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Published: November 17th 2009
It was almost two years to the day that we had first departed from Australia and it has been an epic two years: 26 countries, countless friends and memories made along the way and a growing thirst for travel. The purpose of our 3 week trip home was to continue with what has been a recurring theme this year: a wedding! Al's brother, Dave and his now-wife Em were getting married by the harbour in Sydney, and it turned out to be pretty good timing for us as it was also time for Al to renew his UK working visa.
We had both been looking forward to this trip as we had not had any extended period of time off work since we started and three weeks in the Australian sun before the British winter would be much needed to get us through the festive season. We had also thought that heading home would bring us closer to a decision as to what to do next which we were grappling with (and still are) in our previous blog. We would have a chance to catch up with family and friends, celebrate Al's Birthday, Lara's 10 year school reunion, and Al's
Seven Mile Beach
twin niece's birthday party and essentially see what we've been missing out on since we've been gone.
It was however, not the relaxing lazy holiday at home that we had been envisaging; one in which we ate at all our old favourite restaurants, chilled with our families and had the occasional very relaxing drink with our friends overlooking the ocean. Our three weeks in Australia turned out to be a manic, crazy, exhausting visit in which we drove frantically around New South Wales from relative to relative covering more than 3500 kilometres and not going anywhere fast! And it left us continuing to feel unsure about the path that lies ahead.
Our driving ended up looking something like this:
Sydney - Bowral - Picton - Bowral - Canberra - Bowral - Sydney - Bowral - Kiama - Bowral - Sydney - Bowral - Canberra - Boorowa - Blackheath - Bowral - Canberra - Sydney - Bowral - Blackheath - Canberra - Bowral - Sydney; essentially driving around and around in circles for three weeks. That is not to say we didn't have a blast. We are lucky enough to have family living at the extremes of Australian lifestyles:
inner-city Sydney and on remote farms as well as everything in between, and we got to experience a little bit of everything while we were home.
Our first task once off the plane was skydiving. Lara's parents had given Lara and her brother skydiving for their birthdays a good ten years ago - and they had decided it was about time it went ahead. They were surprisingly keen to have their son and daughter jumping out of a plane...and disappointed that their second daughter was a chicken. We thought it may be some kind of inheritance scam on her part but needless to say we all survived so if it was a scam it failed. Later on we found out that the bride-to-be was extremely relieved to hear that we had managed to survive and she wouldn't have to find a replacement for Al's groomsmen duties with such short notice!
The next week was spent in Sydney, staying with Dave and Em and then in a hotel with the entire Glenister clan for the wedding. It was a solid week of eating, drinking and being merry with the obvious highlight being the amazing wedding held in Athol Hall
overlooking Sydney harbour. The bride looked beautiful, as did the views and it was so special to be able to celebrate their big day with them surrounded by so many family and friends and even a few cheeky Australian natives. Our evening ended with a boat ride across the harbour and Harry's Pies in Woolloomooloo Wharf at 2am with the bride and groom, and was followed up with a lunch in the pub the following day with all the wedding guests.
After Dave and Em departed on their honeymoon it was time to start criss-crossing the countryside and so we headed south. We had a few days in Bowral with Lara's parents; a lovely day trip to Kiama and 7 Mile Beach in which we had to closely keep our eyes on Seti, the labrador who loves eating blue-bottles and would disappear whenever we got distracted and gorge himself on these tasty but poisonous treats.
And then, via Canberra it was in to the Outback....well to Boorowa anyway, which is as close to the Outback as we managed on this trip. Lara's sister, Jemma lives on a farm about 1/2 an hour from mainstreet Boorowa, a place that
has fun yearly events such as the Sheep Run in which sheep run down the mainstreet. We spent a weekend on the farm encouraging Jemma to enter Miss Boorowa Showgirl 2010
but we're not sure we managed to convince her, we did however name her Miss Vine Lodge 2009
a title which she wins fare and square. It was really lovely to hang out with Jem and Josh, and Josh took us four wheel driving around the farm, with poor Al getting terrible hayfever while driving through all the crops. We saw plenty of kangaroos, black wallabies, sheep (obviously) and a variety of parrots. We looked out for snakes the entire trip but didn't manage to see any until Lara managed to drive over a live brown snake somewhere between Cowra and Bathurst. We had plans of horseriding and having lunch in Boorowa but playing the drinking game Passout
meant that a few of these plans got slept off in the morning. Jemma cooked us a delicious roast, and through emulating the Argentinian way of eating (and forgetting to defrost the meat) we ended up eating at about 11pm! It was a really lovely few days and amazingly beautiful countryside.
From Boorowa we headed to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains where Al's sister, her husband and their gorgeous twin girls Isabel and Violet live. The next few days were spent in the park, hanging the girls up-side-down and reading plenty of stories (7 in a row at one stage). It was so great to spend lots of time with them and get to know them all over again. We also managed a few tourist stops through the mountains seeing the good old Three Sisters and other cliff views along the way.
After a few days downtime in which we hung out with our respective parents came our last weekend before heading back to London. On the Friday we celebrated Al's birthday in Sydney with $5 steaks, followed by lunch in the Burrawang Pub with lots of Lara's school friends which ran in to their 10 year reunion that night. And if all this wasn't enough, the next morning we got up and drove for 2 1/2 hours to Isabel and Violet's fourth birthday party. This involved yet more hanging the girls up-side-down, wrapping a huge pass-the-parcel and eating plenty of cake. After all the little guests had vanished
and Peter Pan was on the TV we both fell asleep on the couch before driving back to our parent's houses in Canberra and Bowral again.
And then the trip was over. We weren't quite ready to leave, it felt rushed and we didn't manage to see half the people that we wanted to. We're now back in London, and although it is freezing and dark, and we miss all our family we don't think we're ready to head back to the Land Downunder just yet. We're still not too keen to stay in London either so no decision has really been made....but for now we'll be ejoying the Christmas festivities and then heading to Morocco after Christmas.
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