corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Monday, August 10, 2009

Corders back in Sydney

We've been back in Australia for just over two weeks. I came with a list of stuff to do and see that included the usual tourist icons but also things like buying a carton of beer and bag of ice from a drive-thru bottle shop, watching a game of rugby league on television on a Friday night and eating a bowl of chicken laksa. With a week to go, I've already done most of them and keep adding stuff to the list.
One thing that wasn't on the list was running down one of Australia's 1,200 surviving cassowaries.
The cassowary is a giant and savage flightless bird - a kind of psychadelic emu. It has a spectacularly blue and red colored neck and head and appears to wear a roman legionnaire's helmet at all times to help it crash through the dense undergrowth of the rain forests of northeastern Australia. If they feel threatened by a hapless tourist, they can leap in the air and carve open the person's chest using their huge toe nails.
Despite the helmet/claw arsenal, they are very shy birds and it is pretty rare to spot one - loss of habitat and speeding drivers are taking a heavy toll.
So imagine my delight when I saw one at the side of a road in Cape Tribulation and then my horror when the damn thing made like a lemming and dived towards the rear wheels of our hire car. I managed to avoid it and glanced in my rear view mirror to see it swerve out of the way of the car following us and back into the relative safety of the forest.
I also saw a stingray flapping over the seabed of the Great Barrier Reef but wasn't able to ascertain if it was the same one that did for Steve Irwin.
All four of us set off for the reef last week on a tropical northern Queensland winter's day that started warm and calm and degenerated fast. By the time we got to the catamaran anchored in the relative calm of Cape Tribulation bay there was a fair wind blowing and a strong swell charging south-to-north up the coast.
I may have mentioned in the past that Irmie is not a great sailor (or flyer or car/bus passenger) and she lasted exactly five minutes before throwing up and getting ferried back to shore before we actually weighed anchor.
As it turns out, she did the right thing. We endured a shocking trip to the reef and a far worse one back. It was too rough to sit outside and stare at the horizon so we were stuck in the cabin looking out of the windows at a view that alternated between sky and sea as the boat pitched or rolled or did both simultaneously.
While actually out at the coral, the boat was moored behind the reef and was very stable. I snorkelled over beautiful coral and fish with Esther and Julia and that made the horrors of the boat trip worthwhile. Back on land, Irmie enjoyed herself wandering through rainforests and mangroves that remained mercifully anchored to dry land.
Apart from our trip north, we have spent our time visiting old friends in Sydney and loved every minute of it. Julia visited her old school today and gave a talk to the entire year four which was a test of her rusty English but went well.
Sydney has put on a very enticing show for us - it's been hovering around 20 degrees and sunny every day so far in the deepest of its deep midwinter and all our old mates have greeted us like ... long lost friends.
I've eaten in pubs, drunk pinot noir in Paddington, pinicked and played crickets nest to Sydney Harbour, lounged around drinking beer while watching kangaroos lounge around near the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney and just missed one of the roos with a low five iron shot onto a green on a golf course hugging the river's western bank.
A few more days then we're heading to Hong Kong and then back to NL to resume wondering why we left this place in the first place and maybe post a few of the 10 million pix I've taken.