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Peggy's Visit to Australia

Written by Cathy Siegismund
March 2004

We had just about a week to get the house cleaned up after Ellie and Kel left before Peggy, Ken's mom, arrived for her visit. She was going to spend a week with us in the condo while we toured the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. She was then flying up to Cairns on her own for a few days. We were then flying to Melbourne to meet her for a couple of days and then all fly to Sydney to finish up her trip.

The hot temperatures my friends Ellie and Keli had suffered through, continued to soar. We saw several days over 40 degrees Celsius -- which is about 105 F. We sweltered in the non-air-conditioned condo. The enormous bugs that call Queensland home seemed to thrive in this weather. Keli and I had been traumatized by a huntsman (non-poisonous, but HUGE) spider that we found in the dining room. Ken and I had a visit from what must be the biggest cricket or grasshopper we'd ever seen.

Giant 5+ inch cricket hanging out on our deck

We did make time to take a couple more surfing lessons. Ken and Jenn and I took lessons and even went out one day when we were getting a little residual swell from a cyclone -- not much for real surfers, but for the neophytes that we were it seemed pretty big.


Cath standing up and Ken riding a small wave towards shore

Jenn walking back out into the surf on our "day of days"

Ken's mom arrived after a long flight from San Francisco through Sydney. She had also spent some time in Seattle on her way to San Francisco and had taken some new pictures of our house. Things seem to be going along very quickly on the house. I guess without us there to pester the builder, they can move faster than expected.


Looking down our street and the front of our house

We spent a quiet afternoon with Ken's mom. Had lunch in Maroochydore and looked at pictures of the house. The forecast was for nice weather the following day, so we set up a bus tour for her to Fraser Island.

The following day, we set off for the Australia Zoo, home of the Crocodile Hunter. I had been a few weeks before, with visiting friends from home. However, Ken had not yet been and I had enjoyed it so much the first time, I was happy to go again. We wandered around all the habitats, watched two crocodile demonstrations, a koala demonstration, and of course again fed the kangaroos.


Croc demonstration including the tail walk


Croc, picking up a piece of chicken that he had missed on the toss from the staff member


Agro, the Australia Zoo's biggest and baddest croc



Peggy posing with a koala

Ken and Cath pose with a python





Kangaroo with a joey


Ken and Peggy feeding some of the friendly kangaroos and wallabies

Our weather then turned a bit rainy and windy. An offshore cyclone was again throwing some boisterous weather at the Sunshine Coast. We took the next two days to go into Brisbane and explore. We went on an Aboriginal art walk, and explored the South Bank with its museums and galleries. We found quite a nice aboriginal gallery, where Peggy bought some gifts and we purchased several etchings by Torres Strait Islanders.

Torres Strait Island etching we bought and the artist who happed to be in the shop

The weather started to improve toward the weekend, so we took Peggy to the Saturday Eumundi Market. The drive took us inland providing lovely views of the surrounding mountains.


Afternoon drive through the mountains

We even inadvertently stumbled across one of Australia's many "big things".

The Big Pineapple

Two local musicians with a back drop of hanging shark's teeth for sale

We then took a drive through Noosa Heads and down the coast road through Coolum Beach back to Mooloolaba. It was a beautiful sunny day and the recent swell from the cyclone was kicking up some big surf.



Large waves and surf just south of Noosa

Cath in front of the surf at the bluff overlooking the coast

That afternoon, we took a walk along the Mooloolaba Esplanade and the beach. We couldn't believe the waist high sandy foam that covered the beach from the previous days of pounding surf.



Knee-deep foam covered the beach between Mooloolaba and Maroochydore from previous days of big surf

Peggy flew out the next day for her whirlwind four-day visit to Cairns. We left Monday mid-morning for Melbourne. We were going to meet Peggy there, and decided to get a couple days head start. We have been looking for an Aboriginal painting for our new house. We hadn't seen anything around the Sunshine Coast or in Brisbane, and had read that Melbourne had lots of galleries to explore.

We had a good flight and checked into a Mercure hotel by about 2pm. The hotel was centrally located near Federation Square and downtown with a stop for the free city tram right outside. We set off for a walk down to Federation Square, a cultural center with a museum, restaurants, shops and an outdoor area for performances.


Federation Square


We came upon the very end of some performance with people on stilts walking around in elaborate tree costumes

There were many people out walking around on the lovely sunny afternoon. We were surprised, as it was a Monday and the day after the big Melbourne Grand Prix auto race. We learned that the Melbourne Moomba Waterfest was going on, and that it was in fact a holiday, Labor Day. There were fair rides and food stalls, a waterskiing competition taking place on the Yarra River, which runs through the middle of the city.

The Moomba Waterfest activities on and around the Yarra River


Waterskiing competition

There was also a sand sculpture exhibit sponsored by Disney.

Sand sculpture exhibit

For more sand sculpture pictures, see the Sand Sculpture Photo Gallery

After having lunch and wandering around the Waterfest, we walked back through downtown to our hotel. We wandered by the lovely St. Paul's Cathedral and of course had to make a Starbucks stop.


St. Paul's Cathedral

My usual Starbucks stop

We spent a quiet night in the hotel and then set off the next day with the goal of finding an Aboriginal painting for our house. We spent quite a bit of time exploring every gallery we could find. We had a great time looking at different artists and different styles. We found ourselves picking out one artist in particular at each gallery we visited. The artist is Malcolm Jagamarra. We had asked a few of the galleries to bring in some of Malcolm's pieces they had stored off site, so we could compare as much as possible before we made a decision.

We decided to take a little time away from the art galleries and explore more of Melbourne. We set off on what ended up being quite a long walk from downtown, along the river, and all the way to the waterfront and St. Kilda.

Yarra River and the city in the background

Statue of Captain Cook overlooking the edge of Port Phillip


St. Kilda

Ken and the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron at St. Kilda

After the long walk to St. Kilda, we took the tram back to the hotel. We spent some more time discussing the Aboriginal paintings we had seen. We finally decided on a painting, a newer Malcolm Jagamarra. We even got the chance to meet with the artist, which is something we really like to do.

Our new Aboriginal painting


Malcolm Jagamarra signing the painting to us and explaining it

Peggy arrived late that night, and over the next few days we explored Melbourne. Peggy also took a couple of bus tours of the city and one of the Great Ocean Road, a scenic drive along the southern coast south of Melbourne.




Sites around Melbourne


Views from an observation deck in the tallest office building in Melbourne

The following Saturday, we all flew to Sydney. We checked into our hotel, and set off to the weekend market at The Rocks. We were also going to get a chance to meet our friends Denis and Val for a quick drink and light dinner. The following day we signed up for one of the nice Sydney harbor cruises that left from Circular Quay. The cruise offers great views of the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, Luna Park and all of the waterfront suburbs along the harbor. We stopped off at the Taronga Zoo and finished the cruise at Darling Harbour where we had a nice lunch and took in the sites.


Circular Quay


Sydney Opera House


Luna Park

The following day we took a tour of the opera house, and wandered around Sydney sightseeing and doing a little shopping.


Sydney Opera House


St. Andrew's Cathedral

Queen Victoria Market mall

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Our last night in Sydney, Peggy took us to a play at the Opera House. It was great way to spend the evening. Ken and I left the following morning so we had to say goodbye to Peggy, who was spending a couple of more days in Sydney.

We flew back to Brisbane and drove home. Over the next weeks we returned to our routine of going to the gym and doing projects. We also continued to be amazed at the progress being made on our house.


House exterior and the kitchen

Cabinetry in the butler's pantry and the master bath

In addition to making quite a few long distance house decisions, we also caught up with some friends. We were sad to say goodbye to Nik and Jenn from Green Ghost. They have been great cruising friends since we met them in the Marquesas three years ago. They have put their boat on the hard, and returned to Canada for at least a year to work and restock the cruising kitty before continuing cruising. We also caught up with GB and Sarah who had recently returned from driving around south eastern Australia. With our return to the States looming, we too need to get going if we're going to make time for our driving tour of Australia. We have seen some of the bigger cities and the Sunshine Coast, but look forward to exploring by car and getting off the beaten track.


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