Je's OzCon Report

Here's a little OzCon report. I'm relatively sure I'm omitting interesting and important things, but as I can't remember what they are at the moment, I'll have to rely on the others to fill in the blanks. :-) Skippy, you should write yours before you read mine, else you're cheating! LOL. And you all should get Mini to tell you why speed humps are so much fun. :-)

I arrived early Friday morning. Evidently I didn't come out the expected door, because Lyn, Mini, Skippy, and Cheryl were waiting at a different one. I didn't see them right away, but after some of the crowd dissipated a few minutes later, they were easy to spot. I was greeted with hugs, as is customary at any gathering of B&B fans. ;-) Lyn and Gary's daughter Rebecca kindly loaned us her car, an SUV, for the week, so there would be room for all of us in one vehicle.

Lyn and Gary's dogs, Molly and Emily, were also very welcoming and glad to have more people in the house. I'm a cat person, so spending a week with dogs was fun and somewhat educational. I received my con tote bag right away (and Andrea and Gonda's bag, which I'm bringing to Cleveland). I know we said it last year in Dallas, but best con tote bag ever! (If Gonda and Andrea don't mind, maybe I could photograph the contents of their tote bag. Mine is already too scattered to accurately reassemble.)

I had a nap that day (though I can't remember whether it was before or after the shopping), and we went to the shops (the mall). Interestingly, all the grocery stores seem to be located in malls. There was a minor incident at the bank where someone (was it Cheryl?) was scolded by a bank employee for calling to Lyn. We don't know whether she was serious or joking.

I always love visiting grocery stores in other countries. Invariably, there are lots of things we don't have at home. Mini discovered something called a custard apple. It looked nasty but tasted delicious. I got a nice muesli (Carman's) to have for breakfast. It was lovely and not overly sweet as too many cereals and granolas are here.

That evening we had a feast of Aussie foods, and many of Lyn and Gary's kids and grandkids came. I was severely jet lagged, so I don't remember what all things we had - and some of them I couldn't eat because of my gluten intolerance. I know we had steak, kangaroo, sausages, and a few salads. Then there were (I think) TimTams, Anzac biscuits (cookies), Lamingtons, Iced Vovos, and a Pavlova. And more things I can't remember.

Saturday we went to Featherdale Wildlife Park and saw lots of native animals and got to pet many of them and feed a few of them. One wombat was especially sweet. She rolled on her back so I could rub her belly. Hand feeding kangaroos and wallabies is fun, but more so if you keep the emus away. They peck and the food flies everywhere. I felt sorry for the Tasmanian Devil. He must have too small an enclosure or something. He kept running in circles around his pen, poor fellow. The dingos seemed pretty tame. One was led around the park on a leash and we could pet him. I've always wondered what koalas would make of their lives if they weren't so mellowed out by the eucalyptus leaves. (Does anyone know about snakes? Did you see that big knotted ball of snake in my photos? What was it doing? Or was it more than one snake? It was moving. I should have taken a vid. Weird and mesmerizing.)

Sunday we went into Sydney on the River Cat/ferry. Stace and Cheryl were going to climb the bridge pylons, but that turned out to be closed. Climbing the bridge itself was probably an option, but it's crazy expensive, over $200. We had lunch at the Orient hotel. Most of the group had fish and chips, which looked delicious. We came home on the train, and Gary (who, sadly, wasn't feeling well for most of our visit and so not able to join us on many adventures) picked us up at the station.

Monday we went to the Blue Mountains, which aren't really mountains but a plateau (as we were told). The mountains were lovely. Stace and I took the cable car across the valley and the steep rail car down. After a walk around the rainforest, we took another cable car back up and then caught up with the rest of the group. Cheryl left us to continue her trip in other parts of Australia. The rest of us went out to dinner at the RSL club. It's a veteran type of club, Returned Services League, I think. I had the mussels, which were a surprise, probably only because I've never had them before. They came in a very large bowl, still in the shells.

Tuesday we did some shopping at the local malls and had tea at Pam and Daniel's house. The scones looked absolutely delicious. They were served with a kind of cream I've never seen before and I can't remember what it's called. And also vanilla custard that came in a carton. Yum. I had it with banana. For dinner we ordered Domino's pizza, and I am SO jealous we don't have all those flavors here! They even had a gluten free base (crust), woohoo! I had the chicken, bacon and pineapple flavor. Thanks to Mini for buying dinner. :-)

Wednesday we took the River Cat into Sydney again. Pam and Bella came along. We took the ferry to Fort Dennison and had a tour, and then had lunch at the restaurant there. I had the lamb. Then we toured around the Opera House and came back home on the River Cat. Skippy made fish pie for dinner, which was lovely. I made a fruit salad for dessert. (Here's the recipe: 1 green apple, 1 red apple, 1 orange, 1 banana, 2 plums. Cut up all the fruit. Add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup and a couple of tablespoons of orange juice. Cover tightly and shake to mix.)

Thursday we walked to the shops in Emerton and had more fun dawdling at the grocery store. I was surprised that eggs are kept on the shelf and not in a refrigerated case. I picked out some things to bring home, including TimTams for the boy, Australian Afternoon Tea for my tea-loving friend, black liquorice for my mom, and chocolate (for me, of course!) I passed on bringing home vegemite, though I did taste it (a very small quantity because it has gluten). It smells a bit like soy sauce and tastes a bit like beef boullion and beer.

Lyn, Gary, and Mini accompanied Stace back to the airport to go home, while Skippy and I stayed home and watched a couple of episodes of Star Trek on the [insert Oz term for Tivo]. We were introduced to Mrs Brown's Boys that evening too, I think. (It's a tv show. I found full episodes on dailymotion.com yesterday. Outrageous and laugh out loud funny. If you like British sitcoms, check it out. Not for the easily offended.)

Friday we went into Sydney and shopped a bit. I adore the Aboriginal art! During the week, I got 3 kinds of magnets decorated with it, a set of coasters, and here I found t-shirts. Lovely! Then we went on a tall ship cruise on the Soren Larsen (built in Denmark) around the harbor. Once we got out a bit, they killed the engines and just used the sails. Very nice. The cruise incuded a meal, which consisted mainly of finger foods. The galley wench, who was a boy, LOL!, brought things around in turn.

We had an earlyish night, as we had to be up at 4 to get ready to go to the airport.

Lyn and Gary were kind and gracious hosts. I doubt I would do half as well with a houseful of people. I felt so at home and welcome, and I can't thank them enough for having us and showing us such a great time! :-D Awesome trip!

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