This year, we decided to drive our Welsh Pembroke Corgi 'Pumbaa' to Melbourne so that he could experience Christmas with a big chunk of Siew Fong's family.
On the way, we wanted to stop in Canberra to see an special art exhibit of paintings (impressionist, pointalist, and post-impressionist) from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. So we stayed with our friends Malcolm & Janita at Ballalaba, near Braidwood. Mr Pumbaa enjoyed the experience of barking at wallabies.
On leaving lovely Ballalaba, one of the aforementioned wallabies jumped in front of my car, I swerved and missed it, although it's tail may have brushed the bumper.
We drove via Cooma down the Monaro Highway, even though that route involved about 70kms of dirt road. It was a pleasant drive, after the dirty part, and there was very little traffic. As we approached Cann River, we saw a helicopter water bombing a bush fire. It reloaded from a dam next to the road.
In Melbourne (or Kew actually), Mr Pumbaa and his hostess Sandra tolerated each other.
For Christmas lunch I made a pumpkin pie and Balsamic Strawberries with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, which my sister-in-law Siew Ling declared to be plate-licking good!
Gifts were distributed, and games played.
Young Nigel liked my gift of 'Robo Rally', but he still preferred to spend countless hours playing 'Halo'.
We further ventured to visit the 'Little Penguins' at Philip Island. Penguins and other natural phenomena duly observed, we motored to Morwell, and did a coal mine and generation station tour. The kids were bored, but I was jointly fascinated and appalled at man's domination over his environment. Brown coal is OK, as long as we keep looking in the same direction as the folks who like nuclear power.
A day spent lounging by the pool later, and after consuming copious quantities of excess sustenance, we borrowed a Tarago and made our way to Ballarat, home of the Sovereign Hill (SH) amusement park. SH was actually quite a bit better than I expected. It was reasonably authentic, not everything in the park was overpriced or designed to thin my wallet, there wasn't too many trite things on display, and it provided the unlikely opportunity to get our money back, panning for gold (didn't work out that way though).
On Thursday, Siew Fong's Aunt Nelly dropped by to make a nice laksa for lunch.
We had a quiet New Years celebration. On Friday we went to an Italian restaurant that specialized in portions that were larger than one could eat. The other patrons made me feel thin.
Over the period we played a few games of Powergrid. Young newbie Nigel won every game except his first.
On Sunday, we went to the open markets at Camberwell. Trash and Treasure galore! Well, mostly trash. I think I am the only one to technically pick up any treasure, and that was because I picked up some pre-decimal pennies and half-pennies. The best bit of trash I witnessed was someone trying to sell a framed, ugly, Titanic-themed picture puzzle.
On Monday, Mr Pumbaa said his goodbyes to his hostess, and we departed for Sydney. 10.5 hours, and some boring roadway later, we were home.