Sunday, 30 December 2012

Soldier on!

As impressive as the views were from the Sky High observatory, one of the highlights of the day was seeing hundreds of Soldier Beetles gathered on the marker posts and at the bottom of some trees! We had never seen so many and Vaughan took great delight in scooping up handfuls!

Sky High!

I read about Sky High Mount Dandenong in the early days of our arrival, so was pleased to visit on such a lovely day.  As clear as the sky seemed, there was haze in the distance, so views of Melbourne through the telescope were a little disappointing but still well worth our $1.00!

It was an interesting place to visit with some beautiful gardens to wander through.  Nissa and I wished at the Wishing Tree and Nick posed with The Australiana Tree.  There was a maze also and of course, the Sky High restaurant.  I can't comment on either of the latter attractions because we weren't keen to outlay any money other than our $5.00 entry and gold coin for the telescope use!

There were many people using the free BBQs and one family had the most delicious-smelling kebabs cooking as we made our way back to the carpark.  They were also using the plate to stir-fry a vegetable mix, something we had never thought to do. 

Kalorama Panorama

Silvan Reservoir - a trip for another day ... 
As Nick had the day off, we ventured a bit further afield - to the Dandenong Ranges. 

We had planned for a day of geocaching but were side-tracked by the lovely views and other attractions! 

Our first detour was the Kalorama Lookout, where we enjoyed looking out toward Silvan Reservoir (at left). While we were studying the information board, a fellow approached with punnets of locally (home)grown raspberries and boysenberries - so we purchased some for our picnic lunch. (Although we could see a picnic shelter down the hill from the lookout, we weren't hungry at that point, so continued up to Mount Dandenong Observatory).

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

4-Star Camping!

In the lead-up to 5 December (when both destination/direction were still unresolved) there were many half-serious jokes about us going to live in the forest.  Of course, Vaughan quite liked the idea!

As D-day loomed closer with no solution evident, talk of forest camping became more serious and some discussion had commenced regarding a separate tent for the cats. ( I guess that would have been a kit tent)?!

Finally, barely two weeks before our exit date, we received confirmation of a three-month temporary accommodation booking in Melbourne (part of Nick's relocation package, though his initial contract was only delivered two days before our departure).

As you can imagine, life in a serviced apartment is vastly different to free-camping in the forest! 

Although most of our belongings are in storage we have more "stuff" than usual hotel guests, so on Tuesdays and Fridays there is a bit of a scramble to clear some space for the cleaners.  Even so, they left a note for Erin on top of a pile of clean sheets because they "could not arrange this sheet" (due to all the stuff over her bed)!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Caged Cats!

Nick's relocation package includes three month's  accommodation for our family with various other generous benefits. 

Unfortunately our apartment is a pet-free zone, so Oscar and Sunny (pictured at left) and Keegan (Erin's rainbow lorikeet) are enjoying a holiday also, staying out-of-town with family.  They are being very well looked after - spending more time outside than behind bars!  Indeed they may not be keen to come home, particularly Sunny who has been hand-fed chicken tidbits to tempt his appetite! 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Another long road

After sleeping in a bit, we had breakfast and packed up the menagerie - then were on the road again just after 9am. 

The distance from Forest Hill to Melbourne is about 450km, so it was another long drive but we had most of the day to do it in - and weren't nearly so tired starting out.  There wasn't much time for sight-seeing but we did drive through some lovely country and there are were some places that we thought warranted further investigation down the track.

We probably did more than 450km as we called in to visit family on the outskirts of Melbourne when we arrived in the early evening.  We were made very welcome as there was a roast dinner waiting for us.  We spent several hours chatting, which meant we were driving through the city in the dark and arrived at our apartment about 9:40pm or similar, to unpack and start settling into what would be our temporary home for the next few months.

"Fighting gear"!

I cannot describe how relieved I was to finally glimpse this sign in the darkness when we pulled into our overnight accommodation shortly before 10:00pm - and moments before the manager shut up the office.

He directed us into parking spaces, not unlike an airport groundsman gesturing pilots to steer their planes around the tarmac!

Once parked, he gave us a quick tour of the cabin in heavily colloquial language - indicating the "nuke machine" (microwave), "fighting gear" (cutlery), "idiot box remote" (TV controls) and "other crap" (pots and cooking utensils)!  There was more room than expected but the best feature was that pets were welcome - and the cats soon made themselves comfortable.

We'd eaten various junk food en route, so I was happy to have a cup of tea on arrival while Nick cooked some steak and simple frozen vegies for himself and Erin.  Vaughan showered and then settled in for a couple more chapters of "The Wizard of Oz" and was very quickly in bed and asleep afterward. 

It wasn't much longer before I retired also.  After 10 nights sleeping on our air bed, I thoroughly appreciated a proper mattress that night - and a sleep-in till 8:00am!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Walk the cat!

As you can imagine, there were many last-minute preparations prior to departure.  One had been to purchase a harness and leash for Oscar - to prevent accident or escape during roadside rest stops.

Oscar wasn't being given preferential treatment.  Sunny is far more a scaredy cat (and not particularly mobile) so he was not considered in need of restraint.

In fact at our first stop, he quickly scuttled back inside his enclosure when taken out for a stretch!

We weren't greatly surprised by Sunny's wimpiness but we were a little taken aback that Oscar responded so well to his lead.  Well, he was fine to walk where he wanted to go at least!

Nick had booked us into a pet-friendly cabin just short of Wagga Wagga. I did not enquire as to the overall distance until much later in the day - and I was acutely disappointed to learn we will still some 300km short of our destination.

We took many very frequent rest stops during the afternoon/evening/night - very necessary for all convoy members.

Moving the menagerie

Our two-car convey held a party of four people, two cats, one bird and one stick insect. Nick drove Elmer towing our trailer, with two human passengers.

Although Erin initially drove the "menagerie car", I took over the driving just South of Sydney and remained in the driver's seat till the end of the day. 

Sundance aka Sunny (one of our cats) rode beside me with Lucy (Vaughan's stick insect) riding atop Sunny's cage. Our other cat, Oscar, shared the back seat with Keegan (Erin's rainbow lorikeet).

Keegan often travels with us on our camping trips but long-distance driving was a new experience for the cats - and stick insect!  Lucy didn't complain at all but Oscar and Sunny did at various stages!  Overall they did well though - thankfully.

Stuffed stuff!

We handed the keys back after our final property inspection and then stuffed a last load of stuff into storage. 

Both units are now filled to capacity, so more culling will be on the cards in the New Year!

After a KFC lunch our two-car convoy was on the road, heading South - at 1.00pm.  We were in for a very long haul ...

Moving Out!

Nick started moving boxes and lesser used items over to our first storage unit in early November. 

At the end of the month, we enlisted the aid of removalist to shift our furniture into a second unit (next door to the first).  The same company has assisted during our previous two moves.  In 2009 we needed 15 man-hours of assistance but a year later we required only 12.   Another two years down the track and we had reduced even further to 8 man-hours! 

The house was a lot barer afterward and we started camping out at home.  It was lucky we had our Engels and stretchers/air beds!

On the last night all beds were shifted into dining room, so as to leave the bedroom carpets in pristine condition after they had been cleaned.  I use the term "night" loosely.  Nick and I stayed up till 2:00am and then were awake again around at 6:30am, to clear away the last of our belongings in preparation for an end-of-lease pest treatment.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Snail's Pace ...

"Is there anything as horrible as starting on a trip? Once you're off, that's all right, but the last moments are earthquake and convulsion, and the feeling that you are a snail being pulled off your rock" 
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Even though Ms Lindbergh was describing holiday travel rather than relocation, I felt very much like that rock-clinging snail in the immediate lead-up to our departure.

Early September 2012 marked our two-year anniversary of moving into what had, until very recently, been our home.  Almost to the day we received a Notice of Termination with an exit date of 5 December.  There was much to-ing and fro-ing throughout the next three months.  As you can imagine, it was a very stressful time – knowing we had to go but not knowing where we would end up. 

Melbourne, Rockhampton and Mackay were all considered equally valid options during that very uncertain period.  Finally, barely two weeks before our exit date, we received confirmation of a three-month temporary accommodation booking in Melbourne – and so we started heading South on 5 December.  Our “essential” clothes and belongings came with us but for now the rest remains locked up at Morisset.

A sense of unreality prevailed as our departure date loomed.  Most of our energies had been directed toward culling and packing, putting our furniture and “stuff” into storage – while preparing to hand our rental home back to it’s owners.  We were incredibly busy (and super-stressed).  A few days before our exit date, when we started making our farewells, the reality of our interstate move began to filter through and my snail-like tendencies became apparent!

We are no strangers to moving, given this is our 5th move since August 2005.  However, the other shifts have all been fairly local, with the longest distance a mere 30km.  Our latest relocation was much, much bigger - in all senses of the expression.
Although my childhood had been somewhat nomadic, since the early 1980s I have lived in various locations along a 75km stretch of the NSW Central Coast/Lake Macquarie/Newcastle region – and we were moving 975km away to Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city. 

We've had many adventures but this one will definitely be our biggest yet - stay tuned for our updates!

To put matters in perspective Melbourne has a population of 4.1 million, which is in sharp contrast to the estimated 2,500 of our previous lakeside locale!