Sunday, January 30, 2011

Australia Day...and our final days in Australia

The Final Post

This backpack is the just thing for an Australia Day (think 4th of July) picnic

With only a few days left on our trip, we tried to pack as much into the hours as possible. Gerry was feeling better as we revisited markets, strolled along streets and said our goodbyes to the wonderful people and places we'd visited. If these pictures make Australia look inviting --- plan a trip there for'll find it even more wonderful in person. But bring along a few extra dollars....prices are a bit higher than in other places we've visited. Even so, it's worth it....even if it's for nothing other than to hear that great Aussie ""G-Day!"

Pretty yellow calla lilies and sausage rolls and quiche tarts.

Beautiful pastries at Laurent Bakery

Great-looking loaves at French Fantasies and flowers at Vic Market

$300 million renovation and lots of planning makes for a beautiful new downtown Melbourne Myer Department Store

Two young Aussies handle a baby alligator (left) and snake at a reptile show at the Jam Factory in South Yarrow

Thousands watched musicians perform at Federation Square, thanks to this giant TV monitor

Anne and Dave dressed up in their Australia Day gear. They also gathered and brought this after-dinner picnic we ate along the river waiting for fireworks to begin.

Crowds gather along the river...and two friends proudly wear flags over their shoulders.

Arts Centre tower (left) and downtown buildings as darkness falls.

Twenty minutes of fireworks off buildings and in parks.

A pensive Gerry and semi-smiling Larry back on Sydney on our final day in Australia enjoying a last Australian beer at Circular Quay watching as the day comes to a close. 

With apologies to our vegetarian friends, we really "pigged out" for our final meal at Lowenbrau
A lemon meringue tart just waiting to be served.  
Time to get back to the hotel

They're ready for Valentines Day at Haight's Candy

An almost hypnotizing display of face and body products from Aesop at the Strand Arcade, the home of Australian Fassion

Stylish clothes for kids for the Austrian Open --- Sydney window display

Leaving Sydney

Goodbye --- Sydney Harbor, we will be back!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A last-minute (unplanned) bakery visit

We were only planning to get coffee and a breakfast pastry when we stopped by the Alexandria Bourke Street Bakery this morning. Then we started a conversation with the staff and they said co-owner Paul Allam (below) was around. He came out, offered a firm handshake and smile and gave us a short tour. Bourke Street Bakery is probably the most successful artisan bakery in Sydney. Their breads and pastries are spot-on. Among the beautiful breads being offered today was a pillowy olive ciabatta, their signature sourdough and an unusual (to us) flaxeed/soy(bean) bread. We hope to experiment over the next few months to come up with a number of Australian-inspired products for the market. 

Shaping bread to be baked for a busy Saturday at the company's three stores

Most bakeries we've seen use stainless steel benches

Some beautiful loaves just out of the oven.

Sourdough and ciabatta

And, of course, baguettes --- the most beautiful we've seen since we arrived.

Day Trip To Phillip Island

We are a couple days off on our posting schedule, will try to get caught up this morning looking out over the Sydney airport from our hotel room. We leave Sydney at 3:15 p.m.(today the 28th), and arrive in Seattle via Los Angeles at 3:33 p.m (the 28th).  Needless to say, it will be a long day.

Anne Thorsen (our "friend of a friend" and personal tour guide who grew up on Whidbey island) picked us up in a convertible and whisked us off to Phillip Island, and the Phillip Island Nature Parks about 90 minutes from Melbourne.

First stop was The Gurdies Winery overlooking the lowlands of Phillip Island.

The winery is a great place for a picnic or just a nice relaxing glass of wine (or two)

The rolling hills are pasture for many of the cattle that roam the area. This is some serious free-rage cattle, mostly all grass fed

Agapanthus grow all over the area, flanked by yellow/green shrubs.

Jacaranda -- one of my favorite trees ---unfortunately does not like cooler temperatures in Western Washington.

Churchill Island Heritage Farm (dating back to 1801) is the first farm in Victoria

One of the farm's many birds.

At the east end of the island, you come to The Nobbies, and Australia's largest seal colony and millions of feeding seagulls.

Local birds along the path, and one very different type of goose, the Cape Barren Goose.

At the island's Koala Conservation Center, two elevated treetop boardwalks allow close viewing of wild koalas in six hectares of Australian bushland. The center Center plays host to a special koala breeding program which forms a vital part of the center's ongoing research activities. Originally established 1991, the Center is dedicated to koala research and conservation and has played a vital role in saving Phillip Island’s koala population.  The center is also home to a host of Australian wildlife – swamp wallabies, nocturnal brushtail and ringtail Possums, echidnas and over 150 species of birds

For this kangaroo, it's time for lunch!

The Fairy (Little Blue) Penguin is the smallest penguin in the world.  Every evening, after dusk (it was about 9:30 when we were there) they come up from the ocean in groups.  Due to the low tide the evening we were there (huddled under a blanket in a drizzle)  they came up slower and in fewer numbers than normal, but walking back on the boardwalk, hundreds of babies penguins could be seen and heard calling out to their parents for food. Since no photos of any type were allowed, these were taken off the their website.

We got back to our apartment around 12:30 at night, it was a fun day and great to get up close to some of the native animals.