What is home? Where is home for us? These are both good questions, easy to answer for most people, but not for us. After spending more than 10 years of our lives in Australia, it is certainly a place where we feel very ‘at home’. So when we boarded our plane in Nairobi bound for Brisbane we definitely felt like we were visiting ‘home’ (and don’t even dare asking us to pick between Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth… as that would add another layer of complexity to the question!).
The reason we were heading all the way to Oz were the 2 weddings of very good friends. The 2 couples had been so thoughtful to plan their weddings with only one weekend in between so we were able to attend both, we cannot thank them enough for their excellent planning skills 🙂
We felt very spoilt when Todd and Jenn came to pick us up from the airport in Brisbane, whisk us straight to an excellent café for breakfast and our first of many, many fantastic catch ups in the 2 following weeks.
The next morning we drove up the coast to Jonno & Angie’s wedding venue. For us it was not only a wedding of 2 fantastic people, but also a reunion of most of our friends from Brisbane as well as Adelaide. Great to see 2 groups of friends in one location!
We pitched our tents and headed over to the ceremony, dressed in our finest and even sporting heels we ventured through the paddocks filled with enormous bulls and across a raging river on a rickety bridge (alright, miniature bulls and a little creek with a wobbly plank crossing…) The bride herself also had a long treacherous walk down to meet her (then future) husband. A whole procession came down the steep slope. First the flower girls, then the bridesmaids followed by of course the gorgeous Angie, followed by…. the chooks!
A great party followed, with excellent food (ooooh the wickedness of the wedding cake!!!), Jonno’s party mix and, as there was no real curfew, we partied on until early in the morning, ending up with some other die-hards around the campfire with a few bottles of port and champagne to keep us happy.
The next morning the party continued in and around the pool, again with plenty of food to keep the hangovers at bay and plenty of time to catch-up on all the news. On Monday a small group, including the new Mr & Mrs Smith, went to the Glasshouse Mountains to hike to the top of Mt Beerwah. It’s not really a hike though as most of the time you are scrambling up the steep rock face, but the views at the top are certainly worth every drop of sweat!
Jonno & Angie then drove us to our next catch up with Jon’s ex-colleagues Daniel, Piotr and Adam and of course Meg, Michelle and Luke. Daniel had cooked up a storm and we enjoyed catching up with all of them on the world’s biggest balcony until we had to take a taxi to our guesthouse for the rest of the week: Marjolein’s place in our old street.
Of course being in Brisbane meant Tuesday night running Mt Coot-tha! So much had changed up the mountain, we barely recognised some of the trails. But luckily the most important thing hadn’t changed – the people! A fantastic night with so many people there, and great to see Tuesday nights are still going strong.
Wednesday evening we caught up with the China overland crew, and it was great to hear the plans for next year’s trips (albeit with a bit of jealousy). And Thursday morning we caught up with Jenn, Anna & Millie for breakfast before heading off for lunch in Samford and a walk with Marjolein. Mel joined us for dinner even though he was pretty crook and then it was already time to head over to Perth.
As the wedding couples had conveniently left a weekend in between the 2 weddings, we decided to head over to the west and catch up with friends there too. First stop was a big hug for Regine, followed by some errands and then dinner followed by some drinks in Nedlands with Regine, Jeske & Jason, Kat, Pete, Si and Marty.
Saturday morning we went for a paddle on the Swan river with Kat and Marty, in search for the gorgeous river dolphins. We didn’t see them on the paddle, but they did make an appearance later in the afternoon when we were having a picnic in Matilda Bay. Now most of our friends have kids, this proved to be the preferred method of catching up!
Sunday morning started with a run through Kings Park with Clayton, Mikey, Kat, Janet and Marty. Unfortunately Jon had done his back in the previous day so he was off to the physio that morning whilst Jude enjoyed breakfast in Matilda Bay. Jon was back just in time to head over to Helmuth & Eugenie, where we had a fantastic lunch whilst trying to catch up on so many things.
Of course we had to check out their amazing development project with a community spirit (which you should check out too, especially if you want to live in a sustainable eco-friendly house with super high energy-ratings, built to extremely high standards, close to public transport, and I can go on and on about the amazing things they have achieved, but check it out for yourself on www.thegreenswing.net) which has just been completed. They have already proven that the concept works with their own house built in a similar way and it is fantastic to see them take this second project to completion. We’re pretty sure this project will again take home loads of building awards and we can’t wait to see what they will be up to next! So very proud of them!
At night we were catching up with some more of Jon’s ex-colleagues and old friends, this time from our first 5 years in Perth. Eva & Darren (and of course the now 2-year old triplets David, Ethan and Claudia) put on a fantastic bbq and it was great to catch up with Helen & Geoff, Greg and Daniel & Shelley and all their kids (getting so big now!).
On Monday we managed to squeeze in a run and breakfast with Zoe in Kings Park, lunch and a swim at Cottesloe Beach with Jenni, a cuppa with Andre and Charlie, some retail therapy in the bike shop on Stirling Highway before relaxing and enjoying a home cooked meal with Regine in Scarborough!
Then it was time for our flight to Adelaide, which annoyingly was delayed due to fog in Perth! But we still made it on time for lunch with Alix and Gus before Jon zoomed off to meet up with Angelo for a second much needed physio session. We dropped off Gus with Alix’ parents went for dinner together with Troye, Ted, Angelo and Mark & Ella at one of our favourite restaurants in Adelaide – the Nepalese in Parkview. A quick lunch with Andrew the next day, some more shopping and then it was time for another classic – the Wednesday night hike up Mt Lofty followed by dinner at Tom & Linda’s place. It was a perfectly still and clear night, with views all the way to Kangaroo Island from the top of Mt Lofty.
Another day, another city… Canberra was next on the agenda after a short and very early flight. With Jake & Lucy now living there we managed to squeeze in 2 mtb rides, as well as catching up with Scooby & Michelle. Finally we got to ride at Stromlo – although the local trails just across the road from Jake & Lucy’s place were pretty awesome too!
From Canberra it was an easy drive to Bowral for the second wedding of our trip – Marcus & Bec’s. We absolutely loved it that they had also organised more than just the wedding, starting with a pre-wedding bbq on Friday arvo.
The next morning we went for a run with Clayton, Mikey, Muz and Karen on the old Boxvale tram tracks to the spectacular viewpoint, before indulging at lunch in a local café. The taxi was picking us up at 3pm, so we quickly got ready to go. The clouds had come in, but luckily it stayed dry for the ceremony and drinks / photos afterwards.
The self-written vows were awesome and it was nice to see you don’t have to ‘repeat after me’ and you are allowed to weave the essential bits into your own vows. The celebrant was there to tie it all together in a great way, adding what seemed a sincere personal touch to it all.
Somehow Muz, Clayton and the two of us ended up arriving first in the drinks area, and we were also the last to leave for dinner…
It was an amazing sit-down dinner with fantastic food and some very emotional speeches, followed of course by the first dance by Mr & Mrs Properzi. The night seemed to be on fast-forward after that, as too soon it was time for last drinks and our bus home… but not for bedtime, as the party kicked on at the Clayton household with more drinks, table tennis and pool competitions.
We enjoyed a yummy brunch with way too much food before heading off to some wineries with Mikey & Karen (and of course Zoe and Liam), Clayton & Blake. After one winery (or was it 2?) we wanted something different and discovered they had a cider-y and mead-ery nearby. The ciders were fantastic, but the meads were amazing! We just had to buy 2 boxes full of them for that night’s dinner!
The next day was our last in Oz, so after breakfast and saying more goodbyes, we drove on to Sydney to catch up with Simon & Katie, our last catch up of the trip. They have recently moved over from Perth and it was great to see their new pad, right next to the water! Of course we had to go out for a paddle as amazingly they have 4 boats! It was a bit windy, which made for some interesting paddling with the chop bouncing off all sorts of places. But cruising underneath Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and floating in front of the Sydney Opera House was pretty special. You definitely have to be aware of the ferries around you, but there are plenty of areas where you can cruise around in peace, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the many islands in the huge harbour.
After a quick shower we went for our last supper in Oz before zooming off to the airport. Utterly exhausted, but very, very happy we managed to see so many of our very dear friends in such a short time. Jude claims she can’t sleep on planes, but even she managed to sleep for a few hours on the way back! Already looking forward to the next time we will catch up with you all, whenever and wherever that will be…