A House DownUnder

So, you’ve all heard about living in Australia and how things are upside down here right? It is not called the land down-under for nothing. Of course we all know that is not the case. We know that things are not upside-down in Australia. Or do we? Dani and his cousin Susana visited an unlikely tourist attraction to discover what it might be like if it was true…

Experience what it would be like if we really did live upside-down in Australia

The weather wasn’t great on their first day in Australia but we did get to see this odd place (currently in the “Entertainment Quarter” near Sydney Cricket Ground).  Dani and Susana had a taste of what it would be like if that was true. And, in case you were wondering, three-year-old Roberto was fast asleep waiting outside – clearly suffering the effects of jetlag.

The rest is speaks for itself, so let’s go inside this weird house…

First check the PC and where we are exactly on this globe…
Piano practice

Solving the Rubik’s cube
Hanging from the ceiling while hiding?
There’s a bed but these kids look like they are sleeping like bats.
Fry-up anyone?
Preparing breakfast in a fully equipped kitchen
Careful not to fall in the toilet!
Now wash your hands kids…

Not only was the house upside down it was also on a slight incline. So walking on the “ceilings” while looking up at the furniture on the “floors” causes a weird sensation. You almost feel like you are on a ship rolling in the waves. If you get the chance give it a try.

Meanwhile, in the merry old land of Oz….

While we had the opportunity – and with Dani in his preferred red trainers – I just had to take this one… Well, it’s in my all time top 10 movies.

Easy one for any of you film buffs. Actually should be easy for anyone.

Can you guess the movie? Or course you can. Write your answers in the comments please.

Great Barrier Reef

The title is self-explanatory I suppose. This was part of a short trip to Cairns with Dani’s abuelos. There are several things to do in and around Cairns, but the main one is just offshore. That means a visit to what is easily Australia’s most famous landmark – even if it is out at sea.

Off to the Great Barrier Reef…

Cairns is probably the Great Barrier Reef’s main launch point for tourists. That is largely to do with the fact that the reef is only an hour and a half away by fast boat. The city has grown in recent years and the port is full of large boats offering all kinds of diving, snorkelling and other trips to the reef. We met our boat for an 8am departure.

On the boat trip out to the reef Dani met the official tour photographer and his impressive underwater camera. A bit bigger than Dani’s V-Tech Action Cam by Kodak (cheap-ish camera we bought online), but we did OK with that little device as you will see…

Dani comparing underwater photography options

Getting to grips with this snorkelling thing…

It was his first time snorkelling so he was understandably a little bit anxious. But he soon picked it up. Before long he was happily moving around the reef taking pictures with his go-pro device.

The trip took us to two separate parts of the reef but they were both pretty much in the same area. The boats use anchor points specifically made for these tours using large concrete blocks. If nothing else it limits the number of tours and the places they can stop. When you see some of the reef has clearly died it can make you wonder about tourism. But then when you stop and think that the Great Barrier Reef covers an area larger than Italy, then it does not seem so bad. The area of Italy is only 87% the size of the reef. You can look it up for yourself, but here is the results of a comparison using the website mapfight.xyz. Tourists are only visiting a tiny fraction of the reef.

More Photos

Here are a few more photos from Dani’s camera including a few of every kids’ favourite reef fish; Nemo – aka the clown fish or anemone fish because they live around the anemone plants. Hence “Nemo”. I had never realised that – doh! Hey! I have only seen the movie once so why would I even give it any thought? Hahaa…

   

And finally here is a little video of Dani snorkelling. Clearly after he had gained his confidence.

A fitting brew after a hard day’s snorkelling

The Reef Exposed

Even this far off the coast the tide has a dramatic effect. When we first arrived at the reef the topmost coral was clearly visible just below the surface. But after the first dive/snorkel expedition the level dropped exposing the top surface of the reef. You could (theoretically) walk along the reef when the tide is so low although that clearly wouldn’t be allowed (nor would it be a good idea).

The reef as seen from our boat
The topmost coral becomes exposed at low tide
Cairns viewed from the sea on our return to land

Dani’s Cousins Land Today

Later today Dani’s Spanish cousins will land in Sydney. They are in the air as I type. Susana and Roberto will be excited to reunite with Dani. The feeling is mutual – when he can prize himself away from an iPad or PC screen. Actually I think he is quite excited.

Unfortunately the weather is predicted to be suitably shit. Those weather forecasts can and do often change, like, well, the weather itself! So hopefully it will not be that bad. But if it is raining most days then we will need to get creative.

One thing they are bound to notice though is the lower temperatures. Coming from Madrid in the height of summer, to the current temperatures here in Sydney is sure to be a bit of shock. Which gives me some scope for mischief….

I will tell them that if they have come to Australia hoping to see kangaroos they will be disappointed. As it is so cold here now, the jumping marsupials have all moved on to warmer places. Maybe Spain?! Yeah, that should do the trick. It’s a good start at least. I just hope the adults in the room don’t interject too soon.

Return to Wentworth Falls

Dani’s abuelos have just returned to Madrid where it is sure to be sunny and very hot. They never had much luck here with the weather. We have had what seems like weeks of non-stop rain. Well it may have stopped a few times over recent weeks but for the duration of their stay, Dani’s abuelos had barely seen the sun and when they took the train up to the mountains (last week) it rained so hard that they could not see anything.  But on their final day in Australia while it was pouring with rain (again) in Sydney, the forecast for the Blue Mountains was mostly sunny”. So Dani and I took them back to the mountains so that they could see some of the highlights. One of them was Wentworth Falls.

It is always good to look back at how something looked in the past. Even just a year back can make a huge difference. That kind of comparison is never more stark than when looking at water levels in Australia. And where better to do such a comparison than the Blue Mountains. Even better; waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. Keeping this blog going has given me the chance to do that and share it with you all, so here goes…

Return to Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls was the first place we ever visited in the Blue Mountains and for some reason we had not been back to those falls. Until now.

This was how the main part of the falls looked at the end of February 2020 on our first ever visit to the Blue Mountains. (You can read that post here.)

As you can see barely enough water to make it look dramatic. This was after a hot summer where bush fires ravaged parts of the countryside. It was also just before plenty of rain caused floods. One extreme to another.

This is what it looked like now: That classic bridal veil formation making up the falls’ main decent into the valley. But there are also a couple of smaller falls just upstream…

Wentworth Falls in July 2022

In the upper part of the Wentworth Falls we saw this little cascade back in Feb 2020.

This is what it looked like this week with a slightly older (and sillier) Dani now on top looking down.

Upper falls

There is also a double cascaded mid section, which I did not even think was worth recording back on our first visit.

What I refer to as the Mid falls
Dani at the “mid falls”

Finally, the view across the Jameson valley in this part of the Blue Mountains is just fantastic.  Depending on the hour of the day and the month or the year, this stunning scene is sure to look spectacularly different due to the angle of the sun and the shadows it casts. You could gaze out at this beautiful vista literally hundreds of times over a whole year and it would be like looking at it for the first time.

Jamison valley viewed from above the falls

We were just glad that Dani’s abuelos finally got the chance to experience some of the beauty of the Blue Mountains.

Jamison valley from another angle

Melbourne – Australia’s Most Liveable City (so they say)

In a couple of weeks time we have Dani’s two Spanish cousins coming to visit him (along with their parents of course) and we have an excursion to Melbourne planned. The Victorian state’s main city has recently been listed as “Australia’s most liveable city (2022)” ahead of Adelaide and Sydney. But Melbourne only came 10th overall, in the world list that it topped for eight straight years between 2011 and 2017.

Great eh? Well, not really. What follows can probably be filed under “grumpy old dad”, but please read on…

World’s Most Liveable Cities (list)

About a week ago the annual list was published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (something to do with the Economist magazine I think, they have a website eiu.com – not really bothered to find out). Vienna, in Austria, topped the list and the highest any Aussie city came was 10th. Joint 10th in fact, as Melbourne tied with Osaka (Japan). Adelaide was 13th after finishing 3rd in 2021. No idea where Sydney finished and not really interested.

Then along came covid (I really did not want to mention that word, but hey…). And due to the pathetic, ahem, I mean harsh nature of lockdowns across the whole country, Australian cities dropped down the list. As did (similarly) cities in the people’s republic of New Zealand. Apparently the lifting/relaxing of covid restrictions was slower in Adelaide than Melbourne so the South Australian city dropped further down the list.

What the f*%k?!! Melbourne (and Victoria in general) was basically under martial law for a full fecking year! Who are they trying to kid?

Which brings me nicely on to this: The criteria for determining the ‘most liveable city’. It is called the global liveability index and apparently is a list of some 30+ things. But the exact detail? I do not know. I have been trying to find the complete list but it escapes me. It is not even obvious on the eiu.com website. But one thing that is surely not on the list is “ease of finding a pub in the city centre”. Because if it was, Melbourne would have fallen flat on its arse I can tell you.

Do you know what the list is?  Please feel free to post a reply if you can find it. I really could not find it…

If you ask me all this crap is about as relevant as Eurovision. Or to give it its old, full title; ‘The Eurovision Song Contest’. But that said I do have a question. How the hell did Melbourne still manage to figure so highly?

Anyway the point is; I really do not want to go to Melbourne again. The other week was enough for me for some time at least, if not for good (click here to read about that trip).

Plus the fact that the Victorian government were so dictatorial during the covid crap must be a good enough reason not to take your tourism there. Right?

Do it for the kids…

We are using Melbourne as a base for the main reason of the trip is to take the kids to see the famous little penguins at Philip Island. I think they call it “the penguin parade” or something like that. I went to see the little creatures when I was first in Melbourne way back in time in the 1990s (oddly enough, when it did actually seem like a very liveable city to me).

I know. I know. The kids are going to love the penguins so it is worth it for that alone. But I still don’t fancy tramping around the city centre again. It’s just not as great as some seem to make out. Not only that, but the weather is not too great here in Sydney and it will almost certainly be colder and wetter in Melbourne. Not a great prospect. Do we have to???

So, in the spirit John Cooper Clarke’s “I don’t want ever want to go to Burnley
I’ll tell you each in turn,
I don’t want to go to Melbourne 

Maybe I could fake covid so I have to stay home and self isolate. All jokes aside, I may not need to fake it the way things are going around here at the moment. But that’s another story (perhaps) for another time…