Jan's adventures in Oz

A Visit to Western Australia

Pictures here


I got off to a rough start on my trip to Perth.  After one night in my own bed and a busy day at the office I went to the airport to catch an 8 pm flight to Perth.  It was delayed due to weather and then at 11 pm cancelled entirely.  So then after standing in the cab line for an hour, went back to my apt. for about 5 hrs. sleep and got up to catch an early flight to Perth.  Luckily, that went well.  Why do people think travelling for business is so glamorous??


Anyway, I spent 6 days in Western Australia.  Perth is a lovely city…lots of old buildings mixed in with skyscrapers, built around a big, beautiful river, the Swann.  People move slow and the wind is always blowing.  I met lots of great people from the education field….from University of WA to a couple of private K12 schools.


Since I was there for the weekend, I rented a car and drove about 4 hours south to a very beautiful place: Margaret River.  My gps got turned around and took me the “scenic” route…at one point I was on a one lane road!  I got to see lots of sheep and cows. I am getting more used to driving on the left side of the road and I think I actually LIKE round-about’s.  Margaret River is home to wine country.  I have never seen so many vineyards…even in Napa Valley.  I stayed at a “resort” within walking distance of the beach.  The beach was gorgeous, not as much sand as in Gold Coast, but great cliffs, covered in some kind of purple/blue bushes in bloom.


Back in Sydney now…taking it easy over the weekend.  Enjoy the pics of W.A. here..



I realize that it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted to the blog.  You must understand that I had to make an emergency trip back home because my youngest son, Will, had a pancreas problem and was in the hospital.  He was already starting to improve by the time I got home and came home the day after.  It is very hard being on the far side of the planet when these things happen!  I was SO glad to be with him and Alex and Adam.  Even though things turned out fine, I would have been a basket case in AUS, worrying about him.  Will has now returned to work and life goes on.  Thanks to all of you that have been aware and expressed your concern.

Upon return to Australia, I hit the ground and immediately took back off to go to Queensland to attend the Teaching and Learning with Vision conference on the Gold Coast. Here’s the link to my pics.  I presented a session, connecting over video to my friend, Rathika, and her students at Pymble Ladies College…(for you Americans, that is a private K-12 school!).  It went well!  I met lots of great educators at the conference and heard some awesome presentations from some real heavy hitters in EDU world: Dr. Stephen Heppell and the Couros brothers.

Queensland is quite beautiful.  My hotel, the Gold Coast Sheraton resort, was quite nice, situated in a rainforest.  My room had a little patio that featured my own Komodo dragon. See pics!   He was quite tame.  About a foot and a half long.  He liked the pizza crust and Reese’s peanut butter cup that I gave him. (I figured I better give him something to chew on besides me.)

After leaving the conference, I went to the airport and picked up a car.  This was a big deal, as it was the first time I have driven in Australia.  The upside=down, backwards rule was in full effect: steering wheel on the right, drive on the left.  The first thing I ran into leaving the airport was a roundabout.  YIKES!! I made it to Palm Beach without killing anyone.  I am staying at this very pleasant “hotel”…more of an apartment, one block away from the Pacific.  It is absolutely heavenly here.  (Although I miss my little dragon friend.) This weekend I plan to hang out at the beach and sleep late to recover from my jet lag. On Sunday afternoon I will venture back onto the roads and head to Brisbane for some meetings. 

I’ve got loads of new pics but no time to process.  Update on Queensland and new pics soon…promise!!









Finally!  A beautiful weekend.  I have been saving a visit to the Taronga Zoo for a sunny day and yesterday, I got it!  After spending the a.m. on Skype with the fam, I jumped on the ferry to Circular Quay and then to Taronga Zoo.  The zoo itself is situated on a big hill on a beautiful bay.  The animal enclosures are situated on a series of levels on the hill…I think there are five.  As far as the animals themselves, I think I was spoiled by having gone to Steve Irwin’s place on a previous visit to Australia.  While there was a pretty good variety of Australian indigenous animals, there weren’t many of them and they were mainly lethargic (enjoying the warm day?) and lots more fences and bars between me and them than one sees at Irwin’s place.

All in all, a lovely day.  I have included a couple pics from the way back, as well, including some aborigines that hang out at the Circular Quay, making a few bucks from the tourists.

Looking forward to a nice, warm, sunny week for a change 🙂

Link to Pics




A Visit to the Aquarium

It is so cool that I can walk three blocks and be immersed in some of the most beautiful wildlife in the world!  The Aquarium in Darling Harbor is awesome.  There’s the normal tanks of fish, but it also has two areas in which you walk THROUGH the big tanks…which are full of sharks, rays, reef fish, etc.  My favorite were the Dugong’s….Australia’s version of manatees.

The weather has been cool and rainy, however today (Sunday) was nice.  I baked a lamb for dinner.  MMmmm. It is really good here, and fairly inexpensive.  So is steak.  Chicken and fish are pricey!

Well, this will be a short post…it is late.  Be sure to take a look at my fishy pics!

Already October!

Link to this week’s pictures

This is a 3 day weekend!  Evidently the Aussies celebrate Labor Day now.  We also have had a daylight savings time change.  Of course, I didn’t know either of these things were coming, so nice surprises.  The weather has not been nice.  Cool, rainy and cloudy.  Yesterday, I traveled across the harbour to the CBD (Central Business District) and visited the Australia Museum.  I saw a great dinosaur exhibit, skeleton exhibit and one called the Scott Sisters exhibit.  These sisters worked during the 1800’s to classify and illustrate the moths and butterflies of Aus.  Beautiful water colors.  Interesting life stories.

On the way home, I ran into a South American Festival in full swing in Darling Harbour.  Bands, salsa dancing, exotic food booths.  It lasts for 3 days.  Too bad the weather is not cooperating.

Work is going well.  I think it is cool that Australians tend to take Friday afternoon’s off.  These guys work hard and play hard.  They are VERY dedicated to their sports teams: rugby, soccer and “footie.”  There is a pub across the way from my balcony and I can hear them roaring from here on most nights!

My homesickness is getting a little better. Some of the things I do to fight it:

1. Skype with family and friends every Saturday and Sunday morning (Fri. and Sat. night in US)

2. Listen to American Rock and Roll

3. Stay busy, lots of walks. Gym. Cook.

4. Read

Some things I like here:

1. Butter, lamb, beef are cheap and good!

2. People hang laundry out to dry

3. Good coffee shops on every street

4. Awesome public transportation

5. Ferrys!

Some things I don’t like:

1. TV shows are pretty bad

2. Mail is very slow

3. Riding the train during rush hour

All for now…………

My first business trip

Link to Adelaide Pics

Last Thursday I flew to Adelaide which is about 700 miles southwest of Sydney.  The flight was about 2 hours.  Upon arrival I was picked up by my Account manager, Bruce Munro, who took me to meet with the incoming president of the South Aus. Secondary Principal’s Association at her high school.  We then buzzed into downtown and we met with representatives from a couple of local universities.  Thursday night I went out to dinner with Bruce, Matt (our Sales engineer) and Paul Rixon, a friend i have know for many years who runs the distance program at TAFE SA…kind of a group of community colleges across South SA.  We ate at an Indian restaurant, the Snake Charmer, which belongs to the brother of my landlord in Sydney!  It was very good!  We had a great time.

On Friday, we headed out of town to Willunga High School, which is in the heart of McClaren Valley, a famous winemaking area.  I helped the kids get ready to do a videoconference lesson with our friend, Ian, also of TAFE, who was out in the Vinyard.  This was a big deal, the event had 5 camera crews and a couple of high profile senators attending!  I made friends with the chief of staff of one of the senators and was promised a meeting with him in Melbourne soon!  Australia is rolling out a multibillion dollar fibre network, the NBN, which will put very high speed internet into every home, school and business over the next few years.  This is perfect to support video so I am ALL OVER IT!

After the event at the high school (funny, when it was over the kids asked me if they could be dismissed…like I was their teacher 🙂 we went to a winery for lunch.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  The views reminded me of Napa valley in CA and the wine was awesome.

On Saturday I had a day to sightsee and jumped on the tram to go to the beach.  It took about 30 minutes to get there.  The beach was beautiful, the day was warm and sunny.  It looked similar to the beach at Manly but not as commercial.  I walked down the shore and found a cove which I had pretty much to myself.  Laid in sun for a couple hours and listened to the surf.  Me and the birds.  Finished the afternoon at the harbour with some yummy oysters, fresh from the bay.  Got back to the hotel to see a bunch of race car drivers finishing their race.  Headed to airport and got back here around 10.

I think I like Cisco business trips!






The Westfield Tower

Todays pictures

The focal point of the view from my balcony is the Westfield Tower.  Today I decided it was time to go to the top.  I walked across the Pyrmont bridge and went a few blocks into the city.  The Westfield has an observation deck at the top that looks out over the city, harbor and even the sea.  The elevator to the top was a little scary.  It was a lovely day and the views from the deck were absolutely stunning.  I was able to spot my apartment building and other landmarks I had seen on the ground.  I picked out a couple of places to check out down below…like the big cathedral you will see in the pics.

Once back on the ground I did a little shopping.  That part of town has all the big stores.  Lots of designer names…Gucci, Coach, etc.  I then headed over to St. Mary’s cathedral which I learned is the most famous church in AUS.  I couldn’t go in as there were cops all over the place because of a big event being held there.  It was then I realized today was 9-11!  I am glad I was unaware of the day when I was at the top of that darn tower!!

Oh, one other thing of note, you will see some photos of flowers.  One of the department stores was FILLED with these gorgeous flower arrangements.  I don’t know what the occasion was, but there must have been $100,000 worth of flowers!  What a treat for the eyes.

I have my first business trip this week.  I go to Adelaide on Thursday and return Saturday.  Stay tuned for that next weekend!

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