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Category Archives: Family Events

Hyde Park Barracks

After our guided tour of the Rocks area, the heavens opened and the rains fell,

so we grabbed umbrellas and hastily altered our afternoon plans to an indoor location.

We chose Hyde Park Barracks.

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The barracks were designed by that infamous ex-convict Francis Greenway

and were built to house male convicts who worked on government projects.

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It is now a museum that must be seen when you visit Sydney.

It is set up to tell the different stories of the building and the people who once lived there.

It also does an good job of demonstrating how archaeologists dig into the past to locate those stories.

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Amazingly, rats have also helped conserved the past for us.

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Into their ratacombs in the building’s foundations, and down into their nests under the floor boards,

the rats dragged little bits and bobs stolen from the people who lived in the barracks over the years.

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During conservation work, these ratty ‘treasures’ were uncovered

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and a whole room of the museum is dedicated to the objects that were found.

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Torn pieces of letters, writing nibs, sealing wax, matches, clay pipes, rosary beads, fabric, buttons and sewing equipment –

all were found under the floorboards telling the story of the women who once lived in the barracks.

You see, in 1848, the barracks were converted into a depot for free immigrant women.

The women resided in the barracks for short periods until family could collect them

or until they found suitable employment and accommodations.

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Rooms on the second floor of the museum, tell the story of some of these women.

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You could even test out the lodgings to see if they were to your desired level of comfort.

They weren’t.  They were as comfortable as they look.

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Speaking of accommodations, on the third floor of the museum, you could also experience convict accommodations.

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On this floor, the rooms have been restored to show where the convicts slept at the barracks from 1819 to 1848.

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Rows and rows of hammocks filled the space

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and you are free to climb into a hammock and test it out for yourself.

They weren’t too bad actually.

Getting in and, especially, out was a challenge though.

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Most of the barracks were devoted to telling the convict story

and it was that story that we were most interested to hear.

At the front desk, we collect our free audio tour guides

and spent three hours learning about early Sydney and its convict past.

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(Guided tours or audio tours are must when you have children.

It helps them engage with the exhibits.

If the option is available, always pay for tours.

It’s well worth the money.)

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And if that doesn’t keep the kiddos engaged,

then there’s always the leg irons

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and the triangle with the cat-o-nine tails

to help with discipline.

(Yes, Ethan is having a little too much fun whipping his brother,

who was rather glad for the protection of his backpack.)

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However, at this museum, the kids aren’t going to have much of a problem engaging.

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Every room is vastly different and full of interactive opportunities,

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from answering questions and finding images to dressing up and touching artifacts.

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Oh, I should explain what the cat-o-nine tails was, (or, as it was commonly known, ‘the cat’).

It was a particularly cruel type of flogging implement used by the British.

It consisted of nine ‘tails’ or lengths of knotted cord,

which lacerated a man’s back in a pattern that resembled a vicious cat’s scratch,

hence the name.

It kind of look innocuous, doesn’t it.

However, one superintendent from the barracks said that it made 50 lashes feel like a 1000,

so it must have been hideous.

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Floggings and the irons weren’t the only type of punishment in the colony though.

There was also ‘the wheel’.

The wheel was a human-powered treadmill, which was both a punishment and a device for grinding grains.

I’ve always said that exercise is some form of inhumane torture and this is proof!

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There were also the humiliating forms of punishment,

like having to wear the parti-coloured punishment suit.

Men, who had to wear this ridiculous outfit, were called ‘canary men’.

They were also put in leg irons so the pants had buttons up the side of the legs

to enable the men to put on or remove their pants while still wearing their legs irons.

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Here’s something you might not know; it’s certainly something I didn’t know.

I’d always assumed that the broad arrow meant something to do with convicts.

However, that is not so.

Items were marked with a broad arrow to indicate items belonging to the government.

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Convict clothing was marked with a broad arrow because the clothing belonged to the government,

and not because it would be worn by convicts.

In fact, every segment of the clothing was marked with the broad arrow

to prevent the convicts from unpicking the clothes, remaking them and selling them on.

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Many convict-made bricks also bore the broad arrow mark.

In fact, all bricks after 1819 were marked with the broad arrow.

(By the 1830s, the bricks were marked with playing card shapes,

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to indicate the different brick makers, and also to help the mortar bind to the brick.)

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It is estimated that 166 000 convicts were sent to Australian shores

between the years of 1788 and 1868.

For many of them, Australia provided a second chance at life and a potentially prosperous future.

We forget that a number of these convicts had death sentences commuted to transportation.

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But it would have been a very difficult transition for all of them.

Most of them would never have seen their family or friends again.

An indication of this heartbreak can be seen in the love tokens

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that the convicts made for their loved ones before they departed for the ends of the Earth.

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These tokens were made by smoothing coins and engraving them with messages.

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There was so much to see and learn at Hyde Park Barracks

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as well as a gorgeous building to admire.

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And it’s the place to go in Sydney if you want to learn more about our convict past.

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We thoroughly ended our wet afternoon exploring the barracks

and would definitely recommend that others visit if they have the opportunity.

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Posted by on October 14, 2018 in Australian Holiday, Family Events, Field Trips, History

 

Adelaide and a Wedding

Last month, we went on a little trip south to Adelaide.

We were heading there for my brother’s wedding

but decided to stay a few extra days to check out the city.

Now, first, let me tell you,

that Adelaide truly is the city of churches…at least in the city centre.

My golly gosh!  There were so many!

And it was not uncommon to see a couple of churches in a row.

Yes, side by side!

Oh and they were beautiful churches.

Actually, there were lots of beautiful historic buildings.

Hats off to Adelaide and their foresight and determination to protect their heritage buildings.

With all of their beautiful buildings, mixed with plenty of green spaces, Adelaide was a really pretty place to visit.

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We had only one complaint about Adelaide and it’s a major one.

Adelaidians can not drive!

Or, at the very least, the drivers we experienced in Adelaide had little regard for others on the road.

They just changed lanes without checking if anyone was beside them, many of them without even bothering to indicate!

Even buses did it!  (We also saw a city bus, full of passengers, go straight through a red light!)

Driving in Adelaide, for us, was a nerve racking experience,

The whole time, we drove expecting that, at any moment, the car beside us would change into us.

So, for us, Adelaide was a stressful place to visit.

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Now, back to the nice parts of Adelaide.

Their museum was gorgeous. Clearly a lot of money has been spent…well spent.

(Hear that Brisbane Museum, yet another museum that is nicer than you!  But I digress…)

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The museum makes use of a number of buildings, one of which is a gorgeous heritage building.

It was lovely and a piece of history on display as much as the artifacts in the cabinets.

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The old display cabinets haven’t been tossed aside in favour of ‘new but not beautiful’ cabinets.

Adelaidians know how to preserve history.

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Our only complain about the museum was the almost total unrepresentation of colonial history.

There was a huge focus on Pacific and Aboriginal cultures,

but very little on South Australia’s colonial history.

We’d wanted to learn more about how South Australia, the colony, came to be,

but, we went home none the wiser.

Come to think of it, the Brisbane Museum is the same.

In Australian museums, where is the British heritage that makes up a part of our history.

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However, we did enjoy the Pacific cultures exhibits.

There’s a lot of beauty in their artifacts.

Cultures that value beauty enough to include it in even their practical implements are to be esteemed.

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I have to say though.  Even beauty isn’t going to make this ‘pillow’ comfortable.

Thank you to whoever come up with the idea of soft fluffy pillows.

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Our favourite displays from the Aboriginal exhibits are always the dot paintings.

But, just recently, I found out that dot paintings, as we see them, aren’t ‘traditional’ art,

but, instead, only begin in the 1970s.

Yes, seriously.  Google it.  I was shocked too.

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Speaking of things I like, look at these squirrels.

I loooove squirrels.

Sadly, Australia has none.  😦

Squirrels are much more interesting to watch than koalas, who simply sleep all day.

Yes, I’d swap for them.

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In Adelaide Museum, there was a whole taxidermy exhibit displaying animals from different regions.

We hadn’t even heard of some of the animals,

but we’re not animal people so that doesn’t really surprise me.

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The discovery room is always a popular museum location.

They keep all the creepy yet cool stuff there.

Check this out – a shingleback lizard with twins!

Cool!!

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Even dead, this shark is fearsome-looking.

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Yes, son, he could probably swallow you whole, although he prefers to nibble or chew.

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The exhibit I was most looking forward to was the Douglas Mawson exhibit.

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We’d read up about him and his fateful expedition, before heading to Adelaide

(and we are keen to see the hut replica in Hobart).

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I can’t even imagine what it is truly like in Antarctica.

Yes, it’s cold, obviously, but it’s also windy.

The average wind speed is 69km/h!

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Hubby’s favourite exhibits are always to be found in rooms related to Ancient History

so he was excited to find that Adelaide has a room dedicated solely to Ancient Egypt.

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The museum has two complete mummies and the sarcophagus for one of them.

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At first I thought some of the artifacts must be replicas.

I mean, how would South Australia have received such artifacts to keep.

But, on closer inspection, I found that just about everything was authentic.

So I had to find out more.

I discovered that, in 1890, the South Australia governor commissioned Reverend William Roby Fletcher

to acquire ancient artifacts from London and Cairo.

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I also found this quote written by Fletcher in 1892 in “Egyptian Sketches”

(which I may have to read in its entirety as the snippets I read were fascinating!),

“This body snatching is a curious business. It is an odd sensation to stand on a mound of rubbish and see bits of dirty sponge-like stuff, and shreds of cerements and human bones lying all about.  You pick up one of these spongy bits and find that it is fibrous muscular tissue.  You get interested and poke into the sand, and then, turning around, see a youngster holding a head in his hands, which he wants to sell you for 10 or 20 piastres, or the hand of some nameless beauty torn from her mummy…Somehow one gets over the awkwardness of one’s feelings, and is quite ready to pocket a rare scarab, or an amulet, or a papyrus roll if fortunate enough to get one…”

This extract may explain why there were ‘bits’ of mummies’ bodies also on display.

Can you see the mummified hands and feet in the photo?

There are also mummified cats next to them.

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Despite it’s macabre origin, we still loved the Egyptian room.

It was totally fascinating.

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Of course, we didn’t spend our whole holiday at the museum.

We also visited the Mall’s Balls.

All of the tourist sites said it was a must see.

Ummm…peoples.  Why?!

This is not an attraction.

It’s just a sculpture.

We snapped the obligatory photo and moved on

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…to the real attraction on the mall – the bookstore!

The Dymocks in Rundle Mall is to die for.

The children’s section goes on and on.

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But the fun didn’t end there!

This bookstore had TWO storeys.

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I was so overwhelmed with glee that I found it hard to focus on what I wanted to buy.

But I found this treasure and was delighted.

It was a good read.

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While in Adelaide, we also visited the zoo.

The meerkats were at the top of our must see creatures.

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Adelaide Zoo has a meerkat that is losing her colouring and turning white.

There is a sign at the exhibit that explains that she turned white over only a few months,

but that no one knows why.

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Apparently, in all other regards, she seems healthy enough.

How interesting.

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The monkeys also impressed us.

Who doesn’t love the monkeys?!

These fellows were swinging from branch to branch and tree to tree,

putting on quite a display.

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Birds don’t ordinarily impress me but this Golden Pheasant really caught my attention.

What a beautifully coloured bird!

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Of course, you can’t visit Adelaide Zoo without checking out Australia’s only pandas.

They are only on loan to Adelaide for ten years, which means that their time here is almost up.

(They arrived in 2009).

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When we arrived at the exhibit, Wang Wang and Fu Ni were waiting in their glass enclosures

for their keepers to do whatever they were doing in their outdoor enclosures.

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But, we didn’t have to wait long for them to be released.

Don’t they look so cute and cuddly.

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Yes, we have to remind ourselves that they are bears, with big teeth and big claws.

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Okay, enough tourist stuff.

Onto the wedding, the whole purpose for our visit to South Australia.

It was held out in wine country at this gorgeous old church.

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This church is the only one in Australia that has a crypt built beneath it.

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Don’t my ‘not so little’ men scrub up well.

What you can’t see is that one of these boys,

who will remain nameless,

didn’t realise that there was cardboard under the collar of his new shirt

and so he spent the whole day and night wearing cardboard around his neck.

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You see, I wasn’t there to inspect their appearance before leaving the cottage.

I’d dashed off to help my brother-in-law dress and care for his three daughters

(as my sister was in the bridal party).

My nieces are, of course, adorable.

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I mean, check out this sweetie.

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The same sweetie who fell fast asleep during the ceremony in a matter of two minutes.

I left her to go and do a reading for the service and came back to sleeping beauty.

Yes, in this exact position.

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The service continued nicely while she slept and my brother married my new sister.

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And, at the end of this holiday,

I had another married sibling

and I had visited another Australian capital city.

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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in Family Events, Family Life, Field Trips, Geography

 

Easter Holidays and Beyond

Well, the Easter holidays have been and gone

and I’ve been totally slack with my blogging…again.

But I do have some ‘what-I-think-are’ valid excuses.

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On Easter day, we spent the day with family,

in particular, my little nieces Miss Aria, 5, and Miss Evie 2.

Their mother was in hospital overnight for her pregnancy to be monitored

so we made sure these little people had a lovely day.

Isn’t Miss Evie a cherub?

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I could just eat her up, she’s so cute.

I love the two year old attitude.

There’s nothing ‘terrible’ about it.

The twos are terrific.

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It’s when their little characters start showing themselves.

(Evie got annoyed with my picture taking

so she decided to snap a picture of me in return.)

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Then, at lunch, the girls’ daddy arrived to see them

and tell them that they got something extra special for Easter –

a new baby sister

(just a smidge undercooked at 33 weeks).

Her name is Isla (the ‘s’ is silent)

and she was 2.5 kg (which is 5lbs 8oz)

(She’s actually only 4 ozs smaller than Ethan was at birth.

They are the same length, although her head is a centimetre bigger,

but she is uncooked and Ethan’s cooking timer was complete.)

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So I spent the beginning of my holidays hunting for 00000 outfits for little Isla.

That was fun!!

I used to fret that I’d never get to buy sweet little girl things since I had boys,

but, with three nieces to spoil, I can have all the pink and purple fun that I want.

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We also spent a chunk of time over the holidays,

helping babysit the two bigger girls

while their parents spent their days and night with little Isla.

(This is why you need to live close to family if you can.)

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We took the girls to the Ipswich Art Gallery for their holiday program

but it was terrible this time around.

It’s the only ‘bad’ thing we’ve attended there.

There was hardly anything to do

and a really long wait for the main event

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…a disco climbing web.

which Miss Aria didn’t even want to climb in once she saw it.

‘Her boys’, as she calls my Little Men, weren’t allowed on due to age restrictions

and she wasn’t going on by herself

so that hour of waiting was a total bust.

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To redeem the day, we went for ice-cream

and a little play in the shopping centre playground.

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It always amazes me what these little people can get my teenage boys to do.

How many 16 year old boys would climb into a playground boat with a two year old?

He was helping her climb around in the boat

and taking whatever orders Miss Evie dished out.

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Secretly, I think Brayden enjoys the opportunity to play as a little kid again.

He really gets into the girls’ imaginative games.

Here they’re checking for ‘cocodills’ (Evie’s word) in the water

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Anyone who walked through the playground,

Evie would warn them about the dangerous cocodills.

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During the holidays, we also had the Commonwealth Games.

It was pretty much a non-event in regards to all the hassle they’d warned us about.

The Coast resembled a ghost town and driving places was a pleasure.

Hubby even went with a friend to a couple of events.

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Over the holidays, we also drove out to Goondiwindi,

a 4.5 hour drive from our place.

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We drove out there to visit Hubby’s Grandmother, the boys Great Grandmother,

who is almost 98 now.

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Hubby spent a lot of time in Goondiwindi growing up

as his grandmother had a massive sheep farm just outside of town in New South Wales.

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If you didn’t know already, Goondiwindi is on the Queensland and New South Wales border.

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The border is the Macintyre River

and this old bridge takes you across to New South Wales.

Yes, our trip included a trip to New South Wales.

We always drive across and back

just so we can say that we took an interstate holiday.  🙂


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The motel we stayed in was a dump though.

(I won’t name names as that’s just mean.  Perhaps they are doing their best.)

No, it wasn’t our first choice; the better places were full for some reason.

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I actually liked the layout of the rooms.

The family room had two decent rooms, each with a tv, and a bathroom.

I just didn’t like the condition of the rooms.

Our air conditioner could very well have come off Noah’s Ark.

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The furnishings were in desperate need of repair.

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And my personal ‘favourite’ was the bedside lamp they expected me to sleep next to all night.

(I didn’t, by the way.  I put it on the floor.)

Check out the dust on that thing.

Yes, both were as bad as each other.

But, we survived.

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On the way back home,

(Why are the return trips the longest and most boring?!)

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we stopped in at Toowoomba to check out the Da Vinci Machines exhibition

at the Cobb and Co Museum.

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We’ve been to this exhibition before when the boys were much younger

and to be honest that presentation of it was much better.

The Cobb and Co Museum didn’t seem to have the ideal space for the exhibition.

There were a few dedicated corners of Da Vinci exhibits

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but a number of the exhibits were scattered all through the museum,

making it somewhat like a hunt.

But we enjoyed our time there anyway.

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The exhibition wasn’t focused on Da Vinci’s artworks,

although there were a few key reproductions included.

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It was focused on his ingenious inventions

which have been built as models for this exhibition.

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Although the boys were much younger when they first visited this exhibition,

it surprised me that they remembered a number of the exhibits.

This Archimedes Screw was one of their favourites, then and now.

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Not all of the exhibits were hands on,

but quite a number of them were

so it’s a great exhibition for both young and old.

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We’d never been to the Cobb and Co Museum in Toowoomba before

so we took a little time to check out their displays.

I was really astounded at the sheer height of the coaches.

This picture doesn’t do it justice.

Suffice it to say that, standing next to this coach, I could not see inside it.

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They say that EIGHT people fit inside this coach.

From what I could see, you’d only comfortable fit two people on each of the two seats inside,

but I think they must have squeezed three on each.

Imagine that with your great big dresses with all its layers.

Oh and two passengers would have to travel up with the driver.

That would have been the best view but I suspect you’d end up rather dusty.

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Oh and my favourite thing at the museum was these energy dome things.

There were three of them and I wanted to take them all back to the Brisbane Science Centre.

They were so cool.

Much better than the plasma ball they have at the Science Centre.

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Before we left the museum, I had to take a picture of the tree in the car park.

It was huge.

(Why do photos never show extreme sizes very well?

Am I just taking the photos wrong?!

I’ve actually been working on my photography

and have only used the manual settings all holidays.

I’m pretty impressed with myself.)

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Back home, we got on with the mundane stuff.

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Yes, there were book parcels received during these holidays.

I mean, of course!!  🙂

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We also received daily photo updates of Miss Isla.

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Baby Isla was kept in hospital for a couple of weeks

until she was breathing well on her own

and feeding properly.

Then she went home to her sisters.

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And Aunty Tracey went for a visit too

…and a cuddle of course.

Baby Isla is perfect.

(I love this photo I took of her.

It’s my favourite.)

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She just needs to do some growing to fill in all her old lady wrinkles of skin.

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The day we visited, Miss Evie was delighted to have her boys come and play with her.

Not sure the boys felt the same way about spending all day with a two year old,

but they survived and it’s good future dad training for them.

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Somehow Miss Evie even got the boys playing dolls in the doll house!

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Oh I haven’t shown you the doll house, have I?

My dad made it for Aria’s 5th birthday.

Yes, that’s a solar panel on the roof

…I mean, of course.

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The solar panel runs all the lights inside the doll house.

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Those drawers at the bottom pull out

to reveal additional spaces.

One is a backyard pool area and the other is for storage.

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Oh and most of the furniture and trinkets in the house

were 3D printed especially for the house by my brother.

My mum made all the soft furnishings and did the wallpapering.

(Yes, that’s Frozen on the Samsung tv.)

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Check out the 3D printed bathroom.

Yes, even the toilet and the toilet paper.

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Um, yes, I might also have spent some time playing in this doll house with Evie.

And, no, I might not have been doing it for her enjoyment.

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Anyway, now the holidays are over and we are already two weeks into the new term.

We started the term with two full days of STEM workshops at QUT.

The first day the boys did a wind power energy workshop

and the second day they did a bionic arm workshop.

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Sadly, I don’t have many photos of the workshops.

The mums don’t get to go inside with them,

which is a good ‘classroom’ experience for the teens,

but it means we have to rely on the photos the teens take for us.

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Both days, the boys also participated in different Cube activities.

(The Cube is a giant two storey touchscreen interactive experience).

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Anyway, that brings me up-to-date with now.

And, on that note, I better go and do some planning for the week ahead.

🙂

 
 

Great Performance

Yesterday we went and saw “Brainiac Alive” at QPAC.

It was a little Science mixed with a lot of loud entertainment

(and I DO mean LOUD!)

It was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed it!

So, if you are looking for something to do these school holidays,

definitely grab tickets to Brainiac Alive,

although you’d better be fast as their last performance is on the 13th January

and I bet tickets are selling like hot cakes.

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Yes, we were in this audience.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2018 in Family Events, Science