Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Easter Happenings

In the Family Hendricks, we look for reasons to mark an occasion.  Really any will do.  Dog's birthday, stuffed dog's birthday, Valentine's Day, 1/2 Birthdays, you imagine it, we will celebrate it.  But few, with the exception of Christmas and Hallowe'en are marked with as much joy for J as Easter.  Sorry foks, it ain't about the holiest day in the Christian calendar.  Chez nous, we worship at the altar of the Bunny and all things pastel and Easter-like.

There have to be Bunny-shaped pancakes, cupcakes wrapped in pretty green paper, the Easter tree, the ubiquitous chocolate egg hunt, and about a hundred pre-school decorations with wilting bunny ears, oddly shaped egg cutouts, and window-mounted paper baskets shot with shiny paper through which the sun twinkles magically.

This year, our first in Australia, a chocolate Bunny shared our mantle with a chocolate Bilby, a chocolate Koala, a chocolate Wombat and a Canadian Inukshuk; a little cultural melting, I mean melding.

This year was also the first that J posed the question "is there really an Easter Bunny or do you and Daddy hide the eggs?".  Well I am not yet ready to burst that bubble, so we protested madly and for the moment are still riding the Bunny trail.  However, J did ask us to hide our own eggs for him which were clearly unique so that he could identify just how clever the Easter Bunny is.

It helped that while stashing chocolate in our tiny back garden, unbeknownst us us, C2 trecked possum poop into the house.  On Easter morning J was convinced that the Easter Bunny had relieved himself by our back door.

For a holiday project, J planted a Thyme garden with five different types of fragrant and flowering Thyme.  He will make sure they have proper water levels and sunshine in the days to come.  Together with the memories I hope we have made for him, J's garden is something to last a little longer when all the chocolate has been eaten and all the decorations carefully stored away for another year.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Hanging at the Hut on Australia's Surf Coast

We took our first Australian holiday over J's April school holidays.  We wanted to go somewhere where Murphy could join us because (1) I wasn't prepared to be parted from her again so soon  and (2) I haven't yet figured out doggie care. Though it is Fall, we rented a sweet little villa appropriately dubbed the "Beach Hut" in Apollo Bay on Australia's surf coast about a 3 hour drive southwest of Melbourne.

The drive itself was an amazing part of the journey along Victoria's storied Great Ocean Road.  En route, we travelled through Torquay, considered by many as the birthplace of surfing and headquarters for such iconic surf brands as Quiksilver and Rip Curl.

Apollo Bay is a sleepy, coffee-lingering beach town.  Most people in search of a beach holiday this time of year  have headed north to the heat of the Gold or Sunshine coasts.  We were in search of salt-air, peaceful beach walks, rainforest treks, good restaurants and great coffee.  We found it all!

Beauchamp Falls in the rainforests of the Otway National Park

Rosella parrots

J discovered the joys of boogie-boarding.  We had to buy him a wetsuit as the water was too cold to swim for long.  Murphy discovered the joys of burying then finding her leash in the sand.  A great bonus to being in Apollo Bay this time of year was dogs were permitted on the beaches; and my girl, Murphy, loves herself a beach!

The most amazing part of our journey was a morning we spent at the near-deserted, wildly spectacular, incredibly peaceful Johanna Beach further down the Great Ocean Road.  We walked miles of golden sand to the roar of the pounding surf, watching in awe a clutch of hardcore surfers.    We were each lost in our thoughts seduced by the siren call of the sea.  Mental cobwebs were swept away making room for clean spirit.

We ended that day at the 12 Apostles, a tourist-popular destination close to the end of the Great Ocean Road.  Amazing limestone rock formations created by the restless and relentless pounding of the Southern Ocean.  Impressive for sure, but more touristy than we were in search of so we admired and then beat a hasty retreat back to the calm of our beachy hut, a game of charades, a glass of wine, and a satisfying meal.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Just for Laughs

Spent the day in town today on day two of the April school holidays.  J and I wiled away some time in a bookshop, eating cupcakes, and exploring downtown Melbourne.  On the way back to catch our tram, we stopped in Federation Square to wander around the Melbourne Comedy Festival grounds and experience a really funny maze.

Then I spotted this.  Kinda made real just how far Australia is from everything I used to call home.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Our Picnic at Hanging Rock

Anyone familiar with Joan Lindsay's classic and eerie Australian mystery 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'?  It is the novel published in 1967 detailing the never-solved Valentine's Day 1900 disappearance of a group of 4 school girls plus teacher during a school outing to the mysterious and ever-shifting six million years-old steep volcanic rock formation outside of Melbourne called Hanging Rock.

Part of the intrigue swirls around whether the story is based on fact or lore, and many theories have evolved as to what happened to the girls and why one survivor had no memory of what had occurred when she stumbled back to the larger group.  It is a lasting puzzle whose mystery surrounds and imbues this stunning place.

Armed with delicious curiosity and delightful trepidation, we drove up into Mount Macedon today for an afternoon of discovery and hiking on Hanging Rock.  J was on the other side of a nasty croup and Murphy was still recovering her hiking legs so a short 50-minute prescribed hike was just want we were all craving.  J needed some fresh air, C2 was desperate to get out of the city and I was desperate to see some kangaroos.

We hiked about 40 minutes through Eucalyptus and Gum forests winding our way around looming rock formations.  The trail is riddled with caves, tunnels and overhanging boulders, the enigmatic shapes, echoes and peeling Gum trees all lended to the spooky feel of the place.  Signposts advised that Koalas, Kangaroos, Wallabies, and a wide variety of snakes all called this place home but the only wildlife I spotted was an ant the size of my thumb.

As we approached the summit, it was apparent Murphy would not be able to ascend the steep rocks to the top, so she and I held back to wait for C2 and J.  Thirty minutes later and trying in vain to calm an increasingly frantic Murphy, I was giving some credence to the mysterious disapearances. The two of them finally re-emerged some time later and J returned with me to bear witness to a summit full of barely balanced boulders, caves, ravines, and steep cliffs plummeting hundreds of meters to the flats.  I began to register some ideas of what might have befallen the schoolgirls more than a hundred years ago.

Thirty minutes later, we were back at the Discovery Center drinking coffee and watching the magnificent Rosella parrots chase each other through the Eucalytus trees.

No luck on the kangaroo front though.