Thursday, October 13, 2011

Holiday Fun

Last week Brian had a conference he needed to go to in Canberra.  He decided to drive because the flights were not at great times.  Since the boys were on holiday from school, we decided to tag along.  We found a deal on a hotel that included tickets to the National Zoo and Aquarium, and off we went.

Canberra is about a 5-1/2 hour drive from Port Stephens.  It was a beautiful drive, especially once we got outside of Sydney.  We drove along a ridge of mountains for quite a while.  I didn't have my camera out and was sorry about that.  We did have it ready for the drive home.  One of the things I've always wanted to see is a field full of flowers and this trip obliged.

The next day Brian took off for his conference and I took the Pajero and headed off to Parliament before the zoo opened.  The boys were, needless to say, thrilled.

Nath calls it "the boring building"
We passed a guard going inside.  He told us we'd have to go through security like at the airport.  I placed my camera and purse on the X-ray machine and went through the metal detector.  I turned around for the boys to follow through and they are holding their shoes.  The security guards were very amused.

The building reminded me of our Capital building, just more modern.  The boys wanted to head straight to the roof, but I bribed them by saying if they were good we'd go up after looking at the House of Reps and the Senate.  They agreed begrudgingly.


House of Representatives

As promised, view from the roof
They were not in session, so we had free access to everything.  I'd like to go back when they are in session - from what I understand things often become a wee bit rowdy.  The best example of heard (on the radio) was when a woman speaking was interrupted by a man.  She gave him a good dressing down.  His response - "Meow."  I laughed for five minutes over that one.

After the Senate and House, we were off to see the Magna Carta.  Not a replica, the Magna Carta.  I was very excited.  The kids were like "hey mum, it's an old piece of paper."  We had an, albeit brief, history lesson.  If you ask Nath what the Magna Carta means, he'll tell you that nobody is above the law.  I figure that's good enough for a 7 year old.

Clearly, no flash allowed

To the kiddos collective relief, we were off to the National Zoo and Aquarium.  I was not super impressed, but the boys had a good time.  The aquarium was smaller then one section of the Newport Aquarium and the zoo was small also.  I know I've been spoiled by the Cincy Zoo being so well and beautifully done.  We zipped through both places in about 2 hours, even after we looked at a few of the animals twice!  Here are a few of the boys favorite things:

This Meerkat was posing for photo ops

Feeding time for the lions - gross!

They really liked this fish - too bad I don't remember what it was!
I was so glad Brian had called earlier.  One of the gentlemen he had talked to recommended Questacon for the boys.  It's a big science museum that's very hands on - reminded me of COSI but bigger.  Otherwise we would've been headed a museum that I'm fairly certain would have bored the children.  And very bored boys twice in one day leads to crummy behavior and an exhausted mum!

We had lunch at Questacon and were off to look at the exhibits.  I wish Brian would've been able to have gone with us.  He would have loved it, I would have gotten more pictures, and he would've explained things better to the kiddos.  I'm not a science person to begin with and trying to make the things I know accessible to the boys is difficult for me.  Seriously, ask anybody that was in my senior physics class - it was awful (the teacher certainly didn't help)!  A few friends used to joke that I'd probably end up marrying a physicist.  Jokes on them, he was just a physics major!

The Periodic Table, taken for Bri
One of my favorite exhibits was The Science of Carnivals.  It showed things like why the games are nigh impossible to win, how the "psychic" booth works, and optical illusions. 

One of the tasks was to cover a large circle with five smaller circles.  We watched several adults try to cover it, but there were always slivers of the larger circle showing.  Guess who walked up and got it right on the first try?

Clearly pleased with himself

Before we picked Brian up from his meeting, I let the kids run around outside.  They immediately found these huge Marimbas and began to play.

Four hands, one keyboard were always the most fun duets to play
And that ended our whirlwind trip to Canberra.

We stopped for dinner about an hour outside of Canberra.  On the way in we had noticed signs for Big Merino.  Knowing how much wool comes out of Australia, I just assumed this was where a lot of the Merino wool came from.  I could not have been more wrong.

Meet Big Merino
When I had read Bill Bryson's book about Australia ("In a Sunburned Country"), he mentioned these huge, I don't know, models of things throughout Australia.  I was glad we had stumbled upon one.  It was a fun way to end our trip!

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