Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Brisbane Blog#16 : The O' Carrolls visit

Sunshine Coast, Queensland

We had the opportunity to host our first Canadian friends this past weekend. They did not actually stay with us in our cosy 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom flat (oh but the view!), they rented a two bedroom flat downtown for the weekend. We did have a couple of meals together here though and a swim in our pool.

Zac, Serenna, Evelyn, Owen, and wee Oliver

The O'Carrolls are a family of 5 from London, Ontario (well they are not actually from London but they have made London their home).  Jason works with Denis at the University of Western Ontario (they, along with another prof. Claire, and all their students make up the RETORE group).

Jason and Denis

RESTORE men working hard

It just so happens that Denis is also on his sabbatical year and his lovely wife Gabrielle has arranged for a one year placement at 3M in Sydney, Australia (as opposed to her home base of 3M in London, Ontario).  So Denis, Gabrielle and their 3 kids have been living in Sydney since July.  Although on the same side of Australia, we are still almost 1000 kms away from them.  It would take over 12 hours to drive!  It was very fun to compare notes of living in Australia with another family who is having a similar experience. We all agree that it would be very tempting to relocate to this wonderful climate and way of life. But, family, do not worry no relocation plans are being made - it is just too far away, and our love for you trumps fabulous weather, oceans, amazing wildlife, amazing sea life and a great tan all year round!  Besides, the kids can't wait to play in the snow and see their dog again - oh yeah and they adore you all too!

As I was saying, we got to hang out with some fellow Canadians for the weekend. We met up at South Bank for a swim in the fake beach, then had ice cream and a drink at one of the open air patios.

the girls

the boys
We looked for a place to have dinner for a table of 9 and ended up at an Irish Club with some live Irish music and a 'footie' game on the "teli".  It seemed somehow appropriate in the company of the ginger haired Denis O'Carroll. The kids all get along very well. Serenna and Evelyn are almost the same age and likewise with Zac and Owen. Their youngest Oliver can hold his own in their company and is just too adorable not to be included.

We met up very early at a car rental agency downtown Brisbane on Sunday morning. The O`Carrolls wanted to see part of the Sunshine Coast, so we headed an hour north to the closest beach.  Considering all the amazing beaches Australia has on offer, this one turned out to be a bit of a disappointment as the water was a bit brownish with seaweed bits in it and not much of a surf.   But the water was warm and the sand was silky and the sun was shining as usual.

 We spent the morning there and then went into the town to check out a recommended Gelateria. We had some award winning gelato - I can personally recommend the 70% cocoa chocolate and the coconut.  Jas found the ginger had a zing!

 We then drove another half hour up the coast to another beach and were very pleased we did. The beach had beautiful clear blue water and a very powerful surf and crashing waves.

Now you see us....

Now you don't!

It was a great place to try out the new boogie boards that Jason and Zachary bought.

Boogie boarding Serenna and Jason
Boogie boarding momma

Boogie Boarding Daddies

Jas catches a good one!

When at the ocean we always try and swim between the flags that indicate that area is patrolled by lifesavers.  I have to say that they have the funniest uniforms.   All `lifesaver` (volunteers or paid) wear these silly looking beanie hats of yellow and red that tie up under their neck.

Volunteer lifesavers with their silly beanies.

Yes, it makes them easy to spot, but they offer no sun protection and they look so dorky. It kinda ruins the cool, sexy lifeguard image and makes them a bit hard to take seriously.  None the less, Gabreille still had a picture taken with them!

Gabrielle with a couple of Aussie lifesavers

These sails are attached to people on surfboards.  Looks wicked!

Too soon it was time to pack up, shower the salt water off and find some food for hungry tired kids and wine for their parents. We had very yummy pizza on a patio that encouraged BYO wine with no corkage fee. I do love that. Then we all drove back to Brisbane.

Denis gave a talk at the University of Queensland on Monday and Gabrielle and the kids cuddled some Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  Our kids had a regular day of school but were happy to see the kids at our flat that evening for dinner and some more play time. We look forward to visiting them in Sydney in a few weeks.

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