Sunday, August 9, 2009


Sunday morning, bright and early, we took the tour of the Opera House. It is spectacular even the second time around. There are five venues for shows and so in any given evening, if all of them are in use, the opera house can hold up to 5,500 people. The tour was excellent and gave us a real feel for what Utsen went through to get this thing built. Too bad he never saw the building once it was completed. I think he is really what made Frank Gehry possible.
The inside of the big venue is absolutely gorgeous! I don't think there is a bad seat in the house either. Everything is so well thought out. And the seats are made just for me. They are covered in a beautiful magenta fabric.
I promised to post images of some of the birds: Here are the yellow crested cockatoos. These suckers are big! About the size of ducks and in the Royal Botanical Gardens they are not shy. We saw them climbing all over people.
After the Opera House we headed for the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Lots of great art. I think Sydney Long had to be my favorite. (Daddy - look him up) He's an art nouveau painter from Australia. Really great stuff. There was a wide variety of artists and a lot of Australians. It was great to see that work.
Then we headed to Oxford St. and we were starving. We were so hungry we couldn't make a decision. We finally settle on a little cafe and had a lovely sandwich, fries and an omelet.
Then we headed up to New Castle, a two hour drive and by the time we got here - Anne-Maree and I were both so tired, we called it a night. I zonked out in the hotel room, and she went home to her family. My hotel was fantastic though. It had the biggest feather duvee I've ever slept under. I didn't want to get out of bed.
This morning Anne-Maree picked me up with a bunch of poppies from her garden! Aren't they beautiful!? And look at the colors of her house! The entrance hallway is a warm mustard color with turquoise trim, her bedroom is magenta with chartreuse and turquoise accents, her youngest son's room is my favorite color green and the kitchen has these lovely pink curtains in it. My kind of colors. The house is incredible. It sits on quite a large piece of land which slopes down. So the top floor of the house is the living quarters with another room underneath. But I think the absolute coolest feature is that the kitchen opens up to a large screened-in deck. And here it is, the middle of winter, but we still had breakfast on the deck looking out into their garden. They have a creek at the bottom of it. Some frogs are croaking down there. From the deck you look into a couple of jacaranda's, a perpitisporum, a paper bark tree, and some eucalyptus. And as we sat there, a kookaburra came out of the creek and started preening on a branch of the jacaranda right in front of us. There have been a group of them chattering away all day. They are noisy!
After breakfast, I got the tour of the gardens with Anne-Maree and I finally met the Chooks. We had a really good laugh in Korea when she was telling me all about her chooks, and I said, "What's a chook?" I've been anxious to meet them ever since. And they are something!

They talk, and they are not thrilled about being held, but any food one offers them, that's great. And they really do run like they do in the cartoons! It is a riot to see a dozen feathered things come ga-lumping along at top speed with feathers sticking out and wings-a-flapping.

Anne-Maree's got quite a garden too. Pumello tree, peaches, apples, plums, mango, banana, papaya, macadamia nut, almond, and mulberry trees. Then there is a huge vegetable patch with broccoli, swiss chard, peas, herbs, and you name it. Wow. Very very cool.

After Anne-Maree left to teach, Geoff, her husband gave me another tour of the garden. He is a biologist/conservationist and told me all about the plants and where they came from, what they were doing with the garden etc. It's just spectacular.

I'm not sure what our plans are for this afternoon... But since we have most of tomorrow completely free, I think we are going to go see the tide pools, another nature reserve, and ??? Oh, but dinner is planned. I'm going to have a "Works Burger." Apparently a buger with the works comes with slightly grilled pinaple, and pickled beet root and a few other amazing things. I can't wait.

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