Archive for category Australia 2010

Canberra – Blue Mountains

For a trip that wasn’t certain to happen until a few days before, everything went amazingly to plan.  Thanks to the generosity of my many friends Down Under, Pam and I were extremely well taken care of.  I was delighted to get to see everyone I had intended to see – without any struggle or effort.

After Canberra was a drive through the Southern Highlands to Fitzroy Falls – it’s like a pilgrimage for me since my first visit at the age of 16.  I have to go every time I’m in Oz. I admit I was disappointed the cafe didn’t have the “Lumberjack Cake” I miraculously discovered there when I last went with my mom, Rhonda & Johnnie B.  However, it has been 10 years, and not all businesses or their proprietors can be expected to last forever.  Or even for all the visits of my lifetime. 

The Falls is usually followed by a drive over the Macquarie Pass to the coast.  It’s a bit like a rain forest, and always dramatic.  And thankfully we drove DOWN the pass, given the combination of the aggressive drivers in their Ford Falcons and our gutless Hyundai Getz.  No offense, Hyundai – I loved the Santa Fe I used to drive J

We made it to the Blue Mountains and the Rothwells by 5 pm.  With a skimpy tourist map.  But who needs to pay $13 a day on a GPS when you can use your brain and your (highly tuned) directional instincts to navigate!  That’s what keeps the brain from atrophying.

So Arthur & Carol Rothwell are the parents of Adrian Rothwell, who I met in North Vancouver back in 1997 or 1998.  This family is a source of amazing small world connections.  When I met Adrian he mentioned he worked for PWC.  As unlikely as it may have been, I asked if he knew my aunt who was the executive assistant for the National Managing Partner – and he did!  When the partner’s meeting was happening in Whistler, Adrian was the shuttle driver between Vancouver & Whistler, and she even told him about me.

Then when I visited Adrian and his folks in Sydney in early 2000, they insisted that if I ever went to Perth, I should meet Adrian’s former PWC Vancouver colleague Linda Petriew, which I did.  Linda and I became friends, and after I’d moved to Canberra Linda came to visit for a ski weekend in the Snowy Mountains.  After a great weekend on the slopes we were invited to a hot tub party at the home of Andrew McPherson, who I knew through Andrew & Geoff Bell.  We walk in, and Linda and Andrew take one look at each other and practically scream – he had also worked in PWCs Vancouver office at the same time as Adrian and Linda!

Australia – Day 1

If this is what 39 looks like...

This trip is happening only because my friend Pam, an Air Canada Jazz pilot, had an interest in going to Australia.  At first, months ago, I was excited about the prospect of spending a few weeks down under especially because it has been 10 years since my Millennium Adventure Down Under.  But as the dates and plans started to take shape and we realized it would be barely over a week’s visit, I started to have my doubts.  I mean, who in their right mind goes to Australia for 8 days???  That’s pure madness.

But then I remembered who I am!

And off we went, pretty much the last two standby passengers to board a full 777 bound direct from Vancouver to Sydney.  Our hopes of an upgrade to the fully-reclining-to- 100%-horizontal seats were dashed.  Every Business Class seat was occupied by a paying customer.  Rats.

Whether it was the No-Jet-Lag homeopathic I took every 2 hours, or the litres of water I drank, or the 15.5 hour direct flight, we arrived quite alert, awake, and refreshed, ready to drive the 3 hours to Canberra on the wrong side of the road.

The best part about driving to or from the A.C.T. (Australian Capital Territory) is the chance to stop in the Southern Highlands region, to which I was first introduced in 1986 when I went on the Havergal/Frensham School exchange.  So today we stopped in Moss Vale for a light lunch and a chance to stretch.

I tried to point out as much Australiana as I could to Pam – mostly flora.  (Didn’t see any ‘roos until the next day.)  It was so fulfilling to be back on the Island Continent that I had loved so much. 

We arrived at the Palethorpe’s in Canberra just after 4 pm.  Our history with Helen & Hardy is dislocated, but they are awesome people, and I am lucky to know them – their son was once married to one of my best friends!

The weather was hot and sunny, and Pam & I were anxious to get our hearts pumping, so we faithfully trudged up Mount Ainslie and enjoyed looking down on the meticulously planned Canberra, appreciating the lifestyle of such urban proximity to nature.  After this exercise, we were treated to an al fresco meal of fish and veggies done on the BBQ, and fresh mango for dessert (and though I’m officially allergic to mango, I was compelled to eat ¼ of one of the luscious fruits – don’t worry, it’s not an anaphylactic reaction that I have).

Next best thing to attending a match of the Australian Open? Watching it while IN Australia!  At least the time zone thing isn’t an issue.  And promptly at 10 pm Pam & I promptly wilted, and slept like logs until 6:30 am.  That was generally the theme for the entire week.  No jet lag to speak of.  Good thing – you can’t afford to have jet lag for an 8 day trip.