A Birthday Down Under
Lilia turned two last week so we took the opportunity to enjoy some of the last days of summer in Australia and celebrated the end of her second year with the antipodean side of the family. We forgot how long the flight to Australia is, what a mission: 12 hours to Auckland, a three hour layover, then another four and a half hours on the plane to Adelaide. Fortunately Lilia slept quite well on the overnight leg to Auckland and also took a solid nap on the way to Adelaide. Lisa and I also caught some shuteye on the leg to Auckland, but were still feeling pretty shot by the time we reached our final destination. Mum and Dad were greeted by a ponytailed Lilia running out of customs, big grins from the grandparents and even bigger smiles when they saw Lisa’s round tummy (which is holding a 20 week old sibling for Lilia at the moment). Unfortunately Mum’s partner Steve snapped his achilles the week before we arrived so was a little incapacitated during our stay, a very debilitating injury, we both felt terrible for his predicament!
We scored some fantastic beach weather during the first week of our stay, we all made the most of it and I think Lilia was in absolute heaven with Grandpa John to build sand castles on the beach each morning. The beach in front of Dad’s house was great: an endless stretch of white sand and crystal clear warm water to enjoy, couldn’t have asked for more.
Todd flew down from the northern coast of New South Wales for the first week of our visit, great to see him and give him a chance to meet Lilia. It’d been since our farewell party in Adelaide in 2010 since we’d last crossed paths. Always the way with good friends: we all picked up right where we’d left off, just like we’d seen each other yesterday. Mum spent the day with Lilia one day while Lisa, Todd, Dad and I took a trip down to McLaren Vale to see how the 2013 harvest was finishing up. We spent some time at Chapel Hill Winery and had a brilliant lunch at Woodstock, finishing the day with a visit to Yangarra Park, one of the Jackson Family Wines properties in Australia. Our day in the vale was another hot one, so we rendezvoused with Mum and Lilia at Henley Beach on the way home: wine tasting and the beach in one day, doesn’t get much better than that.
The weather turned cool late in our first week so we took the opportunity to head into the Adelaide Hills to introduce Lilia to some of the native wildlife. My auntie had flown in from Queensland for Lilia’s birthday party so she accompanied the three of us and Dad to Cleland Wildlife Park where we could walk amongst the emus and kangaroos with a bag of food and give them some breakfast from our hands. Lilia was quite enamored with the kangaroos, very keen on stroking their soft hides and not afraid of even the big males (I wasn’t so keen on her getting too close to some of the male red kangaroos, which are over six feet tall when they stand up!). She wasn’t too sure about the emus though, a feeling I share with her, emus have made me a little uneasy since I was about her age.
The Adelaide Central Market is always on our list of places to visit when were in Adelaide, so much fresh food to sample and plenty of great nooks for a coffee. Lilia enjoyed being toted around by Grandma Jenni through the markets, I think Lilia’s favorite stall was the gourmet cheese grocer, she must have sampled five or six cheeses!
We held a party on the Saturday we were in Adelaide, it served the dual purpose of allowing us to catch up with everyone at once and, most importantly, was an opportunity to celebrate Lilia entering her third year. Greg Halls flew in from Singapore for the event, the day started with Owen taking Greg and I on a 5:00AM fishing trip in his boat out into Spencer Gulf. Owen had been limiting on snapper his previous few excursions so we had high hopes of coming home with bag limits of fish. Unfortunately all we caught was a squid and a cuttlefish, but it was great to spend some time with the boys and beautiful to watch the sun rise over the city from out at sea. We had dinner for a little more than 50 people that night, a lot of fun to see all the people we hadn’t seen since our last visit in 2011. Lots of kids running around these days! Lilia wasn’t too keen on all the attention when 50+ people were singing her happy birthday, but she definitely knows what presents are now after all the unwrapping she enjoyed during our two-week stay.
We spent Lilia’s actual birthday on the beach, I’m pretty sure it’s her favorite place in the world so it was a perfect choice as far as she’s concerned. Grandma Jenni had presents for her to open waiting on the doorstep in the morning when we returned from the coffee shop (Lilia and I would go to the coffee shop every morning at 6:30AM when she woke so the rest of the house could continue sleeping!) and then we headed off to Dad’s for a swim. We had a fantastic dinner at one of Adelaide’s best restaurants – Kenji on Hutt Street – and all toasted to Lilia to welcome her third year (as she was soundly sleeping back at Jenni and Steve’s house with a sitter). On our last day in town we received a surprise visit from Rebecca Brown and the kids (they surprised us the same way on our last visit in 2011). Amazing how fast the kids grow, Max is in school now, I can remember him following me around the farm when he was still learning to talk…
I took my bike gear with me on our trip to see if I could grab a ride with the boys while I was in town. Bev organized his cycling team for a night ride at the new mountain bike park at Craigburn Farm on our last Tuesday in town. A coworker of mine from the surf shop where I earned my pocket-money during university now runs the Giant store in Adelaide and was kind enough to loan me a new Giant Trance to take out on the trails. Awesome to get out there with the guys, but doing so reminded me just how quick some of them are on the bike, absolutely another league. The vid below is a few excerpts from the GoPro footage I shot during the ride, special cameos from Sam Opperman.
It was a sad goodbye for all of us as we left Adelaide for a few days in Melbourne, especially for my parents, I think, because they had so much fun with Lilia and she really latched on to both of them by the second week of our stay. Que, sera, sera… Our visit to Melbourne was a quick one: a night with my cousins and uncle in Canterbury, a quick stop with Bronte to catch up with her little boy Will and meet the new addition to the family Annabelle, then on to the McCabe’s new house at Balwyn for our second night. Great to see everyone in Melbourne as well, time just flies by too fast…
Thank you to everyone for your hospitality and for all the gifts for Lilia, and a special thank you to everyone who traveled from interstate and out of the country to cross paths with us in Adelaide. Hope we can make the trip again soon!