Australia and New Zealand (December 2017)

My husband and I went along with his parents on part of their whirlwind trip through New Zealand and Australia. It was one of the longer trips I’ve ever been on (8 to 27 December).

We covered a lot of ground in planes, trains, and ferries, though I feel like what we saw in Australia was just the tip of an iceberg—or rather, a continent.

I took 2270 photos.

There are lots of landscape photos, flowers and birds, a selection of Christmas trees, some architecture (including earthquake damage and graffiti in Christchurch), interesting textures, signs, and selfies with (among other things) various trees, a plush wombat, and the Sydney Opera House.

Since (even after weeding out the less good ones) there are still an overwhelming number of photos, I’ve split them up into different posts chronogeographically.

This is all of us at the end of our trip. We didn’t dress like this on purpose. Just a coincidence.

The plane to Sydney and Sydney

Below are 58 photos, mostly of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Opera House tour. Exploring the structure was more interesting than I had been expecting. The shapes are regular and yet unusual at the same time. Historic, groundbreaking, stunning.

Continue reading The plane to Sydney and Sydney

My Christmas South of the Equator

Since moving to Singapore, I’ve spent many Christmases in places that don’t have winter. This year I celebrated the holidays in a place that does have winter, but has it at a totally different time of year.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that winter can happen at different times of year. It’s almost easier to believe that winter is hot and summer is cold than that winter takes place during the, uh, summer months (June, July, and August) and that Christmas takes place during summer.

While in Australia and New Zealand, I took photos of Christmas trees and other holiday items that looked festive yet incongruous—none more so than this sign:

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

Below are 30 more holiday photos.

Continue reading My Christmas South of the Equator

Book shopping in Melbourne

I enjoyed visiting four different bookshops in downtown Melbourne.

Hill of Content Bookshop sells new books. I was surprised to see that they had two full-height shelves on the subject of “Critical Thinking”. I was even more surprised when I noticed that the adjacent subject was “Religion”, and had only been allotted one full-height shelf. Ouch.

It isn’t as if there’s less to say on the subject of religion…

The Paperback sells only new books, but the space felt cram-packed with an eclectic mix of books the way a used book shop feels.

They seemed to be doing a thriving business.

Kay Craddock is a longstanding Antiquarian Bookseller with a charming collection of hundreds of owl figurines perched on the shelves alongside the books. The place reminded me somewhat of the venerable Atlanta Vintage Books, where I used to work.

City Basement Books sells used and rare books, and after emerging from a confusing tangle of twists and turns among the shelves, I bought three.

(1) Changing English (2) Mots D’Heures: Gousses, Rames (3) Spreading the Word

 

Montville, Queensland, Australia

I enjoyed my recent trip to Australia—or, as I like to call it, The Place Where Some of the Coins Are Huge, Most the Flowers Are Purple and All the Birds Are Really Weird. I went there to attend a writers’ retreat with two writer friends.

See below for about 50 photos selected from over 200 in total. (About a quarter were out-of-focus shots of flowers, and another 25% were of a very cooperative kookaburra that sat still while I took photos of him for 20 minutes.)

Continue reading Montville, Queensland, Australia

Bills and coins from Australia

While packing for my trip to Australia, I learned a bit about the different kinds of bills and coins to look out for. I found a fantastic online guide, and reformatted it into a printer-friendly A4-size PDF, which I printed and took with me.

My list didn’t do me a lot of good, though, because most of the time I was inside the resort, and the fee for the workshop and lodgings included almost all the meals. Nevertheless, I did manage to get different denominations of bills and at least one of the special-issue coins, along with samples of three different portraits of the queen from different eras of coinage.

I couldn’t believe—I still can’t believe—how HUGE the 50-cent coins are! I didn’t think any country in the world had coins this bulky.

Here’s an Australian 50-cent coin next to a current Singapore 50-cent coin, a current US 25-cent coin, and one of the old Singapore 50-cent coins, which until now I thought seemed big!

The twelve-sided shape is awesome, though, I have to admit.

The embroidered flag patch I bought in the airport was expensive, but looks to be of good quality. I resisted buying any plastic keychains shaped like kangaroos. The pens were free, courtesy of Greenleaf Press (the organizer of the retreat) and Montville Country Cabins (the workshop and retreat venue where we stayed).