Rainy day at the zoo

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Fun in the sun

We managed to get out early this morning and headed for a lovely Sunday morning on Balmoral Beach.

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Fun at the beach with Teresa, Heather and Brian (and Paul behind the camera lens)

Balmoral is about a 15 minute drive from home when there’s not much traffic, as was the case this morning. It was a perfect beach day, sunny and nice and warm with a gentle breeze. We were armed with Heather’s new (from a yard sale) surfboard, Teresa’s boogie board, snorkeling gear for Heather and myself, and a bag full of sand toys.

Heather was game to try out her new foam surfboard and did very well paddling it and catching some small waves (with a bit of a push from Daddy). We even got Brian out on Teresa’s boogie board and considering he’s barely three and can’t swim, he did really well, catching some small waves as well (also with a bit of help from Daddy). :)

Heather and I got out for a bit of snorkeling while Teresa and Brian strolled down the beach. A bit later on we all walked out to the point to check out the beautiful swirly rocks and look for anemones and other creatures in the tidal pools.

After the beach, we headed to Yum Cha for a well deserved afternoon feast. I worked mine off a bit later on with a bike ride to Chatswood and back.

All in all, a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

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A very happy third birthday to our wonderful son, Brian!

Three years ago this morning, our son Brian joined our family and has been warming our hearts ever since. We celebrated today with a yum cha lunch with a few of his friends and their families, followed by the lot of us heading down to Luna Park to ride the rides and play the games along the midway. What  a great day!

Brian and Logan on the Luna Park ferris wheel

Brian and Logan on the Luna Park ferris wheel

Brian Logan and Christian

Brian Logan and Christian

Darth Vader cake by Teresa

Darth Vader cake by Teresa

Family snap with Luna Bob and Luna Belle

Family snap with Luna Bob and Luna Belle

Luna Park Midway

Luna Park Midway

Follow me to Luna Park

Follow me to Luna Park

Brian and Christian

Brian and Christian

The Birthday Boy

The Birthday Boy

 

 

Heartwarming!

Big sister Heather, reading a book to Brian. :)

Big sister Heather, reading a book to Brian. :)

Family Camping Adventure – Wollondilly River Station and Wombeyan Caves

Recently we had our first real family camping trip (with all four of us) and overall it was a wonderful experience. I fondly remember camping with my parents, and as it’s some of the best memories I have from my childhood, I wanted to do my best to recreate that for my children.

As I said, it was wonderful, but it did leave me, and Teresa as well, quite wiped out by the end of each day. I wonder if my parents, who took my three brothers and me camping, what seemed like frequently when I was a kid, were as tired as we were at the end of each day.

I suppose, with practice, you get better and more organized/efficient at some aspects of it and relax more about others.

We drove about an hour south of Sydney on the highway, then headed west for nearly an hour on the road to Wombeyan Caves. Before too long that becomes a very narrow dirt/gravel road that winds up and down mountains with lots of blind corners, steep drop offs at the side of the road and little in the way of guard rails (complete with an occasional wreck of a car way down below to remind you to keep your eyes on the road!). Eventually, we descended into a valley between ranges of mountains and camped along the Wollondilly River at Wollondilly River Station Campground.

Rock tunnel on the road to Wollondilly Station and Wombeyan Caves

Rock tunnel on the road to Wollondilly Station and Wombeyan Caves

The campground was beautiful, though fairly basic. The sites were huge and campfires are allowed, so all was good. We had a roaring fire each night, roasting marshmallows and generally being mesmerized by the flames dancing among the coals. Our site was right next to the river, too. Although due to rainfall the water isn’t very clear, it’s clean and a perfect temp for swimming.

Our campsite by the Wollondilly River

Our campsite by the Wollondilly River

I taught Heather how to cast a fishing rod one afternoon and each morning I managed to do a bit of fishing before the rest of the camp awoke.

A little "me" time *ahhh*

A little “me” time *ahhh*

Plenty of wildlife to see here. We had kangaroos hopping past our tent and grazing on the grass around us each night and morning. One morning, while fishing I was lucky enough to watch a platypus swim past me and dive into the river. Also, there were lots of cute turtles swimming around, too.

Long Necked Turtle

Long Necked Turtle

We saw quite a few lizards, including a 3 foot (1 metre) plus lace monitor lizard I found in our site coming up from the river one morning. I had Brian with me and we called Teresa and Heather over to see it. It was huge and very cool. When I got close to it, it surprised me by climbing a tree.

3 foot plus, lace monitor lizard

3 foot plus, lace monitor lizard

The camp was also home to many beautiful butterflies too! Lots of insects actually. Each night, cicadas would emerge from their old shells and fly away, leaving behind their dry, fragile former exoskeletons. Heather and I found a grasshopper and a cool stick bug, too.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

One night, the stars came out and put on a show, so I stayed up with my camera and tripod to take some pictures. During that time I heard some rustling in the bushes nearby. Pointing my light over there I was happy to see a wombat out for an evening forage. It was a common wombat and they are adorable!

One day, we drove out to Wombeyan caves for a guided cave tour of some amazingly beautiful limestone caves.

Family snap (minus Dad, behind the camera)

Family snap (minus Dad, behind the camera)

Heather in Wombeyan Caves

Heather in Wombeyan Caves

Cool crystal formation

Cool crystal formation

Heather and Brian made friends with a girl and boy nearly the same age as them that were staying in the next tent site. They were there with their dad and grandpa and their dog, Tiger. Very nice people, and dog! On our last night there we shared a campfire and a few bottles of wine, while trading stories, toasting marshmallows and introducing them to smores. I’ve since¬† been in touch (it turns out that the father works for the same parent company as me) and we’re going to try to get together in the near future and may try to coordinate another camping holiday.

The week before our trip, Brian started using undies as opposed to nappies (diapers). He was game to do his wee’s into the bushes and did well during our trip, even heading to the pump to flush camp toilets to do his poo. I’m happy to say that nearly a week later he’s totally toilet trained! Thank God! No more pooey nappies to change every day! Hooray!

Wollondilly River Crossing

Wollondilly River Crossing

Early morning fog on the wollondilly river

Early morning fog on the wollondilly river

Heather and a roo

Heather and a roo

 

Kangaroo in mid-bound

Kangaroo in mid-bound

Breakfast time in camp

Breakfast time in camp

Water Dragon

Water Dragon

Brian the explorer

Brian the explorer

our campsite

our campsite

Bacon and blueberry pancakes for breakfast!

Bacon and blueberry pancakes for breakfast!

My Dad, AKA "Lash Laroux" would be proud of me!

My Dad, AKA “Lash Laroux” would be proud of me!

Reflections on the Wollondilly river

Reflections on the Wollondilly river