent some time on Pitt Street. This is an area where busking is at its best.  Jeremy has a friend (Shibaten – from Japan) that was performing. The next day Jeremy set up an area on Pitt Street and played the Halo.  This area is probably going to be the best for Jeremy to play his music as there are many people in the area – shopping, walking, traveling through.  We are also going to be in contact with local yoga studios.  Jeremy has traveled all around the US playing in yoga studios and cafes.  His music is wonderful for yoga studios.

The Royal Botanical Gardens (within the city) are just amazing.  The flowers, trees and bushes are just beautiful.  The camera can’t do it justice.  There is no admission to the gardens, you just walk in and get lost.  We came across many things but one the highlights was the Flying Fox – one of the largest Bats in the world.  There are approx.  22,000 living in the gardens.  They were hanging from the trees, screaming and fighting with one another.

 

 

 

 

After the Gardens, we walked to the Art Gallery of New South Wales (which was also free admission).  There were many ancient artifacts and beautiful pieces of art.

I love hearing the different accents around me. The people are so genuine, open and friendly.  Everyone we have met, has given us their phone number and tells us to call them if we need anything or have any questions.

We have decided to stay in Sydney for a few weeks and rent a place. We needed to get all 200#’s of our luggage and instruments across the town (approx 2.5 kilometers).  Jeremy advised against walking as he said that is was too far.  But, I thought, we can do it.  Well, half way there I was exhausted.  So we found a trolley “shopping cart” along the way and stuffed our belongings in and carted it to our new place.  I had no shame.

 

 

We are staying with a wonderful women named Romani.  She loves yoga and has traveled all over the world.  I am excited to hopefully begin a friendship with her.

 

 

Yesterday we went to Bondi beach – in Sydney.  This is the premier place to see or be seen.  The weather was about 80 F, 26 C.  I think I have my favorite temp. figured out :) Many people surf or boogie board here. Someday soon, we will have surf and boogie boards and will be out there with all the other people. It was a very cute city and the beach was lovely.  The sand was white and soft.  It felt so good to be warm in February.  I also did some yoga while we were there.

**Remember to check the Photo Gallery often**

 

 

California Dreamin’

“Leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again” — Tomorrow is “D” day – We depart for Australia at 10:30 pm from LAX.  The flight is approximately 25 hours and 9,300 miles from home.  The time difference is 16+hours from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  So, we will arrive on Thursday the 16th at 1:00 pm (SYD time) — 8:00pm Wednesday night (Michigan time).  We lose a whole day in the process of getting to Australia.  WOW.

 

In five days we have visited… Los Angeles, Venice, Malibu, San Clemente, San Diego and La Jolla. Beautiful / Sunny 70 degree weather. No complaints here :)

 

Our good friends Ross and Kat, who live out here in Los Angeles, have hosted us and shown us around the city.  We did the Venice Beach walk, hiking in Malibu (Solstice Canyon), Observatory (amazing views of the city), Santa Monica (shopping) and so much more.

 

 

 

 

Jeremy and Ross took a dip in the waterfall.  The hike was 4+ hours of beautiful rocks, trees, parrots, waterfalls and little lizzards.  Very peaceful and serene.

 

 

Jeremy playing the BElls on San Clemente Beach.

 

 

Hiking at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego.  We were able to see sea anemones and crabs in the tide pools.

 

 

La Jolla Cove – This beach was previously a childrens pool area but has been taken over by Sea Lions and their pups.  This has become quite a controversial issue in the area…should the city try to move the Sea Lions so the children can have the beach back ?? Or is that even possible now that they have created a home on the beach cove….

Many thanks to all that have shared their homes, time, love and food with us !!!

 

Ray and Laura  — Thank you for opening your home to us.  Ray took the day off of work to show us around San Diego.  We went to Cabrillo National Monument, La Jolla Cove and Mount Helix.  Southern California is amazingly beautiful.

Soon I will be creating a photo gallery and will have many more pictures posted……stay tuned….

Love and Peace — Until Thursday (Next posting will be after we arrive in Australia)

 

 

Goodbyes…

This is the first real time that I have ever left my family/loved ones/friends for an extended period.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel or what kind of emotions I would have knowing that I might not return for a year or longer. There were many tears and hugs.  They were all tears of happiness and love.  I have so much support from all my friends and loved ones that it amazes me.  It reassures me that what I am doing isn’t as crazy as it might seem.

The Australian money is made from plastic and is very colorful.  The $100 dollar bill doesn’t have the usual President….on one side it has  Dame Nellie Melba (a famous Opera Singer) and on the other side it has Sir John Monash (an Australian Military Commander in the First World War).  How interesting !!!

 

 

 

One large suitcase and two handbags…filled with everything that I could potentially need for the next year.  From a house to a suitcase in 6 weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Before our delicious steak dinner! This was the last dinner with the family for a long time.  There is nothing like home-cooked meals (from Mom’s kitchen)

 

 

 

 

Thank you for all your support and love ….  to send me on my way!