Archive for the ‘Added Jan 6’ Category

New Years, Byron & Cousins

January 1, 2009

We have spent the last few days over New Years in Byron Bay. The city explodes with backpackers during this time of year and we were lucky enough to find a great private room at Aquarius Hostel with a spa bath, beer fridge and balcony over looking the street! With the champagne cooling we headed out on the town. We met a great couple from Sydney and looked forward to counting down the hours to the new year.

Unfortunately New Years Eve was somewhat disappointing…  all the bars in town were charging at least $30 to enter so we stayed at the hostel bar where we were staying – the bar itself was great, with a good selection, a pool, licensed patio and pool bar! We were having a great time when we suddenly realized New Years had come and gone by 5 minutes and no one said anything!? Considering this was explicitly a New Years party, one would think someone would do a count down?!  We four decided to do our own (albeit a bit late) and began a good and loud 10 second count down – to looks of fear, shock, and confusion by all those around us!?  As per our tradition we then went around the bar offering New Years hugs, best wishes, and high fives… and that’s when things got a bit strange….

I’ve just removed my ‘rant’, but will leave this – some Australian men are the most homophobic, racist, aggressive and chauvinistic people I’ve ever met. I say some because the friends and families we’ve met so far have all been awesome fun people that laugh a lot and generally don’t take things too seriously, which has been inspiring and a tribute to the kind of people my mum attracts.  However, it seems that many of the ‘lads’ that hit the late night bar scene are a whole other group.  They need to chill out man! Canada remains one of the most liberal and socially modern countries on the planet IMHO. There have been a number of times here in Australia where I felt like I’ve stepped back in time 15 years! Anyway, enough said, but I felt it had to be said.

But I digress…… 🙂

Despite no countdown and the handful of louts we ‘met’ that night, our New Years remained good fun with some great laughs with all the other people. The highlight was about 1 AM when we took a (not so straight) walk down to the beach to relax on the sand under the stars. On the way there (after taking a wrong turn or three…) we ran in to Hans, a friendly Dutch lad who might just have been more lost than us! The three of us headed off and eventually found our way to the beach (BTW, for those of you who haven’t been to Byron, the beach is approximately 17 feet from the Aquarius hostel!! *ahem*)  and it was PACKED! The stars were out and the surf was up! We played in the sand and looked at the stars and had some great laughs with other late night beach goers. Now THAT is how to bring in the New Year!

After New Years we headed down to Clunes where my cousin Hannah, husband Andy and young lad Mawgan live for a few days.  Boy, 3 days with a 4 1/2 year old is exhausting!  We had loads of fun with them (see pictures!) and had a great chance to catch up on family stories and my salsa dancing!

We miss you all and hope everyone had a GREAT Christmas and New Years! Happy New Years everyone! Lets hope 2009 sees more common sense, less rich righteous, and more peace and love across our little planet.




The Australia Zoo

December 29, 2008

On the drive down to Byron Bay for New Years we dropped in to the Australian Zoo for the day. This is Steve Irwin’s family’s zoo of The Crocodile Hunter fame. I didn’t realize the zoo was opened by his parents years ago or that he’d literally grown up in the zoo – hence his, er, comfort around animals.

Despite his tragic death the zoo has continued it’s efforts in educating the public of all the little beasties in the land. His wife Terry and their two kids are heavily involved day to day and occasionally head up the big Croc show in the "Crocasseum" – we were fortunate enough to see them that day! Their kids are now mini-celebrities and it looks like their being molded to carry on the fame and publicity their father and mother have garnered. While I have concerns with kids being pushed in to the spot light at least their cause is a good one – unlike some other children of the rich and famous. The daughter Bindi seems to already have her own clothing line and music videos – all animal related – to help rope in the young and spirited to saving animals.

The Zoo itself doesn’t have as many animals as some bigger zoos, i.e. Atlanta or Toronto, but the paddocks are huge and natural and the animals look healthier and happier than any zoos we’ve seen before – this was part of the demands Steve placed early on the Zoo’s administrators.  Apparently he felt that if the animals are being kept for the enjoyment of humans, they should eat and live as well as their visitors – hence the food is as good, or better in some cases, as anything we could buy! The tortoises were eating pumpkin, buttercup squash, beetroot, lettuce, carrot, rocket, and broccoli! And that was just her lunch!

Most people know Steve as pretty crazy and fairly hands-on, a tradition the zoo has adopted through and through. Handlers wander around with all sorts of animals and critters on their shoulders for close encounters of the furry kind. As well, the presentations all have the handlers in the cages – including three excited young lads ‘playing’ with 6 tiger cubs – who didn’t look like cubs to us! At one point the handler had 4 of them follow him through the air and leap in to the [heated in winter, cooled in summer] swimming pool! From the viewing area you could see through the pool to see the buggers swimming around with him chasing balls and sticks! Sorry there’s no photos but none came out through the wet glass.

Further to Steve’s fondness for pissing off Crocs, the Crociseum show included Irwin’s long time pal jumping in the water with them, and eventually leading this prehistoric hunter back to his pen by swimming 4 feet in front it him!

All in all, a great day!

See photos of all the animals here