Sunday, May 30, 2010

Big Surf Day

Catch the wave or die trying

Winter is rolling in which means 2 things. 1. It gets slightly colder 2. The surf is picking up. This past Sunday had the biggest surf of the year thus far with swells up up to 10' high on the Manly/Queenscliff beach. If Amy and I went out in this, it is likely we would perish but it made for good watching as the pros came out of the woodwork and put on a show. All weekend the beach was lined up with spectators, ooohhhing when someone pulled off a nice ride and grimacing when some poor soul got crushed out there.

A brave soul ventures forth

We took a hike out to on the rocky headland just below our apartment with out mate Webs to check out the waves and surfers and took some pictures along the way.

It was a truly impressive set of sites. To start off with, the surf was big enough that the Queenscliff Bombura (Queensie Bombie in Aust-speak) was breaking. Let me take a moment to explain what this is and the significance of sighting it is.

The Bombie is a monstrous wave that breaks about a kilometer off the beach only when the surf is truly huge - anywhere from 8 to 16 feet. That means that it doesn't even bother getting out of bed most days. But, when it does come out to play, it is when the surf is big enough to be treacherous for newbies and a calculated risk even for experts. Just to get out to it, you need to paddle for a kilometer or if you are smart/lucky, take a boat and then when you do, you are running the risk of injury or death.

Tooling around in the Queensie Bombie

Although we saw some surfers in the vicinity, the only people that were actually playing around it in were some members of the Surf & Lifesaving Club who were riding down the face of the wave in a zodiac raft.
Looking, judging

We hiked around the headland from the Queenscliff side to the Freshwater side to take a look at the surfers there. This is a sweet little walk that has you stalking through a cave and scrambling over a field of broken boulders.

Hiking around, Freshwater Headland behind me

By the time we made it back to Queenscliff/Manly, the sun was setting and the waves were still pumping. It was an awesome and beautiful sight watching the sunset reflecting off of the clouds and water with the surfers shredding below us, one that I will remember for a long time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why didn't I think of that?

As Amy and I found out in our recent move, getting rid of all your stuff is not as easy as it would seem. We had some pretty good stuff accumulated from our years in NYC but after foisting countless items on friends and family, people started getting sick of it. Amy and I went to a pretty cool event this past weekend that solved this dilemma in a unique way. Please allow me to introduce to you the Auction Party.

This was an even hosted by a co-worker of Amy's and his girlfriend who are moving to London in a few weeks. They hosted a going a combined going away party and silent auction for all their stuff.


All of the items they were selling had pages stuck to the wall over them that listed a description, starting bid and maximum bid. As guests made their way around the party, you signed up with bids for the items you wanted. At the end of the night, the pages were all taken down and winners announced.

This turned the tables on the whole arrangement of begging and pleading with people to take just one more thing off your hands. It had all their acquaintances fighting with eachother for the honor to pay for their stuff!

Amy and I made out pretty well, paying around $100 Aussie Dollars for some plants, a stereo, a space heater, and a SWEET painting which was painted by the hostess. This woman happens to not only be a painter but actually sings at the Sydney Opera House. Impressive.

Sweet painting, FTW

Overall it was a good time, we got to socialize with friends, have some drinks, and picked up some sweet stuff which will doubtlessly be auctioned to our friends here upon our next move.

3.5 kilos of mmmmmmmmmmm...

We wrapped up the weekend having some friends over for one of our favorite meals, pernil. It is a Puerto Rican/Cuban preparation of marinated pork shoulder and was mindblowingly delicious. We served it up with fried bananas, coconut rice and beans, cornbread, spinach, and it was topped off with an awesome apple crisp a la Debbie.

The feast is served

Amy and I are amused that in Australia spanish culture has a much lesser influence. Although we realize how far we are from a Spanish-speaking country, it is just weird sometimes how much the influence is removed. It had been taken for granted while living in NYC, although it pervaded many of the things we saw/ate/heard on a daily basis. Examples:
  1. I witnessed in the grocery store a woman asking an employee if they stock "ja-lap-a-nose".
  2. I offered homemade guacamole to an Australian friend a while back. He squinted into the bowl and asked, "is that that Mexican stuff?"
  3. The Spanish foods (prepackaged make-your-own burrito kits) are in the Asian foods aisle in the supermarket.
Vamos a la playa?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Pics from Jervis Bay

Here are some more pictures from the Jervis Bay trip. These were taken by Webs and Kat. Thanks guys!


Drunken sparkler art - no one lost an eye

"Did you know that Tyler Durden only sleeps 1 hour a night?"

Defending the campfire

The boys after successfully firing the water balloon launcher into the sea

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sydney Harbor Video

Here is a video clip shot by our friend Webs from the fast ferry into the main ferry terminal in the heart of the city, Circular Quay. The video is sped up, the ferry isn't quite this fast.

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This is the view though that commuters from or part of the city get every day. Beats the pants off of a subway ride any day.

As the ferry approaches, you can see the Opera House on the left and the Harbor Bridge straight ahead.

Thanks Webs!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Exploring Sydney

This past Saturday, Amy and I took the opportunity to join Debs and James on a trip to the city (note: not The City as a point of clarification for my NYC peeps) to check out some points of interest. Our ferry trip in was eventful in that there were huge waves and an armada of ships out to welcome home Jessica Watson, a 16 year old Aussie girl who was due to arrive home in Sydney that afternoon.

The city pulled out all the stops for her, making it a big PR event and giving her a hero's welcome. It was cool to see the myriad of boats out and people seemed really proud of her.
We didn't have to travel far before one of the ladies was detained on a shopping related errand. James and I ducked into the nearest bar, Bar 333 for sanctuary. We watched rugby and a bit of American Ice Hockey (Bruins vs I don't remember) oddly enough. Not a bad bar overall but a bit posh for our basic needs of shelter from shopping.

We ventured forth from there to what was probably the fanciest mall I have ever been in, The Queen Victorian Building complete with a giant victorian clock to grab a quick bite and then made our way to 3 Wise Monkeys, an English style pub. This was more our style and we luxuriated here among the dark wood and tasty beers.

Next was a stop in Sydney's Chinatown for lunch and...more beers. Chinatown is small but packed with places to eat. We found a great, random spot for lunch and sat out on the veranda, watching the crowds of tourists shuffle by.

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Lunch was a smorgasborg served family style. We gorged on calamari, chicken (satay perhaps? I realize that is not chinese), and a beef dish as well as eggrolls and another battered, fried concoction. It was a good find for random stumbling.

After lunch, we walked off our food hangovers at Paddy's Market, a place where we had heard one could find good deals on various goods. Although I won't dispute this I will say that this must be the place to go for knockoff American baseball jerseys, ugg boots, ninja weapons, and what looked like inferior quality electronics. If you have the good fortune of being in Sydney and having the opportunity to go to Paddy's famous Market, feel free to avoid it. Call me instead. We'll go surfing.

We now ventured onward to Darling Harbor, a large area in Sydney that often holds festivals and expos. We planted ourselves in the final bar for the day, the nautically named Helm Bar with a lovely view of the boats in the harbor and watched the sun go down over a few additional beers. This was a classy joint that wasn't too pretentious and was a great way to spend some time before we boarded the ferry back home to sweet Manly.

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We ended the evening in Manly - or "God's Country" as James calls it, I find it hard to disagree - at the delectable Ashiana Indian RestaurantAddress:‎ just off the Corso, which is the main strip that run between the ferry wharf and the beach. Here in addition to some great food, we enjoyed those last few beers which led to a rueful next morning.

In this and other matters, let my epitaph read:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Camping in Jervis Bay

Hyam's Beach in Jervis Bay

This past weekend we spearheaded an expedition to lovely Jervis Bay seeking out sunshine, smores, and the great outdoors. We were not disappointed with the results of the venture.

Jervis Bay is located a few hours south of Sydney here:

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Based on our previous experience of camping at Nelson's Bay, we were looking to camp in a place that was a little more remote. Our site in Jervis was a huge improvement in this direction. We were the only people in the campground one of the nights and our site had a firepit placed right on a lazy river. It was an idyllic scene.

The livin's easy

It is interesting camping in Australia. Obviously the same basic requirements of shelter, food, and water remain the same but everything else around you is different. So, Amy and I are found here doing the same things but surrounded by new trees, plants and animals. Instead of raccoons rummaging through our unguarded food and deer traipsing through our site, we have possums and kangaroos. It makes for an interesting, if not surreal experience whenever you step outside of your tent.

Trying to sneak up on our smore making

Their pouches are way stickier than they seem on TV

The people we were camping with were a mixed group. A couple from the UK, and Aussie, and another American. Although everyone had been camping before, we were appalled to learn that the people from outside of the US had never heard of smores before. This was something we swore to remedy. The were intrigued to learn that making and stuffing as many smores into your face was basically THE primary reason to go camping in the first place.

We had to improvide as best we could as they do not apparently sell graham crackers in Australia. Also, the only marshmallows we could find were mixed bags of regular and strawberry. Note: strawberry marshmallows are terrible. These deficiencies were compensated for however by the generally superior chocolate out here.

Smores rock

After a quick demonstration, our students were off, taking turns burning their hands and marshmallows as best they could. The firsts tastes of this strange American treat were joined with gasps of joy and pleasure and the smore was quickly given a permenant place in all future camping ventures.

We spent most of our waking hours on Saturday at a beautiful stretch of beach a few minutes from our campground. We laid out, played football/soccer, drank beer, and found a stray baby which we entertained until its parents came around to claim it.

Beach baby washed up on shore

James scoring a goal AND not spilling his beer

The weekend was capped off with some ballistic testing spearheaded by Kat and Webs who were resourceful enough to bring a 3 person water balloon launcher. We said goodbye to our campsite by launching a barrage of balloons as far as we could downstream.

Debs launches one into orbit

On the way home, we stopped off at a national park and took a hike. Here we brought out the ammo we had been saving for something special and launched what appeared to be a grapefruit which we pulled off a camp tree into the ocean. Take that Neptune!!!

Afterward, we made a second stop at a pretty sweet blowhole, took the short walk around and refueled with some pies and ice cream. We made it home for a sweet sunset and agreed to meet up later in the week to finish off the surplus beer. Speaking of which......

Mel was way more impressed than she let on

Blowhole in action

Interested in camping and survival?  Come check out The Bug Out Bag Guide.

Cheap flight of the week

This week's flight comes courtesy of Cousin Jackie who spotted it on It is a Quantas sale that is looking like a pretty good deal for the would-be traveler. The cheapest deal is $777.

Cheap Flight

It is starting to turn into "winter" down here which means the waves are picking up. Pack those bags, people.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


We went camping this past weekend and I'll be posting pictures and video soon of things like kangaroos and water balloon launchers. For now though, enjoy this picture of a sunset from our porch.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cheap Flight of the week

Fleeing jury duty? Looking to score some Tim Tams? Willing to give Chris hand surgery?

Come to Australia!!!

Cheap flight of the week is $885.