Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Laugh, Kookaburra, Laugh!

Australia is all over the place when it comes to its creatures and creepy crawlies.  They've got it all here... freakishly scary, adorably cuddly, and even deadly creatures.  So far, I've managed to limit my animal encounters to those of the huggable variety.  And I hope to keep it that way. 
However, I've recently added a new animal to my Aussie obsession list.  While not exactly huggable (although I probably would cuddle the crap out of them if I thought I wouldn't peck my eyes out...), these guys are my current faves.
Meet our neighborhood kookaburras! 
Tell me I'm not the only one that grew up singing the "kookaburra sits in the old gum tree..." song?  Isn't that random that American kids learn that song?  To be completely honest, I think for a long time I thought that song was about a made up bird.  But now I have these guys in real life in my own backyard! And I'm afraid I might be turning into a crazy bird lady because of it.  Oh, and also important to note- these birds really do LAUGH!  Their song/call absolutely sounds like a bunch of monkeys laughing (in my opinion).  In fact, they laugh their little kookaburra heads off every day- sunrise and sunset just outside our house.  You can't see them in this video, but you can hear them laughing.
There are anywhere from about two to six kookaburras that like to visit our porch ledge in the late afternoon.   
Imagine my excitement when I discovered that one of our neighbors feeds them each afternoon and invited me over to help one day.  They are carnivores FYI, and LOVE kangaroo meat. 
Said neighbor is out of town right now and has asked me to water her plants every few days.  So I've taken the liberty of taking over kookaburra feeding duties at her house as well.  Yep, that means I actually bought kangaroo meat.  Sorry 'roos!  They are so tame and will let you get within just a few inches of them.  It's so cool!  Definitely never thought I'd see a kookaburra in real life, much less feed them in my own backyard! 

This one was trying to impress me by fluffing up his feathers.  It totally worked.

Didn't get the best photo of it, but they have a really pretty blue stripe on their wings.


Staring contest.

This is a photo of what my finger looked like about 0.025 seconds before I got bit.  It was totally my fault... I was too focused on taking a photo that I forgot I had food in my hand.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

G'Day Grants!

Finally getting started on recapping my parents' visit to Australia.  Here's a look at their first couple (very jet lagged) days here in Gladstone. 

As if the fourteen hour flight wasn't already long enough, my parents were unfortunate enough to have a flight delay that involved them having to land on some random island that I had never even heard of near (ish) the coast of Australia in order to refuel (kind of scary, right?).  Luckily, they were still able to arrive on the same day... just about 7 hours later than scheduled.  Needless to say they were exhausted, but we were so excited to have them here finally! 

Welcome basket & the embarrassing airport greeting sign I made :-)
The next morning, we went for brunch at Gladstone's own Gecko Valley Winery.  As you can tell from the photo below, this vineyard is still in major recovery mode after some pretty major bush fires two years ago.  But it's still a pretty spot nonetheless. 

The rest of the day, I played drill sergeant tour guide and tried to keep my parents moving and out and about in hopes of quickly getting over jet lag.  My motto was, "no naps allowed!"  I'm so mean :)  So off we went for the grand "tour de Gladstone."  This mostly included exciting things that I didn't take photos of like, driving past the school where I work, pointing out landmarks such as the ever exciting K-Mart, and driving down the one street that is "down town" Gladstone.  Oh small town life... So glamorous.  But we did make it to some of Gladstone's more scenic spots, such as The Auckland Lookout Point. I actually discovered this place pretty recently, and it has a great view of the harbour (look at me spelling things like an Aussie- sheesh), the marina, and a few lovely industrial eyesores that can't be overlooked. :-) 

Auckland Lookout Point
Auckland Lookout Point


Auckland Lookout Point
Next up was a quick stop at the Marina, which is actually one of my favorite parts of Gladstone.

Spinnaker Park at the Marina
We ended the day with a visit to Canoe Point so that my parents could get their first glimpse of the Australian Pacific Ocean!  We ended up being there at such a pretty time of day- the lighting was awesome.  And we got to see a pretty amazing sunset!  I don't think I'll ever get over what a strange feeling it is to watch the sunset over the ocean here and think about my day ending and a new day just beginning "back at home."  Usually this makes me feel kind of lonely thinking about my friends and family, literally on the other side of the world.  But this time it was such an awesome feeling to finally have some of the people I love most on my side of the world to experience it with me! 

Heading down to Canoe Point


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Thursday, July 18, 2013

My First Video: Sights & Sounds From Oz

It's been nearly two weeks now since my parents came to visit us in Australia.  They were here for two weeks, and I think we managed to squeeze in about as many authentic Australian experiences as possible!  I'm still working on blogging about all that we did, but until I can get those posts finished up, here's a little video that I put together of some of the highlights of their trip. 

I know this video is far from fancy, but I have to brag a little bit because I have never edited or arranged a video before.  But with a few hours and a free "Microsoft Movie Maker" download, I managed to teach myself a few tricks and create something that I'm actually pretty dang proud of :-)  Any video experts out there have any tricks or suggestions of other programs to use for next time?


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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blog Makeover!

I feel so fancy (and legit) with my new blog design! I've been wanting (and really needing) a blog makeover and upgrade for far too long. I kept putting it off and/or forgetting about it. However when I ran across Melyssa's travel/expat blog, The Nectar Collective, and saw that she was starting to offer blog designs, I knew that I wanted her to do mine- pronto! I'm so happy with the outcome, and I couldn't have asked for a better person to work with. Check out her brand new blog design page! And if you or anyone you know are in the market for a blog facelift, Melyssa is your girl!

And yes, I know I've been noticeably "missing" from this blog. But, I'm finally recovered and finished uploading photos from my parents' big Aussie adventure. Stay tuned for some recaps about their time here (on my fancy new blog) :-)

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